Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 26 of 55

26 OCT. 3, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT Everything was in line for 21-point favorite Notre Dame to have a bloodletting, blowout victory after taking a 14-0 lead with 8:57 still remaining in the first quarter. Duke even lost its best player, fifth- year senior safety/return man DeVon Edwards, for the season on the kickoff after the 7-0 Irish edge. Yet, Edwards' replacement, Shaun Wilson, fielded the ensuing kickoff and, after powering through errant tackle attempts, blazed for a 96-yard touchdown. That explosive play galvanized the Blue Devils, whose defense then forced a three-and-out of the Irish on the next possession, followed by a 78-yard Duke touchdown drive. Duke scored 21 consecutive points and developed the confidence that it was going to compete for 60 minutes against what has become an extremely fragile Notre Dame team. STAT OF THE GAME Duke having a 3-1 turnover advantage — the same as Michigan State in its 36-28 victory at Notre D a m e a w e e k e a r l i e r — w a s significant, but not as much as the Blue Devils rushing for 208 yards on 42 attempts (5.0 yards per carry). Yes, the same Blue Devils who finished with 37 rushing yards (on 30 rushes) in a 24-14 loss at home to Wake Forest. The same Duke that totaled 117 yards rushing (34 attempts) in a 24-13 defeat at Northwestern. The Blue Devils' ability to consistently run the ball against the Fighting Irish, especially wide, all four quarters took much pressure off redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones, who completed 24 passes for 290 yards. LOSING CREDIBILITY … AGAIN It seemed fitting that 2000-08 Notre Dame director of athletics Kevin White was back on campus for this game while holding the same job title at Duke. When White fired Notre Dame football coach Bob Davie in December 2001 after a 5-6 season and Davie asked him why, White had a succinct three- word reply: We've lost credibility. White himself exited Notre Dame in May 2008 for the Duke position because after a 3-9 Irish football season in 2007, he likewise needed a change of scenery because of credibility problems. The 38-35 defeat to Duke had that "Waterloo" feel for Brian Kelly and his staff. It had a negative vibe similar to when Charlie Weis' 2008 team lost to 2-8 Syracuse on Senior Day at home while squandering a fourth-quarter lead, just like against the Blue Devils. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI Sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown had another solid game for the Irish, finishing with a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Duke. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA OFFENSE: WR EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN The sophomore wide receiver continued his strong start to the season, racking up six catches for a career-high 116 yards. His 12- yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter gave the Irish a 35-28 lead, but Notre Dame could not hold on. St. Brown made plays all over the field, turning short throws into big gains, making plays down the field and executing in the red zone. His performance would have been even stronger if not for a third-quarter fumble that ended Notre Dame's opening drive of the second half. DEFENSE: LB NYLES MORGAN Notre Dame's defense continued its 2016 woes, giving up 31 points and 498 yards to Duke, but the junior linebacker played solid football up the middle. For the third time in four games, Morgan led the Irish defense statistically, finishing with 10 total tackles and seven solo stops against the Blue Devils. Although he wasn't awarded a tackle on the stat sheet, Mor- gan's big hit on running back Jela Duncan stopped Duke short of the first down marker on a fourth-and-one play. He also picked up the defense's first sack of the season, bringing down redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones to end a third-quarter Blue Devils possession. SPECIAL TEAMS: P TYLER NEWSOME For the second straight week the Notre Dame special teams struggled, giving up a 96-yard touchdown return in the first quar- ter. The one bright spot for the Irish was the junior punter. Newsome averaged 47.0 yards on his four punts, including boomers of 58 and 54 yards. His shortest punt — a 35-yarder in the fourth quarter — pinned Duke back at its own 11-yard line. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL

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