Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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28 OCT. 3, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED DEFENSIVE WOES CONTINUE In what has become a recurring theme over the last three seasons, the Notre Dame defense once again failed to slow down an opponent. This time it was the struggling Duke offense that torched the Irish. Duke racked up 498 yards of of- fense and averaged 6.7 yards per play. The Blue Devils rushed for 208 yards (5.0 per carry), and redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones completed 75.0 percent of his passes while throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Duke averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt, its highest mark since going for 9.2 yards per attempt in a 41-21 win over Wake Forest on Nov. 11, 2014. In its previous two games against Power Five opponents — a pair of losses to Wake Forest and North- western — Duke rushed for just 154 combined yards and averaged 4.8 yards per play, numbers it surpassed with ease against Notre Dame. A pair of seniors — running back Jela Duncan (121 rushing yards) and wide receiver Anthony Nash (123 receiving yards) — set career highs against Notre Dame. When the Irish defense floundered in the previous week's loss to Michi- gan State, head coach Brian Kelly put much of the blame squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff. In the loss to Duke, Kelly changed his tune on the performance of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, despite no discernable differences in the de- fensive game plan. "Actually, that's probably the one area that I feel better about today," Kelly said of the leadership of the de- fensive staff. "We did what I wanted today in terms of coaching, and coaching had nothing to do with the outcome today. I was pleased from that perspective." Kelly felt that despite giving up 31 points to a Duke offense that scored a combined 27 points in its previous two games, the defense did its job. "We put our defense in a bad situa- tion today, and they gave our offense a chance to win," Kelly said follow- ing the game. Despite his praise for the defensive staff, Kelly did mention that there is still plenty of work to do on that side of the ball. "There are things that I want to get better at defensively, there's no ques- tion," he noted. "That's the least of my concerns after today." One bright spot for Notre Dame was the performance of freshman cornerback Donte Vaughn. After giv- ing up a completion on his first se- ries, Vaughn settled down and han- dled himself quite well. With the game tied 28-28 in the third quarter, Vaughn ended a Duke drive in the end zone, out-playing wide receiver T.J. Rahming for an interception. SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS Duke certainly deserves a lot of credit for how it competed, but a big part of the outcome was Notre Dame's tendency to hurt itself with mistakes. A number of unforced errors proved too much for it to overcome. Notre Dame's offense, defense and special teams units all had their struggles against Duke. "There's not a lot of things to re- ally point out, other than obviously, three turnovers," head coach Brian DUKE GAME NOTES BY BRYAN DRISKELL Duke senior wideout Anthony Nash torched the Irish for a career-high 123 receiving yards, and hauled in 32- and 64-yard touchdown catches. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Notre Dame now holds a 3-2 all-time record against Duke. • The loss to Duke puts Notre Dame at 7-4 against the Atlantic Coast Conference since agreeing to play at least four conference opponents each season. • Wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown (116 yards), Torii Hunter Jr. (75), Kevin Stepherson (72) and C.J. Sanders (61) all tallied at least 60 receiving yards. It was the first time four Notre Dame players reached that mark in the same game since Sept. 18, 2010, a 34-31 overtime loss to Michigan State. • Junior quarterback DeShone Kizer surpassed the 300-yard passing mark for the fourth time in his 15 career starts. Notre Dame is 1-3 in those contests. • Kizer has thrown a touchdown pass in 14 of his 15 starts, and rushed for a touchdown in 12 of those games. • Senior quarterback Malik Zaire technically was credited with a start at wide receiver, taking a hand- off on the first play of the game. • Notre Dame dropped back-to-back home games for the first time since Nov. 15 and 22, 2014, when it lost to Northwestern and Louisville in consecutive weeks.

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