Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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Page 36 of 55 OCT. 3, 2016 37 BY BRYAN DRISKELL SYRACUSE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE This particular matchup is a battle of weaknesses for both Notre Dame and Syracuse. Despite its 199- yard performance in a 45-20 loss to South Florida, the Orange offense has largely struggled to get its ground game going this fall. Through three games, Syracuse was averaging 145.7 rushing yards per game and just 3.4 yards per rush, which ranked 91st and 111th in the nation, respectively. Sophomore running back Dontae Copeland leads Syracuse with 175 yards through three games. He set career highs with 30 carries and 127 yards against South Florida. Freshman Moe Neal has rushed for 120 yards in his first three games. Sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey is capable of making plays with his legs. He has gained 133 yards on the season, although his net total is just 62 yards thanks to sacks. Notre Dame's defense has been abysmal through the first three games of the season, ranking 99th nationally in rushing defense after giving up 198.7 yards per game. Power Five conference opponents Texas (237 yards) and Michigan State (260 yards) both shredded the Notre Dame run defense. The uptempo style that Syracuse has installed under first-year head coach Dino Babers could give the Irish defense problems. Under defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, Notre Dame has al- lowed 229.2 rushing yards in the six games against opponents that run spread tempo offenses. Senior defensive end Isaac Rochell and senior linebacker James Onwualu — both captains — lead the Irish defense with four tackles for loss apiece. Junior Mike linebacker Nyles Morgan leads the team with 27 tackles through three games. Advantage: Even SYRACUSE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE It should come as no surprise that Syracuse is throwing the ball frequently and effectively under Babers. His Bowling Green (2014-15) and Eastern Illinois (2012-13) offenses averaged 333.4 passing yards per game, and twice his offenses racked up more than 5,000 passing yards in a single season. Syracuse had a roster suited to run Babers' of- fense, thanks to the presence of sophomore quar- terback Eric Dungey and an athletic group of pass catchers. Through its first three contests, Syracuse has averaged 360.0 passing yards per game, which ranked 10th nationally. Dungey passed for 1,298 yards and 11 touch- downs as a freshman in 2015, but he's going to quickly surpass those numbers this season. Through three games, the talented sophomore has already tossed for 960 yards and seven touch- downs while completing 65.5 percent of his passes. The arrival of Maryland graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo has given the Orange an outstanding crop of receivers. In just three games with his new team, Etta-Tawo had already surpassed his 2015 season totals (20 receptions for 216 yards). In his first game with Syracuse, Etta-Tawo hauled in a career-high 12 receptions for 210 yards. He followed that up with a pair of eight-catch games, going for 103 yards against Louisville and 123 yards against South Florida. Former running back Ervin Phillips has hauled in 30 receptions for 234 yards. The sophomore caught 14 passes in the opener against FCS Colgate and another 10 against South Florida. Syracuse likes to get him the ball quickly on the perimeter, where he uses his after-the-catch skills to do damage. Notre Dame has given up 240.7 yards per game through the air, which ranked 84th nationally. Teams have had their way with Notre Dame when GAME PREVIEW: SYRACUSE On PaPer Junior wide receiver Steve Ishmael (13 catches for 131 yards) is part of an Orange passing attack that averaged 360.0 yards per game during Syracuse's 1-2 start. PHOTO COURTESY SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

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