Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct.10, 2016

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 26 of 55 OCT. 10, 2016 27 TAKING A CLOSER LOOK What Worked • Defensive Adjustments. Syracuse runs an offense unlike anything Notre Dame will face this season. Its uptempo attack came in averaging 86.3 snaps per game, and the Orange forces defenses to defend the width of the field. Notre Dame needed a plan that could handle the tempo, and as much as possible keep the points down. The Irish coaching staff mixed up its defense, utilizing 3-3, 3-4 and some 4-3 looks, which kept Syracuse off balance. Instead of trying to rotate during each series — which can be incredibly difficult against an offense like Syra- cuse — Notre Dame chose to rotate mostly from series to series. Notre Dame played 23 defensive players while the game was still in doubt, which kept the unit fresh. That approach allowed the Irish to shut down the Syracuse run game, holding it to 126 yards and 3.4 yards per rush. Forty-eight of those yards came on Syracuse's final two drives when the game was no longer in doubt. • St. Brown Steps Up Early. From the first play of the game it was obvious that sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was going to be a focal point of the offense. On film, Syracuse showed a vulnerability on the perimeter deep balls and over the middle. Notre Dame used St. Brown to attack both areas right away. On the game's first play, Notre Dame deployed a high- low concept, using senior tight end Durham Smythe and sophomore slot receiver C.J. Sanders to influence the Syracuse linebackers. That opened up St. Brown over the deep middle for a 79-yard touchdown. Three offensive plays later, St. Brown was in a one-on- one battle against Syracuse cornerback Cordell Hudson, a matchup Notre Dame wanted. Kizer hit St. Brown in stride up the right sideline for a 67-yard score. What Didn't Work • Special Teams Miscues. Sanders had a 93-yard kick return for a touchdown and a blocked extra point by fifth-year senior nose guard Jarron Jones ended with se- nior cornerback Cole Luke racing in for a two-point con- version. Those were the bright spots on special teams, but the miscues proved costly. Leading 33-20 in the second quarter, the Irish were forced to punt to Syracuse return man Brisly Estime, who finished 2015 ranked second nationally in punt return average. Several Notre Dame players missed tackles, and Estime raced 74 yards, setting up an Eric Dungey touchdown pass that narrowed the Notre Dame lead to 33-27 before the half. • Missed Opportunities. Notre Dame's offense had a chance to be even more effective against Syracuse. The Irish missed a number of opportunities in the game, which could have helped put the contest away much sooner. Notre Dame came up short on a fourth-and-goal at- tempt with the Irish leading 23-13. A pair of second- quarter series ended with a drop — one from sopho- more wide receiver Miles Boykin and another from St. Brown. Right before the half, Kizer took a sack with Notre Dame in field goal range, which forced the punt that led to Estime's long return. Kizer also overthrew freshman wideout Kevin Stepher- son, who was wide open on what would have been an easy touchdown. Instead, the Irish punted three plays later. — Bryan Driskell Sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown scored on the first play from scrimmage and averaged 45.5 yards on his four catches. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL 6 Career blocked kicks by fifth-year senior nose guard Jarron Jones, adding to what unofficially is a school record. For the sec- ond time this season, Jones blocked an extra point attempt that Notre Dame returned for two points, this time by senior cornerback Cole Luke. Lineman Derek Landri (2003-06) blocked four kicks during his career. Jones blocked two kicks in 2013 and two more in 2014. 18 Seconds it took for Notre Dame to take a 7-0 lead after junior quar- terback DeShone Kizer found sophomore wide receiver EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN for a 79-yard touchdown. That was the fastest touchdown since Oct. 16, 2010, when Dayne Crist connected with Michael Floyd on an 80-yard score against Western Michigan 12 seconds into the contest. 36 Points scored with 10:06 left in the first quarter after Notre Dame sopho- more C.J. Sanders' 93-yard kickoff return gave the Irish a 23-13 lead. There is no record of a Fighting Irish game where more points were scored in the first five minutes. The 36 points overall were the most in one quarter of a Notre Dame game since the Irish outscored Pitt 40-0 during a 60-6 victory in 1996. 45.5 Average yards per catch by St. Brown, who totaled 182 yards on his four grabs. That is the second highest figure in a game by an Irish receiver with a minimum of four catches. Floyd holds the mark at 47.3 when his four catches against Nevada in 2009 resulted in 189 yards. 356 Passing yards by junior quarter- back DeShone Kizer in the first half while taking a 33-27 lead. That is the most in one half by a Notre Dame player, eclipsing the 339 by Jimmy Clausen (452 total) in a 23-21 loss to Navy in 2009. 471 Passing yards that Kizer finished with — the most ever by a Notre Dame quarterback in a victory. Joe Theismann had 526 in a 38-28 loss at USC in 1970, and Brady Quinn finished with 487 in a 44-41 overtime defeat to Michigan State in 2005. The previous high in a win was Quinn's 467 in a 49-23 conquest of BYU in 2005. It was the third straight week Kizer passed for a career high. 727 Yards of total offense in the first half, with 621 coming through the air (356 for Notre Dame and 265 for Syracuse). It became a little more reason- able in the second half when the two teams totaled 416 yards, with the Irish winning the scoring battle in the second half, 17-6. The Orange passed for only 98 yards in the second half. BY THE NUMBERS BY LOU SOMOGYI

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct.10, 2016