Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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Page 24 of 55 Oct. 17, 2016 25 Nc StAtE RUNNiNG GAmE VS. NOtRE DAmE RUN DEfENSE Although the Wolfpack didn't score a touchdown on offense, it established more control and developed better field position in the eventual 10-3 outcome once it inserted 6-5, 212-pound quarterback Jalan McClendon into the game at the 9:30 mark of the third quarter and the score tied 3-3. His 20- and 15-yard QB draws on his first series helped give North Carolina State a little bit better rhythm and a few more openings to running back Matthew Dayes (23 carries, 126 yards). McClendon (10 carries, 56 yards) provided the same boost as Texas' Tyrone Swoopes did for a power attack versus the Irish. NC State had an early emphasis on going horizontal with jet sweeps, but McClendon's presence gave it better balance while finishing with 157 yards rushing. AdvAntAge: Even Nc StAtE PASSiNG GAmE VS. NOtRE DAmE PASS DEfENSE In the water-logged and extremely horrid conditions, it seemed fitting that both passing attacks threw numerous ducks. Known for his pinpoint efficiency, quarterback Ryan Finley completed only five of his 12 attempts for 27 yards, with a non-existent vertical game. McClendon completed his two short dump- offs for 14 yards. AdvAntAge: Notre Dame NOtRE DAmE RUNNiNG GAmE VS. Nc StAtE RUN DEfENSE In the first half Notre Dame's 17 carries netted 10 yards, with a 19-yard loss on a high snap part of it. Regardless, no rushing attempt gained more than five yards in the first 30 minutes, and the Wolfpack held sophomore running back Dexter Williams (six carries, 13 yards) to no gain on third-and-2 on the second Irish series. Other than a 12-yard dash by sophomore Josh Adams (14 carries, 51 yards) in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame could not match the downhill skills or rhythm the Wolfpack boasted in the second half, while the Irish flirted too much with the pass and tried to do more with it in unfavorable conditions. AdvAntAge: NC State NOtRE DAmE PASSiNG GAmE VS. Nc StAtE PASS DEfENSE After completing five of his first six passes for 27 yards through early in the second quarter, junior QB DeShone Kizer was 4-of-20 passing for 27 yards thereafter, most notably an interception by safety Jarius Morehead near the goal line after Notre Dame originally had a first-and-goal near the five. When the protection was good, especially early on, the Wolfpack either had excellent downfield coverage or Kizer hung on to the ball too long. The protection broke down often enough to result in five sacks. As much a problem as anything was forcing too many vertical or across-the-field passes in elements that made them low-percentage tosses. AdvAntAge: NC State SPEciAL tEAmS On their punt following the opening series, an Irish penalty gave the Wolfpack possession at midfield, but it was negated when a 31-yard field by NC State was missed. Tyler Newsome's 69-punt at the start of the second quarter flipped the field from the Irish 14 to the Wolfpack 17. The Wolfpack's Kyle Bambard and Notre Dame's Justin Yoon both squeezed in 38- and 40-yard field goals. A bad snap led NC State punter A.J. Cole to slip and gave Notre Dame pos- session at the Wolfpack 25 at 12:52 of the third quarter, resulting in Yoon's field goal. Later, another bad snap forced an errant NC State field goal. Notre Dame had the edge in this category — until the blocked punt by the Wolfpack's Pharoah McKever and subsequent TD return by Dexter Wright proved to be the margin of victory with 12:43 left. That was the game changer. The Irish typically use three men in front of Newsome to protect him, but used only two on the block for a potential rugby-style punt on the block. AdvAntAge: NC State thiRD-DOwN cONVERSiONS An NC State touchdown on its opening series on third-and-six was wiped out because of an ineligible receiver. Both teams were equally poor in this area, with the Irish 1 of 15 and the Wolfpack 2 of 14. AdvAntAge: Even tURNOVERS Both teams lost two fumbles, but none of them set up scores. Notre Dame also threw a red-zone interception in the first half to finish with three turnovers to State's two. A case can be made that punter Cole's slip which gave Notre Dame the ball at the Wolfpack 25 was a "third turnover," but we will leave it with special teams. Both teams also had drive-killing fumbles off snaps in the red zone, even though the offense still recovered them. Neither team produced scores off the five total turnovers, but 10 overall fumbles (four lost) by the two teams gummed up the works on many opportunities. AdvAntAge: NC State ANALySiS Because passing was rendered virtually impossible in the inclement condi- tions — even though Notre Dame still tried to force it — the contest was going to come down to three elements: who could run the ball better, who would have fewer turnovers and who could win on special teams? NC State was 3 for 3 as it out-rushed Notre Dame 157-59, had one fewer turnover and had the play of the game with a special teams touchdown, the lone such tally of the game, off a blocked punt. ON PAPER REViSitED By Lou Somogyi Nc State's defense won the battle in the trenches, and it resulted in five sacks, 4.5 by the wolfpack defensive line. Photo by bill Panzica

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