Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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26 Oct. 17, 2016 blue & gOld illustrated turning POint The weather conditions pointed to the contest coming down to one game-changing play. It occurred with 12:43 remaining in the fourth quarter when North Carolina State's 6-6 tight end Pharoah McKever, while barely leaping and merely extending his hand upward from a few yards away, blocked a low punt by Notre Dame's Tyler Newsome. Safety Dexter Wright then picked up the free ball, managed to keep his footing when it looked like he was slipping, and scored on a 16- yard return that would give the Wolfpack a 10-3 advantage. A case also could be made that Notre Dame didn't seize its oppor- tunity at the start of the second half when it began its first two series on offense at the NC State 25 and NC State 22, yet managed only three points total from those advanta- geous spots. stat(s) Of the game • Notre Dame finished with 113 yards of total offense, although it was "balanced" with 59 yards rush- ing and 54 yards passing. The total offense figure was the lowest by a Fighting Irish team in one game since the 38-3 loss at USC on Nov. 29, 2008, when it finished with 91. • As a consequence, Notre Dame also was only 1 of 15 on its third- down attempts versus North Caro- lina State and 0 of 7 in the second half (although it did convert two of its four fourth-down situations). • Junior quarterback DeShone Kizer ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency and was easily on pace to shatter Jimmy Clausen's single season standard, but finished 9-of-26 passing for 54 yards (2.1 yards per attempt) and an intercep- tion in the red zone. nOtre dame nOt built tO run An argument can be made that this game shouldn't have been played because of the ridiculous conditions. However, North Carolina State was able to adapt to the heavy rain, soggy field and strong wind with a downhill running game that allowed them to be a little more efficient and in control during the second half. In comparison, Notre Dame leaned too much on its spread principles with the pass despite horrible ele- ments that rendered the aerial attack ineffective, if not nearly worthless. Neither offense scored a touch- down, so it's not so much about philosophy, but more about produc- tion and execution. Nevertheless, the overall personality of the Notre Dame offense has not been built day after day as "mudders" or grinding its way to a win on the ground. It is not who it is. three ObservatiOns By lou somogyi although sophomore running back Josh adams finished with only 51 yards rushing, he was notre dame's most productive figure on offense. Photo by bill Panzica Offense: rb JOsh adams When an offense scores three points and has just 113 yards of offense, picking a player of the game can be extremely difficult. Not one offensive player had an overly impressive game, but sophomore running back Josh Adams was the most productive. Adams finished the game with 51 yards on 14 carries, leading the offense in rushing. defense: lb James Onwualu Notre Dame's defense had its best game of the season, and it wasn't entirely weather related. Several Notre Dame play- ers had strong performances, including sophomore linebacker Te'von Coney (7 tackles), sophomore defensive tackle Jerry Til- lery (9 tackles) and freshman safety Devin Studstill (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble). The player who had arguably the most impact plays was senior linebacker James Onwualu, who finished with four tack- les, an assisted tackle for loss and a fumble recovery that gave the Irish the football at the NC State 22-yard line. Onwualu and junior defensive end Andrew Trumbetti com- bined for a 7-yard tackle for loss that put NC State into a 3rd- and-16 situation, stalling one of its best drives of the game. sPecial teams: ls scOtt daly Sophomore placekicker Justin Yoon's 40-yard field goal was Notre Dame's lone scoring play of the day, but the true stand- out on special teams was senior long and short snapper Scott Daly. In tremendously bad weather conditions, Daly was steady. His lone field goal snap was perfect, and he got his long snaps back to punter Tyler Newsome quickly and accurately, which is incredibly hard in rainy conditions. tOP Players Of the game By Bryan Driskell

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