Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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28 Oct. 17, 2016 blue & gOld illustrated cOaching staff Will dO Plenty Of secOnd guessing Notre Dame's offense was abysmal, and the Irish special teams once again gave the opposition points, but Irish head coach Brian Kelly will do plenty of second-guessing when he looks back on the 10-3 loss to NC State. Unlike the 38-35 loss to Duke — when Kelly rightfully ripped his team for its overall lack of effort — the Irish players were more than ready to take on NC State, in spite of the weather conditions. That made the loss especially dif- ficult for Kelly to stomach, and it will make him look inward and at the deci- sions of his coaching staff to find out what went wrong. "Kids were in great spirits with great energy. I feel terrible that we let them down," Kelly said following the loss. "I feel like we let them down in the sense that they were prepared for another noon start, they had great energy, they played with great heart on defense; just North Carolina State made the big play with the blocked punt." Whether or not this game would be played — or what day it would be played — hung over the heads of the Irish players all week. On Friday, they flew into a hurricane to take on a 3-1 football team. Despite its poor record in true road games the last three seasons (3-8 coming into the game), the Notre Dame players were ready to play. "When your team is flat and not playing with that energy, you kind of sense it," Kelly explained. "They were excited to play today, and you want to be there for them. You want to make the right call, you want to put them in the right position … You second-guess yourself in games like this where your team is ready to play and excited to play." He was unwilling to do so after the game, but perhaps Kelly might ulti- mately question the offensive play calling. Despite playing the game in a downpour with swirling winds that topped out over 20 miles per hour, Notre Dame called 34 passing plays and 30 running plays, numbers that do not take into account the muffed snaps. NC State, on the other hand, called 14 passes plays and 46 run plays, and several of their passes were nothing more than quick pitches to a motioning receiver. defensive cOntinues its resurgence The weather will certainly be pointed to as a contributing factor, but there is little doubt that Notre Dame's defense has improved dramatically since Kelly fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following the team's Sep. 24 loss to Duke. Notre Dame held Syracuse's potent offense to just 208 yards on its final 59 plays. With an assist from Hurri- cane Matthew, Notre Dame limited the Wolfpack offense to just 198 yards of total offense. Seven of NC State's 10 points were on a blocked punt, which means the Irish defense held the Wolf- pack offense — which entered the game averaging 40 points a game — to just three points. Not since Notre Dame's 38-3 vic- tory over Texas to open the 2015 sea- son have the Irish held an opponent to fewer yards or offensive points. "I was very pleased with our physi- cality, our toughness, our tackling," Kelly said of his defensive unit. "They played with great heart on defense." Senior Isaac Rochell concurred with his head coach's assessment, although it meant little to the captain, who would have preferred a team win. "I'm proud of the defense. We played well. We really didn't give up anything," Rochell stated following the loss. Notre Dame's overall statistics were quite good. It held the Wolfpack of- fense to just 3.1 yards per rush, limited NC State to 2-of-14 on third-down and kept the points down. The Irish defense also did its part to put the offense in position to score points. On two separate occasions Notre Dame's defense forced a fumble that gave its offense the ball inside the NC State 25-yard line. Weather is always a contributing nOrth carOlina state game nOtes By Bryan Driskell freshman end daelin hayes was just one of many notre dame defenders to standout against nc state. hayes recorded a forced fumble and three tackles in the loss. Photo by bill Panzica miscellaneOus nOtes • With the loss to NC State, Notre Dame is now 5-4 in road games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents since signing a sched- uling deal with the league prior to the 2012 season. • For the first time all season, Notre Dame did not score the first points of the game. This game also marked the first time all season that Notre Dame trailed at the end of the first quarter. • Sophomore defensive tackle Jerry Tillery set a career high with nine total tackles and five solo hits. • Freshman safety Devin Studstill set a ca- reer high with four solo tackles and recorded his first career tackle for loss and first career forced fumble. • Freshman end Daelin Hayes also had his first career forced fumble in this contest, and also set a career high with three tackles.

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