Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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40 OCT. 17, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI DON'T FORGET THE 'D' Throughout most of its football his‑ tory, Stanford has been identified as a finesse team with supreme passing ability. It began with head coach Clark Shaugnessy unveiling the modern T formation in his first season there in 1940 that took Stanford from 1‑7‑1 the year prior to 10‑0 and No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll; fu‑ ture NFL MVP John Brodie playing there in the 1950s; Jim Plunkett edg‑ ing Notre Dame's Joe Theismann for the 1970 Heisman Trophy; Bill Walsh introducing the West Coast offense there in 1977 before returning from 1992‑94; and John Elway (1979‑82) and Andrew Luck (2007‑10) joining Plunkett as No. 1 overall draft picks. Over the past decade, the Cardi‑ nal has developed more of a blue‑ collar reputation, specifically with its ground attack that has included two Heisman Trophy runners‑up in Toby Gerhart (2009) and Christian Mc‑ Caffrey (2015), plus 1,500‑plus yard rushers such as Stepfan Taylor (2012) and Tyler Gaffney (2013). Meanwhile, consistently overshad‑ owed is a defense that since 2010 — head coach Brian Kelly's first season at Notre Dame — has ranked among the nation's best. Since 2010 and en‑ tering the Oct. 8 game versus Wash‑ ington State, the Stanford defense: • Ranked No. 1 nationally in quar‑ terback sacks with 267. • Was No. 3 in rushing yards al‑ lowed per game at 107.1. • Allowed 19.1 points per game, which ranked No. 7 among Football Bowl Subdivision schools. During that stretch, the Cardinal held 54 op‑ ponents to 20 points or less, which ranked behind only Alabama (68) and Florida State (57). • In the six years from 2010‑15, Stanford also was 11th in total de‑ fense (333.8 yards per game) and 12th in third‑down conversions per‑ mitted (34.7 percent). In the five meetings between Notre Dame and Stanford from 2010‑14, the Fighting Irish in regulation time of four quarters managed 14, 14, 13, 20 and 17 points versus the Cardinal, an average of 15.6 points per contest (Notre Dame won 20‑13 in overtime in 2012). Last year the tables turned dra‑ matically with Notre Dame boasting 299 rushing yards, 533 yards of total offense and 36 points in what would turn out to be a heart‑breaking defeat on the game's final play. During its 3‑0 start this season, Stanford's defensive excellence that is led by captains Solomon Thomas along the line and senior linebacker Peter Kalambayi was regained with blue‑collar, grind‑out wins against Kansas State (26‑13), USC (27‑10) and UCLA (22‑13), holding both USC's explosive receivers and runners, plus UCLA star quarterback Josh Rosen, relatively in check. The hard‑fought win over the Bru‑ ins in the Rose Bowl, though, seemed to leave little in the tank in the 44‑6 debacle at Washington six days later. The Huskies totaled 214 rushing yards and 210 passing yards while converting 9 of 12 (75.0 percent) third‑down conversions. Intriguing to this game is how much Stanford's sputtering offense that ranked 114th in scoring after four games (20.3 points per game) can produce against a Notre Dame defense that was in tumult during its 2‑3 start and ranked 100th in scor‑ ing defense (33.4 points allowed per game). Of equal interest is whether the Fighting Irish offense can eclipse the 30‑point barrier against the Cardinal defense a second straight season. The way the 2016 season has transpired, it might need to in order to give itself an opportunity at victory. GAME PREVIEW: STANFORD Top STorylineS Junior defensive lineman Solomon Thomas is a headline performer for what has been mostly a stout defense. PHOTO COURTESY STANFORDPHOTO.COM

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