Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

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

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26 OCT. 31, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT Notre Dame held a 10-0 halftime lead over offensively challenged Stan- ford and were set to have the opening possession in the second half. After picking up a first down at the Irish 36-yard line, junior quarterback DeShone Kizer attempted to fit a pass to sophomore wide receiver Equa- nimeous St. Brown in a tight win- dow, but Stanford cornerback Quen- ton Meeks had excellent coverage and picked it off. He then weaved through traffic and cut to the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown, shaking off an attempted tackle by freshman wideout Kevin Stepherson. Although the Irish still held a 10-7 advantage with 13:16 still left in the third quarter, the Cardinal found new life, while Notre Dame was never able to regain momentum. It even tried a quarterback change with senior Malik Zaire after Kizer threw another interception the next series. STAT OF THE GAME While getting outscored 17-0 in the final 30 minutes, Notre Dame's 36 plays in the second half accounted for just 120 yards of total offense. The Irish rushed for 108 yards on 17 carries in the first half (6.4 yards per carry), but in the second half its 18 rushes (including sacks) netted 45 yards. Notre Dame completed 6 of 11 passes in the first half for 79 yards and no interceptions, but after the intermission it was 8 of 18 for 75 yards, and notably had the two inter- ceptions on the opening two series. It was the second straight game Notre Dame failed to score a touch- down in the second half, and it had only a field goal at North Carolina State the week prior. On paper, the Irish were "bal- anced" against Stanford with 154 passing yards and 153 rushing yards — but they were not able to generate consistency with either attack. THE SEASON FROM HELL Whatever can go wrong either on offense, defense or special teams usually has for Notre Dame this year. During its 1-3 start, the offense averaged 37.2 points per game, so the defense was the easy culprit to point to, resulting in the firing of coordinator Brian VanGorder. Now that it has dropped back- to-back games to fall to 2-5, the de- fense has allowed only 11 points in those two contests — but the offense averaged only 6.5 points per game. To make it all complete, special teams have not been able to make a difference at any time and more often has been a liability, notably the blocked punt that resulted in the game-winning touchdown for North Carolina State. It is a season where the Irish can't get out of their own way. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI Fifth-year senior nose guard Jarron Jones had his best game of the season against Stanford. His sack in the third quarter resulted in a fumble, which he recovered himself. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA OFFENSE: LG QUENTON NELSON For the second straight week, the Notre Dame offense struggled to move the football and score points, making it hard to determine a top player. Senior running back Tarean Folston (eight carries for 49 yards) had some good moments, but his snaps and carries were limited. Notre Dame's most consistently effective offensive player was the junior left guard Nelson. The left side of the line — led by Nelson — got excellent movement in the run game during the first half. Nelson was physical against a strong Stanford line and helped provide the early spark. DEFENSE: NG JARRON JONES Notre Dame's defense played well against Stanford, but no one was as dominant as the fifth-year senior nose guard, who finished the game with a pair of tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Those statistics are certainly not overwhelming, and they do not tell the story of how effective Jones was up the middle. He spent much of the game in the Stanford backfield, dominating whomever the Cardinal lined up against him. In the third quarter, Jones drove Stanford center Jesse Burkett into the backfield before tossing him aside and drilling quarterback Ryan Burns. Jones not only made the sack, but he also knocked the ball out of Burns' hands. Jones quickly jumped up, dove over the pile and recovered the fumble, giving the Irish the football. SPECIAL TEAMS: PK JUSTIN YOON The sophomore placekicker had a quality performance for the Irish, nailing a 29-yard field goal — his only attempt of the game — and knocking in an extra point. Yoon also booted two of his kickoffs into the end zone, a third pinned Stanford at the 20-yard line and his final kick was re- turned for just two yards. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL

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