Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

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

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Page 26 of 55 OCT. 31, 2016 27 TAKING A CLOSER LOOK What Worked • Defense Makes Plays. Notre Dame entered its contest against Stanford with just six forced turnovers — four forced fumbles and three sacks in its first six games. Against Stanford, the Irish defense was far more productive, forcing a season-high three turnovers, recovering a pair of fumbles and picking off a pass. Notre Dame's defenders forced three fumbles, and its two fumble recoveries tied the defense's season total coming into the game. Notre Dame attacked Stanford up front, keeping quarterback Ryan Burns from getting comfortable in the pocket. Burns completed just 10 of 19 pass attempts and was forced out of the pocket on a number of occasions. • Tarean Folston Provides An Early Spark. The senior running back missed Notre Dame's last two games with an ankle injury, but returned against Stanford and provided an early spark. Folston entered for the first time on Notre Dame's second drive of the game. He made a nifty cut for a five-yard gain on his first carry, took a swing pass up the sidelines for a seven-yard gain on the next play and then followed that up with an impressive 16-yard run to get the Irish into the red zone. Folston added another six-yard carry on the ensuing play before junior quarterback DeShone Kizer finished the drive off with an eight-yard touchdown run. On Notre Dame's next scoring drive, Folston entered on fourth-and-one and ran the ball up the middle for the first down. Folston's next three carries did not come until the third quarter, and he helped march the Irish into Stanford territory, but a Kizer interception ended the drive. What Didn't Work • Pick Provides Momentum Change. Notre Dame controlled the action during the first 30 minutes, taking a 10-0 lead heading into the half. With the Irish offense getting the ball to start the third quarter, Notre Dame had an opportunity to put serious separation between the two teams right out of the break. Instead, Kizer threw an interception that Stanford cornerback Quenton Meeks returned 50 yards for a touchdown. Kizer tried to get the ball to sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown on a post route, but the decision and throw were poor. Stanford had a safety coming over the top, so Kizer knew he had to fit the ball into a tight window. Meeks positioned himself perfectly underneath St. Brown knowing he had safety help over the top. Kizer tried to throw the ball on a rope in order to beat the safety, but the ball was behind, and Meeks was able to undercut the throw for an easy interception. • Irish Defense Wears Down Late. Notre Dame acquitted itself very well against Stanford, holding the Cardinal to just eight offensive points and 296 yards of offense. Late in the game, however, the Irish defense wore down. Stanford took possession of the ball late in the third quarter after a Notre Dame safety, then pro- ceeded to march 67 yards on 11 plays, taking 5:39 off the clock and capping the drive off with a touch- down and two-point conversion to take a 17-10 lead. On its next possession, Stanford went 33 yards on eight plays, but took another 4:40 off the clock. Stanford running back Bryce Love did most of his damage during this stretch, gaining 69 of his 129 yards on 12 carries during those final two drives. — Bryan Driskell Senior running back Tarean Folston returned from an ankle injury and looked good against Stanford, finishing with 49 yards on eight carries. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA 2 Games in a row Notre Dame allowed a non- offensive touchdown by the opponent that proved to be the difference in defeat. North Caro- lina State tallied on a blocked punt Oct. 8 to lead its 10-3 win, while Stanford's Quenton Meeks scored on a 50-yard interception return on the first series of the second half to cut its deficit to 10-7. It was the first pick-six by an Irish foe since Arizona State had two on Nov. 8, 2014, in its 55-31 victory. Notre Dame's defense has allowed only 11 points the past two games. 3 Straight losses for Notre Dame at home, a first since losing the first six home contests in 2007 before defeating Duke (28-7). The Irish also have lost three straight on Oct. 15 since the epic 31-30 win over No. 1 Miami in 1988. Notre Dame lost 21-14 to BYU in 1994, 34-31 to No. 1 USC in 2005 and now Stanford. 5 Consecutive games this series that came down to the final possession, if not the final play. Stanford won 27-20 in 2013, 38-36 last year and 17-10 this year, while Notre Dame won 20-13 in overtime in 2012 and 17-14 in 2014. 7 Points this game has been determined by six times in the last 10 meetings since 2007. The Irish won by seven in 2007 (21-14) 2008 (28-21), 2012 (20-13 in overtime), while Stanford won by the same amount in 2009 (45-38), 2013 (27-20) and this season (17-10). 12 Tackles by Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, 10 of them solo. It was perhaps the most dominant performance by an opposing lineman against the Irish since Syracuse's Arthur Jones had an amazing 15 tackles in the Orange's 24-23 win at Notre Dame in 2008 on Senior Day. 13 Points scored by Notre Dame in the last two games, a 10-3 loss at North Carolina State and 17-10 at home to Stanford. That is the lowest over a two-game stretch since the 10 it had in losses to Penn State (31-10) and Michigan (38-0) in the second and third games during the 3-9 season in 2007. 124 Points scored by Notre Dame versus Stanford in head coach Brian Kelly's seven seasons (2010-16) while going 2-5 versus the Cardinal. That comes out to only an 18.7 average per game, with the only time the Irish tallied more than 20 was in a 38-36 defeat last year. 2004 The only other season Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was 2-5. It was Kelly's first season with the Central Michigan Chippewas, who finished the year 4-7. It was the lone sub-.500 season in his head coaching career dating back to 1991. BY THE NUMBERS BY LOU SOMOGYI

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