Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

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

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28 OCT. 31, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED JARRON JONES DOMINATES During the 2014 season, his first season as a full-time starter, nose guard Jarron Jones was, at times, one of Notre Dame's best defensive play- ers. It was expected that he would ride that success into a strong 2015 season, but a knee injury he suffered during fall camp limited him to just one game played. Coming into this season, the hope for Notre Dame was that Jones would bounce back and finish his career off on a strong note. However, through the first four games of the season, he was wildly erratic with his play, mixing in strong moments with too many snaps where he was ineffective. Beginning with Notre Dame's 50- 33 win over Syracuse, Jones has con- tinued to improve each week. His performance against Stanford was without question the best of his sea- son. The standout nose guard is fi- nally getting comfortable after miss- ing most of the 2015 season, and he's trying to feed off of his teammates. "I'm just getting used to the flow of the game," Jones said following the contest with Stanford. "It's a new type of energy that we carry. We play for each other and we emphasize that. Just looking at my teammates and how they want to win makes me want to play for them even harder." Jones played with a great deal of confidence, dominating Stanford center Jesse Burkett throughout the game. Jones recorded two tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, a forced fum- ble and a fumble recovery. He spent the majority of the game deep in the Stanford backfield, which made it difficult for Stanford to consistently put together drives. "I knew they couldn't block me," Jones explained, trying to show hu- mility while also stating what was obvious to anyone watching the game. "I just had to go out there and show what I could do. Stanford's a really good team, and they played well today." Jones said Notre Dame's early sea- son struggles have forced him and his teammates to come together, and that unity is the driving force behind his recent surge. "Nobody's satisfied with what's go- ing on right now," he said. "We just want to play for each other. I hope my play out on the field shows how much I love my teammates and coaches." DEFENDERS LETTING LOOSE AND PLAYING FOR EACH OTHER On several occasions, fifth-year se- nior nose guard Jarron Jones talked about the players coming together and trying to win for each other, for the man to his side. He was not the lone Notre Dame figure to make sim- ilar comments following the loss. Jones believes that unity and the defense's change in attitude are the primary reasons for the improved success in recent weeks on that side of the ball. Since coordinator Brian VanGorder was fired Sept. 25, the defense has continued to improve. After Notre Dame gave up 23 points and 281 yards on Syracuse's first 29 plays, the Irish shut down the Orange, yielding just 10 points and 208 yards on its next 59 plays. The Irish held North Carolina State to three offensive points and 198 yards of offense a week later, and it kept Stanford to just eight offensive points and 296 yards of offense. During that stretch, the Irish de- fenders are no longer holding back. "We let it go. We're not afraid to mess up anymore," Jones said. "We were always so tentative, afraid that something bad was going to happen no matter what we did. We were al- ways afraid we were going to make a mistake. "That has changed in recent weeks, as the statistics make clear. "I can tell everybody's bought in, and we're playing for each other, which I really love," senior corner- STANFORD GAME NOTES BY BRYAN DRISKELL Fifth-year senior nose guard Jarron Jones was dominant against Stanford, finishing with two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • With the loss, Notre Dame drops to 19-12 all-time versus Stanford and 13-4 versus the Cardinal in Notre Dame Stadium. • Notre Dame's defense has allowed just 11 points in its last two games and given up just one offensive touchdown in its last 25 series, dating back to the fourth quarter against Syra- cuse Oct. 1. • Freshman cornerback Julian Love's first quarter fumble recovery was the first of his career. • Notre Dame's offense was held to less than 400 yards for the second consecutive game, the first time that has happened since November 2014, when it was under that mark in losses to Louisville and USC.

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