Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

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

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Page 28 of 55 OCT. 31, 2016 29 back Cole Luke said. "We all play together and we're doing it, and it's showing on the field." Luke also believes the defense has improved since it started to unify and shift its focus. The approach went away from the grind of play- ing college football, and back to why they play the game. "We're playing for each other; we love each other," the Chandler, Ariz., native explained. "We're realizing why we play this game, and why we grind 40-plus hours a week. It's just because we love this game, it's not a job. "I think before we were going out just because we had to, and we lost sight of why when we were four years old you go in the backyard and pick up a football and throw it around. I think we've found that. A lot of players have grabbed that, and we're flying around, having fun." Luke has not only adopted a new mentality, he's also accepted a new role — at least at times. The senior had been Notre Dame's starting right cornerback for 26 straight games coming into the 2016 season. He started at that position the first three weeks of the season, but the last three weeks Luke has also played exten- sively at the nickel position. Against Stanford, Luke constantly rotated between nickel and the right cornerback position. It is certainly not an easy task, but one he gladly accepts. "I'll do whatever I need to do for the team," Luke said. "I love nickel; there's a lot more action. I love cor- nerback. Wherever they need me I'm going to play." Luke had a quality performance against the Cardinal, finishing with four solo tackles and picking off a second-quarter pass to end a Stan- ford drive. COMING UP SHORT … AGAIN Notre Dame is now an incredibly disappointing 2-5 with the loss to Stanford. For the first 30 minutes it appeared Notre Dame was on track for a big win, taking a 10-0 lead into the half. That changed in the second half with Stanford scoring 17 unan- swered points. The game was another example of what has plagued the team during the 2016 season. When one unit plays well — this time the defense — the offense and special teams don't. All five of Notre Dame's losses have been by eight points or less, and in each game the offense had the ball late with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Notre Dame's loss to Stanford was no different. The Irish took posses- sion of the football at their own 25- yard line with 3:44 left in the game. The series began well, with junior quarterback DeShone Kizer pick- ing up 10 yards with his legs and then hitting senior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. for an 11-yard gain, sophomore wideout Equanimeous St. Brown for 16 yards and freshman wide receiver Chase Claypool for a 13-yard pickup on consecutive plays. NOTRE DAME VS. STANFORD QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 3:11 9:55 8:05 5:58 13:06 14:03 27:09 Third-Down Conversions 0-1 2-5 3-5 0-3 2-6 3-8 5-14 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 1-1 0-1 1-2 1-1 1-3 2-4 Average Field Position ND-27 ND-21 ND-22 ND-18 ND-23 ND-20 ND-22 Stanford 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 11:49 5:05 6:55 9:02 16:54 15:57 32:51 Third-Down Conversions 2-3 1-3 1-2 3-4 3-6 4-6 7-12 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 Average Field Position SU-27 SU-22 SU-40 SU-20 SU-25 SU-35 SU-29 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards ND STAN (-) Yards 9 4 0-5 Yards 33 36 6-9 Yards 11 9 10-19 Yards 7 10 20-29 Yards 1 1 30-39 Yards 2 0 40-49 Yards 1 0 50 or more Yards 0 0 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score Notre Dame 3 1 1 1 Stanford 1 1 0 0 BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Notre Dame • 1-10 ND26 Kizer rush for 32 yards to the SU42 • 3-9 SU41 Kizer pass complete to Hunter for 33 yards to the SU8 • 2-21 ND13 Kizer rush for 49 yards to the SU38 Senior Cole Luke played both nickel and cornerback in Notre Dame's loss to Stanford, and recorded his first interception of the season. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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