Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

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

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28 OCT. 9, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED DOMINANT GROUND ATTACK CONTINUES Notre Dame's ground attack has been on a historic run so far this sea- son, and the 52-17 win over Miami (Ohio) was no exception. The Irish of- fense ran for 301 yards against the Red- Hawks, plus another 32 yards came on a fake punt in the second quarter. For some perspective, consider that the Fighting Irish topped the 300- yard rushing mark just twice from 2004-16. Notre Dame rushed for 376 yards in a 41-3 victory over Miami on Oct. 6, 2012, and also racked up 457 yards in a 62-27 win over Massachu- setts on Sept. 26, 2015. Through five games of the 2017 season, Notre Dame has topped the 300-yard mark three times. "We've got some really good players that we want to feature," head coach Brian Kelly said following his team's win over Miami (Ohio). "I made a commitment to change the focus of the offense towards a much more physical approach to running the football. "We are making sure that we uti- lized our strengths. We've got two guys on the left side that are going to be playing on Sundays as well as a very good center and right guard, and our right tackles are coming along." Fifth-year senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey and senior left guard Quenton Nelson played outstanding football against the RedHawks, but junior running back Josh Adams' 73- and 59-yard touchdown runs in the first quarter went to the right behind senior center Sam Mustipher, senior right guard Alex Bars and sopho- more right tackle Tommy Kraemer. Adams has taken full advantage of playing behind such a dominant line. He rushed for 159 yards and two scores on just eight carries despite playing only one quarter against Miami (Ohio). Through five games, Adams has rushed for 658 yards and is averag- ing 9.0 yards per attempt. He is on pace to break Notre Dame's single- season rushing record of 1,437 yards, set in 1979 by Vagas Ferguson. If the trend continues, Adams is on course to rush for 1,579 yards in the regular season, a statistic that is even more impressive when one considers that he has sat out a total of six quar- ters in the first five games thanks to the Irish winning by at least 20 points in each of their four victories. "He's a stud," Kelly said of Adams. "[Saquon] Barkley is a great player at Penn State, but Josh has got to start to get some kind of national recognition for the kind of season he's having. "He is a load. He's a big, physical runner who gets in the open and then runs away from people. This is a spe- cial back who's having a special year." Notre Dame's improvements on the ground game go beyond just hav- ing the personnel. The Irish offense is far more diverse this season, using a wider variety of formations and run game wrinkles than it did a season ago. Last fall, Notre Dame's offense was in a three-receiver formation more than 80 percent of its offensive snaps. Through five games this season, Notre Dame has used that formation group just more than 50 percent of the time. The variety of alignments and schemes has made Notre Dame a more difficult offense to prepare for. There has also been a change in how Notre Dame's staff evaluates itself. "I wanted to self-scout each week, so we've self-scouted each week," Kelly explained, referring to the coaches reviewing themselves after each game. "We've got great balance in a lot of things that we're doing. Be- fore, it would be five weeks and then we'd self-scout, and maybe there were some tendencies here and there. "Now, we're self-scouting weekly, and I think we have got some pretty good balance in what we're trying to do offensively." DEFENSIVE CONTINUES DISRUPTIVE WAYS It wasn't a pretty game for the Notre Dame defense, but once again the Irish did what they needed to do on that side of the ball. Coordinator Mike El- ko's players continued their disruptive play in the win over Miami (Ohio). Notre Dame registered three sacks and five quarterback hurries, broke up six passes and forced two more turnovers. Elko's defense now has 11 turnovers in five games after forcing just 14 total turnovers in each of the last two seasons. According to senior linebacker Greer Martini, the defense's newfound ability to force miscues comes from practice. "It's all preparation," Martini said. "Every day we have a turnover cir- cuit where we're working toward creating turnovers. That's a product of the defensive coaching staff, and that's just part of the defense now." Preparation goes beyond learning how to bat a ball down or to strip the football. It is also about knowing what to expect from your opponent. On the RedHawks' first play from scrim- MIAMI (OHIO) GAME NOTES BY BRYAN DRISKELL Sophomore running back Deon McIntosh con- tributed 47 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, and the Irish eclipsed 300 rushing yards for the third time in five games — a feat they achieved just twice from 2004-16. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Notre Dame is now 3-0 against Mid-Amer- ican Conference opponents under head coach Brian Kelly, with an average margin of victory of 31.3 points. Notre Dame defeated UMass 62-27 on Sept. 26, 2015, and topped Western Michigan 44-20 on Oct. 16, 2010. • The 52 points scored against Miami (Ohio) were the most by Notre Dame since the 62 it scored against UMass. • Adams has now scored 15 career touch- downs, and eight of those scores have been from at least 35 yards out. • Sophomore wideout Chase Claypool's second-quarter touchdown was the first of his career. • Junior wide receiver Miles Boykin (54 yards) and junior wideout Chris Finke (48 yards) both had career-long receptions in the game.

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