Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 55

32 OCT. 9, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED What Worked Ground Game Continues To Roll: Notre Dame dominated on the ground for the fourth time in five games, rushing for 301 yards against Miami (Ohio). The Irish actually finished with 333 yards, but 32 of those yards came on a second-quarter fake punt. Notre Dame completely manhan- dled the RedHawks' undersized line, opening up gaping early holes for ju- nior running back Josh Adams, who rushed for 159 yards and two touch- downs on just eight carries. Adams played less than a quarter of football. On Notre Dame's second play of the game, Adams took a straight-ahead handoff and the line got a good push. A second level linebacker stepped into the hole, but Adams made a quick cut to his right, got vertical and ripped off a 73-yard touchdown run. After Miami (Ohio) cut the lead to 14-7, the ground game went back to work. Adams went for eight yards and four yards before ripping off a 59- yard touchdown run on a stretch play. Notre Dame topped 300 yards on the ground for the third time in five games. Big Plays Continue: The Irish offense has made a living on big plays all season so far. Coming into this matchup, the Irish offense had churned out 26 plays of at least 20 yards and eight of at least 40 yards. That continued against Miami (Ohio), with the offense notching seven plays of at least 20 yards and four of at least 40 yards in the game. Notre Dame had 73- and 59-yard touchdown runs from Adams, a ca- reer-high 54-yard touchdown catch from junior receiver Miles Boykin and a career-long 26-yard touch- down run from sophomore running back Deon McIntosh. That doesn't include the 32-yard run on the fake punt by Tony Jones Jr. Disruptive On Defense: Defensive coordinator Mike Elko was brought to Notre Dame because he is known as a strong teacher of the game, and because his scheme is known to be highly disruptive, thereby forcing turnovers. That was evident again in the 52-17 win over Miami (Ohio). Despite yielding 377 yards of of- fense and 5.4 yards per play, the Irish allowed only 17 points to an offense that had scored at least 26 points in three of its previous four games. The opportunistic and disruptive defense was a primary factor. Notre Dame forced two more turnovers in the game, taking their season tally to 11, just three less than it had all of last season. An interception by senior line- backer Greer Martini in Notre Dame territory ended the RedHawks' first drive, and he returned the pick — the first of his career — 42 yards to set up the second Irish touchdown. With Miami (Ohio) nearing midfield later in the first quarter, junior nose tackle Jerry Tillery sacked RedHawks quarterback Gus Ragland to stall a drive, and on Miami's next possession Tillery again sacked Ragland, this time knocking the ball out and into the arms of senior defensive end Jay Hayes. The Irish offense responded with a touchdown to make it 28-7. The RedHawks took the opening drive of the second half deep into Notre Dame territory, but the Irish defense stopped the RedHawks on fourth down. Another Tillery pressure on a fourth-and-six in the third quarter forced Ragland out of the pocket and stalled a fourth Miami (Ohio) drive. What Didn't Work Not Handling The RedHawks' Top Two Weapons: The two best offen- sive weapons for Miami (Ohio) com- ing into the game were junior wide receiver James Gardner and senior tight end Ryan Smith. To shut down the Miami (Ohio) offense, the Irish defense needed to keep both in check — but the Irish were unable to do so. Notre Dame senior cornerback Nick Watkins was beat by Gardner often, including a 34-yard touch- down, a 14-yard touchdown and a 33-yard reception to convert a third- and-nine. Gardner also drew a pass interference penalty on Watkins. Gardner finished the game with five catches for 115 yards and a pair of scores. Smith hurt the Irish over the middle, making grabs of 24 and 22 yards. He also converted a third-and-three with a nine-yard catch in the first quarter. Smith finished the game with three catches for 55 yards. Passing Game: Notre Dame's pass game continued its struggles this sea- son, with junior quarterback Bran- don Wimbush completing just 7 of 18 passes for 119 yards. Wimbush did toss three touchdown passes, but he was constantly late on throws, he struggled to go through his progres- sions and on far too many occasions he was unwilling to release the foot- ball out to open receivers. When Wimbush did get the ball out his receivers weren't as coopera- tive as they needed to be, and three of his tosses were dropped, includ- ing a wheel route to McIntosh that would have gone for a big gain. ✦ Miami (Ohio): What Worked And What Didn't CLOSER LOOK BRYAN DRISKELL Bryan Driskell has been a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated since April 2015. He can be reached at Notre Dame's offensive line — including senior center Sam Mustipher (left) and senior left guard Quenton Nelson (right) — helped pave the way for 333 rushing yards against the RedHawks. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 9, 2017