Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 30, 2017

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

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34 OCT. 30, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Notre Dame to be one-dimensional on offense? And if they do, I think NC State is capable of scoring points, then obviously the great equalizer is turnovers and special teams." If there is one potential area of concern for the Wolfpack, it is their pass defense, which ranked 119th in the country with an average of 287.0 yards allowed per game through Oct. 14. Notre Dame was unable to find much of a rhythm through the air in the first half of the season, but will look to take advantage against a potential shaky Wolfpack secondary. "Teams are having success throw- ing on them," Carter said. "That is probably the Achilles' heel of the en- tire football team. They had the two guys get hurt and they already had one starter back at his normal posi- tion, and that was [cornerback] Mike Stevens and he got hurt. [Safety] Shawn Boone started last year, but he moved to a different spot [nickel]. So, you have a lot of guys that this is their first rodeo. … But I think it's also a product of at some point in the second half teams are saying they aren't going to try to run against this run defense because they are re- ally good, so their only chance is to throw, and it's a decent chance. "They've given up a ton of big plays in the pass game. … It's probably a question for both teams. Does Notre Dame have that in their offense to exploit that? If Notre Dame does, can NC State conversely cover that?" The same can be said about the Irish defense when it comes to po- tential areas of concern. Through the first six games, Notre Dame ranked 78th nationally stopping the pass (231.2 yards allowed per contest) and 42nd against the run (134.5 yards al- lowed per game). Redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Finley and the Wolfpack offense were humming along while averaging 467.4 total yards per game heading into their bye week Oct. 21. Finley has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC, complet- ing 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,968 yards with 11 touchdowns and no in- terceptions during the team's 6-1 start. Finley has utilized an array of of- fensive weapons, most notably ju- nior running back Nyheim Hines (a team-high 648 rushing yards), sopho- more wide receiver Kelvin Harmon (36 receptions for 547 yards and two scores) and versatile senior tight end/H back Jaylen Samuels. "It's kind of a controlled passing game, and they'll take the occasional shot, but not often," Carter said. "No more than three or four times a game where they really try to take a verti- cal shot. … Finley gets the ball out quickly and sees the field very well. "He's not a big risk taker and he's gotten stronger this year, too. He added about 15 to 20 pounds over the offseason. You can see a little bit of that in his throws as well." Finley's favorite target is Samuels, who caught 54 passes — the most for all tight ends in the Football Bowl Subdivision — for 453 yards and three touchdowns in the team's first seven games. Samuels is also used as running back, tallying 191 yards and seven touchdowns on 31 carries. The Irish will have to locate Samu- els at all times with NC State moving the senior around as a pass catcher and running back to exploit the weaknesses in opposing defenses. "I guarantee the first thing Notre Dame will do when NC State lines up is find out where Samuels is in the formation," Carter said. "He gives you the versatility to line him up where there's a weakness in the defense, and he has the ability to ex- ploit it. "He's kind of emerged as a short- yardage guy at running back. He's very sure-handed, so he's very good on third down because he's tough to cover on those intermediate routes. … Every coach in America would want a Jaylen Samuels on their football team. He's just that kind of a player." Though the offense ranks inside the top 25 nationally through week seven, there are some questions about just how good it truly is based on its schedule. "Florida State is a pretty good de- fense, but some of the other teams they really moved the ball on — you wonder how good they are defen- sively," Carter said. "That kind of would be the only question mark for NC State. Can they do it against a better team? "They did it against Florida State, but for the other good teams on the schedule defense was probably their weakness." ✦ GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA STATE 2017 NORTH CAROLINA STATE SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 2 vs. South Carolina* L, 35-28 Sept. 9 Marshall W, 37-20 Sept. 16 Furman W, 49-16 Sept. 23 at Florida State W, 27-21 Sept. 30 Syracuse W, 33-25 Oct. 5 Louisville W, 39-25 Oct. 14 at Pittsburgh W, 35-17 Oct. 28 at Notre Dame (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 4 Clemson TBA Nov. 11 at Boston College TBA Nov. 18 at Wake Forest TBA Nov. 25 North Carolina TBA * at Charlotte, N.C. Through seven games, senior Jaylen Samuels led all Football Bowl Subdivision tight ends with 54 receptions, and had compiled 644 total yards (453 receiving and 191 rushing) while scoring 10 touchdowns. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN 2017 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 2 Temple W, 49-16 Sept. 9 Georgia L, 20-19 Sept. 16 at Boston College W, 49-20 Sept. 23 at Michigan State W, 38-18 Sept. 30 Miami (Ohio) W, 52-17 Oct. 7 North Carolina W, 33-10 Oct. 21 USC W, 49-14 Oct. 28 NC State (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 4 Wake Forest (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at Miami (Fla.) TBA Nov. 18 Navy (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at Stanford TBA

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