Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 30, 2017

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

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Page 35 of 55

36 OCT. 30, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED forced opponents to take to the air. The Irish de- fense ranked 12th in passing yards allowed per attempt (5.9), 19th in passing yards allowed per completion (10.8) and 27th in pass efficiency de- fense (112.5 rating). Improving the pass rush was the primary reason for success. The Irish registered 13 sacks through the bye week, one short of the entire total during the 2016 season. It put Notre Dame on pace to fin- ish with 26 sacks, which would tie for the second most in head coach Brian Kelly's tenure. The Irish defense also was credited with 33 quar- terback hurries during the first six games — a pace for 66 hurries during the regular season, which would easily out-distance the previous Kelly era high of 54 (2015). Advantage: NC State NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. NC STATE RUN DEFENSE Notre Dame's ground game was the driving force behind the team's 5-1 start. The Irish aver- aged 308.0 yards per contest through six contests (nearly double from last year), which ranked fifth nationally. In addition, Notre Dame's average of 6.9 yards per carry ranked third in the land and its 23 touchdowns on the ground checked in seventh. Notre Dame rushed for at least 333 yards in four of its first six outings, with a season-best 515 yards coming in the 49-20 win over Boston College Sept. 16. Junior running back Josh Adams was the primary beneficiary of Notre Dame's commitment to the run and the play of its dominant offensive line. Adams ranked seventh in the land with an av- erage of 129.3 yards per game through six contests. His clip of 9.02 yards per carry ranked second nationally, but he wasn't even tops on the Irish ros- ter. Classmate Dexter Williams, who hasn't played enough to qualify for the national rankings, averaged 10.2 yards per rush before missing the final three games prior to the bye week with an ankle injury. Fifth-year senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey and senior left guard Quenton Nelson were both named midseason All-Americans by Sports Illus- trated, evidence of the line's outstanding play. NC State will arguably be the best run defense Notre Dame will face in 2017. Through their first seven games the Wolfpack ranked seventh in the country, yielding 91.3 rushing yards. They also per- mitted 3.0 yards per attempt, which ranked 14th. Just how good NC State is with its ground defense is a bit of an unknown. The defensive line is undoubt- edly one of the best on the Irish schedule. Senior end Bradley Chubb was a preseason All-American, and he was listed on the same midseason All-American list that McGlinchey and Nelson were named to. Fifth-year senior middle linebacker Jerod Fer- nandez led NC State with 56 tackles on the season. The issue isn't that NC State lacks proven ability up front, it is about the quality of its competition. Five of the first seven opponents ranked between No. 83 and No. 114 in rushing offense. Advantage: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. NC STATE PASS DEFENSE Notre Dame's run offense versus the NC State run defense is a strength-on-strength matchup. The matchup of the Irish pass offense and the NC State pass defense is the exact opposite — supposed weakness against weakness. Notre Dame ranked 115th in the land through six games, passing for just 163.2 yards per game. The peripheral numbers aren't any better, with Notre Dame coming in at 107th in yards per completion (11.0), 114th in pass efficiency (109.00 rating) and 120th in yards per attempt (5.7). Junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush was dy- namic as a runner in his five starts, but he com- pleted just 52.3 percent of his passes while throwing only six touchdown passes. NC State ranked 119th in passing yards allowed after seven weeks, surrendering 287.0 yards per game. The Wolfpack surrendered at least 350 pass- ing yards in three games, and opposing quarter- backs completed 57.6 percent of their passes. What NC State does well is get after the quar- terback, ranking 35th nationally with 18 sacks. It is led by Chubb, who had 6.5 sacks and seven hurries through seven games despite opponents focusing their protections on slowing him down. Chubb isn't a one-man show up front, with the rest of the NC State defensive line adding 8.5 sacks through seven games. Advantage: Even SPECIAL TEAMS NC State will enter this matchup with a signifi- cant advantage when it comes to its return game. The Wolfpack ranked sixth nationally in punt return average and 34th in kick return average thanks to the home-run ability of Hines, who averaged 19.6 yards on his seven punt returns. That included a 92-yard touchdown against Pittsburgh. The Wolfpack ranked just 88th in kick coverage and 104th in punt coverage, but Notre Dame had yet to show the ability to make teams pay with its own return game. Notre Dame ranked 55th in kick returns and 112th in punt return average through the first six games. Advantage: NC State GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA STATE Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. WR 6 E. St. Brown 6-5 203 Jr. 81 Miles Boykin 6-4 225 Jr. WR 83 Chase Claypool 6-4½ 228 So. 10 Chris Finke 5-9½ 181 Jr. LT 68 Mike McGlinchey 6-8 315 5th-Sr. 74 Liam Eichenberg 6-6 300 So. LG 56 Quenton Nelson 6-5 330 Sr. 75 Joshua Lugg 6-7 300 Fr. C 53 Sam Mustipher 6-2½ 305 Jr. 57 Trevor Ruhland 6-3½ 302 Jr. RG 71 Alex Bars 6-6 312 Sr. 70 Hunter Bivin 6-6 315 5th-Sr. RT 78 Tommy Kraemer 6-5½ 314 So. 72 Robert Hainsey 6-4½ 292 Fr. TE 80 Durham Smythe 6-5½ 257 5th-Sr. 86 Alizé Mack 6-5 251 Jr. WR 15 Cameron Smith 5-10½ 202 5th-Sr. 87 Michael Young 5-10 190 Fr. or 3 C.J. Sanders 5-8 181 Jr. QB 7 Brandon Wimbush 6-2 228 Jr. 12 Ian Book 6-0 208 So. RB 33 Josh Adams 6-2 225 Jr. 2 Dexter Williams 5-11 215 Jr. or 34 Tony Jones Jr. 5-11 225 So. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 93 Jay Hayes 6-3½ 290 Sr. or 98 Andrew Trumbetti 6-4 263 Sr. DT 55 Jonathan Bonner 6-4 291 Sr. 95 M. Tagovailoa-Amosa 6-2½ 293 Fr. NT 99 Jerry Tillery 6-7 306 Jr. 41 Kurt Hinish 6-2 298 Fr. Drop 9 Daelin Hayes 6-4 258 So. 42 Julian Okwara 6-4½ 240 So. Mike 5 Nyles Morgan 6-1 235 Sr. 44 Jamir Jones 6-3 240 So. Buck 48 Greer Martini 6-3½ 236 Sr. or 4 Te'von Coney 6-1 240 Jr. Rover 23 Drue Tranquill 6-2 231 Sr. 22 Asmar Bilal 6-2 230 Jr. CB 27 Julian Love 5-11 193 So. 20 Shaun Crawford 5-9 176 Jr. Stud 24 Nick Coleman 6-0 192 Jr. 17 Isaiah Robertson 6-1½ 195 Fr. Whip 21 Jalen Elliott 6-0½ 205 So. or 14 Devin Studstill 6-0 195 So. CB 7 Nick Watkins 6-1 207 Sr. 8 Donte Vaughn 6-3 206 So. NOTRE DAME DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. KO 19 Justin Yoon 5-10 192 Jr. 39 Jonathan Doerer 6-3 193 Fr. PK 19 Justin Yoon 5-10 192 Jr. 39 Jonathan Doerer 6-3 193 Fr. P 85 Tyler Newsome 6-2½ 210 Sr. 42 Jeff Riney 5-10 180 Jr. H 4 M. VanGorder 6-1 222 Sr. 85 Tyler Newsome 6-2½ 210 Sr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. LS 54 John Shannon 6-2 230 So. 82 Nic Weishar 6-5 243 Sr. PR 10 Chris Finke 5-9½ 181 Jr. 3 C.J. Sanders 5-8 181 Jr. KR 3 C.J. Sanders 5-8 181 Jr. 87 Michael Young 5-10 190 Fr. Special Teams

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