Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2018

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 47 FEBRUARY 2018 19 LSU RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Minus a 31-yard run, hard-charging, physical LSU running back Derrius Guice was limited to 67 yards on his other 20 carries, with junior linebacker Te'von Coney (17 tackles) headlining the Notre Dame defense. The Irish funneled most runs inside while taking away the jet sweep. LSU was about 40 yards below its rushing average with 170 yards, but particularly empowering to Notre Dame was the short-yardage defense. Two different Irish stands inside their 5-yard line netted just three points for the Tigers. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame LSU PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Quarterback Danny Etling (19-of-33 passing for 229 yards with two touch- downs and no interceptions) displayed toughness and moxie against an Irish defense that was more disruptive than the two sacks and three hurries indicate. Most of the completions were short hitches or dump-offs on bootlegs, but the Irish secondary also missed on several jump-ball opportunities that LSU caught to keep possession. On the final Tigers drive, the Irish brought pressure rather than going to a soft zone, or the infamous prevent defense. The approach resulted in four straight incomplete passes. Sophomore cornerback Julian Love added three more passes broken up to raise his single-season school record to 20 (and passes defended to 23). ADVANTAGE: Even NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. LSU RUN DEFENSE Subtract the four quarterback sacks of sophomore Ian Book and the Irish ground game manufactured 185 yards and 6.6 yards per carry. LSU held junior Josh Adams (15 carries for 44 yards) in check, but two of the most crucial plays were a 21-yard scamper by Book on third-and-19 to set up Notre Dame's field goal with four seconds left before halftime for a 3-0 lead, and junior Dexter Williams' 31-yard burst that would propel the first Irish touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Similar to Notre Dame's defense, LSU did well by limiting Notre Dame to 154 rushing yards — 125 below its average. ADVANTAGE: LSU NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. LSU PASS DEFENSE Ultimately, Notre Dame's 75- and 73-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter leaned heavily on Book's passing and junior wideout Miles Boykins' receiving, specifically his 29-yard catch on third-and-19 to set up the first TD and his 55-yard catch and run for the second score. Book was 4-of-6 passing for 108 yards with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and often had tremendous protection while going through his reads and sensed well when to get out of the pocket. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS It appeared the game was going to turn on the opening possession of the third quarter when Irish freshman safety Isaiah Robertson did not get out of the way of an LSU punt, resulting in the ball touching him, the Tigers recovering it at the Irish 43 and then moving ahead 7-3. It was shades of the 36-28 loss to Michigan State in 2016 when the same happened to Boykin. Eventually, what proved to be the greater difference is while LSU missed 23- and 37-yard field goals in the first half, Notre Dame's Justin Yoon converted both of his attempts in the game, with the 46- and 49-yard boots his two lon- gest of the season — and in slippery conditions. LSU star return man DJ Chark fumbled two punts, but LSU recovered both, and he also fielded a punt at his 1-yard line to put the Tigers in awful field position. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS LSU had the better percentage at 52.6 (10 of 19) to Notre Dame's 46.2 (6 of 13), but the Irish converted two third-and-19 situations that set up 10 points. The first was a 21-yard scramble by Book for a field goal before halftime, while the second was a 29-yard completion to Boykin at the LSU 19 that led to a touchdown. LSU scored on a 20-yard touchdown on third-and-four, and also converted three third downs on its second touchdown. But on two different situations it failed on third down inside the Notre Dame 3-yard line, resulting in three total points. ADVANTAGE: Even TURNOVERS LSU won 2-0, with the aforementioned Irish miscue on a Tigers punt setting up a 43-yard touchdown march to move ahead 7-3. The second turnover, an interception by cornerback Greedy Williams, did not result in an LSU score while starting from inside the Irish 10-yard line. ADVANTAGE: LSU ANALYSIS This was an exercise in exceptional composure and — dare we say it — grit by the Irish. They made a goal-line stand and held LSU scoreless on two red-zone opportunities in the first half. They also missed on three chances to recover LSU fumbles in the first half, but held strong. Notre Dame also did not let the turnover off a Tigers punt, resulting in touchdown by LSU for a 7-3 lead, demoralize it in the third quarter. And led by a backup QB (Book) and receiver (Boykin), the Irish rallied from a 14-6 fourth-quarter deficit (and also a 17-14 disadvantage) to a 21-17 victory. It was a well-earned triumph in all three phases of the game, plus the Irish showed strong mental toughness while overcoming a 2-0 turnover deficit. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI The Irish defense was more disruptive than the two sacks and three hurries it registered against LSU quarterback Danny Etling indicate. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - February 2018