Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 55

30 OCT. 23, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED What Worked Offensive Line Thrives: Notre Dame started its backup quarterback and played the game without junior running back Dexter Williams, who missed his second straight contest while dealing with an ankle injury. To make matters worse, Notre Dame lost starting se- nior right guard Alex Bars in the first half and standout ju- nior running back Josh Adams was lost after just two carries in the third quarter. A sidetracked lineup could not stop the Irish offense, which scored 31 points and racked up 487 yards of total of- fense against North Carolina. The reason behind the contin- ued dominance on offense — especially on the ground — is the play of the veteran offensive line. It seems like a broken record at this point. In Notre Dame's five wins, the run game has been the driving force behind the offense's success, with the Irish averaging 358.6 rushing yards per game in their five victories. The Irish pounded out 341 yards on 57 attempts (6.0 per carry) against the Tar Heels, with both Adams (118 yards) and sophomore Deon McIn- tosh (124) topping the 100-yard mark. Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long tried to get sophomore quarterback Ian Book going early, and it worked for the most part. Book completed 8 of 11 passes for 89 yards in the opening quarter. He started to miss in the second quarter, though, completing just 6 of 14 passes during that 15 minutes. That was when Long turned to the ground game, and it began with Ad- ams ripping off a 73-yard touchdown run. Notre Dame ran a stretch play to the left, and Adams showed excep- tional patience to allow the blocks to get set up and the UNC defense to over-pursue before cutting it up for the big gain. Notre Dame put the game away in the second half, rushing for 187 yards despite playing all but one series with its fourth- and fifth-string running backs, and its backup quarterback. Defense Harasses Chazz Surratt: Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko made it a point to go af- ter North Carolina redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt early and often, and the game plan paid off significantly. The Tar Heels finished with only 265 total yards. The game plan was obvious: at- tack the Tar Heel offensive line and don't let Surratt get comfortable in the pocket. North Carolina went three-and-out on its first five possessions and could never get into any kind of rhythm. Notre Dame controlled the line of scrimmage, and outside of a blown assignment on a quarterback read the Tar Heels did very little in the first three quarters outside of one drive. The Irish defense had just five tack- les for loss in the game, but it hit Sur- ratt constantly, finishing the game with a season-high 11 quarterback hurries. In fact, it was over double the previous season high of five, which Notre Dame tallied against Georgia, Michigan State and Miami (Ohio). It came from all over, with the line making a number of plays and Elko drawing up a number of pressures that proved impactful. After the Notre Dame offense was stopped on a fourth-and-one, Elko immediately turned up the pressure, calling a cornerback blitz by junior cornerback Shaun Crawford on the first play of the ensuing possession. Crawford drilled Surratt for an eight-yard loss, and North Carolina punted three plays later. What Didn't Work Pass Game Stalls: Book got off to a good start, but in the second and third quarter he struggled to keep his early rhythm. The Tar Heels made some adjustments, and the downfield routes that Notre Dame went to weren't com- ing open. In the final three quarters, the sophomore completed just 9 of 20 passes, including a pair of interceptions. His second interception came in the red zone, marking the first time all sea- son Notre Dame failed to put points on the board after moving inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Book made enough plays to win the game, and he showed a lot of toughness for a young man making his first start, especially considering it came on the road. But his inability to get the ball to his receivers stalled drives and kept Notre Dame's points down a bit in the game. Cadence Issues Early On: It is typ- ical for quarterbacks making their first starts to have issues with the cadence. When DeShone Kizer made his first start of the 2015 season the Irish had four false start penalties. Notre Dame had a false start on its first series during a 17-14 win over BYU in 2012, the first start then ju- nior Tommy Rees made that season. Notre Dame had three false starts against the Tar Heels, and the Irish line struggled to really get off the ball with a lot of authority early in the game. Once the line got used to Book its play picked up, but cadence issues did contribute to some of the early game struggles. ✦ UNC Game: What Worked And What Didn't Work CLOSER LOOK BRYAN DRISKELL Bryan Driskell has been a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated since April 2015. He can be reached at The Irish offensive line paved the way for 341 rushing yards on 57 attempts (6.0 per carry) against the Tar Heels. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 23, 2017