Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2020

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

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26 SEPT. 19, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED KYREN WILLIAMS SHINES AS NOTRE DAME'S LEAD RUNNER Halfway through the third quar- ter, sophomore running back Kyren Williams tucked in the handoff from fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book and darted toward the Notre Dame offensive line. It was fourth- and-one, and his team needed a score, up just 10-6. But he saw the left side of the of- fensive line get pushed into the backfield. There was no hole to run through. In an instant, Williams changed course, followed an in-line block from junior tight end Tommy Trem- ble off the edge and burst into the open field. Fifth-year senior wide re- ceiver Javon McKinley picked up the only remaining defender and Wil- liams sprinted 26 yards into the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon. In a game where Williams wiggled, cut and ran his way to 205 total yards (112 on the ground and 93 through the air) and two touchdowns, this is the play that should make Fighting Irish fans giddy. It demonstrates that he has the vision and creativity to thrive even when an opponent calls the right defensive play. "For an opener, that's a really good performance and something to build off," head coach Brian Kelly said. "Certainly there's a number of run- reads and blitz pickups and things of that nature that he's going to get a great learning curve from. But obvi- ously a really good day." In the locker room after the game, Kelly handed Williams the game ball for his efforts. Yet as impressive as his performance was, Williams was slow out of the gate. His first six touches of the game went for a total of nine yards. Then, halfway through the second quarter, a well-blocked tunnel screen gave him enough day- light to run for a 75 yards, the longest gain of the game. From that point on, Williams was in the zone and the offense took control. "It took a couple of drives to again get in my flow, to finally be able to relax, breathe and just be the player I am," Williams said. "With the tunnel screen in and the long run, we were able to dictate to their defense." DEFENSE ADJUSTS, SETTLES IN AND LOCKS DOWN The Duke offense started the game on fire. In the first quarter, the Blue Devils racked up 151 yards of total offense. Fortunately for Notre Dame, this only resulted in three points. Then, defensive coordinator Clark Lea did what he does best: make ad- justments. In the final two quarters of the game, Duke scored seven points and was held to just 88 yards. "We prepared all week for a cer- tain type of offense, but Duke came out with something different that we didn't really expect," senior rover Jer- emiah Owusu-Koramoah said. "We had to make a lot of adjustments. They have a lot of talented players." Even with the slow start, Notre Dame's star players still had big games. Owusu-Koramoah led the team in tackles with nine and also chipped in two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Despite hardly playing in the second half due to an ankle injury, sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton still had seven tackles, one pass broken up and a quarterback hurry. Reserve sophomore defensive end Isaiah Foskey also had a productive game off the edge with two tackles, two quarterback hurries, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one pass bro- ken up. "Some people would be happy that he would be their featured player — and he's a depth player for us," head coach Brian Kelly said. "He's an out- standing football player, let's just put it that way." Foskey wasn't the lone backup to impact the game. A total of 24 players played at least a few defensive snaps, which allowed the Fighting Irish unit to stay fresh all afternoon. "We are blessed with great depth," Kelly said. "You could start to see that show itself in the third and fourth quarter where we started to take the game over." FAKE PUNT ALTERS MOMENTUM Down 3-0 to Duke early in the sec- ond quarter with the offense looking sluggish, the Notre Dame coaching staff decided it was time to gamble. On fourth-and-eight from his own 21-yard line, sophomore punter Jay DUKE GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND PATRICK ENGEL After surrendering 151 total yards to Duke in the first quarter alone, the Notre Dame defense adjusted and limited the Blue Devils to 88 in the second half (just 27 in the fourth quarter). PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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