Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

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

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24 OCT. 24, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT After taking a 7-6 lead with an 83-yard drive to open the second half, Louisville's momentum was palpable, especially after having stayed within strik- ing distance despite getting dominated statistically in the first half, particularly in time of possession. Sensing that Notre Dame might be shaken and vulnerable, the aggressive-minded, play-to-win Cardinals called an onside kick after their score — and appeared to have recovered the football near midfield. However, the replay booth showed an illegal block by the Cardinals that forced them to kick again five yards deeper. After then returning the conventional kickoff to its 34-yard line, Notre Dame responded with a 66-yard touchdown drive, capped by fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book's 13-yard scramble on third-and-eight for the score to take the lead for good. That sequence may have both slightly deflated Louisville and uplifted the Fighting Irish while they stopped the temporary bleeding. STAT(S) OF THE GAME Although Notre Dame had only seven posses- sions in this game — the fewest since having only six series on offense in the 28-27 loss to Navy in 2016 — it penetrated Louisville's red zone (20- yard line and in) five times. Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish scored only one touchdown and two field goals from those five opportunities, which helped result in the close score. One of those drives, though was the final one in which the Irish, after getting to the Louisville 11-yard line, ran out the clock by taking a knee a few times. Honorable mention is we had Notre Dame 5 of 6 on third-down conversions in the second half before taking a knee on third-and-15 to end the contest. One of them was Book's 13-yard touchdown run on third-and-eight, and especially crucial was converting three third-down situa- tions of five yards or more on the final possession that enabled the Irish to run out the final 7:55 of the clock. AN IDEAL TIME FOR THE SCARE While there might be some handwringing about struggling against an opponent that is now 0-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, such close calls against lesser foes is usually an an- nual occurrence. Fortunately, Notre Dame has responded well to them. Last year the 21-20, 11th-hour squeaker against Virginia Tech was the beginning of a six-game winning streak, with the last five won by an aver- age of 28.4 points, none less than 21. Two years ago while rallying in the fourth quar- ter to defeat Pitt 19-14, Notre Dame responded superbly over the final month and a half to reach the College Football Playoff. This close call against a game Louisville outfit should once again serve Notre Dame well when it travels to Pitt and Georgia Tech before the showdown with Clemson. The ACC pecking order is clear with Clemson at the top, the Fighting Irish the main challenger … and then everybody else among the other 13. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: RB KYREN WILLIAMS The sophomore running back was an integral piece of Notre Dame's hard-fought 12-7 victory over Louisville, accounting for 39 percent of the Fight- ing Irish's offensive production. He carried the ball 25 times for 127 yards (5.1 yards per attempt) and caught one pass for five yards. Williams was especially big on Notre Dame's final drive of the game. He helped the Irish bleed the final 7:55 off the clock to seal the victory, rushing nine times for 45 yards. He ran for a pair of first downs, including a 24-yard dash on a beautiful cutback on third-and-five from the Louisville 35 with 2:09 remaining. DEFENSE: LB JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH From the start of the game, the senior rover made it clear that he was one of the most athletic players on the field, and that continued to show throughout the rest of the contest. He played a key role in limiting Louisville to 104 rushing yards and 233 total yards. Owusu-Koramoah finished tied for third on the team with five tackles, four of which were solo stops and three of which came behind the line of scrim- mage and resulted in minus-10 yards. SPECIAL TEAMS: K JONATHAN DOERER In a game where Notre Dame struggled to put points on the board, the senior kicker 's two field goals proved vital in his team's five-point win over Louisville. Doerer converted on field goals from 32 and 30 yards in the first half, staking the Fighting Irish to a 6-0 lead. His two second-half kickoffs resulted in a touchback and a Louisville possession from its 17. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY ANDREW MENTOCK Senior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah recorded five total stops (four solo) and three tackles for loss. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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