For the first time this season – and for only the fourth time in the last 16 contests – someone other than Will Fuller proved to be the weapon of choice for a Notre Dame quarterback. And for the second time in that span it was Chris Brown, he of the career-high 11 targets Saturday against Georgia Tech.
Fuller was targeted on eight occasions while rookie Aliz’e Jones finished third with five (three receptions, one fumble). The remaining Irish receivers were targeted just three times (Corey Robinson 2; Torii Hunter 1) with Amir Carlisle benefitting from a pass in his direction for the first time since playing through a knee sprain against Stanford last October. He has not yet been targeted by quarterback DeShone Kizer (43 pass attempts).
The team’s targets through three games are as follows:
Will Fuller: 28 targets, 18 receptions, 5 TD, 1 drop, 22.1 yards per catch
Chris Brown: 22 targets, 14 receptions, 1 TD, 1 drop, 10.3 ypc.
C.J. Prosise: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 1 drop, 6.2 ypc.
Aliz’e Jones: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 1 drop, 1 fumble lost, 6.3 ypc.
Amir Carlisle: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 11.8 ypc.
Corey Robinson: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 11.2 ypc.
Torii Hunter: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 16.0 ypc.
Durham Smythe: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 1 TD, out for season (knee surgery)
Nic Weishar: 1 target, 1 reception, the first of his career Saturday vs. Ga. Tech
Tyler Luatua: 1 target, 0 receptions (pass thrown out of bounds)
What it means going forward: Not much at present, as it’s understandable Kizer would focus on the team’s top two talents on the perimeter. Massachusetts presents an opportunity to become more comfortable with Carlisle, Hunter, and Robinson – and a balance attack will be necessary in two of the three contests that follow.
YOU CAN’T DO THAT
The Irish have committed 18 penalties as a team against an aggregate 17 by their three foes. Among Notre Dame’s chief culprits is one of the nation’s best offensive lineman, senior tackle Ronnie Stanley, who was whistled for a whopping four Saturday against the Yellow Jackets.
On the flip side, Sheldon Day has drawn two holding calls from foes while also directly impacting a false start (Virginia). Jaylon Smith, Matthias Farley (KR) and Devin Butler (KR) have each caused an opponent to hold as well. Max Redfield (smacked in the face), DeShone Kizer (hit late out of bounds) and C.J. Prosise (horse-collar) have elicited 15-yard penalties from foes.
Notre Dame’s committed penalties are as follows:
-- Ronnie Stanley (5): 4 false starts, 1 hold
-- Mike McGlinchey (2): Both false starts
-- Romeo Okwara (1): Personal foul (Late Hit)
-- Elijah Shumate (1): Personal Foul (Facemask)
-- Andrew Trumbetti (1): Personal foul (Unsportsmanlike)
-- DeShone Kizer (1): Grounding
-- KeiVarae Russell (1): Pass Interference
-- Cole Luke (1): Pass Interference
-- Steve Elmer (1): False Start
-- Nick Martin (1): False Start
-- Quenton Nelson (1): False Start
-- Jerry Tillery (1): Offsides
-- Drue Tranquill (1): Offsides on a kickoff
Answering the Challenge: Five of Notre Dame’s six defensive penalties provided a scoring opportunity for opponents including a trio of missed field goals. Only one (Romeo Okwara) aided a foe’s touchdown drive.
SHUT ‘EM DOWN
Notre Dame is tied with a dozen teams nationally to rank 52nd in tackles for loss, but that arbitrary statistic fails to illustrate a clear picture of the squad’s line of scrimmage efforts to date.
Among 191 aggregate snaps from the offenses of Texas, Virginia, and Georgia Tech, 49 have ended in loss or gains of 0, 1, or 2 yards (aka, a “Stuff”). Team Stuff leaders are listed below:
Jaylon Smith: 8.5 including 3.5 for loss
Joe Schmidt: 6.5 including 2.5 for loss
Isaac Rochell: 6 including 1.5 for loss
Elijah Shumate: 5 (includes a penalty)
Romeo Okwara: 4 (one for loss)
Drue Tranquill: 3.5 (includes 2.5 for loss)
Greer Martini: 3 (all against Tech)
Sheldon Day: 3 (all for loss)
Daniel Cage: 2
Of note: in this space last week we called for “20 Stuffs” to provide an Irish victory over the Yellow Jackets. They finished with 19.
THE ROAD TO NOWHERE
Saturday against Georgia Tech, Brian Kelly’s Irish improved upon a glaring weakness from their first two outings: a propensity to get “Stuffed” at scrimmage – 33 times combined against the Longhorns and Cavaliers.
Notre Dame was stopped just 10 times for gains of two yards or fewer (never includes rushes that result in first downs or touchdowns) against the Yellow Jackets and just once in the second half.
Minimal gains this season include:
-- CJ Prosise 18
-- Malik Zaire 9 (includes 2 sacks)
-- DeShone Kizer 4 (includes a grounding penalty
-- Josh Adams 3
-- Will Fuller, Amir Carlisle, Torii Hunter 2 each
-- Chris Brown and Corey Robinson one apiece
-- Tarean Folston 1
Four of the 33 Stuffs suffered by the Irish occurred on wide receiver screens caught behind scrimmage.
THE ROAD TO THE PLAYOFFS
Offsetting the low-yardage totals listed above are a whopping 57 plays in excess of 10 yards provided by Irish skill players. Not surprisingly, Prosise leads the way with Fuller posting the most 30+ yard efforts:
-- Prosise (21) with four excess of 20 yards including a 91-yard touchdown Saturday.
-- Fuller (12) with seven in excess of 20 yards, six of them 30 or more.
-- Brown (7) with a 20-yard gain included
-- Zaire (4) including a long of 39 yards (vs. UVA)
-- Hunter (3) with a 20-yard reception included
-- Robinson (3) including a 20-yard gain against Texas
-- Carlisle (3) all against Texas
-- Josh Adams (2) both for touchdowns against Texas
-- Kizer (1) a 13-yard scramble against the Yellow Jackets
-- Folston (1) on the run that knocked him out for the season
What it Means This Week and Thereafter: Kelly’s offense has averaged 19 gains of 10 or more yards per game while facing a trio of Power Conference defenses – it’s a rate that will give the Irish a shot to top the 30-point mark in each of their next nine contests. In which case, they’ll be playoff bound.