BlueAndGold – Kevin Austin Jr.’s 70-yard TD brings a Notre Dame deep-ball resurgence – Irish Illustrated

The box score may not say so, but the play worked properly the first two times Notre Dame ran it.

Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees called four verticals in the red zone on a second-quarter drive Saturday vs. Navy, and the Midshipmen left receiver Kevin Austin Jr. open. Quarterback Jack Coa…….

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The box score may not say so, but the play worked properly the first two times Notre Dame ran it.

Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees called four verticals in the red zone on a second-quarter drive Saturday vs. Navy, and the Midshipmen left receiver Kevin Austin Jr. open. Quarterback Jack Coan, though, didn’t see it and threw a checkdown to running back Chris Tyree.

Two drives later in a two-minute drill, Rees went to it again, seeking a big-gainer passing play after consecutive first-down runs. The Irish wanted to add to their 10-3 lead over Navy right before halftime, and Rees called Austin’s number again to help the cause.

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Austin settled into a soft spot in Navy’s Cover 2 zone, open for a would-be first down. Coan’s pass, though, hit the wall below the Notre Dame Stadium flower beds instead of hitting Austin’s hands. He left the pocket and threw the ball away.

Two misreads, plain and simple. Coan heard about it from head coach Brian Kelly right away.

“I was like, ‘I’m open, I’m open’ on the sideline and Coach Kelly is yelling at him,” Austin said, recalling the aftermath from the first one.

Rees gave him a third chance. Two plays later, on third-and-seven from Notre Dame’s own 30-yard line, he dialed up four verts yet again.

Same result. Austin was open down the sideline. This time, Coan saw it, held Navy safety Jamal Glenn in the middle of the field with his eyes and let it rip.

Austin caught it 23 yards downfield, a sizable chunk on its own. Glenn’s decision to play the ball instead of wrapping Austin up gave him a lot more. Glenn broke on the throw and undercut Austin, hoping to get his hands on the pass. He arrived too late, and as a result, left Austin with no one else to beat. Austin sprinted untouched for a 70-yard score — Notre Dame’s longest passing play this year — and 17-3 lead.

Kevin Austin Jr. had his first career 100-yard receiving game Saturday vs. Navy. (Chad Weaver/BGI)

“Jack used his eyes to influence the safety,” Kelly said. “Pulled the safety, came all the way back across the field and was able to find Kevin in the hole shot. It was something we had game planned all week.”

A second-quarter touchdown is rarely a backbreaker, but this one can arguably be classified as such in hindsight. It turned a one-score lead into a two-touchdown game, and with the way the Irish defense had played to that point, 14 points felt just about insurmountable for Navy. Sure enough, they never got closer than 11 the rest of the way in the No. 8 Irish’s 34-6 win.

Austin ended the day with six catches on seven targets for 139 yards and a touchdown. His 70-yarder had meaning beyond this game too: Even as Notre Dame’s offense further establishes itself as a quick passing game, up-tempo attack, there’s room for the downfield throws to Austin that were an early-season staple.

Austin’s 21-yard touchdown catch vs. North Carolina was he and Coan’s first connection for a shot play since their 36-yard score vs. Wisconsin Sept. 25. A pair of Coan benchings and the subsequent shift …….

Source: https://notredame.rivals.com/news/kevin-austin-jr-s-70-yard-td-brings-a-notre-dame-deep-ball-resurgence

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