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Turnovers hamper Notre Dame’s offense and create Arizona State touchdowns

| Monday, November 10, 2014

Arizona State redshirt junior defensive back Lloyd Carrington scampers into the end zone with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Sun Devils’ 55-31 win.KARLA MORENO | The Observer
Arizona State redshirt junior defensive back Lloyd Carrington scampers into the end zone with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Sun Devils’ 55-31 win.
TEMPE, Arizona — The No. 8 Irish struggled to handle the defensive heat Saturday against No. 11 Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium, as they lost 55-31.

Irish senior quarterback Everett Golson threw for 446 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions — two of which were returned for touchdowns —  and had one lost fumble. The Sun Devils (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) capitalized on the turnovers, as 28 of their points resulted from the mishaps. Despite a late attempt, Notre Dame (7-2) was unable to come back from the early hole its turnovers had created.

“Five turnovers and a mishandled field goal is the story,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. “You can’t expect to win football games against good teams and turn the ball over five times. Two of them pick-sixes and two of them in short-field drives.”

The aggressive Sun Devils defense provided many opportunities for the Notre Dame offense to succeed, but its defensive looks also proved to be problematic, Golson said.

“Honestly I think it’s all on me, you play with fire as much as I did today, you know you are going to get burnt eventually,” Golson said. 

Golson almost lead an Irish comeback, bringing Notre Dame from 34-3 to 34-31 with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter. After an Arizona State touchdown drive, however, Notre Dame’s last-gasp comeback attempt ended when Golson’s pass was bobbled by sophomore wide receiver Corey Robinson into the hands of Sun Devils redshirt junior cornerback Lloyd Carrington, who returned it for a touchdown to seal the game at 48-31. Although the Irish were able to claw back into the game, too many mistakes buried them, Golson said.

“There was not a point in that game where I thought we were going to lose,” Golson said. “I thought we were going to come back and find a way to pull it out. Just certain mistakes happened. If you are going to play like that in the first half, you almost have to be perfect in the second half, and we weren’t able to do that today.”

Golson has had turnover problems throughout the season, entering Saturday’s game with seven interceptions and five lost fumbles on the season. He said most of his errors are mental ones and are often a result of him trying to do too much.

“I think it’s the competitor in me, just trying not to give up on the play,” Golson said. “Like I said, I got burnt today. I should have made different calls, I had a lot of tipped balls, just things like that. I’ve got to clean it up.”

The coaching staff has heavily emphasized ball security to Golson, Kelly said, but he added that at a certain point, Golson has to implement these tips in a game.

“We’ve been working with him,” Kelly said of Golson. “Sooner or later, he’s got to take it on himself to take care of the football.  I don’t know what else to do.  We’re at that point now where it hurt us in the game.  He knows it.”

Kelly said the most frustrating part about Notre Dame’s turnovers was that Irish “knew” what Arizona State’s defense was going to bring and practiced for it all week.

“What I’m upset about is how crazy it is that we saw everything for a week — the same stuff today that we saw all week — and we turned it over five times,” Kelly said.  “We shoe dust the right defensive end and don’t bring him down.  We get the ball tipped.  We inexplicably put the ball on the ground on a scramble.  They’re maddening mistakes.  We could’ve moved the ball today effectively.  Our defense would’ve hung in there and done enough for us to get a win on the road.  But it didn’t happen today, and that’s what I’m most upset about.”

Although not every turnover was Golson’s fault, Kelly said, the senior’s progress as a quarterback will have to come from playing smart and playing without mistakes.

“It’s one of the deals where you take one step forward and two steps back, and then [Golson] comes back in the second half and he does some really good things.  He’s got to strive for consistency.  If he plays clean in the first half, who knows where we’d be right now.  We just have to get a consistent performance.  And that means a clean performance and taking care of the football.  Not all those mistakes were his, but I think the first one kind of set a bad tone to the game.”


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