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Chase Claypool shines with four touchdowns in Navy game

| Saturday, November 16, 2019

After Notre Dame’s 52-20 routing of visiting rival Navy on Saturday afternoon, Irish head coach Brian Kelly was eager to express his pleasure regarding the way his staff and players performed. For Kelly, this game reflected what it means to have success, as opposed to winning rings or big bowl games.

“When you talk about success, it doesn’t have to have a quantitative bowl game or championship, it has to do with days like today where you see it all come together,” Kelly said. “You see your guys excited, happy, fulfilled, and it was just an exciting day to watch our football team have so much enjoyment by execution through an outstanding game plan.”

Fifty-two matches the second most points scored on the season for the Irish, and much of Notre Dame’s recent success has been built out of strong performances from senior wide receiver Chase Claypool. This game was no different.

Annie Smierciak | The Observer
Senior wide receiver Chase Claypool catches the ball during the Irish’s 52-20 victory over the Navy Midshipmen on Nov. 16 at Notre Dame Stadium.

The 6’4” Canadian native hauled in seven catches for 117 yards and four scores. The four touchdowns for Claypool are the most by an Irish receiver in a single game since Maurice Stovall also caught four touchdowns against BYU in 2005.

The month of November has treated Claypool nicely this season, as the uber-talented receiver has racked up 20 receptions and 332 receiving yards in his past three games. It seems as though any time the ball is thrown his way, Claypool is going to either come down with it or force a penalty.

Fellow Irish senior and team captain Khalid Kareem didn’t mince words when it came to praising Claypool after his monster performance.

“Chase is unstoppable. The dude is 6’5”, 225, so you can’t stop him,” Kareem said. “He’s amazing. … He’s really hard to stop, and you saw that today.”

Irish senior captain and quarterback Ian Book also had words of praise for Claypool.

“He’s having an awesome year. I would say that it’s starting to show on Saturdays, because of how hard he’s working during the week in practice,” Book said. “He’s taking the next step Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in practice, not only just going out there and working hard but being a leader too, and it’s excelled his game a ton.”

Book noted Claypool’s reliability as a receiver.

“Chase always has the juice,” Book said. “He’s always talking, and he’s such a confident person, like he should be. You can tell when he gets on a roll, you want to keep giving him the ball, even though it might not be the clearest look, he’s going to come down with it, and that’s the best — it makes my job a lot easier.

Claypool credited much of his success to his chemistry with Book.

“We’re roommates in the hotel, so we’re able to go through things if anything comes up, but I just think getting comfortable with the game plan helps as well,” Claypool said. “I think trust is a big thing. I think he fully trusts me now — not that he didn’t before, but he knows exactly where to put the ball. … He’s throwing the ball up and giving me a chance to make a play, and I’m happy that I’m able to make some plays for him to build that trust a little more.”

Claypool said he was also happy to see some of the younger players score.

“I love seeing other guys score,” he said. “I’m just as happy for them as when I score, if if not more excited for them, especially a younger guy like [sophomore wide receiver Braden] Lenzy who really got a chance to show out.”

But the four touchdowns against Navy was not Claypool’s career high, as he was quick to note that he once scored 10 touchdowns against his league rival in eighth grade. 

“It’s a long story,” Claypool said.

While that number 10 may not be as attainable as it once was, four is enough to make a statement like Claypool did against Navy. 

Like Book, Kelly highlighted Claypool’s role as a catch-all receiver.

“Chase is an important part of our offense. So he’s going to get the football,” Kelly said. “He’s an integral part, he got the game ball, and he is a guy that is difficult to defend ,because he can catch a drag route and score a touchdown, he can catch a ball on the sideline, he can catch a vertical route in the seam, a fade. He’s virtually a guy that has all of the weapons, so why wouldn’t you throw him the football in those situations?”

Kelly also spoke to Claypool’s development over time.

“I think last year was a maturation process for him in terms of him and Ian being on the same page,” Kelly said. “This has just been Ian coming into his own and Ian playing at such a high level that the ball is going where it should be going. … Last year, I think Chase was finding himself as a receiver, and this year Ian is playing at a high level right now, 10 touchdown passes in the last two weeks.”

As time goes on, Claypool has only further proven to spectators that he will be suiting up on Sundays. The key for him is to continue to work hard throughout the week — and of course, a four-touchdown performance never hurts.

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