Notre Dame star Isaiah Foskey rejects stat gift: 'Give him the full sack'
SOUTH BEND — Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame’s star pass rusher and team captain, was momentarily confused Tuesday evening when asked about the half sack he was credited with in Saturday’s win over Cal.
“See, I don’t even know when I got half a sack,” Foskey said.
Down near the Bears’ goal line, late in the fourth quarter, senior defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola and Foskey were given shared credit for a key sack of Jack Plummer.
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“(Near) the student section?” Foskey said. “You can put it on the record: (Ademilola) should have that sack. No, he really should have that sack. I pushed the lineman into (Plummer), but that was basically all I did. He had him wrapped up.”
Foskey, who missed a dozen defensive snaps after getting shaken up making a tackle midway through the third quarter, officially leads the Irish with 2 ½ sacks through the first three games. That puts him at 18 sacks for his career as he takes aim at Justin Tuck’s school record of 24.5 sacks from 2002-04, including a single-season school-record 13.5 sacks in 2003.
Foskey is tied with recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Bryant Young (1990-93) for ninth on Notre Dame’s career sack list. If it were up to him, Foskey would gladly kick that half a sack back to Jayson Ademilola, who was credited by the on-site stat crew with 1.5 sacks against Cal while twin brother Justin Ademilola had a sack of his own.
“I wish,” Foskey said. “But I feel like they’re going to keep that ‘point five’ on me. I don’t know, the person hearing this right now or seeing this, give (Jayson Ademilola) the full sack. That was basically all him.”
A highlight video released through Notre Dame’s Twitter account included NBC analyst Jason Garrett’s call of the goal-line sack: “The Ademilola Brothers had a meeting at the quarterback.”
Even with the green jerseys that made players harder to identify, Foskey is clearly shown engaged throughout the play with left tackle Ben Coleman.
Pro Football Focus, the website that carefully reviews every snap of every college and pro game, lists Jayson Ademilola with two sacks against Cal and Foskey with one. PFF-College has Jayson Ademilola with nine career sacks and Foskey with 17; there's also a half-sack discrepancy in Foskey's 2020 total (4.0 vs. the 4.5 listed on Notre Dame's website).
According to a Notre Dame spokesperson, statistical reviews are only conducted retroactively if the coaching staff submits a request. Foskey’s 2021 sack total was boosted from 10 to 11 at some point during the offseason, but that adjustment came after a request from the coaching staff, the spokesperson said.
Saturday’s goal-line sack had not been submitted for review as of Tuesday evening, the spokesperson said.
When it was suggested to Foskey that he would like to keep any potential records he might set from being called into question, he laughed.
“Yeah, that too,” he said.
Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees provided further context on why Notre Dame didn’t add a quarterback on the busy offseason transfer market.
“We certainly looked around,” Rees said. “There’s a lot of reasons why sometimes transfers work and don’t work. To go through all the reasons why (is) probably a waste of time at this point. But it was something we looked into. It was something we had conversations about.”
Despite losing Wisconsin grad transfer Jack Coan to the NFL, the Irish opted to go with the unproven tandem of sophomore Tyler Buchner (since injured) and redshirt sophomore Drew Pyne.
“We felt like, at that moment, we did not need to get a college transfer,” coach Marcus Freeman said Monday.
Among those quarterbacks landing at new schools for 2022 were a trio of former USC quarterbacks (JT Daniels, Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart) now starting at West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Ole Miss, respectively; as well as Bo Nix (Auburn to Oregon), Dillon Gabriel (Central Florida to Oklahoma), Caleb Williams (Oklahoma to USC), Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma to South Carolina), Adrian Martinez (Nebraska to Kansas State), Quinn Ewers (Ohio State to Texas); and Connor Bazelak (Missouri to Indiana).
“For reasons in our control and out of our control, (it) just didn’t happen,” Rees said. “So, that’s that.”
After playing 17 snaps on defense against Marshall without making a tackle, junior linebacker Jordan Botelho was limited to special teams in the Cal loss.
Defensive coordinator Al Golden said Botelho was available but didn’t factor into the game plan due to Cal’s offensive style.
“There was nothing there,” Golden said. “It was just the way the game unfolded. The previous week (against Marshall), it was more of a space game. This was a little different in terms of just the way they ran the offense. That was it.”
JD Bertrand's 'foolish' mistake
As for starting linebacker JD Bertrand, who must sit out Saturday’s first half after being called for a targeting penalty that wiped a Clarence Lewis interception on Cal’s final drive, Golden said the practice plan won’t change that much.
“Just take some of the reps off him to make sure everybody else is ready,” Golden said. “He’s a smart guy who did a foolish thing. That’s it.”
Bertrand, third on the team with 17 tackles after leading the way by a mile last season, played 53 total snaps against Cal, including eight in sub-packages on obvious passing downs. Bertrand will rejoin the lineup for the second half.
“Guys like that who play hard, make good decisions all the time, try to do the right thing,” Golden said, “when something like that happens, they feel worse than anything. It doesn’t do you any good to beat them up. This week he’ll come out of the bullpen.”
Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for NDInsider.com and the South Bend Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino and on TikTok @mikeberardinoNDI.
Notre Dame (1-2) vs. North Carolina (3-0)
- When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST
- Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium (51,000), Chapel Hill, N.C.
- TV/Radio: ABC, WSBT Radio (960 AM), WNSN (101.5 FM)
- Line: Notre Dame favored by half a point
- Series: Notre Dame leads series 20-2
- Last meeting: ND 44, North Carolina 34, Oct. 30, 2021 in South Bend