Thursday, October 4, 2012

Notre Dame-Miami (FL) Preview

Notre Dame QB's: Everett Golson is the starter at quarterback for the Irish and has completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 641 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on the season. Golson has also rushed for 2 touchdowns this season. Golson apparently had a shoulder injury earlier this season that has healed over the bye week. Tommy Rees has also come in at times this season and has completed 11 of 17 passes for 150 yards, and also has a 2 yard rushing touchdown. Rees has appeared in every game except the opener against Navy, which was due to a one game suspension. Andrew Hendrix has only appeared in one game and completed 4 of 5 passes for 53 yards in the game against Navy.

Notre Dame QB's vs. Miami (FL) Pass Defense: The Hurricanes are currently ranked 94th in the nation in pass defense. They have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 56.5 percent of their passes this season, and have allowed 269 passing yards a game along with 7 passing touchdowns, but have intercepted 5 passes this season. This will be the lowest ranked pass defense that the Irish will face so far this season, and look for Golson to have his best game as a Notre Dame quarterback so far against the Hurricanes.

Edge: Notre Dame

Miami (FL) QB's: Stephen Morris has completed 59.9 percent of his passes so far this season for 1,635 yards along with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions as well. Morris has had a large majority of these numbers in the last games where he combined for 1,002 yards, 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in those two games. Backup quarterback Ryan Williams has appeared in 3 games and completed 2 passes out of 2 passes for 7 yards and a touchdown on the season.

Miami (FL) QB's vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: The Irish have done quite well in the pass defense even with three players in the secondary having season ending injuries and the secondary being one of the youngest units on the entire team. Notre Dame is currently 19th in the nation in pass defense and has allowed 178.8 passing yards a game, opponents have only completed 54.3 percent of their passes as well, and the Irish have allowed only 3 passing touchdowns all season and have intercepted 8 passes as well. Morris will be the biggest test of the season so far for the Irish, if the secondary continues to give strong performances as they have done all season and shut down Morris, it will continue to climb up in the rankings in the pass defense department and show how far the unit has come as a whole.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame RB's: Theo Riddick has had a majority of the carries in part to Cierre Wood being suspended for the first two games of the season. He has 63 carriers for 242 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, while George Atkinson III has 19 carries for 146 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns as well. Wood has 17 carries for 95 yards, and should get a larger workload as the season continues to progress as he has contributed with many strong runs this season in the clutch. Cam McDaniel had accumulated all of his rushing numbers against Navy with 9 carries for 59 yards, and is the 4th string running back for the Irish.

Notre Dame RB's vs. Miami (FL) Rush Defense: The Hurricanes have been horrible against the run this season as they are ranked 115th in the nation and have allowed 225.6 rushing yards a game along with 14 rushing touchdowns. They allowed 96 yards to Boston College in the first game of the season, but since then have allowed well over 200 each game with Division 1-AA team Bethune-Cookman rushing for 233 yards on the Hurricanes defense. Look for the Irish to have the strongest game of the season on the ground as they can rotate between Wood, Atkinson, and Riddick often and have rushing yard numbers comparable to the game against Navy.
Edge: Notre Dame

Miami (FL) RB's: Duke Johnson has had a strong season so far with 359 rushing yards and is averaging 6.9 yards a carry and he also has 5 rushing touchdowns. He has also been a factor in the receiving game with 15 receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown. Mike James has also been a factor for the Hurricanes as well with 278 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Eduardo James is the third-string running back with 50 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. Johnson is one of the best offensive players for the Hurricanes and is only a freshman on top of that.

Miami (FL) RB's vs. Notre Dame Run Defense: Notre Dame has been very strong in the run defense department this season and are ranked 30th overall in college football. They have allowed 112.5 rushing yards a game this season and have the distinction of being the only team in Division 1-A to have not allowed a single rushing touchdown all season and have played teams that can run the ball often, which makes it look even more impressive on top of that. Containing Duke Johnson is critical for the Irish, and it is more than possible after containing a run-heavy team like Navy, Michigan St.'s LeVeon Bell and Michigan's Denard Robinson so far this season.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame WR's and TE's: DaVaris Daniels and Tyler Eifert are the leading receivers for the Irish and have near identical numbers. Daniels has 159 receiving yards on 9 receptions, while Eifert has 9 catches for 158 yards, and has a touchdown. TJ Jones has 11 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown and has been vital in the short passing game. Robby Toma continues to be reliable as well with 9 receptions with 91 yards. John Goodman has made 2 important receptions, with one being a 36 yard touchdown as well along with a 10 yard reception for a first down in the game winning drive against Purdue.

Notre Dame WR's vs. Miami (FL) Secondary: The Hurricanes haven't been strong in the pass defense area and face key matchups with Tyler Eifert and Davaris Daniels. Notre Dame would be best to use Daniels and Eifert in the deep passing game, along with TJ Jones and Robby Toma in the short game, along with utilizing freshman Chris Brown, Davonte Neal, and Justin Ferguson. Brown has had some playing time and has been used on deep routes, but has yet to make a reception, but he should be used more in this game against a 94th ranked pass defense overall.

Edge: Even

Miami (FL) WR's and TE's: Phillip Dorsett is having a strong season for the Hurricanes with 28 receptions for 464 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rashawn Scott has also been strong with 17 catches for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davon Johnson has 12 receptions for 194 yards, and Allen Hurns has 14 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown on the season. The Hurricanes spread the ball around with the receivers. Clive Walford is the leading tight end with 10 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown as well.

Miami (FL) WR's vs. Notre Dame Secondary: With the way the Hurricanes spread the ball between 4 receivers, it will be the biggest test for the young secondary of Notre Dame. The secondary has defied expectations greatly with multiple season ending injuries and losses such as Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton to graduation and the NFL. If the secondary keeps up the pace and is able to contain the receiving unit, it will be significant.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame OL: The offensive line of Notre Dame has allowed 8 sacks on the season and 22 tackles for loss as well. They have opened up lanes for the Irish to rush for 140.2 yards a game and 8 rushing touchdowns as well. The line is most experienced on the left side with Zach Martin, Chris Watt, and Braxston Cave.

Notre Dame OL vs. Miami (FL) DL: The defensive line of the Hurricanes has a mix of upper upperclassmen and under underclassmen for starters this season and the defense has accounted for 7 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in 5 games this season and while they don't many sacks, they do seem to be able to get into the backfield often at least. They face an experienced unit in the Notre Dame offensive line that has allowed 2 sacks per game on average and a few tackles for loss a game as well. The offensive line of the Irish should be able to keep the defensive line contained as the run defense of the Hurricanes is one of their biggest weaknesses on the team.

Edge: Notre Dame

Miami (FL) OL: The offensive line of the Hurricanes has been solid with the unit allowing only 7 sacks in 5 games and opening up holes for Duke Johnson and Mike James to run through with a rushing yard average of 144.2 per game and 10 touchdowns overall. The unit features 4 under underclassmen as starters, with 3 of the 4 being sophomores.

Miami (FL) OL vs. Notre Dame DL: The defensive line of Notre Dame has been absolutely amazing this season and is a young one with sophomores in Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III. Tuitt has been an absolute force this season with 6 sacks and 6 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, while Nix has been great at stuffing the run and anchoring the line at nose tackle. The offensive line faces a big matchup with a young and very talented Notre Dame defensive line that has easily able to get into opposing backfields this season.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame DL: The defensive line has been extraordinary this season, even with the loss of Aaron Lynch to transfer back in the spring and backup Chase Hounshell being out for the season with an injury. Stephon Tuitt has been one of the best players this season with 6 sacks and 6 tackles for loss. Tuitt also has 14 tackles, 4 quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Louis Nix III has been great in the interior part of the line with 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 passes batted down and has also forced a fumble too. Kapron Lewis-Moore provides the veteran presence on the line as he is in his 4th year starting. Sheldon Day has been great with 2 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, and the unit overall is very strong too.

Notre Dame DL vs. Miami (FL) OL: The offensive line has been decent for the Hurricanes by allowing just 7 sacks over 5 games so far, and doing a good job in opening lanes for the running backs, but they face one of the best lines in the country and should be a strong matchup for the Irish down in the trenches. If the defensive line continues to play strong and pressure Stephen Morris and contain the running game, it will be over for the Hurricanes fast.

Edge: Notre Dame

Miami (FL) DL: The defensive line of the Hurricanes has not accounted for many sacks this season with the defensive line having 6 of the Hurricanes 7 sacks. The unit had many losses after the 2011 season (6 total defensive lineman) and has 2 upperclassmen and 2 underclassmen starting on the line.

Miami (FL) DL vs. ND OL: The defensive line faces an offensive line that is experienced, but has had consistency issues at times (see Purdue), the line will need to play at a consistent level and repeat what happened last October for the Irish (no sacks allowed in October at all).

Edge: Even

ND LB's: Manti Te'o is the heart of the defense and has been playing his best season yet for the Irish, he currently has 38 tackles (1st overall for the Irish), 3 interceptions (tied for 1st overall with Bennett Jackson), 2 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, 3 quarterback hurries, and 2 fumble recoveries. Te'o isn't the only linebacker who is having a strong season, as Prince Shembo has 17 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 4 quarterback hurries as well. The unit is pretty deep with many players getting meaningful playing time like Carlo Calabrese, Ishaq Williams, Jarrett Grace. Danny Spond has made 10 tackles on the season after missing the first two games of the season with an injury.

ND LB's vs. Miami (FL): The big assignment for the linebackers will be containing Duke Johnson and Mike James of the Hurricanes. The two running backs have most of the yards and carries and will provide an interesting matchup for the front seven and if the Irish contain the running game, it will make the Hurricanes more predictable on offense.

Edge: Even

Miami (FL) LB's: The linebackers haven't been as strong and had lost an important player to the NFL in Sean Spence and the unit has had issues staying healthy as well. Eddie Johnson is 2nd on the team with 31 tackles and also has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack and has forced 3 fumbles as well. Denzel Perryman intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown as well.

Miami (FL) LB's vs. Notre Dame: The linebackers give the Hurricanes one of their weaker front sevens in recent times as the defense has been awful against the run, with 4 of their 5 opponents this season running for more than 200 yards on them, and the only one that didn't was the first game of the season, which means the Hurricanes have allowed 200+ rushing yards a game for 4 games in a row now. The Irish can rotate a lot at running back with Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, and George Atkinson III. Despite some consistency issues at times for the Notre Dame running game, they should have a really strong game and bounce back.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame DB's: The secondary has greatly exceeded expectations this season by allowing less than 200 passing yards in every single game this season and on top of that have lost a few players to season ending injuries. Bennett Jackson has really come on as a strong cornerback and is third overall on the team in tackles at 22 and has 3 interceptions and recovered a key fumble in the red zone against Michigan. KeiVarae Russell has done well for a true freshman that switched over from running back and has a interception as well. Many other young players have played like Matthias Farley starting after losing Slaughter for the season, and Elijah Shumate and Nicky Baratti getting a lot of playing time as well.

Notre Dame DB's vs. Miami (FL) WR's: The Hurricanes spread the ball around very well between four different wide receivers. All four have caught passes for over 40 yards, with Phillip Dorsett having a 65 yard reception and Rashawn Scott with a 76 yard reception. This will be a very interesting matchup and the secondary will need to contain them and stay consistent all game and prevent the Hurricanes from spreading it around between the main four receivers.

Edge: Even

Miami (FL) DB's: The pass defense has also been poor for the Hurricanes as well. The defensive backs only have 3 interceptions (out of 4 overall) this season and have had a couple players miss time this season as well. Defensive backs Brandon McGee, A.J. Highsmith, and Thomas Finnie are the three players who have interceptions this season in the secondary.

Miami (FL) DB's vs. Notre Dame WR's: The Irish give the Hurricanes a matchup nightmare with Tyler Eifert who can line up at many spots on offense in addition to TE. Davaris Daniels is a great deep threat who had an injury earlier this season, but is healthy now. TJ Jones and Robby Toma get used in the short passing game and should give the defensive secondary another interesting matchup as well.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame Kicking Game: Kyle Brindza has made his last 6 field goals to put him at 6 out 7 on the season, with one being the game winner against Purdue earlier this season. Ben Turk is having his best season yet as a punter with a 40.7 yard average and pinning opponents inside the 20 as well and forcing the return specialists to fair catch often. Kyle Brindza handles the kickoff duties with a 62.8 yard average and 10 touchbacks as well.

Miami (FL) Kicking Game: Jake Wieclaw has made 7 of 11 field goals so far this season, but has missed the last 4 of them, including short field goal attempts (22 and 19 yards) and long attempts (41 and 43). He missed 3 in the last game against NC State and his longest made field goal was for 38 yards. Dalton Botts has had a strong season punting with a 40.2 yard average on 22 punts. He has also put opponents deep in their own territory with 9 inside the 20 and 9 punts were fair caught as well. Jake Wieclaw hasn't been as good on kickoffs with only a 56.4 yard average 2 touchbacks, 2 also went out of bounds too.

Stronger Unit: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Return Game: The return game for the Irish has not been able to make an impact this season with George Atkinson III having just 3 returns for 69 yards, while Cam McDaniel has a 25 yard return. The Punt Return game hasn't been strong, but looks improved compared to 2011 with Davonte Neal having 28 yards on 7 returns.

Miami (FL) Return Game: Duke Johnson has been amazing on kickoff returns with a 29.6 yard average on 14 returns and has a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown as well. Phillip Dorsett handles the punt return duties with 9 returns for 62 yards.

Stronger Unit: Miami (FL)

Everything Else: The Hurricanes are coming off back to back close wins that were headlined by strong performances by Stephen Morris. The Irish are coming off a bye week after winning back to back games over ranked Big 10 opponents. Notre Dame won the last meeting, the 2010 Sun Bowl where Harrison Smith famously intercepted multiple passes and set a Sun Bowl record in just the first half. The weather calls for temperatures in the 40's during game time that night and this will be the third prime time game in a row for the Irish this season. Look for Golson to bounce back from an off night against Michigan and the running game to have one of their strongest performances yet in the Brian Kelly era. If the defense that is led by Tuitt and Te'o continues to play as strong as they have all season, it will be over quick for the Hurricanes.

Prediction: Notre Dame 41, Miami (FL) 10

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