Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Notre Dame-Stanford Preview

Notre Dame QB's: After sitting out the first series due to a team rules violation, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had a strong performance against the Hurricanes. On the season he has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 827 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Golson also was able to run the ball on the ground with effectiveness against the Hurricanes as well, and now has 40 rushing yards on 27 carries, and has 2 touchdowns as well. Tommy Rees has also seen time as well, in 4 games he has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 175 yards, and also has a rushing touchdown as well.

Notre Dame QB's vs. Stanford Pass Defense: Stanford ranks near the bottom in college football in pass defense with the team being ranked 117th (out of 124th) in the nation. In 5 games this season, they are allowing 299.4 passing yards a game, and have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 61.2 percent of their passes and have allowed 5 passing touchdowns and intercepted 8 passes. Look for Golson to build upon his efficient performance against a weak Stanford game and post career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns against Stanford.

Edge: Notre Dame

Stanford QB's: Josh Nunes has replaced Andrew Luck at quarterback, who is now in the NFL. In his first year as starter for the Cardinal, Nunes has completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 1,150 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He also is able to run when needed, as he has carried 16 times for 40 yards and 3 touchdowns and is the teams 4th leading rusher.

Stanford QB's vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: Prior to the game against the Hurricanes, the Irish had held every opponent to below 200 passing yards in each game. Against the Hurricanes, they allowed their first opponent to pass for over 200 yards, as Stephen Morris passed for 201 yards against the Irish. The Hurricanes had a few key drops as well. The Irish are currently 22nd in the nation and are allowing opponents to complete just 53.7 percent of their passes and 183.2 passing yards a game this season. They also have allowed just 3 passing touchdowns and have intercepted 8 passes as well this season. The Cardinal aren't as strong with passing the ball this season, but Josh Nunes has been able to get the ball to his two tight ends who have half of his passing touchdowns this season and a solid portion of the receiving yards and receptions as well. If the Irish contain the two tight ends, it will limit the targets that Nunes has significantly and give the Irish a very strong edge.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame RB's: The Irish were able to run the ball at will against the Hurricanes, totaling 376 rushing yards and also had 5 touchdowns rushing with all 4 running backs having touchdowns as well. George Atkinson III leads the Irish with 269 rushing yards, an impressive 9.3 yards a carry, and 3 touchdowns, and also 2 of his touchdowns were 50+ yard runs as well. Theo Riddick is the 2nd leading rusher with 263 rushing yards, 3.9 yards a carry, and 3 touchdowns. Riddick also has 17 receptions for 132 yards as well. Cierre Wood has been quite strong for the Irish after returning from a 2 game suspension early this season. In his 3 games played this season, Wood has rushed for 213 yards, 6.1 yards a carry, and 2 touchdowns. Cam McDaniel also has seen a good amount of playing time with with 20 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown as well.

Notre Dame RB's vs. Stanford Rush Defense: The Cardinal have been very strong against the run, as they are 6th in the nation in run defense. They have allowed 77.2 rushing yards a game and opponents are only getting 2.6 yards a carry as well. However, they have allowed 8 rushing touchdowns on the season as well. The Irish face one of the best run defenses in the nation, but would be wise to build upon the performance they had against the Hurricanes and use Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III frequently and take advantage of Golson's mobility and ability to make plays in the run game.

Edge: Even

Stanford RB's: Stepfan Taylor has been the workhorse for Stanford this season, he has 119 (which is 68 percent) of the teams 175 carries this season. He also has rushed for 560 rushing yards and 5 Touchdowns, and has 4.7 yards a carry as well. His backup, Anthony Wilkerson has just 41 yards on 9 carries as well. The other running backs, Ricky Seale and Remound Wright have done little this season, as Seal has 26 yards on 6 carries, while Wright has 25 yards on 7 carries. Depth could be a concern with the backups all having under 10 carries each and a combined total amount of rushing yards that is under 100 yards as well.

Stanford RB's vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense: Notre Dame has been also quite impressive against the run this season as well. The Irish are ranked 18th in the nation and are allowing 106.8 rushing yards and opponents are only averaging 3.4 yards a carry, and the run defense has not allowed a single rushing touchdown this season. If they continue to contain running games as they have all season, and not allow Stepfan Taylor to do much in the running game, it will make the Cardinal one-dimensional on offense as Taylor is more or less the Stanford running game.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame WR's and TE's: Davaris Daniels leads the team in the receiving area, he has 207 yards off 12 receptions this season. Tight end Tyler Eifert is second with 189 yards on 11 catches and has a touchdown as well. TJ Jones has 15 receptions for 183 yards and touchdown, while Robby Toma has 11 receptions for 113 yards. Troy Niklas has a 3 catches for 66 yards and John Goodman has 3 receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown as well.

Notre Dame WR's vs. Stanford DB's: Stanford lost three starters to graduation heading into the season and are considerably less experienced this season as the lone returning starter was cornerback Terrence Brown. The pass defense is ranked near the bottom and the Irish should be able to move the ball in the air and use Eifert, Daniels, and Jones often, considering how weak the Stanford pass defense is as well, it might be time to get younger players like Chris Brown and Davonte Neal more playing time.

Edge: Notre Dame

Stanford WR's and TE's: The Cardinal had major losses with the top 3 players all gone heading into the season. The Cardinal use multiple tight ends with Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo leading the way. Ertz has 21 receptions for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns. Toilolo has 13 receptions for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns and also is a big target at 6'8'' and 263 lbs. Ty Montgomery has 18 catches for 168 yards, but is likely going to miss the game against Notre Dame due to injury. Drew Terrell has 10 receptions for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns, Jamal-Rashad Patterson has 4 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Stanford WR's vs. Notre Dame DB's: Notre Dame has exceeded expectations greatly with a young secondary. The big thing for them is containing the two tight ends in Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo as both are big targets at 6'6'' and 6'8'' respectively. The receiving game relies more on the tight ends, but the Irish will need to keep an eye on the receivers as well as Jamal-Rashad Patterson is averaging 25 yards and a catch and Drew Terrell has 14.3 yards a catch too.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame OL: The offensive line of the Irish has done a good job at protecting Everett Golson with 8 sacks allowed on the season. The running game has done well in part to the offensive line as it is averaging 187.4 yards a game with 4.7 yards a carry overall. Opponents have at times been able to get into the backfield with 23 tackles for loss allowed as well by the offensive line.

Notre Dame OL vs. Stanford DL: The Cardinal use a 3-4 defense, and have a primarily veteran defensive line that has upperclassmen in Ben Gardner and Terrence Stephens. Gardner leads the team in sacks with 3 sacks on the season. The defense has 16 sacks on the season and a big factor on how the game will go will be in the trenches with the lineman.

Edge: Even

Stanford OL: The offensive line of Stanford has done a great job at protecting the quarterback as they have allowed only 5 sacks this season. They have opened lanes for Stepfan Taylor to run through as the running game is averaging 155.8 yards a game and 4.5 yards a carry as well. Opponents haven't been able to get into the backfield as well as the Stanford defense, as the offensive line has allowed 22 tackles for loss this season as well.

Stanford OL vs. Notre Dame DL: The defensive line of the Irish has been one of the strong points for the Irish that is headlined by Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III, and Kapron Lewis-Moore. The offensive line of Stanford has done a very good job at keeping opponents out of the backfield and protecting the quarterback as well. This will be a major challenge for the Cardinal offensive line as Tuitt has more sacks this season alone than the entire Stanford offensive line has given up all season.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame DL: The defensive line has been very impressive for the Irish this season and also uses its depth wisely. Louis Nix III leads all defensive lineman in tackles with 17, he also has 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 2 pass breakups. Stephon Tuitt has been dominant for the Irish with 16 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 5 quarterback hurries, and a 77 yard fumble return for a touchdown. Kapron Lewis-Moore continues to provide the veteran presence on the line and also puts a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks with 4 hurries, half a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Sheldon Day has had a lot of playing time as well and has really come on for the Irish for a true freshman.

Notre Dame DL vs. Stanford OL: The Stanford offensive line has kept Josh Nunes protected with only 5 sacks allowed all season and doing a solid job in opening up holes for the running game. This will be one of the best offensive lines that the Irish face all season and will be full of interesting matchups with Tuitt having been one of the best players on defense for the Irish this season. It is pretty even matchup overall.

Edge: Even

Stanford DL: The defensive lineman of the Cardinal have done their damage and largely are in part to Ben Gardner, who has 19 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Those numbers lead all defensive lineman, and the numbers in tackles for loss and sacks lead the team overall. Henry Anderson has done a solid job with with 17 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Stanford DL vs. Notre Dame OL: The Irish offensive line has largely overcome consistency issues that were notably seen against Purdue when they allowed 5 of the 8 sacks they had allowed on the season. The big thing will be keeping Ben Gardner out of the backfield as he has been able to do it on a consistent basis with 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. If the offensive line keeps up the consistency and contains the Cardinal defensive line, then it would have a big impact.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame LB's: The heart of Notre Dame's defense lies in the linebacker unit with Manti Te'o. Te'o has overcome personal tragedy earlier this season and is considered a major candidate for the Heisman Trophy award. On the season he has a team leading 48 tackles, he also has 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 2 quarterback hurries, and 2 fumble recoveries as well. Dan Fox has been productive with 25 tackles, while Carlo Calabrese has 19 in 4 games this season. Prince Shembo has been great too and has 18 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a team leading 6 quarterback hurries. Depth is at its strongest with Danny Spond having 13 tackles and a forced fumble in 3 games. Ishaq Williams has 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and a forced fumble as well. Other players that see time include Ben Councell, Jarrett Grace, and Kendall Moore.

Notre Dame LB's vs. Stanford: The depth at linebacker will be important with a Stanford team that has a running game that relies primarily on Stepfan Taylor. Pass coverage will also be important with the two tight ends that Stanford also relies upon often in the passing game as well. Containing them all will be important in this matchup as well.

Edge: Notre Dame

Stanford LB's: Chase Thomas leads the team and linebackers in the tackle area with 31 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and an interception. Trent Murphy has been big too with 23 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, an interception for a touchdown, 2 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. The linebackers help give Stanford a pretty strong front seven that has a top 10 rush defense as well.

Stanford LB's vs. Notre Dame: The Irish running game ran for nearly 400 rushing yards and now faces the 6th ranked rushing defense. The running game is also deep and the linebackers are one of the strongest units on the team with Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy most notably. Accounting for Tyler Eifert and even Troy Niklas will also be important in pass coverage for the Cardinal as well. It is overall an even matchup and this will be one of the best running games that the Cardinal will face all season.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame DB's: The defensive backs have managed to exceed expectations greatly this season, despite the youth in the unit, losing three players to season ending injuries, and being forced to moving players from other positions to the secondary. Zeke Motta has been the leader of the secondary with the loss of Jamoris Slaughter to a season ending injury in the game against Michigan St. Motta is second on the team in tackles with 27, and he also has 1 tackle for loss and a pass breakup. Bennett Jackson has really emerged in his first year as starting cornerback and being a former wide receiver. Jackson has 23 tackles, 3 interceptions, a pass breakup, and recovered a fumble. KeiVarae Russell is also in his first year starting and is a true freshman who moved over from running back. Russell has 16 tackles and an interception this season so far. Matthias Farley has stepped in for Jamoris Slaughter and has 9 tackles this season. Despite being the youngest unit, many others have had solid playing time in the secondary, as Elijah Shumate and Nicky Baratti (both true freshman), have played in all 5 games so far this season.

Notre Dame DB's vs. Stanford WR's: Prior to the game against the Hurricanes, the secondary had kept every opposing team below 200 passing yards, but the Hurricanes broke that streak with 201 passing yards, and the secondary has emerged as a major surprise this season for the Irish. Stopping the tight ends who have 50 percent of the teams receiving touchdowns (4 touchdowns out of 8 overall), 34 (about 39 percent of the receptions) of the 88 receptions, and 594 (roughly 51 percent of the yards) of the 1156 receiving yards. They are the big targets in the passing game, but the wide receivers must be accounted for as well. The big matchup is seeing how the defensive backs handle bigger and taller targets this season. It overall should be another even matchup for between Notre Dame and Stanford.

Stanford DB's: The unit was ravaged by graduation with the loss of three starters, the lone returning starter was Terrence Brown, who has 25 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 interception on the season. Jordan Richards one of many underclassmen starting in the secondary, and has 30 tackles (most out of all defensive backs), 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 7 pass breakups as well). Ed Reynolds has 22 tackles, 3 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and 3 pass breakups. Others have played a lot in the secondary like Usua Amanam, Wayne Lyons, and Devon Carrington.

Stanford DB's vs. Notre Dame WR's: The Cardinal are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a solid amount of passes as opponents have completed 61.2 percent of their passes. The team is ranked 117th in the nation in pass defense and allow 299.4 yards a game, but only have allowed 5 passing touchdowns so far. They will have to account for Tyler Eifert, a tight end that can line up at many spots on the field, but has been double covered a lot of the time. However, this has opened things up for other players in the pass game, such as TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels for instance. While the receiving unit of the Irish is a younger one, it is quite talented and should present quite a test for the Stanford secondary.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Kicking Game: Kyle Brindza is having a pretty good start in his first season as the starting kicker for the Irish. He has made 8 out of 10 field goals, but missed the last attempt after making 8 in a row at one point. Ben Turk has had some consistency issues at times as the punter, but is averaging 40.3 yards a punt on 20 punts, but has been able to get opponents to fair catch often and put opponents inside their 20 as well, with the punt coverage doing a pretty good job so far. Kyle Brindza is also the kickoff specialist and is averaging 62.1 yards a kickoff, with 12 of his 31 kickoffs being touchbacks as well.

Stanford Kicking Game: Jordan Williamson had a good start to the season with him making his first 5 field goals of the season, but missed 4 in a row (including 3 misses against USC), but has made the last 2 field goals to put him at 7 out of 11 on the season. He has had one kicked blocked, and the longest was for 46 yards. He also is 1-3 when it is 40 or more yards as well. Daniel Zychlinski is averaging an impressive 42.9 yards a punt and has had 9 punts go for 50+ yards (long is 67 yards), 4 punts have gone for touchbacks, while 12 have been fair caught as well, and 6 were inside the 20 as well. Jordan Williamson is also the kickoff specialist and has been averaging 63.9 yards a kickoff and 11 of the 30 have gone for touchbacks. However, 2 kickoffs went out of bounds as well.

Stronger Unit: Even

Notre Dame Return Game: The kickoff return game hasn't done a huge amount this season, which is in part to not allowing many points and opponents doing touchbacks on the kickoffs. George Atkinson III has returned 4 kickoffs for 82 yards, while Cam McDaniel has 1 return for 25 yards. The punt return game hasn't done a lot this season, with Davonte Neal having 8 returns for 28 yards on the season.

Stanford Return Game: Stanford has done a solid job in the kickoff return game, with Ty Montgomery returning 10 kickoffs for 258 yards and the long being 64 yards as well, but Ty Montgomery will also likely be out vs. Notre Dame with injury. Alex Carter has also returned 5 kickoffs for 110 yards. Drew Terrell has done a great job in the punt return game with 7 returns for 140 yards and a touchdown as well.

Stronger Unit: Stanford

Everything Else: Stanford is in the first year without Andrew Luck, who has taken his talents to the NFL as the number one overall draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Josh Nunes has done a decent job in getting the ball to his playmakers, which are the two tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo. Stepfan Taylor is the heart of the offense as the running back is not only a senior, but has accumulated a large majority of the rushing yards, touchdowns, and carries as well. Stanford is also a very physical team, especially in the front seven that helps give it a 6th ranked rushing defense as well. If the Irish take advantage of a young and weak Stanford secondary that gives them the 117th ranked passing defense, it will help in many ways. This would be an ideal time to continue to open up the offense for redshirt freshman Everett Golson, who had a very accurate game and was able to run with the ball as well. The defense for the Irish has been very great, especially when keeping opponents out of the endzone and forcing opponents to kick field goals often. If they shut down Stepfan Taylor, Zach Ertz, and Levine Toilolo on offense, it will be over for the Cardinal offense.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Stanford 13

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