Key Match-Up: Green & White D-Line Salivating

Jonal Saint-Dic, aka the "Sackmaster," has found his niche at defensive end in Coach Pat Narduzzi's aggressive 4-3 defense. Along with Ervin Baldwin, another athletic presence at D-end, the Spartans should continue their high-flying ways against an inept Irish offensive line.

For Notre Dame to put up any kind of resistance to Michigan State, their trenches need to develop fast, especially on offense.

On the season, the Spartans have notched more sacks, 17, than they did all of last year, 16. Putting pressure on the quarterback has gone a long way toward changing the perception of a previously limp Michigan State defense.

Jonal Saint-Dic, aka the "Sackmaster," has found his niche at defensive end in Coach Pat Narduzzi's aggressive 4-3 defense. Along with Ervin Baldwin, another athletic presence at D-end, the Spartans should continue their high-flying ways against an inept Irish offensive line.

They will face a pair of tackles for the Irish that have, along with the rest of the O-line, been about as effective as a wet blanket at stopping opposing defenses from wrecking havoc in their backfield. Sam Young (6-8, 310) anchors a unit that is short on experience with only one other returning starter from a season ago. Young, who was switched to the left side against Michigan to protect an injured hand, and Paul Duncan (6-7, 308), a junior who started for the first time last week at right tackle, have struggled to limit the pressure on freshman QB Jimmy Clausen, and should have their hands full once again against Michigan State.

As for the interior, Notre Dame might match up a little better. Michigan State rotates four guys through the tackle positions, Justin Kershaw, Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Oren Wilson and Michael Jordan, who have played consistently. However, the Pittsburgh offense did rush for over 200 yards last week and size remains a concern.

They will face an interior Irish line led by returning starter center John Sullivan (6-4, 303). On Sullivan's left will be Michael Turkovich (6-6, 301) and on his right will be Dan Wenger (6-4, 287). As a group, the line has failed to establish even a walking-game, let alone a running game, with an embarrassing negative 4.7-yards rushing a game.

Other players should be seeing some playing time on the line as the Irish work to solve their anemic ground game. Eric Olsen (6-5, 303) should see some playing time at guard and Chris Stewart (6-5, 339), who has climbed the depth chart in recent weeks, should see some action in the interior as well.

For Michigan State, the mantra will be keep up the good work. And Irish Coach Charlie Weis knows he's in for more of the same, as he admitted at his weekly press conference.

"I would come after us, too," Weis said of Michigan State's aggressive front seven. "The (Michigan State) coaches aren't dumb. They've sat there and watched the tape. They see what works. They're going to do it `til you stop it. That's just the way it is."

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