We've highlighted Five Questions to ponder for Saturday as the Irish look to defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers in South Bend.
- Can the Irish put pressure on Tino Sunseri and force him out of the pocket? Sunseri is not a major threat to run the football and if forced to leave the pocket could find an Irish defense ready to force him into making mistakes. If Sunseri can stand tall in the pocket, he could have his best day as a Panther.
- Can the Irish keep the Panthers running attack in check? While Dion Lewis has not seen the kind of start many felt he would have, he has seen teammate Ray Graham get off to a fast start averaging 164 yards per game. The Panthers want to be balanced and must have their running game in order for them to win.
- Will the Irish find their groove in the passing game? The Panthers are giving up 244 yards a game in the air and Brian Kelly knows what to expect from their defense. Can the offense run on all cylinders and post the numbers capable?
- Can the Irish offensive line keep the Panthers off Dayne Crist? Pittsburgh enters the game with ten sacks this season with all of them coming defensive linemen Chas Alecxih, Jabaal Sheard, and Brandon Lindsey. Dayne Crist took his share of hits the last time the Irish were at home and any repeat performance would mean disaster to the Irish winning this game.
- Can the Irish put four quarters of football together in this game? The Irish have yet to put four quarters of football together and it shows in the score by quarter's stat. The Irish have won the first and third quarters by a combined score of 83-48. But in the second and fourth quarters, the Irish are playing losing football with a combined score of 37-70.