Five Questions: MSU

Week Three has Notre Dame in another too-early, must-win situation, as the Irish welcome Michigan State to South Bend.

Still feeling numb following last week's loss to Michigan, Notre Dame fans are hopeful a home game against Michigan State will get the Irish on track for the first time in 2011.

While Irish fans have been asking questions all week, we came up with five questions/points of interest for what should be another game to remember.

Question One: Turnovers have killed the Irish in the first two games of the season. Can the offense hold onto the ball against the Spartans?

Not only have the Irish turned the ball over way too many times (10 to be exact), they've done it at key points during the game when points should have been placed on the scoreboard. This must change against the Spartans if they hope to earn their first victory of the season.

Question Two: Can the Irish defense stop Michigan State when they get in the Red-Zone?

For the season, Irish opponents are perfect in their scoring opportunities when they reach the red-zone, and field goals aren't doing the damage as the Irish have given up four touchdowns to their opponents in six red zone opportunities.

Question Three: Can the Irish offense score when they reach the red-zone?

While their opponents are a perfect (6-of-6) the Irish are 5-of-11 (45%) inside their opponents' 20-yard line after two games. This is very unlike a Brian Kelly-coached team and must change. What hurts even more is the fact the Irish have fumbled twice and thrown three interceptions in the red-zone this season.

Question Four: Will the Irish punting improve against Michigan State?

After two games Irish punter Ben Turk finds himself as the 67th ranked punter in the country with an average of 33.9 yards per punt. When you really break it down you see Turk's net punt average is just under 28-yards on the season (119th). After two games, Irish opponents have a average per punt of 37.4 yards and a net average of 36.8 yards.

When asked, Brian Kelly stressed the staff was not ready to make a change at punter. Turk needs to reward the faith Kelly and the staff have shown in him by having a solid performance against the Spartans.

Question Five: Can the Irish decrease the number of penalties against them this week?

A total of 17 accepted penalties so far this season for 148 yards have proven costly to the Irish. Four have been post-play personal fouls.


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