The Wire

Mid-week musings include Arizona State head coach Todd Graham's thoughts on Notre Dame and a 2015 Notre Dame defensive end target making the trip to Tempe on Saturday.

Recruiting notes

- As noted previously, 2016 five-star quarterback Malik Henry has set an announcement date for his commitment - Thursday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. PST. He will announce live on ESPNU. This battle comes down Florida State and Notre Dame. The Irish have been the favorite for a longer period of time here, but it's not a secret the Noles have gained momentum here recently.

- Four-star defensive end Porter Gustin of Salem (Utah) Salem Hills will be in attendance this weekend for the Arizona State vs. Notre Dame game. According to Scout.com's Doug Kimmel, Gustin and his family will be driving an RV to Tempe, so Porter can sleep/recover from his playoff game on Friday night. Approximately eleven friends and family members will be attending the game.

USC and Arizona State are in the best position to land Gustin right now, with Notre Dame nipping at their heels.

- It's status quo with four-star running back Soso Jamabo of Plano (Texas) West. UCLA and Notre Dame are in best position to land him, though Texas A&M is working hard to change that. If Jamabo elects to go elsewhere, and a decision should come this month or next, Notre Dame is on solid ground to continue to push for a flip from LSU running back commit Nicholas Brossette.

Comments from Graham

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham answered questions surrounding this upcoming Saturday in his Monday press conference.

On the buzz of the Notre Dame game:

“It would be silly to think of this as just another game, it definitely isn’t to me. I grew up a football fan and getting an opportunity to a play a team like this late in the year is a big deal, and these are the kinds of games you want to coach in, and our players want to play in, and our fans want to see. I’m looking forward to seeing a packed house and creating a memory. Each week we stay focused on the task at hand, but playing a team that has the tradition that Notre Dame has and is playing the kind of football that they’re playing right now this is definitely a game that everyone gets excited about."

On the team’s improvement:

“The reason we are playing at such a higher level now than what we were earlier is because we are not making the errors that we were earlier. This has been the most improved group that I think I’ve ever had but I think a lot of that was just getting them to understand the system and execute the schemes... Every year it’s like this, as the year goes on it gets tougher to trick people but we have the best offensive football team I have ever coached and we just have to get the timing and the execution defects settled and play Sun Devil football.”

On last year’s game against Notre Dame in Texas:

“I think we turned the ball over and that was the difference in the game. It was a hard fought game, and it will be again this year; I told the team that I would not trade the way we won against Utah or Washington for anything because it develops character when you win like that. You have to have adversity in order to really grow and develop a championship caliber team. The big focus has got to be on not putting the ball in jeopardy and that is the only thing that can keep us from not being successful. There were two or maybe even three times on Saturday when we could have very easily turned the ball over if the other team did not drop the ball, and we have to be smart about that. It’s so important to be prepared and be proactive about putting the team first in every decision that we make, and I always talk to everyone about that.”

On the challenges Everett Golson provides:

“I have spent most of my morning looking at him and he is a really good quarterback. The way he extends plays is the main issue he presents. He is accurate throwing the football and he has a strong arm. He has got a lot of confidence as well. This is top to bottom probably the best receiving corps we have faced. Big, physical offensive line and really good tailbacks. Obviously we have to stop the run and then we have to make sure we keep him (Golson) contained. He hurts people a lot on critical downs. He is the key to their whole offense and he is what makes it work. We must do a great job of containing him.”

On the Notre Dame defense and how it compares to ASU’s:

“They have played on some big stages and their defense has really responded in all those big games. They played Navy and the triple option last week which is a total different animal, but they have been solid on defense. They are big and physical, their defensive backs are strong. They blitz about 35% of the time so they are an attacking defense. They are very well coached. I have competed against Coach (Brian) Kelly quite a few times. They are always disciplined and well coached. This line, on both sides of the ball, is probably the best that we have seen to this point.”

On the importance of playing games like this week vs. Notre Dame:

"I hope there will be a time in the future where every conference plays the same amount of conference games, everyone has a conference championship, and the conference champion should get an automatic bid into the playoff. I am obviously in favor of expanding to eight teams with three at-large teams. I want to coach in this game, it’s pretty awesome. Our players want to play in these games and our fans want to see these games... This kind of game this late in the year presents a great opportunity for us. This is arguably the best football team we have played all year long. We have to balance the fact that it does hurt you if you aren’t successful in those game. I don’t have to worry about giving our kids a big motivational speech, they are going to be fired up and ready to play.”

On Notre Dame's schedule

Rice (5-3) defeated Florida International 31-17
Michigan (4-5) defeated Indiana 34-10
Purdue (3-6) lost to Nebraska 35-14
Syracuse (3-6) lost to North Carolina State 24-17
Syracuse (5-4) lost to Oregon 45-16
North Carolina (4-5) lost to Miami 47-20
No. 2 Florida State (8-0) defeated Louisville 32-21
No. 9 Arizona State (7-1) defeated Utah 19-16
Northwestern (3-5) lost to Iowa 48-7
Louisville (6-3) lost to Florida State 32-21
USC (6-3) defeated Washington State 44-17

In closing

I'm back home in Raleigh, N.C. this week visiting my family. Headed to the North Carolina State/Georgia Tech game on Saturday, which means a second consecutive week of the triple option.

Hope everyone has a good rest of the week, and safe travels to Tempe for those making the trip.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories