Notre Dame team preview

This game should be a very competitive game. This is the best U.S.C. team I have seen in quite a while. This Irish team is also one of the best I have seen in a while. I expect this game to come down to turnovers and controlling the line of scrimmage. Whichever teams has the least turnovers should win the game. Good luck to the Trojans and I am glad both teams are back where they belong.

Garry and I decided to swap stories about each other's team. I will try to give you insight on the Irish team - I hope you find this information useful.

We will start with the offense. The Notre Dame offense has been anything but dominant but they have been opportunistic. The Irish take advantage of turnovers and usually turn them into points.  Notre Dame has put together some strong offensive games and usually has the best games against the better teams they play. 

Carlyle Holiday leads the Notre Dame offense. He is quickly developing into one of the country's best offensive threats. In the past five games he has a passing efficiency rating of 150, which would put him as one the top five quarterbacks in the country. Holiday likes to throw the ball deep and does most of his damage outside the pocket.

The Irish rushing attack is lead by tailback Ryan Grant who has rushed for over 1000 yards this season so far. Grant is more of a physical back, a slasher who gets a lot of yards after contact. When Grant is not in the game Rashon Powers-Neal will likely be the back running the football. Powers-Neal is a bigger, stronger version of Ryan Grant with less lateral movement.

At wide receiver the Irish like to get the ball in the hands of Arnaz Battle. Battle is the playmaker for the Irish wide receivers. When Holiday isn't finding Battle he is throwing to Omar Jenkins or the two freshmen Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight. Omar has made some big plays for Notre Dame as well as Maurice Stovall. Rhema is starting to play a bigger role in the Irish offense and is a younger version of Arnaz Battle.

At tight end the Irish usually look for Gary Godsey. Godsey won't beat you with his legs but he does bring good size to the position being 6'7" and 260 lbs. Another tight end to watch out for is former quarterback Jared Clark. Clark is the more athletic of the two and can get behind the linebackers. Notre Dame throws more to the tight end than they have in previous years but they are not a huge threat to catch a lot of balls.

Notre Dame's offensive line is lead by senior center Jeff Faine. Faine is a very physical player and considered one of the best centers in the country. The Irish offensive line is also lead by seniors Jordan Black and Sean Mahan. Black has started all four years for Notre Dame and Mahan has plenty of experience as well. The others starters are Sean Milligan and Brennan Curtin. Milligan is a two-year starter and Curtin is starting for the first time this year but has a lot of playing experience. Offensive tackle, Jim Molinaro and offensive guard, Dan Stevenson, are usually the first two to come off the bench The Irish offensive line hasn't been dominating but they always step up their level of play in the big games.

The Irish have been dominating on the defensive side of the ball forcing a lot of turnovers and stopping the rushing attack. Notre Dame fans will happy to see the return of Cedric Hilliard. Hilliard is probably the best defensive lineman the Irish have had in a very long time. His teammate Darrell Campbell is not far behind and the two do a tremendous job of stuffing the run and penetrating into the opponent's backfield. The Irish haven't had two interior defensive linemen this good for many years. On the outside the Irish also have two outstanding defensive ends in Ryan Roberts and Justin Tuck. Both create tremendous amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and both do a good job against the run. Tuck is more of a speed rusher and Roberts is a 100% effort guy. This may be the best defensive line the Irish have had.

Butkus Finalist Courtney Watson leads the Notre Dame linebacking corps.  Watson has led the team in tackles despite missing two games with an illness.  Middle linebacker Mike Goolsby has really come on lately showing a knack for blitzing and getting to the quarterback.  The other starter at outside linebacker is Derek Curry.  Curry is used in coverage a lot and he also is used to blitz quite a bit.  This is also the strongest linebacking corps the Irish have had in quite some time.  They are very athletic and love to hit. 

The heart of the defense rests on the shoulders of Shane Walton.  Walton is a former walk-on soccer player turned football playmaker.  He has 6 interceptions on the year and plays his best in big games.  The other corner is Vontez Duff.  Duff probably has more athletic ability than Walton but Walton is the senior and the leader.  Duff is usually matched up with the faster receivers because of his speed and athleticism.  At safety, Notre Dame fans will be glad to see Gerome Sapp back in the lineup.  Sapp is a strong hitter, good tackler and also plays the ball well in the air.  At the free safety spot, the Irish have Glenn Earl who is known as a vicious hitter and he plays center field very well for Notre Dame.  Again, this is the best secondary the Irish have had in a very long time. 

With special teams, Joey Hildbold is the Irish punter.  Joey is a pinpoint punter and a true weapon for the Irish.  He is very consistent in pinning the opposition inside their 10-yard line.  At kicker, Notre Dame has Nick Setta.  Setta had a stretch where he struggled but has been Mr. Reliable for the last 3 games.  The Irish are pretty strong in special teams. 

This game should be a very competitive game.  This is the best U.S.C. team I have seen in quite a while.  This Irish team is also one of the best I have seen in a while.  I expect this game to come down to turnovers and controlling the line of scrimmage.  Whichever teams has the least turnovers should win the game.  Good luck to the Trojans and I am glad both teams are back where they belong. 

FightingIrishInsider.com


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