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Game Day: No. 9 Notre Dame vs. Miami

Oct 6, 2012, 2:16 PM EDT

Notre Dame v Michigan State Getty Images

It’s been an interesting 48 hours covering Notre Dame football. While rumors swirled about the Irish quarterbacking position, Brian Kelly put them to rest with his declarative statement that Everett Golson was — and would remain — his starting quarterback this evening in Soldier Field. But that hasn’t slowed any of the rumblings down.

With an extra week to prepare, and Miami’s suspect defense a perfect opponent to get healthy against, the Notre Dame offense — whoever the quarterback is — needs to get back on track, struggling for three consecutive Saturdays against Big Ten opponents Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan.

As we get ready for game time, here are a few final questions I’ve been thinking about.

Who will actually start at quarterback? 

While most of the quarterbacking debate was put to rest by Kelly on Thursday evening, I was told by two sources close to the situation late on Friday night that they still expected Tommy Rees to start on Saturday evening.

Those rumors were refuted by Notre Dame’s sports information department, but until the Irish take the field tonight, I’m not sure what to expect.

Can the Irish get production out of the quarterback position?

Regardless of who’s starting, Notre Dame needs to get some productivity out of the position. Nothing will open up the running game better than a quarterback that can take some shots down the field and challenge the Hurricanes vertically, and both Golson and Rees have that ability.

New quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin had an extra week to game plan for a Miami defense that’s very young and still prone to big mistakes. With All-American Tyler Eifert only catching one ball the past two weeks — his worst production since he was backing up Kyle Rudolph — it’s time for the Irish to figure out a way to get the ball into No. 80′s hands, the most dangerous offensive weapon the Irish have.

Will Notre Dame’s front seven be able to dominate the line of scrimmage? 

It’s a big test for Notre Dame’s stout defensive front, with running backs Duke Johnson and Mike James both big play threats.

More importantly, it’ll be up to the Irish pass rush to work its way through Miami’s youthful offensive line. There isn’t a fourth year player at the line of scrimmage for the Canes, and if the Irish can control the line of scrimmage and get after the quarterback with a four and five man rush, then it’ll be a long evening for quarterback Stephen Morris.

Can the Irish secondary limit the big plays? 

It’s another good test for Notre Dame’s young secondary. Morris isn’t Denard Robinson running the football, but he’s got the ability to extend plays and has a really big arm that challenges defenses down the field.

Morris still struggles with his accuracy, but he’s averaging almost 330 yards a game passing, and that yardage is coming in big chunks. With freshman KeiVarae Russell still learning on the job, Matthias Farley making his second start in place of Jamoris Slaughter, and Zeke Motta holding the group together, it’s another great test for a group that’s done a very nice job through four games.

Is Cierre Wood going to take control of the running game? 

After sitting out the season’s first two games and struggling to find his way over the past few weeks, it’s finally time for senior Cierre Wood to take control of the running game. Wood has the best blend of speed, power, and vision in the Irish backfield, and while Theo Riddick has impressed, this is Wood’s game to dominate.

The Hurricanes are giving up 225 yards a game, giving up a healthy 4.49 yards per carry. With an extra week for Harry Hiestand‘s offensive line to work through some early kinks, it’s time for Notre Dame to dominate the line of scrimmage and break loose in the running game.

Can the Irish take care of business and play up to their ranking? 

Being ranked in the top ten is one thing. But playing consistent football against quality opponents for a long stretch of time is the next step in the evolutionary chain for Notre Dame football. Brian Kelly has continued to preach consistency and attention to detail for this team. But can the Irish take care of business in a unique environment against another good team?

The Hurricanes are 4-1, but a program still building. With a mature defense and an offense ready to break through, this is a game Notre Dame should win with authority if they want to stake a claim that they’re one of the country’s premiere teams.

UPDATE – Alex Flanagan confirms my reporting (both above and on Twitter), that Rees will start after Golson violated a team rule.

  1. halfwhitey - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I’m scared.

    • halfwhitey - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Not of losing. Just of the whole potential annoying shitstorm.

    • fatlikereflexes - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      Alright, who left the Michigan fan home alone????

  2. ndfanwabashman - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    At this point, whomever starts the damn game should finish it. Just win.

  3. glorygreyhound - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    I don’t think TR can challenge the U vertically. Go Golson, Go Irish.

  4. bernhtp - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    We will see two ND QBs play.

    Speculation: as part of Golson’s development we may see the switch between the two become multiple and interleaved instead of permanent within the game to give Golson bench time to get coaching, watch and reflect before going back in.

  5. seadomer - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    IF ND’s O-line plays better, everything will take care of itself this game ALL the WAY to the 13th game.

  6. 818irish - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    It’s really simple… They are trying to develop a young QB while trying to win games. If he gets in way over his head, he’ll get pulled out no matter what game it is and they’ll bring in the “reliever”.

    Of course, at some point they have to take the “life preserver” off of Golson.

    With that said, I don’t see a need for the “reliever” or the “life preserver” tonight…

    Go Irish!

  7. nudeman - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    1) Keith, maybe you’ve got a scoop here. We’ll see , but I doubt it. Why? because …

    2) BK couldn’t have been more unequivocal that Golson will start. Was he just trying to “throw Miami off?”.

    3) If they go back to Rees, Golson is largely done this year, barring injury.

    4) Why do I loathe the idea of Tommy Rees being ND’s starter?
    Simple: He got a little worse every game last year, then with months to reflect, sh** the bed in B&G game. Same guy as against FSU, Stanf, Pitt, WF and BC. So now because he’s thrown, what? 20 passes without an INT he’s a transformed man?

    5) I’ll puke if he starts. If not, Keith you need some new sources.

    5) As Denny Green famously said about the Bears “Tommy Rees is who we THOUGHT he was”.

    • heisenbyrg - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      Alex Flanagan just tweeted that BK wouldn’t name EG the starter when she interviewed him last night…

      • nudeman - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        Maybe because he’s sick of being asked about it every 15 min?
        Why would he have so emphatically said EG is his man, just 2 days ago?

        I can’t go through this again. Still recovering from the meltdown of 3 days ago here.

        I’ll sit this one out.

        Maybe

    • irish4006 - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      Amen on Keith needing some new “sources” (or taking a vacation from reporting on ND’s QB situation). These ridiculous attempts at stirring up controversy where there doesn’t seem to be much is really getting a little old.

      These “sources”, I hope, are kicked out of the team. I am having a hard time deciding which is worse – leaking locker room information outside or intentionally feeding false information to stir up controversy with the goal of creating an eventual locker room divide. I think the latter is worse, but the former is not a whole lot better, by any standard.

      • nudeman - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        This reminds me of the 1986, 87, 88 Chicago Bears
        McMahon with his bad shoulder was the starter
        Tomczak was his backup, but stunk.
        Possibly the dumbest QB I’ve ever seen

        EVERY WEEK IT WAS THE SAME BS:
        “Who’s your QB going to be?” was the #1, #2, #3, #4 … #16 question

        It literally drained the life out of the team by mid season

      • heisenbyrg - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:22 PM

        Hmmm. I’d like Keith to continue reporting any information he may have. And there indeed may be a controversy, but we shall see.

        And Nude, wouldn’t leaving the QB question ambiguous, like he did with Flanagan, just invite more questions?

      • nudeman - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:12 PM

        Note to goat/kraut: I dont seek your approval on what/when/how often I can’t comment. Never have and never will. Your opinion is 100% meaningless. So rant and bleat all you want. I just wish you weren’t so lacking in clever DNA.

    • domer77blowsgoats - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      I’m gonna puke just from reading this regurgitation from the previous 1000 nudisms!

      Copy paste copy paste copy paste, refresh, “hey new post!!” Copy paste copy paste copy paste

      Go weed be gravel or something man

      Since you are hell bent on using past as prologue, what happened last time TR played Miami?

      • nudeman - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:22 PM

        You’re a certified idiot who never contributes a thing here.
        Seriously … why do you even bother?

      • onebigloadofcrap - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        i have this vision of the goat as an overweight abused husband who is angry at the world. nice dame domerBLOWSgoats. idiot. maybe goat it’s time for you to stfu and post an opinion or two other than nude is bad. you are an angry POS most likely with no friends but a notre dame degree nailed up on your living room wall for all to see. and in the first 2 minutes within meeting you youre tjhe type who announces WELL I WENT TO NOTRE DAME, even if the discussion is about ball bearings. seriously my friend ndnation is a better place for you. or maybe just sit in the the crapper all day and pass gas.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Oct 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

        Ahhh how refreshing, resorting to the lowest form of retort, name calling, well done nude and load.

        Don’t care to answer my question or does it hurt too much to look in the mirror and see nothing but a stream of hypocritical bs?

        You answered affirmitively yesterday when I asked as long as its a W then who cares who is QB. So what’s the freakin issue??

        I know, copy paste copy paste, TR sucks, Keith keynotes Rees reunion, blah blah blah

        Go spend some quality time doing something that actually matters in this world other than wearing out that computer chair and hogging the phone line, “no honey you can’t call your loved ones, have to post the same comment 5 mores times this hour”

    • kapnd73 - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      Nude, as I recall in year one, when Tommy Rees came in for an injured Dayne Crist and proceeded to win a pretty nice streak of games, you often compared him favorably to Joe Montana. That’s who YOU thought he was. Give the kid a break – and us – We already know your feelings about him now.

  8. 9irish - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I think this whole thing is a conspiracy between BK and Keith…start Rees for one play and see if it kills off Nudeman!

  9. notredave - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    My source tells me that Luke Massa will get the start at QB.

    • 9irish - Oct 6, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      I heard it was going to be Charlie Weis’ son, whatever his name is. Although I think Alex Flanagan is trying to charm her way in there, too. Sooooooo much intriiiiiigue!

  10. sullyp18 - Oct 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Lets get the ground game going so we can get EG a chance to show us what he can do. The throw against MSU is all I need to show me EG can do it. TR couldn’t have made that throw in a million attempts. Like I said before we need a team leader to take EG aside and tell him that the team has faith in him. GO IRISH!!!!

  11. notredave - Oct 6, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Nude still has dial up??

    • halfwhitey - Oct 6, 2012 at 5:57 PM

      nudeman@prodigy.net

  12. ndfaithful - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Holy crap. We really didn’t need this.

  13. ndfaithful - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Ok, here we go…

    My quick gameday article comments:

    1.) I’d like to avoid the whole starting QB question altogether. I raised one eyebrow when I read KA’s possible scoop. Oh crap is all I thought. I just don’t care anymore who plays. I will cheer for the guy in there.

    2.) I’m pretty sure they’ll get some production out of the offense today. I sure hope the QB can make the passing game come alive and when he does, the running game should be able to catch Miami off guard.

    3.) I heard the guys on ESPN talking about how Miami’s offensive line has been a difference maker in games. I really think the front 7 of the Irish are going to wreak havoc. I hope so anyway.

    4.) I’m thinking and hoping the secondary can make as many big plays as they give up. I think there will be both.

    5.) I would REALLY like to see Cierre get the ball a LOT. even though he’s one of several good backs, I would like to see him get into a rhythm. I think if he gets the ball 18-20 times, it would do the offense a lot of good. He’s also the best at running behind the now-famous zone blocking.

    Score Prediction:

    ND 28
    Miami 13

    GO IRISH!!!!
    CRUSH Miami

  14. ndfaithful - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    KA seems to be on to something.

    Bleacher Report just published that Rees is starting.

    wow.

    infamous shit storm to begin momentarily.

    • ndfaithful - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      KA. You’re incredible.
      ND Sideline tweeted EG is benched for “violating team rules”

  15. halfwhitey - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Keith just tweeted that Golson is benched due to violating team rules. Hence Rees starting.

  16. Keith Arnold - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Guys — I’m doing my job. Hopefully this is example No. 2,304 that I’m not just making things up.

    See you in the live blog.

    • nudeman - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      I salute you
      Never doubted you were doing your job either.
      And had there not been a violation of team rules, EG would be starting

      I have to say that this is a shocking window into how immature this young man is
      100x worse than Rees and the cop
      Beginning to think that athleticism aside, he’s not up to the task of being the QB at ND

  17. easoriano66 - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    what the hell I thought Golson was going to start

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