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Final thoughts before kickoff

Oct 5, 2013, 1:49 PM EST

TJ Jones, Julian Wilson AP

With Notre Dame in need of a rebound against an Arizona State team that looks a lot more dangerous than ever before, let’s run through ten Irish players that need to play well for Notre Dame to win in tonight’s primetime affair.

Tommy Rees. No need to sugarcoat it. (And after reading the comments on recent stories, nobody here has been.) Rees needs to play better to win. Against a Sun Devil defense that might spend 90 percent of its time in man-to-man coverage, the game’s going to be on Rees’s shoulders offensively, even with an emphasis in the running game.

After forgetting about underneath throws against Michigan State, the Irish did have some success on crossing routes against Oklahoma. But Rees will need to be able to connect on some downfield shots to loosen up a Sun Devils defense that isn’t exactly the stingiest group in the country.

Nick Martin. After practicing each week against Louis Nix, Martin will get his chance to face off with an All-American defensive tackle when it actually counts tonight. If Martin can hold up against Will Sutton, the Irish ground game can do some damage both inside and out.

Prince Shembo. Maybe it’s not entirely fair to call Shembo a part of the Witness Protection Program like I did earlier this week, but Shembo has got to start making his presence known in the pass rush department, an area where the Irish are in desperate need of production.

The senior linebacker has been called on to spend more time doing the little things right, like keeping leverage on the edge of the defense. But against a Sun Devil offense that can take big chunks of yardage in a hurry, a few plays made behind the line of scrimmage would do this unit some good.

Shembo is too good of a player to stay off the stat sheet for much longer. On the quick playing surface at Jerry World, I’m expecting the best game of the year for the cat linebacker.

Austin Collinsworth. Brian Kelly and Bob Diaco have a ton of faith in Collinsworth. But it’s time for the senior safety to reward the team with something more than being just consistent. After Harrison Smith and Zeke Motta played outstanding football anchoring the back end of the Irish defense, Collinsworth needs to provide more than just stability in the back end. Making sure the Irish aren’t caught in any broken coverages is mandatory, especially since those looks will surely be exploited by Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly.

The back end of the Irish defense will be under more pressure than they’ve been all season. And while Collinsworth will likely share leadership duties with Matthias Farley, it’s time for the senior to take charge.

George Atkinson. After playing his best game in an Irish uniform, it’s time for Atkinson to do it again, especially against a Sun Devils defense that’s mediocre against the run. After running through arm tackles and making big plays against Oklahoma, the Irish absolutely need Atkinson to do it again, even if there’s a bullseye on his back.

Period.

DaVaris Daniels. If you listened to Brian Kelly this week, you start to get the feeling that this coaching staff desperately wants more out of Daniels. That means more Saturdays like the ones against Temple and Purdue than what’s happened the past two weeks, when Daniels has been shut down in man coverage for a combined four catches for 19 yards.

Kelly and Chuck Martin believe that Daniels can be the big play downfield receiver that the Irish count on. But that means Daniels needs to win the one-on-one battles, something he hasn’t done the past two weeks. Cornerback Osahon Irabor is one of the Sun Devils most experienced players. Starting across from him is Robert Nelson, another fifth-year senior. That’s a lot of experience, but it’s time for Daniels to produce against top shelf opponents. He did so against Alabama in the BCS title game, so the talent is there. Now he’s got to show the consistency.

Jarrett Grace. The junior linebacker has made his move into the starting lineup. Now he needs to play better in the pass game, where he’ll be challenging this evening by a speedy fleet of Sun Devil receivers.

Kelly talked about the slant play that got inside Grace on a critical third down that went for 56-yards and a touchdown. That can’t happen tonight if the Irish want to win.

Stephon Tuitt. With Sheldon Day still likely limited, Tuitt’s going to play a lot of minutes tonight. And he’s going to need to play dominant up front in helping to limit the Sun Devil’s run game. Tuitt has slowly improved since a slow start from his hernia surgery recovery. And while his good snaps have been good, his bad snaps haven’t looked the part of a future first rounder.

With all five starters on the Sun Devil offensive line upperclassmen, it’s going to be a good battle up front. And Tuitt is going to have to carry the load, because the drop off after Day and Schwenke is sizable.

Bennett Jackson. It’s been an up and down season for the Irish captain. And he’ll be challenged again tonight, with Arizona State pushing the football down the field and the tempo between plays.

Someone needs to help this defense recapture the swagger and confidence it had last season. Jackson is the one wearing the ‘C’ on his jersey, and that duty ultimately falls on him. But until he can gets his game in order, it’s tough for that moxie to wear off on his teammates.

TJ Jones. The senior receiver has the opportunity to steal the spotlight from the Sun Devil offense with a breakout performance tonight. Whether it’s a big play in the return game, breaking a screen pass for a big gain, or connecting on a long throw down the field, Jones needs to be the best player on the field for the Irish offense.

After 15 catches in the season’s first two games, Jones has only had ten grabs in the last three for just 114 yards. Those are the type of numbers he should put up tonight, especially if the Irish run game gives Jones a chance to be a weapon in the playaction passing game.

  1. dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Pretty much every damn body and anybody on the team. I see Rees gettin knocked out n Zaire taking us to promise land.

  2. jerseyirish10 - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Come boys….play tough. All hands on deck. GO IRISH!

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Thank you father Gay. That is soooo gayross, yuck!

  3. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    I had a thought about how we could win this game, by putting up more points than the other team. This post brought to you by Master of the Obvious.

  4. ndfaithful - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Keith – Great Article. Hi Mrs. Arnold.

    Do you think you could start a second site and keep all of getsome99’s posts on it? Or do you think you could just setup a rule to move his life’s work to another site altogether as soon as it’s posted? One that is in a galaxy far, far away?

    • ndfan33 - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Anyway we can vote to limit getsome posts to 3 per article? And ban his back to back replys to himself? Just a thought.

      • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

        Why? I’d like to see him post more, guys like an Einstein I just hope he not another gay supporting catholic republican. God knows dw have plenty of thems on here

  5. yllibnosredna - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Really want to be optimistic about this game, but I just don’t see ND keeping pace with ASU’s high octane offense. Nothing I’ve seen so far from this defense makes me believe they can hold the Sun Devils in check.

    I do believe Kelly will finally commit more to the run game, and it will pay dividends. But unless the turnover margin swings greatly in ND’s favor (and there is no reason to believe that’s going to happen based on what we’ve seen thus far this season), this one might be over early.

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      I don’t see it either but I’ll still watch bitch n complain wtf

  6. yllibnosredna - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Bee Tee Double you, seriously hope I’m wrong.

  7. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    You can read them and learn something or choose not to read them at all. Ain’t America great?

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      Get some, I really think that you’d be so much hotter if you swap out the 99 for 69. I see the problem here.

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Getsome, you got any or what? Fock the game, I is be up in da suites gettin blown by blondes while ND gettin blown by da reds, ya dig?

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      As much as I like Rees, I’d love to see Zaire in action, just to see a glimpse of how much he sucks.

  8. thefightinfloyds - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    ND needs to start fast or at least hold ASU to a stalemate until they get their legs. If ASU starts quick, especially if ND is turning the ball over, this could get ugly. Hopefully ASU was a one week wonder. Jumping all over a limping and uninspired USC squad but this game makes me really nervous. I just hope its a good game and if we happen to lose hopefully it isnt because we shot ourselves in the foot all game. I would love to see ND finally click and roll off some wins but if they lose this game and look bad doing it then we could see this season completely implode tonight.

  9. thefightinfloyds - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    ND has shown flashes but man they are inconsistent. I know fans would be ecstatic with a 9-3 record but I look at the remaining schedule and I dont see many easy wins. Probably Navy, AF but theyre usually disciplined teams that play tough ball…USC could be energized with their new HC, Pitt should be difficult, especially after last seasons game. Im sure Pitt wants to win this game badly plus its in Pittsburgh. Then of course BYU, who should compete, and then the dark shadow on the schedule; Stanford. At this point I would say Stanford would beat ND by at least 3 TDs… but college football changes week to week so hopefully Im just blowing all of this out of my ass.

  10. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Then I would be selling myself 3″ short. Lol. Gimme a break. Up until this week, I’ve rarely posted this year or even last year for that matter. With the phone app it does make it easier but I don’t live in the internet like some of you. I prefer talking smack and ND football with actual people. And living in Texas, there’s plenty of haters who make that possible. (They have their own football traditions here too believe it or not).

    Keith has the best insight to the team so I come here for info I can’t get here. Every once in awhile, I’ll glance down at the comments to see if anything has changed over the past 3 years, which I see they haven’t. Nudeman and his entourage of himself and a handful of other same people still talking about the same shit: Rees sucks. Kelly’s a fraud. And Keith Arnold needs to do better at his job. Same 3 things every week.

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:46 PM

      Getsome, I love cocaine n escorts n notre dame football n I think Rees suck too. How big is ur penis that u can spare 3 inches? Are u black? I thought they were all racists in Texas

    • charlie617 - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Dude, you need to chill out. We all love this blog– that’s why we read it and post comments– and criticizing things about the team or certain players doesn’t mean we’re not fans of Notre Dame or Keith.

      We get it: you don’t like that Nudeman posts about Rees a lot. But he’s just expressing his opinion, which is a right we all have (even if you happen to disagree with him on the Rees issue, as I do). There is no reason to make it personal.

      If you had been paying attention to his posts before this season, Nude was giving Rees the benefit of the doubt, and had predicted Rees would have a better year than he did in 2011. It wasn’t until the INT’s started and it was clear that the offense was stagnating that the criticism of Rees came back.

      You might not like the constant negativity– I don’t particularly like it either– but his posts are nearly always insightful and respectful of others’ views. And people come to this site to read and respond to his posts, which drives up page views, which actually helps Keith, who you seem to think you need to stick up for.

      So let it go. Try to enjoy the game tonight. And I look forward to reading your own insight on this team as the season goes on.

  11. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    And I don’t give a f*** if Brian Kelly puts the Leprechaun in to play QB. I’m going to cheer louder, curse harder, and bleed greener than ever until we win then f***ing game!

    Let’s go Irish!

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      U kinda sound like the guy that I knocked out at cubs game last year. He’s a cubs fan, I’m a cubs fan but the guy was just begging to be knocked out so I did.

  12. jpwills19 - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Oh, I didn’t realize that the Irish were playing today. After reading all the comments this week, I thought they had already lost 77-0, Tommy Rees threw 17 picks on 94 attempts, never once targeted Troy Niklas, and proved that it’s possible to have a negative QBR. Oh, and Greg Bryant transferred, too.

    • ndfan33 - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      Might want to hold off on that, it’s early yet, ya never know…

      • jpwills19 - Oct 6, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        Guess all the comments about the sky falling were a bit overboard.

  13. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    BTW, I called the shot on GAIII’s 80 yard scamper. Ask the guy who was sitting next to me in Section 1 row 47. Blew out my vocal cords before he even made it to the 50 yard line.

    Want me to call one for tonight?

    Starting to get a little amped up now and I’ve got a feeling! Suck it up ND Nation. We still have a season to finish!

    Come on Irish!!!!!

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Yes call one. Lemme guess, I suppose ur typing this inside jack swarbricks daughters wet panties right? Of course, from the jacks suite inside the cowboys stadium. Tell me one thing, does she shave all the way or leave a lil? It’s a new trend to leave a lil.

  14. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    No offense, but the Cubs suck.

    Go Irish!!!

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      None taken. That was the point. We all know cubs suck yet this drinken dickrod behind me kept yelling lesssssssss goooooooo cuuuuuuuuubbbbbbbssss over n over n over.

    • dickasman - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      So what are you predicting victory for us? What’s the score?

  15. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I’ll give you one right after kickoff. One of you nerds out there teach me how to attach an image to a post and I’ll post a picture of the panties for you.

  16. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    I can assure you that nobody comes to Keith’s blog just to hear Nudeman’s opinions, although he will no doubt give it to you without fail. You should check the timeline of insults if you’re truly concerned for his welfare. Keith is not the only blogger who gets heckled constantly by his followers so I’m not just defending him. Disagreeing and commenting is one thing but we should always respect the people who actually put in the work to give us what we can’t get for ourselves.

    Go Irish!!!

  17. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    I admit I’m a complete idiot when watching Notre Dame games.

    Irish – 34
    Devils – 23

    Someone will score their 1st career TD tonight. That’s all I’m saying for now. Agree. Too soon.

    Go Irish!

  18. irishaggie - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Here is a stat for ya.

    ND is 0-5 this year against the spread. And since Kelly got here they’re spread success percentage is 22%. Actually you could probably become rich off betting oppositely. They are 6 point underdogs tonight and it sounds about right. Not saying i want them to lose I love ND, but ASU is real good.

    I bet on sports on a daily basis and there’s is a reason I hardly ever bet on the Irish!!

    • irishaggie - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      *their

  19. ndfan33 - Oct 5, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    It’s nice too see dickasman finally has a mate in getsome. Make such a cute couple.

  20. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I’ll be at entry F between 1st and 2nd quarters wearing a white #3 throwback smoking a cigarette and yelling at anyone wearing ASU colors. Come find me.

    • oldestguard - Oct 5, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      Hope we all “get some” tonight.

  21. fnc111 - Oct 5, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    ND is built like a slow big 10 team. That’s not a good start. Take it easy on us tonight u sun devils.

  22. sdemp - Oct 5, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Those uni’s are bad azz!!!

    Go Irish!!!

  23. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Need to see Chris Brown get his first TD tonight. A long one at that.

  24. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Hercules! (clap clap). Hercules! (clap clap)

  25. getsome99 - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Bike seat!

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