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Final thoughts before kickoff

Nov 23, 2013, 11:39 AM EDT

Prince Shembo AP

The snow flurries have already started. And they don’t look like they’re going anywhere. Today’s Senior Day should also be a Snow Day, with weather playing a factor from the start. Temperatures will start in the high 20s and continue to drop all afternoon.

Football weather? Frozen tundra weather. It’s a good day to be in the press box.

With that in mind, let’s get to some final thoughts before kickoff.

Can Notre Dame establish the running game? Throwing the football in this weather isn’t ideal. With wind blowing around 20 mph, the wind chill will be close to single digits, making this one of the coldest Saturdays in recent memory at Notre Dame Stadium.

There are about 10 men in the world that can effectively throw the football in this kind of weather. They won’t be in Notre Dame Stadium, and most of them are playing on Sundays. So if the Irish are going to get an offensive attack going, it’ll need to be started on the ground.

This BYU defense isn’t as stout as the one that Notre Dame faced last year. But then again, this running game isn’t as good as last season’s either. This will likely be the X factor for the Irish offensively.

Can Notre Dame slow down BYU’s ground game? This will be the difference in the game. If Notre Dame can keep Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams in check, they’ll have gotten all they need out of the defense to get a W.

How they do that is the big question. Without Louis Nix in the middle, the snaps will likely fall to Kona Schwenke, who isn’t close to 100 percent after a service academy cut block injured his ankle. Then snaps fall to Jarron Jones and Tyler Stockton, two guys that will need to play the games of their lives.

Stopping a running game like this is more a function of eleven guys playing assignment correct football. We’ll see how well coached up Bobby Diaco’s boys are for this one.

Holding onto the football. Ball security is always important on a weather day like this. And with both Taysom Hill and Tommy Rees capable of giving the ball to the other team via air, the team who turns it over the least will likely win this football.

Brian Kelly is still undefeated in games where his team doesn’t commit a turnover. But this will be Tarean Folston’s first football game in cold weather, and that’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Starting fast. Emotions will be high at kickoff. Can Notre Dame parlay that into a quick start? This team hasn’t shown an ability to get out of the gates quickly, but if they can get out front of BYU, they could disrupt the Cougars offensive game plan.

Keeping pace with BYU’s offense. Replicating the speed of BYU’s hurry-up in practice won’t be easy. But the Irish defense needs to get acclimated quickly, or else they could put the offense into a hole that might not be that easy to climb out of on a chilly day like this.

Enjoying the moment. There are so many great stories to keep track of on a Saturday like this. Will this be goodbye to Louis Nix? Stephon Tuitt? Thanking seniors like Zack Martin, TJ Jones, Chris Watt and Prince Shembo for really impressive careers. Honoring guys like Danny Spond, Cam Roberson and Tate Nichols, players who walked away because their bodies couldn’t make it.

This would also be Senior Day for Matt James, the blue-chip offensive lineman that died during a tragic Spring Break accident. He’ll be honored by high school teammate Luke Massa, who’ll be wearing James’ No. 78 as he fulfills his holding duties this afternoon. Sophomore Ronnie Stanley will wear No. 69 instead.

The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen wrote a tremendous profile on Massa and James in today’s paper, revealing quite a bit about the guy Massa has become, even as a knee injury has robbed him of the athleticism he once possessed.

  1. richisirish - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Well at this point in the season its clear this ND team wont live up to the expectations many of us hoped they would achieve by seasons end. If this team can stick together and be competitive in each game the rest of the way I will be okay. Looking forward to rooting on the gold and blue today.

  2. fnc111 - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    I’m glad I’m watching this dreadful game from my couch. Too cold for me.

    • mtflsmitty - Nov 23, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      You mean mom’s couch, right?

  3. whodabigdog - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Yo Efnc. If its. Gona be a bad game why bother? I have been here since 10.30.and i have not heard anyone here piss bitch moan and wine like u are.Man up.grow a pair and geton over here. Cold windy and blowing. Great football weather! Go Irish!!!

    • runners00 - Nov 23, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      exactly. enjoy the game. not many of us ever get to attend a single game at Notre Dame Stadium. i’m in that bunch — loyal fans who haven’t attended a game at Notre Dame Stadium.

      even on a day like today, consider yourself lucky. have fun — have a few drinks — and scream like mad for the entire game. GO IRISH!

  4. nudeman - Nov 23, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    My first ND game in person was 1970 on a day like today. They beat LSU 3-0
    When I saw someone swigging from a flask I asked my dad “why is he doing that?”
    He explained “It doesn’t make you warmer; it just makes you care less”
    Sage words.

    BTW, in Chicago right this minute it’s 25 degrees with a 19 mph “breeze”
    If you guessed that equals -5 wind chill, you win

  5. dbldmr - Nov 23, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Nude, I was in grad school at ND for that LSU game. Scott Hempel field goal, as I remember. God, was it cold.

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