Notre Dame vs. Miami ’12: Key Matchups

cierre wood miami
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Cierre Wood (20) is tackled by Michigan State Spartans cornerback Johnny Adams (5) during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. (Photo: Mike Carter / US PRESSWIRE)

Heading into their annual Shamrock Series game the Irish are 4-0 and ranked ninth in the nation. Despite the high ranking and undefeated record the Irish have plenty to improve on if they hope to defeat this week’s opponent Miami. The following are the matchups Notre Dame must win in order to knock off the Hurricanes at Soldier Field.

Irish running backs versus the Miami front seven

The Irish running backs have struggled to impose their will versus opposing defenses thus far this season. The Irish have only recorded two rushing touchdowns in the last three games and often find themselves rushing for a yard or two a carry, with big gains being few and far between. In Miami the Irish will face a defense struggling mightily to stop the run. The Hurricanes are giving up an average of 225.6 yards rushing per game, and have surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns so far this season. The Irish must increase Cierre Wood’s involvement in the rushing attack this week. Wood has recorded only 17 carries in his two games this season, far less than a premier back should receive. Wood possesses the best chance to gash the Hurricanes weak run defense for big gains and subsequently increase the struggling offenses production.

Duke Johnson versus Manti Te’o

In Duke Johnson the Hurricanes possess a true game- breaking talent. Johnson has totaled 920 all-purpose yards to go along with seven touchdowns through five games. Johnson has rushed for 359 yards this season on 6.9 yards per carry due in large part to his breakneck speed. Manti Te’o will be charged with the responsibility of shutting down Johnson for the Irish. Te’o has played lights-out football for the Irish thus far earning him a spot in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Te’o’s two best games this season came in similar situations where he was charged with shutting down the opposition’s central player, La’Veon Bell and Denard Robinson. The Irish will need another great effort from their defensive leader as Johnson is yet another gifted backfield player that Te’o must shut down this season.

Stephen Morris versus the Irish Secondary

In Stephen Morris the Irish will face the most prolific passer they’ve seen so far this season. Morris threw for 566 yards last week versus NC State, and 436 yards the week before in a comeback win over Georgia Tech. Morris has also yet to throw for less than 200 yards in a game this season. In contrast the Notre Dame defense has only allowed 715 yards passing this season despite the inexperience of the secondary. Morris makes a great deal of his plays rolling out, so it will be of paramount importance for the young Irish corners to stay with their man/in their zone and not be swept up in the chaos of Miami’s up-tempo offense. Morris will be another stiff test for the ever-improving Irish secondary, a test they must pass as the Miami offense has scored over 35 points in four of its five games and is capable of putting up points in a hurry.

Tyler Eifert versus Brandon McGee

One of the main reasons the Irish offense has been stagnant is the lack of big plays from Tyler Eifert. Opposing defenses have been choosing to take Eifert out of the game with double and sometimes triple coverage in an effort to make another Irish receiver beat them. Eifert has recorded nine receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown this season, but has only recorded one reception in each of the last two games.

The Hurricanes will likely matchup their senior corner Brandon McGee with Eifert. McGee has recorded 20 tackles, three pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery this season. McGee is a big corner at 6’0’’ 197 pounds so he won’t be extremely undersized compared to other corners when matched up with Eifert and is also in his second season as a full-time starter, so he doesn’t lack in experience either. Eifert will need to find a way to beat man to man coverage in the rare event he faces it as well as find room to work against double teams in the middle of the field in order for the Irish offense to be successful this week.

You may also like


  1. Kudos Delta,

    I would love to see EG run more and BK allow him to roll out more. EG needs to be more fluid and less robotic. I understand taking care of the ball, however, EG has skills we probably have not seen unleashed yet due to BK’s induced learning curve.

    Glad to see people focused sharply on Miami. I could careless how we got here and where we are headed next. Right now, I just want to kick Miami’s AZZ this Saturday!

    Here come the Irish!

  2. Delta,

    Well spoken, sir!

    Yours is a sensible confidence that we could all learn from. I can live without some of the other bombast that in the past has made us look like fools when we lose games we should on paper win. The problem is football isn’t played on paper.

    I trust BK has learned from his past errors. His teams have not looked very good after bye-weeks. I hope that changes. I also hope he has developed a killer instinct over the bye. Like you say, Delta, we may need it against the Hurricanes. If not Saturday, then some game, some time.

    Go Irish!!!

  3. Morris can be dangerous, but there is no reason ND should lose this game. Our defense is just too damn good. Pressure him all nite and keep containment.

    It will also help to keep him off the field. Time for our much ballyhooed line to do its job and let us pound out yardage between the tackles. I would also love to see EG run the ball with some read optionand some draws.

    From what I have watched of the hurricons I only have one point of pause. They don’t quit and will keep airing it out. So I worry about BK going conservative with the defense too soon. Oh well, maybe old fears die hard.

    Go Irish

  4. ND is going to hand down a beating the likes of which havent been seen since the last flash mob of “misunderstood yutes” got off the red line L train and encountered a bunch of tourists on Michigan Avenue. May Cam McDaniel get a few carries in this game

  5. This ‘Fear Talk’ about Miami is disturbing. Look at who they have played and what was given up. KSU thrashed the Canes. Georgia Tech blown away by Western Who? Bethune Cookman? What the hell and where the hell is B-C on the football map? A Cane defense that fizzles. The talk should be about WHAT THE IRISH will do to them, not vice versa. ‘Fear Talk’ is bad for the soul and morale. It is the Canes with that Slime mouth who should be fearing what is going to happen to them come Saturday night at Soldier Field. Fear will be the weapon of the Irish.

    1. As a lifelong ‘Cane fan I find your lack of respect disturbing. Nevertheless, all of this talk won’t amount to a hill of beans Saturday night and we will see if the Canes are as easy to stop as the big slow offenses of Michigan and MSU. My advice to ND, you may want to score more than 10 or 13 points if you want to win! Good news for you guys, our defense stinks, but Stephen Morris does not!

      1. Kirk,

        I agree with you that talk is cheap. Believe me, over the years, many on this site have made bold predictions about ND hammering an opponent on Saturday afternoon/evening only to look like fools on Sunday morning. (What’s worse is they never man-up to their BS fake bravado!)

        Having said that, Canes’ fans are the ultimate trash talkers. Have you heard the hateful language Miami sports-talk host Dan Sileo has been spouting all week? This man has talked about deliberately hurting ND players. Really classy, Sileo!

        I’m all for waiting to see what happens. Let the teams do their talking on the field. After the game, then the winning team’s fans can boast and brag. Preferably, both teams’ fans can have a sane discussion about the game without name-calling or hatred.

  6. If the OL doesn’t show up, it won’t matter a whole lot who is carrying the ball, they won’t get much yardage if they’re aren’t holes. I agree Wood needs to be getting more touches and I wonder if he is still in the coach’s “doghouse.” EG has to play better, make better decisions with the ball, and use those legs a bit more. I still think he wants to be seen as a passing QB, not just a gifted athletic person who plays QB (just a thought-I could be wrong). Miami may not be the same Miami they were years back, but they still have players who can play and I’m guessing they have more speed than what ND has faced so far. Again, time to focus on this game and not look down the road. The D will have to continue to pick up where they left off.

    Shamrock tsunami is building up and it will come crashing in on the Canes.

    Go Irishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button