Notre Dame vs. Arizona State – Key Matchups

Prince Shembo - Notre Dame OLB
Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Prince Shembo (55) in action during the football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan State Spartans, at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated Michigan State Spartans by the score of 17-13. (Photo: Robin Alam / Icon SMI)

Notre Dame is still trying to find consistency five games into the 2013 season.  At times the Irish look strong, but have yet to put a full game together where they execute from start to finish.  The Irish will need a complete effort this weekend to answer their critics and avoid a back-breaking third loss of the season.  The opponent the Irish will need to beat to avoid a disastrous first half of the season is Arizona State.  The Sun Devils come into the game off an annihilation of USC in which they put up 62 points.  The following are the matchups the Irish must win to continue their success in Shamrock Series games:

Jarrett Grace versus Marion Grice:  Irish linebacker Jarrett Grace, like the Irish, is searching for consistency in his play.  Grace leads the Irish in tackles with 37 but has not established himself as the dominant force the Irish need in the middle.  Grace will need to be on his game against the run and shore up his problems in coverage in order to stop the Sun Devils all-purpose workhorse running back Marion Grice.  The Sun Devils utilize Grice in both the run game and the pass game as he is the team’s primary rusher and one of the team’s top receivers.  Grice lead the team in both rushing and receiving touchdowns and has a total of 12 scores on the year.  Grice is one of the keys to the Sun Devils explosive offense and must be slowed down if the Irish hope to win.

Prince Shembo versus Taylor Kelly:  Another Irish linebacker in need of a big game is Prince Shembo.  Shembo leads the Irish in quarterback hurries but hasn’t experienced the success he had last season in getting to the quarterback and ceiling the edge.  Shembo will need to disrupt and contain Sun Devils signal-caller Taylor Kelly.  Kelly is the face of an offense putting up 44 points a game so far this season and is a good passer who can also run the ball.  Kelly has thrown for 1370 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season, while also being third on the team with 124 rushing yards.  Shembo will need to get to Kelly because if he has time he will pick apart the Irish defense and also will need to contain Kelly when things breakdown and not allow him to make plays outside of the pocket.

KeiVarae Russell versus Jaelen Strong:  Notre Dame’s corners will be under the microscope against a high-powered passing attack like Arizona State, especially KeiVarae Russell.  Russell has had ups and downs this season while totalling a team-high four pass breakups.  The Irish sophomore will be charged with shutting down Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong.  Strong is a big receiver at 6’4’’ and leads the Sun Devils with 31 catches for 433 yards.  Strong is Taylor Kelly’s favorite target as he presents matchup problems for any corner so Russell will need to be at his best to hold Strong below 100 yards receiving.

DaVaris Daniels versus Alden Darby:  Notre Dame’s big play threat Davaris Daniels has been held in check the past two weeks, largely due to the inability of Tommy Rees to the throw the deep ball with any consistency.  Daniels will need to find a way to make big plays by any means necessary this week because if the Irish offense struggles they likely won’t be able to keep up with Arizona State’s ability to score points.  Trying to stop Daniels from making big plays will be Sun Devils safety Alden Darby.  Darby is a small safety at 5’11’’ 195 pounds but leads the Sun Devils is interceptions, pass breakups and defenses.  Daniels must exploit Darby by getting behind him on deep routes using his speed and physically beating him for yards after the catch as well as positioning on tight sideline routes and routes over the middle of the field.

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  1. Sorry for the off topic post. I have to miss the game due to an obligation. Is there any where online to rewatch it after its over? NBC’s website used to have the game up to stream after it finished — is this still the case?

  2. A running game that has some success will slow down an ASU attack. If we can’t establish that we will not win a shoot out. They put 62 on USC. It will be a long game if a good game plan is not executed.

    Play like a champion
    Lets go Irish

    1. No worries Storespook,

      I predict we will win this one and go 4-2. Unsure of the score, I don’t think ASU is for real and the luck of the Irish will prevail.

      Yeah…Irish win!


  3. If we start this game off down 14 after the 1st quarter like every other game, then we are going to get lit up. We can’t get behind on these guys. Need to run the ball and maintain possession. Must say, I’m pretty nervous for this game and pretty upset that I have to watch Tommy Rees every week. woot woot

    1. “pretty upset that I have to watch Tommy Rees”

      haha, that about sums it up for me since clausen left (minus the majority of last year, obviously)

      -im usually slightly melancholy every year during “senior day” …..but in tommy’s case this season…im looking forward to it

  4. offense : UN predictable play calling

    defense : create some momentum changing turn overs for the first time this year

    team as a whole : actually play with some effing emotion!!!

  5. I agree. No way our D is any better than USC’s. Our only hope is to string together a bunch of long drives while successfully running the ball. If ASU scores more than 30 points its OVER

  6. Didn’t see the ASU USC game. But if ASU put that kind of a whooping on the Trojans, I fear we’ll fare only a little better.

    Keeping this game close will depend on the offensive line. Make Tommy T…. comfortable and hopefully he won’t throw interceptions or fumble. Also, maybe Kelly can keep a running game going. But I see this going ASU’s way, with a 17 point loss for the Irish. I hope I am wrong.

    1. C-Dog,

      I remember when we thought the NCAA sanctions were not going to work at all on USC. I am indeed a little surprised now. It worked! Albeit, they are still trying to get the balance of time dropped.

      Further, I knew all along Kiffin was a convenient through away coach to absorb time. So it may very well take them a few more years to get back into the ‘hunt!’
      Should we shed tears at this
      juncture? Hahahaha!


  7. how about the Irish play like they want to win the game, instead of playing like they’re afraid of messing up on a play.

    1. Sutton may be the best defensive lineman we’ve played against this year so far. Shilique the Freak wasn’t that strong against us.

      But overall their fron 6-7 is not that stout. We’ll see that in our next game against USC.

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