Countdown to Kick-off: Everything You Need to Know for Notre Dame v. Syracuse

Everett Golson looks to lead the Irish to another vicotry and work on his Heisman resume tonight. (Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)
Everett Golson looks to lead the Irish to another vicotry and work on his Heisman resume tonight. (Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)

Notre Dame is set to square off with Syracuse later tonight for the fourth game of the season.  The Irish look to improve to 4-0 on the season when they face the unranked Orange in MetLife Stadium.  Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know as kickoff draws near.

One last rundown of the logistics:

  • Kickoff: 8:00 PM ET
  • Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • TV: ABC
  • Stream: None live tonight.  Replay will be on WatchESPN following the game

Health Check – Notre Dame getting healthy

Notre Dame got beat up against Purdue but used the bye week to get healthy.  Here’s a quick in/out check for today:

  • Cole Luke – IN – suffered concussion vs. Purdue but will be back
  • Andrew Trumbetti – IN – missed Purdue game due to neck injury but will be back
  • Christian Lombard – IN – sat out the Purdue game but will be back at a new position (RT)
  • Austin Collinsworth – IN – making season debut after suffering MCL injury day before season opener
  • Torii Hunter Jr – IN – making collegiate debut today – more below
  • Max Redfield – IN – wasn’t hurt but was ejected vs. Purdue.  Because it happened in the first half he is available all game.
  • Nicky Baratti – OUT – was shut down for the season following another shoulder injury
  • Amir Carlisle – OUT – suffered MCL injury vs. Purdue and is out today and questionable next week

The Academic 5 are still out

There hasn’t been any real movement over the last two weeks with the academic investigation so all five are still out this week.  Brian Kelly told the media on Thursday that it is his understanding that all of the hearings should take place by Thursday of next week.  With that as the timeline, don’t expect to see any of the five in action at ll until North Carolina even if they are allowed back with the team this season.

Get ready for a new look offensive line

Notre Dame almost completely reshuffled the offensive line during the bye week without making any personnel changes to the starting five.  Ronnie Stanley is the only starting offensive lineman who will be playing the same position tonight that he played two weeks ago.  During the bye Kelly and OL coach Harry Hiestand moved Christian Lombard back to right tackle from guard where he started 13 games in 2012.  With Lombard moving out to tackle, sophomore Steve Elmer moved back inside to right guard where he played last year.  The final switch was swapping out Matt Hegartty and Nick Martin at left guard/center.  Got all that?

If not, here is your new Notre Dame starting line:

  • RT – Christian Lombard
  • RG – Steve Elmer
  • C – Matt Hegartty
  • LG – Nick Martin
  • LT – Ronnie Stanley
Torii Hunter - Notre Dame WR
Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (16) in action during the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Spring Game, at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Watch out for #16 on offense

Torii Hunter Jr will be making his long awaited collegiate debut tonight.  Hunter, the son of Detroit Tiger outfielder Torii Hunter Sr, broke his leg before ever enrolling at Notre Dame forcing him to sit out his freshman season.  Poised to make noise in fall camp, Hunter suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for over a month.  Four games into his sophomore season, Hunter will finally get his first playing time.  Coming in last year, Hunter was the wide receiver I was most excited about among the 2013 freshman class.  Given the success of Will Fuller and Corey Robinson, hopefully that means big things for #16.  Since it’s his first game it’ll be interesting to see how much playing time he gets, but with Carlisle out, there will be plenty of opportunities for him.

Can Notre Dame continue red-zone success?

Coming in to today’s game, Notre Dame is a perfect 14 for 14 in the redzone this season with an impressive 10 touchdowns among those 14 scores.  Can the Irish continue that success after a week off?  Notre Dame has been as successful as it’s been this year in large part because of that redzone success. Last year the Irish were dreadful in the redzone which allowed teams to hang around with the Irish and eventually cost Notre Dame games.  Against a team like Syracuse, Notre Dame has to continue that success to put them away early.

Another NFL venue for the Irish

Notre Dame is going to playing a game in a NFL stadium for the second straight game.  Two weeks ago Notre Dame faced off against Purdue in Lucas Oil Stadium and tonight they’ll play a “road” game in MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.  MetLife is the home of both the New York Giants and Jets.  Notre Dame will play one more game this year in a NFL stadium when they take on Navy at FexEx Field in Landover Maryland.  Notre Dame will play in Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia Eagles) next season as well.

Brian Kelly after the bye week at Notre Dame

Notre Dame has had 5 different bye weeks during the Brian Kelly era. The Irish have a 4-1 record following those five bye weeks with the lone loss coming in 2011 against USC when the Irish came out flat and got outplayed by a poor USC team.

  • 2010 – Utah – W, 28-3
  • 2011 – L – USC, 17-31
  • 2012 – W – Miami, 41-3
  • 2013 – W – USC, 14-10
  • 2013 – W – BYU, 23-13

Can Notre Dame find the tight end tonight?

Ben Koyack has not had the same level of success that the last five Notre Dame tight ends before him had during their careers during his first three games as the starting tight end for the Irish.  Can Kelly find ways to get him the ball and continue tot he Tight End U tradition at Notre Dame?

Side Note: We are going to do a post like this every gameday and are still trying to finalize a name for the column other than “Countdown to Kickoff” .  Let us know some ideas in the comments!

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  1. jeff, half of the blame for the Okwara call goes to the emphasis
    on avoiding concussions and other serious injuries. Each college game I watch I see ten helmet to helmets that are not called.

    I find the concept that refereeing is accurate to be kind of charming in a way that belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are charming-even if infantile.

    But I know this- no football team I’ve ever rooted for has lost a game because the referees made more mistakes than the team did.
    Great football coaches know that refereeing is capricious and somewhat random, albeit well-intended,and they can only control their own team’s play, not the refereeing.

    I, but for this, eschew all thought of or discussion of, refereeing.

    Shoulda coulda woulda? I don’t go there either.

    1. Wait, what are you saying about Santa Claus???

      As a side, totally agree about refereeing. It all works out in the end. The ’72 Olympic men’s basketball team is the only one allowed to blame officials in the history of sports. The constant whining about announcers in laughable.

  2. Total garbage call on Okwaro. Nothing malicious about that sack. I like the holding call on Sryacuse the very next play. Makeup Call!

      1. Im speaking of one particular play where Okwaro sacked the QB cleanly IMO and was penalized. Thought it was a bad call. But YES there were some bad calls that went NDs way for sure particularly the one you mention. But if the whistle hadnt been blown I seriously doubt Syracuse wouldve taken that to the house for 6.

        Herbstreet and Fowler did such a wonderful job of Discrediting NDs team that I believe it caused UCLA to move ahead of ND in the AP poll.

      2. Call the waaaaambulance Jeff. Who cares where there ranked now. Keep winning and it takes care of itself.

  3. Interested in seeing Hunter get his cleats dirty tonight. Another addition to an already explosive receiving group with great talent! Kudos to coach BK to make changes on the o-line based on what he saw, and what’s needed to imorove the overall production of the offense. The running game should open up more now, hopefully. Let’s see more screen plays, and that one play where they start in one direction, Everette hands it to the running back going toward the other direction, refferably Tolsen or Bryant in on that play. Cam, run hard through the holes created by the o-line….Go Irish!!!! #Irish#1Fan

  4. “Countdown to Kickoff” is fine. Isn’t that wht it is? By the way. I like the format and “just the facts” format.

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