Notre Dame v. Stanford ’14 – Key Matchups

Cody Riggs - Notre Dame v. Michigan
(Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)

Notre Dame will face its toughest test of the season Saturday when the Stanford Cardinal travel to Notre Dame Stadium.  The Irish are coming off a lackluster performance in a victory over Syracuse where they turned the ball over five times while Stanford survived a road test versus Washington.  The Cardinal promise to make it a physical game when they face the Irish as the PAC 12 squad feels they have an advantage in the trenches.  Stanford has allowed only 26 points and two offensive touchdowns all season so the Irish will need to reverse that trend and put up points to emerge victorious.  The following are the key matchups the Irish must control to beat Stanford:

Cody Riggs versus Ty Montgomery:  Notre Dame’s number one corner Cody Riggs will need his best effort to shut down Stanford’s threat on the outside Ty Montgomery.  Riggs has filled in admirably for the suspended KeiVarae Russell.  Riggs has held up on an island often and leads the Irish in pass breakups.  Montgomery has a team-high 26 receptions for 275 yards and three touchdowns and is also used on reverses in the run game.  The Irish will also have to contain Montgomery in the return game as he is one of the best in the country at bringing back kicks.

Jaylon Smith versus Kevin Hogan:  Jaylon Smith has performed week in and week out and will need an excellent game against Kevin Hogan and Stanford.  Hogan will hand the ball off often but can run himself, especially on third down when he frequently keeps the ball on zone reads.  Smith will need to stay disciplined to keep Hogan’s impact to a minimum.  Smith can also pressure Hogan in the pass game and force him to make bad decisions, which will be magnified if the Irish can get Stanford in third and long.

Irish running backs versus Blake Martinez:  The Irish need to establish their ability to run the ball and if they can do it this week it would go a long way to getting the victory.  The trio of Cam McDaniel, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston will see a lot of inside linebacker Blake Martinez.  Martinez has a team-high 31 tackles for the Cardinal and is a classic physical inside linebacker.  If the stable of Irish backs can impose their will on Martinez and the Stanford defense it would go a long way to controlling time of possession and an Irish victory.

Everett Golson versus Peter Kalambayi:  Irish quarterback Everett Golson will need to protect the ball better this week versus Peter Kalambayi and the Cardinal.  Kalambayi is a very dangerous pass rusher from his outside linebacker spot and has a nose for the football.  If Golson is protected and can avoid Kalambayi he should be comfortable in the pocket and if he can break contain provided by the sophomore linebacker he could have a big day running the ball as well.  Golson will need to take a measured approach versus the Cardinal defense however, as they can make him pay for carelessness.

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43 Comments

  1. The streak ends tomorrow. Not sure how Stanford got to be the favorite here. Yeah they play good ball and the coaches do a great job of maximizing the talent they have but ND was in the game last year up till the end with Rees as the QB. Prediction: ND 30 Stanford 14

  2. Here is the most impressive thing I have read about Stanford:

    Stanford has gone 27 straight games without allowing 30 or more points. 16 games longer than any other active FBS streak

  3. Further, Ron, the original meaning of the acronym of ESPN was the Entertainment and Sports Programmming Network. So Entertainment was their byword before Sports was. Further, they were later bought out by Dinsney and that whore, the Mouse. Discuss among yourselves whether or not
    The Disney purchase intensified or diluted the focus on entertainment.

    They actually have shows on Fantasy Football, which I’m fairly certain
    was developed as a fundraiser by some LGBT chapter somewhere.

    ESPN jumped the shark, completely when Harry Dunn and Llloyd Christmas, one morning, covered the following issue:

    “What did you think of Lil’ Wayne’s tweet last night during the MiamiHeat-Chicago Bulls game>”

    Earlier this week we celebrated the dees of the Four Horsemen and Eric Penicks’s run. Now THAT is football. Serious football.

  4. Can we please stop referring to Rice as anything other than something to mix with beans.
    We will either beat Stanford or we won’t, this endless comparison of schedules is tiresome.
    Rice, UM, Purdue and Syracuse are all terrible period. We will know in 3 weeks time if we are any good.

    1. Ron, I think we can all agree that the only meaningful activity we can engage in, which will help Coach Kelly, is to post youtube videos.

    2. Ron,

      It’s just annoying listening to ESPN try and compare schedules. That was my point. Watch Brian Greise on College Football live slam ND as over hyped. He’s a UM graduate and an idiot. Sucked in the NFL and the only reason they won a NC under him was Woodson. We will no how great ND is after October and I feel ND will be properly ranked in the teens.

      1. That’s great, but nothing you can say will turn ND’s 4 victories into quality wins. And it’s beyond me why anyone would want to bash their next opponent’s SOS. If ND does beat Stanford, you’ll just be helping to make Greise’s case.

      2. ESPN is a tv show. As much as Griese bashes ND Holtz has predicted them to win every game for 10 years sans S Fl when his son was coach.

        Go 12-0 and you are in. If you lose you don’t have an argument. This bickering about we beat Team A who beat Team B who then beat a team that Team C lost to is ridiculous.

      3. “Go 12-0 and you are in” is true, Ron B. But chances are there won’t be 4 teams go 12-0 to qualify for the BCS 4 team playoff. Rankings at this point are sketchy at best, and not that revealing, especially if we consider margin of victory as significant, which it isn’t. Each victory only counts as one win.

        But those arguments “about we beat Team A who beat Team B who then beat a team that Team C lost to”
        will most likely decide which one-loss team (or two) gets to the BCS playoff.
        Four team playoff was a good start.
        Expanding it to six (with top 2 getting byes), or even eight, will be better.
        Then the team playing its best come January (like several recent wild card teams in baseball in September)
        is the likely champ. And that’s as it should be instead of determining the annual mythical champ by sportswriters and coaches voting with all their subtle bias hidden behind which stat they choose as their focus.
        But all that is for a future day.

        As for now, Burgundy is right.
        Just win, Irish.

    1. Agreed, to a point. They are missing two starting offensive linemen and have been giving up a lot of sacks as a result. Clearly, they have depth problems which is a bigger problem than their D. I tip my hat to them on one matter, do you ever see them have a top ten recruiting class?

  5. #1 Florida St. played the Citadel, from the Southern Conf.
    #2 Oregon played South Dakota, from the Missouri Valley Conf.
    #3 Alabama played Florida Atlantic, from Conference USA
    #4 Oklahoma played Louisiana Tech, from Conference USA
    #5 Auburn played San Jose St. from the Mountain West Conference
    #6 Tex A&M played Lamar, from the Southland conference
    #7 Baylor played Northwestern St. from the Southland conference
    #8 UCLA played Memphis, from the American Athletic Conference

    #9 ND played the defending Conference USA Champion (Rice), 2 BIG10 teams, and 1 ACC TEAM.

    So maybe ND hasn’t played anyone… but we haven’t played a complete nobody either.

  6. A review of Stanford’s schedule is interesting. Most of the talking heads are saying ND played no one and that their signature win against Michigan was not as the UM is a mess. Let’s look at the Stanford schedule:

    #1. UC Davis: They have a football team
    #2. USC: They scored 10 points on a defense that BC marched up and down the field on. Over 400 yds total offense and 10 points
    #3. Army: Didn’t they lose to Yale. Real big test
    #4. Washington: They struggled against Hawaii, E. Washington stuck 52 on them and Georgia State

    I don’t see where they have played a stellar schedule and Stanford barley beat them. I’m not saying ND is better, but if you are saying ND hasn’t played anyone who the hell has Stanford played, at least ND played three teams from a power five conference and Rice.

  7. I know VanGorder likes to leave his corners man to man so he can draw up all those NFL style blitz’s he runs but Montgomery might need to be doubled by Riggs and Redfield. Their entire offense is built around him. They have good backs but they are no longer the power downhill running squad they are known for. Take away Montgomery and make someone else make a play.

  8. re: Key matchup: Cody Riggs vs. Ty Montgomery

    as per today’s Chicago Tribune . . . in case we missed it

    In a series of posts on Instagram, (KeiVarae) Russell broke his two month silence and said: “This school is becoming ridiculous.” One post said, “I killed my meeting; I was so prepared and ready and was able to refute damn near every suspicion they had. Described details of assignments thoroughly so they couldn’t say I didn’t do it, AND THEY STILL SAID MY DECISION WONT COME UNTIL ALL 5 OF US (and some other minor hearings) ARE DONE. Decision MIGHT come next week, not even 100% it’s tough to understand these people.” (sic)

    “. .. and whispers through the sounds of silence . . .” (Paul Simon)

    The sound of silence from the Administration is deafening.

    Cody Riggs is a great addition to our DBs as CB. I wish we had three other years.
    But I was hoping and expecting 66 days ago or so the anticipated spectacle of:

    Key matchup: KeiVarae Russell vs. Ty Montgomery

    Figured back then,
    at least this thing could be resolved BY THEN –
    which is NOW,
    but obviously-
    NOT YET! Or as the Russians say, “Nyet. . . ”
    Not deciding is deciding. Not deciding is saying no.
    Nyet!

    If “good things come to those who wait”,
    I’m betting K.Russell, Ishaq Williams, Eilar Hardy, Davarius Daniels, and Kendall Moore
    can hardly wait for all those good things to come, but . . .
    NOT YET

    1. Ready. Shoot. Aim.

      Punish everyone BEFORE guilt is determined.

      Completely ridiculous.

      What ever happened to presumed innocence?

      1. Kelly’s job is to protect the program. Had they let these kids play during the process and then they’re found guilty all the games are forfeited. That wouldn’t sit too well with anyone.
        Playing football is a privilege not a right. Nobody has been violated here.

      2. Ron,
        It’s not Kelly he’s done everything right and it’s not even Jack. It’s the administration at the University

  9. This game is probably a toss up, although without turnovers I have a difficult time seeing a loss for ND. Who has Stanford played? The USC team that gave up 400 yards rushing to BC who in turn lost to Colorado State? Hey, they are good. But I believe our QB is far superior and that usually determines the winner when all other factors are relatively close.

    1. It will be a win, IF EG doesn’t see his name with the word Heiseman anywhere around it. Gotta trust Coach Kelly to get their heads on straight BEFORE the game. Have faith!!

      1. What if the word Heisman is near or close by his name? Please define this better for us. And don’t you worry Chuck, I do trust BK.

  10. Toulmin is pretty much correct. The Irish have played willfully against Stanford the last two years, but both lines were wiped out last November. It’s different this time.

    Folks forget that the Fighting Irish ran the ball 44 times against Stanford in 2012, with little more than 3 per carry. But that kept the
    Stanford DL under control. Most will be surprised by the number of times ND runs the ball on Saturday, many of which will go for little or no gain.
    ’tis about the war, not the rushing battle.

    But there is no Stepfan Taylor for Stanford, and they will have trouble running on our defense.

    Notre Dame will play willfully. both Irish trenches will play hard.

    But Stanford, even with its secondary, will have difficulty
    matching up with the skill players the Irish have on offense.
    Great difficulty.

    But, toulmin you are right. the Irish stalemate on the first two, but
    the tipping point will be the third you mention -skill.

  11. Stanford is picked as the favorite. According to Brian Greise ND has played no one. ND is overrated. Stanford has played two teams that were good teams, USC and Washington. Both were not dominating performances. If ND plays like they did against Syracuse they lose. If ND is able to be consistent on offense they have a shot to win.

    1. Toulmin, you are correct. The Irish played willfully last November in Palo Alto, but played with the center of the offensive line gutted,
      and with Nix, Grace and others out of the game. Nevertheless we were in it at the start of the 4th quarter.

      In 2012 we ran the ball 44 times, seldom were they pretty, but we kept pounding and wound up with 150 yards. The number of carries will be more important than the yards. UsC ran the ball on 37 of their 59 plays. They got 156 yards net but it was the number of rushes that was vital. Unlike 2010 we are not overmatched in both trenches.

      Your third headnote was skill. we have more functional, experienced skill players than Stanford has faced. This is the first time Kelly has played Stanford with full offensive ordnance. And therin, in your third category, toulmin, will be the difference.

      1. You make a great point about the rushing attempts and time of possession being critical in this game. Its going to take a much better performance from our interior offensive line to win this game.

    2. Nobody is talking about the ND defense.

      One that is considerably faster, better prepared, more aggressive, and deeper in talent than ever before.

      One that has caused problems for every QB that they have faced so far.

      ND has something else that they didn’t have the last time these teams faced… several legitimate deep ball threats in the passing game.

      Lastly, I think you have to look at our special teams and hope that the time and commitment toward improvement pays off because they are certain to face their toughest test thus far this season.

  12. Go Irish! I never feel good about playing Stanford; they seem to have our number. Both teams have shown flashes of real potential, but also inconsistencies. If we can force Hogan to pass a lot, we have a real chance. Need a monster game from our safeties and our OL, and better decision-making from EG, and we will be all right.

  13. The Stanford Cardinal has been a thorn in the side of the Irish for some time now. This weekend will be no different. They play hard and tough.
    The key, in my opinion, will be Golson’s ability to run the ball. If he can keep the Cardinal defense off balance, the Irish will score and win. If he becomes predictable and careless, it will be the downfall of the Irish. As goes Golson, goes the Irish! Go Irish!!

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