Notre Dame v. Florida State ’14 – Key Matchups

Tarean Folston - Notre Dame RB vs. Syracuse
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Tarean Folston (25) runs with the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Notre Dame defeated Syracuse 31-15. (Rich Barnes // USA TODAY Sports)

All eyes will be on Tallahassee this week for a top five showdown when Notre Dame faces Florida State.  The Irish will be the underdog as they try to end the nation’s longest winning streak held by the Seminoles by knocking off Jameis Winston and the defending national champions.  Both teams bring dangerous offenses into the game so the outcome could be determined by which defense plays the best as well as if the Irish can win the turnover battle.  It is without question that the Irish will need to play their best to beat the Seminoles and make a statement to the rest of college football that they are a contender to win it all this season.  The following are the matchups the Irish must win to be victorious versus Florida State:

Cody Riggs versus Rashad Greene:  Irish cornerback Cody Riggs will face his toughest test of the season so far when he will attempt to shutdown Rashad Greene.  Greene is by far the most important weapon to the Seminoles offense as he has 20 more receptions and 400 more receiving yards than any other Seminole in a pass-happy offense.  Greene possesses excellent speed so Riggs will need to make sure his fellow Florida native doesn’t get behind him and make big plays downfield.

Jaylon Smith versus Nick O’Leary:  Irish standout Jaylon Smith will have many responsibilities versus the Seminoles but one of the most important will be stopping Nick O’Leary.  O’Leary is the second-leading receiver for the Seminoles and is a security blanket at the tight-end position.  Smith is very solid in coverage as a linebacker and can make a play when Winston looks for O’Leary on third down and in the red zone as the Heisman trophy winner tends to force the ball to his tight-end.

The Irish running backs versus Reggie Northrup:  One way for the Irish to slow down the Seminoles offense is through controlling time of possession with the run game.  Tarean Folston made his claim for more touches last week but all three Irish backs will need to chip in and have good performances.  Linebacker Reggie Northrup is tied for the Seminole lead in tackles and also has a touchdown on a fumble recovery this season.  Northrup is one of the many NFL talents on the Seminole defense that is stout against the run.

Will Fuller versus P.J. Williams:  Sophomore receiver Will Fuller will face his toughest test of the season against All-American cornerback P.J. Williams.  Fuller has done an excellent job replacing DaVaris Daniels as the Irish’s number one receiver having many big games against inferior opponents, but he will need to rise to the occasion when matched up with Williams.  The junior Williams is a ball-hawking corner with a team-high six pass defenses as well as an interception and fumble recovery for the Seminoles this season.  The Irish could benefit from using Fuller in the screen game to help him be effective.

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  1. I didn’t click on the video, but I’m going to assume it’s a video of Stone Cold Steve Austin, giving a stunner to Jameis Winston.

    1. Loved it when Stone Cold would chug 3 beers in a row after he whooped somebody’s a$$!

      You might enjoy the song at the link I provided. >4M views :>)


  2. The TE for FSU, O’Leary, is FSU’s unsung hero. He moves the chains for FSU and gives more opportunities for Winston to make bigger plays. Stopping him will be essential.

  3. Oline has a ton of talent Trial by fire with this schedule would really like to see Nick Martin back at Centre understood the Elmer Lombard switch but Martin is by Far the

      1. Burgy,

        While you’re waitin, you could always hum the Anchorman’s favorite tune…

        “Started out this morning feeling so polite

        I always thought a fish could not be caught who wouldn’t bite

        But you’ve got some bait a waitin’ and I think I might,

        like having a little afternoon delight

        Sky rockett55 in flight
        Afternoon delight
        Aaaaaaaaa Afternoon delight”

      2. I think Rockett55 is wanting us to play a virtual game of Clue. So here’s my guess:

        but Martin is Far the…best lineman on the team, in the library, with the lead pipe.

  4. It usually comes down to good blocking and tackling…and no turnovers.

    Gentlemen, can we do that?

    Go IRISH,

      1. Keep trying the shame us trick. Eventually somebody will say nice job drew, very witty.

  5. Here’s the reality or at least perception of ND in big games of late.–ncaaf.html

    We have to overcome this perceived reality only one way: by actually winning big games on a consistent basis. This history or historical memory of failure won’t be undone by pointing out a big win here or there over the years. Beating OU in 2012 was great, but then ND followed that up by getting blown out in the NC game by Bama. Not to mention that OU beat ND in S. Bend the following year.

    Consistent greatness is what we should all expect. Anything less than that and we might as well start rooting for BC or Northwestern.

    1. Players knew from day 1 that Lou meant business and expected greatness from every player. That didn’t mean every player was great but it did mean he wanted 100% commitment and 100% effort every game. There is no question Kelly is assembling some very impressive talent. Now, can he get them to the next level? Big test this Saturday. I see a big game from Fuller and Robinson and an Irish win.

  6. We aren’t going to beat FSU in a shootout —- Riggs and the safeties can hope to contain Greene and others, but we don’t have the pass rushers to consistently get pressure on Winston without bringing additional blitzers.

    Maybe we time a few of those early Van Gorder blitzes well and get Winston off the field — we better hope so and if/once we do, we need BK to make smart offensive play calls. I’m sure EG enjoys scrambling in the pocket and making difficult throws but if you see him doing this in the first quarter, we’re in trouble.

    Unless you have Ben Roethlisberger or a 2006 version of Michael Vick, relying on your QB to invent plays is a great way to turn over the ball.

    We need a steady dose of Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, and Cam McDaniel.

    It’s time for our offensive line to “show me” something. The Martin brothers et al think this is “Offensive Line U” — well, I haven’t seen that so far in 2014. Let’s move the line and control the clock.

    We may not lack for pure talent against FSU but they *DO* bring the returning Heisman Trophy winner to the table.

    In a (road) game where we are the definite underdog, BK and the coaches would be wise to reduce variance —- minimize the number of possessions for each team, and mitigate the risk of additional EG turnovers while bootlegging it around the pocket. Let’s show FSU some “northern” football on Saturday.

  7. I have a feeling Darby will be on Fuller. Williams is a converted safety who plays CB like that. Very physical but not sure he has the footspeed to run with Fuller. Darby does without question. Yet, I think C. Brown becomes a factor. His elite speed is only matched by Darby. If Williams is put on Brown he needs to beat that press and get over Williams. Would only take a shot or 2 demand the secondary play them straight up. If they focused on Fuller, Brown or any of the other WRs could have a good day.

  8. OL must turn into a big, bad, road grading machine. The run game has been inconsistent at best. All 3 RB’s will be called on but I believe the power run game can wear down FSU. Both NC State and Clemson were gashing them with power run plays.

    Also, gotta get Winston off his spot. He’s a guy that can carve you up if you let him set his feet and fire away. Of course, that will only put more pressure on the DB’s to hold down the fort as BVG dials up blitzes. If Winston gets free for some yards downfield, we can live with that because our guys will also get him for sacks on occasion.

    Finally, EG has to have ball safety first in his mind as FSU is a bunch of ball hawks. Nothing wrong with settling for a 7 yard scramble rather than risking ball security to get another 3-4 yards. As Coach Wooden says, be quick but don’t rush. Pace will go a long way to determining how ND does.

  9. re: Key matchup/ Jaylon vs. their TE
    Did NC last week scheme for keeping Jaylon away from the line of scrimmage ?
    Was that due to being more predictable re: where and what Jaylon’s responsibilities are?

    ND did a great job of stopping Hood and other RBs and shutting down their dangerous WR/ punt returner playmaker. Didn’t really see jaylon shadow QB Williams, causing him to wreak havoc.

    Expecting new formations/schemes on O and D’ that FSU hasn’t been preparing for over the last four weeks of practice? Still feel the better the opponent, the more important the formations and schemes as an element of surprise. Of course, execution is key, but unpredictability is every bit as necessary against an elite opponent.
    FSU will be very difficult to beat if they recognize what you’re doing before each play unfolds.

  10. I think it is safe to say, ND has some real work cut out for them especially on the D side of play.

    The DLine will need to be in Winston’s face all game long to help out Riggs and Smith. A big part of that problem will be the timing patterns where Winston has shown an innate ability.

    Riggs height and size will be a factor against Greene.

    1. Size and height is not really a factor for Riggs vs. Greene. Greene is listed at 6’1″, 180 lbs. It’s not like Riggs vs. Funchess who is 6’5″ 230

      1. Yea Riggs has done fine vs larger WR. Funchess had ONE catch that was over Riggs and he pushed off hard to get it.

        Riggs should be fine. He’s elite in everything else.

      1. How about not needing those big plays at games end to compensate for those 3 or 4 turnovers at the beginning of the game?

      2. You mean two TO’s at the beginning of the game, one caused by a blind side hit due to an OL getting beaten- followed by 28 consecutive points . . . How ’bout giving EG better protection; he was beaten up like a rented mule last week.
        You’ll always need big plays at the end of a game against a quality opponent. How ’bout respecting that about EG?

      3. How about,
        don’t underrate, appreciate.
        How about,
        making many big plays trumps
        making a few turnovers.
        How about,
        there’s a whole ocean out there;
        don’t choose to drown in a glass of water.

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