Getting To Know Notre Dame With One Foot Down

I lobbied over a few questions over SB Nation's Notre Dame site One Foot Down to answer some questions. Here are the questions he posed to me, so go check that out as well.

1. What has changed at Notre Dame during their three-game winning streak after starting off 0-2.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Notre Dame (in my opinion) outplayed South Florida and Michigan but turned the ball over five times in both games and lost. The Irish turned it over three times against Michigan State, twice against Pitt, and not at all against Purdue and won all three. There are still some concerns with this team, but this team is very good when it's not actively trying to give the game away.

2. One week to prepare for the run-option offense is difficult, what do expect the Notre Dame defense to do to limit the rushing yards for Air Force.

There are a few things the Irish defense needs to do. First, the Irish defensive line has a huge size advantage over the Air Force offensive line. It will be important that they get off the cut blocks and clog the middle of the line. Second, the outside linebackers need to play disciplined and keep contain on the edge. They've struggled with that at times this season and this Air Force offense can burn the Irish if they're not careful. Finally, the secondary can't fall asleep in pass coverage. Cornerback Gary Gray has been a bit of a liability this season and it will be important he and the other DB's play with their heads up.

3. Outside of the obvious WR Michael Floyd, QB Tommy Rees and LB Manti Te'o who are players on offense and defense that Air Force should be aware of.

On offense, look out for running backs Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray. Both players have been fantastic this season. Notre Dame hasn't had a strong running game in ages and both players have been dynamic. Wood was a heavily recruited player out of high school, but Gray is a senior who has barely seen the field before this season. Brian Kelly loves using two running backs so how Gray would play was a big question mark coming into this season, but he has been a pleasant surprise. Look to see the two of them running the ball early and often.

On defense, nose guard Louis Nix will be hard to miss. He'll be the giant land mass in the center of the defensive line. Nix has a personality almost as big as he is which has made him a fan favorite ever since he set foot on campus. He's seeing the field for the first time this season and has been a big part of the defense's success against the run. He's the type of player that demands double teams.

4. Speaking of Michael Floyd, what can Air Force do to limit his production. Would it be better to get pressure on the quarterback or rotate extra coverage to Floyd's side of the field.

The best way to stop this offense is to confuse Tommy Rees. When Notre Dame played Pitt, the Panthers moved players around and disguised their coverages and Rees had his worst game of the season. Purdue showed a very vanilla coverage and Rees picked them apart. If Air Force can make Rees overthink, they'll have a much better shot at winning the game,

5. Your prediction?

Despite Notre Dame's recent struggles against Navy, I actually really like Notre Dame in this game. Notre Dame features a nasty defense and an electric running game (it actually feels weird to type that after living through the Weis years). I doubt Air Force will be completely shut down, but I think the defense can make stops when they have to. I think Notre Dame will pound the ball on the ground and take advantage of the mismatches Floyd and tight end Tyler Eifert present. I know Air Force will pick up yards and control the clock, but I like Notre Dame's chances of consistently putting up points. I'll say ND wins with a score of 27-17.

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