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Air Force vs. Notre Dame: Get to know the Irish

Get to know more about Notre Dame from the folks over at One Foot Down.

Stephen Dunn

Air Force takes on Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network, and to get to know the Irish better we reached out to the SB Nation's Notre Dame blog One Foot Down to help us out. They answered a few questions we had about Saturday's contest.

Sit back and read along, plus make sure to go visit One Foot Down for more on this game.

Q: From reports it seems likely that quarterback Tommy Rees will play on Saturday after suffering a neck injury. Is he healthy enough to be his normal self, or is he healthy enough so that Notre Dame does not have to go with Andrew Hendrix under center?

A: He seems, from all reports, to be healthy enough to be his normal self. Hopefully against the Falcons he won't have much to do other than an occasional play action pass, but he seems to be at or near 100%. Most of us Notre Dame fans want to see Andrew Hendrix get some snaps to hopefully shake off whatever was going on in the USC game.

Q: Air Force's unique run-option attack can have success even against great defense, does the Notre Dame have the players and discipline to go up against the Falcons option offense?

A: I think they do. They've seen it every year with Navy (I know it's a little bit different), and I think the defensive scheme against the option is familiar to both the staff and the players at this point. Add in the fact that the defensive line of the Irish should overmatch the Falcons (Even without Louis Nix), and I think there may be enough trouble given to the Falcons to keep their ground game in check.

Q: Coming off a close win over rival USC, do you think there will be a let down by going up against a 1-6 Air Force team?

A: It's certainly a possibility, but Brian Kelly has been extremely good since 2010 at having his team ready to go in games against lower ranked opponents that the Irish should have no trouble beating. I think the depth of skill that Notre Dame has should prevent there from being any fatigue issues, and I think the staff will ensure that the team is focused enough not to have a let down.

Q: Notre Dame's offense has not been all that great this year and the same can be said for Air Force's defense. What does Notre Dame do reasonably well offense, and do you think this could be a breakout game for some of those players?

A: The Irish are a pretty balanced offense, with some lean towards the passing attack. The receiving corps is extremely deep, and it is bolstered by Mackey award watch-lister Troy Niklas at tight end. As far as a breakout game, I fully expect Notre Dame to keep the ball on the ground. Watch out for true freshman Tarean Folston, who is coming back from a hamstring injury -- I think he'll get plenty of carries, and break one or two big runs.

Q: What are the keys for Notre Dame to defeat Air Force?

A: No turnovers is THE main key, especially against lower ranked teams. Short fields are difficult for any defense to defend, even when they are big mismatches.

The next key is to get the ground game going. I don't care how bad a defense is, I really don't want to have to have Tommy Rees chucking it around the yard without some ground support.

Finally, the defense will have to be disruptive enough to get Air Force off the field. This is as simple as keeping them to a 2 yard gain or making a big play in the backfield. The cornerbacks will have to be solid in man coverage to defend against the shots the Falcons will take as well.

Q: On the other end of the spectrum, how can Notre Dame muck it up and lose to Air Force?

A: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. We do have a QB that has shown the propensity to gift the ball to the other team in the past, and the Irish will need to control the game and not give the Falcons any chance to get in it. Get on the board early, often, and safely.

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