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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Stanford at Notre Dame: Five Things to Know

David ShawBrian Kelly


The annual clash between the 9th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the 14th ranked Stanford Cardinal should set the tone for the rest of the season for both schools.

Notre Dame has shown dramatic improvement this season behind returning Quarterback Everett Golson, and has the Fighting Irish primed to make a run at the inaugural FBS College Playoff.  The 9th ranked Fighting Irish have been able to move the ball with relative ease this season, and their defense has been solid allowing a shade below 12 points a game to start off the season.

The Stanford Cardinal also has continued their successful ways with their defensive domination to start the season.  The Cardinal were figured to be a step or two behind last years dominant group that graduated to playing at the next level, but have performed at a much higher level than that group.  Stanford has developed a winning attitude, and is primed to make a run at a third consecutive PAC 12 title.

Here are five things to watch for during the clash at South Bend:

Everett Golson and Kevin Hogan – Both quarterbacks have led their teams to solid records during their time under center, but have very contrasting styles.  Everett Golson has vastly improved from his last season under center, and has taken the Fighting Irish to another level this season.  Golson has improved in all areas, and is the true MVP of the team.  All Kevin Hogan does is win for Stanford; it may not be pretty, but he gets the final job accomplished.  Hogan has been steady, but has made several mistakes in key situations.  Unlike Golson, Hogan is not looked upon as the difference-maker; he is a true game manager that is charged with keeping the game plan in focus.  Golson is a playmaker, and will be relied upon heavily for the Fighting Irish to be successful on Saturday.

Stanford’s Defensive Front Seven – The Stanford Cardinal have a defensive front seven that bring nightmares to any offensive coordinators.  During the victory over a potent Washington squad, the Cardinal front seven defenders just dominated the pace of the game, and threw the Huskies off of their game plan.  The Cardinal defensive front are led by Seniors A.J. Tarpley and Henry Anderson, who have been dominant all season; along with newcomer, Sophomore Peter Kalambayi.  The Fighting Irish will have their hands full with this group on Saturday.

Notre Dame’s Deep Receiving Corps – Quarterback Everett Golson has been able to be successful so far this season due in large part to his outstanding receiving corps.  Notre Dame has five players with over 100 yards receiving on the season, and is led by super Sophomore William Fuller.  Fuller has been sensational so far this season with 25 receptions for 344 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown reception to open the season.  Stanford will have their hands full in trying to clamp down on the Fighting Irish and their “Air Attack”. 

The Key To Victory May Be Special Teams – The game between Stanford and Notre Dame may come down to special teams, and both may be in trouble if that is the case.  Stanford has one of the best return men in the college ranks with Senior Ty Montgomery, and Notre Dame has been known to have a sloppy coverage unit in years past.  Notre Dame has performed better this season, but they have not had to cover anyone with the talent of Montgomery.  Stanford however may be in trouble due in part to the erratic place kicking of Senior Jordan Williamson.  Williamson has missed several short kicks, and has been short on several kickoffs.  Both schools will need to play at a high level for any chance at success. 

Coaching – Stanford and Notre Dame have two of the most respected and highly sought after coaches in the game today.  Coach David Shaw of Stanford has developed a winning tradition at Stanford, and created a sense that Stanford is not a doormat to the big schools, but a formidable opponent.  Many characterize Coach Shaw as too cautious, and have hurt the team with his desire to not make a mistake; but many also argue that he is methodical, and places his team in the best chance for success.  Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly has brought back the winning tradition to South Bend, and has fans excited for another possible championship run.  Unlike Coach Shaw, Coach Kelly will take more chances, and roll the dice more often to try and make a big play.  Coach Kelly has brought excitement back to South Bend, and we may begin to see another Notre Dame dynasty in the making.  One thing is for certain, both squads have full faith and trust in their Head Coaches, and both squads are on the rise this season. 


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