As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Tuesday over the summer. SU will continue its 2014 non-conference schedule when they travel to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to play Notre Dame on Sept. 27.
In preparation for the game, we spoke with Reuben Hochstetler from IrishSportsTalk.net to get a scouting report on the Irish.
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Reuben Hochstetler: Irish Sports Talk, founded in 2009, covers Notre Dame football with a weekly podcast and blog.
TJO: What are the expectations of the Irish team this year?
RH: Notre Dame’s success of 2012 was based first on defense and second on a running game that averaged 190 yd/game and totaled 23 TDs. The two backs from 2012 are gone and will be replaced by sophomores Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston. In 2013 Cam McDaniel offered reliability but lack of break-out potential and the running game averaged 150 yd/game and totalled only 12 TDs. The 2014 Notre Dame running game has more athleticism but less experience than in 2012 and should eclipse the 2013 rushing and scoring output.
Defense is the biggest question concerning Notre Dame. With the aggressive Brian VanGorder replacing the “Bend but don’t break” philosophy of Bob Diaco. Although most Irish fans are excited about the changes on defense there are certain to be many ups and downs this season and anyone expecting the results of Bob Diaco’s 2012 defense are way too optimistic.
There is comfort with Everett Golson returning to Notre Dame, but unless he is able to inspire and lead the Irish offense, another mediocre season will be in store. If Golson is able to lead and takes a step forward from 2012 Notre Dame should win 10 games.
TJO: Who are the players we should be on the look out for?
RH: On defense: Cornerback KeiVarae Russell and linebacker Jaylon Smith both have NFL careers ahead of them and assuming the new defensive schemes don’t leave them sinking in quicksand they will be a headache for opposing offenses.
Here’s a video showing LB Smith’s speed against RB Folston in the 2014 Spring Game.
On Offense: Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels will be the go to receiver and has the athleticism to lock in a future NFL draft spot with a solid senior season. Last year Daniels caught 49 passes for 745 yards and 9 TDs. The biggest complaint is he disappears in some games and lacks effort from play to play.
TJO: What is your prediction for this game?
RH: If Notre Dame is able to run the ball this game should be out of reach soon after the half. However Notre Dame does have a habit of playing down to opponents and if they do that and give up the football then this could be a close game deep into the fourth quarter.