Posted by BrianBoru at 9/4/2009 12:26 PM EDT
Taking a look at the Notre Dame/Nevada game tomorrow...
Nevada has lost its top three receivers from last season, and that should allow the Notre Dame defense to concentrate on a productive Nevada running attack led by running back Vai Tua, as well as dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
If the Notre Dame defensive front seven can create consistent penetration, the talented secondary will be able to pick off a few passes during the course of the contest.
Keep your eyes peeled for defensive tackle Ethan Johnson. He should come up with a few big plays against the Wolfpack offense. Another defensive player to be aware of is freshman linebacker Manti Te'o. Reports suggest he will be on the field early and often.
Turning our attention to the offensive side of the ball, look for Jimmy Clausen to have a big day against a porous secondary which will have all kinds of fits trying to stay in front of wide receivers Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, Duval Kamara, Robby Parris et al. And don't be surprised if you see highly-touted freshman receiver Shaquelle Evans make a big catch at some point during the game.
Of course, it would be a welcome surprise if Irish head coach Charlie Weis chose to implement a balanced game plan against Nevada, utilizing running back Armando Allen as a bell cow out of the backfield, rather than his usual role: receiver first; running back second.
Allen is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands, however, it remains to be seen if he can withstand the call of 25 carries per game. Sophomore back Jonas Gray will be sharing some of the rushing duties. Gray, a player on the rise for the Irish, has immense potential — if he can hold onto the ball.
If the Fighting Irish offensive line controls the line of scrimmage, keeping Jimmy Clausen upright throughout the entire game, Notre Dame will trounce Nevada. If Clausen is permitted time to survey the field and step up in the pocket, he will throw for well over 300 yards on the day.
It goes without saying that a quick start is important for both Charlie Weis and his players' psyche. If the Wolfpack hang around into the fourth quarter, the negative pall draped around the Notre Dame program the past few years, may portend doom for the Weis Chapter in Notre Dame Football.