After a big victory over USC, Notre Dame should have no problem securing another win on the road against Air Force. Quarterback Tommy Rees was sidelined by a neck strain for most of the second half against the Trojans but is expected to start in Saturday’s game. Although Rees has had his own struggles this season, the offense was paralyzed without him. The Air Force game will be a chance for fine tuning the offense and Rees needs to start showing more consistency in completing passes before tougher competition.
The Notre Dame running game is improving despite no clear starter. Cam McDaniel was the go to guy against USC but George Atkinson III put up big numbers in the previous game against Arizona State. Coach Kelly doesn't identify a starter because the running back competition stimulates production and gives the Irish the ability to go with whoever has the hot hand during a game. A strong running game remains crucial for Notre Dame to keep a balanced offense and boost overall output. Kelly will continue rotating different guys and do whatever it takes to get wins.
The Fighting Irish defense should be in good shape against Air Force even without their high prized center piece, Louis Nix, who’s out with a knee injury. Notre Dame is up against a new look with the triple option but should have little problem adjusting. The key will be sticking to assignments and getting hits on the quarterback. Defensive lineman like Stephon Tuitt, who recently announced plans to stay at Notre Dame for his senior season over the NFL, have the size alone that will cause tough matchups for the smaller Falcons.
Air Force has had a couple different faces at quarterback this year. Kale Pearson started the year but injured a knee, Jaleel Awini took over but was soon suspended from the team, Karson Roberts stepped in and was eventually lost to a concussion. Freshman Nate Romine might have to make his first career start against Notre Dame. The Irish defense should easily be able to keep the Falcon offense under control throughout the game.
Notre Dame has worked hard to make something of their season and a loss to anyone aside from Stanford would be a complete let down. The Irish really should win the game against Air Force but cannot get overconfident. The game will be important for Rees to get back in the groove with the offense and work out any kinks. Notre Dame should take every game as a learning opportunity and keep trying to mature as the season rolls on.