You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Notre Dame

  • Irish receiver off team while facing charges
    Receiver Will Mahone has no chance of returning to Notre Dame while facing felony charges of assault on a police officer, intimidation of a public servant and vandalism, his attorney said Tuesday.
  • Irish receiver suspended following arrest
    Will Mahone was suspended indefinitely from Notre Dame’s football team Monday after a weekend arrest that left the junior facing three felony and two misdemeanor charges.
  • Irish use summer coaching to ease load for fall prep
    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly hopes new NCAA rules allowing coaches to work with players over the summer will help players get ahead for the fall, especially freshmen.
Advertisement
Notre Dame photo
Notre Dame wide receiver John Goodman, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, has seven catches for 65 yards this season for the Irish.

Notre Dame vs. Florida State position-by-position matchup

Quarterback

Notre Dame: Tommy Rees will share duties with Andrew Hendrix. The two sophomores combine to give coach Brian Kelly the closest thing he wants behind center. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Rees, who will start, has thrown for 2,708 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In four games, Hendrix, 6-2, 220, has run for 136 yards with a touchdown.

Florida State: EJ Manuel, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound junior, threw for 2,417 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Seminoles can also call upon Clint Trickett, a 6-2, 180-pound freshman who threw for 675 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games. But the Seminoles have to give them time to operate. Florida State has given up 36 sacks.

Advantage: Florida State

Running backs

Notre Dame: Cierre Wood became the Irish’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Darius Walker ran for 1,267 in 2006. He has 1,042 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The loss of Jonas Gary, who ran for 791 yards with 12 touchdowns, to a season-ending knee injury, hurt the Irish’s one-two punch. Notre Dame turned to Theo Riddick, who moved from running back to receiver last season, to make up for the loss of Gray.

Florida State: The Seminoles will be without their second-leading rusher today. Florida State lost last year’s rushing leader, Chris Thompson, to a back injury in a 35-30 loss to Clemson, and senior Jermaine Thomas, who ran for 279 yards and a touchdown, was ruled academically ineligible to play in the bowl. Freshman Devonta Freeman leads the Seminoles with 531 yards and eight touchdowns. Florida State will also turn to freshman James Wilder Jr., who ran for 150 yards, and senior Ty Jones, who ran for 71 yards.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Wide receivers

Notre Dame: Senior Michael Floyd enters his final game for the Irish as the program’s all-time leader in receptions (266), receiving yards (3,645), touchdown receptions (36), receiving yards per game (86.8) and 100-yard receiving games (17). He leads the team with 95 receptions for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns. With Riddick, who had 429 receiving yards and three touchdown catches, moving to running back, Robby Toma has taken over in the slot. Toma caught 15 passes for 173 yards with a touchdown in 12 games. TJ Jones has 37 receptions for 359 yards with three touchdowns, and former Bishop Dwenger standout John Goodman has seven catches for 65 yards.

Florida State: Rodney Smith leads a group of seven receivers in triple-digit yards with 527. Rashad Greene is second in receiving yards with 497 and has a team-high six touchdown receptions. Christian Green has 447, Bert Reed has 385 yards, Kenny Shaw has 354, Greg Dent has 236 and Jermaine Thomas has 122. The Seminoles can pick up yards in bunches as they had 11 passing plays go for 20 yards or more.

Advantage: Florida State

Tight ends

Notre Dame: Former Bishop Dwenger standout Tyler Eifert could be playing his final game for the Irish. The 6-6, 249-pound junior has submitted paperwork to be evaluated for the NFL draft after recording 713 yards and five touchdowns.

Florida State: Nick O’Leary, a 6-4, 235-pound freshman, leads the tight end group with 12 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Offensive line

Notre Dame: The Irish’s line was strong enough this season that the loss of starting center Braxston Cave to a foot injury in Week 9 didn’t disrupt the unit too much. Mike Golic Jr. stepped in as a starter against Maryland and finished the last three games at center. Left tackle Zack Martin, left guard Chris Watt, right guard Trevor Robinson and right tackle Taylor Dever started all 12 games. Notre Dame is ranked 17th in the country in sacks allowed, giving up 13 on 452 pass attempts. The Irish enter today’s game with 1,992 rushing yards.

Florida State: The Seminoles used six different line combinations as injuries ravaged the unit. Florida State was forced to use four freshmen, a junior college transfer and a sophomore with no starting experience as the injuries mounted. The Seminoles rank 111th in sacks allowed, giving up three per game. Florida State’s running game averages 118.1 yards, which ranks 99th in the country.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Defensive line

Notre Dame: A mix of veteran and first-year linemen shifted toward youth because of injuries this season. Senior ends Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore were both injured. Johnson missed four games with an ankle sprain but is 100 percent entering today. Lewis-Moore was lost for the season with a knee injury against USC on Oct. 22. Freshmen Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt stepped up at the ends with Lynch recording 28 tackles, 5 1/2 tackles for loss, four sacks and team-high 13 quarterback hurries and Tuitt getting 27 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Nose guards Louis Nix, a sophomore, and Sean Cwynar, a senior, combined for 63 tackles with Nix recording four tackles for loss.

Florida State: The Seminoles have one of the most imposing lines in college. They rank No. 9 in sacks (36) and are No. 5 in tackles for loss (91), and they are No. 1 in opponents’ yards per rush (2.3). Ends Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner along with nose tackle Anthony McCloud and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins have combined for 122 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. Jenkins leads the team with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss, and Werner is second with six sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Cornelius Carradine, who has 34 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks, provides depth on the end, and nose tackle Timmy Jernigan, who has 27 tackles, six tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks, and defensive tackle Cameron Erving, who has 19 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack, provide depth in the middle.

Advantage: Florida State

Linebackers

Notre Dame: Manti Te’o leads a group that helped the Irish hold teams to 147.1 rushing yards and 20.9 points. The junior led the defense with 115 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks. He is joined in the middle by Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese, who combined for 81 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. Darius Fleming took another step forward at outside linebacker recording 54 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. Prince Shembo started eight games at the other outside spot and had 29 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Florida State: Nigel Bradham leads the team in tackles with 77 and Christian Jones is second with 55. Vince Williams is fourth with 49. All three starters can also get in opponent’s backfields and have combined for 20 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Backups Telvin Smith and Jeff Luc have combined for 52 tackles, 9 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Advantage: Florida State

Secondary

Notre Dame: The Irish’s experienced group held teams to 202.2 passing yards and a 127.3 passing efficiency rating. Senior safety Harrison Smith was second on the team in tackles (84) and had a team-high 10 pass breakups. Senior safety Jamoris Slaughter, who also shifts to cornerback and linebacker, had 40 tackles and an interception, and junior safety Zeke Motta has 38 tackles and an interceptions. Senior cornerbacks Robert Blanton and Gary Gray have combined for 129 tackles and four interceptions.

Florida State: Florida State, which gives up 192.8 passing yards, is led by free safety Lamarcus Joyner’s three interceptions. Safety Terrance Parks has 40 tackles, with two for loss, and an interception. Cornerbacks Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes have combined for 69 tackles and three interceptions.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special teams

Notre Dame: Senior David Ruffer converted 10 of 15 field-goal attempts. Punting and kickoffs have been inconsistent this season as Ben Turk averages 40.2 yards per punt and Kyle Brindza averages 65.1 yards on kickoffs. George Atkinson III breathed life into the kickoff return team, averaging 27.4 yards on returns and scoring two touchdowns. The punt return unit is virtually non-existent. John Goodman is the primary punt returner but has only 5 return yards.

Florida State: The Seminoles’ Shawn Powell can control games with his punting. He leads the nation with a 47-yard average. Dustin Hopkins averages 67.3 yards on kickoffs, and he went 20 of 25 on field-goal attempts. Greg Reid can be dangerous on punt returns. He averages 11.4 yards and returned a punt for a score. Lamarcus Joyner averages 26.7 yards on kickoff returns.

Advantage: Florida State

Coaching

Notre Dame: Brian Kelly got his team to rebound from an 0-2 start and was able to defuse a bad situation after drawing comparisons between players he recruited and inherited. But the Irish haven’t had their best performances in big games, falling to USC and Stanford this season. Kelly is 14-5 in bowl games, including his 11-4 mark in Division II where he won two national titles.

Florida State: Jimbo Fisher had to deal with injuries, a three-game losing streak that put the Seminoles at 2-3, and kept his team together after national title hopes disappeared.

Advantage: Florida State

Prediction: The Seminoles’ defense proves too tough for the Irish to overcome, Florida State wins 14-10.

tkrausz@jg.net

– Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

Advertisement