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Irish Insights

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Notre Dame vs. Temple: What to watch for

Here are a few things to watch as No. 14 Notre Dame opens its season against home today against Temple. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

Jaylon Smith gets the nod: The former Bishop Luers star will be the first freshman outside linebacker to start for Notre Dame since 1995. Smith beat out junior Ben Councell to start at the spot left open when senior Danny Spond had to stop playing because of reoccurring migraines. Smith has good coverage skills, but at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, it will be worth watching to see if he stays in during rushing situations or if the Irish bring in the 6-4, 254-pound Councell.

Tommy Rees under pressure: One of the biggest changes to the senior quarterback's game is his ability to escape pressure and keep plays alive, according to coach Brian Kelly. Rees, who is the starter in a season opener for the first time in his career, has shown his ability to roll out of the pocket and find receivers during practices open to the media this fall.

The Owls' offense: Coach Matt Rhule said it's like comparing apples to oranges when it comes to what the team ran last year to what he has the squad running now, which leaves Notre Dame's defense guessing about what it will see today. Temple is going with junior Connor Reilly at quarterback, even though he has never played in college.

Notre Dame's running backs: Kelly said all five running backs could contribute this season, but all of them may not play today. George Atkinson III will start, but the Irish list Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel and Greg Bryant as backups. The Irish also have Tarean Folston in the running back mix.

The right side of the Irish's offensive line: Christian Lombard moved from right tackle to right guard, and Ronnie Stanley is the starting right tackle. But Kelly said freshman Steve Elmer, who enrolled early, will likely also play today.

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