Read our interview about ASU on Slap the Sign.
1. What were the biggest flaws revealed in the Fighting Irish’s 35-21 loss to Oklahoma?
Although the 2013 version of the Irish has many flaws, the one that sticks out is the quarterback play of Tommy Rees. Brian Kelly has implored media and fans not to blame the Oklahoma loss on Rees. but how can you not? Rees threw two interceptions in his first three passes. In the last two games, Rees is 23 of 59 passing for 246 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Certainly, it is difficult to claim that Notre Dame would be undefeated if they had Everett Golson. However, the Irish would definitely be closer to 5-0 or at least 4-1.
2. From a physcological standpoint, what does it mean to Notre Dame to be out of the AP Top 25 rankings this week?
Being out of the rankings probably does not mean anything to the players but the fact that Notre Dame’s BCS chances are very slim now may affect the psyche of the team. It is important to note that this was a team that had the BCS National Title Game listed on the schedule on their meeting room. Now, they are facing a must-win game to even stay in the discussion of a BCS bowl bid.
3. What have been the bright spots for the Fighting Irish this season?
There are not that many bright spots. It truly feels like many of the position groups have been underperforming. However, some of the young talent has been exciting to watch. Freshman Wide Receiver Corey Robinson has performed well. He had a career and game high three catches for 54 yards. On defense, Freshman Outside Linebacker Jaylon Smith has shown why he was the third overall prospect in the 2013 class.
4. What the greatest challenges for coach Brian Kelly and his squad as they prepare to face ASU?
Taylor Kelly and the ASU offense present a unique challenge for a Notre Dame defense that has not been able to defend the pass well. The Irish have allowed 267 yards per game. Kelly has been carving up defenses. If Notre Dame cannot stop or slow the Sun Devils through the air, they will get blown out.
5. What is your prediction for the outcome of Saturday’s game?
Arizona State comes in averaging 44.3 points per game, but has padded its stats against Sacramento State and USC. The only way the Irish will be able to slow the Sun Devils is with a solid ground game. This is one of the weakness that Arizona State has. The Devils are giving up 193.00 yards per game, which ranks 93rd in the country. Notre Dame will be able to run the ball enough to keep it close. However, Notre Dame’s defense has shown nothing to indicate that it can stop a high-powered offense.
This is a must-win game for Notre Dame and under Brian Kelly, the team usually comes up with a good performance when their backs are against the wall. Not confident in the pick, but Notre Dame 41-Arizona State 31.