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Cousins will look to pick apart ND's secondary on Saturday

Scouting Report: Notre Dame

Sep 14, 2011 Adam Ruff | View Comments

If you’re a Michigan State fan, what is there not to love heading into this game? Notre Dame - 0-2 on the season - after two horrific losses to South Florida and Michigan is on the brink of disaster. And in my opinion, there’s no better time to head down to South Bend than now and push them past the brink.

Sure, there will be debates all week long whether or not the Notre Dame loss to Michigan was good or bad for MSU this week. But who cares about that. This is about Michigan State versus Notre Dame. It’s NOT about Michigan State versus What Notre Dame Did Last Week.

If anything, the Irish players – whether spoken or not – probably lack some confidence. After Coach Brian Kelly so quickly dismissed QB Dayne Crist for Tommy Rees, the Irish players may be looking over their shoulders wondering who will come in a replace them. Not exactly a confidence builder when you play for a guy with a quick trigger.

After allowing Denard Robinson to throw for 338 yards, the defensive backfield of the Irish is vulnerable, despite three interceptions. Gary Gray, a South Bend senior got picked on repeatedly by Denard Robinson. For a guy with 22 starts and 5 career INT’s under his belt, he’s got to be at a low point in his career. If Robinson can throw for that many yards despite completing just 11 passes, imagine what the Spartans can do on Saturday when the Irish corners have to line up across from BJ Cunningham or Keshawn Martin, while having a guy like Kirk Cousins throwing darts their way.

But, as Brian Kelly said after the game, let’s not just pick on the defensive backfield. Everyone is at fault for their poor start.

“We’re not good enough,” Kelly said. “There’s not one individual in that locker room, including all the coaches, who are good enough right now.”

While that’s true, they definitely have a lot of offensive firepower. In two games thus far, Notre Dame has out gained its opponents in the first quarter, 297-89. However, they’ve shot themselves in the foot time and time again with ten interceptions, five of which have come inside the red zone.

If Notre Dame continues to cough up the ball, this could be MSU’s day all day. Otherwise, it’ll come down to the wire once again. Nine of the last 11 games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less.

***In case you forgot how last year’s game between the Spartans and Irish went: MSU vs ND Highlights***


Game 1: L vs South Florida 23-20
Game 2: L at Michigan 35-31

Coach: Brian Kelly (179-62-2 overall, 8-7 at Notre Dame)
-20th year as a Collegiate Head Coach, Including stints at Cincinnati (34-6), Central Michigan (19-16), and Grand Valley State (118-35-2)

Quarterback: Tommy Rees (So., 6-2, 215)
-2011 Totals: 51-73, 611 yards, 5 TD, 4INT
-5 career starts
-2010 vs. MSU: DNP

Leading Rusher: Cierre Wood (SR., 5-11, 220)
-2011 Totals: 46 carries, 238 yards, 2 TD, 119 ypg
-8 career starts
-Ran for 603 yards in 2010 and 3 TD
-5 career rushing TD’s
-2010 vs. MSU: 3 Car., 3 yds.

Leading Receiver: Michael Floyd (Sr., 6-3, 224)
-2011 Totals: 25 rec., 313 yds., 2 TD
-31 career starts
-2010 vs. MSU: 6 rec., 81 yds., 2 TD

Top Tackler: LB Manti Te’o (Jr., 5-9, 170)
-2011 Totals: 14 Tkl., 2.0 tfl, 1.0 sacks
-223 career Tackles
-4 career Interceptions
-2010 vs. MSU: 7 Tackles


-The 1,021 yards compiled by the Irish this season is the most in the first two games of any season since 1974.
-Irish QB’s have only been sacked twice this season in 90 pass attempts.
-In their last 7 games - dating back to last season - the Irish defense has allowed only 2 rushing touchdowns.
-Ranks 120th in the FBS with 10 turnovers committed this season. Yeah…that’s DEAD LAST.
-Ranks 116th in the FBS in Red Zone offense (5-11, 45%). 5 of their turnovers are in the Red Zone.
-Ranks 103rd in the FBS in penalties with 17.


-From the Chicago Tribune, columnist David Haugh says Notre Dame is a poorly coached team

-Also from the Trib, Little Giants lingers

-Despite what it looks like on the sidelines, Brian Kelly still believes in his team

-Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune says ND is searching for a little mental toughness

-Al Lesar reviews the Michigan game...err, debacle


Don't forget, we just started a contest yesterday based on the Little Giants play from a year ago. Essentially, you send us an mp3 of you doing the play by play of the Little Giants play. We'll pick 4 finalists to be voted upon by website viewers and you could win a huge prize package including 2 Spartan Club seats, pregame field passes and more.

Here's the rest of the details.