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Football: Team prepares for Hurricanes

Matthew DeFranks | Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Instead of 1988’s “Catholics vs. Convicts” or 2010’s Sun Bowl, it will be 2012’s Shamrock Series when No. 9 Notre Dame takes on Miami in Chicago on Saturday.

The Irish (4-0) will be coming off a bye week while the Hurricanes (4-1, 3-0 ACC) beat N.C. State 44-37 in the last minute Saturday. In the win, Miami junior quarterback Stephen Morris threw for a conference-record 566 yards and five touchdowns.

“We’re not going to be facing a one-dimensional team,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Obviously they’re going to want to stretch the field.  They’re looking for one on one matchups.  They’re trying to stretch the football down the field.”

Miami has topped the 600-yard mark of total offense in each of its last two contests, both conference victories. In their lone game against a ranked opponent, then-No. 21 Kansas State, the Hurricanes failed to muster 300 yards. Miami has also relied on the big play, registering 14 plays of 40 or more yards this season.

“They’re a team that certainly would like to be balanced,” Kelly said. “They have proven to be a team that can make big plays, but I don’t think there is anything from a schematic standpoint that they haven’t seen from our offense.

“They’re a tempo team. They like to go fast. They’ve caught their last couple of opponents not prepared for that … They’ve got some big weapons on the perimeter, two outstanding backs and a quarterback that’s playing better and better each and every week.”

The Hurricanes defense has allowed more than 33 points per game this year, placing them 100th in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Notre Dame’s offense, meanwhile, has managed to score more than 33 points just once – in the 50-10 opening win over Navy.

“We want to be more of an offense that can have big play capabilities,” Kelly said. “We need to score more points, no question about that. We’re not scoring enough points. But as you can see – and it’s been the theme – we’re going to be careful with the football. We’re not going to be careless with it.  Until we’re ready to amp it up, so to speak, we’ll be careful with the football.”

HeisManti
Senior linebacker Manti Te’o, recently featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, has garnered a spot on some experts’ Heisman Trophy watch list after his blistering start. Te’o leads the Irish with 38 tackles (16 solo) while also recording three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Te’o would be the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy since Charles Woodson did in 1997. Woodson, however, also played on special teams.

“If you go with he has to be a quarterback or an offensive player, well, I don’t think [Te’o] plays on offense,” Kelly said. “But if you’re looking for one of the best, if not the best college football players that impacts your program – look, if you said it was the MVP, does it have to be an offensive player MVP? Sure. He’s got to have some offensive numbers or statistics. But you’re also judged by how you impact your team and what you do on the defensive side of the ball.

“So Heisman Trophy, MVP, top collegiate player, we think he fits those categories.”

Injury updates
Graduate student defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore and freshman defensive end Sheldon Day are both close to full health, Kelly said.

Sophomore defensive end Chase Hounshell will have surgery on his shoulder and miss the remainder of the season.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu