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Head-to-Head: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest

| Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Irish have seen Wake Forest junior quarterback Tanner Price before. Last season, Price threw for 187 yards and a touchdown on efficient 17-for-24 passing in Notre Dame’s 24-17 win on Nov. 5, 2011. The junior has thrown for 1,965 yards and 12 touchdown, averaging just under 200 passing yards per game. In Wake Forest’s 28-14 win over Boston College on Nov. 3, Price set a career high in completions and pass attempts, throwing for 293 yards and three kids on 39-for-57 passing.
After facing Boston College’s do-it-all receiver Alex Amidon, Notre Dame will face another in redshirt junior slot receiver Michael Campanaro. Campanaro tied an ACC record with 16 receptions against Boston College, while adding three receiving touchdowns. Campanaro leads the ACC in receptions per game, with 8.1 and has 21 receptions in the last two games. Despite missing two games with a broken hand, the versatile slot receiver has six touchdowns and 618 yards and 65 receptions. In a 37-6 loss to N.C. State on Saturday, Campanaro even threw a touchdown for the Deacons’ only score of the day.
The Deacons bring the 111th best offense in the country, averaging only 309.7 yards per game, into Notre Dame Stadium against the No. 1 scoring defense in the country. Notre Dame’s defense gives up only 11.1 points per game and 295.2 yards per game. Only seven teams in the last 11 years have held opponents to less than 11.1 points per game.  In a 21-6 win over Boston College on Saturday, senior linebacker Manti Te’o recorded his sixth interception of the year, the second most by a FBS linebacker in the last 11 years. Sophomore defensive end leads all underclassmen in the nation with 11 sacks, while junior linebacker Prince Shembo had three sacks against Boston College.

Redshirt junior running back Josh Harris leads the Deacons in rushing with 607 yards and five touchdowns on 136 carries. Backing up Harris is redshirt freshman Deandre Martin, who has rushed for 371 yards and five touchdowns on 394 carries. The duo each had a 100-yard rushing performance with four touchdowns between the two of them in a 49-37 win over Army on Sept. 22. But Wake Forest has one of the worst rushing offenses in the country, ranked 111th in the country with 102.7 rushing yards per game.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame has the sixth-best rushing defense in the country, giving up 95.9 rushing yards per game. Notre Dame has held four opponents to under 10 points and is the only team in the FBS to have not allowed a touchdown drive of longer than 95 yards. Against Boston College, the Irish allowed 53 yards rushing on 23 rushing attempts.

Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco will have another pass-heavy offense to deal with, but stopping the running game shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Irish.

Notre Dame limited Boston College’s electric return game to 18.7 yards per return. The Deacons rank 118th in the country in kick returns, averaging 16.5 yards per return. Redshirt freshman kicker Chad Hedlund replaced senior kicker Jimmy Newman and is 3-for-3 this year with a long of 44 yards.  

Sept. 1    Liberty        W 20-17
Sept. 8       North Carolina                   W 28-27
Sept. 15    @ Florida State                   L 52-0   
Sept. 22     Army                   W 49-37   
Sept. 29    Duke                          L 34-27    
Oct. 6    @ Maryland                  L 19-14
Oct. 20    @ Virginia                   W 16-10
Oct. 25    Clemson                                L 42-13
Nov. 3    Boston College        W 28-14

Nov. 10    @ NC State        L 37-6
Nov. 17    @ Notre Dame
Nov. 24    Vanderbilt


On Saturday, sophomore quarterback Everett Golson had one of his most efficient passing performances, throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns on 16-for-24 passing. That makes two straight 200-yard games with two touchdowns for the first-year starter. Since the concussion he sustained in Notre Dame’s 20-13 overtime win against Stanford on Oct. 13, Golson has thrown for over 600 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception in three games.
Golson is starting to develop a rapport with preseason All-American tight end Tyler Eifert. Eifert had six receptions for 67 yards in Notre Dame’s 21-6 win over Boston College on Saturday. Eifert needs only five receptions to break Ken MacAfee’s 35-year-old record for most receptions by a Notre Dame tight end. Eifert has 124 career receptions and 1,625 receiving yards. Sophomore tight end Troy Niklas caught his first career touchdown pass against the Eagles and senior receiver John Goodman added his second of the season. The Irish didn’t come out of Boston unscathed, though. Notre Dame lost sophomore receiver DaVaris Daniels for the remainder of the regular season with a broken clavicle. Daniels had 375 receiving yards on 25 receptions before the injury.
Wake Forest enters the game with the 98th-best passing defense in the country, giving up 260.9 passing yards per game. The Deacons have a pair of dangerous cornerbacks in redshirt senior Chibuikem Okoro and redshirt sophomore Kevin Johnson. Johnson leads the team with three interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Johnson is also fifth on the team with 45 tackles.

Last week against Boston College, the Irish rushed for 184 yards, led by senior running back Theo Riddick’s 104 yards on 18 carries. That was Riddick’s third 100-yard rushing performance of the season and his first since a 17-14 win against BYU on Oct. 20. Meanwhile, senior running back Cierre Wood and sophomore running back George Atkinson combined for 42 yards on 10 total carries. The Irish had three drives of over four minutes, but also turned the ball over twice on fumbles by Riddick and Atkinson. Golson continued his rushing prowess, rushing for 39 yards on 10 attempts. Golson also scored the only rushing touchdown of the game on Notre Dame’s 95-yard opening drive.
Wake Forest is in the middle of the pack in terms of rushing defense, ranked 63rd in the country giving up 156.9 rushing yards per game. Notre Dame ranks 33rd in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 198.7 rushing yards per game. In Saturday’s 37-6 loss to N.C. State, the Deacons gave up 170 rushing yards.

Irish coach Brian Kelly used the running game to establish long drives for Notre Dame, including one of over eight minutes. Kelly used Golson effectively as well, not turning the ball over and using deceptive run plays to push for first downs on third-and-long.

 Sophomore kicker Kyle Brindza didn’t attempt a field goal against the Eagles on Saturday and the Irish punted only three times. Against N.C. State on Saturday, Wake Forest gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown while Atkinson averaged 26 yards per kick return against Boston College.

Sept. 1    vs. Navy         W 50-10    
Sept. 8    Purdue        W 20-17    
Sept. 15    @ Michigan State    W 20-3
Sept. 22    Michigan        W 13-6
Oct. 6    vs. Miami        W 41-3
Oct. 13    Stanford       W 20-13 (OT)    
Oct. 20    BYU        W 17-14
Oct. 27    @ Oklahoma        W 30-13
Nov. 3    Pittsburgh    W 29-26 (3OT)    
Nov. 10    @ Boston College     W 21-6
Nov. 17    Wake Forest
Nov. 24    @ USC