By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SOUTH BEND —
The No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0) will be looking for a bit of redemption today when No. 17 Stanford comes calling at Notre Dame Stadium.
Last year, the Cardinal humbled the Irish, 37-14 in Palo Alto.
The Cardinal’s offense poses some unique challenges for the Notre Dame defense, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week.
“Stanford is unique itself. Not only do they run the ball out of multiple formations and jumbo packages, they create great one on one match ups, so you would think you play a lot of zone you have to drop extra players down to defend the run which gives them a one on one match up, so another unique challenge for us.”
But team maturity, according to Kelly, is one big factor in the Irish’s favor this time out.
“I think we’re stronger physically across the board. We’re a mature football team. We have veterans on defense. From an offensive line standpoint we feel like we can handle ourselves much better,” Kelly said.
“We had a ton of negative plays last year. We had 50 plus running plays and we had one negative play against Miami. Whereas last year “We had 20 negative plays, we had penalties. We’re a more disciplined team, so much further along as it relates to taking care of the football and turnovers, and as you know, last year, it was a turnover mistake, negative play every other seemed like every other play, so I think we’re so much further along as it relates to how we play the game on Saturday.”
The Cardinal defense poses some challenges for the Irish offense: StanforD is giving up just 21.8 ppg.
The Cardinalcomes to Suth Bend off a thrilling 54-48 win over Arizona State in overtime last week.
And with the Iriwsh’s 5-0 start comes increased national attention: The ESPn College Game Day crew will be broadcasting from Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.
But Irish senior linebacker Mantio Te’o said he and his teammates plan to shut out the noise and focus on the game.
“Personally for me, GameDay, that doesn’t really affect the players as much as the student body and stuff like that,” Te’o said. “So it’s definitely going to be a great atmosphere, a great opportunity for our school to be on College GameDay and stuff like that. For us, I think I our team is at a point where we’re mature enough where we understand where our mindset needs to be, where our focus needs to be. That’s on Stanford. It’s going to take all hundred and something of us, players and coaches, to be focused on Stanford in order to beat ‘em.
The Cardinal (4-1) does not seem to have lost a beat with the graduation of Andrew Luck, who was drafted No. 1 by the Indianapolis Colts. Stanford is averaging 31.6 ppg. under its new starting QB, senior Josh Nunes.
Nunes has completed 86-of-159 passes for 1,145 yards with eight TDs and four interceptions.
Nunes, as Luck’s backup last year, had a good primer on how it’s done when the Irish visited Palo Alto a year ago.
“I’ll try to apply that experience to this game,” said Nunes. “They’re definitely a good defense. It will be a good challenge for us.”
IRISH ITEMS: Notre Dame has recorded at least three sacks in four of its !rst !ve games of 2012. The Irish had at least three sacks in each of the first four games of the season. Notre Dame had not registered four straight games with at least three sacks since 2006. ... Notre Dame leads the all-time series betyween the two schools, 17-9 ... Stanford is riding a 10-game winning streak against regular season non-conference opponents, including each of the last three matchups against Notre Dame.