Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 38 of 55 SEPT. 25, 2017 39 The Spartans' secondary was decimated in the offseason, and the Notre Dame contest will be its first test of the season. Michigan State has racked up five sacks on the season, but just one has come from its line. Notre Dame junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush was up and down in his first two starts while passing for 394 yards and a pair of touch- downs. It is expected that with more experience he will continue to show a much better grasp of new coordina- tor Chip Long's offense. Despite the limited production, Wimbush has a deep group of pass catchers led by junior receiver Equa- nimeous St. Brown, who had four catches for 83 yards and a score against the Spartans last season. Advantage: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Notre Dame and Michigan State both struggled on special teams last season, with the Spartans ranking 77th and the Fighting Irish 81st in efficiency according to the Fremeau Efficiency Index. Neither team has played lights-out special teams through two games this season, but Notre Dame has bet- ter numbers in kick coverage, kick return average and punt coverage. Junior placekicker Justin Yoon missed his first two kicks of the sea- son, both in the season opener against Temple, but he was a perfect 4 of 4 in Notre Dame's loss to Georgia. Michigan State gave up a 100-yard kick return to Western Michigan re- turn man Darius Phillips. Advantage: Notre Dame COACHING Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and Dantonio will always have a connection. This contest will be the sixth head-to-head matchup between the two veteran coaches, but that's not the only reason for the link. Dantonio was the head coach at Cin- cinnati from 2004-06 before taking the job in East Lansing, finishing 18-17 in those three seasons. He was replaced by Kelly, who took the Bearcats to unprecedented heights by going 34-6 with three straight seasons of 10 or more wins. The Michigan State head coach, though, has had more overall success at his current stop (92-42) than Kelly has with the Irish (60-32). Both Dantonio and Kelly have had led their current programs to strong postseason runs, with Notre Dame playing for the national title in 2012 and Michigan State making the 2015 College Football Playoff and winning at least 11 games five times during Dantonio's tenure. Kelly holds a 3-2 record against Dantonio and is 1-1 in Spartan Sta- dium, which is why Notre Dame gets the edge in this matchup. Advantage: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES Like Notre Dame, Michigan State is looking to bounce back from a brutal 2016 season in which it finished 3-9 after losing nine of its last 10 games. The Spartans have soundly beaten the two Mid-American Conference opponents it faced in the early going. However, the strong start must be viewed in context of the quality of its opposition. Concerning for the Spar- tans is the fact they've allowed two de- fensive touchdowns and a kick return for a score in their first two games. Michigan State will enter this game confident after winning those two contests and after beating the Irish 36-28 in Notre Dame Stadium last September. Notre Dame has shown itself to be better defensively than it was last season, but it has yet to shown it can consistently win on the road. The Irish were 3-6 in the last nine games played away from home, and they haven't won more than two road tilts in the same season since 2013. Advantage: Michigan State GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN STATE Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. X 18 Felton Davis III 6-4 195 Jr. 7 Cody White 6-3 206 Fr. LT 61 Cole Chewins 6-8 284 So. 73 Dennis Finley 6-7 307 5th-Sr. LG 70 Tyler Higby 6-5 293 So. 71 Chase Gianacakos 6-6 296 Jr. C 65 Brian Allen 6-2 302 Sr. 64 Matt Allen 6-3 301 R-Fr. RG 59 David Beedle 6-5 329 Jr. 75 Kevin Jarvis 6-4 312 Fr. RT 62 Luke Campbell 6-5 293 R-Fr. 55 Jordan Reid 6-4 271 Fr. TE 81 Matt Sokol 6-6 250 Jr. 84 Noah Davis 6-4 248 R-Fr. F 25 Darrell Stewart Jr. 6-2 210 So. 5 Hunter Rison 5-11 200 Fr. Z 86 Trishton Jackson 6-1 179 So. 21 Cam Chambers 6-2 211 R-Fr. QB 14 Brian Lewerke 6-3 212 So. 6 Damion Terry 6-4 220 5th-Sr. FB 40 Collin Lucas 6-1 232 Jr. 45 Joe Palange 6-1 250 5th-Sr. TB 3 LJ Scott 6-1 229 Jr. or 24 Gerald Holmes 6-1 231 5th-Sr. or 28 Madre London 6-1 218 Jr. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 48 Kenny Willekes 6-4 244 So. 98 Demetrius Cooper 6-6 249 5th-Sr. DT 72 Mike Panasiuk 6-4 294 So. 41 Gerald Owens 6-2 312 Jr. NT 99 Raequan Williams 6-4 300 So. 93 Naquan Jones 6-4 328 R-Fr. DE 52 Dillon Alexander 6-4 247 Jr. 91 Robert Bowers 6-5 249 Jr. Star 5 Andrew Dowell 6-1 222 Jr. 26 Brandon Randle 6-2 231 R-Fr. Mike 35 Joe Bachie 6-2 233 So. 38 Byron Bullough 6-1 228 Jr. Sam 23 Chris Frey 6-2 238 Sr. 49 Shane Jones 6-1 236 Sr. or 17 Tyriq Thompson 6-1 239 So. FC 19 Josh Butler 6-0 186 So. 22 Josiah Scott 5-10 173 Fr. FS 10 Matt Morrissey 6-3 208 Jr. 6 David Dowell 6-1 191 So. BS 27 Khari Willis 6-0 215 Jr. 44 Grayson Miller 6-3 208 Jr. BC 2 Justin Layne 6-3 180 So. 15 Tyson Smith 5-11 170 Jr. MICHIGAN STATE DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. KO 8 Brett Scanlon 5-11 210 5th-Sr. 4 Matt Coghlin 5-9 188 R-Fr. PK 4 Matt Coghlin 5-9 188 R-Fr. 8 Brett Scanlon 5-11 210 5th-Sr. P 25 Jake Hartbarger 6-4 201 Jr. 8 Brett Scanlon 5-11 210 5th-Sr. SN 57 Collin Caflisch 6-4 275 So. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. 47 Ryan Armour 6-0 219 So. HLD 14 Brian Lewerke 6-3 212 So. KR 25 Darrell Stewart Jr. 6-2 210 So. 13 Laress Nelson 5-8 179 Fr. PR 25 Darrell Stewart Jr. 6-2 210 So. 13 Laress Nelson 5-8 179 Fr. Special Teams

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