Notre Dame looking to run, put pressure on QB
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media October 4, 2013 9:42PM
NO. 22 ARIZONA STATE
VS. NOTRE DAME
The facts: 6:30 p.m. in Arlington, Texas, Ch. 5, 890-AM.
The records: ASU 3-1, ND 3-2.
The line: Arizona State by 51⁄2.
Updated: November 6, 2013 6:08AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame brought the heat in an effort to get to Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell on a third-down play late in the second quarter last Saturday. Bell stepped up in the pocket, then took off and ran for a first down.
The play continued a theme for the Irish.
Notre Dame (3-2) has struggled getting to quarterbacks. Instead of applying pressure, the Irish find themselves under the pressure of needing a bounce-back performance Saturday against No. 22 Arizona State (3-1) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Arizona State features the No. 7
passing offense in the country, which makes disrupting the quarterback even more of an emphasis.
‘‘We’re just not getting there fast enough, maybe,’’ nose guard Louis Nix III said. ‘‘We’ve touched the quarterback a few times [and] have been in his face. I guess we’re not getting to the ball fast enough.’’
Notre Dame has four sacks, two by defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
‘‘If you’re looking at how we have pass-rushed in the past, you’re probably looking at a group of guys that has not been more than a three‑ or four‑man rush,’’ coach Brian Kelly said. ‘‘When we’ve needed to add pressure, we’ve done a pretty good job. Then [against Oklahoma] we bring five, and we give up a lane and the quarterback is able to convert.
‘‘I think it’s been a mixed bag. At times, it’s been better over the last couple of weeks. But it needs to continue to get better.’’
Arizona State has allowed only six sacks. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has benefitted from the strong protection, accumulating 1,370 passing yards and 11 touchdowns.
One way to limit the damage Kelly can do is to keep him off the field, which requires running the ball successfully. Notre Dame is coming off its best rushing performance of the season (220 yards), and Arizona State ranks 92nd nationally in rushing defense (192.3 yards).
‘‘If you’re asking about a game plan, we need to run the football,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘We have to run the ball to be able to set up everything else that we want to do.’’