These guys could give Notre Dame football some problems this weekend.
Notre Dame football takes on Syracuse this Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The ranked matchup not only adds to the deep history of Notre Dame in New York City, but it will also be a defining game in terms of Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff aspirations.
Syracuse comes in at 8-2 on the season. This Orange team has exceeded expectations thus far, and they look to continue to do so in a big way by trying to take down the undefeated Fighting Irish. Here are the Syracuse players that the Irish should watch out for when they battle the Orange in the Big Apple.
Eric Dungey, Quarterback
Dungey has completed 60 percent of his passes this year. He has accumulated 2,193 yards in the air and averages 7.2 yards per attempt. He has passed for 14 touchdowns and has only thrown five interceptions in 305 attempts. While Dungey is good enough as a passer, he is also an impact player on the ground. He is second in rushing for the Orange with 690 total yards. Moe Neal, who is first in rushing, has 712 total yards. Before last week, Dungey was leading the Orange in this category. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has added 12 rushing touchdowns. All this considered, it is easy to see why Dungey is a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
The Notre Dame defense has yet to play against a quarter back with this kind of dual-threat ability. The Irish will have to get to Dungey and then contain him, not allowing him to extend plays or turn a busted play into a big play.
Moe Neal, Running Back
Neal is leading the Orange in rushing with 712 yards on the year. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has scored five times. He started the year hot, accumulating at least 70 yards rushing in his first four games. He cooled down a bit after that, but he seems to have found his stride again coming off Syracuse’s blowout win against Louisville. Neal had eight carries for 159 yards against the Cardinals on the road to scoring two touchdowns. Neal did not do anything fancy in the game. He simply trusted his instincts and gutted Louisville up the middle. The Notre Dame defense has played well against the run for the most part. However, there are moments where they seem to let guys gash them up the middle and allow the opposition to extend drives. The Irish will have their hands full having to account for both Neal and Dungey on the ground.
Jamal Custis, Wide Receiver
Custis leads the the Orange receivers in total yards with 748 and in touchdowns with five. He averages 17.8 yards per reception, making him Syracuse’s premier deep-threat option. Watch for Syracuse to take shots down field — especially in early down/short yardage situations. Dungey’s ability to run allows the Syracuse offense to open up the playbook to Custis in these types of situations, since they know they can rely on Dungey to pick up the first down on third down by himself. The Irish defense will have to play disciplined football in order to disrupt a Syracuse offense that has the ability to score lots of points in a hurry.
Alton Robinson, Defensive Lineman
Robinson leads the Orange in tackles for loss with 15 and in sacks with nine. His sack total puts him at a tie for 7th nationally. Robinson has also forced and recovered two fumbles. Between his ability to get to the quarterback and his knack for knocking the ball loose, Robinson is one of Syracuse’s most potent defensive weapons up front. He is disruptive in all aspects, and the Notre Dame offensive line will have to play its best game to keep Robinson contained and away from Ian Book.
Ryan Guthrie, Linebacker
Guthrie’s 77 total tackles puts him at second on the team. Of these 77 tackles, 11.5 of them were for a loss — also good enough for second on the team behind Robinson. He has recorded two sacks and recovered two fumbles. As evidenced by his tackle total and fumble recoveries, Guthrie has a way of swarming to the football. Watch for Guthrie to challenge the Notre Dame offense in a variety of ways on Saturday.