Five keys to the Notre Dame-N.C. State game

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune


Notre Dame officially branded the Josh Adams Heisman campaign with a hashtag (#33Trucking) and a website ( Now the Irish have to keep the pedal to the metal for their star running back. The last time a dominant front seven came to South Bend, Adams was limited to 53 rushing yards against Georgia. A big rushing performance Saturday certainly furthers Adams' Heisman shot, but more importantly keeps the Irish offense clicking.


N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley last threw an interception on Nov. 19, 2016 against Miami. That’s 313 pass attempts for Finley without giving the ball to the other team. He’s closing in on the NCAA record of 379 attempts. But Notre Dame’s defense has an interception streak of its own. The Irish have intercepted at least one pass in the last six games. The streak that is extended Saturday could determine the outcome of the game.


Notre Dame needs to account for N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb on every play. He’s one of the most imposing defensive linemen in the country and can be a menace against the pass or the run. Last year, Chubb wreaked havoc for three sacks among his five tackles in the Wolfpack victory over the Irish. Chubb will line up on either side of the field, so the Irish will need to locate him and make sure their offensive tackles or tight ends aren’t matched up in one-on-one situations with him often.


N.C. State offensive dynamo Jaylen Samuels may be tougher to locate than Chubb. Samuels will line up at tight end, running back, wide receiver and any other skill position imaginable. He leads the Wolfpack in both rushing touchdowns (7) and receptions (54). The Irish may choose to shadow Samuels all day long. Limiting Samuels could severely hurt N.C. State’s offensive production.


At some point soon, Notre Dame’s going to need kicker Justin Yoon to make a big field goal this season. He made all four of his field goal attempts in the loss to Georgia to keep Notre Dame in the game. But because of the efficiency of Notre Dame’s offense, Yoon hasn’t been needed much since then. In what could be a one-possession game, a missed or made field goal could be the difference on Saturday. Yoon has made seven of his last eight field goal attempts after missing two in the season opener. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (33) gets by Southern California’s Iman Marshall (8) during the University of Southern California at Notre Dame NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA