Players to watch: Notre Dame vs. Stanford

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

• Stanford’s offense returned over 96 percent of its total scoring from 2017 (435 of 453 points).

• Stanford’s defense has allowed only 13.5 points per game, ranking 10th nationally.

• Cardinal running back Bryce Love’s first career start came at Notre Dame in 2016 as Christian McCaffrey was sidelined with an injury. Love broke out with 129 yards and one touchdown rushing in the 17-10 Cardinal win. He has rushed for 2,918 yards and 23 touchdowns since then. In two career games against the Irish, Love has totaled 254 rushing yards.

TE Alizé Mack

As the debate for the rightful claim as “Tight End U” continues, Mack will have a chance to outdo the talented tight ends of Stanford. Though his career hasn’t quite panned out as anticipated, he was as highly touted as any tight end in the recruiting class. His recent development along with Ian Book taking over as starting quarterback has given Mack’s career a spark. Twelve of Mack’s 44 career catches have come in Book’s two starts. Coming off a six-catch, 61-yard performance last week, expect Mack to be heavily involved again.

LB Drue Tranquill

Defensive versatility will be a requirement for keeping Stanford’s offense in check. No defender may embody that more than Tranquill. A lot will likely be demanded of the graduate student. Slowing down running back Bryce Love, covering tight ends Kaden Smith and Colby Parkinson and blitzing quarterback K.J. Costello should all be on Tranquill’s to-do list Saturday night. After finally receiving some rest in Notre Dame’s victory over Wake Forest, Tranquill, who leads the Irish in solo tackles (27) and total tackles (33) should be geared up for another demanding effort.

WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside

What Bryce Love is to Stanford’s running game, Arcega-Whiteside is to the passing game. The Cardinal’s big target has big-time stats to match. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior ranks second in the country with seven receiving touchdowns this season. His average of 24 yards per reception (17 catches for 408 yards) ranks seventh nationally. Finding a way to keep Arcega-Whiteside in check will be paramount for the Irish. He’s caught at least two passes in the last 16 games, and he’s tough to defend in the red zone.

CB Paulson Adebo

The name should sound familiar. That’s because Adebo, a sophomore, was committed to Notre Dame’s 2017 recruiting class with less than a month to go before signing day. But the Mansfield, Texas, product flipped to Stanford and has taken advantage of his opportunities in his first season as a starter. The 6-1, 189-pound Adebo leads the country with 11 pass breakups. Three came on Stanford’s overtime defensive stand to beat Oregon last week. Adebo leads the Cardinal with 13 solo tackles and is tied for third with 22 total tackles. Catches and yards after the catch won’t come easy in Adebo’s direction.

Notre Dame tight end Alizé Mack (86) caught six passes for 61 yards against Wake Forest.
Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside (19) has already caught seven touchdowns this season.