The Notre Dame Fighting Irish‘s defense will face off this Saturday against the toughest offense of the season, as they face Todd Graham’s high octane Arizona State Sun Devils’ offense. Currently, the Sun Devils’ offense ranks 15th in total offense, 11th in points per game, and is the seventh ranked team in passing yards per game (358.8 ypg).
The offense is lead by Taylor Kelly, who, with his 1,370, is eighth in the nation in passing yards, and gives the Irish another quarterback with the threat to run to defend. But there is another player that the Irish must shut down in order to achieve victory.
Senior running back Marion Grice has emerged as one of the more productive backs in the nation. Grice currently leads all players in touchdowns with 12, which includes eight rushing and four receiving, and while the yardage isn’t quite what you would expect, the impact is there.
In four games this season, Grice has carried the ball 65 times for 256-yards (3.9 yards per carry). That’s not exactly the average you would expect out of one of the better backs in the game, but where he made his impact is in the passing game, where he is tied for second in receptions on the team.
Combined between rushing and receiving, Grice has touched the ball 87 times for 439-yards and 12 touchdowns. That gives him over 1,500 yards and 31 touchdowns between last season and this year so far.
The Irish will certainly have to account for Grice at all times, as Arizona State will certainly look to get him the ball in space, and we saw what happened in the Oklahoma Sooner game when they were able to get players in space against Notre Dame.
Anthony Murphy is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.