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Notre Dame tailback Tony Jones will be counted on to pack a punch against New Mexico, and likely, Georgia next week.

Scouting Notre Dame: 3 things to watch Saturday vs. New Mexico

ATHENS — Most of the Georgia football scoreboard watching at Sanford Stadium on Saturday will be centered on next week’s opponent, Notre Dame.

The No. 7-ranked Fighting Irish (1-0) play New Mexico (1-0) in a 2:30 p.m. game that they’re favored to win by five touchdowns in South Bend.

Notre Dame, like the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs, has areas it wants to improve in and players it’s looking for to step up.

The Irish had a bye week after their 35-17 win over Louisville on Sept. 3, and Coach Brian Kelly was aggressive with his practices.

“We scrimmaged, and we got some live tackling in there with our ones, our key backups,” Kelly said at his press conference this week.

“We worked on special situations that I didn’t think we were quite up to snuff on and spent a lot of time on those in particular, you can probably all figure out what those situations were.”

Here are three things to watch in the Irish’s second game of the season and be mindful of when Georgia plays host to them on Sept. 21:

Short yardage

The Irish struggled in short-yardage situations in Louisville. Notre Dame was stopped short of a first down on run plays twice on third-and-2 runs, as well as on a second-and-1 QB sneak and a third-and-1 run.

“There were three third-and-shorts where we shouldn’t have run the football, it should have gone on the perimeter,” Kelly said on his radio show on Thursday, referring to QB Ian Book’s decision not to audible to a pass.

“There were two third down situations where, a little bit better blocking, a little bit better running and we pick up a first down.”

Base offense/defense

Kelly said there won’t be any holding back against New Mexico, but that doesn’t mean Georgia will see all the plays coming their way the next week.

“You’re going to run your base offense and defense, (but) do you run everything that you have in your offensive arsenal? No, because sometimes they’re not congruent to your opponent,” Kelly said on his radio show. “So we’re not going to do everything that we would do against Georgia against New Mexico.

“I’ve never really felt like we have to hold this part of the playbook off because we’re going to save that for Georgia,” he said. “We’re going to be who we are, and then the next week there’s plenty of other plays that they’re not going to have seen on film that we can take out of the library.”

Running backs

Notre Dame lost running back Jafar Armstrong to an abdominal injury in the win over Louisville. Kelly said at his press conference and on his radio show he’s looking for playmakers to step up.

Senior Tony Jones Jr. (5-11, 224) came on and had 110 yards rushing and a TD on 15 carries, and Jahmir Smith (5-11, 205) had 8 carries for 24 yards and 2 TDs.

Kelly suggested that freshman running back Kyren Williams (5-9, 205), a 4-star the Irish beat Missouri and Iowa for in recruiting, might also get work.

“Kyren Williams just needs to play and make a couple plays,” Kelly said on his coach’s show.

Notre Dame moved Avery Davis (5-11, 202, Jr.) to the running back rotation, and Kelly indicated he’s a player with “real speed” and pass-catching skills.

 

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