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Notre Dame Football: 4 Key Players for Fighting Irish Against Michigan

Ryan ReedCorrespondent IISeptember 23, 2016

Notre Dame Football: 4 Key Players for Fighting Irish Against Michigan

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    Notre Dame football is officially rolling, coming off of a win against No. 10 Michigan State.

    They have looked good so far, starting the year off with three straight wins, but another big game is looming for the Fighting Irish.

    Just a week removed from playing the No. 10 squad, Notre Dame has to go up against No. 17 Michigan and Denard Robinson.

    This Notre Dame team has looked good so far this season, and there is no reason that they should have any trouble against the Wolverines.

    Still, the Fighting Irish will need a few players to step up and play big for them in next week's game, and this article will go through who could do that for them.

1. George Atkinson III, Running Back

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    George Atkinson III isn't the biggest name player on the Fighting Irish roster, but he sure has been useful for them so far this season.

    The sophomore running back has been given the ball only 15 times this season, but has rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns. That's an outstanding 9.5 yards per attempt.

    To put those numbers into context, Theo Riddick, the Notre Dame player with the most carries, has 190 yards and two touchdowns, but has been given the ball 31 more times.

    Atkinson III isn't going to lead the team in rushing, but he has proven that he has the ability to come in and make a few plays.

    That's something that this team is going to need against the high powered offense of Michigan. I'd look for Atkinson to put up similarly high numbers on a low amount of carries next weekend.

2. Robby Toma, Wide Receiver

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    Again, Robby Toma isn't the biggest name that Notre Dame has to offer, despite their relatively inexperienced wide receivers.

    Still, the senior wide out should be able to make an impact on the offense this season and against Michigan.

    To this point, Toma has nine receptions for 91 yards, good for a 10.1 yard per catch average. He is also almost halfway to his total receptions last year, when he caught 19 balls for 207 yards.

    Robby has proven that he can play after catching five balls for 58 yards against Michigan State. That was good for second best on yards and most for receptions for the team.

    I'd watch for Robby Toma to continue to develop into a consistent second option for Notre Dame. He isn't quite as good as T.J. Jones, but should still be able to make a big impact for the Fighting Irish against Michigan.

3. Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End

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    Stephon Tuitt is hardly a surprise here, but he deserves a spot on the list because of how well he has played through the first three games.

    Tuitt has racked up five sacks, to go along with 12 total tackles, in the first three games of the season.

    He will be instrumental in the Fighting Irish's defensive plans, as he will be attempting to get to the illusive Denard Robinson.

    To consider his next game a success, the sophomore defensive end needs to put pressure on Robinson and force a few bad throws. More important than that, he needs to use his huge 6'6" body to cut off any of Denard's scramble attempts.

    I'd look for him to register one or two more sacks in this game, while keeping Notre Dame's defensive line strong against the rush.

4. Kyle Brindza, Kicker

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    While Notre Dame has played extremely well this season, their offense has been anything but high powered. Besides scoring 50 points against a weak Navy squad, the Fighting Irish are averaging only 20 points per game.

    All of that makes Kyle Brindza's role on this team that much more important.

    Currently, the Sophomore kicker has hit on four out of five field goal attempts in the last two games. That includes two out of two from 20-29 yards and only one missed attempt against Purdue.

    Brindza has shown that he has some range after kicking a 47 yarder against Michigan State, and Notre Dame will need that.

    The Fighting Irish simply do not move the ball very well. Having a kicker who can give them three points from far out will be essential if they want to match the offensive output of Michigan.

    I'd watch for Brindza to have another good day in which he puts in at least one attempt from beyond 45 yards.

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