Offensive LineThe starting lineup (left to right) enters the contest in relative good health: LT Zack Martin, LG Chris Watt, C Nick Martin, RG Steven Elmer, and RT Ronnie Stanley.
Zack Martin will today tie the program record for consecutive starts (50). He's won 35 times in the previous 49, a victory today will move him into third-place all-time at the program behind CB Luther Bradley (1973, 1975-77) who finished with 39 and DE Ross Browner (1973, 1975-77) who totaled 38 in that same span. Bradley and Browner won a pair of national championships.
First offensive linemen off the bench in case of injury would be a pair of juniors: Conor Hanratty (either guard spot), Matt Hegarty (Center). Should either Zack Martin or Stanley go down, Elmer would kick out to a tackle position and Hanratty would slide into Elmer's right guard spot.
Redshirt-freshman G/C Mark Harrell is also available for reserve duty though he has yet to make his collegiate debut. The freshmen quartet of Mike McGlinchey, Hunter Bivin, Colin McGovern, and John Montelus will not play this season.
Wide Receivers and Tight EndsThe Irish have seven receivers active for the contest: T.J. Jones, DaVaris Daniels, Chris Brown, Will Fuller, Corey Robinson, James Onwualu, and Luke Massa.
With a touchdown catch today, Jones can tie the program record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception (9) shared by Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija. Jones needs 109 yards to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career and with six receptions, will move into third-place on the program's career list. (He enters with 165 trailing Rhema McKnight, Samardzija, and Michael Floyd.)
Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack will play the bulk of the contest in two tight end sets. Senior backup Alex Welch has played little from scrimmage this season though he's a member of the kickoff return unit. Niklas and Koyack have combined for eight scores this season, tied for second-best all-time in program history for the tight end position in a single season. (Click for details.)
Offensive BackfieldTommy Rees will make his 29th career start; he and the Irish have won 21 of the previous 28 entering the contest when Rees has started. The Irish have also prevailed in four of six when Rees played a key backup role including wins in four straight. Classmate Andrew Hendrix is his backup while freshman Malik Zaire will redshirt.
The running back quartet appears in good health: juniors George Atkinson, Cam McDaniel, and Amir Carlisle plus true freshman Tarean Folston. Speculation on their carries and relative playing time today is, as any Irish fan knows, an exercise in futility.
McDaniel leads the team with 107 carries (491 yards) while Atkinson leads in rushing yards (512) and average (6.2 per rush). Both have scored three touchdowns to lead the squad. Folston has 44 carries on the season for 269 yards and a score. 18 of those rushes, 140 yards and the score came in a November 2 win over Navy. Carlisle has 44 rushes (199 yards) and is without a score. 30 of Carlisle's 44 attempts occurred during the first three contests.