Irish offensive players know difficulties of facing #1 ranked Spartans defense

As the Notre Dame football team still searches for an identity---it's pretty clear what the identity is of their opponent Saturday--Michigan State.

"They're the number one defense in the country," Irish captain and wide receiver TJ Jones says. "That says enough in and off itself. They've not given up many points, less than 200 yards of total offense a game. We are going to have to executive on all ends of the ball in order to beat this team."

The Spartans have rolled to three easy victories to start the year. The Irish know they will face a hard-nosed, physical opponent.

"It's pretty typical when you go against Michigan State that you are going up against a great group of guys and a team that's very well coached," Irish quarterback Tommy Rees says. "You just have to elevate your play and make sure that you come out ready to play. We can't have a first half like we did last week--we have to come out right away and be ready to play."

The Spartans defense is led by defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun, who leads the nation with three defensive touchdowns already this season.

"He's a good player," Rees says. "They've had some good D-ends there for a while. They're always good up front. He continues that legacy. We just have to prepare to have tough battles all over the field."

"It's a big rival game for us," captain and offensive lineman Zack Martin says. "It's a big game for us--we've had some crazy finishes the last couple of years."

Notre Dame and Michigan State will kickoff at 3:30 Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. Countdown to Kickoff gets you started at 2:30.

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