Big tight ends of Stanford no big deal for Notre Dame
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or email@example.com October 10, 2012 8:18PM
Updated: November 12, 2012 12:11PM
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame safety Matthias Farley knows just what it’s like to go up against the likes of Stanford’s monstrous tight ends, 6-8, 265-pound Levine Toilolo and 6-6, 252-pound Zach Ertz.
That’s because he goes up against 6-6, 251-pound Tyler Eifert every day in practice. So Farley knows what the Irish are in for.
Of course, Farley’s lost more than his share of his duels with Eifert.
“You’re not going to win every battle against a guy like that,” Farley said.
Ertz leads the Cardinal with 21 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Toilolo has 13 catches for 278 yards and two scores. Think of them as the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez of college football — they’re virtually uncoverable.
“It’s basically a skinnier lineman running out there, that can catch and has some speed,” linebacker Manti Te’o said.
The Irish hope to contain them with a mix of physical play — bumping them off their routes, ripping the ball out of their hands — and by varying the coverage schemes to minimize the disadvantage in the secondary.
“You have to respect their heights and know that just because you’re on them, doesn’t mean the quarterback won’t throw the ball,” Farley said. “Quarterbacks will throw it up there and let the big guy make a play. So you’ve got to compete for the ball when it’s in the air.”
It’s something Irish coach Brian Kelly has done to other teams countless times with Eifert. And it’s no fun to be on the other side of it as a coach.
“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “Tyler Eifert is the same problem. If we split him out, if we put the ball in a good location, he’s going to catch it every time.”
Noteworthy: The Irish will be wearing pink wristbands, gloves and socks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. … ESPN’s Todd McShay on Wednesday projected 10 current ND players as draft picks in next spring’s draft, including Te’o as a Top 15 pick, and three juniors — linebacker Prince Shembo (second round), nose guard Louis Nix III (third round) and receiver T.J. Jones (fifth round).