By Omar Ureña
This will be the story of a net freshman quarterback versus the Irish defense. It will be an epic and extraordinary battle. The Tigers escaped from the clutches of the Boston College Eagles last week and remain undefeated on their way to the ACC championship. For the Irish this Saturday begins the most difficult slope on their way to the ACC Championship game facing # 1 Clemson, a team that entered a devastating situation, with players who will be out for Covid 19. The virus was frightening and untimely for the felines who were hit solid.
The Tigers will leave Death Valley to South Bend without their QB Trevor Lawrence. It will be difficult for the Tigers to dispense with the No.1 overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft, who in 2020 records 1,833 yards, 17 touchdowns and an average of 305 yards per game. Notre Dame will not turn out to be generous or condescending, once the Fighting Irish put on the golden helmet the energy will glow radiantly and they will transform into colossal gladiators.
Every test passed and game won in the ACC emerges as an allegory of combat because adversity has been overcome. Notre Dame postponed the September game against Wake Forest due to an outbreak of the virus in the team, the strategy to control it was successful, the players were isolated in time and today they continue their way. Just as in the elections in the US in which before the verdict was known there was a slight advantage of the blue party, at this moment the competition between Tigers and Irish against COVID-19 gives a slight advantage to coach Kelly’s pupils.
Notre Dame’s offense will come out determined to annihilate tigers like in the Roman Coliseum as Clemson’s defense was also punished by the aberrant virus and will dispense with vigorous freshman LB Mike Jones and sophomore defensive tackle, Tyler Davis. They are important casualties when it comes to the most important game heading to the ACC championship, this is the golden opportunity that the Irish have been looking for in 8 years, the last time they played for the national championship was 2012.
Notre Dame’s offensive line will have to control the trenches and protect their QB Ian Book with the force of Robert Hainsey and Liam Eichenberg. The Irish running backs who will exploit the gaps are the speedy Chris Tyree, C’Bo Flemister and of course Kyren Williams who in 105 carries has accumulated 600 yards and 7 touchdowns. Crucial will be the participation of the two powerful tight ends Tomy Tremble and the impressive freshman Michael “Baby Gronk” Mayer who registers 15 receptions for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Tigers will perform at quarterback with true freshman DJ Uiagalelei, who missed at times against Boston College but had the guts to lead the Eagles to a tight win at Clemson. The blue and gold defense will be waiting for him on the field of Notre Dame Stadium, especially in the pocket. Brian Kelly knows Uiagalelei is dangerous.
“The most important thing is to make sure you’re that he’s not comfortable back there. You got to get a great pass rush, you got to get him to move his feet, you got to make sure that they don’t get in a rhythm, which is really the case for a lot of quarterbacks. I just think that whether you’re a freshman or whether you’re a senior.”
Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, Clark Lea took advantage of the Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech passers who were encapsulated in the pocket, the Irish went with everything to punish them, these Irish sacked the Yellow Jackets QB last Saturday: Isaiah Foskey, Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes (2). Coach Brian Kelly knows the power his defense can wield over Uiagalelei. With just 13 points allowed against Georgia Tech, the Irish defense is the 4th best in the country in points allowed (10.3).
“I think we’re getting into a situation where, if you’re going to be in the pocket, we’re going to put some pressure on you and we’re going to knock the quarterback down.”
Last week there was anguish in Death Valley. The Tigers offensive line showed weakness at times so it will be an opportunity for the golden front lines to shine, the aggressive Daelin Hayes who forced 2 fumbles against Georgia Tech, the versatile Ade Ogundeji assisted by the dangerous Bo Bauer and Jack Kiser.
We know that the talent on their roster and the courage of the orange and purple team can emerge in a dark night of adversity, so it will be important for the Notre Dame linebackers and safeties to stop the WR Amari Rodgers and the impressive Travis Etienne who last week surpassed Ed Brown’s mark, set in 1978, of 4,602 yards to become the ACC’s all-time leader.
Coach Kelly asks to be judged by the consistency of his team and not by the comparisons that exist with Clemson, for him the Tigers are not threatening because the Irish come into this game with a record of 29-3 in their last 32 games, 22 games without losing at home and a 12-game winning streak.
If before the Tigers were fighting to dominate the ACC, now the situation of their quarterback leads them to fight for survival. The Irish have the talent and strength to beat the number one in the nation. From my perspective it’s going to be a game to death in which the Irish, with a touchdown from their defense, will beat the Tigers 33-31.