Midweek Musings: Notre Dame vs. Louisville

Thoughts on Notre Dame football, its recruiting efforts and college football.
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Thoughts on Notre Dame football, its recruiting efforts and college football.

MUST SEE MATCHUP - OFFENSE

Tommy Tremble vs. Isaiah Hayes — What I like about Tommy Tremble is that he can make an impact even when he’s not being targeted much in the pass game, and we saw that against Florida State. Against Louisville, however, I expect Tremble to be a major part of the offense. Louisville safety Isaiah Hayes has had a hard time in coverage this season, giving eight catches for 209 yards (according to Pro Football Focus) in four games.

This is a matchup that Tremble can dominate, and it would make a lot of sense for the Irish coaches to make him an integral part of the game plan, which means attacking Hayes early and often.

BIGGEST CONCERN - OFFENSE

In this matchup, the only thing that can truly stop Notre Dame is Notre Dame. Turnovers, missed opportunities, sloppy play, etc.

Louisville is going to throw a lot at Notre Dame. They are going to bring pressures from all over the field, they are going to mix up their coverages and show a lot of different pre-snap looks. Those looks caused quarterback Ian Book problems, and he failed to complete a single pass beyond 20 yards in that contest.

Book will need to play better, which means better handling those various looks and pressures. If Book and the line handle the diverse looks they will throttle Louisville, but if they don’t they could make enough mistakes to keep it close.

STATS THAT MATTER - OFFENSE

In this game there are three numbers that I’ll be paying attention to on offense, and they go with the previous point. Turnovers, penalties and yards per play. Notre Dame must eliminate the first, limit the second and dominate in the third.

STEP UP TIME - OFFENSE

Braden Lenzy — So far this season Lenzy has done more arguing with fans on Twitter than he has made plays on the football field. If Notre Dame is going to be a playoff team this season it needs him to start doing more on the field. Lenzy has game-changing skills, and this weekend would be a great time for him to start doing just that.

MUST SEE MATCHUP - DEFENSE

Javian Hawkins vs. Notre Dame’s Linebackers — Hawkins can be a game-wrecker, and if he gets rolling early it makes the whole offense much harder to defend. Notre Dame’s inside linebackers struggled mightily against Florida State, and that played a role in the Seminoles going for 150 yards. If they play against Louisville like they did against Florida State, Hawkins could have a monster day.

If Notre Dame’s linebackers are able to handle Hawkins the Louisville offense will have almost no chance to score enough to beat Notre Dame.

BIGGEST CONCERN - DEFENSE

The caveat to the statement about shutting down Hawkins is if the Irish defense gives up big plays in the pass game. Wideouts Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick are dangerous players, and we saw the Irish corners struggle a bit last weekend. If Atwell and Fitzpatrick are able to generate big plays in the pass game it could be a bit of a neutralizer.

My thought is shutting down the run game makes it easier to handle the pass game, but the opposite could also be true. If Notre Dame struggles to keep Atwell and Fitzpatrick in check, it could force the Irish to focus more on slowing them down, which could then create more room for Hawkins and the run game.

STATS THAT MATTER - DEFENSE

There are two stats I’ll be evaluating in this matchup. The first is Notre Dame’s ability to generate negatives, which are tackles for loss and sacks. If Notre Dame is able to generate a lot of first and second down negatives it will put Louisville is a lot more second and third-and-long situations.

Louisville’s pass game is built around the run game, and the Cardinals will use a lot of play-actions, quick throws and screens. When they get in passing downs they are not as efficient or effective. If Louisville can remain on schedule and get into second-and-medium or third-and-short situations it will make it far more difficult for Notre Dame to key on the pass.

The second stat I’ll be keying on is Louisville’s yards per play. Since Scott Satterfield took over, Louisville has gone 9-8. In the nine wins the Cardinals have averaged 7.47 yards per play. In the eight losses, the offense has averaged just 5.44 yards per play.

STEP UP TIME - DEFENSE

The inside linebackers absolutely must play better in this game. I discussed the reasons why earlier, but if this unit doesn’t play better they will have a tough time keeping the Louisville offense in check.

They aren’t alone. Fifth-year senior end Daelin Hayes needs to play a lot better than he has the last two games. Junior safety Houston Griffith also needs to pick up his game. Both are key figures in Notre Dame’s defense playing at the level it has the two previous seasons.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

If you view this as a political tweet, don't. This is funny, and just enjoy it for what it is.

FILM TO WATCH

Notre Dame 2021 commit Rocco Spindler is off to a strong start this season. Here's his highlights through the first four games:

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