Time to stop being polite and start getting real.
Welcome to the inaugural villains post, where for the next 12+ games I will be breaking down Notre Dame’s opponent in what can best be described as, the most villainous way possible. For listeners of the Podcast, you know that it is mine and Josh’s wish that Notre Dame accept and embrace its place in college football as a villain. Let’s face facts, they hate us cause they ain’t us, and there’s no changing that.
It’s time we went on the offensive, let’s puff out our chest a bit and play into the bit. You’ll find no kind words in the following, and there shall be no credit given. Like Regina George, I will be focusing solely on their flaws, and will be quick to point them out. Join me, grab your burn book, and let us make that journey down to the dark side together.
The Offensive Line
I am genuinely happy for Dillion Gibbons, I will always be happy when a guy who enrolls at Notre Dame, graduates, and finds a new home where he can see the field. With that out of the way…
This offensive line has been bad for a solid half decade, there is no reason to expect it to make any dramatic improvements in 2021 and ESPECIALLY not in the first game of the season.
A peak at the depth chart shows you that they are trotting out three redshirt freshmen and a former 2-star 5th year guy in Devontay Love-Taylor to go with Gibbons. Gibbons is, in fact, the highest rated linemen coming out of high school as a 3* and the 374th ranked player in his class. Going against the FSU O-line is a Notre Dame defensive line that you could argue is the strength of the Irish defense. This shouldn’t bode well for an offensive line trying to find it’s footing. The disparity in talent and ability between these two units might end up resulting in a bloodbath along the line in second half, as the Irish line rotation wears them down.
Jordan Travis exited fall camp as an OR on the depth chart with UCF transfer Mackenzie Milton but all signs point toward him being the starter. He had a career day against the Irish last year, posting a stat line of 13-24 for 204yds 1 TD 1 INT and added 96 yds on the ground. He then failed to throw for 200 yards in a game the rest of the season and couldn’t even crack 45% completion in half those games. He was the QB of record in four 3+ score losses, in no small part because once his team got behind, he wasn’t able to move the ball downfield enough to keep pace. In the 6 years since Jameis Winston took his crab legs to the NFL, Florida State has not found a capable quarterback — and that trend looks to continue. There are questions about the corners for Notre Dame, but is Travis the type of quarterback who can test them? He threw picks in six of the eight games he played last year. Somewhere Kyle Hamilton is smiling.
They gave up 36 points per game last year. Thirty-six! Notre Dame has only given up 36+ points in regulation 9 times in 76 game since 2015. The most inept part was their pass defense, which ranked 98th in the nation last year and that was with Asante Samuel Jr, who went in the second round of the NFL draft in May. Practice reports out of Tallahassee (which the media was afforded availability daily) belabored that the linebackers struggled mightily in coverage. The prospect of their linebackers playing Keystone Cops out there, while Michael Mayer exists, doesn’t fill one with a sense that things are going to go swimmingly for the Noles on Sunday night. Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree figuring to be more involved in what the Irish want to do in the passing game also lends to the belief that the fireworks in the passing game will resemble the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Villain du jour
The unstoppable slasher villain, Michael Myers was an unkillable eventuality for those in his path. Faced against unsuspecting teens, his methodical approach proved most effective. In this game, there seems to be no solution for the Florida State Seminoles to account for number 87 Michael Mayer in the passing game. Without the ability to fight back, offensively, Mayer will be left to slash up the FSU defense and leave residents of
Haddonfield Tallahassee in dismay. Over the next few weeks, Florida State fans will be looking over their shoulders, unsure if Mayer will pop back up for one last scare.
I fully expect Notre Dame to come into this game locked in and ready to prove something. There’s too many pieces on the offense, there’s too much leadership on the defense. The march toward another playoff birth begins on Sunday night.