Notre Dame opens the 2014 season this Saturday in a contest against the Rice Owls. Fans will get their first game time glimpse into the new field-turf but also a good insight into the Irish’s potentially high-powered, dynamic offense. If Rice wants to make this a game-late, the defense will have to execute schematically throughout to overcome the physicality mismatches across the board.
Rice plays in a 4-2-5 defensive scheme that returns two of the top five leading tacklers from a season ago. Chris Thurmond is the Defensive Coordinator and is entering his third season running the defensive.
On the ground in 2013, Rice surrendered 190 rushing yards per game and over 235 yards through the air.
The front-four of Rice could have trouble getting to Everett Golson, based on the physicality of their two defensive ends, Brian Nordstrom and Zach Patt. Both weigh in at less than 250 lbs. This advantage could provide Golson with the time he needs to stay comfortable inside the pocket.
The defensive backfield lost Phillip Gaines to the NFL by way of a third round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs. Gaines broke up 18 passes last season and the Owls will lean on three senior safeties in Julius White, Gabe Baker and Malcolm Hill to try and secure the back-end of the defense.
PLAYER TO WATCH:
Christian Covington – DT #1 RS/JR. (6-3 – 300)
Notre Dame Stadium will have another defensive giant clogging up the trenches wearing a #1 jersey on Saturday, but rather than Louis Nix III sporting the slimming number, stand-out DT Christian Covington will bring his talents into South Bend to do-some-work in the trenches.
Covington returns as the Owls’ fifth leading tackler from a season ago, accumulating five sacks, eight TFLs and three QB hurries and should battle throughout the game against the interior of the Irish offensive line.
Check out a 2013 highlight video of Covington and his 2014 preseason accolades and honors.
All C-USA (Phil Steele, Athlon)
All-America (Phil Steele, third team)
Outland Trophy Watch List
Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List
Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List
Bronko Nagurski Watch List