Opponent Preview: Louisville Offense


As a student at Notre Dame, it’s really hard to have to write this piece knowing that our run at a spot in the College Football Playoffs is essentially over. With that said, it’s time to move on to Saturday’s game against Louisville where a spot in a relevant bowl game is on the line. Unlike last week’s matchup, where Notre Dame didn’t really have anything to worry about against Northwestern on paper, Louisville is actually a good team on paper and on the field. While this Cardinals team is known for its stout defense that ranks tenth in the country, the offense can still put up points averaging over 30 points per game.

Offensive line: 

The most important thing to note about this offensive line is its size. Three of its starters are well over 300lbs, which could be an issue for Notre Dame’s smaller defensive front seven if they aren’t quicker than they are. In addition, three of the linemen, left tackle Jamon Brown, left guard John Miller and right guard Jake Smith are seniors, so there won’t be any questions about how experienced the line is. Leading the offense to 387.4 yards per game, the offensive line has given up a grand total of 27 sacks through ten games giving up at least one in every game this season. If the Irish can finally apply the pressure it showed it was capable of in the beginning of the season, Louisville’s offense will be forced to resort to short, quick passes and running outside of the tackle box.

More from Notre Dame Football

Running backs: 

The biggest issue for Notre Dame against the run is that they can’t stop anyone’s rushing attack. In four of the last five games, the Irish have allowed a 100-yard rusher. This week, they’ll be up against senior running back Michael Dyer, who transferred from Auburn a couple of years ago. Dyer has only played in six games this season, but he has shown flashes of excellence. Against undefeated Florida State, he picked up 134 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Radcliff and redshirt senior Dominique Brown are also threats coming out of the backfield both rushing for over 370 yards and combining for 12 scores on the ground.

Wide Receivers: 

The Cardinals are loaded with weapons in their receiving corp. Five receivers have at least 20 catches, which goes to show how well the quarterbacks have distributed the football throughout the year. Six different receivers also have caught a touchdown pass. A big reason to why so many receivers have been involved in the Cardinals’ offense is because of the absence of senior Devante Parker, who has only played in three games this year due to injury. In the games he did play, he caught at least eight passes in all three games along with hauling in 132, 214 and 144 yards in his games respectively. Some have compared Parker to Arizona State’s receiver Jaelon Strong, who has done his fair share of damage to Notre Dame’s secondary.

Quarterback, Reggie Bonnafon 

Will Gardner, the starting quarterback at the beginning of the year, has been ruled out for the rest of the year giving the job to freshman Reggie Bonnafon. He has played in seven games so far and has helped Louisville win five games. Although he isn’t statistically impressive, throwing just 662 yards with four touchdowns and an interception, Bonnafon is a dual-threat quarterback, which for some reason is always a huge issue for Notre Dame’s defense. Bonnafon ran for 76 yards and a touchdown last weekend against Boston College. You would think that playing against a freshman quarterback who hasn’t really played many games would be an advantage, but with Notre Dame’s current streak of bad defensive performances and turnovers, you can’t write off anyone from having a career day against the Irish.

I’m hoping last week was just a really bad week for the Irish. Given that we’re at home again Saturday, I’m confident that Brian Kelly will find a way to motivate the Irish to play their hearts out, especially since it’ll be the last home game ever for the seniors.