The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, hot off a substantial and mostly-convincing victory over Georgia Tech last Saturday, will play host to the Minutemen of Massachusetts tomorrow afternoon. UMass comes into the game 0-2, with a blowout loss at the hands of Colorado and a very close loss to Temple under their belts. Notre Dame enters the game 3-0 and ranked 6th in the AP Poll after they held off a late Georgia Tech rally to win 30-22 last week.
The Minutemen will march into Notre Dame Stadium with an offense that, quite frankly, doesn’t appear to pose much of a threat. After facing one of the best offenses, at least statistically speaking, in last week’s game, the Fighting Irish defense will look to shut down a UMass offense that boasts the 118th-ranked scoring offense in the country (out of 127 schools).
UMass senior quarterback Blake Frohnapfel will be the focus of the Irish defense, as UMass ranks 121st in the country in rushing offense and appears to almost exclusively derive any and all offensive production from Frohnapfel’s arm. However, the senior hasn’t exactly lit defenses up this season either, throwing at a 55% clip and tossing 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Expect senior captain DL Sheldon Day and junior DL Isaac Rochell to lead the charge in putting lots of pressure on Frohnapfel, as I can’t imagine VanGorder will send too many heavy blitzes against an offense ND should be able to handle straight-up. Notre Dame fans might finally see a couple more turnovers as well, so don’t be surprised to see the ND secondary make some plays against an offense that will likely spend a lot of time throwing the ball.
Sep 19, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball for a 91 yard touchdown past Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Jamal Golden (4) in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively, the Fighting Irish look to continue the success they’ve had so far this season. UMass is 113th in rushing yards allowed per game, averaging 228.5 yards allowed on the ground so far this season. Senior RB C.J. Prosise, fresh off a nearly-200-yard performance against a Georgia Tech defense that is certainly better than this UMass squad, has got to be licking his chops and envisioning another big day. Sophomore QB DeShone Kizer will likely do a lot of handing the ball off, but expect some efficient play action passes and maybe another couple deep balls to junior WR Will Fuller, who has shown in every game this season his proclivity for making big plays whenever Notre Dame needs them.
Because the UMass defense will likely not be able to stop the Irish rushing attack, this could be the first game where we get to see true freshman QB Brandon Wimbush and the second team really pick up some game reps. If all goes according to plan, Wimbush and company should have almost an entire 4th quarter to work with, and others such as freshmen Josh Adams and Dexter Williams (RBs) and Equanimeous St. Brown and C.J. Sanders (WRs) will be able to acquire some valuable experience playing in the offense.
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Although there’s a possibility Notre Dame will be looking ahead to next week’s battle at 11th-ranked Clemson, I don’t foresee Massachusetts putting up much of a fight in this one. The Irish are more talented at every position and it’s unlikely coach Brian Kelly will allow them to look too far ahead after the scare that Virginia put in the team just a couple weeks prior. Notre Dame will win this one comfortably, and will cruise into South Carolina next weekend with a perfect record and a desire to prove themselves on the road against a big-time opponent.
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