Offensive Tackles vs Chase Winovich (DE)
This matchup comes down to experience vs inexperience. Liam Eichenberg is getting the nod at left tackle and making his first career start Saturday night. Opposite of him is Sophomore Robert Hainsey, who split time last season at right tackle with Tommy Kraemer. Both will be matched up with Michigan’s fifth year senior, Chase Winovich. While Gary can play inside and outside, Winovich is the primary edge rusher for the Wolverines.
Last season, Winovich had 73 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He isn’t the athletic mismatch that Gary is, but he has an outstanding motor and can cause problems by setting the edge and fighting reach blocks in the outside run game.
I’m not worried about Winovich lined up across from Hainsey. Though coming off a minor injury in camp, Hainsey is healthy and ready to go. He is a great pass protector who should hold his own Saturday night. In the run game is where these two will be truly battling. Being able to contain Winovich and create an edge will make it easy for the inexperienced Irish running backs.
For Eichenberg, it’s a question mark. He put together a solid spring to grab the starting role and has held it ever since. How he performs vs Winovich — and overall for that matter — will play a huge role for Notre Dame. Being the left tackle, his pass protection vs Michigan’s top edge rusher is going to be critical. If he can hold his own for most of the night, it will be huge for the Irish offense.