Notre Dame Football: Key Offensive Matchups vs. Vanderbilt

Jafar Armstrong(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jafar Armstrong(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Notre Dame football
SOUTH BEND, IN – SEPTEMBER 01: Brandon Wimbush #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 1, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Mixed Experience in Battle of the Trenches

Through two games, the Irish offensive line has — for the most part — been a little underwhelming. After going toe-to-toe with Michigan’s Top-10 defense, they seemed to take a step back last week. Wrong mentality, great Ball State gameplan — whatever it was — it was a rough day for the Irish front five.

This week, they have a great chance to rebound and kickstart this offense. In the middle, where the bulk of the Irish offensive experience lies, Notre Dame has an advantage over the extremely inexperienced defensive tackles of the Commodores. The position is almost entirely comprised of underclassmen with little experience. Redshirt sophomore Cameron Tidd played in all 12 games last season and is their most experienced returner. Between the tackles, the Irish should be able to open up running lanes, or at least keep a clean pocket for Wimbush in the passing game.

The tackle position has left a lot to be desired through the first two weeks. New starter Liam Eichenberg and slightly more experienced Robert Hainsey had a baptism-by-fire experience vs. Michigan and their dominant edge rushers, but continued their struggles last week as well. This week will be another great test for the two, who will likely be matched up with brothers Dare and Dayo Odeyingbo. Dare is a senior who has contributed to the Vandy defense over the last two seasons and had a  team-leading 11 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2017. Dayo is a 6-6, 265-pound sophomore that had 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks last year as a true-freshman. Redshirt senior Louis Vecchio is an Ivy League transfer from Penn who has the size and ability to cause problems as well.

With improved play calling that should include more play action and designed quarterback runs, that should help Eichenberg and Hainsey keep the athletically gifted ends guessing and not become a problem off the edge. In the middle, the Irish are more experienced and just better — and this week they need to play like it.