Defensive Line Depth
It is no secret that the one constant of this Irish team has been the outstanding play of the defense. They have produced 15 sacks thus far and rank 27th in the nation in points allowed per game with 19.5. One of the biggest reasons for the defense’s success has been the play of the defensive line. Despite injuries from Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Ja’mion Franklin that have sidelined them for the season, players like Khalid Kareem, Jerry Tillery, and Julian Okwara have continued to step up every game and make plays.
Last week, Julian Okwara was ejected for targeting in the second quarter. While unfortunate, the targeting happened in the first half and forced him to miss the second half, so he does not have to sit out the first half of the Pittsburgh game. At the time, however, it was a concern because defensive end Daelin Hayes was not playing after suffering a stinger during the Stanford game. While Hayes’ status is uncertain, he will most likely not play this week vs. Pittsburgh.
In the absence of Hayes and Okwara last week, Ade Ogundeji and the Ademilola twins filled in nicely and proved to be solid contributors when they are called upon. This week they could see some more playing time along with Jamir Jones.
Despite injuries and players missing time, the defensive line continues to step up every week. This week should be no different against a Pittsburgh team that the Irish are just better than up front.