Notre Dame football is 9-0 and back in South Bend this weekend for their matchup with Florida State. Let’s take a look at the key matchups to watch for when the Irish offense is on the field.
Senior Day, freezing temperatures and snow under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium, green jerseys — it’s hard not to be more excited than usual for gameday this Saturday. Of course, it’s also nice that Notre Dame football takes on a struggling Florida State team with a chance to avenge that heartbreaking 2014 loss in Tallahassee.
Just like that 2014 game, the Irish are highly ranked and one of the best teams in the country…and that’s about the only similarity. Florida State comes into the game with a 4-5 record and having won 11 total games since the beginning of last season. They can’t figure out what quarterback to play, and whoever does lead the offense is subject to criminal neglect and abuse by the offensive line.
Defensively, there are a few bright spots, but overall things aren’t much better for the Seminoles. Over the last two games, the ‘Noles have given up 106 points and have only held two opponents to less than 24 points this season. They have shown flashes of their potential, but have struggled to put together complete games on the defensive side of the ball.
Here’s where FSU ranks nationally in major defensive categories through their first nine games (out of 130 FBS 1-A teams):
- Total Yards: 66th (3,543 yards)
- Yards/Game: 65th (394 yards)
- Passing Yards/Game: 120th (282 yards)
- Rushing Yards/Game: 17th (111 yards)
- Points/Game: 85th (30 points)
- Total Sacks: 24th (25)
- Defensive Efficiency: 34th (66.9)
Outside of the struggling pass defense, these numbers aren’t terrible. The strength of the defense comes with their defensive line, as reflected by their stout run defense and sack numbers. Unfortunately that’s about it when it comes to the positives for this unit.
This is still a young group with potential in the coming years, but this year they are definitely in a rough spot trying to adjust and find an identity under first year head coach Willie Taggart. Regardless, if the Irish want to win Saturday night, they need to put points on the board — and that starts with winning important matchups on the field.
Here are the individual and positional matchups to watch for when the Irish offense takes on FSU’s defense.