Tackles vs. Defensive End Christian Rector
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before–Notre Dame will face an above average defensive end this week. It seems like every week the Irish tackles are tasked with talented defensive ends, and this game will be no different.
Last weekend, both Eichenberg and Hainsey were matched up with arguably two of the better players on that Syracuse defense. While the Irish tackles kept them quiet for most of the day, they combined for four false starts, including three from Hainsey. These type of momentum-killing penalties have to be fixed this week, as the false starts put the offense behind the chains on multiple occasions in the red zone.
Saturday night, it will be redshirt junior Christian Rector the tackles will need to contain. The 6-4 275 pound end is a physical mismatch that burst onto the scene last year, finishing with 11.5 tackles for loss ans 7.5 sacks. Entering this week’s game, he has racked up 9 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on the season.
Outside of the penalties and occasionally getting beat, Eichenberg and Hainsey held their own last weekend with minimal help from running backs and tight ends. I expect the same this weekend, with the coaching staff trusting them enough to get the job done one-on-one.
This Irish offense should have a steady game of moving the ball up and down the field on USC and it will be important to limit their big plays on defense. Shutting down Rector helps to take away their pass rush and eliminates one of the few ways this defense can force turnovers and slow down Notre Dame’s offense.