The Notre Dame football team continues to struggle up front along the offensive line, as their issues showed up against Wisconsin early on.
On the second offensive play of the game, Tosh Baker got abused for a sack. On the fourth offensive play of the game, the whole line collapsed for another sack, which has been a theme for Notre Dame football this season.. That second drive would end with two run plays into a wall and Jack Coan being sacked for a third time. There is no push in the running game. No control of the edge. It’s a bloodbath in the trenches. And that’s through only two drives.
Of course, that’s no surprise to anyone. If you so much as glanced at the offensive line during the first three weeks you knew this was a major issue for the program. Notre Dame’s identity as a run first and dominant in the trenches program is unearned in 2021. They’re coasting and it’s going to cost the Irish games this year.
It could very well be what costs Notre Dame this game against Wisconsin. After all, the Irish are the better team in every single way, except on the offensive line. It’s just that from the offensive line all offensive schemes flow. You can’t throw downfield if you don’t have any time. You can’t run if there are no holes. You become predictable and easy to dominate physically at every level of the field.
Within this individual game, it’s clear that the strategy is to implement a quick passing attack. There are a lot of levels routes, and quick outs or slants. Draw plays and screen passes can keep the defense honest, but they’re not effective right now. That’s the only way to deal with those issues.
This is a major issue against Wisconsin, but it’s also a major issue for the season that can prevent the Irish from accomplishing their goals in 2021. At this point, it’s clear that there is no in-season fix, but the Irish do need to find a way to mitigate these issues.