The Notre Dame football team has struggled to kick off the 2022 season, and here, we look at the defensive keys in Week 3 against Cal.
It’s no secret that this season has been anything but the gold standard in South Bend for this Notre Dame football team. Notre Dame football is 0-2, is starting its backup QB in Week 3, and is fresh off a loss to a Sun Belt opponent in Marshall last week.
Things are not looking great right now on either side of the ball, so I’m going to take a dive into the defense and find out who needs to step up for ND and who needs to be slowed down for the Golden Bears.
Notre Dame football: Defensive keys vs Cal in 2022 Week 3
Fixing the Notre Dame Defense
The Irish defense has been better than the offense in every way, and yet they still have struggled mightily even against opponents like Marshall, who came into Notre Dame Stadium and bullied the Irish up front for 60 minutes. Building off of that trend, one of the more shocking weaknesses on this Notre Dame team has been the porous run defense that is currently giving up 195.5 yards per game, which is 113th in the nation up to this point.
This cannot continue if the Irish want to win games this year.
Finding success in the trenches has been a hallmark of Notre Dame football for years. The Irish are traditionally a team that controls the line of scrimmage, shuts down the rush, and forces opposing teams to throw the ball. The 2022 Fighting Irish run defense has failed to live up to that standard so far this year.
The secondary, however, has been good this season. Led by Tariq Bracy and Brandon Joseph, ND is allowing just 184 passing yards per game, which is 39th in the country, a number that looks much better than 113th. The secondary has been finding this success with two high safety looks most of the season, featuring DJ Brown and Brandon Joseph.
If I were Al Golden, I would consider moving away from the zone scheme the Irish have been running on the back end of the defense so far and change to a more man coverage base defense that consistently finds 7-8 guys in the box and only one deep safety. The Irish should be forcing the opposition to beat them through the air, instead of letting them run the ball down their throats like has been done through the first two games.
When the run isn’t effective, it usually forces the opposing offense to go away from their game plan on the fly and try things they aren’t used to in order to try and find success. If ND can stop the run, they can also begin disguising more complex zone coverages that drop defenders to cover pass plays after the ball is snapped.
Case in point, Notre Dame football has to be able to stop the run, and some sort of adjustment has to be made ahead of this week’s matchup with Cal.