The Notre Dame football team takes on UNLV in Week 8, and here are some defensive keys to keep an eye on in this matchup.
For the most part, the Notre Dame football team played well on defense in Week 7, holding Stanford to only one touchdown and three field goals. On the other side of the ball, however, the Irish were dreadful, leading to the defense being on the field way more than they should have been in the upset loss at home.
In Week 8, the defense needs to continue their strong play, as they will be taking on a UNLV team that has no business being on the same field as the Irish. Here, we look at some keys for the Irish defense against UNLV on Saturday.
Notre Dame football vs UNLV: Defensive things to watch for
Third Down efficiency
During the 16-14 loss to the Stanford Cardinal, the Irish defense did a good job of bending, but not breaking. In fact, after a first quarter touchdown, the Cardinal would net only three field goals the rest of the way, this thanks to strong play from the Irish defense when it counted.
Unfortunately, the defense struggled in a big way on third down, and that extended many Cardinal drives and kept the Irish offense on the sidelines. Against the Rebels, Notre Dame football has to do a better job in getting off the field on third down, especially if they want to put this game away early.
Can we get a turnover?
Incredibly, through six games of the 2022 college football season, the Notre Dame football team has only gotten two turnovers from their defense. Justin Ademilola has a fumble recovery, and Tariq Bracy started the BYU contest off with an interception, but outside of that, this has not been the opportunistic season many of us were expecting from this defense.
On Saturday, the Irish have to win the turnover battle, because in a matchup of mismatched teams, a turnover can keep the weaker team in the game both physically, and mentally. Getting an early turnover, much like the BYU game, can swing momentum in the Irish favor, leading to a potential blowout.
Dominate the trenches
The easiest way for a huge favorite to take the will from the lesser team is to dominate in the trenches, something the Irish must do on Saturday afternoon. This is a team that is bigger, stronger, and more athletic on both sides of the line, and punching the Rebels in the mouth upfront will take away any chance UNLV has of making this a game.
On a night that included a stunning loss to Stanford, Notre Dame football was able to get a commitment from a top 2023 running back in Jeremiyah Love.
When all is said and done, the Irish should be able to beat the Rebels handily, but that has not been easy for Notre Dame football this season. This is a team that seems to play down to the competition, and get up for the big games, which has led to them being a .500 team through the first seven weeks of the 2022 campaign.
Against UNLV, they need to come out swinging and put this one away early.