2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 115 of 163

114 ✦ BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY BRYAN DRISKELL O nce again, the Notre Dame Fight- ing Irish face a challenging sched- ule. Four of Notre Dame's 2019 opponents are ranked in the pre- season top 25. Individually, 12 opposing players were named preseason All-Ameri- cans and 29 more were named first-team all- conference players by either Athlon Sports, Lindy's Sports or Street & Smith's. There are a number of skilled position groups on the slate as well. Here is a break- down of the top three units Notre Dame will face this season. Best Offensive Backfields 1. Georgia — The Bulldogs have a loaded backfield that is not only the best on the Notre Dame schedule, it's one of the premier units in the country. At quarterback is junior Jake Fromm, who made his first career start two years ago at Notre Dame. Since then, Fromm has led Georgia to a 23-5 record while passing for 5,364 yards and 54 touchdowns. Running back D'Andre Swift racked up 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground last fall while splitting carries. The electric junior is arguably the top back in the Southeastern Conference, and he's joined in the backfield by former five-star recruits James Cook and Zamir White. 2. Boston College — Street & Smith's and Lindy's both named junior running back AJ Dillon a preseason second-team All-Ameri- can. The grandson of former Notre Dame star Thom Gatewood (1969-71) piled up 2,697 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns his first two seasons. Dillon is a bruising back (6-0, 240) with 12 100-yard games already achieved. Sophomore David Bailey and junior Tra- vis Bailey combined for 468 yards and four scores last season. Taking the snaps is senior quarterback Anthony Brown, who is striving for better consistency in his third year as the starter. 3. USC — From a pure talent standpoint, the Trojans could easily be No. 2 on this list, but injuries and youth drag them down a bit. Crucial to USC getting back on top of the Pac-12 is the emergence of sophomore quar- terback JT Daniels. A former five-star recruit, Daniels was erratic as a true freshman, strug- gling behind a line that often couldn't protect him, but his arm talent is phenomenal. Juniors Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr combined for 1,509 rushing yards and 13 scores in reserve roles. If the oft-injured backs can stay healthy, they will put up strong numbers. Best Receivers/ Tight Ends 1. USC — Daniels will have one of the nation's preeminent group of pass catchers to throw to in his second season. USC is ranked as having the eighth-best contingent of receivers/tight ends by Lindy's Sports, and fourth by Athlon Sports. The trio of Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown combined for 2,182 yards and 15 touchdowns on 159 catches last season while playing with a freshman quar- terback. Daniels being more experienced and the arrival of offensive coordinator Graham Georgia junior Jake Fromm is one of numerous veteran quarterbacks Notre Dame is slated to face in 2019. PHOTO COURTESY UGA SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS STRONG POINTS Notre Dame's schedule is filled with accomplished foes on offense

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