Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 37 back to anchor the interior of the Notre Dame defensive line. The Irish have to replace departed graduate students Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, but there are some players on the roster Washington could confidently turn to in order to fill the voids. Notre Dame tied the school record for sacks in a single season (41) in 2021. The top three sack leaders from that total — Foskey, Justin Ademilola and Jayson Ademilola (3.5) are all back for another go at breaking the record. So maybe something so subjective in na- ture might actually carry some weight in 2022; maybe Notre Dame could have the best defensive line in college foot- ball after all. Whoever replaces Hinish will have to be a true game-changer in the middle for it to manifest that way, though. ✦ Here is an early look at next fall's slate, with each team's record from last season in parentheses: Sept. 3 — at Ohio State (11-2) The Buckeyes finished 2021 with the nation's No. 1 offense, a unit that was led by Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback C.J. Stroud, redshirt freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson and sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith- Njigba. That explosive trio will be back in 2022 for a Buckeyes team looking to improve upon 561.2 yards per game and return to the College Football Playoff. Sept. 11 — Marshall (7-6) The Thundering Herd was a scrappy, competitive Conference USA bunch. Four of Marshall's six losses came by a touchdown or less, but head coach Charles Huff (a former Alabama assistant) will have to replace quarterback Grant Wells, who threw for 3,535 yards before entering the transfer portal. Sept. 18 — California (5-7) Like Marshall, Cal will have to replace an entrenched starting quarterback. Chase Garbers declared for the NFL Draft after throwing for 2,525 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2021. The Golden Bears haven't ever beaten Notre Dame, and the two programs have not played since 1967. Sept. 24 — at North Carolina (6-7) Make it three teams in Notre Dame's first four games that will be replacing a starting quarterback. Sam Howell also declared for the NFL Draft. He torched Notre Dame for 443 total yards and two touchdowns last October, but the Tar Heels' biggest problem remains improving a defense that allowed 500 or more yards to four opponents last season. The Irish were one of those teams. Oct. 8 — vs. BYU (10-3) in Las Vegas BYU stormed out of the gates to a 5-0 start with wins over two ranked teams only for it all to come crashing down with back-to-back losses to Boise State and Baylor. The Cougars rebounded with five more wins in a row before a letdown loss to UAB in the Independence Bowl. Still, it was a second consecutive double-digit win season for head coach Kalani Sitake after BYU had not previously had one since 2011. The Cougars return quarterback Jaren Hall, but they lost their best player in running back Tyler Allgeier to the NFL. Oct. 15 — Stanford (3-9) Stanford had its lowest win total since only winning once in 2006. The Cardinal ranked near the bottom of all FBS teams on both sides of the ball, too. Notre Dame saw firsthand how many problems Stanford had in a 45-14 Irish victory in what turned out to be former head coach Brian Kelly's final game with the program. Oct. 22 — UNLV (2-10) The Rebels are 2-16 in the last two seasons. They haven't had a winning campaign since 2013. Head coach Marcus Arroyo can try to shape the cir- cumstances positively, but the proof is in the numbers — UNLV is a reeling program that has no business beating the likes of Notre Dame. Oct. 29 — at Syracuse (5-7) Despite ranking No. 64 nationally in scoring defense, the Orange checked in at No. 18 in the country in yards per game allowed. That side of the ball was stingy even in lopsided defeats. It might not be enough to secure an upset victory over Notre Dame in the Carrier Dome, but Syracuse can compete. Nov. 5 — Clemson (10-3) Life without Trevor Lawrence didn't treat Clemson head coach Dabo Swin- ney well in 2021. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei never threw for more than 241 yards, and he finished with just nine touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Those aren't five-star numbers. The Tigers need to fix their offensive line is- sues if they're going to be playoff contenders again. Nov. 12 — vs. Navy (5-5) in Baltimore If you think Clemson's offense was bad in 2021, just look at Navy's. Only four FBS schools (Southern Miss, UConn, Colorado and New Mexico) produced fewer yards per game than Navy (283.2). Notre Dame held the Midshipmen to 184 in the Irish's 34-6 victory. Navy was in danger of recording the worst season in head coach Ken Niumatalolo's tenure, but the Midshipmen finished the year with wins over Temple and archrival Army. Nov. 19 — Boston College (6-6) This game pits Phil Jurkovec and Mike McNulty versus their former program. The former Irish quarterback and tight ends coach, respectively, return to South Bend in what should be an interesting weekend for both. Nov. 26 — at USC (4-8) The Trojans are a much different team than the one the Irish faced last October. Head coach Lincoln Riley made the move from Oklahoma, and he brought quar- terback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Mario Williams with him. Notre Dame can't afford to take the new-look USC offense lightly. — Tyler Horka Notre Dame's 2022 Schedule At A Glance Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a redshirt freshman, and he's going to be one of the favorites to win the coveted award in his second season as the Buckeyes' starter. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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