Blue and Gold Illustrated


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

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44 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: OHIO STATE BY TODD D. BURLAGE OHIO STATE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Sophomore tailback TreVeyon Henderson busted onto the scene in 2021 when he rushed for 277 yards against Tulsa in Game 3. That performance broke the Buckeyes' single-game freshman rush- ing record previously held by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. Henderson finished his rookie year with 1,248 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns and a place on the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team. Anchored by junior Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State also features one of the nation's best offensive lines. For Notre Dame, the loss of three-year starting Mike linebacker and team captain Drew White leaves a void in the middle of the defense, but not one it can't overcome. Senior linebacker JD Bertrand is back after leading the team with 101 stops last year and will be flanked by senior Marist Liufau, a gifted player who missed all of 2021 with a broken ankle. Behind these two starters there's also a sub pack- age that should make this unit deeper and better than last year's, and allow Bertrand to take some snaps off, something he was rarely able to do last season. Graduate student Bo Bauer recorded 47 tackles (4 for loss) last year. Senior rover Jack Kiser is also back as a strong run defender after posting 45 tackles in 2021. If the Irish linebackers break down, senior All- America safety Brandon Joseph is a sure tackler in the Notre Dame secondary. Advantage: Notre Dame OHIO STATE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback C.J. Stroud returns after finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting last season. Stroud completed 71.9 percent of his passes in 2021 (third best nationally) for 4,435 yards (fifth) with 44 touchdowns (third) and 6 interceptions. Expect third-year wide receiver Jaxon Smith- Njigba to be Stroud's favorite target. The last time Smith-Njigba took the field, on New Year's Day against Utah, he broke two Rose Bowl records with 15 catches and 347 receiving yards, and scored 3 touchdowns. Sophomore wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. is poised to become the next great Buckeyes wideout. In his first college start last season, Harrison reeled in 3 touchdown receptions in the Rose Bowl. For Notre Dame, quarterback pressure will be the key to slowing Stroud and Co., and that will start with All-America defensive end Isaiah Foskey. The Irish senior recorded 11 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7 quarterback hurries and 6 forced fumbles last season. Secondary play will be an even greater concern for Notre Dame given Ohio State's embarrassment of riches at wide receiver. The Irish secondary gave up 371 passing yards and 4 touchdowns to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Buckeyes' aerial attack is clearly more potent. Irish senior cornerback Cam Hart and junior cor- nerback Clarence Lewis both struggled badly for Notre Dame in the bowl game, though Hart did record 9 passes defended as a first-year starter in 2021. As a team, Notre Dame was 14th in the coun- try with 15 interceptions, 12th with 3.15 sacks per game, and 23rd in passing efficiency defense (120.6 rating). Advantage: Ohio State NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. OHIO STATE RUN DEFENSE What was thought in the spring to be one of the deepest position groups on the Irish became thinned out this preseason when sophomore Lo- gan Diggs underwent shoulder surgery and fresh- man Jadarian Price was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles. Diggs will return this season, though it remains unclear exactly when. Notre Dame junior tailback Chris Tyree is ex- pected to be the featured back. Tyree rushed for 222 yards and 1 touchdown on 56 carries last sea- son. That production was down from 2020 when the speedster tallied 496 yards on 73 carries with 4 touchdowns. Tyree also managed only three runs of 10 yards or more in 2021 after recording 15 such "explosive" carries as a freshman in 2020. Tailback Audric Estime provides a nice change of pace and a terrific short-yardage option in the Irish run game. But the sophomore bulldozer is unproven with only 7 career carries. Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tyler Bu- chner was second on Notre Dame last season with 336 rushing yards. He'll take some pressure off the Irish running backs, and so will an improved offensive line. Ohio State was plagued by bad tackling and pre- dictability on defense last season, causing head coach Ryan Day to hire Jim Knowles from Okla- homa State as his new defensive coordinator. Buckeyes senior safety Ronnie Hickman re- On PaPer Running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2021. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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