Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

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

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Page 36 of 55 SEPT. 10, 2022 37 GAME PREVIEW: MARSHALL and Estime split carries evenly through training camp in a 1A and 1B tailback rotation. Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tyler Buch- ner finished second on the team with 336 rushing yards last season. He'll take some pressure off the Irish running backs, and so will what's expected to be an improved offensive line. Marshall returns six quality starters on a defense that could become the best in the Sun Belt Conference. Redshirt senior linebacker Abraham Beauplan, a 2021 first-team All-Conference USA selection, headlines a group of experienced Marshall line- backers. He finished third in the league last season with 110 tackles (8.46 per game) on a unit that ranked second in CUSA in scoring defense (23.8 points allowed per game). Up front, Huff and his Herd leaned heavily on the transfer portal this offseason to fortify the defen- sive line. Isaiah Gibson (Kentucky), Anthony Watts (Purdue) and Quentin Williams (Miami) will rotate at the tackle positions in between returning ends Owen Porter and Koby Cumberlander in what's expected to be a formidable front. Advantage: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. MARSHALL PASS DEFENSE When sizing up the Irish passing game, all con- versations start with junior tight end Michael Mayer. The All-America candidate and first-round NFL Draft hopeful set Irish tight end receiving re- cords last season in catches (71), receiving yards (840) and touchdowns (7). Mayer will be the rock in the passing game while Notre Dame looks to replace its starting quarter- back and its leading wide receiver from 2021. As a backup to starter Jack Coan last season, Buchner held down a situational role that primarily asked him to showcase his running skills. But Buch- ner posted only 21 pass completions, 3 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions last season, so his value as a passer remains unknown. Todd D. Burlage: Notre Dame 34, Marshall 7 Ready in 2022 to ride the strong legs of 2021 Freshman All-American tailback Rasheen Ali, Marshall took an unexpected hit when the talented sophomore — who led the nation with 23 rushing touchdowns last season — took an indefinite and unexpected leave of absence in mid-August. Marshall is a talented team that returns 10 starters. But without Ali, the Thundering Herd won't hold together in the first home game for Irish head coach Marcus Freeman. Steve Downey: Notre Dame 42, Marshall 10 Marshall has played in a bowl game eight of the past nine years while post- ing a 75-40 overall record (.652 winning percentage). However, the Herd is 0-5 in their last five matchups with Power Five opponents and the average margin of defeat has been 20 points. Not only is Marshall missing its star running back Rasheen Ali, but it is replacing three five-year players along its offensive line and breaking in a new quarterback. The Irish defense should dominate on the way to comfortable victory. Patrick Engel: Notre Dame 38, Marshall 13 Marshall has been a steady Group of Five opponent and has reeled off five straight seasons with at least seven wins. In a transition year with barely 50 percent of its production returning from last season, though, it's hard to imagine the Thundering Herd will be fully clicking and cohesive in Week 2. Especially if they don't have running back Rasheen Ali, who led the country in rushing touchdowns last season. This might not be a laugher, but Notre Dame should control it wire to wire. Tyler Horka: Notre Dame 38, Marshall 14 The loss of running back Rasheen Ali is going to be too much for the Thun- dering Herd to overcome offensively. Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner will do enough when the Irish have the ball, meanwhile, to allow junior Drew Pyne to get some garbage time reps. This won't be a scare like the Toledo game in last year's home opener. It'll be a comfortable enough victory to build on for the following week's game against California. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 41, Marshall 13 The Fighting Irish shouldn't have too much trouble on paper against Mar- shall, but last season, the Irish struggled to beat Group of Five opponent Toledo. Marcus Freeman and Co. will look to avoid hovering near a disaster like that performance, and they should be able to do so in their home opener. Staff Predictions Redshirt junior wide receiver Corey Gammage led the Thundering Herd with 78 catches and 829 yards last season. PHOTO COURTESY MARSHALL

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