Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

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

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10 SEPT. 10, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Time For A Fighting Irish Winning Streak By Tyler Horka The season opener of all season openers is over. Ohio State is in the rear- view. Now Notre Dame can fantasize about much greener pastures ahead. The Irish will win their next seven games to set up quite a showdown against Clemson Nov. 5. Marshall and California shouldn't pose serious threats, even though the timing of the schedule and the caliber of those opponents is eerily similar to what Notre Dame was up against last year against Toledo and Purdue. Neither of those games was particularly easy, but they were both wins. North Carolina allowed 24 points to Florida A&M, an HBCU, in its season opener. The Tar Heels are going to put up some points, but they are not going to stop the Irish enough times to win. Again, much like last year. BYU is the pivotal opponent in this seven-game stretch for Notre Dame. The Cougars are well coached and experienced. Anything can happen in a neutral-site game at Allegiant Sta- dium in Las Vegas. If Notre Dame squeaks out with a victory, head coach Marcus Freeman's team will easily take care of Stanford, UNLV and Syracuse to go into the Clemson game with incredibly high stakes — just like the last time the Tigers came to South Bend as the No. 1 team in the country two years ago. Syracuse could also be a quintessential "trap" game, but by then Notre Dame will have reeled off enough wins in a row to know how to take care of business in the JMA Dome. The real problem-posers dressed in orange are on the schedule the following week. No, One Of Two Tough Opponents Will Trip It Up By Todd D. Burlage The unenviable anointment of Marcus Freeman as the new Irish head coach was cruelly marked with a Fiesta Bowl matchup against No. 9 Oklahoma State and a date with No. 2 Ohio State in the 2022 season opener. Honeymoon hopes were that Freeman could win both games. Common sense suggested otherwise. So here we are — only two games into the Freeman era — and the rookie skipper faces a stretch of seven games that will no longer provide a forgiveness factor. Sandwiched in between Ohio State last weekend and a home game against Clemson Nov. 5, Notre Dame plays Marshall, California, at North Carolina, BYU in Las Vegas, Stanford, UNLV and at Syracuse. Notre Dame has won 30 of its last 31 home games and 42 straight against the unranked, and will be prohibitive favor- ites when Marshall, California, Stanford and UNLV come to town. Those four teams combined to go 17-32 last season. Syracuse hasn't been to a bowl since 2016, and shouldn't present many problems, even on the road. But mixed into this seven-pack are games at North Carolina (Sept. 24) and vs. BYU in Las Vegas (Oct. 8). UNC received votes in the preseason top 25 and went 11-2 at home the last two seasons under Hall of Fame head coach Mack Brown. BYU was ranked No. 25 in the preseason and is 21-4 since 2020. We all wish Freeman and the Irish well. But beating these two tough foes away from Notre Dame Stadium won't happen. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WILL NOTRE DAME WIN ITS NEXT SEVEN GAMES BEFORE FACING CLEMSON? For Davis Sherwood, going from a walk-on to a scholarship player in August felt more like a reason for validation than it did cause for celebra- tion. His only pause for reflection after hearing the news was that he was finally where he be- lieved he belonged all along, on scholarship and on a Power Five roster. Sherwood, a sophomore, was awarded the scholarship that opened when a knee injury put wide receiver Avery Davis on the medical hard- ship list. But make no mistake, this isn't the lat- est feel-good "Rudy" story. Not hardly. He's a versatile 6-foot-3, 228-pound player who can do anything that's asked of him. A Hightstown, N.J., native and an unheralded recruit after attending three different high schools over four prep football seasons, Sher- wood played scout team linebacker at Notre Dame in 2021 and became a freshman special teams ace. He participated in 12 of 13 Irish games and appeared on each of the kickoff and punt coverage units, and the two return teams. When asked by the Irish coaches before the 2022 spring season to switch from linebacker to fullback/tight end, Sherwood agreed, performed well and has put himself in line to find some game reps on offense this fall. Blue & Gold Illustrated and other local media caught up with Sherwood to discuss his position switch, his scholarship, and his future goals. BGI: What was your initial reaction when you were awarded a scholarship? Sherwood: "It wasn't like my life changed. It was a bigger change for my parents than me, obviously with the money. …To be honest, I was obviously happy to receive it, but I've been work- ing toward it the whole time. "They treated me like a scholarship player. They treat all the walk-ons like they're a scholarship player here." BGI: And what was that meeting with the coaches like? Sherwood: "They brought me in and told me [about the scholarship]. It wasn't anything too special or anything you see on TV. It could've been whatever, a meeting. I didn't know what I was going in to talk about." BGI: You could've walked on anywhere, why Notre Dame? Sherwood: "A big reason I came here is a group of guys that love and support you here. Again, on the whole walk-on thing, I remember vividly Kyle Hamilton — obviously a first-round pick, and everyone knew it — but he would talk to me the same as he talks to all the other people. He had a locker not far from me." BGI: You never played much offense in high school, how difficult was the position switch? Sherwood: "It was a little shocking at first, there was like a little bump to get over when I first started playing. But after that first week, second week maybe, it started to really slow down. And spring ball helped too, having practice like every other day. "On those off days, I could really look at what I was doing, get the extra meetings in, and try to get a plan for what to do the next day." BGI: So, what are you — a tight end, a fullback, a halfback or a linebacker? Sherwood: "I let people call me whatever they want. I just like to play football. I like to go out there and block, run routes, catch balls, anything. "Whatever you want to call me, that is cool with me." — Todd D. Burlage FIVE QUESTIONS WITH … SOPHOMORE TIGHT END DAVIS SHERWOOD Sherwood was a special teams ace as a freshman last year, which is one of the reasons the former walk-on is now on scholarship. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER For head coach Marcus Freeman's squad, the next seven games will determine just how big a showdown its Nov. 5 matchup against Clemson will be. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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