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How the Irish can "Limit" Marvin Harrison Jr.

Written by Elias Joyce|Contributor|

Photo by ESPN


It is no secret that Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best receiver in the country, and some may argue he's the best player in the country. The 6-foot-3, 205 pound receiver runs a 4.60 second 40 yard dash and a 30.6 inch vertical jump. On top of these attributes, Harrison is a great route-runner and has hands like his dad, a hall of fame receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.


Last season Marvin Harrison Jr caught 77 balls on 109 targets, a 70.6% catch rate, for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns. That's an average of 16.4 yards per catch. Against Notre Dame last season, the first game of Harrison's sophomore campaign, he caught a modest 5 balls for 56 yards and no touchdowns. However MHJ has his eyes set on much bigger numbers this year and he is more than capable of doing so. He has the star power and big play ability to cause havoc for the Notre Dame secondary and leave Irish fans holding their breath. To say Defensive Coordinator Al Golden can stop the Heisman hopeful receiver would be foolish, but Notre Dame has one of the best pass defenders in the country this season, and the Irish secondary won't be backing down. So if stopping Marvin Harrison Jr. is off the table, then at the very least Notre Dame needs to limit him, but how?


The short answer is.... Benjamin Morrison. Morrison burst on the scene last season for the Fighting Irish, racking up 6 interceptions during his freshman season. By the end of the season he was Notre Dame's best defensive back on the roster. Heading into his Sophomore season Benjamin Morrison was voted a pre-season All American, and is regarded by some as the best defensive back in the nation. So, what is there to worry about? Ohio State has the best receiver in the country, Notre Dame has the best defensive back in the country, sounds like a pretty even matchup. But as most people know, receivers naturally have the advantage when it comes to 1-on-1 reps. So as much as I anticipate this to be a heavy-weight bout between Morrison and Harrison, number 20 is going to need some help.


I anticipate defensive back Thomas Harper and safety Xavier Watts to help carry some of the load defending Harrison. This will only be Harper's 5th game for the Irish, transferring from Oklahoma State in the spring. However his role has been increasing week by week for this Notre Dame defense. Being that this is his 5th season of college football, his experience will show to be vital in Notre Dame's success limiting Harrison. Xavier Watts was recruited to Notre Dame as a wide receiver, then moved to linebacker, eventually finding his home at the safety position. Despite this, Watts has shown that he is no where near "out of position". His emergence as one of the best defenders for the Irish this season has been a pleasant surprise for fans. Whatever Watts lacks in experience at the safety position, he makes up for with raw athleticism. Having a bigger body than many are used to at this position, he still is able to fly around and is one of the best tacklers on the team.


I am very excited to see how the Notre Dame defense deals with and responds to Marvin Harrison Jr and the rest of the Ohio State offense. In my opinion, if the Irish defense can hold the Buckeyes under 30 points they have a very good chance at winning. The first step to doing this is for Benjamin Morrison, Thomas Harper, Xavier Watts, and the rest of Al Golden's defense to limit the pass attack of Ryan Day and Brian Hartline's offense. Go Irish!



Follow me on Twitter/X @eliasjoyce7

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