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The Angeli Bowl: Three Keys to Success

Written by Liam Gaudet|Senior Editor|Twitter/X: @LiamGaudetIT

Photo by The Irish Tribune


Not too long ago, I published an article which implored the blue and gold faithful not to overlook Steve Angeli as a viable option to be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame next season. Marcus Freeman made it quite clear in the weeks leading up to the end of the season that he would be testing the waters within the transfer portal to try and find a potential suitor for the Irish with the purpose being to accumulate another scholarship quarterback. At this point, it should be abundantly clear to everyone that Marcus Freeman does not play games in the portal, as he managed to secure one of the top quarterback transfers in Duke's Riley Leonard. With the foregone conclusion by the majority of the fanbase being that Leonard will start next season, and having a plethora of younger talent in the room, where does that possibly leave Steve Angeli? As of this moment, Angeli is preparing to start his first (and possibly last) collegiate football game for Notre Dame. The way I see it, if Angeli lights up the Beavers, it could possibly serve as a foundation for either a quarterback competition next season, or a tremendous resume builder should Angeli decide to enter his name into the transfer portal. In any case, Angeli will need to step up in a big way in order to prove himself. Here are some key factors that will hopefully lift the signal caller to a Sun Bowl success.


Get In Rhythm Early

You can have all the talent in the world as a quarterback, but one of the most important intangibles to playing the position is confidence. With Gerad Parker out of the picture, quarterback coach Gino Guidugli will handle the play calling duties for the Irish offense in the Sun Bowl before the arrival of a brand new offense next season courtesy of Mike Denbrock. The good news is, nobody knows the strengths and weaknesses of Angeli's game more than Guidugli, who will do his best to make Angeli comfortable in the early stages of the game. Look for Guidugli to establish some easy 5-10 yard confidence building passes for Angeli to get him settled into the game. With the absence of Audric Estime, running backs Jeremiyah Love and Jadarian Price will likely be called upon early and often to soften up the defense and open up some windows for Angeli to get in rhythm. With a new quarterback, the Irish can't afford to start the game off slowly, as we've seen that spiral out of control in Death Valley and Louisville. A scripted plan with well thought out adjustments can be the catalyst to flipping this game in favor of the Irish from the jump.





It's Time for the Receivers to Step Up

If you've been paying attention to the play of the Notre Dame wide receivers as of late, you'd be upset by the sheer mediocrity and lack of production coming from that group. To make matters worse, a mass exodus of talent including four pass catchers for the Irish hit the transfer portal, as well as the departure of second-year wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey. In that group was leading receiver Chris Tyree, who has now found a new home in Virginia. In a group that was already extremely thin, the receiving options have been reduced to Jayden Thomas, Jaden Greathouse, Jordan Faison, K.K. Smith, Matt Salerno and Deion Colzie as viable options for the bowl game. The good news for Angeli here is that the majority of these options are upperclassmen with more experience, reducing the likelihood of confusion or miscommunication on the field. It's now time for some of these receivers to start earning their keep, as an incoming flux of new talent is arriving next season via the portal to strengthen the room. This is not only a matter of supporting a new quarterback, but could serve as an early opportunity to cement a good standing in the room for next season. With Mike Brown now in charge of the receivers, the development curve can only steepen from here, so look for some new life and a jump in the step of the Irish pass catchers in this matchup. They need to have the game of their lives and make more than a couple of plays to keep this offense from being one dimensional - and that's usually when the wheels start to fall off. A player to watch in this matchup could be Jordan Faison, as his speed and agility could prove to be a huge asset in the passing game, taking some of the pressure off of Angeli.





No Hero Ball

It's understandable that making plays and swinging momentum are a big part of winning games, but with an inexperienced quarterback, risk management is essential. This ties in with the play calling from Guidugli, but knowing when to take your shots and when to concede defeat on a particular play or moment could be the difference in a football game. I like to use the interception that Sam Hartman threw on the first drive of the Louisville game as an example of playing "hero ball", as opposed to living to fight another down. If the first or second read isn't there for Angeli, it's pivotal that he protects the football instead of opting for a high risk - high reward throw down the field or into traffic. Taking the sack or throwing the ball away are often viewed as a net-loss, but turning the ball over was a commonplace mistake that could have been avoided in two games in which the Irish lost this season. Protect the football at all costs and make the smart decision.


I'm sure there are many more areas that could make or break the success of Steve Angeli's first Notre Dame start, but for me, if all of these three keys to the game are accomplished, (and the defense continues business as usual), a comfortable advantage to Notre Dame can be given in this matchup. I have the utmost confidence in a quarterback who has been marinating in this system for two full seasons, and I'm confident he has all the tools to lead Notre Dame to a decisive Sun Bowl victory. Now it's time to hear your thoughts? Will the sun rise or set for Angeli in El Paso? Let us know! And as always - Go Irish!


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