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Up Next: Notre Dame vs Syracuse

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-3) will host the Syracuse Orange (6-1) on Saturday, as Notre Dame seeks to defeat the 16th-ranked team in college football. It will not be easy, but Syracuse provides an opportunity for Coach Freeman and this football team to build confidence for the second half of the season. The schedule does not get any easier from here on out, with teams like Clemson, USC, Boston College, and Navy left on the schedule. Despite playing without a few key contributors last week against UNLV, Coach Freeman gave an update on Jack Kizer, Brandon Joseph, and Jaden Mickey at his press conference on Thursday…

"All of them are expected to play. They've all been practicing and expected to play."

This is good news for a team that has had several players injured this season. Now more than ever, this Irish football team needs leaders to step up and play at a higher level for Notre Dame to come out victorious. If Notre Dame hopes to finish the season on a high note and earn a ticket to a bowl game, it begins on Saturday against the Orange.

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

Game Details

Date: Saturday, October 29

Time: 12:00 PM ET

Where to Watch: ABC

Breaking Down Syracuse

Head coach, Dino Babers, enters his seventh season for the SyracuseOrange with an overall 35-44 record. Babers came to Syracuse after coaching Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green, while also spending several seasons as an assistant at Baylor and UCLA. Even though many in the media thought this may be Baber's last season at Syracuse, the Orange are off to one of their best starts in years. Even though Baber’s built his reputation on high-powered offenses, the 2022 Orange are built around their defense. They rank first or near the top in every defensive statistic in the ACC, including points per game, yards per game, and pass yards. In other words, this is an impressive defense that comes ready to play every Saturday.

Stacking Up Notre Dame vs Syracuse

3 Offensive Players to Know

Garrett Shrader— QB #6

2022 Stats: 1601 passing yards, 13 touchdowns; 371 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns

Sean Tucker— RB #34

2022 Stats: 698 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns; 216 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

Oronde Gadsden II— WR #19

2022 Stats: 593 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

3 Defensive Players to Know

Garrett Williams— CB #8

2022 Stats: 32 tackles, 3 passed defended, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions

Mikel Jones— LB #3

2022 Stats: 52 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Caleb Okechukwu — DL #93

2022 Stats: 21 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 touchdown

📷 credit: @cusefootball on Instagram

Keys to Victory

1. Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees Needs to Call a Better Game

Despite scoring more points last week, the Irish offense did not impress very many people. Tommy Rees must call a better game this Saturday to defeat the Syracuse Orange. The offense needs to put players in better positions to be successful, become less predictable, and be much more dynamic.

2. Shut Down Syracuse Quarterback Garrett Shrader

Shrader is the type of dual-threat quarterback that has given the Notre Dame defense a lot of problems the last couple of seasons. Foskey, Mills, Cross, Rubio, Smith, the Ademilolas, and others must keep constant pressure on Shrader to throw him off his typical game. If not, this will be a long day for Notre Dame. Coach Freeman had this to say about Shrader at his Thursday press conference…

“You're just going to have to limit their big plays. He's going to get yards and yards running the ball. He's going to make some throws. To eliminate the big plays and be physical with him and make physical tackles on him. He's a talented football player you can't just say we have to stop him running because he can throw the ball well. You can't just play 8-man drops because they can run the ball with Tucker. It's a really good offense. That's going to present a huge challenge for our defense.”

3. Wide Receivers Need to Step Up

At times, Notre Dame appears to forget they have wide receivers playing in the football game. Outside of Michael Mayer, fans would be hard-pressed to name one wide receiver that has played good football this year. That needs to change this week against Syracuse, and it needs to change quickly. Coach Freeman said this on Thursday about his wide receivers…

“They’ve had a really good week. I challenged them Monday and Tuesday, we have to continue to gain confidence in practice in terms of how to expand our passing game. That’s the wideouts, the quarterback, the offensive line, and everybody. They’ve had a really good week. I look forward to seeing what they do on Saturday.”

Final Take

Despite Notre Dame being the more talented team on Saturday, Syracuse presents a huge challenge for the Fighting Irish. Syracuse plays good defense, has an improved offense, and is coached by someone with a lot of experience. This has not been a remedy for the success at Notre Dame this year. Despite all of this, Irish fans are hopeful that Coach Freeman and his staff can take the necessary steps to become a better football team this week. If Notre Dame is going to win on Saturday, it needs Drew Pyne and a plethora of wide receivers to step up and lead this team to victory. Let us hope that the Irish come ready to dominate Syracuse on Saturday afternoon and come away victorious.

Go Irish!

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram


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