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Up Next: Notre Dame vs UNLV

📷 credit: Irish Tribune

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-3) will host the UNLV Rebels (4-3) on Saturday, as Notre Dame seeks to make amends for their embarrassing performance against Stanford last Saturday. UNLV presents an opportunity for Marcus Freeman and this Notre Dame football team to correct their mistakes and prove that this team can face and overcome adversity. After losing a plethora of players, captains, and leaders on this team, it is time to see if this team is ready to go to battle on the football field with the Rebels on Saturday. If not, it may be time for some coaching changes, but if they are willing to make the necessary changes then it should give Irish fans something to look forward to for the rest of the season. Coach Freeman had this to say at his press conference on Thursday…

"One, it's a mentality. That's what I just told the team and the staff. We're not judged off mentality, but you have gotta have the right mindset because that will dictate your actions and how you start the game. We got to come out of the locker room ready to go with the right mentality. We can't be soft. We got to challenge our opponents. Both sides of the ball have to come out with no mental errors and really focus on challenging the opponent on both sides of the ball."

Game Details

Date: Saturday, October 22

Time: 2:30 PM ET

Where to Watch: Peacock

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

Breaking Down UNLV

The Rebels are led by head coach Marcus Arroyo, who owns a 6-19 overall record after three years at UNLV. Despite a losing record, Arroyo appears to be turning the UNLV program around with better recruiting and taking advantage of the transfer portal. The Rebels currently rank second (2-2) in the Mountain West Conference, behind San Jose State. Despite their record, this is a team that can score a lot of points if the defense does not come prepared to play good football. On two occasions this season, the Rebels have scored over 50 points, which is something Notre Dame has not done in several years. Coach Freeman had this to say about UNLV…

“It's a talented football team that started off the season 4-1 and we know is going to present a challenge to our team. That's what I told our players. We have to respect our opponent and you don't have to watch too much of their film to gain respect for the job that coach Arroyo has done with that program and what they're going to bring here to South Bend."

Stacking Up Notre Dame vs UNLV

3 Offensive Players to Know

Doug Brumfield— QB #2

2022 Stats: 1231 passing yards, 8 touchdowns; 137 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns

Aidan Robbins — RB #9

2022 Stats: 591 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns; 78 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Ricky White— WR #11

2022 Stats: 444 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns

3 Defensive Players to Know

Austin Ajiake— LB #27

2022 Stats: 72 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions

Jerrae Williams — DB #23

2022 Stats: 33 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defended, 2 interceptions

Darius Johnson — DL #8

2022 Stats: 29 tackles, 2 sacks

📷 credit: @unlvfootball on Instagram

Keys to Victory

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

I wrote about this earlier in the week, but Tommy Rees must call a better game this Saturday. UNLV presents the perfect opportunity to establish your identity, build confidence in your players, and run more tempo offense. If Rees can not do this against UNLV, then Irish fans must question whether or not he should be the offensive coordinator at the University of Notre Dame.

2. Drew Pyne Needs to Play Better

Despite most of the blame being rightly placed on Tommy Rees, Pyne must do a better job at the quarterback position this Saturday. Pyne has to be more accurate, stop locking in on Michael Mayer, and spread the ball around to his playmakers. If Drew can do this, Irish fans will see an offense that is much improved against the Rebels.

3. The Defense Needs to Force Turnovers

Despite several forced fumbles on Saturday, Notre Dame’s defense continues to not come up with the ball. This is a puzzling situation because the Irish media team released practice footage of the defense practicing these situations, but it has yet to translate on the field. That must come to an end on Saturday as they take advantage of an inaccurate quarterback for UNLV, and force turnovers.

📷 credit: Irish Tribune

Final Take

Despite Notre Dame being heavily favored in this matchup, Irish fans should not take anything for granted right now. With the way Notre Dame has been playing, UNLV has enough skilled players to come to South Bend and come away with a victory. If Notre Dame can figure out what they are doing on offense, see Drew Pyne play better at the quarterback position, and see turnovers coming from the defense, then the Irish should be victorious. Let us hope that Marcus Freeman has truly been evaluating everything and fans will start seeing the results of that on Saturday. Coach Freeman had this message for his team on Thursday…

“Stay together, trust each other, and do not listen to anything anybody has to say positively or negatively about you outside of these walls. Be honest with yourself, coach each other up, coaches coach the players, coaches help each other, and let's use this as a time to really evaluate what we're doing and make sure, not hope and pray and not keep our fingers crossed, but make sure that we're better and we perform better on Saturday when it matters the most."

Go Irish!


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