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What You Need to Know: Notre Dame vs Marshall

Photo Credit: @ndfootball

The Fighting Irish will host the Marshall Thundering Herd during the 2022 home opener. Even though this matchup brings less excitement than Ohio State a week ago, Notre Dame must use this game as an opportunity to respond to a loss and establish an offensive identity. This will also be Marcus Freeman’s first home game as the head coach of Notre Dame. When asked about this at his press conference on Monday, Freeman had this to say about Marshall:

”I’m excited, really, for my first home game as the head coach here in Notre Dame Stadium. It's something you dream about. Ever since I had been named head coach, I've been looking forward to this moment, to be able to lead our team into this stadium and play a real opponent in terms of what coach Huff has done since he's been the head coach. They went 7-6 last year and 1-0 this year. I got a chance to connect with him when he became the head coach at Marshall. I've talked to him multiple times. He's a man that I respect. He's worked his way up and he's done a great job so far this year in one game at Marshall. We look forward to this contest on Saturday.”

Irish fans should be excited to see how Notre Dame responds to last week’s loss. Will they establish an offensive identity? Will the offensive line become more cohesive? Will Notre Dame’s stars on defense play like stars? Notre Dame fans hope that they will see answers to these questions on Saturday as the Fighting Irish face the Thundering Herd.

Game Details

Date: Saturday, September 10

Time: 2:30 PM Eastern Time

Where to Watch: NBC and/or Peacock

Breaking Down Marshall

Even though fans will not see any top-tier talent on Marshall’s side of the ball this year, they have produced several players in the NFL including: Byron Leftwich, Troy Brown, Chad Pennington, and Randy Moss. Despite this, Marshall is coming off a 7-6 record from a year ago. Charles Huff enters his second season as the head coach for the Thundering Herd. He previously coached running backs at Alabama and Penn State. This will be Marshall’s first season playing in a competitive Sun Belt Conference, which includes teams like: Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, Georgia State, Louisiana and more. Despite losing running back Rasheen Ali for undisclosed reasons, this is a football team that should be able to make some noise in this new conference.

3 Offensive Players to Know

Henry Colombi — QB #3

2021 Stats: 1291 passing yards, 5 touchdowns; 66 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns

Texas Tech Transfer

Khalan Laborn — RB #8

2021 Stats: No Stats

Florida State Transfer

Corey Gammage— WR #7

2021 Stats: 878 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

3 Defensive Players to Know

Abraham Beauplan — LB #7

2021 Stats: 110 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 4 hurries

Steven Gilmore — CB #3

2021 Stats: 53 tackles, 1 sack, 3 interceptions,

Koby Cumberlander — DL #32

2021 Stats: 41 tackles, 4.5 sacks,

Keys to an Irish Victory 1. Establish an Offensive Identity

One of the biggest complaints from last week’s game was a lack of offensive identity. For a variety of reasons, the Irish offense never seemed to find its groove. It’s time to let Tyler Buchner play more freely and let him run this offense. Marcus Freeman has repeated numerous times that he wants to “run the ball,” which is fine, but this needs to be balanced with an effective passing attack as well. It’s time to let Tyler run an RPO offensive scheme and light the Marshall Defense up.

2. Both the Offensive and Defensive Lines Must Show Dominance

The first key to victory is impossible without the offensive line playing better this week. For the most part, Blake Fisher and Joe Alt played well last week, but the interior offensive linemen played well below Harry Hiestand’s standards at Notre Dame. If Notre Dame can figure out how to better handle the interior of the offensive line, then this group will allow Tyler more time to make better decisions in the passing attack. Defensively, this line must play at a high lever as well. Outside of Howard Cross III, the defensive line played below par last Saturday. Despite there being multiple holding calls missed, this group should have played better and asserted more dominance. If the line can be more disruptive this week, is should allow Notre Dame’s other playmakers in the secondary truly shine.

3. Get the Ball to Your Playmakers

Despite not seeing it last Saturday, Notre Dame is loaded with speed and playmakers in 2022. Tommy Rees must do better at getting the ball into the hands of guys like Chris Tyree, Braden Lenzy, Lorenzo Styles, and others. They possess the type of speed that can turn a 1 yard catch into an 85 yard touchdown. Beyond a few touches, they did not seem to be the focal point of the offense last Saturday. That is a problem that must be rectified against Marshall. Even though Matt Salerno made an incredible catch last Saturday, there are better players on the sidelines who deserve a shot to play. Players like Tobias Merriweather possess a unique combination of speed, athleticism, and height that you can not coach. Tobias needs a chance to play against Marshall and prove that he can be a playmaker on this team.

Stack Up Notre Dame Vs Marshall

Final Take

Notre Dame should not have any issues beating Marshall, but the Thundering Herd will not go down without a fight. If Notre Dame can establish an offensive identity, dominate on the offensive line, and get the ball into their playmakers’ hands, then Irish fans will be more encouraged about what this season should look like moving forward. Marcus Freeman strikes fans as someone who does not take losing lightly, and this should impact how his team plays against the Thundering Herd. Let us hope this Irish offense comes out with a chip on their shoulders on Saturday and proves why they are the “Fighting Irish.”

Go Irish!


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