Little has changed since we dropped this science back in July, but there are a few things we should touch on....
Notre Dame is old. Their starters comprise almost entirely juniors and seniors. We are not. That matters.
- The Irish lost starting defensive tackle Jarron Jones for the season. The big DT (6-5, 315) was Notre Dame's poor man's version of Vince Woolfork and he was a likely NFL draft pick. The drop off to his replacements is steep and he'll be missed. This is good news for Texas center Taylor Doyle. I consistently graded out Doyle well against lower to mid level DTs last year while he struggled with big physical dudes like TCU's Chucky Hunter. Notre Dame still has DT Sheldon Day and he's very solid.
- Freshman DB Shaun Crawford was also lost to a knee injury. He was expected to provide depth and get some snaps in nickel and dime packages. His best football is a year away and the Irish can replace him for now.
- Notre DC Brian Van Gorder - aside from looking like a 1970s Playgirl model with strong 'stache and hair game - is known for being blitz happy. Like on every down. Given our OL inexperience and Tyrone's history of pocket panic, expect to see a lot of that on Saturday. Texas can't allow inside pressure or matador sacks, blitz recognition needs to be dialed in, Swoopes has to step into some hits and deliver on the deep post routes he missed last year (ALL OF THEM) and the Longhorn wide receivers need to make some plays in the screen and short game. You beat blitzes by turning them against themselves. Not by turtling up.
- RB Greg Bryant is suspended for the year The impact of his loss is being overstated - largely because he was a heralded recruit. Tarean Folston was slated to start even if Bryant had returned and he's the tougher, more dependable player. CJ Prosise is their version of a 220 pound Daje Johnson who can spell Folston at RB and get involved as a slot dynamo.
- Notre Dame's skill positions are loaded. If you have images of the plodding Irish, erase them. Great mix of wide receivers (they've got at least four who can really play), good running backs and QB Malik Zaire is a powerful dual threat runner. While still unproven as a polished passer, Zaire is a stocky, strong dude who isn't afraid of contact. The Texas DBs and LBs have to drive through tackles or he'll run right through them. If Notre Dame manages to establish a zone read running game, the Irish receivers are going to get their shots on us downfield.
- Notre Dame has a wide receiver named Equanimeous St. Brown. I have no information as to whether he's actually equanimous.