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2022 NCAA Football Preview: University of Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish  

Michael Mayer is the best tight end in the 2023 Class. Can the star tight end help them get back to the Championship?
Michael Mayer is the best tight end in the 2023 Class. Can the star tight end help them get back to the Championship?

University of Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish  

Head Coach: Marcus Freeman (1st Full Season, 0-1)

2021 Record: 11-2

Offense Analysis:

Former Irish QB Tommy Reese returns to his alma mater in 2022 to be the program’s new offensive coordinator under rookie HC Marcus Freeman. Reese inherits an offense that a season ago put up 35.2 PPG and over 425 YPG and will try to replicate the success the Irish had in 2021. Unfortunately, he will have to do so without former starting QB Jack Coan and RB Kyren Williams, who are both at the next level. So. QB Tyler Buchner takes over the reins as starter after putting up 298 yards, 3 TDs, and 3 INTs in limited action last season. Buchner was used as mostly a change of pace QB last year adding over 150 yards on the ground. Luckily, the young QB will be well protected. Notre Dame is known for producing NFL calibur O-Lineman and this season is no different. The captain of the Irish O-Line is Gr. C Jarrett Patterson, who is one of, if not, the best Centers in all of college football and the number 1 Center prospect on many experts draft boards. Buchner also gets the luxury of having the top TE in the nation returning for his Junior season in South Bend. TE Michael Mayer is the number 1 TE draft prospect in the nation and for good reason. The 6’5 250 lb TE is a hybrid receiver that led the team with 71 catches for 840 yards and 7 TDs a year ago. Jr. WR Avery Davis and RB Chris Tyree were solid contributors to the Irish offense last year and are due for larger roles in 2022.     

Defense Analysis:

After spending the last few seasons as an NFL LB Coach, Al Golden gets another crack at the collegiate level as the new DC for the Fightin’ Irish. The former Temple and Miami head coach will try to improve a Notre Dame defense that let up 359 YPG and 20 PPG to opponents in 2021. Golden’s biggest task will be replacing All-American Kyle Hamilton. Hamilton, who missed games due to injury, did a little bit of everything for the Irish last season before becoming the 14th pick in the NFL Draft in April. Northwestern transfer Sr. FS Brandon Joseph is in line to replace Hamilton as the center fielder of the ND defense. Returning for the ND defense is leading tackler Sr. LB JD Bertrand, who recorded 102 total last year. Perhaps ND’s best defensive player, not named Hamilton, is returning for his Senior season. DE Isaiah Foskey is back on the edge for the Irish after recording 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, which was tied for 1st in the nation. Golden had an up and down career as a college head coach but is looking to get his name back on the map. He has an experienced defense that thrives off of forcing turnovers. With a young QB under center, Golden’s defense will be under more pressure to make plays in 2022.    

Summary:

The Irish had a record of 113-40 and a College Football Playoff appearance in the 12 years under Brian Kelly. However, the Kelly era in South Bend has come to an end; Kelly left for LSU in November. Enter former Ohio State Linebacker Marcus Freeman. Freeman was named the new Head Coach of the Notre Dame football team on December 3 after serving as the team’s defensive coordinator for the 2021 season. Freeman got his first chance to lead the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl, falling 35-37 to Oklahoma St. Out of all the coaching changes in 2022, Freeman might have the most pressure on him. Notre Dame has had 10 plus wins in each of the last 5 seasons and has not had a season under .500 since 2016. Freeman’s first hires were to get Reese, a ND alum, and Golden, a former college HC and DC, to help guide the ship. High expectations may be hard to reach, but Freeman has the support of the administration and, for now, the Irish faithful. Although they may not continue the streak of 10 win seasons, there is no reason Freeman’s Notre Dame shouldn’t have success immediately in 2022.   

2022 Notre Dame Football Schedule (Predicted W/L)

  • Sept. 3 – @ Ohio State (L)
  • Sept. 10 – Marshall (W)
  • Sept. 17 – California (W)
  • Sept. 24 – @ UNC (W)
  • Oct. 8 – BYU (W)
  • Oct. 15 – Stanford (W)
  • Oct. 22 – UNLV (W)
  • OCt. 29 – @ Syracuse (W)
  • Nov. 5 – Clemson (L)
  • Nov. 12 – Navy (W)
  • Nov. 19 – Boston College (W)
  • Nov. 26 – @ USC (L)

Projected 2022 Record: 9-3

Written By: Steve DeFruscio

Instagram: @redshirt_szn

Twitter: @redshirt_szn , @stevedefruscio

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