Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo — MESPORTS SOUTH
ATHENS,GA–Tonight there is a pack of rabid dawgs on the hunt for some Irishmen. Will the Dawgs and Kirbys’ “Smart Way” continue to prevail or can the luck of the Irish finally be more than a pot of fools gold? You can be certain that this Week 4 evening southern showdown will be a ball clubs dance that is one step closer to Glory.
Let’s get down to business here in Athens with your Keys To The Game.
Saturday, Sept. 21st, 2019
Kick-Off: 7:00 PM CT
Venue: Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
#7 Notre Dame
This could finally be the moment and the game that could change the image of Notre Dame football for the better. The Irish are riding high coming off two big wins but you also have to take into account the opponents. The Irish have not beaten a top 5 team in nearly fifteen years. The last time they did was back in 2005 toppling # 3 Michigan. Brian Kelly is still winless against a top 5 team to the tune of 0-4. This will be by far the real test of the season and it’s going to be a tough one at the hands of SEC powerhouse the Georgia Bulldogs. While Notre Dames, Ian Books leads the way in rushing and passing he hasn’t had to be across this defensive unit that is tough as hell. The Irish are going to have to tighten up that belt they have already allowed 461 total yards. This could spell TROUBLE for the Irish Early if they don’t keep a watchful eye and have a good grip on this game from start to finish. While we are just one month into the season for a team like Notre Dame a big loss here could hurt their case down the road in the CFP.
Once again “The Smart Way” is off to a dominating smart and it doesn’t hurt to have a call and response duo like QB, Jake Fromm, and RB, D’ Andre Swift producing offensive power in that backfield when it counts. Like any powerhouse, it takes a well-oil unit to execute start to finish and Georgias front offensive line is well on its way to averaging 286 yards per game and roughly 7.6 yards per rushing attempt. That small stat alone just one month into the season shows that they are going to play a crucial role in being game-changers for this team as the Dawgs storyline unfolds. The Irish might come out of the gate swinging and keep it arms reach but Kirby Smart and his ball club have mastered the art of slowing down a team’s roll and wearing them down where they just can’t finish what they start.
Keys To The Games
#7 Notre Dame
The key will be for the Irish to continue to build on their success in defending against the pass. This will be a vital part of the defensive playbook especially facing a team like Georgia with an extremely stout rushing attack. The secondary for the Irish has the means to slow down Fromm with the abilities of players like Jalen Elliot, Alohi Gillman, and Kyle Hamilton. The key attack plan to slow down this high powered offensive juggernaut by the Bulldogs will rest in the D’s pass-rushing dynamic duo, Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara. Let’s just call them the “Insanity Brothers.”
Re-Work & Re-think Run
You never know what is going to happen on the gridiron especially where injuries are concerned. The Fightin Iris definitely head into Week 4 already plagued significantly by injury of key offensive players losing WR, Michael Young and TE, Cole Kmet and other core offensive players. This already young offense is going to be something special if it can find its groove. However, with this many players being missing talk about the wrong time to have to rework and rethink your game plan. The key will be for the Irish to adapt quickly focusing their run game around their RBs that remain Avery Davis,Kyren Williams, and C’Bo Flemister. After all, if the horse doesn’t pull someones got to carry that load. The question will this young offenses back be strong enough. We will definitely see it tonight. Brian Kelly and his ball club will need to find a way to navigate their offense in spite of their injuries and cook something up for Ian Books to work with.
Win in the Turn Over Trenches
Every little play counts especially when you are playing a team like Georgia. Even the best teams have a weakness. For the Dawgs handling the turnover battle hasn’t been their best performance. While it is not a sinking ship for them it could be something that could change the game tonight in the favor of the Irish and keep them alive. The Irish have shined in their ability to turn over when in the matter and granted their opponents have not been Georgia caliber. Even a few key turnovers by Notre Dame tonight could give the Dawgs a little difficulty tonight at home.
Bait and Hook
The Notre Dame Defense can be like stealing candy from a baby especially when it comes to plays up the middle. You can be sure that this O-Line of good ole southern Georgia boys is going to take advantage of this opening. You can be sure that they’re going to use this loophole by the Irish to dominate the ground and set Fromm in a good position to work off the play action and score big.
Slow The Roll
Ian Books has been explosive but has yet to be tested or have his back up against a wall. This will all change this evening especially with a defensive unit like Georiga. Look for the Dawgs to bring the heat and put the pressure and make Notre Dame easy to read like an open book tonight at home. The Irish are plagued by injuries especially on offense look for Georgia to capitalize on this and further limit their ability to get their run game going which will put great strain on any momentum before it starts.
This is going to be a test for both these ball clubs and don’t be surprised if the Irish keep it close. In the end, though the Dawgs just have more fight to get out of this one the winner. I have Georgia with the win in Athens 32-24 in week 4.
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Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL beat writer. She is our Sr. Editor and columnist for MESPORTS digital. A Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Misskyus2011