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What To Watch For: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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Louisville could pull off a huge upset if a handful of things go their way.

Miami v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

LOUISVILLE HAS TO TACKLE BETTER THIS WEEK

Georgia Tech pulled away in the second half of the game last week because they were able to get chunk runs. A good amount of those chunk runs were due to missed tackles by Louisville. This seems like an obvious thing to focus on but I do think that it’s possible that Louisville could adjust this week and go all out trying to stop the run. Notre Dame hasn’t been consistent with their passing game so UofL could look to stack the box and force the Irish to beat them deep.

Obviously, Louisville hasn’t been able to impose their will very much this year but there is at least an obvious question with ND’s offense. If they don’t tackle better this week, it won’t matter.

IF LOUISVILLE AVOIDS TURNOVERS THE OFFENSE COULD PLAY WELL

Louisville’s football team as a whole isn’t worse than it was last year. It may not have progressed as much as I expected it to but things have not regressed as some have worried. This team has beaten itself just as much as the other team has. You could argue that the Pitt and Georgia Tech games came down to turnovers alone. The defense has issues and the offense isn’t getting the big plays it had last year, but giving away drives and putting the defense in short fields are the key differences, in my opinion.

How does that factor into this game? UofL still has talent and Notre Dame has given up a good amount of points this season. Duke was able to put together a few drives and FSU kept it fairly close with a good amount of chunk plays and quarterback runs. Louisville might have some real issues stopping ND’s offense but I do think there’s a path to slowing them down. There’s also plenty of opportunity to score points and turn this game into a shootout.

NOTRE DAME WILL LOOK TO FIX THEIR PASSING GAME

Notre Dame hasn’t been able to find a way to be consistent in the passing game yet. They have options but no one has stepped up to be the go-to guy and they really haven’t been able to generate big plays. I think they will look to get Kevin Austin involved in the offense to stretch the field. He is a burner who hasn’t been able to get on the field much but when he did last week it was for a deep shot down the field.

The Irish just don’t push the ball down the field much. They utilize their backs and Tight Ends very well and they’re all productive. So what they’re doing is working. But, it won’t last if a team can stack the box and slow down the run game. They have to stretch the field and they might look to do that against Louisville.

LOUISVILLE HAS TO SPREAD THE BALL AROUND IN THE PASSING GAME

Tutu Atwell is outstanding and we all know that. Tutu Atwell is also too much of a focus with this passing game. Atwell was targeted 13 times last week out of the 32 passes thrown by UofL. As good as Tutu is, you can’t look his way nearly half the time. We’ve also seen a handful of plays where Malik Cunningham has looked his way first only to have it taken away and there’s no backup plan.

It’s not just that Tutu gets too many targets but the other receivers had 13 catches on 19 targets. Malik has other open guys and when he looks their way, he’s having a good amount of success. We know that Dez Fitzpatrick can be a deep play threat as well as a reliable target in the intermediate game. UofL started the season moving him around which also moved Tutu around. Maybe that’s a way to get the passing game going. Louisville also needs to find a way to get the Running Backs involved outside of screens.