Thursday, September 19, 2019 Edition of The Red & Black

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Playing with fire Notre Dame’s defensive line poses challenge for Georgia’s offensive line Augusta Stone Assistant Sports Editor Kirby Smart couldn’t think of a defensive line Georgia has faced recently that is anything like the one it will see against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish’s defensive line combines speed and experience at a rate the Bulldogs have yet to face this season. Notre Dame’s defense boasts the third-best defensive passing efficiency in the Football Bowl Subdivision, averages nine tackles for loss per game and has the No. 1 average turnover margin in the country. To put it into Georgia football terms, Notre Dame creates havoc. “I can’t really compare them to anybody that we’ve played thus far up front,” Smart said. “Maybe some individuals that we’ve played up front, but not as a whole as a group.” Junior Daelin Hayes leads the Irish in tackles for loss this season, coming down with three in two games. Khalid Kareem, a senior, started all 13 games and finished second on the team in tackles for loss in 2018. Senior Julian Okwara tied for the team lead in sacks last year. “Everybody on the defensive line is pretty talented,” Georgia graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf said. “They’re going to be a challenge for us.” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly likes what he has in his arsenal. “We’re getting exactly what we want in terms of pressure on the quarterback [and] making him get the ball out of his hands quickly,” Kelly said. “Those guys [on the defensive line] are doing a nice job for us.” The Irish’s ability to create turnovers was lethal in its first two games against Louisville and New Mexico. Notre Dame forced four fumbles and intercepted its opponents three times. To contrast, Notre Dame has lost only one turnover against the seven it has gained. “[Turnover margin is] one of the key critical factors of winning football games,” Smart said. “And they’re beating everybody in the country at that.” Aside from Hayes, Kareem and Okwara, Notre Dame has several other playmakers that could make life difficult for Georgia. Junior safety Alohi Gilman leads the Irish with 13 tackles. Graduate linebacker Asmar Bilal follows closely with 12 tackles and junior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has come down with 11 of his own. Georgia’s Cade Mays started at right tackle in the absence of Isaiah Wilson on Sept. 14. It’s unclear if Wilson will recover from his ankle injury by Saturday. Regardless of the lineup, Georgia’s offensive line has a lot on its plate. “They have a bunch of old guys on the defense with a lot of experience,” Mays said. “They’re not just fast.” Kirby Smart led the Bulldogs to a 20-19 victory over Notre Dame in 2017. The Irish, who had six tackles for loss in that game, average nine tackles for loss this season.   C A S E Y S Y K E S / S T A F F


Georgia vs. Notre Dame Andy Walsh Assistant Sports Editor


Georgia starting quarterback Jake Fromm has thrown for more yards this season and has a higher passing efficiency than Notre Dame’s Ian Book, who has more passing touchdowns and a higher quarterback rating. Book has success on the ground as he’s one of Notre Dame’s leading rushers so far this season. Both Fromm and Book will play crucial roles on Saturday and the advantage could go either way. Edge: Tie

Running backs

Through three weeks, Georgia has nearly three times as many rushing yards as Notre Dame. Five Bulldogs have rushed for over 100 yards — led by 294 rush yards from D’Andre Swift — compared to just two from the Notre Dame backfield. With Notre Dame’s starting running back Jafar Armstrong out for a few weeks with an abdominal muscle tear, Georgia will more than likely dominate the running game. Edge: Georgia


Through its first two games, Notre Dame has relied on the passing game to put points on the board. The Irish have the leading receiver between the two teams in Chase Claypool, who has 190 receiving yards through two games. Freshman Georgia Pickens isn’t far behind with 168 receiving yards, but Georgia has played one more game. Both the Irish and the Bulldogs have plenty of playmakers at receiver, but Notre Dame has the slight advantage. Edge: Notre Dame

Offensive line

Georgia’s offensive line is one of the best in the country. Through three games, the Bulldogs rank in the top five in rushing yards and fewest sacks allowed. Notre Dame has struggled to initiate its run offense, and although the offensive line has only allowed four sacks, it’s clear that Georgia has the advantage on this front. Edge: Georgia

Front seven

The Notre Dame defense has given up 461 yards on the ground to start the season, which ranks 80th in the nation. The Irish front seven has produced a third of the amount of sacks the Georgia defensive front has, so Georgia has the slight advantage. Edge: Georgia


Notre Dame has its most talented and experienced players in the secondary. Led by the likes of Alohi Gilman and Troy Pride Jr., the Irish have given up 285 yards passing and have three interceptions — one for a touchdown — through two games. Georgia’s secondary has had success in the first three games, but lapses like Murray State’s 60-yard touchdown give Notre Dame the advantage. Edge: Notre Dame



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