Notre Dame v. LSU: Citrus Bowl Defining Matchups

Though it’s not the New Years Day bowl game that Brian Kelly and his team were hoping to be playing in, the Citrus Bowl contest against the LSU Tigers marks the final game on the 2017 Notre Dame football schedule. The Irish are hoping to bounce back after finishing the regular season with a pair of disappointing losses in their final three matchups.

Both sides enter this clash with 9-3 records, though the Tigers won six of their final seven–the only defeat coming at Alabama on November 4. Each side also enters this game with a somewhat-depleted roster, due to some off-the-field concerns and injuries on the part of multiple Notre Dame offensive players and injuries connected to LSU defenders.

Listed below are some key matchups to watch for in Monday’s game:

Josh Adams vs. Devin White

Which version of Adams is on the field against the Tigers may offer an idea about how this game on the Notre Dame football schedule turns out. That’s because in his first eight games, Adams was a solid candidate for the Heisman after gaining 1,169 yards and averaging 8.9 yards per carry. In his most recent four games, the numbers doomed such possible glory after he gained just 217 yards on 59 carries for a relatively-pedestrian 3.7 per carry.

White has more pressure put on his shoulders for this contest with his inside linebacking partner, Donnie Alexander, out with an injury. However, White was everywhere in 2017, leading the Tigers with 127 stops and finding himself frequently in opposing backfields. For the year, he led LSU with 12.5 tackles-for-loss, another reason why he garnered four SEC Defensive Player of the Week awards this year.

Te’Von Coney vs. Derrius Guice

Coney had a breakout campaign in 2017, leading the Irish in tackles and impressing enough people that a potential departure in the NFL is a possibility. His ability to get behind the line of scrimmage was one the things that stood out all season long.

Both Coney and Nyles Morgan will have their hands full trying to contain Guice and, to a lesser extent, Darrel Williams. Guice gained 1,153 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in the Tigers’ 12 games. While he possesses everything but breakaway speed, Notre Dame needs to keep him in check or he’ll shred the Irish defense all day long.

Brandon Wimbush vs. LSU Defense

Wimbush hasn’t been afraid to go to the air during his first season behind center in South. Yet with players like Chase Claypool, Kevin Stepherson and Alize Mack unavailable for this matchup, the gameplan may shift to relying heavily on Adams.

If that strategy doesn’t work, Wimbush will have to do battle with an LSU secondary that has perennial NFL talent of the future on the field. Going underneath might be an option, given the injuries that struck the Tiger linebacking corps, though that requires the Notre Dame offensive line to keep LSU defenders away from Wimbush.

Julian Love vs. DJ Chark

Love is another of the Irish defenders that made a name for himself during the 2017 regular season. Usually matched up against the opposition’s top receiver, he was usually able to come out on top by contributing 20 pass deflections and 17 pass breakups. He also had a flair for the dramatic by returning two of his three interceptions for touchdowns and coming close on the other pick.

Chark had been quiet prior to 2017 but has emerged as the chief throwing option for LSU signal caller Danny Etling. The 6-3 senior comes into the Notre Dame contest with 35 receptions and three touchdowns, though he’s averaging 23.2 yards per catch. His deep-play capability, coupled with his use on end arounds and punt returns make him someone that figures to keep Love busy.

Quenton Nelson vs. Christian LaCouture

Nelson has been one of the keys to the resurgent Irish offensive line, teaming with Mike McGlinchey to offer Brandon Wimbush some needed protection as he worked though his first season at quarterback. Nelson has largely performed those duties well, yet will be up against a stiff challenge during this final game on the Notre Dame football schedule.

That’s because LaCouture is physically a handful at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, which has helped him bring down 63 ballcarriers this season. That’s good for second-best among Tiger defenders. He also ranked among the team leaders when it came to tackles-for-loss and sacks, so Nelson can’t afford to let down his guard during the game.

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7 comments

  1. Michael the Archangel 2 years ago

    Can you simulate LSU’s elite speedy D’ and outstanding DBs in a few December practices? I doubt it. And minus three of your top 4 receivers !

    Smokey is right. Vary your strategy and you have a chance.
    The constant in the winners this bowl season has been pressuring the QBs, disrupting their rhythms, and running plays and from formations the other team hadn’t practiced for.
    Just win, Irish!

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  2. duranko 2 years ago

    This is an extraordinarily beneficial matchup for Notre Dame.

    In this way: it is the very best way to prepare for 2018. The Irish could have been stuck with some ham-and-egger like
    Kentucky or West Virginia or Washington State.

    But LSU”s power guarantees that the players will be focused.

    That’s not the most important thing. The ’17 Irish demonstrated, with the new staff and coordinators, that they can handle
    their inferiors.
    And the Irish were in the game against Stanford until the Turnover Condor swooped in from California’s Central Valley.

    The Irish had major problems with Georgia and Miami. Why? Because they either had incredible defensive speed (Miami) or because they had phenomenal power accompanied by great speed (Georgia’s mighty Bulldogs).
    You improved and take the next step by working on your weaknesses. And LSU’s defensive speed as well as their absurdly talented secondary allows the Irish to look the monster of their weakness directly in the eye.
    It’s been over a month since the end of the regular season. Long and Rees and Wimbush are aware of what the issues are.

    In a perfect world, the following three results would occur.

    (1) The Irish win
    (2) Wimbush passes better than he did against Georgia, Miami and Stanford.
    (3) The LSU defense scares the ghosts of Rockne and Leahy into the Irish squad.Wimbush has just the right balance of confidence and hunger going into the offseason.

    All of which would combine to leave these twin thoughts in the minds of the offseason ’18 Irish:

    (1) We’re 10-3 and we can trust the coaches. We’re not there, but we’re close!
    (2) Man, we have a lot of work to get ready for America’s great defenses if we want to be a playoff team!
    We won, but LSU gave us fits.

    This could be very interesting.

    Go Irish!

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  3. SMOKEY ROB 2 years ago

    PLAY CALLING BY THE IRISH WILL DECIDE THIS GAME. IF THEY DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING, THEY LOSE. MISDIRECTION, REVERSES, SCREENS, PLANNED QB RUNS, NEW FORMATIONS, AT LEAST THREE DEEP SHOTS. GOING HEAD TO HEAD WITH A GOOD LSU D WILL NOT WORK. AS GOOD AS OUR LINE IS, 5!GUYS CANNOT BLOCK 8. LSU WILL LOAD THE BOX. HELL, FOLLOW THE GAME PLAN FROM THREE YEARS AGO. THEY RAN ZAIRE, WITH EXTRA BLOCKERS. WIMBUSH IS A BETTER RUNNER, TOO. WE WILL NEED TO SCORE SOME POINTS. GUICE IS A LOAD. GO IRISH!?????

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

      Smokey you are exactly right…5 guys cannot block 8…or even 7 elite SEC defenders…that’s why the spread makes no sense at all when you can’t pass the ball effectively. We passed at MSU in quarter one…outstanding passing! Surgical passing! Then, when they adjusted their defense for that, our “O” line and running backs disemboweled them for the rest of the game on the ground. And MSU was a damn good team…as was USC for that matter. But I’ve been waiting for a reappearance of that passing attack since that night in September, and sadly, it now looks like it was an outlier. I hope somebody proves me wrong Monday afternoon. If not, I don’t see this as turning out as well as our guys deserve for all the work they did in the off season.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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    2. Positive Pete 2 years ago

      Spot on Smokey!!!! Jazz up the offense is the way to go ??? What happened to CJ Sanders in the offense ? I would love to see him back especially on some reverse calls like he ran the last couple of years. He has the speed. I say use him as a game changer!!!!!!!! Go IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Greg Kelly 2 years ago

    Orgeron may beat up people off the street, but He ain’t gonna beat up the Fightin Irish. McGlinchey, Nelson will clear the way and Tranquil will lead the defense to Citrus Bowl Victory.

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

      If we win, those are two of several things that will have to happen. A third is a coherent and consistent passing game. A fourth is a good kicking and punting game.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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