Notre Dame v. Miami Ohio Key Matchups

Having gained a tremendous amount of momentum from its most impressive victory of the season last Saturday night, the 3-1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish may be in line to catch a breather as they face a MAC team for only the third time in their storied history. The team in question is the Miami of Ohio RedHawks, coached by former Irish OC Chuck Martin, who will arrive in South Bend with a 2-2 mark after a convincing 31-14 road victory over their conference rival, the Central Michigan Chippewas.

In their four games, the RedHawks have done a good portion of their damage during the first half, scoring 69 of their 105 total points during the opening two quarters. The Irish, on the other hand, have balanced their scoring effort over each of the four quarters. One of the major reasons for Notre Dame’s renewed success is their ability to capitalize on mistakes, having scored virtually all their points after forcing a turnover.

Listed below are some key matchups that will be worth watching on Saturday:

Notre Dame Defense vs. Gus Ragland

Irish defenders have yet to allow more than 20 points per game in 2017 and have shown marked improvement from the horrors of last season. A more aggressive pass rush and ability to limit teams’ scoring potential in the red zone serve as some of the strongest calling cards, with just 38 percent of the latter attempts resulting in six points.

That defense figures to get a healthy test against Miami since Ragland is the focal point of the RedHawk offense. He’s already thrown for eight touchdowns in an offense that leans more toward the passing game. Last year, his insertion into the lineup turned what had been an 0-6 start into a 6-1 record the rest of the way, including a bowl berth.

The Irish have offered plenty of space in the secondary for receivers to grab passes on underneath routes. Given Ragland’s skills and his running ability, Notre Dame defenders have to be able to push past the Miami offensive line and make sure similar circumstances don’t develop, since that could allow him to pick apart the Irish defense over the course of the game.

Josh Adams vs. Brad Koenig

Adams continues to put up impressive numbers and has now collected 499 yards in the first four games, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He’s coming off a relatively quiet 56-yard effort at East Lansing, though his 30-yard scamper was one of the key plays on a third quarter touchdown drive and is indicative of the game-breaking potential he’s shown this year.

Koenig is Miami’s leading tackler at linebacker with 33 stops, including 21 unassisted, and has come a long way since joining the team as a walk-on. His leadership has helped the RedHawk defense get off to a strong start, with this unit having only allowed five touchdowns during the first four contests.

Nyles Morgan vs. Alonzo Smith

Morgan continues to be a force on defense, leading the team in tackles with 34 and generally making himself a nuisance on both the run and pass. The linebacker is likely to also see plenty of ball carrying from another Miami running back in Kenny Young, who actually leads the Redhawks in rushing with 220 yards and two touchdowns.

However, Smith’s number are close behind and he’s coming off a season in which he led the team in rushing with 709 yards. He hasn’t yet managed to put together a solid game yet this year, though such potential exists. Given the margin of error for the Irish, they can’t afford to let Smith, Young or another back, Maurice Thomas get comfortable toting the ball.

Equanimeous St. Brown vs. Heath Harding

With the Irish having shifted gears against Michigan State by opening up their passing game, Brown got some early attention that had been lacking during the first three games of the season. He’s still looking to get back to his success of last season and will have a height advantage of roughly seven inches against the 5-foot-10 Harding.

Yet taking the RedHawk cornerback lightly is a mistake. Harding finds a way to seemingly always be around the ball, having earned All-MAC honors last season. This season, he’s already collected 23 tackles, broken up a pair of passes and forced a fumble that he returned for 35 yards. Brandon Wimbush may end up using St. Brown as a decoy as a way to try and neutralize Harding.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Just a few words about Miami, Ara and Notre Dame.

    Post-war, Ara played at Miami of Ohio, as we called it in ancient days. We used to call their eponymous Southern twin, Miami of Florida, before they became “Da U.”

    Ara Raoul played for Sid Gilman at Miami. Gilman was ahead of his time with the vertical passing attack, and he
    established the West Coast template that paved the way for Air Coryell and sprinkled some passing pollen that, under other gardeners, became the West Coast Offense.

    After graduation, Ara had a cup of coffee with Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns. Ara had played for the great Paul
    Brown at Great Lakes. (Personal Note: I did some business with an ex-college star who played for both Halas and Paul Brown. He loved Halas, who was a pure motivator, but that Brown was the prince of tactics and organization.)

    Ara did not last long with the Browns, and a new football coach at Miami, who replaced Gilman gave Ara a job.
    The guy’s name was Wayne Woodrow Hayes. But Woody got a call from Columbus and they were looking for a
    replacement for Wes Fesler. Woody said yeah, and patrolled the Buckeye sidelines until he punched that Clemson linebacker, Charlie Baumann…..

    Ara was promoted to replace Woody and became the youngest head coach in America.

    At Miami, he had a star halfback, some guy by the name of Pagna.

    And for one year, Ara coached a feisty offensive guard from Barberton, Ohio.

    The guy’s name was Glenn E. Schembechler. But most people called him “Bo.” And Bo later was the head coach at Miami, before Don Canham, on a tip from Weeb Ewbank. hired him to replace Bobby Elliot’s dad, Chalmers “Bump” Eliot.

    So there was a lot going on at Miami: Gilman, Parseghian, Hayes, Pagna, Schembechler.

    A lot of Notre Dame’s DNA, as well as Michigan’s flowed through Oxford, Ohio.

    Among others, Earl “Red” Blaik, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton and Jim Tressel served as assistants at Miami of Ohio.

  2. More interesting than the final score: Will our guys play this hard, or will they just go through the motions? That will be telling.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. I agree with BGC in spades. They cannot afford to play down to the level of their opponent. I know I run the risk of being known as Johnny One-Note on the subject of execution but… Miami is a perfect opportunity to focus on execution on all elements of the game. I am predicting a win here but how they win is the big question.

      Go Irish

      Brad Sinclair

  3. “The 3-1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish may be in line to catch a breather as they face a MAC team…”

    This team cannot take anyone lightly, even a MAC team. Our coaching and relative youth always put us at risk for loses to inferior teams.

  4. ND should have no problems with this game. In fact, anything less than a blowout could be cause for concern. I think they should take the opportunity to iron out the passing game. Also, if ND takes command early, it’d be nice to see them put some reserves in the game, including Book. That would give their future players some valuable experience while at the same time giving the starters some rest.

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