Notre Dame D Line Will Wreak Havoc on Opposing Quarterbacks

The Fighting Irish return a core group along the defensive line that will create problems for opposing offenses this fall.

Marcus Freeman will return the top six pass rushers from an 11-2 Notre Dame Football team last season. Unquestionably the biggest strength for the Irish this fall will be in the trenches. Whether it is the offensive or defensive line, there will be size, strength, and talent. Although the national media thinks the program will take a step back in 2022, Coach Freeman is poised to build off the success the Irish have witnessed during the College Football Playoff era.

Irish Defensive Line will be elite

From week one to the end of the season, the Irish had a dominant group along the defensive line. In Tallahassee, the unit came out of the gates on fire with five sacks, 8 tackles for loss, and 6 quarterback hurries in a week one victory over the Seminoles and did not look back. The Notre Dame Defense finished with 41 sacks in 13 games (includes sacks from linebackers and secondary as well).

The defense averaged 3.15 sacks per game and were 13th in the country in overall sacks, even though most programs ahead of them played 14 or even 15 games.

Notre Dame’s defensive line is headlined by pre-season All-American Isaiah Foskey, who decided to stay in South Bend for another opportunity at a national championship. Alongside Foskey are projected starters Rylie Mills, Jacob Lacey, and Jayson Ademilola.

Depth defines the Defensive Line

The Irish have backups that could be starting for a lot of other division one football programs across the country. Nana Osafo-Mensah, Chris Smith, Howard Cross III, Justin Ademilola, and others will get significant playing time off the bench for the Fighting Irish. Marcus Freeman likes to substitute multiple players in on defense and having depth will certainly help to create a fresh pass rush.

Longtime Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston left the group in good hands for first year defensive line coach Al Washington. Previously the linebacker coach at Ohio State, Washington brings a wealth of experience to the Irish front. Over the past decade he has coached at Boston College, Cincinnati, Michigan, and most recently Ohio State.

Recruiting was also a driving force for the hiring Coach Washington. Although the Irish narrowly lost out on five-star Keon Keeley, the 2023 class still includes 4-star defensive linemen Brenan Vernon, Boubacar Traore, and Devan Houstan.

Final Thoughts

Notre Dame’s pass rush was their biggest strength on the gridiron last fall. While the offense fought through injuries and adversity early in the season, the Notre Dame Defense kept the team in games against Cincinnati, Purdue, and Wisconsin, among other matchups early on in 2021.

Marcus Freeman and Al Golden will undoubtedly be sending all types of exotic blitzes again this year, like we saw in Coach Freeman’s first season in South Bend as coordinator. However, there is something to be said for getting pressure on the quarterback by only rushing four players and the Fighting Irish can do so.

Throughout the season and against Ohio State in week one specifically, getting pressure on the quarterback will be one of the top advantages for the 2022 Notre Dame Football team.

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  1. The great Colorado teams of the nineties used one or two tight ends split about three yards from the tackles.
    In the backfield was a triple threat QB
    and a future Heisman winning RB. Nice stuff, no?!!
    BGC 77 82

  2. We’ve “lost” Keeley when he signs somewhere else. We’ve probably lost him if he commits somewhere else.

  3. I’d try spliting Mayer out by himself along a sideline and throwing him a jump ball, he can win quite often!

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