Weekly Matchups: Notre Dame Opens Home Campaign with Historic Clash Against Tennessee State

Starting the home portion of the 2023 campaign this Saturday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish find themselves as prohibitive favorites against the Tennessee State Tigers. The end result shouldn’t be in doubt in this history-making outing which pits the Irish against an HBCU team for the first time ever.

Notre Dame will have the challenge of trying to improve upon their performance in Ireland last Saturday when the Irish coasted over the Navy Midshipmen in a 42-3 rout. In contrast, Tennessee State will be taking the field for the first time this season. Tigers head coach Eddie George, the former Heisman winner from Ohio State, is hoping that his third season at the helm will see an improvement on last year’s 4-7 mark.

Below are some of the key matchups to look at on Saturday

QB Sam Hartman vs. Tennessee State Defense

Hartman’s debut with the Irish went about as well as anyone could have imagined, with the Wake Forest transfer completing 19 of 23 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Strong play up front allowed him to stay well-protected, with a potent running game also aiding his cause. Another strong performance here could allow backup Steve Angeli to get in more valuable reps.

The Tigers allowed just under 25 points per game last year, with a trio of losses accounting for a total of 135 points. Those losses came against talent that likely pales in comparison to the Irish, so a steep challenge awaits Tennessee State’s defenders. Putting up any sort of competitive battle for a good portion of the contest would help provide a moral boost for the rest of their season.

Notre Dame Defense vs. QB Draylen Ellis

Shutting down any running threat from Navy’s largely one-dimensional offense made for an easy game for the Irish defense. This week, the pass defense figures to see much more action, given the struggles the Tigers had last year in establishing a running attack. That’s especially true if Notre Dame takes command early in the game.

Ellis threw for 1,807 yards last year, his first with the Tigers after transferring from Austin Peay. Eight touchdown passes were countered by six interceptions, so Irish ballhawks will look to exploit any mistakes he makes. He ran 50 yards for a score on a quarterback trap against Tennessee Tech last season, so keeping him behind the line of scrimmage is recommended.

T Blake Fisher vs. DE Terrell Allen

Fisher, like his fellow members of the offensive line, had little trouble against Navy with the Irish rolling up 444 yards of total offense. There’s no reason to think that such success won’t continue, considering that he has a six-inch height advantage over Allen. From Fjamin Morriisher’s perspective, getting the job done again should translate into another big day for Hartman.

Allen has played on both sides of the line for both Tennessee State and his former school, Austin Peay. Last season with the Tigers, he made 20 solo stops and also managed to reach double-digits in tackles-for-loss. He can get to the quarterback, though getting the better of Fisher in this game is probably not in the cards.

CB Benjamin Morrison vs. WR Karate Brenson

Morrison had little to do against run-focused Navy, finishing with just two solo tackles. That will change in this game, with a likely early advantage for the Irish leading to the Tigers trying to move the chains through their passing game. He’s coming off a strong freshman season and is poised to take his game to the next level with a similar performance this year.

Brenson is the leading returning receiver for the Tigers, with just 25 grabs last season that included just one touchdown. His two biggest games came in Tennessee State’s last two contests, so bigger things could be in store in 2023. As a result of the Tigers’ shaky running game, an offensive attack through the air that uses Brenson seems likely.

RB Audric Estime vs. LB James Green

Estime appeared to pick up where he left off by rushing for 95 yards on 16 carries against Navy, also reaching the end zone with the first Notre Dame score of the year. He’s a runner who doesn’t go down easily and probably won’t have too much trouble topping his numbers this week. However, avoiding his fumbling issues will be something to work on.

Green may experience some rustiness after missing last season with an injury. In 2021, he led the Tigers in tackles and made seven stops behind the line. He also managed an interception while also forcing and recovering a fumble. His name should be heard a number of times on Saturday, though how often it happens remains a question mark.

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  1. Poor little david, sums it up
    Your a “unloved and unwanted child”
    And your right and it’s not fair that your here
    Too bad your mommy or (birthing person as you might call it) didn’t abort you

    1. And let your Congress representative know that a woman’s choice, and her access to reproductive health care, are basic rights.
      Because bringing an unwanted, unloved child into this world is not fair to anyone.

  2. NCAA denies 2nd transfer to Sanders recruit.

    Kid responds by playing the “crazy card” in a tik tok rant (mental health is, coincidentally, the single alowed reason for granting immeiate eligibilty for a 2nd transfer. How ’bout that?!)

    ….now followed by “Coach Prime” (uuuuuurpppp….!) tossing gasoline on the fire by warning (!) the NCAA that if anything bad happens to the kid becaseu he is NOT playing football this season, it will be their fault.

    Crass abuse of NCAA rules, abuse of medical privacy laws, and topped with tacit extortion. All becasue this putz of a coach needs yet another import player on his fake college team.

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