The Irish aren’t quite an offensive juggernaut the way Clemson is, but quarterback Ian Book carries a wealth of experience — and a 25-3 record as Notre Dame’s starter — and their tight end unit is one of the best such groups in the country.
Tech had some success stopping a talented tight end last week in Boston College’s Hunter Long, but Thacker was quick to point out that nearly all of Notre Dame’s tight ends excel at both blocking and pass-catching, which makes them harder to stop.
“This past week, Hunter Long was a fine blocker, but you knew that in passing situations, on third-down situations, his dominant trait was that he had ball skills, and we could key on him,” Thacker said. “... This week, because of their base personnel being 12 personnel, two tight ends on the field, you have to be able to adjust. Now, within that, which tight end is on the field, that matters as well. They have guys that are more pass-catchers in certain situations. We’ve gotta be keyed into that, but all of them have a dual capacity to block and run and make you have your hands full.”
The Irish defense ranks sixth in the nation, per Sports-Reference.com, though the top four teams have all played only one game. They allow less than 10 points per game on average, and opposing offenses average just 273 total yards per game.
“They have a strong defense,” running back Jordan Mason said. “They have some good blitz schemes. They’re a sound-all-over defense, so we’ve just gotta come in with what we know and what we’ve seen on film and just play the game that I know we can play.”