I’ve already mentioned the staff turnover at Notre Dame. When Georgia rolls into South Bend, the Irish will be playing for new coordinators on both sides of the ball. In theory, that should put Brian Kelly a step behind Kirby Smart.
Maybe so, but in terms of the players on the field, Notre Dame will be anything but inexperienced. In fact, Ian Boyd sets up what should be a fascinating match up between Notre Dame’s offense and Georgia’s defense.
I’ve broken down the basics of the Long RPO attack before. The biggest bonus of this attack is the way it will create opportunities for the Irish to fully leverage their absurd collection of talent on offense. For whatever reason, Notre Dame has two offensive linemen who were eligible for the 2017 NFL draft but stayed in school. Now the Irish return a left side of Mike McGlinchey (a 6’8, 310-pound, fifth-year tackle) and Quenton Nelson (a 6’5, 325-pound fourth-year guard).
In fact, the Irish figure to return four starters from a year ago across the line, along with top wideout Equanimeous St. Brown and starting RB Josh Adams. So as far as skill, talent and blocking, they can check off the RPO offense requirements of being able to beat man coverage and run on an honest front.
Doesn’t that sound familiar. Georgia brings back every starter from last year’s defense, except for Maurice Smith, so you’re looking at two very experienced and talented groups facing off against each other.
The big questions may turn out to be whether Kelly’s new quarterback is ready to roll against that defense and how well Georgia’s staff prepares for what Chip Long will throw at them. I bet you’ve got some staffers deep in the bowels of Butts-Mehre breaking down every inch of tape on Memphis’ offense last year as you read this.