Week 1: Notre Dame vs. Louisville
Louisville is a young team with some talent but senior-wise it comes down to wide receiver Seth Dawkins, who made a fantastic back-shoulder catch early in the game that showcased his body control and natural ball skills. Similarly impressive is punter Mason King who physically looks like a linebacker while standing 6-4 and 215 lbs. The senior displayed his superior leg strength in both pregame warmups and during the game, regularly hanging punts up north of 4.5 seconds – which is impressive!
Notre Dame is a senior-rich team that physically looks like an NFL squad. One of the most impressive looking prospects is wide receiver Chase Claypool, who at 6-4, 230 has a frame reminiscent of Larry Fitzgerald’s. The senior receiver showed his ability to body-up throws, run physically and build up his speed with his long strides downfield, but there is more talent here than production and I’d like to see him make some dominant plays like he’s capable of.
An intriguing fellow wideout is Chris Finke who’s the complete opposite of Claypool in size and is the shiftier/slot type outlet who also adds value in the return game. Running back Tony Jones Jr. displayed his run skill and vision while exploiting holes in Louisville’s front. Up front, starting left tackle Liam Eichenberg looks like some of his recent team predecessors with his long body and length that he uses to keep defenders at arm’s reach. Fellow right guard Tommy Kraemer provide some road graders for Jones Jr. to run behind, and Kraemer is every bit of that 319 pounds while getting after it in the run game.
On defense, the Irish have a plethora of pass-rushing talent with seniors Daelin Hayes, Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem. All three look the part physically while possessing long arms to help maintain separation from blockers, and their sheer depth of numbers should mean they can continue to rotate throughout games to remain fresh. In the secondary, Troy Pride made a couple nice plays from his cornerback position, showing a willingness to get physical while remaining sticky in coverage. Fellow DB Jalen Elliott is a good-looking safety who I think is playing a bit out of position at the free safety spot. Elliott reminds me a bit of Landon Collins in how he’s built, and he made a couple nice open-field tackles that saved gains from becoming more explosive. I’d like to see his imposing presence down near the line of scrimmage, however, where he can get involved in even more run plays and utilize his length while matching up with tight ends versus the pass.