Opponent Preview – Week 10 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish

I was going to get this preview out earlier this week, but I fumbled the depth chart and ::insert one of Clemson’s 2023 opponents here:: picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown.  Ok, that’s a terrible joke, and I apologize, but if I can’t chuckle about how unbelievably unlucky Clemson has been this season, I’d pull my hair out. 

Quite honestly, because of the four losses through 8 games, Clemson was not mentioned much on the talking head shows, that was, until “Tyler from Spartanburg” plastered that flood light right back on the Tigers.  

Week 10 of the season is here, and here comes arguably the best team Clemson will face this season, Notre Dame. 

Here is a look at everything you will need to know about the Tiger’s Week 9 Opponent:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

School Location: South Bend, Indiana

Time: 12PM ABC

2023 Record – 7-2  Last Game: Win vs. Pitt 58-7

7 Wins against: Navy, Central Michigan, Tennessee State, NC State, Duke, Southern Cal, Pitt

2 Losses against: Ohio State, Louisville

Head Coach: Marcus Freeman – 2nd Season – 16-6 Overall

Coach Freeman enters his second season as the head coach at Notre Dame, taking over for current LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly.  Freeman is known during his short tenure as a players coach inheriting the job after previously holding the defensive coordinator job there and previously at Cincinnati.  Freeman has seen some success right away boasting a 73% winning percentage in South Bend.  His first two years have seen a team that plays hard for him each and every week.


Offensive Coordinator: Gerad Parker – 1st year as OC;  (Previous: Notre Dame TE Coach)

Coach Parker inherited a prolific running game, with arguably the best RB in the country, and was gifted a very familiar QB that Clemson fans know very well.  Yet, outside of the last two weeks where Notre Dame has scored 58 and 45 respectively, Coach Parker was the target of Irish fans ire, as they only managed 17 and 20 points respectively in their two losses.     

Notre Dame is averaging 38.3 points per game (12th nationally) with 164.1 yards per game rushing (57th nationally) and 263.8 through the air (44th nationally) for an average of 427.9 yards of offense through 8 weeks, good enough for 41st nationally in total offense.

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as well as their 2023 statistics:

QuarterbackSam Hartman (Wake Forest)Graduate#1034 rush, 8 yds, 2 TDs149-228 2126 yds, 18 TDs, 5 Ints
Running BackAudric EstimeJunior#7146 rush, 920 yds, 12 TDs13 rec. 109 yds.
Wide ReceiverJayden ThomasSophomore#831 rush, 10 yds.17 rec. 251 yds. TD
Wide ReceiverRico Flores Jr.Freshman#17 17 rec. 250 yds. TD
Wide ReceiverChris TyreeSenior#42 rush, 3 yds19 rec. 417 yds. 3 TDs
Tight EndHolden StaesSophomore#1312 rec. 163 yds. 4 TDs
Left TackleJoe AltJunior#76 
Left GuardPat CooganSophomore#78
CenterZeke CorrellGraduate#52
Right GuardRocco SpindlerSophomore#50
Right TackleBlake FisherSophomore#54


Defensive Coordinator: Al Golden – 2nd Year – (Previous: Cincinnati Linebackers)

Coach Golden is a familiar name to Clemson fans, as he was the coach at Miami back during the golden runs for the Tigers.  Golden runs a hybrid 4-2-5 system, even dabbling a little bit in the 3-3-5 as well.  He utilizes a “Vyper” usually in a stand-up lineman role as well as a “Rover” as an extra linebacker/safety.  He’s doing something right because the Notre Dame defense will be the best Clemson will face all season long.  

The Notre Dame defense has given up an average of 15.3 points through their first nine games (10th nationally).  They have given up 121.3 yards per game on the ground (37th nationally) and 158.6 yards through the air (4th nationally).  Opponents are averaging a total of 279.9 yards per game (11th nationally).

The Irish are +9 in turnover margin through six games (T-8th nationally), having thrown 5 interceptions and also picking off 13 balls, as well as having caused 5 fumbles and have lost 4 fumbles in the seven games so far.  

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Irish on defense along with some stats from the season:

Defensive EndJavonte Jean-Baptiste (Ohio State)Graduate#134 tackles, 3 TFLs, 0.5 sack, 1 FR
Defensive TackleRylie MillsSenior#9931 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks
Defensive TackleHoward Cross IIIGraduate#5647 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, sack
VyperJordan BotelhoSenior#1220 tackles, 3 TFLs, 3 sacks
Middle LinebackerJD BertrandGraduate#2757 tackles, 5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks
Weakside LinebackerMarist LiufauGraduate#834 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, FR
RoverJack KiserGraduate#2443 tackles, TFL, sack
CornerbackCam HartGraduate#515 tackles, 3 TFL, FR
SafetyDJ BrownGraduate#234 tackles, TFL, Int.
SafetyXavier WattsJunior#039 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 6 Ints, FR
CornerbackBenjamin MorrisonSophomore#2020 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 2 Ints

Special Teams 

Here is a list of the specialists for the Fighting Irish along with statistics from the season so far:

KickerSpencer Shrader (South Florida)Graduate#3210-15, long of 54 yds
PunterBryce McFersonFreshman#1429 punts, 44.4 avg. long of 59 yds
Punt ReturnerChris TyreeSenior#48 returns, 18.3 avg. long of 82 yds. TD
Kick ReturnerDevyn FordGraduate#2217 returns, 17.9 avg. long of 25 yds.


As stated previous, this will be the best defense that Clemson has faced all season.  Although they are ranked, statistically, 7 places behind the Clemson defense, it is one of the top units in the country.  It will be a huge test for an anemic offense to face.  

There is a glimmer of hope though.  Sam Hartman has never beaten Clemson in his 6 years of college football.  Let’s hope that trend continues.  

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