clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Notre Dame Football: W.I.N. (What’s Important Now) — Ohio State Buckeyes Week

It’s time to kick off our 2022 version of Project W.I.N. — it’s game week, folks!!!!!

Good lord, why does drinking on a Saturday at age 31 mean still feeling hungover 40+ hours later? And now I have to lead this meeting and deal with people like Steve, the guy who can’t help but make small talk about the weather, and Emily, who consistently doesn’t understand how to use the mute function, despite it being over two years since COVID happened??

Kill. Me.

Okay, welp, at least I’ve got a big mug of coffee that I mostly haven’t spilled yet. Let’s get this over with.

*Clicks “Join Call” button*


*Clicks “Turn On Video” and “Unmute” buttons and quickly stops frowning*

Good morning everybody!! How’s everyone doing?

I’m doing alright, yeah my weekend was good — it was pretty low-key, just had a few friends over on Saturday, hit up the farmers market on know the usual.

Yeah, it was a really nice weekend, Steve. A little hotter than I like but love the sunny days!

Anyway, I think we’ve got just about everyone on who’s gonna make the call today, so we can go ahead and dive in.

So today — Emily? Hey Emily, could you please go on mute? Yeah sorry, I’m getting some feedback/background noise from you. Ope, you’re on mute now and I can’t hear what you’re saying...yep, no worries, thanks.

Okay anyway, welcome back to everyone on the team! We’ve got a great group to work on this year’s W.I.N. project, many of whom helped execute successfully on our W.I.N. initiatives last year, so I’m confident we’re gonna be quite successful in achieving our goals for Q3 and Q4.

Can everyone see my screen?

Okay great!

For any new team members — or even as a refresher for those who were here last year — I wanted to quickly run through some basic training on what we’re looking to accomplish here, making sure to level-set expectations, define our KPIs for success, etc.

Then we can dive into some of the specifics — we’ve got a lot to cover today to prepare for our first milestone on Saturday evening, which is quickly approaching.

So with that said, here’s the agenda for today’s call. Like I said, we’ll start out with some defining of the W.I.N. initiative and what our regular meeting cadence and project management processes will look like, and then we’ll start talking about the competition and the plan for hitting our initial objectives for this week.

Any questions before we jump into it?

Awesome, okay well let’s quickly review “W.I.N.” and how it will drive success for our project team throughout the balance of the year.

W.I.N., of course, comes from former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz. Before his time fruitlessly trying to get in contact with Brian Kelly, Holtz wrote in his book Winning Every Day, “What’s important now? To evaluate the past, focus on the future, and tell you what you have to do in the present.”

It’s this exact exercise that we strive to do with W.I.N., assessing the past and future in order to determine what is most important for our beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team right now.

In addition to the useful cheat sheet with the definition of W.I.N., I’ve also got this little slide to show you how the weekly process will work here — I believe it’s pretty straightforward, but please chime in if you have any questions or concerns about what you see on this slide!

Okay, now that we’re clear on what we’re trying to do here, let’s discuss recent results.

Typically this slide will cover the prior week’s status updates, but since this is our project kickoff call, we’ll just cover at a high-level what’s happened since we closed the 2021 project and what’s important to know heading into this year’s W.I.N. initiative.

As you can see here, plenty of positives and negatives for us to review and learn from as we set our go-forward strategy. The program has seen a change in program director, as Marcus was promoted into the role when Brian left to pursue another opportunity. He’s done a great job so far and we’re excited about the energy and vision he will bring to the team as we kick off this project.

Similarly, we’re excited about lots of talented individuals in the program this year, having added key team members like Brandon Joseph to the secondary squad, bringing a familiar face back in Marist Liufau to help out with the Linebacking committee, and of course the veteran talent we still have working in the receivers department, such as Michael Mayer and Lorenzo Styles, who are doing a lot of heavy lifting after some turnover there and will be very important to our success. Logan coming back from the leave he had to take after his torn labrum is also fantastic news for the running back room, which has been a bit shorthanded of late.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Cheryl Evans/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Additionally, the latest trainee class brings an injection of youth and fresh perspectives, and we’re especially excited to be adding various members of the new hire class to this project team to help with some of the more granular work — Tobias Merriweather, Eli Raridon, and Holden Staes will all be helping Michael and Lorenzo drive success at receiver to varying degrees, and we’ll be adding a few resources to the defensive team as well to help staff all the man-hours required there for this project.

Furthermore, we’re very enthused to bring back such an experienced and talented defensive line sub-team to this project, led by their managers Isaiah Foskey and Jayson Ademilola. We expect great things from them.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, and a big shout-out to Tyler for being officially named QB1 — that was a thorough and difficult process with more than one good candidate, and we think Tyler will do great things taking control of that role and leading the execution side of the offense.

With all that said, not everything has been perfect since we wrapped up the last project in January, so I wanted to briefly touch on some opportunities for improvement. Injuries have certainly hurt the enterprise over the last few months, with Jadarian and Mitch and Avery and Jarrett suffering an array of maladies to go along with Logan’s shoulder issues.

Furthermore, the HR staff is still working with a recruiting firm — the Transfer Portal — to try to bolster the wide receiver team, but has had little to no luck so far. That is a big action item going forward, to ensure we find a creative solution to our resource need in those roles.

And then finally, despite a lot of great work being done by our University Relations team, there have been some wavering new hires who’ve backed off commitments, or are potentially going to do so, in favor of competitive offers suddenly being sent to them. So we’re working with Brady and the F.U.N.D. team to understand if there’s anything else we can offer there or if we need to find a new way to recruit great talent, because there’s no question that’s a core value for this company.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

So, that’s just a quick overview of the last 8 months — obviously there’s been plenty more to happen, but I believe those are the heavy hitters of note. Any questions before I move forward?

Great, so here’s our Project W.I.N. scorecard. I wanted to go over this with you so you understand the structure and format of it — we’ll be using this to discuss the status of the key action items we’ve laid out in the Project Plan and tracking progress against those milestones, due dates, ownership of each task in the plan, etc.

There will be a lot more to discuss here starting next week and I don’t think we have time for me to read all these off, but for now I’ve laid out some of the key initial tasks that need to be completed by the end of this week, as well as a few overarching action items we’ll be parallel-pathing over the next 3-4 months and will want to monitor throughout the project with any watch-outs, risks, obstacles, and key achievements. Celebrating our successes is important — even the small ones — and so we want to be sure we do that as well.

Speaking of celebrating our successes on this project team, here’s where we will do some spotlight awards on key team members and their accomplishments throughout the project.

Today, I’ve decided to give a few shout-outs for some awesome work that’s been done of late, including Isaiah, Jarrett, Michael, and Brandon all being named to the AP’s Preseason All-American list, and Tyler for his promotion to starting quarterback. I also wanted to honor the new hires who’ve already made a major impact with their work this summer — including Bryce and the surprising speed he’s brought to the group (it was mentioned on the Irish Illustrated podcast that he won a race involving all the freshmen in June), and shout-out Xavier for truly exemplifying the company’s core values with his willingness to be a team player and serve in whatever role is required of him.

Finally, I wanted to note for all that we’ve got some folks with some really great off-the-field talent they’ve put on display, what with Isaiah and Michael showing us their acting chops alongside great actors like Mike Golic and Mike Golic Jr., and to a handful of guys who showed some serious vocal talent during some recent karaoke sessions. Songbirds of their generation, for sure!

I’m very happy to say all of these folks will be receiving a Chipotle gift card in their inboxes soon after this call, so I hope you can all enjoy a burrito bowl on us and savor this recognition of your excellent work during the off-season!

Also, we need to give some special recognition to another group of excellent leaders who truly represent the reason we feel our talented people and great leadership are core competencies for the organization.

It’s my immense pleasure to congratulate Avery, Jarrett, Isaiah, J.D., Bo, and Michael on their recently-announced captainship!!!!

Each of them is truly a Notre Dame man and we look forward to seeing how they lead our team into the thick of things this coming season.

Let’s get a quick digital round of applause for these guys!

And for Bo Bowower, who is essentially also a captain based on this news — congrats to this excellent pup!

Alrighty, we’re running a bit behind here, so in the interest of time I’m going to try to work through these next few slides as fast as possible. It’s time to start looking forward to this weekend and discuss the competitor, as the key to beating the competition always lies in knowing the competition.

So, let’s start with a competitor overview for the season opener against those pesky little Buckeyes from Ohio State!

I’ll let you all review this slide in more detail on your own, but I just wanted to point out a few key bits of information here on this Labor Day Weekend opponent:

  • First, please note the excellent picture I was able to find of Ryan Day, current Ohio State Buckeyes head coach and former New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year. Day hails from Manchester, New Hampshire and played QB for the University of New Hampshire, where he set multiple school records while slinging the pigskin for his offensive coordinator, Chip Kelly.
  • Please also note the Ohio State mascot, Brutus Buckeye. I have plenty of questions about him and feel it probably merits another call dedicated to that topic, but for now I just want to know how a buckeye has grown appendages and why he’s one of the scariest mascots in the country, alongside Purdue Pete and Providence’s Friar Dom. Nightmare fuel.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Ohio State at Minnesota
  • Opponents always have a couple tiny schools or random teams they played once in the early 20th century, lost to, and never played again, and that’s funny. But it’s also funny that the great Ohio State football program has never defeated Air Force in a game, losing a Liberty Bowl matchup in 1990 by somehow only scoring 11 points against the Falcons en route to a double-digit loss.
  • Ohio State’s alumni list is all over the board, including such reputable folks as Jeffrey Dahmer (I guess not technically an alum, but he attended for a quarter) and white supremacist Andrew Anglin, as well as fun and weird dudes like the founder of Shoney’s (that restaurant I’ve seen at nearly every exit on road trips but never once even come close to eating at), the guy who coined the term “rock and roll,” an honest-to-God president of the United States, and even more accomplished people like the creator of the Nickelodeon cartoon Doug and the GOAT himself Mr. R.L. Stine.

Study the rest of this page and please use it as a point of reference this week — it’s critical we learn as much as we can about these guys heading into Saturday.

Okay, diving a bit deeper into the competition, here’s a really helpful data point — the best names Ohio State has to offer on their roster!

My personal favorite is probably Joop Mitchell or Steele Chambers, and some other ones near and dear to my heart include Hero Kanu, Kojo Antwi, Corban Cleveland, Blaize Exline, Zen Michalski, Lathan Ransom, Lloyd McFarquhar, Tegra Tshabola, and Jantzen Dunn.

Okay, flipping to the next slide...the other thing I just wanted to point out, in perusing the Buckeyes roster, is how many players they have with connections to guys we’ve certainly heard of on our side.

I imagine plenty of college rosters at this point are littered with some recognizable names, but I find it kind of fascinating that Ohio State appears to have 5 different siblings of current or former ND football players on their team, with the brothers of Lorenzo Styles, Liam Eichenberg, Shayne Simon, Daniel Cage, and Brad Carrico all on the OSU squad. Furthermore, some other recognizable names related to famous football folks appear in the depth chart, including Marvin Harrison’s son, Troy Vincent’s kid, and one of Kirk Herbstreit’s offspring.

There’s not much use for this knowledge, but I figured if I’m going to be doomed to know it, you all should too. Maybe you can inspire some mild fascination amongst your friends and family you watch the game with — there’s always that, I suppose!

Anyway, let’s move forward and talk about some of the competitive insights we’ve begun to glean in our market research on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

If you couldn’t tell by their #2 ranking and seemingly unstoppable recruiting machine over the last 5-7 years, OSU has plenty of raw talent to work with, including 5 Preseason AP All-Americans all on the offensive side of the ball. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, RB TreVeyon Henderson, and OT Paris Johnson all made the 1st team, while QB C.J. Stroud and OT Dawand Jones were named on the 2nd team. There’s a reason OSU’s offense is ranked #1 in the preseason SP+ offensive rankings.

It’s important to note that Stroud’s inclusion on the 2nd team is essentially only because the 1st Team QB is reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young. Stroud’s 2021 season was absurd, at least from a statistical perspective, considering he threw for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions while completing 72% of his passes.

Sure, he was throwing to three All-American caliber receivers in Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Smith-Njigba, but Stroud is an elite passer who’s expected to be a top selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, for sure. The Irish will have their work cut out for them in trying to limit his production.

One of the biggest reasons it could be a struggle is Smith-Njigba, who managed to reel in 95 passes for 1,606 yards and 9 touchdowns last season despite having to share targets with Olave and Wilson, who combined for 135 receptions, 1,994 yards, and 25 touchdowns. The loss of those two is huge for Ryan Day’s offense, no doubt, but Smith-Njigba’s 15-catch, 347-yard, 3-TD performance in the Rose Bowl against Utah should be an indication how dangerous the Buckeyes passing attack still is with him out wide. The ND secondary is going to have to BRING IT, and the Irish pass rush is going to need to work fast and get to Stroud early and often so that Smith-Njigba isn’t given ample time to burn them.

He won’t be the only weapon for Stroud to throw to, though — he’s simply the only well-established one. But OSU has been signing blue-chip receiver recruits at a ridiculous rate of late, and so there are a handful of former 5-star guys ready to step into prominent roles with so many passes to now go around.

Marvin Harrison Jr., the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison (GO HORSE!!!), is expected by many to have a breakout season after flashing a bit in 2021 with 11 receptions, 139 yards, and 3 touchdowns (all 3 coming in the Rose Bowl). Other potentially important receiver targets for Stroud would include junior Julian Fleming (12 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD in 2021) — who was a 5-star 2020 recruit ranked #3 overall in the 247sports Composite Rankings — and Emeka Egbuka, a 5-star 2021 recruit who ranked 10th overall in the Composite and caught 9 passes for 191 yards as a true freshman last season.

Ohio State will need to replace their starting tight end as well, with Jeremy Ruckert (26 receptions, 309 yards, 3 TDs) having moved on to the NFL. Cade Stover and Joe Royer are the two names to know in terms of his replacement, but with just 6 career catches between them, it’s unclear how good they can be in this Ryan Day offense. Stover signed with the Buckeyes in 2019 as a 4-star linebacker recruit, and Royer was a 3-star prospect in 2020. Considering how productive this offense is through the air, though — as well as the amount of the Irish defense’s focus that will need to go toward Smith-Njigba and the wide receivers — don’t be surprised to see a few productive plays out of those two big targets.

Unfortunately for Marcus Freeman and Al Golden, game-planning for Ohio State isn’t as simple as simply selling out to prevent the pass. OSU’s starting running back is true sophomore TreVeyon Henderson, who managed to run for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie while picking up 6.8 yards per carry with his tremendous speed and home run ability. He also added 27 receptions for 312 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns, proving to be a back who could do it all and is considered a Heisman candidate along with Stroud and Njigba thanks to his versatile and scary talent.

Backing him up is no pushover either, as Miyan Williams ran for 507 yards and 3 scores on 7.1 yards per carry last season. RB3 Evan Pryor recently suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice, so OSU is certainly seeing some similar issues in running back depth to ND. But the one-two punch of Henderson and Williams should be more than enough for OSU to run their full offense on Saturday, and the Irish defensive front will need to be as sure-tackling as they can against such explosive runners.

Maybe the most important match-up for the Irish defense is in the trenches, as a lot of OSU’s effectiveness could be disrupted by the veteran ND defensive line and linebackers getting to Stroud, containing Henderson, and ultimately not leaving the DBs on too many islands for too long. Ohio State’s offensive line isn’t going to allow that to happen easily, though, with a pair of All-Americans at tackle in Johnson (6’6”, 315-pound junior LT and likely top-50 NFL Draft prospect) and Jones (6’8”, 360-pound RT). Both were 2nd Team All-Big Ten last season while playing guard, as now-NFL players Nicholas Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford manned the tackle positions last year.

At guard, the Buckeyes will have two new starters, likely being Matthew Jones and Donovan Jackson. Both are former top-100 recruits, with Jackson being a 5-star in the 2021 class.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Rounding out the group is center Luke Wypler, who’s a 6’3”, 300-pound rising star at the position and should be one of the top center prospects in the 2023 or 2024 NFL Draft, depending on when he decides to leave. This will be his second season starting at center for the Buckeyes, earning Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in 2021.

With all the above said, you’re looking at one of Notre Dame’s strongest (if not THE strongest) position groups in their defensive line going up against an OSU group with plenty of talent but only one guy playing the same position as last year, albeit two other 2021 starters are simply sliding outside to man the tackle spots. How much pressure Foskey, Mills, Ademilola 1 and 2, and the big men in the middle will be huge for how often the Irish will be able to force OSU off the field and keep them from piling up points in a blowout win.

Okay, now that we’ve discussed the VERY scary Ohio State offense, let’s get a little cheerier and discuss the flip-side. Ohio State’s defense last year certainly wasn’t horrible (allowed 20 points or less in 7 of 9 games in the middle-of-the-year stretch of the season), but in the biggest games of their year they got physically manhandled by the likes of Oregon (269 rushing yards on 7.1 yards per carry, 3 rushing TDs) and Michigan (297 rushing yards on 7.2 yards per carry, 6 rushing TDs) and to some extent Utah, considering they needed 48 points to defeat the Utes in the Rose Bowl and allowed 226 yards rushing, 2 rushing TDs, and 5.1 yards per carry.

They also trailed Minnesota at the half and very well could have fallen a third time in their 2021 season opener had Mo Ibrahim not gone down with a torn Achilles after amassing 163 yards and 2 touchdowns in just over two quarters of action.

Like the offense, the Buckeyes defense is littered with blue-chip talent, but it’s not at all inaccurate to say that they’ve been getting a lot less out of that talent on that side of the ball than they have on offense. That, of course, is why they brought in Jim Knowles, whose name you may remember as the architect who built and coached the Oklahoma State Cowboys defense in 2021 that finished #4 in SP+, #9 in PPG, #1 in sacks, #2 in tackles for loss, and #5 in total defense and yards per play allowed, and ended up shutting down Tommy Rees’s offense in the second half of the Fiesta Bowl.

Knowles had already departed for OSU before that game, but it’s safe to say the Cowboys were still implementing his system and utilizing all the guys he developed into studs on that side of the ball, handing Freeman his first loss as head coach.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Knowles brings his 4-2-5 defensive alignment over to the Buckeyes, now working with a level of talent markedly better than what he was working with in Stillwater. Whether they’ve performed up to their hype or not, the Buckeyes defensive line is loaded with 5-star talent, including sophomore DE J.T. Tuimoloau, who was a 2021 5-star ranked #4 in the 247sports composite and who had a nice first season with 3.5 sacks.

He’ll be joined on the line by 2nd-Team All-Big Ten Zach Harrison (63 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 5 broken-up passes in 3 seasons), Taron Vincent, Tyleik Williams (5 sacks in 2021), and Jerron Cage, but the group will certainly miss Haskell Garrett, who led the team with 5.5 sacks a year ago. Other names to know are Javontae Jean-Baptiste (1.5 sacks), Jack Sawyer (3 sacks), and Ty Hamilton (2 sacks).

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

At linebacker, the Buckeyes will be led by some veteran guys, including Tommy Eichenberg (2nd on the team with 64 tackles in 2021, including 17 in the Rose Bowl), Steele Chambers (47 tackles), and Teradja Mitchell (44 tackles). Cody Simon could also factor in after amassing 54 tackles last season, although it seems he’s fallen in the depth chart a bit since last year. Arizona State transfer Chip Trayanum is another guy who will play plenty in that linebacker rotation.

In the secondary, it’s no surprise that the Buckeyes have some top-end talent there as well. CB Denzel Burke is considered potentially the next great OSU corner, as he managed 12 passes defended, an interception, and a touchdown as a true frosh in 2021. Cameron Brown should be the starter opposite him, coming off a solid junior year wherein he had 25 tackles and 7 passes defended. Jordan Hancock will likely rotate in as well.

Ohio State has two solid upperclassmen at safety in Ronnie Hickman (team-leading 98 tackles in 2021 to go along with 2 INTs, 1 FF, and a sack) and Josh Proctor (just 10 tackles last year because he broke his leg, so he will be significantly less experienced but back to 100% heading into this match-up), and Knowles brought over Tanner McCalister with him from Oklahoma State, giving OSU an experienced and talented nickelback who had 6 passes defended, 1 INT, and 42 tackles for that productive Cowboys defense last year.

So overall, this match-up of Ohio State’s talented but underachieving defense vs. Notre Dame’s young/inexperienced but promising offense could make or break the game, as the Irish will need to score plenty of points to keep up with the OSU offense, with the key likely being how much push Harry Hiestand’s boys can get against the Buckeyes and how easily Audric Estime/Chris Tyree/Logan Diggs/Tyler Buchner can gash them for those big-chunk running plays that eat clock, wear down a defense, and serve as the battering ram that smashes down the door to an upset.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Because, and this is the last insight I want to call out — Notre Dame’s strengths could make them the exact kind of team who’s been able to give OSU trouble and/or take down the Buckeyes. Strong offensive and defensive lines, a sound and punishing and relentless running game, and just enough efficiency and play-making ability to go snatch a victory on the road. Here’s to hoping the Irish take advantage of that and execute accordingly.

Okay, now that we’ve talked through OSU and their key guys, let’s get to the meet of this week’s action items — What’s Important Now???

As you can see, despite the limited knowledge about the competitor we have (since this is Game 1 of the season), we’ve managed to outline the key strategic imperatives that will hopefully drive success for our Irish.

First and foremost, the Notre Dame defensive front MUST keep C.J. Stroud under a constant state of pressure, duress, and hopefully distress. If he has time to sit in the pocket and wait for his 5-star receivers to get open against an ND secondary with plenty to prove before it collectively can be trusted, he will pick the Irish apart and this won’t be close.

Foskey needs to be the All-American we all know he is, and guys like Rylie Mills and Justin Ademilola need to consistently beat those preseason All-American tackles to make Stroud move a bit, as he’s not really a great runner (he’s not unathletic or super slow, but if his -20 yards rushing last year is any indication, he won’t be beating the ND defense with his legs.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Secondly, the front seven — especially the linebackers — need to key on containing/bottling up TreVeyon Henderson. He’s a threat to take it to the house from any distance, and thus the Irish need to focus on not missing tackles and on taking good pursuit angles. The 2019 Georgia game comes to mind in terms of how this can hopefully work for ND, as that squad did an excellent job corralling a Bulldog offense featuring D’Andre Swift that was supposedly going to steamroll Clark Lea’s guys.

Offensively, I don’t think it’s groundbreaking or surprising to hear at this point that the Irish need to establish the run in at least a somewhat similar fashion to the teams who beat up on OSU last season. Rees needs to be creative and use multiple-back sets, draw up some good plays for Buchner to beat the defense with his legs, etc. That will go a long way toward keeping the Irish from getting into a shoot-out with a bunch of Heisman skill position players and instead sticking with the program’s strengths in the trenches.

With that said, I don’t think ND can go out there and ONLY run the ball. Tyler Buchner is a first-time starter playing in a tough road environment with high stakes, so asking him to throw it 45-50 times seems like a poor decision. It’s not fair to ask him to out-gun C.J. Stroud. But he’s supposedly been throwing some dimes in camp, and even if he has some issues always being accurate, some well-placed shots downfield (play-action could be huge here) could mean the difference between possessions that end in punts vs. ones that end in points, which ND will need to maximize as much as possible.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The other two important items are simply to win the turnover battle, and to be efficient on third/fourth downs while preventing the Buckeyes from converting in those scenarios as much as possible. Ohio State is unequivocally more talented than the Irish, but that can always be offset by a turnover or two to swing momentum, eliminate a couple possessions as scoring opportunities for OSU, etc.

Maybe it’s Brandon Joseph recreating his extraordinary OSU INT from the past, or Foskey/Mills forcing a fumble on a blindside hit on Stroud, or maybe just an Irish linebacker stripping Henderson or Williams within a scrum. The Irish will need to take the ball away a bit to level the playing field and give themselves a chance.

Similarly, The Athletic’s Pete Sampson has pointed out a few times now that something clear from OSU’s 2021 losses was that the teams playing the Buckeyes converted their 3rd and 4th down chances and did a good job keeping Ohio State from being very successful in that regard. If the Irish can do that, along with forcing a turnover or two and accomplishing the other goals noted here, they will have an excellent chance to be in position later in the game to pull off an upset as 17.5-point underdogs.

Okay, I see we’re already a couple minutes over time, and most of us have other meetings we need to jump to — before we hang up, does anyone have any questions about everything we just covered?

Okay great, well I will send this deck out later today along with some meeting minutes for your reference and for you to peruse in more detail at your leisure.

Please let me know if you need me to clarify anything, and otherwise I would just like to say it’s exciting that we’re back at it again with Project W.I.N. 2.0 and I look forward to attacking our competition with this great initiative each week!

Alright, thanks everyone and have a great rest of your Monday!!!

*Presses “End Call” button*

*Immediately sees face in black screen after hanging up, with the cheery grin morphing into the tired, grumpy frown of a guy who needs another mug of coffee to get through the rest of this week while only thinking about Saturday*