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Eleven Reasons why Notre Dame will beat Tennessee State

Weekly column looking at “Eleven Reasons Why...”

Jadarian Price scores his first touchdown as a Notre Dame football player
Photo Credit: Matt Cashore, Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Week Zero is in the books and the Irish soundly handled the Navy Midshipmen by a score of 42-3 in Dublin, Ireland. With the win the Irish move to 1-0 on the year and the second season for Coach Marcus Freeman is off to a tremendous start.

For those who want to listen, here is Episode 53 of the “Exit 77” Podcast where I am joined by ND grads Raj Basu and Adam Ortega. We look back at the Navy game and also take a look at what is ahead.

And thanks to Raj and Adam, a lot of what the three of us discussed on the pod makes up a good portion of this article.

BTW, new thought on my “Eleven Reasons Why...” column is that after each win, the reasons will get lower until we get down to “One Reason Why the Irish finished 11-1 this year.” Next week’s read better be “Ten Reasons Why...”.

Now let’s get into everything, looking at what we saw last week, how that translates to this week and why the Irish will beat Tennessee State.

#1 - Sam Hartman is LEGIT:

The ND Quarterback just knows what he is doing. Whether it is checking into the right calls, sidestepping oncoming rushers or just leading with that amazing beard and head of hair that he has, ND has not had a QB like him in a long time. I think we can expect much of what we saw overseas to play this weekend as well.

#2 - Linebacker Play:

Enough cannot be said about the experience that guys like Jack Kaiser, Marist Liufau and JD Bertrand bring to the table. They line up right, they know their assignments, they come with violence and they are sound. Look for another big game from this trio on Saturday, while also a chance for the young LBs to get some good run.

#3 - Running Back Depth:

How nice was it to see up to five running backs get the ball against Navy and not see much of a drop off between them? You get the sense that any of our five backs could be starting at colleges across the country and even if you are as well-regarded as Audric Estime is, you fumble and someone else is going to come in and take your spot for a bit. Look for over 200 yards from this group on Saturday.

#4 - Gerard Parker passed his first test:

Great work by our new offensive coordinator keeping Navy off balance. There was a good mix of run and pass and we were a really hard team to defend as we could beat you any number of ways. That type of offense can win a lot of games and Parker leaned into our strengths and did a wonderful job in Dublin. Think he replicates that against Tennessee State.

#5 - Marcus Freeman is growing into this job:

There was a calmness around Marcus Freeman this past week, and a lot of it could be because Sam Hartman is his QB, but one just gets the sense that he is coming into his own and that this is really and fully HIS team. Looking forward to lots of smiles from CMF come late Saturday afternoon.

#6 - Those Wide Receivers....”Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play”:

There is some talent at the WR position and while no one will compare us to what USC and Ohio State are throwing out there, we have some playmakers and we can beat you from a variety of angles. We have some freshmen who are ready to go and looking forward to Tobias getting things going this week and a guy like Deion Colzie building upon last week.

#7 - Jordan Botelho is here:

It’s not that he stood out on a ton of plays against the Midshipmen, it is that he played sound and smart football. It has been a pretty dramatic growth over the last four years for the player from Hawaii and he is coming into his own. Really excited to see what he does this week against a traditional offense. Two sacks? Yep.

#8 - How can you not root for Jadarian Price?:

I am on record for over a year that I think Jadarian Price will be a Captain at Notre Dame. With his first ever touch in college football going for six (a la Josh Adams), the sky is the limit for this kid. He has fought his way back from his achilles injury last year and he looks primed to get more touches as the year moves along. What a great story, kudos to him on a variety of levels, can’t wait to see what he does this weekend.

#9 - Al Golden learned a thing or two this offseason:

Let your players play fast and make the system one they can learn and believe in. That should be the motto of all defensive coordinators in college football. This is not the pros, don’t install too much, the team already has enough on their plate. Looks like Golden learned a little bit from last year and is realizing he has guys who can make plays, just line them up in the right spots and let them go. Ready for more of that in game two.

#10 - Follow those Offensive Tackles:

Joe Alt and Blake Fisher are huge human beings. And they could turn out to be the best tackle duo in all of college football. And if you are Notre Dame, this is probably your last year with both of just follow their lead. They will be two bookends we can rely on this whole year, and when you have two players of their caliber playing together, just trust them and you will not go wrong. Let them take the wheel...

#11 - First home game of the year:

This Saturday will mark the first home game of the year for the Irish. It doesn’t matter who the Irish play, excitement is at its peak as students are just back to campus, Friday’s pep rally is always a big one, it’s the freshmen students first ever home game, the morning will be rocking, etc. The crowd will tailgate like it’s 1999 and while they might not cheer for it during the game, the build up for the day will be fun.


As we discussed on the podcast, and I am with Raj on this one, I think it is great that Notre Dame is playing a HBCU. I think this is long overdue and something that we should have done a long time ago. I am looking forward to welcoming Tennessee State, their team, their coach (Eddie George!!), their fans and their band to South Bend, Indiana. And I hope everyone watches the halftime show, it promises to be one to remember and one we will never forget.

Let’s Go Irish, get a big win on Saturday and let’s get the season to 2-0. Give me “Ten Reasons” to write about something for next week. See you then...