Syracuse Football: Mob defense must hone in on Notre Dame All-American

Syracuse football (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Syracuse football (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /

I wouldn’t characterize the Notre Dame offense as extremely imposing, but the Fighting Irish does have weapons with which the Syracuse football Mob defense will have to contend.

Notre Dame, after cruising past UNLV at home last Saturday, sits at 4-3 overall under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, after the Fighting Irish was placed in the top 10 of the preseason top-25 polls.

The No. 16 Orange (6-1), which suffered its first loss of the 2022 campaign at No. 5 Clemson this past Saturday afternoon, has been a slight betting favorite over Notre Dame throughout this week, although that’s always subject to change.

What’s more, even though I expect a packed Loud House this coming Saturday when the Fighting Irish invades Central New York, and Notre Dame hasn’t proven all that stellar so far in 2022, I envision the Fighting Irish giving the ‘Cuse all it can handle. And Notre Dame’s star tight end is particularly worrisome.

Syracuse football will have to contain Notre Dame’s All-American tight end.

Much like the Orange has a star of its own in tight end/wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II, the Fighting Irish boasts one of the top tight ends in the country, if not the best tight end altogether.

His name is Michael Mayer, and he’s a junior from Independence, Ky. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Mayer will be playing on Sundays at some point down the line, and he’s going to be a problem for the ‘Cuse defense this Saturday on the Hill.

Per ESPN statistics, so far in the present term, Mayer has 44 receptions for 526 yards and six receiving touchdowns, meaning he’s averaging nearly one TD per game.

Mayer also has nearly twice as many receptions as the next Notre Dame receiver, so clearly he’s the go-to target for Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne, who took over as the starting signal-caller after Tyler Buchner, unfortunately, went down with an injury earlier this season.

In the 2021 term, as a sophomore, Mayer set school records by a tight end with 71 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven touchdowns hauled in, according to the Notre Dame athletics department. For those efforts, Mayer resided on the Associated Press All-America third team.

Ahead of the 2022 stanza, he was named to all kinds of watch lists for national honors. A week ago against UNLV, Mayer caught six passes for 115 yards and one score.

As a collective unit, Notre Dame is averaging 26.6 points per game. The Fighting Irish tallies 207.9 passing yards per encounter and 178.1 yards on the ground per contest, which is comparable to the Orange.

At tight end, Mayer plays a key role in Notre Dame’s rushing and passing attacks. Syracuse football has already lost multiple defensive players to season-ending injuries.

My fingers are crossed that star cornerback Garrett Williams is able to give it a go versus the Fighting Irish at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Notre Dame’s results to date aren’t overly impressive. The team has wins over North Carolina (that’s a good one), BYU, California and UNLV.

The Fighting Irish has fallen to Ohio State (on the road), Marshall and Stanford, with the latter two at home. I don’t think that Notre Dame is a seismic opponent for a solid ‘Cuse squad this term, but with Mayer leading the charge, Syracuse football better be ready to battle in this non-conference clash.

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