Know your foe, Syracuse: Which Orangemen could give Notre Dame problems

The Irish have yet to host a ranked opponent this year, having to travel away from South Bend each game. This week they face an opponent that is very similar to what they do, play very good defense and have enough offense to get them the win in Syracuse. The Orangemen have plenty of upperclassmen to help them achieve those goals. Find out below which ‘Cuse players could give the Irish problems Saturday afternoon.

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Linebacker Mikel Jones

The leader of the defense, Jones has had a monster season. He’s registered 52 tackles and three sacks, while forcing and recovering a fumble. Jones is just a gap linebacker, he has the speed to move from sideline to sideline and make plays. He’s not a flash in the pan either, with over 100 tackles last year. Expect Jones to continue to make plays on Saturday.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader

The junior has gotten better every season with the Orange (two after transferring from Mississippi State), increasing his touchdown-to-interception ratio every year. So far this year, Shrader has been fantastic, completing a career high 69.7% of his passes for 1,601 yards and 13 touchdowns. Not only that, Shrader is a threat on the ground as well, averaging over 5 yards per carry with 6 scores and a long of 49 yards. The Irish defense has to show up to stop Syracuse’s leader.

Defensive end Caleb Okechukwu

Another upperclassman having a career season is Okechukwu. After getting to the quarterback just 2.5 times in his previous two seasons, the junior has more than doubled that number this year with 3.5. Okechukwu has also added in a pick-6, he was in the right place but had the hands to make the play. The Irish tackles have been solid but need to step up their play against Okechukwu.

Wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II

A massive frame at six-foot-five-inches and 216-pounds that allows him to line up at tight end as well, Gadsden II makes the tough catches look easy. He’s got big, strong hands that he uses to his advantage, it’s not just his length that he typically has the advantage over defensive backs. The back shoulder fade is a favorite throw from Shrader, so the Irish have to be aware of that, especially in the red zone.

Defensive back Garrett Williams

With the Irish pass game being hit or miss, Williams will have the job of keeping plays in front of him. A very solid tackler, second on the team with 32, has added a sack to his line this year also. He’s a ball hawk from the back end as well, picking off two passes and batting down three others. Oh, Williams is around the ball a ton too, as he’s recovered and forced a fumble. A leg injury kept Williams out from playing against Clemson last week, he warmed up but was held out. His impact is similar to what former Irish safety Kyle Hamilton brought to the defense, so Drew Pyne will have to use his eyes to create throwing alleys when looking Williams way.

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire