Notre Dame will have a big problem when they face Wisconsin next weekend

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We now sit less than seven days from when the Wisconsin Badgers will take the field in Chicago, Illinois against Jack Coan and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Brian Kelly’s team has had an interesting start to the year. They defeated a poor Florida State team in overtime thanks to four Coan touchdown passes, needed more late-game heroics from Coan to defeat Toledo at home and now lead the Purdue Boilermakers 7-3 early in the second quarter of action.

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We know what Coan will bring to next weekend’s contest: steady play, solid decision-making, sneaky athleticism but no game-changing talent. Much of his success comes down to how the Fighting Irish performs running the football. It’s similar to his time at Wisconsin: if Kyren Williams can consistently move the ball, Coan is great at playing a complementary role in the offense. If Williams struggles, though, the offense often remains stagnant.

Notre Dame has the athletes on the outside and at running back to find some success against Wisconsin. If they keep Coan in situations like the one below, he can pick the center of the field apart with great ball placement.

But Notre Dame has one massive problem entering next Saturday: they have a turnstile at left tackle and sometimes struggle to protect the quarterback.

Sophomore Tosh Baker is starting for the team against Purdue and through one-quarter of action, he’s already shown huge weakness in both the run and pass game. Now deep into the second quarter of action, Notre Dame is starting to send help to the left side against the Purdue pass rushers.

What does that mean? Expect a great performance on Saturday from OLBs Nick Herbig and Noah Burks, as well as from Jack Sanborn, Leo Chenal and the rest of the front seven.

The Fighting Irish offensive line as a whole isn’t as good as years past. After what we’ve seen the Wisconsin front seven do through two weeks, that could prove to be costly next Saturday.

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