What Notre Dame football needs to do to defeat North Carolina

With a bye this weekend, Notre Dame football has had some time to rest up and prep for its next matchup. On Friday, the Irish will travel to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. The 6-2 Tar Heels are looking to upset Notre Dame. The 8-0 Irish have three more games until the end of the season, hoping to remain undefeated.

A past competitor

North Carolina has had a roller coaster of a season to say the least. The Tar Heels were ranked quite high in the AP Top 25 a few weeks back, No. 5 to be exact. What seemed like a tough competitor to Notre Dame quickly became a different story, as North Carolina lost to Florida State and Virginia. Although the Tar Heels have lost their place in the AP Poll, Notre Dame still has to perform well to ensure a victory.

An improved defense

Notre Dame’s defense has not been playing up to par the last few games. That could be a concern against North Carolina, as the Tar Heels’ offense has a way to create secure passing pockets. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell has excellent rhythm when it comes to passing in clean pockets. In order for the Irish defense to be successful, it needs to upset Howell’s grove right off the bat.

Pressure will be a word the Irish defense keeps going back to while playing North Carolina. Pressure from the edge, as well as the middle, will ensure that Howell feels the heat, causing him to make more mistakes.


Notre Dame football has been erratic when it comes to tackles. Tackling has to be something the Irish improve on now, mostly because it cannot be an issue that appears during College Football Playoff. Since the Tar Heels offense is one of their best aspects, Notre Dame cannot afford to give up extra yards due to messy tackles. North Carolina running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams will be players Irish defense needs to watch and pin down.


Lastly, Notre Dame needs to tackle the issue of inconsistency within the cornerbacks. The unit has to play as one and commit to limiting the Tar Heel rush games. North Carolina could be one of the best offenses Notre Dame has seen this season, so it will be problematic if the Irish cornerbacks fail to read the routes and are late reacting to the offense. Turnovers should be key in helping the Irish offense keep the ball.

The results

Overall, I still believe Notre Dame will come out with a win. If the defense improves on the aspects mentioned above, I think Notre Dame should have no problem keeping the Tar Heels offense off the field. After North Carolina, the Irish only have Syracuse and Wake Forest left. It is essential to keep the focus in check for Notre Dame. The Irish have created a path that could lead to a spot in the College Football Playoff, so an upset from North Carolina would be tragic. It could be safe to say the Irish are carrying some pressure over their backs heading into Chapel Hill next weekend.

Photo by Allison Thornton | The Observer

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