ND Opponent Updates | Clemson, UNC, Stanford and BC Spring Games

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When assessing what happens in a spring game, care must be taken not to overreact one way or the other.

Notre Dame fans are well aware of this as Lawrence Keys didn’t use his spring game to propel him to slot receiver success, Jafar Armstrong never became the next CJ Prosise as many hoped. after the 2017 Blue-Gold game, and Daelin Hayes wasn’t ready to become a star as a passing thrower despite his three-sack day in 2017.

A spring game is really just another practice where teams try their best not to show future opponents too much.

That last statement is 100% true, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from a spring game. A few of Notre Dame’s 2022 opponents had their spring games last weekend and there were a few nuggets here and there that can be taken from those games.

Clemson

Injuries were the story of spring and the game of spring. They only had one purse available on Saturday and had nearly 20 key players absent. Most of these players should be back during the season, so no one should judge what happened too harshly.

However, does Clemson want to read that the offensive performance looked like a “rerun of 2021”? That’s how Grace Raynor of The Athletic described it, which must be at least a little chilling for fans who believe things are going in the wrong direction under Dabo Swinney.

The offense didn’t get a first down until the seventh series. Starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei finished 17th of 36 and averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. Maybe it was just a bad day. Or maybe Notre Dame will see freshman Cade Klubnik in November instead of Uiagalelei.

The good news for them is that the defense is full of talent and they have more young elite players ready to help. Safety Sherod Covil, one of my personal favorites in the 2022 class, chose Uiagalelei to add to his strong spring as the first entry.

The D line is brimming with talent and collected six sacks on Saturday. Part of this could have to do with a damaged O line. Some of them might have been unavoidable no matter who was blocking. One thing is certain, as Clemson’s spring ball is now over: they must regain their health and find answers to get the offense back to where it has been for most of the past decade.

Stanford

There’s not a lot of news coming out of Stanford because they don’t have a lot of people who actually care about the spring ball to cover for their team.

One thing that jumped out at me was that the rush game was held at 34 yards on 17 carries in the spring game. That’s bad, especially considering David Shaw admitted they showed vanilla looks in defense.

Stanford was 112th in the EPA per rush last year, so yards per rush seems like a huge red flag heading into the offseason.

Boston College

The big thing with BC is that Phil Jurkovec is healthy, wide receiver Zay Flowers is back, and they have the kind of weapons at receiver that should make the offense pretty dangerous come fall. This seemed to be the main takeaway at the end of spring.

What might make it interesting is the fact that they only have one starter on the offensive line. BC has generally been the kind of program that has been better on offense when they have a veteran O line as the backbone of what they do. This offense is going to be built differently, so we’ll see what they look like when they arrive in South Bend in November.

North Carolina

I think most outside observers expected highly ranked 2021 rookie Drake Maye to be the quarterback after Sam Howell, but it looks like there is a legitimate battle between Maye and sophomore Jacolby Criswell.

Whoever wins the job will have the best slot receiver in the country to throw at Josh Downs. He made some big plays in the spring game, but just like last season, there’s a pretty big drop to receiver behind him on the depth chart. They will hunt portals much like Notre Dame will.

There were two other things that caught my eye after the Spring Ball for UNC. One is that true rookie Zach Rice should start for them at offensive tackle. I guess that’s not entirely unexpected as their struggles up front have been noticeable, but it’s something to note.

The second is that former top-50 rookie Desmond Evans had two sacks in the spring game and earned praise for his solid spring ball on the defensive end. (In my best Stephen A. Smith voice) However, those sacks in the spring game came against a reserve tackle who has only played one year of organized football.

UNC has intriguing raw talent on its defensive roster and former Auburn coach Gene Chizik is now the defensive coordinator. They need him to fix what former DC Jay Bateman couldn’t.

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