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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Okwara and Lamb out for the Season

November 10, 2019

Prior to the 2019 season, there was no doubt that the best and deepest position on the team was defensive end. Even if the group hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations many placed upon them, the production has backed that up.

The position has accumulated 15 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles through eight games. Unfortunately defensive end has taken a huge hit losing Daelin Hayes for the season back in September and now losing Julian Okwara as well.

That was the original two-deep at Drop and now they need some young players to step. The good news is that Jamir Jones has played well enough that he appears more than ready for an elevated role.

He’s fit seamlessly in as a pass rusher on 3rd down and has been strong setting the edge. The bad news is that he’ll have to be even better now that the teams won’t be giving extra attention to Okwara.

I’m not sure if everyone realized how teams have schemed specifically to slow down Okwara this season whether it was moving the pocket, utilizing more quick game, or sending extra blockers in his direction.

This could mean more attention for Khalid Kareem on the other side and teams might be willing to take some more chances down the field if they feel like they’ll have more time in the pocket.

Jones is going to have to step up and behind him Ovie Oghoufo and Justin Ademilola will be thrown into the mix. They have shown flashes of their potential in practice and in brief appearances in games, but their reps will go up significantly now.

How will they handle setting the edge? Ademilola seems better suited to handle that than Oghoufo right now. We’ll see if that has any impact on who plays more.

This also leads into the Dime defense.

Jones replaced Hayes and that leaves the door open for who will replace Okwara. Ade Ogundeji might be the most likely.

As for Jack Lamb, he already missed the Duke game and Clark Lea used Asmar Bilal in his place when Dime was on the field. That’s something I’d expect to continue to see going forward and Bilal has earned it with his improved play in coverage and the flashes he’s shown as a blitzer.

These are two big hits for the defense. The depth should be able to get them through November and give the Irish a glimpse of the future at defensive end. It’s a shame Okwara’s Notre Dame career is now in the past. He did a lot to build up his game over the last three years and will be missed. 

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