Texas Longhorns: Q&A with Slap the Sign Editor Andrew Hall


The Texas Longhorns open their regular season in just a few days. The Longhorns travel to South Bend to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The players are done hitting each other. Now it’s time to take on Notre Dame. We visited with Slap the Sign editor Andrew Hall to learn more about the Fighting Irish. You can follow Andrew on twitter @SlapTheSign.

How does Malik Zaire make the Notre Dame offense different than when Everett Golson was under center?

Malik Zaire is an extremely adept runner, which Everett Golson was not. With Golson under center, Notre Dame’s offense was pass oriented. The Fighting Irish offense will look completely different in 2015. Ultimately, it will appear closer to Notre Dame’s 2012 offense that followed the defenses lead. The zone-read will be featured much more in this year’s playbook. Zaire has more arm strength than Golson but is extremely inconsistent and inaccurate. He has improved on these weaknesses during fall camp. However, the 2015 Notre Dame football team will sink or swim based on how Zaire improves on these weakness.

Do you think Zaire’s limited body of work in the passing department makes Irish fans nervous?

I do not know about all Irish fans. But, for me, I am extremely nervous about Malik Zaire’s lack of experience in the passing game. If Notre Dame is leading and running the ball well, it will not be a problem. However, there will be a time when Notre Dame will need to throw the ball to win the game. During the 2012 undefeated season, the Irish needed to throw the ball late in the game to beat Purdue, Stanford and Pittsburgh. Even if the Irish are a great team in 2015, Zaire will need to win at least one game with his arm. He probably can do it. But, he has never shown his ability yet.

What other offensive weapons should Longhorn fans keep an eye on?

Notre Dame’s biggest offensive weapon is Junior Wide Receiver Will Fuller. Last year, Fuller caught 76 passes for 1094 yards and 15 touchdowns. Fuller will do great things in 2015 despite drawing the attention of every defensive coordinator. Notre Dame will need other players to step or the coordinators can constantly double team Fuller. Chris Brown and Corey Robinson tag team the other Wide Receiver spot. The X-factor for the Irish is slot receiver Torii Hunter Jr. Hunter, the son of MLB player Torii Hunter Sr., had an excellent fall camp. He needs to prove it on the field.

What do you think Brian Kelly’s game plan will be when attacking the Texas defense?

Brian Kelly already noted that Texas’ defense is difficult to prepare for during one of his fall press conferences. They are fairly exotic and present a lot of odd fronts. The Fighting Irish will likely run the ball frequently in the opener. Kelly and the coaching staff have prepared the team to be a physical downhill running team. Notre Dame will look to establish an identity immediately in 2015.

How big is the loss of defensive tackle Jarron Jones? Does this make the front seven more susceptible to the run?

The size of the loss of Defensive Tackle Jarron Jones is unknown. Sophomore Daniel Cage and Freshman Jerry Tillery are excellent backups but they may not be starters. A combination of Cage and Tillery may be good enough but they are unproven. The injury definitely makes the front seven more susceptible to the run. But, it probably hurts the Irish even more against the pass. Jones provided a great push up the middle. For example, Jameis Winston’s interception against Notre Dame occurred when Jones made him throw off his back foot.

How strong is the Irish secondary? Who should Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard stay away from?

The Secondary may be the strength of the Notre Dame defense. Cole Luke and KeiVarae Russell hold the two Cornerback positions. Luke and Russell may be the best one-two Cornerback tandem in the country. Russell is projected as a 1st Round NFL Draft pick. The possible downfall to the secondary are the Safeties. Notre Dame will start Max Redfield at Free Safety and Elijah Shumate at Strong Safety. Redfield is a former 5-star recruit. He stepped his game during fall camp. Shumate did not. He was challenged by 5th-year graduate transfer Avery Sebastian. If Texas wants to target someone, it should be either of Notre Dame’s strong safeties.

Notre Dame wins if?

The Irish will win if they take care of the football. Charlie Strong is a great coach and one of the best in the country. He will have Texas humming soon. But, Notre Dame is the more talented and stable program at the moment. During the Brian Kelly era, when Notre Dame wins the turnover battle, they win.

Next: Texas Football: Plenty of Questions Unanswered