Good receivers are hard to find. Good receivers can change the way teams have to defend you.
Dan Orlovksy summed it up with this tweet. There are 32 teams in the NFL and only 12 have real number ones (by his estimation).
They are equally rare in college football. Each program plays 12 regular season games, and most teams only have to deal with dominant receivers in a few games a year. We already know that Notre Dame will face at least three in 2022. The gauntlet they will face at receiver is particularly difficult.
It starts week one with Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. They are next to see UNC’s Josh Downs for the second year in a row. They close out the regular season with reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, who was traded from Pitt to USC. These three could easily be Biletnikoff runners-up in 2022 and in each of these matches, Al Golden and Marcus Freeman will need a specific plan to try to limit or contain them.
It will be even more difficult when they face Ohio State and USC because they have the talent to potentially have 1a and 1b, but for now their WR1s are what the coaches will probably focus on when working out of a game plan.
Last year, Notre Dame faced three of the best receivers in college football when they had to face Purdue’s David Bell, USC’s Drake London and Downs. They did a solid job in all of those games, with the Irish winning all three.
Bell averaged just 9.1 yards per reception.
London had 15 catches, but only seven went for first downs and none were hit.
Downs … did his thing with 10 catches for 142 yards. The Irish kept him out of the end zone, though, after scoring eight touchdowns in UNC’s first seven games. They were also the first team to keep quarterback Sam Howell under an NFL quarterback rating of 107.9 when he went for Downs (79.6).
How the Irish defense defend Smith-Njigba, Downs and Addison this year will have a huge impact on whether or not these clashes win this fall, but they may not be the only three Notre Dame staff will have on long discussions during the preparation. for Saturday.
Boston College’s Zay Flowers numbers dipped last year and that was largely due to quarterback Phil Jurkovec playing just six games. Flowers still threw for 17 yards per reception, and new offensive coordinator John McNulty said Flowers is going to see a lot more targets this season than the previous two. He is one of the best deep threats in the country.
BYU also has an emerging star in Puka Nacua. He originally signed with Washington and was an elite prospect in high school, but left UW to transfer closer to home. He broke out as the leading receiver last season averaging 18.7 yards per reception and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him join the conversation as one of the best receivers in college football.
Noticeably absent from this list is any receiver from Clemson. They don’t have a proven number one on their roster and that’s one of the reasons their offense took a significant step back in 2021. They have four former top-100 ranked receivers, so they’re not missing out no candidates who have the potential to emerge. for them this fall.
Wherever these players are lined up, Notre Dame must have a plan to manage them. They executed their plans well against those number ones last season and that was with first-round pick Kyle Hamilton not playing in two of those games.
If they can achieve similar results this season, the odds of Notre Dame remaining undefeated in these matchups improves significantly.
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