Texas Linebacker Malik Jefferson
If the Longhorns want any shot at stopping the Fighting Irish, they need a strong defensive performance. The play of linebacker Malik Jefferson will be a key indicator of success for the Longhorns’ defense.
In 2015, Jefferson was the team’s second-leading tackler with 61 total tackles. He also added seven tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, three pass breakups, 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and one touchdown. He did all of this as a freshman.
Despite only being a sophomore, Jefferson is probably the Longhorns’ best defensive players. He is certainly their most important player on defense.
If Jefferson can make plays across the field and in the Notre Dame backfield, the Fighting Irish’s offense will struggle. If not, the Longhorns’ defense could be in for a long evening.
Jefferson is a threat to the Notre Dame offense, and it does not matter what type of play the Fighting Irish call either. Jefferson can fill in run lanes and tackle running backs in close quarters. Meanwhile, he proved he was a serviceable pass defender and pass rusher as a freshman
The Fighting Irish will be weary of where Jefferson is before every snap. Jefferson could disrupt what they want to do on offense.
Notre Dame will probably try to run their offense and challenge Jefferson early on in the game. If Jefferson handles those challenges well, the Fight Irish may try to run plays away from him later in the game.
Next: Notre Dame RB Josh Adams