Defensive keys for the game against Notre Dame

October 9, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne (10) throws a warm-up pass before the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium. Mandatory credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

For a game and a half, Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne has had his ups and downs, but one thing remains consistent — his inability or reluctance to throw the ball deep.

While Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman was open about having a more “sideways” passing game, he also mentioned his inability to hit some long balls that slowed offensive production this season.

Pyne threw for 150 yards at an average of 6.5 yards per attempt in his first game last week against Cal. He had 17 complete passes, but only seven of those were for more than six yards.

While Mayer and receiver Lorenzo Styles are first and second in terms of receptions this year, the Irishman’s running backs have been a big part of the passing game so far.

It’s no secret how UNC defensive backs played extremely poorly at the start of the season, so will the Irish try to expand their passing game and try more deep shots to try and open up the offense?

While it may sound crazy, if North Carolina can contain the short passes and force Notre Dame to try to win the UNC secondary over the top, it will be interesting to see which struggling force wins.

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