A look at a few players to watch in Saturday’s game (2:30 p.m. EDT on USA Network) between Associated Press No. 7 Notre Dame (1-0, 1-0 ACC) and South Florida.
WR BRADEN LENZY, Notre Dame
What kind of player Lenzy will be this season remains to be seen. Will the speedster be more of a gadget player than a complete product? Assuming he progresses naturally, Lenzy should be featured in this offense. Durability continues to hold him back, though. After missing the Duke game with a hamstring injury, Lenzy will make his debut this Saturday. Notre Dame needs him to step up while top wide receivers Kevin Austin Jr. (foot) and Ben Skowronek (hamstring) are out with injuries. Lenzy’s role and workload should establish what his expectations are going forward.
DE ADE OGUNDEJI, Notre Dame
Ogundeji hardly showed up on the stat sheet against Duke, recording two tackles and recovering a fumble. However, he still caught the attention of NFL Draft analysts for his play. And USF presents Ogundeji an opportunity to produce big numbers. Last week, the Bulls were without three starting offensive linemen for unspecified reasons: left tackle Donovan Jennings, left guard Demetris Harris and center Brad Cecil. Notre Dame’s defensive line should handle USF’s front regardless if those three are available. But should Jennings remain out, look for Ogundeji and fellow defensive end Daelin Hayes to feast on his backup.
RB JOHNNY FORD, USF
At 5-foot-5, 172 pounds, Ford brings speed, burst and versatility. Missing most of last season due to suspension, Ford brought back another dimension to USF’s run-heavy offense last week. He turned nine carries into 71 yards and caught two passes for 14 yards. The Irish will have to account for Ford, a hybrid player in the backfield and at slot receiver. Their linebacker rotation and potentially being without star safety Kyle Hamilton (ankle) could make certain one-on-one coverage matchups favorable for Ford.
CB K.J. SAILS, USF
Senior cornerbacks K.J. Sails and Mike Hampton are the biggest strength to USF’s defense, and maybe the team as a whole. How impressive is Sails? Hampton allowed just one touchdown to an opposing pass catcher last season, and he’s still considered a notch below Sails talent-wise. Sails was good enough to start 11 games as a redshirt freshman at North Carolina before eventually transferring. Named to the American Athletic All-Conference second team in 2019, Sails will be matched up against a wide receiving corps that struggled to find chemistry with quarterback Ian Book last week.