Players to watch: Notre Dame vs. Florida State

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

A look at a few players to watch in Saturday’s game (7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC) between No. 5 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC) and Florida State (1-2, 0-2):


Widely regarded as Notre Dame’s top wide receiver, Kevin Austin Jr. is expected to appear in his first game since 2018. He missed last season because of a suspension and sat out the past two games after suffering a broken foot during preseason camp. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Austin should add another dimension to the Irish offense. But what will his role look like in game one? Head coach Brian Kelly said Austin should be in for 15-20 snaps. Whether Notre Dame will stick to that pitch count remains to be seen. How impactful Austin would be in that limited capacity will be interesting.


Safety Kyle Hamilton is another player who will be making his return. He exited in the third quarter against Duke with an ankle injury before sitting out the USF game and Sunday’s scrimmage as a precaution. Hamilton quickly returning to form would be pivotal for this Irish defense in the coming weeks. He also faces a favorable matchup against quarterback Jordan Travis, who will make his first career start against Notre Dame. He’s the third starting quarterback for FSU this season. Travis will have to account for Hamilton’s ball-hawking ability.


With Florida State trailing 14-0 in the second quarter against Jacksonville State last week, Travis replaced starter Tate Rodemaker. Travis, a redshirt sophomore, ignited the offense. He completed 12-of-17 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown and turning 11 carries into 48 yards and a touchdown in the 41-24 win. The Irish are bringing back so many players who could be on snap counts after enduring a severe COVID-19 outbreak and the longest gap between games in 102 years of Notre Dame football. Given the circumstances, rust and stamina will be the concerns in defending Travis’ legs and playmaking ability.


Had Marvin Wilson declared early for the 2020 NFL Draft, he may have been selected in the first round. But the former five-star recruit returned and looks to improve his draft stock even more. Saturday will be an opportunity for Wilson to cement himself among the elite draft prospects. Pro Football Focus has rated Notre Dame’s offensive line No. 1 nationally so far this season. The Irish have not faced a defensive lineman as dominant as Wilson, though Duke defensive end Chris Rumph II also is projected to be drafted high next year. Wilson and Co. figures to bring the toughest challenge yet.

Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton (14) intercepts a pass against Virginia on Sept. 28, 2019. As part of Notre Dame’s COVID-19 safety protocols, photojournalists were not allowed inside Notre Dame Stadium Saturday.
Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (21) and defensive end Janarius Robinson (11) pressure Louisiana Monroe quarterback Caleb Evans (6).

NO. 5 NOTRE DAME (2-0) vs. FLORIDA STATE (1-2)

Kickoff: Saturday at 7:30 p.m EDT

Where: Notre Dame Stadium


Radio: WSBT (AM 960, FM 96.1), WNSN-FM (101.5)

Line: Notre Dame by 21