Know Your Mark — Marvin Wilson

Wow, we’re back! After our COVID-induced mini-offseason, the Irish are less than 24 hours away from taking the field against Florida State. Due to injuries and illness, the team is surely less prepared for this game, the latest iteration of one of college football’s great matchups through the decades, than they’d hope to be. Good thing the Noles suck this year!

But their defense has a few guys who don’t. Their secondary is scary and stacked with future NFL’ers like corner Asante Samuel Jr. and freaky 6’4 safety Hamsah Nasirildeen. But the guy at the heart of all of the chaos FSU’s defense can cause is certified large human Marvin Wilson. He’s a 6’5, 311 lb beast who can move way more fluidly than any man his size should, power through double teams and get into the backfield.

Wilson’s destined to be a first round pick — he’s probably the best interior defensive lineman in this entire class — and teams will fall in love with the way he eats up blocks and chews them up on his way to the quarterback, makes good use of his hands, and has a motor that never stops. When he slides to the nose, he holds the point of attack well and is a factor against the run. With Wilson in the middle, it might be tough sledding for Kyren Williams and the rest of the Irish backfield to set any kind of pace with inside runs.

Luckily, this is a strength-versus-strength matchup on the interior. Jarrett Patterson will probably need a hand with doubles from Aaron Banks and Tommy Kraemer to handle Wilson, but that’s no knock on the Irish line. Leave a lineman 1-on-1 with Wilson, and you might find him left on the turf like all 6 feet and 7 inches of fellow behemoth Mekhi Becton, who became a top-15 pick and now starts on Sundays for the Jets.

But Tommy Rees, Jeff Quinn and the rest of the offensive staff should be able to scheme around Wilson and the rest of FSU’s talented defensive line and put the experienced group in a position to win the game in the trenches. Wilson’s going to cause problems, make a few plays and frankly be fun to watch. But the Irish should still have the advantage — and they shouldn’t need to score much to outpace a Seminole offense that barely put together double-digit scoring performances before they switched QBs and found their footing against Jacksonville State last weekend (woo-hoo).

Let’s hope I’m not eating my words come Sunday about FSU’s subpar quality of play, but even a sloppy performance will probably be enough to get the job done tonight. We’ve certainly got the talent, coaching and infrastructure advantages on our side — let’s hope the lack of preparation we’ve been boxed into doesn’t supersede all of that.

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