Thursday at Noon the Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly assembled with the media for the official opening of fall camp 2018. By the time you read this the team will already have arrived at Culver Academies just 43 miles south of campus for the beginning of practices. For reference, the media will have full access to practice tomorrow, August 3rd in addition to workouts on August 8th, 11th, and 15th. Yes, there will be no viewings over the final 2 weeks of camp, a sure sign that Michigan is coming to town for the opener.
Here are my 7 takeaways from Kelly’s first press conference of the new season.
A couple of months ago The Shirt committee began a campaign to ‘green out’ Notre Dame Stadium for the opener against the Wolverines. Yesterday, the official Notre Dame football account got in on the action, as well. This led to some confusion as the green out via t-shirts was mistaken for green uniforms for the football team. Kelly clarified on Thursday that it’s a crowd thing, the coaches may wear some green, and they are working with the marketing department to unify the stadium.
Asked if this meant green jerseys, Kelly said that unless something drastic happens the team will wear the traditional blue jerseys.
On my Twitter feed recently I discussed why I think this ‘green out’ is a bad idea.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 1, 2018
Freshmen More Involved
With the new 4-game redshirt rule coming into effect Kelly was naturally asked how it changes things for this camp setting. While noting the ones who are physically and mentally ready will play he did say they will carve out more time in camp for freshmen to make a better determination of who can help the team during the season. Certainly, nothing groundbreaking there but worth noting.
Okwara Beefed Up Enough
During spring practices the media was alarmed at the weight loss from defensive end Julian Okwara. All is well now as he’s back up to 242 pounds with Kelly mentioning he’s dealing with a high metabolism rate but is showing really good strength in the weight room.
Okwara has the ability to be a Top 5 player on the team this year, in my opinion.
Despite still being listed as a quarterback on the official roster, Kelly said Avery Davis will be in the backfield and won’t be taking reps as a signal-caller. He was very clear that the pecking order right now is 1) Wimbush 2) Book and 3) Jurkovec.
Kelly also mentioned they are not playing two quarterbacks. Thank you, Jesus let this never happen ever again.
All the usual platitudes about leadership, work ethic, and determination were spread around to all of the quarterbacks. Who knows if it means much, with no media viewings over the second half of camp I would think this competition will be abnormally neutered compared to the past–even if we know Wimbush has this on lock until Michigan kick off. Any chance of Jurkovec moving into the backup role will be left to message board posts based off rumors and unnamed sources.
Dexter Mystery Continues
An unusual amount of praise was heaped upon senior running back Dexter Williams during the presser. Kelly mentioned he’s had his best summer at Notre Dame, he’s added weight, improved his conditioning, and is in great shape. When asked about his availability for the Michigan game he quipped:
He’s going to be on our roster. We’ll see who who ends up playing against Michigan, but he’s on our football team and I’m really proud of what he’s accomplished in the summer.
Maybe we don’t need green for the stadium to get the crown amped up, maybe Dexter just needs to get the ball on the first 3 snaps of the game?
I was reading somewhere recently that it was said offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg was really going to come on this season and was finally getting his chance after being stuck behind Mike McGlinchey for a couple years. That was interesting to hear in contrast to Kelly’s comments on Thursday where he mentioned the staff wasn’t sure Eichenberg could play left tackle back in the spring.
Obviously, they now believe he can do it but I’ve never seen someone’s stock yo-yo back and forth before playing serious minutes quite like Eichenberg. Are we going to see him lock down left tackle and that’s it or will there be more issues and shuffling on the line?
Claypool and the Switch
One receiver received the bulk of comments from Kelly and that was Chase Claypool. Lots and lots of talk about traits and having the proverbial switch flipped with his consistency.
It’s quite the understatement to say putting these issues to bed and having Claypool reaching his potential straight away in camp could be so, so important for the offense.
QB Phil Jurkovec 6’4″ 1/2 220 lbs.
RB Jahmir Smith 5’11” 205 lbs.
RB C’Bo Flemister 5’11” 3/4 196 lbs.
WR Kevin Austin 6’2″ 210 lbs.
WR Micah Jones 6’4″ 1/2 212 lbs.
WR Braden Lenzy 5’11” 3/8 170 lbs.
WR Lawrence Keys 5’10” 3/8 170 lbs.
WR/DB Joe Wilkins 6’1″ 1/2 185 lbs.
TE Tommy Tremble 6’3″ 1/4 228 lbs.
TE George Takacs 6’6″ 250 lbs.
OL Jarrett Patterson 6’4″ 1/2 290 lbs.
OL Luke Jones 6’4″ 7/8 303 lbs.
OL John Dirksen 6’5″ 1/8 307 lbs.
OL Cole Mabry 6’5″ 270 lbs.
DL Jayson Ademilola 6’3″ 284 lbs.
DL Justin Ademilola 6’1″ 3/4 246 lbs.
DL Jamion Franklin 6’1″ 3/8 306 lbs.
LB Ovie Oghoufo 6’3″ 223 lbs.
LB Shayne Simon 6’2″ 3/4 222 lbs.
LB Bo Bauer 6’2″ 3/4 225 lbs.
LB Jack Lamb 6’3″ 3/4 226 lbs.
CB Noah Boykin 6’0″ 5/8 178 lbs.
CB Tariq Bracy 5’10” 1/8 170 lbs.
CB D.J. Brown 6’0″ 3/8 191 lbs.
S Houston Griffith 5’11” 3/4 205 lbs.
S Paul Moala 5’11” 1/2 212 lbs.
S Derrik Allen 6’1″ 1/2 213 lbs.