It was cheekily called the “New and Gold Game” on Sunday evening as the general public was welcomed inside the newly renovated Notre Dame Stadium. This was the final full practice viewing before the Temple opener, although there will be one more short glimpse this Thursday prior to Game Week.
Let’s discuss the happenings from Sunday’s action.
We’ll lead off with comments made by Brian Kelly following the action. Another captain has been named! Junior running back Josh Adams joins the leadership unit along with
DeShone Kizer, Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Greer Martini, Drue Tranquill, Nyles Morgan, and Austin Webster. Yes, seven captains remains pretty silly.
There has been some staff movement. The hiring of Bill Rees (father of Tommy) was officially announced as the director of scouting. In a bit of a curious move, defensive line coach Mike Elston drops the recruiting coordinator tag and is now assistant head coach. Special teams coach Brian Polian will now coordinate recruiting.
Hey, remember recently I wrote a “To Redshirt or Not to Redshirt” article last week and wouldn’t you know it Kelly has offered some clarity on the situation. He mentioned Hinish, MTA, Kmet, Wright, Young, and Genmark Heath as guys they’ve decided will play in 2017. The latter is a bit of a surprise as I had him in the likely redshirt category but they appear happy to have JGH on special teams.
Not mentioned in that blurb was Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah who will probably redshirt.
Patience, don’t rush the process…. ⏳ pic.twitter.com/tyEr6S4WNV
— J. Owusu-Koramoah (@owuu_) August 21, 2017
Kelly did mention that the defense will be ‘so much better’ up front and the general consensus on Sunday was that they looked quite stout against the run and impressive in getting after the quarterback. After the practice, Daelin Hayes was lavished with praise and even guys like Khalid Kareem and Ade Ogundeji too for their strength gains.
As an aside, the offense threw the ball a lot during Sunday’s scrimmage. I know the running backs have looked very good at times during camp but I still feel like there’s a disconnect out there. There’s something to be said for getting Wimbush a lot of “live” reps during a game situation but alternatively working within and getting more comfortable with the “real” offense. I understand not wanting to tip your hand before the season but there’s something curious about a Notre Dame program saying, “We’re pretty great at running and don’t need to work on it that much in these situations.” If you say so! I’ve read a lot of “the offense knows it can run the ball” and needs to work on passing. That kind of feels like the basketball team saying “we know we can bang down low we need to work on shooting threes” to me.
Surprisingly, the backs didn’t seem to do much in the run game during the scrimmage! However, there were numerous two-back sets (cool!) although it appears a lot of them are with a back in the slot (less cool!) and motioning before the snap. I think everyone would like to see more two-back sets but unless there’s something major being hidden it appears a tactic to set up the passing game more than anything else.
Don’t get all harrumphy on me now, though. There was a fullback sighting! True freshman tight end Brock Wright lined up at fullback inside the 5-yard line (Kelly said recently they will be going under center deep in the red zone) on an Adams touchdown run. The same formation (3 tight ends with Wright at fullback) also got stuffed on 4th & 1 too so it’s not a magical solution for everything just yet.
It’s been a relatively quiet fall for Chase Claypool. After the practice his improvement with consistency was cheered by Kelly and among the playmakers Claypool stood out on Sunday. That’s a good sign.
It wasn’t a great day in pass pro for right tackle Tommy Kraemer who was beat a few times for sacks–although a couple were of the weak no-contact variety. There still doesn’t appear to be much controversy about the redshirt freshman sticking with the starters as Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey arguably struggled more against lesser competition.
We have another data point from Sunday that the Top 14 players on defense have been selected: Defensive ends Daelin Hayes, Jay Hayes, and Andrew Trumbetti + tackles Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner + linebackers Nyles Morgan, Greer Martini, Drue Tranquill, and Te’von Coney + corners Julian Love, Nick Watkins, and Shaun Crawford + safeties Jalen Elliott and Nick Coleman.
No major surprises with the backups, except Hinish and MTA were the tackles which if that’s really the case of course they won’t redshirt, right? Also, Jamir Jones continued to be the backup at Mike linebacker even though Coney received a lot of reps at both Buck and Mike.
We can probably pencil in C.J. Sanders to retain his role as the main kick returner but Chris Finke may have won the punt return job for the fall.
Is that a new digital press conference background screen? Nice! pic.twitter.com/lQsW95Gt06
— 18 Stripes (@18stripes) August 21, 2017
LOOK HOW MASSIVE THIS THING IS. pic.twitter.com/lLNlcb2lLv
— 18 Stripes (@18stripes) August 21, 2017
Perhaps the day’s most important news? The new digital press conference background! Look at that beauty! If that background says anything it’s “we’re winning the national championship.” Is that just me?
If you’ll forgive me some quick uniform talk is needed. Last year, the Irish wore their 2015 socks (they had a “V” pattern on the back) in the opener at Texas as you can see HERE. A week later in the home opener they switched to the new 2016 socks HERE which have two thin stripes at the top. As of right now, the 2017 uniform is the exact same as last year, socks included. We’ll see if they switch for the opener or thereafter. I’d hate to criticize Under Armour after they just debut a sharp “Rockne Heritage” uniform but a couple small tweaks to the standard sets would be welcome.