Notre Dame opened up spring practice on Saturday late morning for a workout that lasted a little over 2 hours in the (soon-to-be old) indoor practice facility with the media able to watch the opening 45 minutes. Blessed are we that the Irish will have 7 more practices completely open to the media for the rest of spring.
Here’s the latest news to discuss:
It might take a while to get some goodies at the skill positions. Everything has opened up as expected with Book starting ahead of Jurkovec at quarterback, Armstrong ahead of Tony Jones at tailback, and Claypool, Finke, and Michael Young at receiver. Perhaps a mild surprise that Young starts ahead of Kevin Austin but the older player likely gets the nod there early on this spring.
Of note, receiver Javon McKinley remains suspended and not practicing with the team as he awaits his legal fate following a recent arrest.
The biggest news on offense came on Friday as head coach Brian Kelly announced former quarterback and now former running back Avery Davis has been moved to corner. Kelly even mentioned Davis has the ability to play this position in the NFL. I’d like to quote Adam from our Slack chat: “He’s such a NFL corner I didn’t realize it until his third year!” To me, Davis is an invaluable program type of player, and despite thoughts he should transfer, it appears the coaches will do what they can to keep him around.
Cole Kmet was with the Irish baseball team which bumped up tight end Brock Wright to the starting unit.
Some surprise at the offensive line as redshirt freshman Jarrett Patterson (previously believed to be a solid 3rd option at tackle) opens spring as the starting center. Post-practice Kelly was really heaping praise on Patterson so this could be a legit day one starter for the fall.
Trevor Ruhland didn’t practice as he was nursing a knee injury that isn’t believed to be serious. As the presumed starter at center, Kelly mentioned he’s a utility player who has some physical things that will make it difficult for him to play 72 snaps in a game. That’s not great news for a graduate senior hoping to be with the 1st team. Kelly did say Ruhland is a valued member of the team but you have to wonder if it’s worth sticking around for him.
Additionally, redshirt freshman Luke Jones and true freshman Zeke Correll are getting work at center. The former is working his way back from a sprained ankle. The way Kelly phrased things during his press conference it doesn’t even seem like Ruhland is going to compete for center all that much but of course it’s early and we shouldn’t always read so much into these things.
Nothing major to report on the defensive line. Kelly mentioned on Friday that they’d like to redshirt one of the older defensive ends which automatically has folks thinking Jamir Jones will be that guy. He’s probably at best the 5th option as a pass rusher this year so it would make some sense to bring him back in 2020 after so many others leave. Also, Darnell Ewell has officially been moved back to nose guard but was on the sidelines for practice, no word yet why but it’s possibly conditioning-related.
Linebacker opened with Asmar Bilal moved inside to Buck as expected with Shayne Simon moving up in Bilal’s place as the Rover. At Mike linebacker for Saturday was Drew White. A bit of a curious move as he played Buck last year but the experimenting may be in full swing. Bo Bauer was the backup Mike, although later in the short-viewing session Jon Jones was working with the starters. As expected, Jordan Genmark Heath backup Bilal at Buck.
News dropped Friday in Kelly’s opening presser that corner-turned-safety-turned-nickel Houston Griffith was moving back to boundary corner. He started Saturday opposite Troy Pride as the top two corners.
The safety position has opened up a bit. First, it was announced that Devin Studstill is going to take a grad transfer and is not practicing. In addition, Alohi Gilman is nursing a leg strain. This bumped redshirt freshman Paul Moala up to the starting unit with Jalen Elliott while Derrik Allen and D.J. Brown (previously a corner) ran with the second-team. It remains to be seen if Brown is officially at safety but it’s been rumored it’s happening and it would make some sense with Davis and Griffith now at corner.
Injuries: OG Aaron Banks (foot), OG Dillan Gibbons (foot), C Luke Jones (ankle), DT Hunter Spears (knee), NG Jamion Franklin (thigh), LB Jack Kiser (shoulder), CB Donte Vaughn (shoulder), CB Shaun Crawford (knee), S Alohi Gilman (leg strain).