Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 20 of 55 JUNE/JULY 2019 21 Mack and running back Dexter Wil- liams — both drafted by the NFL last month — in terms of figuring out and adapting to "the Notre Dame way." "Potential will get you beat," Long said. "We want consistent guys who are going to play at a high level ev- ery single day. When you do that, the sky's the limit for the young man. He's working on it, he's figuring it out, he'll get it done. "I don't want any game-day tryouts. You have to do it in practice and do it consistently." "That's just the standard here, being a well-rounded person in the class- room, on the field and everything else you do," Finke added. "We're always trying to hold each other accountable and making sure that we're all doing the right thing." Among the young wideouts, 5-10, 172-pound slot Lawrence Keys III, working behind Finke, was perhaps the most consistent in the spring, espe- cially in his ability to repeatedly gain separation to get open. "He's quick, he's fast, he works re- ally hard, he's got good hands," Finke summarized. "I think he's got what it takes, he's got the right attitude, he's a yes-sir guy, takes coaching really well." "He probably doesn't get enough recognition for what he can do," Kelly said of Keys in the closing week of spring. "He's a top-notch [Power Five] college receiver in the slot. "He can catch screen passes, drive routes, option routes, he's a real weapon for us — as consistent as I can remember of having a true slot receiver." Two other sophomores, 5-11, 184-pound speedster Braden Lenzy and 6-2, 190-pound Joe Wilkins, were hampered some while battling inju- ries but took satisfactory steps in their progress, especially with the aggres- siveness instilled by wideouts coach Del Alexander. "They did a nice job of really attack- ing the spring," Long said of the soph- omores. "That was a lot of my question marks with them — how were they going to be able to handle press [cover- age], getting knocked around? "They've done a great job bringing that physicality, and it's showing up in their ability to make competitive catches." Another sophomore target who closed strong the final two weeks was 6-3, 237-pound tight end Tommy Tremble, who can create some mis- matches when detached from the line. "If there's a guy on offense who's progressed to now where you think he can really help us next year, it probably would be him," Long said of Trem- ble. "He's got great athleticism, great speed, really physical player. He just has to learn football." This is especially true because the Georgia native suffered a season-end- ing ankle injury in game two of his high school senior year before redshirt- ing last season. "He doesn't know what he's doing — but he does it naturally, which is a good starting point," Long said in a deadpan manner. "He's been really exciting for me, just the things we'll be able to do with him in the fall if he keeps progressing the way he is." After finishing a relatively College Football Playoff-modest 41st in scor- ing last year with a 31.4-point average, Long is seeking more detonation from the unit. "Explosive plays," Long replied when asked of a top priority in 2019. "… Yards after catch, yards after [con- tact], being able to create out there, one-play drives." The 2019 receiving entrée course is quite clear with veterans Claypool, Finke, Young and junior tight end Cole Kmet, but it's the side dishes the sophomore class can add to augment the overall flavor on offense that might help take the Fighting Irish offense to the highest tier. "It's one thing to go out there and practice in the indoors or outside, but what are you going to do when you walk into that stadium now with peo- ple watching you?" Long summarized of the sophomores. "That's different. Some guys will flourish, some guys might be a little camera shy. At least we'll get to know." Whatever they can give in 2019 will be well received. ✦ "… If guys are making plays we'll find ways to get them the ball in all kind of different ways. I just have to see them do it live, in a game, and their roles will grow from there." OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHIP LONG Considered the fastest player on Notre Dame's offense with his 4.40 speed in the 40-yard dash, sopho- more receiver Braden Lenzy is attempting to translate that asset to the playing field. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

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