Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

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

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8 JUNE/JULY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Center Jarrett Patterson Will Carry On OL Tradition By Lou Somogyi In virtually every football season, a freshman who preserved a year of eli- gibility the prior season will be counted on to become a major figure or even a starter as a sophomore. Last year for Notre Dame it was running back Ja- far Armstrong and left guard Aaron Banks, and the season prior (2017) it was right tackle Tommy Krae- mer. This trend has particularly featured offensive linemen, among them future first-round picks Zack Martin (2010), Ronnie Stanley (2013) and Quenton Nelson (2015). That pattern with offensive linemen will continue in 2019 with center Jarrett Patterson. Out of nowhere from the first snap in spring drills, last season's reserve left tackle (who pre- served a fifth year by not appearing in more than four games) came out with the first unit as the heir apparent to three-year starter and 2018 captain Sam Mustipher. Patterson never relinquished that role and performed to a level that has the coaching staff believing he is primed for such a significant responsibility. He doesn't have to be a standout this season, just like Nelson necessarily wasn't in 2015, but it's more about providing stability than star power this year for him. At loud or intimidating locations such as Athens, Ga., or Ann Arbor, Mich., composure and reliability will especially be paramount. The wide receiver and linebacker positions this year also should have some impact from sophomores who redshirted last season, but not nearly to the level that will be counted on with Patterson. Linebacker Jack Lamb Should Have A Breakout Season By Bryan Driskell There are a number of sophomores who redshirted in 2018 who are get- ting thrust into crucial roles in 2019, including several who will be counted on to start. Jack Lamb is one of those players, and if he can build on what we saw from him in the spring, he could be one of the team's breakout players in 2019. Notre Dame's linebacker depth chart is lit- tered with young and unproven players. There is certainly an opportunity for Lamb and the other sophomores — Shayne Simon and Bo Bauer — to make their mark. Not only is it possible, the reality is it is needed if the Irish are going to field another championship-caliber defense. Lamb is long (6-4, 227) and an exceptional ath- lete for his size. He showed off outstanding range and playmaking potential during spring practices. He was able to make plays in coverage, could play to the sideline, and was effective playing in the box and as a blitzer. The issue, however, was that Lamb wasn't as sharp as he needed to be from an execu- tion standpoint at times. Getting so much action during the spring should help him work through those mistakes. If that happens, Lamb will become one of the team's top playmakers, assuming he can stay healthy, something he has yet to show at Notre Dame. I predict that Lamb will not only stay healthy, but by the end of the season he will emerge as Notre Dame's top linebacker and one of its best defenders. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WHICH REDSHIRTED FRESHMAN FROM 2018 WILL HAVE THE MOST IMPACT IN 2019? PATTERSON LAMB Notre Dame senior defensive end Kha- lid Kareem doesn't mind celebrating the improvements his Fighting Irish defense made in pressuring opposing quarterbacks last season. Moving from 83rd nationally with 1.85 sacks per game in 2017 to 34th with 2.62 sacks each Saturday in 2018 is noticeable and notable. However, it's the missed opportunities that have Kareem and the rest of the Irish defensive line uptight and on task this off- season. Notre Dame finished with 64 total quar- terback hurries and 34 sacks last season, a nearly two-to-one ratio gap he was dis- appointed with, and expects to close this season. With Kareem on one edge and senior Julian Okwara on the other, Notre Dame features two possible first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Kareem looked back on 2018 and then forward to this fall. BGI: It was a great season for the Irish defensive line in 2018, but there were many missed sacks and opportunities. What goes into improving in those areas? Kareem: "There's not really a drill to improve that. It just comes from constant effort. "Some plays last year guys would come out of their assignment, and we'd miss a sack. It's get- ting everyone rushing together this year, not just playing for themselves." BGI: How much attention was put into improv- ing that during spring ball? Kareem: "We definitely focused on it a lot. Coach [Mike] Elston, [Notre Dame's defensive line coach] sat us down and explained that even though we were great at times last year, we can be even better this year." BGI: How good can the Irish first line of defense be this season? Kareem: "Our whole D-line can be amaz- ing. When we come together and play as one unit, we're going to be unstoppable. This is as talented a group as I've ever been a part of. "We can definitely be the best defensive line in the country next year." BGI: What did you learn during spring ball? Kareem: "I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of areas to improve in. We all have a ways to go, but we're going to have a great season. " There are so many little things that maybe people on the outside don't under- stand that you need to improve on. Those subtle things are what I'm working on." BGI: Why do you have so much confidence? Kareem: "I think it starts with the love and the care we have for each other. We're always working for each other. We don't approach stuff selfishly. "I feel like we are going to build on the achieve- ments of last year." — Todd Burlage Five Questions With … NOTRE DAME SENIOR DEFENSIVE END KHALID KAREEM Kareem notched 42 total stops, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks during his junior season. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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