Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 12, 2019

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

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Page 10 of 55 OCT. 12, 2019 11 UNDER THE DOME The dislocated elbow injury to starting fifth-year senior cornerback Shaun Crawford (see page 12) that could sideline him all October also leaves a void in the nickel defense. However, instead of automatically looking for another defensive back to fill Crawford's spot, head coach Brian Kelly and the defensive staff might be counting on 6-2, 216-pound junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Kora- moah to expand his starting role into staying on the field on more third downs. Through the first four games, Owusu-Koramoah led the team in tackles (26) and was second in stops for lost yardage (4.5). "He's talented, he can play man to man, he can blitz off the edge," Kelly said of the junior's versatility. "The first order of business is getting him into a position where he can take some of those reps on third down. "Then we have to be able to get someone who can play in some more specialized defensive structures [nickel, dime, etc.], and that will be one that we haven't decided on who that next person will be. A bulk of that work can come from Jeremiah." Meanwhile, sophomore TaRiq Bracy is projected to receive the primary action at corner in place of Crawford. At 170 pounds, Bracy might not be physically primed yet for full-time play, but from day one he has been one of the surprises in his class because of his speed, com- petitiveness and acumen. "What he lacks right now is just that physical piece where he can be more explosive and breaking on the football," Kelly said. "But he plays the ball extremely well in the air, and he will compete. … Once he gets to that level [strength-wise], I think he can work toward being much more of an elite corner." Kelly admitted that while Bracy didn't quite fit the physical profile in height or strength the staff gen- erally has for each position group, Bracy's other qualities were too good to overlook. "If we were going to take a position player at that level, he had to have great makeup speed and play the ball very well," the head coach said. "And that was the balancing act for us." — Lou Somogyi JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH AND TARIQ BRACY TAKING ON LARGER ROLES Because of his athleticism and versatility, Owusu-Koramoah is going to get the opportunity to stay on the field for more third-down situa- tions following Shaun Crawford's injury. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER

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