Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2020

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

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14 SEPT. 19, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI E very football training camp in August will have its share of setbacks and surprises. In the year of COVID-19, the best news of all was the way the Notre Dame team defeated the formidable coronavirus after a spike on campus forced the school to revert to online classes only in mid-August, and led to canceled football practices Aug. 19-21. The school rebounded superbly to resume returning to classrooms in ac- tual buildings, and head coach Brian Kelly was elated by the overall team discipline and concentration. In the Sept. 7 testing for the coronavirus, all 215 members of the operation tested negative. During the season, the team will be tested three times a week. "I don't think you can go through what we've gone through without some composure," Kelly said. "You can get rattled easily. Rattled when there's a positive test, or rattled with the media information that comes out relative to school closing or foot- ball shutting down or the troubles that we're having in our country. "This group has done an incredible job of managing that. That doesn't mean they're immune to what's go- ing on around them. They're tuned into it, but they've done a really good job of parking a lot of that. When it's time to get to the football field, by and large, they've done a great job." While most of the two-deep on of- fense and defense remained status quo — particularly both lines and quarterback, with the updated depth chart on page 36 — there were sev- eral top newsworthy items among the personnel. TOP SURPRISE ON DEFENSE One freshman on defense made the two-deep, and he was, on paper, one of the least likely candidates: corner- back Clarence Lewis. Unlike corner classmates Ramon Henderson and Caleb Offord, Lewis did not enroll early, and all three were classified by analysts as devel- opmental figures at the outset. Not only did Lewis crash the two- deep at field corner, but he was listed as a co-starter and had the "or" start- ing designation with junior TaRiq Bracy, who in 2019 led the team in passes broken up (seven) and was fourth in snaps played by a defensive back (467). Kelly said the rookie's ball skills, savvy and tackling ability put him in his current spot. "[Cornerbacks coach] Mike Mickens has done a really good job of bringing him along, but a lot of that is that Clar- ence had some innate ability at that position that was able to translate itself early on in his time here," Kelly said. Kelly noted how Lewis reminded him of 2012 FWAA Freshman All- PRESEASON CAMP STORIES Several surprises highlighted the practice sessions prior to the season opener versus Duke Head coach Brian Kelly said freshman cornerback Clarence Lewis (above) reminded him of KeiVarae Russell, a rookie starter and Freshman All-American during Notre Dame's 12-0 regular season in 2012. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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