Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2020

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

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10 OCT. 17, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Notre Dame Personnel News & Notes Two days before the Oct. 10 matchup with Florida State, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly revealed that sophomore linebacker Jack Kiser, who earned the game ball against South Florida with his team-high eight tackles, and senior defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa would not be available for the contest. The word "available" has become a somewhat general code for the coronavirus, which either puts players in 10-day isolation if they test positive, or a 14-day quarantine through contact tracing. Once those with positive tests are cleared to return, they must still follow the same protocols of wearing masks and social distancing, but are still safer around individuals who haven't tested positive. "They won't be tested for at least 90 days," Kelly said of the players who returned from isolation. "But we do use them in a manner … within a locker room setting, they'd be sitting next to somebody who's non-COVID." The recovered players who tested positive will be gradually reintegrated into practice sessions after going through cardio, EKG and blood tests. "If somebody can make up the ground and still be competi- tive in practice, we're going to allow him to still compete for playing time," Kelly said. "If you're that good a player and you can go through having mild symptoms, go through that protocol of 50 [percent practice work], 75 [percent] and still at the end of the day be as good if not better, you're going to see yourself playing on Saturday." • Senior linebacker Drew White understands why the Notre Dame coaching staff didn't feel a need to sign a player for his position group in the 2020 class. "Our linebacker room is stacked," White said. "We have the most depth I've ever seen while being here." So when Kiser was listed as not available against FSU, the plug-and-play identity forged under defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Clark Lea the past several years takes hold. "We've been able to rotate throughout practice and even games to where I feel I have a great chemistry with all the guys, no matter who I line up with," White said. Also molded by Lea and the entire staff is consistency in the attitude toward competition and daily routine. Thus, when football operations with practice and beyond were put on hold from Sept. 21 for more than a week because of a surge with the coronavirus within the team, the response was not of panic but process. "It's the same thing as before: accountability to yourself and accountability to your team- mates, which we have learned already in this system and this culture that we've created here," White said. "That was really emphasized over the actual quarantine during March when we were all home and had then player-only Zoom meetings, sending in videos to your teammates and friends or SWAT leaders to hold yourself accountable, make sure you're working out every day. "And that just kind of flowed into the little hiccup we had here. I feel like we didn't really miss a beat." • After two games, Notre Dame's offensive line easily was graded the best in the country by Pro Football Focus. And two of the four highest individual grades of non-quarterbacks went to fifth-year senior left tackle Liam Eichenberg at No. 2 (93.7) and junior center Jarrett Patterson at No. 4 (91.4). Experience, chemistry and continuity are behind the offensive line's effectiveness, per Kelly. "They've logged so many hours together that they pick up for each other so well, com- municate so well," he said. "There's not a better unit in the country where all five work as well together." • Notre Dame senior kicker Jonathan Doerer was supposed to be out of eligibility after this season and a bona fide NFL prospect after converting 17 of 20 field goals last year. The NCAA, though, gave every fall sport athlete an extra year of eligibility, meaning Doerer could have the option to return in 2021. "Most likely I'll be coming back next year," Doerer said Oct. 6. — Patrick Engel and Lou Somogyi REV. JOHN I. JENKINS C.S.C. FACES FIRESTORM AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 On a day when Notre Dame's scheduled football game at Wake Forest (Sept. 26) was postponed because of a surge of COVID-19 cases among the Fighting Irish team, school president Rev. John I. Jenkins C.S.C. was in Washington, D.C., to witness and celebrate the an- nouncement of Notre Dame Law School graduate and faculty member Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. When photos from the event showed Jenkins not wearing a mask — which he had explicitly mandated at the school to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus — he issued an apology. "I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a num- ber of people in the Rose Garden," the school president said in a statement posted on Notre Dame's website. "I failed to lead by example, at a time when I've asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so." Then on Oct. 2, Jenkins announced he had tested posi- tive for the virus upon learning that "a colleague with whom he has been in regular contact" had the virus. More than 200 students signed petitions for his res- ignation, the student newspaper The Observer called the situation "embarrassing," and the faculty senate — prohibited from traveling this year — stopped one vote short (21-20) of considering a vote of no confidence in his leadership. "I haven't seen people this outraged in my whole career and I've been here since 2001," Eileen Hunt Bot- ting, a political science professor, told The Baltimore Sun. — Lou Somogyi UNDER THE DOME Father Jenkins received criticism after not wearing a mask while in Washington, D.C., to take part in the announcement of Notre Dame Law School graduate and faculty member Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS JACK KISER MYRON TAGIVAILOA-AMOSA

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