Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 6, 2014 Issue

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

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UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE B e it in business, sports or every- day life, difficult circumstances will always bring out one of two responses — fight or flight. So when Notre Dame faced the un- thinkable news last month that three of its best players and two important back- ups were suspended indefinitely during an academic investiga- tion, which of the two would it be? Even the most ar- dent of Notre Dame fans hoped for the best but expected a mess when a team loaded with young t a l e n t b u t l i t t l e proven production dealt with the loss of an All-American cor- nerback in KeiVarae Russell, its best wide receiver in DaVaris Daniels and a critical defensive piece in defensive end Ishaq Williams. But as 19th century British author George Borrow proclaimed, "Youth will be served." And about five weeks after the suspensions were announced, Notre Dame's fight indicates a bright future for the program. More than a dozen first-year play- ers have become rotation regulars this year, unexpected heroes emerge almost every week, and the importance of the suspended players — now callously called "The Frozen Five" by the media — is a fading memory. With upcoming games in consecu- tive weeks against Stanford, North Car- olina and top-ranked F l o r i d a S t a t e , n o coach would want to navigate the meat of his schedule without all hands on deck. But if the suspension suspense carries into October, then the de- velopments in Sep- tember will only im- prove Kelly's outlook and chances during the toughest month of the season. "I really like the potential of this foot- ball team. It's a young team that is learning and getting better," Kelly said. "So I think the potential is as high as any team that I've had here at Notre Dame." And while the Irish freshman class is rightfully drawing many headlines with the surprising emergence of de- fensive linemen Andrew Trumbetti, Grant Blankenship, Kolin Hill and Daniel Cage, along with safety Drue Tranquill and others, it's the Notre Dame sophomore class that has made the suspension absorption almost un- Suspensions? What Suspensions? Unsung players such as sophomore wide receiver Will Fuller — who was the team's leading pass catcher with 19 receptions for 225 yards and three scores through three games — have helped the Irish to a strong start. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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