Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

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

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Page 64 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 65 per game and 4.5 yards per attempt. Like Notre Dame, Texas will have to replace its top lineman from a season ago, Hassan Ridgeway. The Long- horns return good size up the middle in junior Poona Ford (303 pounds) and senior Paul Boy- ette (313 pounds), but their backups are mostly freshmen. Notre Dame has a significant size advantage on the edge, where 310-pound senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey and 320-pound junior right tackle Alex Bars are matched up against Texas ends Naashon Hughes (237 pounds), Bryce Cottrell (260 pounds) and Breckyn Hager (227 yards). Advantage: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. TEXAS PASS DEFENSE The Irish return a talented pair of quarterbacks in junior DeShone Kizer and senior Malik Zaire. They finished the 2015 season ranked 23rd nationally in pass efficiency and 18th in yards per pass attempt. Then-junior quarterback Malik Zaire was brilliant against the Texas defense in last year's season opener, compiling 313 yards on 19-of-22 passing. Zaire and Kizer — who passed for 2,884 yards and 21 touchdowns last season — are both set to play against the Longhorns this fall. Notre Dame enters the matchup with an athletic group of pass catchers, but experience is a con- cern. Notre Dame returns just one career start at receiver, and just seven career catches at tight end. Senior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. recorded 28 receptions for 363 yards last season, and he is expected to become the team's top pass catcher in 2016. Talented sophomores Equanimeous St. Brown and C.J. Sanders are primed for breakout seasons after catching just two combined passes last season. Texas finished the 2015 season ranked 73rd in passing yards allowed, giving up 233.4 yards per game through the air. The Longhorns allowed op- ponents to pass for at least 313 yards in three different games, and four opponents completed at least 71.4 percent of their passes. The Longhorns enter the season with at least three sophomores scheduled to start on the back end, but those young players gained a lot of experience last season. Texas has talent in the secondary, but how quickly the young players can get on track will de- termine how much it can improve against the pass. Texas can get after the quarterback, finishing the 2015 season ranked fifth nationally in sacks per game (3.08). Notre Dame ranked 58th in sacks allowed (2.0 per game). Advantage: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS The Longhorns finished last season ranked 17th nationally in special teams according to the Fre- meau Efficiency Index, while the Irish finished the season ranked 19th. Notre Dame's advantage is that its top special teams players return. Sophomore placekicker Jus- tin Yoon and junior punter Tyler Newsome are back. Sanders, a dynamic return man, also returns. Last fall, he became the first Notre Dame player since 2002 to return both a kick and punt for a touchdown in the same season. Meanwhile, Texas has to replace its top returner and its placekicker. Advantage: Notre Dame COACHING Texas head coach Charlie Strong is firmly on the hot seat after finishing just 11-14 in his first two seasons in Austin. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford is an experienced coach who enters his ninth season with Strong. Their experience and past defensive success makes the struggles Texas has had on that side of the ball that much more perplexing. Gilbert has a good pedigree, having served as a graduate assistant at Houston under Art Briles. He was an assistant under a pair of Briles disciplines — Dino Babers at Eastern Illinois (2012-13) and Phillip Montgomery at Tulsa (2015). Gilbert was the offensive coordinator at Tulsa last season, but he was not the primary play caller. That means his first game calling plays on a big stage will be against Notre Dame. Texas also has a new offensive line coach, a new wide receivers coach and a new running backs coach. Notre Dame's coaching staff returns in tact, and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder now enters his third season on the staff. Notre Dame's defen- sive staff now enters its second season together, which should lead to improvements. The coaching staff continuity should prove ben- eficial for the Irish. Advantage: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES Texas is a talented football team that could give Notre Dame some problems if the Irish do not play focused and disciplined football. Notre Dame can match the Longhorns' talent, and the Irish are generally the more experienced football team. The Irish should have a confidence advantage going into the game after the whipping they put on the Longhorns a season ago, but overconfidence is something Notre Dame must guard against. Texas will be playing in front of its home crowd, which is likely to be loud and raucous. Notre Dame is used to playing in front of hostile crowds and should be prepared to handle the environment. Advantage: Notre Dame GAME PREVIEW: TEXAS Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. WR 1 John Burt 6-3 189 So. 8 Dorian Leonard 6-4 200 Jr. WR 85 Collin Johnson 6-6 212 Fr. 81 L. Humphrey 6-4 222 Fr. LT 55 Connor Williams 6-6 288 So. 79 Garrett Thomas 6-6 293 R-Fr. LG 76 Kent Perkins 6-5 320 Sr. 63 Alex Anderson 6-3 299 So. C 56 Zach Shackleford 6-3 290 Fr. or 64 Jake McMillon 6-3 300 So. RG 77 Patrick Vahe 6-3 320 So. 51 Terrell Cuney 6-2 303 So. RT 75 Tristian Nickelson 6-9 322 Jr. 73 Patrick Hudson 6-5 325 Fr. TE 42 Caleb Bluiett 6-3 257 Sr. 47 Andrew Beck 6-3 253 Jr. WR 11 Jacorey Warrick 5-11 173 Sr. 3 Armanti Foreman 5-11 205 Jr. QB 16 Shane Buechele 6-1 191 Fr. or 18 Tyrone Swoopes 6-4 249 Sr. TB 33 D'Onta Foreman 6-1 249 Jr. 25 Chris Warren III 6-2 252 So. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 91 Bryce Cottrell 6-2 260 Sr. 90 Charles Omenihu 6-6 254 So. DT 95 Poona Ford 5-11 303 Jr. 97 Chris Nelson 6-1 297 Fr. NT 93 Paul Boyette Jr. 6-3 317 Sr. 55 Jordan Elliott 6-4 318 Fr. DE 40 Naashon Hughes 6-4 237 Jr. 44 Breckyn Hager 6-3 227 So. MLB 46 Malik Jefferson 6-3 238 So. 30 Timothy Cole 6-1 239 Sr. WLB 45 Anthony Wheeler 6-2 228 So. 35 Edwin Freeman 6-1 228 So. CB 9 Davante Davis 6-2 197 So. 25 Antwuan Davis 6-0 193 Jr. FS 14 Dylan Haines 6-1 200 Sr. 19 Brandon Jones 5-11 192 Fr. SS 31 Jason Hall 6-3 216 Jr. 4 DeShon Elliott 6-1 202 So. CB 5 Holton Hill 6-2 195 So. 2 Kris Boyd 6-0 190 So. NB 11 P.J. Locke III 5-10 200 So. 24 John Bonney 6-1 192 So. TEXAS DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. PK 17 Trent Domingue 6-2 170 Sr. P 13 Michael Dickson 6-2 209 So. H 15 Trey Holtz 6-2 187 Sr. KO 17 Trent Domingue 6-2 170 Sr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. LS 53 Jak Holbrook 5-10 204 So. PR 11 Jacorey Warrick 5-11 173 Sr. 80 Devin Duvernay 5-11 195 Fr. KR 11 Jacorey Warrick 5-11 173 Sr. 80 Devin Duvernay 5-11 195 Fr. Special Teams

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