Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 8 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 9 UNDER THE DOME Hardy was reinstated late that sea- son, and Russell re-enrolled his se- nior year in 2015. Williams missed his last two seasons because of an NCAA probe. "If you're not prepared and if you're not going to come here with the focus and attention to work in the classroom, you could get dinged," Kelly said. "And I'm not afraid to say that to anybody or any mom or dad when I go into the home: you'd better be prepared to work hard in the classroom." The seventh-year Irish head coach also mentioned that while his play- ers are competing against the best on the football field, they also are facing a slew of valedictorians and salutatorians — "Army Academic All-Americans and Under Armour Academic All-Americans" — daily in the classroom. "Notre Dame is and will always be a high academic environment, and you've got to come to play every day," Kelly said. "If you don't, you're going to find yourself on the sideline, and this is a case and it's a reminder to all of our players." ✦ Tight End By Committee Remains Despite the loss of sophomore tight end Alizé Jones for academic reasons, head coach Brian Kelly be- lieves the position collectively can still be stronger than last year. Senior Durham Smythe was the 2015 starter and played 50 snaps versus Texas and 55 versus Virginia (where he caught the first touchdown off a fake field goal) in the first two contests before undergoing knee and shoulder surgeries. Junior Nic Weishar, a former Parade All-American and the all-time receptions leader in Illinois (252), had a team-high 286 snaps at tight end as a developing sophomore and has performed well this August. Junior Tyler Luatua earned a monogram each of his first two seasons primarily as a blocker, while converted senior defensive lineman Jacob Matuska was recruited as a tight end by many top schools such as Oklahoma and Michigan. "We've got two guys that are multidimensional that can do all the things and two real physical guys at the point of attack, and it gives us really great depth," Kelly summarized. The 230-pound Jones' absence can't be minimized because he was a flex tight end and vertical threat in the mold of 2012 Mackey Award winner Tyler Eifert, and he also was taking reps this spring as the boundary receiver (W). Still, Kelly spun the situation positively. "Let's face it, he's a talented young man, but he had no touchdowns last year," Kelly said of Jones. "We're going from no touchdowns to no touchdowns. … He's going to be a good player, there's no ques- tion about that. But it didn't affect anything that we were doing offensively." In the opening practice, Weishar made a couple spectacular leaping catches, and also split defenders on a 50-yard TD in seven-on-seven drills. With four of the five top wide receivers from last season gone, Weishar and Smythe were popular early targets of Irish quarterbacks this August now that there is no Will Fuller to look to anymore. "I do kind of sense that," Weishar said. "We worked a lot with them in the offseason to kind of build that confidence and the simple routes that are staples of our offense that we didn't get a lot of last year. "We're starting to get that again this year. We just have to keep that going and not give the quarterbacks a reason not to trust us." — Lou Somogyi NIC WEISHAR

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Preseason 2016