Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

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

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12 SEPT. 12, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED SEVEN FRESHMEN LISTED ON INITIAL TWO DEEP When Notre Dame released its two-deep depth chart Aug. 30, seven rookies made the list. Not surprisingly, five were on defense, with three of them in a secondary that experienced recruiting short- ages for a couple of years and of late was ravaged by an injury, suspension and dismissals. Freshmen Devin Studstill and Jalen Elliott are the top backups at the two safety positions behind sixth-year senior Avery Sebastian and junior Drue Tranquill, respec- tively, while classmate Julian Love is behind senior Cole Luke at right corner but will also be an integral part in the nickel and dime sub packages on defense. There are many reasons why so many freshmen are and have to be in the mix in the secondary. First, the Irish signed only one safety in 2013 (Redfield), one in 2014 (Tranquill) and two in 2015 (Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams). However, Redfield and Williams have both been dismissed from the program for disciplin- ary reasons, while the 5-8 Fertitta was viewed first as a potential special teams demon in the mold of 2007-09 star Mike Anello. Second, cornerback also has incurred major losses. The suspension of senior Devin Butler left Luke as the lone senior corner. The junior class signed only one player, Nick Watkins, who fractured his humerus this spring and re-fractured it this August. An aggressive treatment of his break might enable him to get back on the field in the latter part of September in a best-case situation. Consequently, the second unit is comprised of three true freshmen and sophomore Nick Coleman, who took 44 snaps at corner last season. Also on defense, five-star recruit Daelin Hayes is expected to see action in some pass-rush situations, although head coach Brian Kelly tapped the brakes on putting too much on him for the opener at Texas, especially because he's played in about seven high school games the past three years be- cause of shoulder problems and some family issues. "Get lined up right, don't jump off-sides … put your jersey on the right way," Kelly replied when asked what he expects from Hayes while working at weakside end with juniors An- drew Trumbetti and Jay Hayes (no relation). "Just settle into the game. We're not asking him to change the complexion of the game, but just to get into the flow of the game." Maybe the most surprising two-deep rookie mem- ber on defense is Sam linebacker Jamir Jones, younger brother of fifth-year senior nose guard Jarron Jones. Last year, current senior captain James Onwualu and ju- nior Greer Martini split action at Sam, with Onwualu receiv- ing 501 snaps and Martini 314, mainly versus triple-option teams or in short-yardage situations. Now the starting Will linebacker, Martini still could be the next option at Sam in case of an injury to Onwualu. Nevertheless, Jones might see the field too because of a high football IQ, per Kelly. "He picks up things very well, and I have been pleased with his ability to hold material and carry it on to the next day," Kelly said of the 6-3, 225-pound Jones. "He's got some pass-rush ability as well … he's a pleasant surprise for us." On offense, Kevin Stepherson's strong spring as an early entrant gave him a foothold at the green receiver spots, while the highest rated recruit from the class, Tommy Kraemer, settled in at No. 2 right tackle this August. — Lou Somogyi Remember the days in football when a lineman listed at 300 pounds evoked comparisons to King Kong or an almost other worldly figure? Notre Dame's most recent national title team in 1988 averaged about 268 pounds per man along the starting offensive line. These days in college football, any offensive lineman less than 300 pounds might be deemed a pipsqueak. Notre Dame's 2016 starting line averages 6-5.1 and 315 pounds, with no one less than 310. Senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey is 6-7½, 310 pounds; junior left guard Quenton Nelson is 6-5, 325; junior center Sam Mustipher is 6-2½, 310; senior right guard Colin McGovern is 6-4½, 310; and junior left tackle Alex Bars is 6-6, 320. Compare that to the 2012 starting offensive line, which averaged 6-3.6 and 302.6 pounds while helping the Irish take a trip to the BCS Na- tional Championship Game. In fact, Notre Dame's 2016 starting offensive line averages more than nine of the 12 teams that made the 2015 NFL playoffs, with the Washington Red- skins the tops at 6-4.6 and 319.4 pounds per man. Among the teams in the Associated Press pre- season top 10, Notre Dame's line weighs the most on average, although four of them are listed as slightly taller. Here is the AP top 10 when mea- sured by offensive line size: 1. Notre Dame 6-5.1, 315 2. Alabama 6-4.8, 314.8 3t. Michigan 6-5.8, 313.6 3t. Oklahoma 6-4.4, 313.6 5. LSU 6-5.4, 313.4 6. Clemson 6-4, 312 7. Florida State 6-5.8, 311.2 8. Ohio State 6-5.2, 309 9. Tennessee 6-4.6, 307 10. Stanford 6-4.4 302 Size alone is not the reason Notre Dame is expected to have success on offense, but the size of the lineup does matter. The size — and power — of the offensive line allows Notre Dame's staff to build around the schemes it wants. It allows the Irish to have a more physical and downhill ground attack. Last year's average of 207.6 rush- ing per game was the highest at the school, when including bowl games, since 1998. Notre Dame's backups are not small, either. Arguably the next lineman off the bench is soph- omore guard Tristen Hoge, who checks in at 6-4½, 310. The first veteran tackle off the bench is senior Hunter Bivin, who is 6-5½ and 308 pounds. Fresh- man Tommy Kraemer could see some action, and the powerful young blocker is already 6-4½ and 315 pounds. — Bryan Driskell With his quickness, freshman Daelin Hayes could see some action early as a defensive end in pass-rush situations. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN Notre Dame's 2016 offensive line not only checks out as the largest among the Associated Press poll's preseason top 10, but it also is bigger than nine of the 12 NFL playoff teams from last year. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA 300 POUNDS A NORM ALONG OFFENSIVE LINE UNDER THE DOME

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