Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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10 OCT. 3, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME COLE LUKE HANDLES TOUGH NIGHT Senior cornerback Cole Luke, Notre Dame's most experienced player on defense and one of the team's best NFL prospects, had his worst game with the Irish against Michigan State Sept. 17. From the potential interception that left his grasp and led to the Spartans' first and go-ahead touchdown, to a bad pass inter- ference penalty, to a missed coverage as- signment on third-and-seven that resulted in a long completion that enabled Michigan State to run out the clock, it was the night- mare game that any premier athlete will experience at some point in his career. It just so happened to occur in Luke's 29th career start. "He's the smartest defensive player we have," head coach Brian Kelly said three days after the setback. "… All I've told Cole is that he's a really good football player. He's put himself in good positions. "He's just got to go make some plays. We've got to rely on him because he's a three-year starter for us out there. He's got to be able to play better for us, and I'm confident he will." It's the kind of game most corners will have during their careers. But Luke holds himself to a high standard. "This situation and this opportunity we have is not going to be here forever," Luke said. "Football is here for four years in your long life. Playing football here is so short … don't take it for granted. "When you come here, you hold yourself to the gold standard. That's what you come here for. Anything less, you're cheating yourself. "You can have a perfect game — and then two plays can go wrong for you as a corner and it's exploited. It happens to the greatest corners." — Lou Somogyi NICK WATKINS' SEASON IS IN QUESTION Junior cornerback Nick Watkins' season is on the brink. The Dallas native could be cleared to play in the next few weeks, but that news might not come soon enough for him to continue in 2016. Watkins broke the humerus bone in his right arm in spring practice and underwent an ag- gressive procedure in August to stimulate bone growth. Head coach Brian Kelly said before the Michigan State game that a bone scan showed growth, but an X-ray prior to the Duke game indicated there wasn't enough to give Watkins full clearance. "I think we're at a point right now where we have to make a decision whether we want to get him in," Kelly said. "He's got some growth. We're not 100 percent there, but let's put it this way: it looks like the decision to use the technique that we did is a positive thing, but we're starting to fight time. "We played him as a freshman, and it's prob- ably on my fault that we didn't utilize him prop- erly. I don't want to do that to the kid again. "If it's going to take another week or two, do I play him for half a season? And now he's a junior. I have to make a decision here in the next week." Kelly said he'll now weigh whether playing Watkins — who would provide some much needed depth and experience in a secondary that badly needs it — is worth it. Watkins will have missed the first four games of the season by the Oct. 1 Syracuse game. Playing the final seven regular-season games might not warrant removing a medical redshirt. "They [the doctors] like what they see," Kelly said. "I think they want to wait another week and see if it's at that point where they can give him the green light, and then we'll sit down and have that conversation [with Watkins about playing this season]. "I would say standing here in front of you right now based upon my conversation with Dr. [Brian] Ratigan, he thinks it's still two more weeks. And if that is the case, I would be lean- ing towards not playing him at this point. We would not use up a half-year on him." — Matt Jones If the broken arm Watkins suffered in the spring doesn't start healing faster, the Irish may decide to redshirt the junior cornerback. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS The United States Postal Service an- nounced Sept. 20 that it will issue a stamp next year honoring the late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. The first class mail forever stamp will be issued next fall with an unveil- ing ceremony at Notre Dame to include the first-day-of-issue of the stamp at the uni- versity post office. It can be used no mat- ter what the first class postage rate is. Addi- tional information will be provided in coming months. "It's fitting that the United States rec- ognizes Father Hes- burgh's contributions to our nation and the world in a medium t h a t w i l l l i t e r a l l y transport his legacy to households across America and around the world," Notre Dame Pres- ident Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a statement. Notre Dame has been recognized by the U.S. Postal Service on three previous occasions — in 1988 with a stamp honoring legendary football coach Knute Rockne, in 1998 with a stamp of the famous f o o t b a l l b a c k f i e l d known as the Four Horsemen and in 1992 with a post card cele- brating the sesquicen- tennial of Notre Dame. — Matt Jones Father Hesburgh Gets Forever Stamp The United States Postal Service will issue a stamp h o n o r i n g t h e l a t e R e v . Theodore M. Hesburgh next fall, with an unveiling cer- emony at Notre Dame. Luke is determined to bounce back after the 36-28 loss to Michigan State Sept. 17. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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