Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

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

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Page 18 of 63 APRIL 2017 19 running back Josh Adams, sopho- more wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and C.J. Sanders, fifth-year senior tight end Durham Smythe, and senior offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars, with Mc- Glinchey in his fifth season. On defense, the returning starters are senior end Andrew Trumbetti and junior nose tackle Jerry Tillery along the line, senior Nyles Morgan and junior Te'von Coney at linebacker, se- nior Drue Tranquill and sophomore Devin Studstill at safety, and sopho- more cornerback Julian Love. On special teams, junior kicker Jus- tin Yoon and junior punter Tyler New- some have started each of the past two seasons, while sophomore John Shan- non, who redshirted last season, is slated to take over at long snapper for graduated four-year starter Scott Daly. Here are some of the top storylines entering the spring: PERCEIVED STRENGTHS ON PAPER Offensive Line — The 75 career starts returning along the offensive line are nearly triple the number from 2016 (27), and more than the 68 in 2015 that was led by first-round pick Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and center Nick Martin at center. Tight End/Wide Receivers — Al- though the five-man tight end corps snared only 12 passes last season, highlighted by four touchdowns from Smythe, the upgrade is vast with the addition of junior Alizé Jones, academically ineligible last season after snaring 13 passes for 190 yards as a freshman, and early enrollee Brock Wright, the nation's No. 1 prospect at his position. At wide receiver, junior Equanime- ous St. Brown had a breakout 2016 sophomore year similar to past stars like Golden Tate and Will Fuller, plus four others caught scoring passes. Kicking specialists — Junior kicker Justin Yoon and senior punter Tyler Newsome have been produc- tive their first two years as starters. PERCEIVED CONCERNS ON PAPER Quarterback Inexperience — In the last 50 seasons (1967-2016), there have been only two occasions when Notre Dame started the season with quarter- backs on the roster with fewer career passes thrown than the five this year, all by junior Brandon Wimbush. The first was 10 years ago, after four-year starter Brady Quinn's grad- uation, when junior Evan Sharpley was 1-of-2 passing for seven yards. The Irish finished 3-9, but the prob- lems went far beyond QB. The other was 1994, the year after sophomores Ron Powlus and Tom Krug were redshirted, Powlus for medical reasons. The Irish went from 64-9-1 the previous six years to 6-5-1. Kelly revealed that junior quarter- back Brandon Wimbush will get 60 percent of the snaps this spring, his first year as the starter. After playing as a backup in 2015, Wimbush red- shirted last season. Sophomore Ian Book, who red- shirted last season as well, will get the remaining 40 percent of the reps. Defensive Line — Even with NFL prospects Isaac Rochell and Jarron Jones last year, the Irish finished 72nd in the country against the run (182.4 yards allowed per game) and Junior slot receiver C.J. Sanders hauled in 24 catches for 293 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA 2017 SCHEDULE Date Opponent (2016 Record) Sept. 2 Temple (10-4) Sept. 9 Georgia (8-5) Sept. 16 at Boston College (7-6) Sept. 23 at Michigan State (3-9) Sept. 30 Miami (Ohio) (6-7) Oct. 7 at North Carolina (8-5) Oct. 21 USC (11-3) Oct. 28 North Carolina State (7-6) Nov. 4 Wake Forest (7-6) Nov. 11 at Miami (Fla.) (9-4) Nov. 18 Navy (9-5) Nov. 25 at Stanford (10-3)

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