Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

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

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Page 12 of 55 OCT. 9, 2017 13 UNDER THE DOME FRESHMEN REPORT: WHO'S REDSHIRTING, WHO'S NOT With the halfway point of the 2017 college football season upon Notre Dame heading into the Oct. 7 clash at North Carolina, the lines of demarcation in this year's 21-man scholarship freshman class have been drawn in terms of who will play the remainder of this campaign. Ten freshmen made the trip to the Michigan State game Sept. 23. On offense, they were right tackle Robert Hainsey, offensive guard Josh Lugg, tight ends Cole Kmet and Brock Wright, and wide receiver Michael Young. There were four on defense: tackles Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, and safeties Isaiah Robertson and Jordan Genmark Heath. Finally, there was backup kicker Jonathan Doerer. All but Lugg have seen action this year, and the preference is to redshirt Lugg. However, it hasn't been uncommon in the past for a freshman who is going to get redshirted to take at least one trip a year to a road game just so he gets a sense of it prior to his sophomore campaign. Several of the aforementioned freshmen have seen action primarily on special teams. Genmark Heath has played on three of the four units and had recorded eight tackles through four games. If Genmark Heath couldn't have been as effective to play on so many special teams units, then it wouldn't have been worth burning a year of eligibility on him. "As he learns, we want to continue to keep him actively involved in … playing real football, getting him involved in our special teams and tackling and doing the things that can help our football team. He's a physical kid that can help us," head coach Brian Kelly said of Genmark Heath. "We have to continue to train Jordan to be prepared to play this year [at safety], so that training will continue. As that training is going on, we want to keep playing him because we think he's got some nice skill sets." In addition to Lugg, the other 11 also are "developmental" players, per Kelly, who are projected to pre- serve a fifth season of eligibility: quarterback Avery Davis, running back C.J. Holmes, wide receiver Jafar Armstrong, offensive linemen Aaron Banks and Dillan Gibbons, defensive linemen Darnell Ewell, Jonathan MacCollister and Kofi Wardlow, and linebackers David Adams, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Drew White. "Without having the chance to develop a lot of the teaching, you would have to be a specialist in some fashion or someone we had to delve into that position because of a glaring weakness," Kelly said. "We don't have that. Unless something drastic changes, you won't see any of those guys on the field this year." A few days after the 38-18 victory at Michigan State, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly became visibly upset when asked during a weekly press con- ference about a targeting incident by Spartans linebacker Chris Frey on Irish junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush that was not called. While scrambling for positive yard- age on a play in the first quarter, Wim- bush was tackled cleanly by linebacker Joe Bachie. Then, while lying almost face down on the turf, Wimbush was speared in the back and the helmet by Frey, who had left his feet and dove into the play. Despite members of the ACC offi- ciating crew looking right at the con- tact, no flag was thrown for what Kelly termed an egregious targeting incident. No review was taken in the replay booth. The usual protocol in such situations from the Notre Dame coaching staff is to put together a tape and send it to the league's office with a complaint, but all done in private. However, on this specific play Kelly shared his annoyance publicly, in addition to filing the complaint with the league office. Kelly said his frustration was heightened on the bus ride back home when he saw an individual thrown out of a game trying to make a legitimate tackle. "We can't seem to get that right — and we have a replay official that is supposed to be looking for that," he said. The dismay from Kelly went back to at least the 2016 opener at Texas when Notre Dame senior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. sustained a concussion in the end zone on another helmet-to-helmet contact play — also with no penalty — leading him to eventually choose baseball over football as a potential future pro sport. That indignation was exacerbated several weeks later in a Notre Dame game against Syracuse when then Irish freshman safety Devin Studstill was ejected from the contest after a booth review judged his hit on a sliding quar- terback Eric Dungy to be targeting. "He was definitely not targeting somebody," Kelly said of that hit after the victory against the Orange. "I just don't understand the rule." The complaint sent into the Big 12 office by Notre Dame last year after the Texas game eventually resulted in some action. "There were repercussions for that Big 12 replay crew — which was double secret until later in the year, obviously," Kelly said. "I don't know what, if any, repercussions would be relative to the on-field crew for the ACC or for the Big Ten replay crew, which was supposed to be monitoring that situation. "Tackling where somebody lowers their head as you're trying to make a tackle and there's no intention there to target, that's part of the game. We just can't seem to get that right, and it's extremely frustrating." Brian Kelly Voices Displeasure With Off-Target Calls Safety Jordan Genmark Heath has carved out a role as a freshman on special teams, playing on three of four units and making eight tackles through four games. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL Head coach Brian Kelly voiced his displeasure at the ACC officiating crew on the field and the Big Ten replay officials in the booth for a non- targeting call at Michigan State Sept. 23. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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