Five Wide Fullbacks: The 'I Didn't Jinx Welch' Edition

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Welcome to another edition of Five Wide Fullbacks, 5WF for short.

This week, we talk about Alex Welch's injury, Ireland uniforms, freshmen wide receivers, a former ASU linebacker writing about Oregon, and Michigan's running back situation.

Five topics, all winners.

Just like Don Shula, that Asian guy who eats all those hot dogs in a row, and Rue McClanahan.

1. Last week in the 3rd Annual Shamrock Awards you gave Alex Welch a shammy for flying under the radar. Now that he's lost for the season with a knee injury, who takes his place for the award?

I feel really bad for the terrible jinx. Welch has now been riddled with injuries the past two seasons and it's tough to watch a player have to go through that. He'll now enter his senior season having wasted two years of eligibility because of injuries. Let's hope he makes a full recovery and has a big impact over his final two years after being asked back for a 5th year.

As to the next player flying under the radar? I'll go with freshman C.J. Prosise.

He's been one of the handful of freshmen getting some attention during camp, but not enough to make him flying over the radar. He could be one of the players to have a really solid season as a special teams ace and he will provide depth at safety.

With people really impressed with his size and speed, it wouldn't surprise me to see Prosise actually seeing some minutes at safety , especially with Shumate's move to corner.

2. With those socks, how do you see the rest of the Ireland uniform coming together?

Well, in that picture you can clearly see green and orange striped socks, and what appears to be this undershirt which Grooms previously tweeted:

So now we know there will be the Irish flag cleats, green and orange striped white socks, and an undershirt with some green and orange accents. Judging by the Irish flag accents in the first picture above, it looks like those will appear on the back of the arms.

Here's the thing, we were told Notre Dame wouldn't be wearing any alternate uniforms outside of the Shamrock Series games, of which this opener in Ireland is not one---which must be confusing as hell to people who don't pay attention to these things.

Notre Dame's playing a game in Ireland and it's NOT part of the Shamrock Series??

With the changes we've seen so far, it appears two possibilities are bound to happen.

1) They pair the regular away jersey with these Ireland accents.

2) A new jersey---possibly dominated with green trim with some orange---is made to match the cleats and socks.

I don't want to assume, but I'm pretty sure that the team will still be wearing gold pants and a plain gold helmet. If option No. 1 happens, you'll be seeing a uniform that doesn't really match---Ireland colors on bottom, with Notre Dame colors on top. If you remember when the flag cleats were unveiled this was my main worry, and it was the main problem with the Maryland uniforms last year...nothing matched.

On the other hand, a white jersey outlined in green and orange would be a radical departure, even if it matched and looked better aesthetically---it'd be the first time in school history some combination of blue/gold/green wasn't used for a uniform.

I still think it will be option No. 1 because,

A) They probably would have unveiled the jersey by now so it could sell leading up to the game.

B) It will allow the program to say they didn't really wear alternate uniforms.

As radical as it may be, I'd rather see option No. 2, only because I hate to see things done half-assed. If you're going to wear an Irish flag themed uniform, just do it. You're going to piss off the traditionalists with the cleats and socks anyway, so why wear that stuff and mismatch it with the regular away jersey and tell us it's not an alternate uniform, when it basically amounts to one anyway?

3. Chris Brown and Justin Ferguson, along with Davonte Neal, have been getting high praise from the coaching staff and media so far through fall practice. Do all three see the field this season and what is a realistic level of production from these freshmen?

Before fall practice, my gut was telling me only Neal would see the field this year. Then I thought about Floyd being gone and more balls for receivers to catch. Then I thought about John Goodman starting on the outside against Navy. Then I read about how impressive all three freshmen look in camp and how they've even been getting reps with the 1st team offense.

So yeah, the smart money is moving toward this trio all seeing the field in 2012.

A realistic level of production?

I'd be shocked if Neal doesn't catch at least 30 passes---or roughly two per game. The staff is finding out what scouts have been saying about Neal for a while...get him the ball and he will make things happen. He should be used fairly often in the screen game and with slants and quick outs, no doubt.

Brown and Ferguson are tougher to judge. Neither will be getting the amount of short passes and screens that are bound to come Neal's way automatically in the first game. So I'll say a conservative estimate is that both rack up around 15 receptions on the season. That might not seem like a lot, but that will be quality reps for true freshmen.

4. After reading this wonderful article by a former Arizona State linebacker talking about Oregon's offense, speak to the future of Brian Kelly's offense at Notre Dame and his possible motives from going away from an Oregon-type of offense.

As far as spread offenses go Kelly's isn't that similar to Oregon's, but it's interesting that he's all but abandoned the up-tempo aspect that characterizes so much of the Ducks attack.

If Kelly isn't coaching at Notre Dame 3 or 4 years from now this will probably be a major topic of discussion as the history is written about his time in South Bend. He took a major staple of his offense, and completely abandoned it for years---why?

Anyway, it's pretty crazy to see such large holes opened up for the Oregon running backs, even with smaller offensive linemen. It really makes you wonder if Notre Dame could pull an offense like that off. Could it be run with the big 300 pound linemen? Would Kelly have to recruit 240 pound tight ends and mold them into 265 pound linemen? Would that be smart?

I have no doubt that this Oregon offense would dominate most of Notre Dame's schedule, but how would it fare against USC and Michigan each season? It's pretty interesting to think about isn't it? I tend to think that if a team like Alabama hired Chip Kelly to run their offense that they'd never lose a game for about 4 years---but that's probably not realistic given the revolution in recruiting Alabama would have to go through, the same as Notre Dame would.

It will be fun when Chip Kelly finally jumps to the NFL though. That's going to the guys over at Smart Football's wet dream. I just continue to wonder why Kelly isn't using the up-tempo aspects, and if we'll ever see it at Notre Dame. I think I might know why, but it'd be great to share a beer with BK and have him explain what his plan for the future is.

5. Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is suspended indefinitely, but sophomore Thomas Rawls has been a standout in fall camp for the Wolverines. Discuss how this impacts the Michigan offense.

Here's what really puts Denard Robinson's production as a runner into perspective: He's never really been paired with a featured and legitimate number one running back to take pressure off him. Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Vincent Smith, and Michael Shaw? Relegated to the dust bin of Michigan history.

Of course Toussaint came on very strong late last season, but what if UM can pair him with an emerging Thomas Rawls as well?

That's pretty scary to think about.

Michigan might have some issues on the line and at receiver, but it's not good for Notre Dame if Michigan develops productive running backs to pair with Shoelaces. As you could tell last year, Borges' offense really can't move the ball without the running game getting going out of the I-formation and more traditional sets like that. If they improve in that area, Robison won't have to resort to chucking it up, which sadly turned out to be a winning formula in 2011 anyway.

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