If you haven’t been paying attention, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are rolling through the spring practice period. It seems ridiculously quiet for a program like Notre Dame. Obviously, there are plenty of us paying attention but there seems to be a lot of “no news” floating around. After all, there’s no phantom quarterback competition for lazy writers to just beat on day in and day out. The biggest story seems to be about Matt Balis, and there are very few of us around that can write intelligently about strength and conditioning without coming off as either a total asshole, or completely ignorant.
So, we have less than two weeks left of practice and then the annual Blue-Gold Game goes on display. We know things. Okay... we think we know some things. Because of that, I’m going to attempt to touch on several things. Think of this as less science and more sorcery. Probably really dark sorcery that never really works right- but it’s magic nonetheless.
You probably already know what this is all about. OF COURSE we have to list our 2017 Spring Football Legends. Basically, these are people that are somewhere on the scale between Junior Jabbie and Harrison Smith. They are getting a lot of press, but they could go in one direction or the other.
- RB Tony Jones. Brian Kelly has really gone all in with his assessment of Jones this spring, and has gone as far as saying something about “first-string.” While I see a lot of potential with Jones, I can’t help but see Josh Adams and Dexter Williams standing there, and tilt my head just a bit.
- WR Miles Boykin. Praise for Boykin is picking up a lot of steam lately from within the program and from the media. Big body receivers are a green quarterback’s best friend- especially in a practice setting. However, I still have HUGE questions about his route running and in particular, his speed off of the cut.
- DT Micah Dew-Treadway. With concerns over the health and longevity of Daniel Cage as well as the injury to Elijah Taylor, Dew-Treadway has been talked about quite a bit. Kelly thinks the defensive line will be better than what most think, and I think MDT is on the level of Emeka Nwankwo.
- S Nick Coleman. Nick Coleman got ALL PRAISES DUE TO YOU love in fall camp at cornerback. Then... Texas destroyed him. Coleman made the move to safety, and is getting the same type of praise this spring. You can’t help but think about the similarities.
- Matt Balis. Like I said, there may be no bigger story this spring than Matt Balis. Somehow and someway, Balis has transformed a soft and weak team into warriors primed to invade Asgard and dispatch with Odin, Thor, Loki, and the entire Norse religion.
We all have our own ideas about why one thing is happening instead of another. I have a few of them, so let’s discuss...
- Notre Dame will use a fullback in 2017. Not what you were expecting? The Irish quarterbacks have been seen to take some snaps under center this spring. If they are willing to do that, than I believe they are willing to use a 2 back set. If they are willing to use a 2 back set, than I believe we can call one of them a fullback. Maybe it’s Tyler Luatua or maybe it’s Josh Barajas- I can’t say exactly, but I can say I am certain we will see some fullback action. (Don’t hold your breath for a fullback trap in the 2 hole though).
- Chase Claypool is going to blow up and Brian Kelly is going to act like it’s a big shocker. It’s the only way to cover his ass over what has already been a mishandled situation. We’ve all seen the athleticism from Claypool, and I firmly believe he has as much potential as anyone on the roster. He probably should have seen more time last year- SOMEHOW. He’ll do some incredible things this year and Kelly will point to “development” as opposed to quoting Crash Davis. That’s it... Chase Claypool is now “Nuke.”
- Special Teams will be incredible. Unless I’ve missed something, I haven’t heard much of anything about our special teams. Yes, I’m sure that is normally the case in spring football- a time when it is often overlooked or understated. However... however, I feel that having one coach (Brian Polian) in charge of the unit will allow all of the details to be straightened out in the coming year. Now is the time for super-double secret plans, and I think Polian is the right kind of crazy for it.
- Alize’ Jones. Like... just what is really going on here. Why would a guy like that NOT be on the tempo team? Jones has already been an enigma this spring in terms of what the media has seen or not seen, and I’m unsure about anything he may bring (if he can bring something) until Temple. Confused? So am I.
- Rover Rights. First we were thinking Drue Tranquill, and then we were seeing Asmar Bilal, and now we are thinking Asmar Bilal and seeing Drue Tranquill. Will it even matter? Well, I guess it depends on what happens at safety- and by most accounts, we should be okay there. That would mean Tranquill, but we are told that we will see a lot Bilal. Is a rotating rover the best scenario?
- Booze Backers. Why aren’t more people on the Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini bandwagon? That automatically makes things more interesting as “Captain Morgan” and, well... Martini are concerned. Just saying, “DIBS.”
- Can Brian Kelly really pull this off? The changes he has made have been sweeping. Whether it’s losing a lieutenant like Longo or really giving up the offense- or a combination of those and all the other changes, Kelly will start the 2017 season in pretty unfamiliar territory. It’s still questionable if he will be able to handle it all if things get tough.
Ending The Oddness
Spring is always funny, because unlike fall camp, spring has more questions when it is done than answers. It’s an odd way to follow a team: “Hey let’s follow and pay attention to all of this stuff for two months and then we will finally have the right questions we want to ask in August.”
That’s what this all really boils down to with spring football. What will we learn from spring that will allow us to ask questions in the fall? While we certainly learn a lot from spring football, it’s merely an index for the march to September. Nothing is as bad or as good as it seems. It can be fun at times, but mostly it’s just odd.
Two more weeks (actually, less).