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Notre Dame Football: Irish Eyes On The Future For Special Teams In 2019

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Don’t punt this category... it scores a lot of points.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Clemson v Notre Dame
Starting Holder, Nolan Henry
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season behind us, we can start to look towards the future. (Especially since spring football is now underway). This series will provide a quick look at all the position groups for Notre Dame football as we enter winter workouts, and spring practice.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Notre Dame’s special team units were a mixed bag in 2018 — but it also had rocks like Justin Yoon and Tyler Newsome. For our purposes here, we won’t be discussing the a number of different parts of the special teams unit, because in the spring, things like “punt return” and “kickoff return” don’t really exist.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

FIELD GOALS

Yoon, became the all-time leading scorer in Notre Dame history last year as he completed his 4th year as the starter at kicker. It almost felt like field goals were automatic when Yoon came out onto the field. He didn’t have the most powerful leg, but it was accurate enough to keep racking up the points.

FG Stats From 2018

Kicker FG ATT FG MADE % 40-49 50+ LONG
Kicker FG ATT FG MADE % 40-49 50+ LONG
#19 Justin Yoon 21 17 81 6-8 0 48
#39 Jonathon Doerer 1 1 100 0-0 0 30

PUNTING

Newsome was less spectacular, but he had a very good year punting the ball and was a leader for the team as a captain. Brian Kelly gave him extremely high praise after the win over the Vanderbilt Commodores. Newsome bombed one late in the game to flip field position and basically win the game for the Irish. In fact, Newsome was incredible that game and set a new Notre Dame record by 7 yards with a 59.2 yard punting average.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Punting Stats From 2018

Punter PUNTS YARDS AVG LONG TB 50+ BLK
Punter PUNTS YARDS AVG LONG TB 50+ BLK
#85 Tyler Newsome 53 2367 44.66 63 9 19 0

KICKOFFS

Jonathan Doerer... well he struggled as the kickoff specialist. It was enough to allow Justin Yoon kick for him on a number of occasions. The problem for Doerer was that the ball often times went too far to the left side with 3 of them going out of bounds. For a player that was touted as having a cannon for a leg, he only tallied 25 touchbacks on the season.

Kickoff Stats From 2018

KICKER NUMBER YARDS AVG TB OOB
KICKER NUMBER YARDS AVG TB OOB
#39 Jonathan Doerer 56 3348 59.8 25 3
#19 Justin Yoon 26 1508 58 8 1

NEW ADDITIONS

A punter and kicker are out the door due to graduation, and a punter and kicker enter the fold due to recruiting.

  • Jay Bramblett 3-Star Punter
  • Harrison Leonard 3-Star Kicker (AKA lacrosse bro)

Both could see significant action in 2019, but more on that in just a second.

Harrison Leonard
Twitter @hleonard858

2019 OUTLOOK

Buckle up, because the Irish are replacing two starters — two really damn good players. I will assume that Jonathan Doerer will take over the field goal kicking duties, and freshman Jay Bramblett will take over at punter.

Bramblett didn’t have a good All-American Bowl week, but he did have an injured foot, so we should give the benefit of the doubt for now.

Leonard will compete with Doerer for FG kicking duties this fall, but my guess is that he may be used for kickoffs. Kelly likes using two different kickers because of a “fatigue” factor that exists in doing both jobs.

Notre Dame is solid at Holder with the return of Nolan Henry. Even if he is unable to perform at a high level, Ian Book could always step in to do his old job (I’m only partly joking — like 90/10).

Notre Dame is going to take a step back on its special teams in 2019, but the actual degree of which is still very much in the air. There will be a lot of youth and inexperience out there regardless, and I’m never happy about that setup.

RANDOM RANDOMNESS TO PONDER

Poll

How do you feel about ND’s special teams in 2019

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Good
    (43 votes)
  • 45%
    Okay
    (218 votes)
  • 45%
    Worried
    (221 votes)
482 votes total Vote Now