The Notre Dame Fighting Irish held their media day on Wednesday, and rather than hammer down the front page with every detail offered, this post will serve as a Cliff Notes of sorts. Notre Dame does their media so much differently (and later) than the conferences, so a lot of what normally goes on just isn’t in play. They are literally already practicing for the Louisville Cardinals, but there are still enough questions to go around.
I planned on attending, but some family matters came up, and I was unable to get up to South Bend for the day — my bad (and now I may never get some of those cookies Beth Elston bakes).
There wasn’t anything really earth-shattering from Brian Kelly’s press conference. He seemed confident with his team, and although there have been conflicting reports about the offensive line during camp — he continues to use that group as something to feel good about in 2019.
Kelly had this to say when he was asked about why he has confidence in the running game this year:
“Well, you’ve got some veteran presence on the offensive line with the two tackles, really both guards. Four out of five starters. We’ve really liked what Patterson has brought to the table.
Any time you’re returning four out of five starters on the offensive line, your first sense is there’s got to be some continuity that is going to give you some effectiveness in the run game.
You’re returning a similar offensive scheme so everybody is familiar with what we’re doing. I think everybody talks about the loss of Dexter Williams. Yeah, maybe we lose a little bit of that big-play ability, but we think the three backs, obviously Kyren and C’Bo bring something a little bit different.
But the three big backs, they’re punishing backs. We think we can be a physical presence because of four returning offensive linemen and three punishing backs. That would be the answer to that question.”
Much to the same point, stopping the run is also of great importance. Kelly didn’t exactly give much when asked about his run defense, but he did shed a little light on the linebacker situation:
Drew’s in there. He’ll play the Mike linebacker position. You guys will try to nail Clark down on that, but he’s going to play Mike, he’ll play Mike against Louisville. Does he play every rep? Probably not. There will be some rotation in there.
I think we like certainly him, Asmar, Shayne Simon, all those guys, Jack Lamb, Keith. All those guys together have been all doing good things. They’ve all gotten better at their craft and what they do.
Now, different packages, down and distance, you’ll see different faces. But I guess what I’m saying is, we’ve got a better feel on who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. It’s not just like, Let’s pick a guy.
If the buzz in the air during fall camp was about Kyle Hamilton — maybe there’s a Heisman campaign underway? [allows for people to calm down] Brian Kelly finally had some shinier language when speaking about Hamilton:
Did a really good job. Probably happened last weekend where he kind of hit that wall a little bit, but he fought through it. Didn’t miss a practice. That was impressive for a freshman. He’s in a contact position, and he fought through it. That’s unusual. He’s got some toughness that you don’t teach at that young of an age.
The second thing I think within your question would be his size. 6’3”, 6’4”, very unique to have the suddenness and change of direction which offers him incredible range, obviously, and length as a pass defender.
Can’t tell that I’ve seen a player that can change direction and carry himself with that kind of range on the back end. That’s unusual.
Then instincts. He hasn’t even watched film yet. When he sees a play, he’s able to diagnose it (snapping fingers). I was telling Terry Joseph, you know, that’s great coaching. But it’s clearly the young man has great instincts and he’s gifted.
As much as I’ve been trying to tamp down Kyle Hamilton for Heisman, he’s a really good player. He’s a really good player that has showed up every day in some fashion. He has a unique skill set.
The rest (which is extremely important)
Against Louisville, we should all expect Drew White at the Mike, Asmar Bilal at the Buck, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at the Rover. While there will be other combinations throughout the season, this lines up exactly with what they wanted in the spring. White’s shoulder injury was what really threw a wrench in it all — but also allowed further development of others.
Shaun Crawford appears to have worked his way into the field corner position opposite Troy Pride Jr. at the boundary. As with the linebackers, there will be other combinations with Donte Vaughn and TaRiq Bracy involved as well.
I had originally thought Kyle Hamilton would be brought along slowly, but I think his talent is too great and he has shown more than enough during camp. It’s in this package, and the Dime, where Hamilton’s talents will probably get the most use.
Ian Book looked really good on Wednesday, and Phil Jurkovec has improved greatly throughout camp. This is all we really need to know right now.
Kelly made it pretty clear that after Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr., the third back is Jahmir Smith. None of that should come as a surprise given what has gone down since spring.
Kevin Austin ran with the scout team, and I reiterate that we won’t see him until October. With Michael Young’s injury, it is Lawrence Keys III that has risen to the top. Keys, along with Chris Finke and Chase Claypool will be the starting three when the Irish head to Louisville.
Cole Kmet is already catching passes and maybe he will be ready for Notre Dame’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs after all. The loss right now elevates Brock Wright and Tommy Tremble, but it will also cause a different ratio of two tight end sets until Kmet gets back.
Jonathan Doerer has won (or will win) the starting job at kicker, and it’s because he has done really well. HEY... that’s great news.
The rest of the pressers
This was the media’s chance to talk to the assistant coaches, and here is all of their pressers for your pleasure: