End of May Musings

A six-pack of barely-related thoughts as the dog days of summer approach.

1. In with the Old?
The tried and true adage: “You can’t have too many quality defensive lineman” is one to which I subscribe, but for those debating why it’s possible head coach Brian Kelly wouldn’t welcome back senior Ishaq Williams with open arms, consider the following:

He’s a year removed from football…he was replaced by a better player in Isaac Rochell…who has two quality backups with an aggregate seven seasons of eligibility remaining between them (Jonathan Hayes/Grant Blankenship)…and Williams would thus take practice reps from the latter pair.

In a bottom-line business, that’s the bottom line.

However – if there’s room, or if Kelly can facilitate room on his 85-man roster – why not evaluate Ishaq at the Rush End spot behind Romeo Okwara and Andrew Trumbetti? Or pitted against Doug Randolph and Kolin Hill in the Dime pass rusher role, one that was ineffective and inconsequential last season post-Purdue?

Williams, with nearly 40 games of collegiate experience in tow, appears willing to return to the program in any manner (even non-scholarship). That’s the attitude that afforded classmates Chase Hounshell and Connor Cavalaris a chance at a roster spots in April and one that should provide the same for Williams in August.

2. Out with the Old
A former colleague said it best: “Transfers are the lifeblood of a college football program.”

Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the 2015 transfers to date were important cogs in the machinery.

The program needs one more this summer – it is to be hoped from the lower rung of the roster’s ranks – to make August Camp less awkward for a head coach with at least one too many scholarships on his practice field.

3. The Leap?
Sophomore Andrew Trumbetti will lead the 2015 Irish in sacks. Story to follow. (No, seriously, a full prediction story – No. 5 in our summer series if you’re scoring at home – soon to follow.)

And it might not be close…

4. The Bright Lights
Any list of 10 players facing the most pressure entering this college football season must include the following foursome – Ohio State’s initial starting quarterback of choice, FSU quarterback Everett Golson, Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire, Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell, and Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr. (a fifth-year transfer from Eastern Washington).

Only Zaire’s career arc remotely resembles the norm.

5. Two-Way Talent?
I feel strongly Notre Dame’s perimeter blocking isn’t stout enough to fuel a true power-oriented, run-first offense, so I’m going to bang home the following notion ad nauseam:

-- James Onwualu, Part Time WR, Part Time LB, Full-Time Special Teams Demon. Someone explain the downside…?

6. The Indispensables

In retrospect, Notre Dame’s three-most important players last season were, in order:

-- Joe Schmidt: Kind of hard to argue, at this point…
-- Jaylon Smith: His unique talents could not have been replaced…
-- Jarron Jones: The result of his backups and their collective inexperience…

For 2015, the list needs just two names: Malik Zaire, because of all of the reasons listed above and Max Redfield…because of all of the above.

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