O’Malley’s Spring Football Musings

Thirty-four names (worked into nine musings) to help Irish fans put a bow on Notre Dame’s spring practice, 2016.

An appropriate heading might instead be: Nine conclusions to be taken with a grain of salt because, you know, it’s 48 hours after a meaningless pseudo-scrimmage that will be rendered completely irrelevant one week into August camp.

Regardless, on to The Musings:

1 – Concluding Thought on QBs: It’s unfair, because he’s not yet close to his peak powers circa September 5, 2015, but Malik Zaire looked like a backup quarterback Saturday. That is, he could create outside of the offense but was less effective when operating within it.

But as noted two weeks ago in this space, what you see and hear from the quarterbacks in the spring will be secondary to what transpires in May, June and July before 2016
training camp begins.

2 – (Keep Him) In Close Quarters: Who’s the best Irish defender when tasked with attacking or defending laterally? My short list includes Nyles Morgan, James Onwualu, and Drue Tranquill. Only the last member of that trio is going to be asked to play off the hash and defend out of a backpedal this season and it’s unfortunate, because I can’t see Tranquill turning and running with quality slot receivers or wideouts down the post.

He will, however, make plays against the run, vs. the screen game (against which he could be absolutely outstanding), hawking a mobile quarterback, and in any capacity in which his myriad talents are properly showcased.

The Irish defense simply has no one else to play strong safety at present and Tranquill will endure a few rough moments as a result.

3 – Breakout Senior: It’s not as intriguing as the ever-popular “breakout rookie” nomination, but veteran cornerback Cole Luke is my post-spring pick to click next fall for Todd Lyght’s Irish secondary. And “sound” is hardly a sexy description for a football player, but that’s what Irish fans will get in Luke – a solid tackler, versatile corner (right side and nickel) and, relatively speaking, a playmaker on the back end.

4 – Who Do You Trust?: My list in no particular order: Kizer, Crawford, Luke, Rochell, Newsome, Nelson, McGlinchey, Adams, Hunter…Onwualu…

I could argue both for AND against another dozen. (The positive portion of that list starts with Morgan and Yoon.)

5 – Watch and get back to me: ESPN’s 30/30 Fantastic Lies (Duke Lacrosse scandal) and this You Tube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quI--kovXgI

You’ve never seen anything like either of them.

6 – He’ll Get an Immediate Look: Though Todd Lyght noted incoming safety Jalen Elliott is slated for free safety duty, the depth chart at strong safety suggests otherwise. I’ll take a leap of faith and assume Max Redfield and Devin Studstill can hold down the fort defending the post but there’s no one that appears ready to compete behind Tranquill in the box. 

(Lyght raves about Elliott, in case that point hasn’t been made clear in our podcasts and writings.)

Elliott is one of the most intriguing Irish freshmen because most of his prep highlights are on the offensive side of scrimmage.

7 – Death by 1,000 Paper Cuts: Might be a necessary tactic employed by Notre Dame’s passing game next fall after losing otherworldly deep threat Will Fuller. Torii Hunter, Jr. can get deep, and Corey Holmes can in theory, but the 50-yard strike is unlikely to be part of the Irish weekly offensive onslaught as it was last fall.

In other words, Brian Kelly and Mike Sanford now face the same dilemma that plagues about 124 of 127 coaches/offensive coordinators. Fuller was one of a kind. 

8 – Arrow UP after Spring 2016: It’s all relative considering their status on the roster and depth chart, but in no order, and with a glance at each of the 66 scholarship players (plus a walk-on), here’s a list of the Top 25 players that helped themselves:

Dexter Williams, Jay Hayes, Daniel Cage, Isaac Rochell, Cole Luke, Max Redfield, Nyles Morgan, Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Jacob Matuska, Torii Hunter, Jr., James Onwualu, Justin Brent, Tyler Newsome, Corey Holmes, Alize Jones, Alex Bars, Sam Mustipher, Drew Tranquill, Devin Studstill, Ashton White, Shaun Crawford, Kevin Stepherson, Daelin Hayes, and Chris Finke.

On a related note – our annual post-spring “Status Reports” will be published this week, beginning with the offensive backfield and eventually with a comment on every member of the scholarship roster.

9 – Quote with at least a nine-month shelf life: “Yeah, well, I can't keep them both happy. Somebody's going to be unhappy. I love them both. They both are committed. They are both great competitors. But somebody's going to be unhappy.” – Brian Kelly on the Irish quarterbacks Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer.

One of them is going to be unhappy in January 2017, too. It’s the nature of the position for the world’s most famous collegiate sports program.

Until Next Week, Irish Fans…


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