O’Malley’s May 9 Musings

Today’s nine loosely related Irish items include a former five-star back on the field, a trio of projects along the defensive interior, a prediction for September success, and the best position of the Brian Kelly era.

1 – GB#1 – There is no worse tragedy than parents burying their child. God bless the Bryant family; their son was a talented runner, an enjoyable interview subject, and a charming young man gone too soon.

2 – Ishaq Sighting: File this under comments I didn’t expect to read in 2016:

“Williams’ tryout resulted in a three-year contract offer, which he will sign Monday, meaning he gets to stay with the team and compete this spring and summer for a roster spot.” – New York Post via Irish Illustrated message board.

The list of revered prep prospects that failed to meet expectations (reasonable or otherwise) is long and distinguished, and Notre Dame’s former “five-star” pledge Ishaq Williams is among them, though it was clear from the outset of his time on campus that the introspective Williams had interests other than becoming a great football player.

He’s refocused on that task for at least the next three months and with a bit of luck (i.e., preparation meeting opportunity), Williams could find a professional football home – a full 33 months after partaking in his last collegiate snap.

Williams was at his best as a sophomore Nickel package player on Notre Dame’s dominant 2012 defense. Though inconsistency defined his playing career I can still see Williams – on successive second half drives – run down the seam in perfect coverage against Oklahoma’s slot receiver Kenny Stills (a three-year NFL vet) and thereafter force a Landry Jones hurry and incompletion coming off the edge as a pass rusher – both on third down to force Sooners punts.  

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3 – One for Three? That’s the necessary batting average for defensive line coach Keith Gilmore in his 2016 developmental efforts regarding redshirt-freshmen interior tackles Elijah Taylor, Micah Dew-Treadway, and Brandon Tiassum.

Tiassum appears to be on the outside looking in (No. 4 nose tackle) for the forthcoming fall, but Taylor is in the two-deep at defensive tackle and Dew-Treadway flashed at the position at times this spring. One from that pair has to aid classmate Jerry Tillery’s 12-game efforts up front.

4 – 0-For-3…and Pending: Kolin Hill transferred, as did Jhonny Williams. And it’s clear Grant Blankenship’s 2016 football future is unlikely to include playing time for the Irish on Saturdays.

That aforementioned trio accounted for three of Notre Dame’s quartet of “sleeper” prospects in the 2014 Rush End recruiting crop. Only fellow ’14 sleeper Jonathan Bonner – now a beefed up “Big End” – remains. He’s joined by the more highly touted defensive end duo of Andrew Trumbetti and Jay Hayes as competitors looking to make plays on the edge of Brian VanGorder’s defense next fall.

Can the Irish go 3-for-3 with the remaining members of what was a six-player defensive end haul? They might have to…

5 – Three Kids Under Five: Three ear infections, three eye infections, three visits to the pediatrician in a six-day span, two rounds of antibiotics for each, three persistent coughs, two perpetually runny noses, one missed day of pre-school, one round of steroids to combat croup, one inexplicable decision to stay up and watch NBA Basketball, no hours of uninterrupted sleep, one wife coming down with much of the above, and a partridge in a pear tree…

Happy Mother’s Day!

6 – Best Position Under BK? There are four contenders to that end, at least in terms of top tier performers:

-- WR: Mike Floyd, T.J. Jones, and Will Fuller – and you could throw in Tyler Eifert circa 2012.
-- OT: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, and Mike McGlinchey
-- DT/Big End: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, and the still-active Isaac Rochell
-- ILB: 2012 Butkus Winner Manti Te’o, 2015 Butkus Winner Jaylon Smith, and 2014 team MVP Joe Schmidt

If you include Eifert, it’s a tough call. Discuss…

7 – When September Ends: We all have our strengths and weaknesses as prognosticators. My weakness, with the exception of last year’s Fiesta Bowl fait accompli, is Notre Dame bowl game predictions.

(I missed 2008, 2011, ahem, 2012, and 2014, getting only the Fiesta, the 2010 Sun Bowl and something called “The Pinstripe Bowl,” correct.)

My strength – aside from never missing a Michigan or Stanford game prediction in nine years on this website – is forecasting Notre Dame’s pending September success rate in the summer months.

-- 4-0 last year (check)
-- 4-0 in 2014 (check)
-- 3-2 in 2013 (predicted 4-1)
-- 4-0 in 2012 (check)
-- 2-2 in 2011 (predicted 3-1)
-- 1-3 in 2010 (predicted 2-2)
-- 3-1 in 2009 (check)
-- 3-1 in 2008 (check)

Without further adieu, Notre Dame’s September 2016 slate will conclude at…3-1. And that “one” is going to be “one that got away,” to boot.

A 3-1 start would keep the Irish in the running for a playoff bid pending a four-game October slate that includes nationally ranked Stanford and a potential quality win vs. Top 25 sleeper, Miami.

8 – For Information Purposes Only: If you were to wager $100 on Cleveland winning the NBA Championship, and if the Cavaliers were to make good on your prediction, you’d win $235 on that $100 bet. Conversely, if you did the same for Golden State, you’d have to wager $110 just to win $100.

If you happen by Vegas over the next week or so, take a chance on the clicking Cavs.

9 – Lede of the Day: Kudos to former NFL safety and current ESPN.com contributor Matt Bowen for this gem:

Heavy legs, poor technique and maybe a little vomit on the side. That's rookie minicamp in the NFL. It's an introduction to pro football, complete with playbook install, lightning-quick tempo on the field and tough coaching.

Does anyone disagree that regurgitation is only funny/compelling when it’s on the practice field? My lasting memory from 2014 Camp Culver was freshman Daniel Cage tossing his cookies on the sidelines after his first college practice…without full pads…one day after being lauded for his conditioning level upon arrival.

Until next week, Irish fans…

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