Most weeks the player who will wear No. 1 would have already been chosen by now. That doesn’t mean that player would know he got that call, however.
After again detailing the why of the rotating No. 1 jersey earlier this week – it goes to the player who performed best on the field and off that week – Kelly got into the how on Thursday during his final media availability before the program flies to Texas.
Two days before the game the captains will submit their recommendations for the No. 1 jersey to the coaching staff. Kelly holds a “48-hour” meeting most Thursdays (it’s Friday this week with kickoff set for Sunday), when he’ll discuss the captains’ feedback with the staff. From there, Kelly makes the ultimate call on who gets No. 1.
“We won’t let them know until that jersey is in that locker in pregame,” Kelly said. “They won’t wear it out to pregame. But they’ll know in pregame that they are the recipient of it. Everybody will find out when they run out of the tunnel.”
Offensive linemen will be eligible for No. 1, but in ceremony only. If an offensive lineman gets tabbed, the jersey will remain in his locker during the game.
Kelly added that captains are also eligible to self-select for the No. 1 jersey.
Who goes first? Considering the last player to wear No. 1 was the late Greg Bryant, it might be worth keeping on eye on two of his closest friends on the team in Tarean Folston and Malik Zaire. Folston spoke this week about the honor it would be to wear No. 1. Folston and Zaire are planning to design t-shirts to honor Bryant to wear under their jerseys.
They’re On Speed
Brian Kelly made an ominous call back when he referenced the speed of North Carolina’s offense while searching for a comparison to Texas under new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.
The Tar Heels ran 84 plays for 510 yards against the Irish two years ago, exposing a fundamental flaw in Brian VanGorder’s scheme. The Irish escaped 50-43 winners but were never the same afterward.
Notre Dame has spent the past couple off-seasons planning a counter punch, one the Irish plan to show Sunday night with their “speed package” which seems more like a play design adjustment than a substitution pattern. They’ll need it too. In his final season at Tulsa, Gilbert’s offense averaged 83.3 plays per game. Only Baylor and Texas Tech managed more.
“We really didn’t have anybody that forced the tempo to the point where it really needed to be used in its full force,” Kelly said. “We believe it will be in the opener against Texas.
“It’s just a way for us to get into more than just one base call and some things that we do relative to positioning of players, the kind of techniques that we’re in and the kind of hand signaling and communication necessary for us to be in fundamentally sound defensive calls all over the field.”
What will the Speed Package actually look like? James Onwualu said he’s in it and sometimes plays defensive end in that alignment. Look for Drue Tranquill and Shaun Crawford to play parts. It might be the best way to get Daelin Hayes into the mix too alongside Andrew Trumbetti.
Brian Kelly doesn’t know if Justin Yoon or Tyler Newsome will handle kickoffs at Texas after the sophomore kicker extended his range during the past month. Kelly said Yoon closed Thursday’s practice with a 52-yard make, which spared the roster some extra conditioning.
After struggling earlier during the preseason, it appears Yoon is back to last fall’s form. He finished last season 15-of-17 on field goals, the nation’s best percentage for freshmen.
“I think he’s done quite well,” Kelly said. “We’re trying to find out where he is in what we call our ‘go zone’ and what his max kick is … that’s up about five to six yards from where it was last year.”
Four Underclassmen Expected To Play
Te’von Coney, Ashton White, Dexter Williams and Kevin Stepherson have begun their process with the Office of Community Standards following last month’s arrests on marijuana possession charges, Kelly said.
The Irish still plan to travel all four to Austin with the intention of activating them against the Longhorns. Kelly cautioned the University could alter that plan, which remains out of his hands.