It was no secret that the 2007 Irish football team was very young and inexperienced, especially on offense. The 2008 squad will be much more experienced, but they're still pretty young and most starters have numerous years left in the Notre Dame career.
While the depth chart isn't set in stone at this point, we don't anticipate a lot of changes between now and Sept. 6. There may be a few changes depending on down and distance, and which play the Irish call, but we expect to see the first 11 on the field the most in the early parts of 2008.
A look at the depth chart on Monday showed an offensive unit full of talent with years of eligibility. Will that talent be productive this year? That is the question.
Out of the current 11 players on offense listed as first team, only three are in their final seasons for Notre Dame, left tackle Michael Turkovich, wide receiver David Grimes, and fullback Asaph Schwapp. Schwapp, however, is a good candidate for a medical redshirt year from an injury he suffered his sophomore year where he tore a knee ligament after playing just two games. Thus, the Irish could have nine out of 11 starters back for the 2009 season.
A look ahead to 2010 shows the Irish having the potential to have six of these current starting 11 returning. The 2010 Irish offense should be a very veteran and experienced unit.
More importantly, a look at this current depth chart shows some excellent talent as well. Let's take a look.
Starting at the X receiver spot is former four-star receiver Duval Kamara. Kamara led the Irish in receptions and touchdowns last season and played considerable minutes as a freshman. Backing up Kamara is another four-star receiver in Golden Tate, who also made a number of plays for Notre Dame as a true freshman last season.
Starting at the Y spot is fifth-year senior David Grimes. Grimes was listed as a three-star receiver out of high school, but he's developed into Notre Dame's most consistent receiver and a team captain. Behind Grimes is former five-star prospect and true freshman Michael Floyd. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Floyd obviously has made a good impression early in his career, and many expect him to be the third receiver in the game when all is said and done this season.
Across the front line the Irish have a solid and talented group starting. Fifth-year senior Turkovich is the only player rated as a three-star player out of high school. Guards Chris Stewart and Eric Olsen, and center Dan Wenger were all four-star prospects coming out of high school. Right tackle Sam Young was a five-star prospect. Backing up the front five are 4 more four-star prospects.
Freshman tight end Kyle Rudolph has also made a name for himself early landing atop the depth chart at tight end swiftly in his career at Notre Dame. The former five-star prospect has certainly impressed at a position that usually is difficult for a freshman to see the field. Look for great things out of Rudolph in the future.
At quarterback the Irish have another five-star prospect in sophomore Jimmy Clausen, who could end up being a four-year starter for Notre Dame before all is said and done.
At running back the Irish are loaded with talent in two sophomore and four-star prospects Robert Hughes and Armando Allen, as well as five-star junior halfback James Aldridge.
Former three-star fullback Asaph Schwapp is back for his fourth year as a starter for Notre Dame.
If you tally it up, Notre Dame has 3 former five-star players starting on offense. They'll have at least 5 four-star players starting against San Diego State, and they'll have 3 three-star players starting, all of which are seniors.
As depth, the Irish will have 2 five-star players, and 7 four-star players backing up the starting 11 on offense. 19 out of the 22 players listed on the two-deep have at least one year of eligibility after this 2008 season. 16 out of the 22 on the two-deep have at least two years of eligibility after the 2008 season.
When one looks at this unit it's obvious the offense has both excellent talent and depth. What they're lacking, for the most part, is a lot of experience and production. They gained some valuable experience last season, but the production part hasn't seemed to follow as of yet.
This unit should be much more productive in 2008. The question is: Will they be? I don't know the answer to that, but looking at the talent on this unit, they should be much more productive, and they should be loaded with talent for the future.
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