With official depth charts likely to be distributed at Brian Kelly's noon press conference on Tuesday, IrishEyes offers its thoughts on the player position competitions in this two-part column.
Text below is the result of observations gleaned from interviews with Notre Dame
assistant coaches and Brian Kelly to date, as well as official practice observations through August 19.
Projected Offensive Depth Chart
At least five positions remain in relative doubt, with the starting center and X wide receiver spots, as well as the backup QB role, the battles of note:
- Junior Dayne Crist
- Freshman Tommy Rees
- Junior Nate Montana
Consider Rees and Montana 2A and 2B until Monday. The listing above is a mere hunch by the writer.
- Senior Armando Allen
- Sophomore Cierre Wood
- Junior Jonas Gray
- Senior Robert Hughes
I think Hughes will have a role in every game – more so than that of any No. 3 running back through the course of the season. I just don't think it will be that of a featured running back.
- Junior Michael Floyd
- Junior John Goodman
- Junior Deion Walker
I'll consider Walker a distant third until we hear otherwise.
- Senior Duval Kamara
- Freshman T.J. Jones
- Sophomore Shaquelle Evans
Consider Kamara and Jones 1 and 1A…with the starting nod going to the more experienced and physically imposing Kamara on September 4.
"Z" Receiver (slot):
- Sophomore Theo Riddick
- Sophomore Robby Toma
- Sophomore Shaquelle Evans
IrishEyes still foresees Evans moving up as the season progresses…it hasn't progressed yet.
- Junior Kyle Rudolph
- Sophomore Tyler Eifert
- Senior Mike Ragone
- Senior Bobby Burger
It appears Eifert is firmly entrenched as the No. 2; in part because of Ragone's extended time on the sidelines after suffering symptoms of heat exhaustion. Burger should be in a lead role as a fullback or attached tight end in short-yardage situations.
- Sophomore Zack Martin
- Senior Matt Romine
- Freshman Tate Nichols
Martin won the job early in spring ball and never looked back. Kelly called the redshirt-freshman "the team's most athletic offensive lineman" earlier this week.
- 5th-Year Senior Chris Stewart
- Sophomore Chris Watt
- Junior Mike Golic
Stewart and Watt were reportedly neck-and-neck heading into the final week…pun notwithstanding, Stewart also suffered a neck injury during those final days. I'll believe that Big Stew has been replaced when I see it on the field. Expect both to see time, regardless of who emerges as the Week One starter.
- Junior Braxston Cave
- 5th-Year Senior Dan Wenger
- Junior Mike Golic and Sophomore Chris Watt
The strength of Cave will win out, but Wenger will play in every contest.
- Junior Trevor Robinson
- Sophomore Alex Bullard
- Junior Lane Clelland
This one's not close. Expect Robinson to garner the most playing time along the front five this season.
- Senior Taylor Dever
- Senior Andrew Nuss
- Freshman Christian Lombard
Dever and Nuss were in a heated battle for most of camp. Nuss appeared slowed (in shorts and shells with the team in full pads) in our final official practice viewing on August 19. Expect a fluid situation with Dever to start in Game One. Nuss is reportedly one of the most versatile linemen so he could see time at guard as well.
Note: The projected Defensive Depth Chart will be published later this afternoon.