Here’s a quick update on some position battles that have been going on through camp that are still going on.
- Kelly said the battle for the backup QB position is still going on between Nate Montana and Tommy Rees. Freshmen Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa were sent to the scout team although Kelly made mention of Hendrix’s arm strength saying, “Hendrix can throw the ball like no one I’ve coached. He’s got an incredible arm.” Neither Hendrix or Massa have gotten enough reps to really separate themselves from each other according to Kelly. A decision on the backup QB spot is coming Monday, but the staff is close to a decision now.
- At running back, Cierre Wood has moved into the backup spot behind Armando Allen and ahead of Jonas Gray and Robert Hughes. I still think with all of the running backs Notre Dame has, Kelly will run the ball much more than he has in the past with Crist coming off the knee injury.
- Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick are entrenched as starters at receiver right now, but the third spot is still open with Duval Kamara and TJ Jones the leading candidates.
- In a surprise note, Chris Watt is challenging Chris Stewart for the start left guard spot. Stewart is the most seasoned vet along the offensive line and the unquestioned leader of the group, but Watt is on his heels. Watt also got some cross training at center in camp.
- At center, neither Braxston Cave or Dan Wenger has locked down the starting position. Kelly said earlier this week that Cave is a better run blocker while Wenger is a better pass blocker. If Cave ends up locking down the starting spot, it could mean Kelly does indeed plan to run the ball more than he has in the past as I’ve speculated.
- Carlo Calabresse looks to win to starting inside linebacker spot next to Manti Te’o with Anthony McDonald a little banged up. Kelly said Thursday that McDonald could play against Purdue but it would be in a backup role. McDonald’s battled injuries off and on throughout his career and it seems like injuries are slowing him down again.
- As of now it looks like the OLBs are Kerry Neal and Darius Fleming although Brian Smith and Steve Filer have also run with the first team at OLB as well. The only mainstay throughout camp at the position has been Fleming. Kelly noted that Smith’s game has elevated the past few days, but Neal is still ahead of him at this time.
- Prince Shembo continues to impress and will see the field this year according to Kelly. He was non-committal on where Shembo would play, but said they want him on the field.
- Harrison Smith has been the most consistent safety at this point and he’ll be on the field more than any of the other 3 safeties who will be in the rotation – Jamoris Slaughter, Dan McCarthy, and Zeke Motta. Motta has put himself in a position to play in a number of packages though- not just as a safety. Slaughter was a little banged up this week, but the injury isn’t serious and he’ll be ready for Purdue.