An Update on Position Battles

Sophomore Chris Watt didn't play as a freshman, but is pushing 5th year senior Chris Stewart for the starting left guard position. (Photo - Icon SMI)

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.

You may also like


  1. After watching the Wisconsin – Miami replay 2009, I find that we still need to speculate…at least a bit….

    I would love to see things come together this year – right now on the defensive side of the ball which gives us the best chance for a 10+ win season this year. Honestly however, after watching ND football for 38 years, I know that probably wont happen this year. What I would love to see instead this season 2010 is the fight re-installed in the Irish! What I would love to see is the Irish play hard, very hard on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes – every game with gas in the tank to finish strong and to know after watching that they left everything on the field! What I would love to see is ND never go into a prevent defense. What I would love to see is Kelly never take his foot off the gas when they are ahead in a game! What I would love to see is ND playing with never say die intensity to cement the win, NOT playing not to lose ever again. What I would love to see is not one frappin fade pass to the corner of the endzone. What I would love to see is a bit of past lore -ND never believing they are down and out of a chance of winning a game regardless of time outs, field postion or being behind in score. What I would love to see and be truly happy with this season after having endured the past 17-18 years is this team truly carrying the comittment and determination onto the field and knowing in each of their hearts that at least for today – this game – this time – they will indeed PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY – for themselves and for Our Lady and for some very deserving fans who have suffered and endured so much for so long. GO IRISH!!!!! – beat the Boilermakers into the gridiron! PS to BK – Just WIN baby!

  2. I’m ready for the speculation to end, I just want to get this season started. It’s really going to be hard to take last year and forecast this year just because they kids are getting developed now. The defense is going to better because they are stronger and better conditioned to handle a 4 quarter game which I believe is going to make the biggest difference. The offense has weapons, more then most realize, the pace is going to dictate the game. No longer is it on the clausen, tate and floyd. We over used Floyd on the fade last year and that’s why he got hurt. Now we have 3 solid wideouts, 3-4 running backs 2 with game breaking speed, the best tightend in the nation and a veteran offensive line. Crist is key, but with all those weapons, teams are going to have a hard time getting to him. So even though I contradicted myself from my second sentence, I think we are going to be a top 15 team, that plays hardnosed ND football. Now let’s get this team on the field and save Lane Kiffin for Brian Kelly!!!!

  3. Harrison Smith is our most consistant safety, wow either he has got his head on straight for the first time, or everyone else has their helmets on backwards. The offense should be fine, DL needs to pass rush better, LB shore up tackling, secondary 22 is our most consistant player, first reaction he better show up on gameday. He has always been praised in practice but he has made alot of where am I plays through couple years.

  4. I think ND will run a but more but not much more regardless of Crist’s coming off injury. I think BK will continue to coach and call plays as he has in the past – its what got him to where he is now. His command and expectations of the team will elevate their play on the field. Remember he went through 5 QB’s in the last 2-3 years and none of those kids had experience but most elevated their game to the next level. I know he understands he need to protect Crist a bit but the worst thing he can do is change from an attack mode offense. I dont think that will happen especially after his comments that “We aint coaching scared and we aint play calling scared”.

    I did however love to see the misdirection running game in the Blue Gold game – that gave me down right shivers! THAT was ND football from years past. Now mix that in with the spread offense he is running then watch out!

    1. AGREED about the misdirection runs. Those counters, with Cierre Wood, tore it up! Really lookin forward to seeing the stable of running backs get unleashed!

      1. The biggest mystery is what will the D do? I imagine we will definitely see better tackling and bigger hits but is the weak link once more the secondary? I loved the fact we got Walls but he has yet to show up after 4 years. A quick strike deep passing game could negate an otherwise improved pass run and run stop by the Irish.

        I am forever an optimist when it comes to ND football but the D has been the killer and direct contributor to the majority of losses these past several years notwithstanding a few tremendous goal line stands last year. I aint worried about the offense even if Crist should happen to go down – its the defense if not shored up with attitude that will generate the numbers in the loss column. Dont know if it was wise to dial back the D in the spring game – need all the momentum we can get on the defensive side of the ball….GO IRISH!

  5. I sure hope that Armando Allen has taken full advantage of the his new strength and conditioning coach. He’s always one arm tackle away from breaking off a huge gain.

    The spread will benefit a guy like Allen allowing him to use his speed and quickness in the open space. However, I said before if he hasn’t gained a considerable amount of strength in his legs and worked on his balance then the “shoe-string” tackles will continue.

    I’m so excited for next weekend. My dumb-ass friend decided to get married on that Saturday so I’ll have the game playing in my ear while he’s getting hitched….

  6. Frank,
    I do think the Irish will run the ball more than Kelly’s past teams have. the Spread doesn’t dictate less running. And truly, all history shows that you have to be able to effectively run in the red zone. Even with Weis’ prolific offenses at ND, redzone scoring was below average.
    Kelly knows he’ll need an inside / outside threat. To do that you need to have your running backs prepared to come onto the field in several different formations and execute, regardless of the play type. Whether the back is the guy with the ball, the decoy, or the blocker, he must execute. It always seemd that Weis kind of forgot how to communicate to his backs. Kelly seems to have everything on his radar.
    Personally, I expect the passing game to be solid. The defense will perform well even with some question marks. Run blocking, running schemes and execution of a running attack will be something to look for. Mixing in a two or threee series of run dominated plays that sustain a drive will keep defenses totally off balance.
    Can’t wait for openinig kick-off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button