Monday we ran through a recap of each offensive position group on the offensive side of the ball this far into camp. Today we move over to the defensive side of the ball where there are just as many questions remain for the Irish.
Heading into camp there was competition at WDE between Jay Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti and questions around Jarron Jones’s work volume.
- Jay Hayes – Kelly has been praising Hayes’s strength at the point of attack and even went so far as to say that he could even drop into coverage in certain situations. He cautioned that they don’t want him to do it often but said he could.
- Jarron Jones – Before camp Kelly said that Jones’s volume of work was about 25-30 plays but that the 5th year senior has shown him in camp he can handle more of a work load. I can not stress this enough: Jarron Jones is the KEY to the Notre Dame defense in 2016.
- Andrew Trumbetti – Was Kelly trying to challenge the junior DE over the weekend when he publicly stated that Trumbetti was his own worst enemy and that he needs to believe in himself more because the staff does? Trumbetti had a break through performance in the Fiesta Bowl but that hasn’t translated to success in the spring or fall camps to this point.
- Daniel Cage – The Cager has been slowed a bit in camp with a grade one hamstring but nothing too serious here. Notre Dame is wise to be cautious here because they need Cage healthy to spell Jones.
- Micah Dew Treadway – Has a Jones fracture and will be out for another seven weeks after Kelly’s original timeframe of 8 weeks.
- Daelin Hayes – It sounds like the frosh DE will play a lot and play often. Notre Dame’s hopes for a pass rush may very well be in the hands of the former 5-star recruit.
- Elijah Taylor – Taylor is the only sophomore outside of Treadway I can recall Kelly mentioning in the last week. Kelly said at his opening presser for camp that he is one of the strongest members of the team.
Notre Dame is replacing one of it’s all-time greats in Jaylon Smith and last year’s quarterback on defense Joe Schmidt. There is immense talent at this position, but it still remained a question mark heading into camp. As things look now, those questions could be answered by September 4.
- Tevon Coney – Missed the spring and has been eased back in to action. He has received some praise from Kelly throughout camp and it looks like he has a pretty good hold on the #1 spot at the WILL.
- Asmar Bilal – Has been impressive in camp so far but is trailing Coney – who has been even more impressive — at the WILL. Still Bilal has spent some time with the first team. Can the staff please find a way to get Bilal on the field with Morgan and Coney at the same time?
- James Onwualu – Solid and steady as he’s been the last few years. Onwualu is not going to blow up a lot of opposing running backs like Morgan can, but he will be in the right place at the right time.
- Nyles Morgan – It’s early and it’s just camp, but reports are Morgan is playing like the MIKE everyone envisioined he would become. He’s blowing up plays in practice and look every bit of the 4/5-star recruit he was three years ago. Let’s hope his practice performance translates onto the field.
- Greer Martini – The Swiss Army Knife of the LB corps. Hasn’t moved up the depth chart but has played all positions.
Probably the question causing the most concern heading into the season. Notre Dame has a former 5-star safety who has had a very up and down career (mostly down), a huge strong safety coming off two ACL injuries, a 6th year senior who has battled injuries his entire career, and then a group of talented but green freshmen.
- Drue Tranquill – Tranquill’s knee has been holding up very well coming off his 2nd ACL injury last year.
- Max Redfield – Are the coaches building up Redfield’s confidence or is the light bulb finally coming on for Redfield?
- Devin Studstill – The freshman spring sensation has been slowed down in camp with injuries. So far it doesn’t sound too serious but at the same time Kelly hasn’t been too forthcoming on Studstill’s status.
- Everyone Else – Not hearing much else about the other safeties which is a bit concerning. This is Notre Dame’s shallowest position depth wise and any injury here could be really detrimental.
Like safety, there is a lot of young talent at this position, but unlike safety this position has real potential to be one of the strengths of the team.
- Cole Luke – Getting hyped up quite a bit. Kelly said over the weekend that Luke has finally matched his technique with his football IQ and the result is a heck of a corner. He has reportedly been lights out in camp.
- Nick Watkins – Had a procuedure early in camp to stimulate bone growth and the earliest he could be back would be the first week or two of the season based on the time frame Kelly mentioned last week.
- Shaun Crawford – Picking up where he left off last summer before the ACL injury robbed him of his freshman year. With Watkins out for a while Coleman is the clear #2 CB right now and has been playing inside in the nickel package.
- Nick Coleman – With Watkins out, Coleman has stepped up and looks like the other outside corner in Notre Dame’s nickel package (with Crawford inside)
- Donte Vaughn & Julian Love – Of all of the freshman corners Vaughn and Love have been getting the most praise in pressers and practice reports – Vaughn specifically.