Notre Dame released its first dept chart of the season on Tuesday and we posted it earlier like we plan on doing each week there is a new depth chart (note, there will be a nice link in the navigation that links to an archive of them all very soon). Here’s the thing though, never fully trust a depth chart because they generally don’t really mean much at the college level since there are no rules governing them like in the NFL.
In the NFL there are some rules that govern depth charts and injury reports and all that jazz that don’t apply on the college level. Hell, Temple head coach Geoff Collins has said he doesn’t believe in depth charts. Since there is no incentive to be totally forthcoming in a depth chart, there is always a bit of gamesmanship involved. If you look close enough though, they do offer some clues and there were some interesting things in the one Notre Dame released on Tuesday.
Will both graduate transfers really start at wide receiver?
The biggest surprise of the depth chart was seeing both Freddy Canteen and Cameron Smith being listed as starters at wide receiver. Sorry, but I just don’t buy this. Reports out of camp were pretty good on Smith and were generally pretty positive on Canteen, but I have a very hard time believing they will be starting over the likes of Chase Claypool, Miles Boykin, or Javon McKinley. Maybe Smith starts because of his familiarity with Chip Long and DelVaughn Alexander, but Canteen too? Just don’t see it happening regardless of who is listed as the starter.
Where is Javon McKinley?
Speaking of McKinley, I have an equally hard time believing that he is not among the nine best receivers on the roster. He was slowed by injuries last year, but the kid was an absolute beast out of high school a year ago in a tough league in California. If he is really 4th at any receiver position, Notre Dame is either ridiculously stacked at receiver or something is up.
Kevin Stepherson is expectedly absent
Speaking of something up. Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson is also absent from the three deep at any receiver position, but this one isn’t a surprise. Stepherson hasn’t been getting reps all summer and there have been more than subtle rumors of a suspension even though Brian Kelly said last week he could neither confirm, nor deny that the speedy receiver was suspended. If he is absent from the next few depth charts and then magically appears, he will have essentially confirmed the notion.
The kids are probably going to play on the defensive line
Notre Dame has a pair of freshmen listed as the backups at both interior defensive line position. Kurt Hinish is listed as the backup to Jerry Tillery at NG and Lord Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (trademark pending on Lord Myron) is right behind Jonathan Bonner at DT. Kelly downplayed how many snaps they would get on Tuesday but they are still listed ahead of juniors Brandon Tiassum and Micah Dew-Treadway. Remember though, three years ago Pete Mokwuah got some praise from Kelly in camp and was on some depth charts early on. As a senior he is not listed in the three deep.
Notre Dame might be kinda, sorta deep at defensive end
Again we have to take depth charts with a grain of salt but Ade Ogundeji not being listed on the three deep is a good thing for Notre Dame. Some years they would have been dependent on a raw, developing player like him but this year they aren’t. Andrew Trumbetti is listed as an OR “starter” at both the WDE and SDE so look for him to play on both ends of the line as we thought. The “OR” designation might be more of a reward for a senior who put in a lot of work though. Look for Hayeses to still start.
Alize Mack isn’t really a backup
Durham Smythe is listed as the top tight end and Mack doesn’t have the same OR next to his name like Trumbetti does, but let’s be honest, Mack isn’t really a backup. Mack is going to be a pretty big part of the Notre Dame passing game. He is a matchup nightmare and while Smythe is a solid player, he doesn’t present those same matchup problems that Mack does. Smythe might officially start and play more on running downs, but Mack will undoubtedly have more receptions and touchdowns than Smythe this year.
Is Avery Davis really behind Montgomery Vangorder?
Freshman Avery Davis isn’t listed as the third quarterback since the staff would obviously like to preserve a year of eligibility for Davis, but if push came to shove and one had to prepare one to start a game for the Irish, do you think Kelly is sending out Vangorder or Davis? Hopefully it never gets to that – or even close to that.