Received a big response from the pre-fall depth chart that I threw pretty arbitrarily in a diary about a month ago. There were quite a few requests to expand it, so I included those requests with the updated depth chart for the Purdue game this weekend. I will try to keep this as organized as possible: rivals star ratings in parenthesis, since it was requested, names are followed by media guide class and measurements. (All classes are “true” – whatever, Walk-on = W, Former Walk-on = FW ) The depth chart was a 2 deep so there is some imo beyond the first 2 names listed, but it is an educated imo. Here is the Offense, I will do Defense tomorrow.
QB: Dayne Crist, Jr 6-4 235(5), Tommy Rees, Fr 6-2 210 (3), Nate Montana, Jr 6-4 215 (FW), Andrew Hendrix, Fr or Luke Massa, Fr. Biggest change here is Rees breaking the 2 deep over Montana. I am not sure on how much separation there actually is between the 2 of them, it was a strong battle all camp per the media, but as Rees is the younger by a lot he may have been given the nod just based on his future potential. There will still be a big drop off in experience, yes experience, and ability at the 2nd position no matter who comes in. Nice to see Rees be competitive so quickly, he was an EE, but it doesn’t really fortify the position over what we knew going into the fall. Crist is 100% and practiced without a brace throughout the summer, I still expect to see him in one on game days.
WR: At the beginning of camp there was only 1 known WR (Floyd) with many expecting Kamara to get the second one followed by a bunch of hunches and gut feelings. As camp progressed Floyd locked down his spot as expected and as did recently moved, from RB, Theo Riddick. In the final 2 weeks of camp it was a 3-way battle for the final spot between Tailer Jones, Duval Kamara and Shaq Evans, a week later it was a battle between Jones and Kamara and that is how they finished. Evans just announced his transfer, likely to Oregon it seems, though it isn’t only depth related but I would expect it to be a factor. On to the depth chart:
(X, L – R, I think): Tailer Jones, Fr 5-11 187 (4), Duval Kamara, 5th 6-4 225 (4).
(Z): Theo Riddick, So 5-11 198 (4), Robby Toma, So 5-9 175 (3)
(Y): Michael Floyd, Jr 6-3 227 (5), John Goodman, Jr 6-3 207 (3)
You know Floyd already, Jones is my favorite recruit from the last class, once a Stanford commit Weis flipped him back to ND and he held strong through the coaching change. If you want to see a DB get abused search for his highlight videos from last year, worth the time. The X spot could very well be an “OR” situation depending on the match up the coaches are looking for. Expect to see Kamara on the field quite a bit; I would have said the same about Evans if he hadn’t transferred as well. Riddick as I mentioned was recently moved from RB, which he played last year as a true freshman. I don’t remember how much UM saw him last year, but lets just say he has some speed to burn. The last RB to transition to WR made out pretty well in the end, the staff sounds pretty confident in what Riddick is capable of. Beyond the 2 deep there isn’t much I can say, Chris Collinsworth’s son, Austin (Fr) had a chance to crack the 2 deep and may see some garbage time this year. Otherwise it is mostly freshman destined for red shirts at the position.
RB: Armando Allen, Sr 5-10 205 (4), Cierre Wood, So 6-0 178 (4), Robert Hughes, Sr 5-11 245 (4), Jonas Gray, Jr 5-10 240. The new name here is Cierre Wood, star of the spring game, he showed everything ND fans had hoped for this spring and fall by cracking the 2 deep. It was clear everyone was behind Allen going into the summer, but just how it would shake out was anyone’s guess. Hughes is still also listed as a part time full back and Jonas has just as much size if not more from summer workouts. I really see a division between the “Speed” and “Big” backs here and the Speed backs are the ones on the depth chart. Both Jonas and Hughes will see the field but just how is a bit unclear; Kelly is really high on this position group, they will be getting a lot of touches.
TE: Man I love tight ends, enough man-crushing. Kyle Rudolph, Jr 6-6 265 (5), Tyler Eifert, So 6-6 242 (3), Bobby Burger, 5th 6-2 248 (FW), Mike Ragone, Sr 6-4 245 (4) The whole country has met Rudolph, not a lot more to say. The big riser here was Eifert who now weighs in at +25 his freshman year, he has filled out to say the least. You can expect to see his name for a few more years as he still has 4 years of eligibility left, as of now. Ragone was the faller, after his off the field troubles in the off season, and past off seasons it may be part disciplinary part never getting over his knee injuries. Burger is a utility player, he can line up at TE or FB and HB. He transferred to ND and then walked on his junior year, nice little story. The staff is very confident in Eifert, Kelly named him as someone he needs to find a place for on the field. You can expect to see 2 TE sets often.
LT: Zach Martin, So 6-4 290 (4), Matt Romine, Sr 6-5 295 (3). Martin is the first or three new starters on oline. He was originally slated for guard with the previous staff but was moved by the oline coach when he saw how quick Martins feet were. Seems to have worked out so far as he locked up his starting spot 2 weeks into camp. Martin was expected to take the spot over semi-incumbent Romine after spring ball.
LG: Chris Stewart, 5th 6-5 351 (4), Chris Watt, So 6-3 310 (5). Stewart is the first ND football player to not only play but also play while he is going to law school. (You can expect to hear that once or twice more this year on NBC) Stewart is huge, huge and strong, huger (yeah I know) than his listed 351; I expect he and Robinson (RG) to be the jumping-off-points for the running game. Watt was a late addition to the 2-deep, he is also the #3 center, I expect he will see the field more than a couple times as the season goes on.
C: Braxton Cave, Jr 6-3 301 (4), Chris Wenger, Sr 6-4 298 (4). I expected Wenger to hold the position down, but after he missed a few practices with a concussion it opened the door for Cave and he locked it up. I am sure both will play and both will start, I don’t know if this position battle will end anytime soon, which is a good thing. ND officially returns 2 starters now on oline.
RG: Trevor Robinson, Jr 6-5 295 (4), Mike Golic, Jr 6-3 283. Not a lot has been said about this position in the last 3-4 weeks. Robinson was expected to have this spot locked down after the staff tried him out at tackle a bit in the spring, and he did. Same with Golic, I don’t remember hearing either Golic mentioned much this fall at all.
RT: Taylor Dever, Sr 6-5 297 (3), Andrew Nuss, Sr 6-5 297 (3). This was also a position battle going into fall practice and was just a quickly locked down by Dever as Martin at LT. Freshman Christian Lombard, 6-5 290 (4) was talked up quite a bit late as a RT candidate, but hasn’t cracked the 2-deep as of yet. I expect to see him quite a bit as the year goes on though.
Expectations: I already hit on the running game a bit, but for emphasis Kelly has repeatedly talked about how strong a group he thinks they are, they have been one of his surprises from the fall. Armando Allen hasn’t shown to be much of an every down back and has gotten pretty banged up as each season wore on, Cierre Wood is the perfect fix for that. He has great vision and awareness on the field and brings good speed and athleticism to get up field quickly. Both big backs may only see situational touches but the way Kelly talks about the unit I really doubt it, not really sure what to expect here to be honest. The passing game is pretty straight forward, Crist needs to protect the ball and get it to his play makers which he has many beyond Floyd and Rudolph, the offense will hinge on his play more than anyone else. With the addition of 2 TE sets the possibilities are enormous, Eifert at 6-6, Floyd at 6-3, Rudolph at 6-6 and Kamara at 6-4, which one will the defense double team? Each one can get it in the end zone. The potential is there for some big numbers on offense but it all comes down to Crist.
Defense tomorrow, probably