Notre Dame held it's first spring football practice this morning and afterwards head coach Brian Kelly was candid with the media in his press conference.
5th year senior and returning captain QB Ian Book and his 20-3 career record "need to complete a shitload of passes" and be himself this spring. Sounds good to me. Book will have to find new targets to throw the ball to as his top 3 of Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet and Chris Finke from last season are all off to the NFL. One of the new targets expected to replace Claypool is redshirt sophomore Kevin Austin.
Here are some highlights of Austin from today's practice...
Austin if he can stay healthy and keep his nose clean should have a huge breakout season in 2020. Team Austin up with WR Braden Lenzy, WR Lawrence Keys and TE Tommy Tremble and you are looking at 4 rising juniors with blazing elite speed all ready to make impacts this season in the receiving game for Book.
QB: Ian Book, Brendon Clark, DrewPyne
RB: Jafar Armstrong, C'Bo Flemsiter, Jahmir Smith, Kyren Williams, Mick Assaf
Note: Avery Davis moved to slot.
W Receiver (Boundary): Kevin Austin, Javon McKinley, Micah Jones
X Receiver (Field): Braden Lenzy, Ben Skowronek, Xaver Watts
Z (Slot): Lawrence Keys, Avery Davis, Kendall Abdur-Rahman
Notes: Joe Wilkins out with strep throat. Jay Brunelle out with clean-up work on shoulder. Also, Isaiah Robertson was not at practice while taking care of some academic work, per Brian Kelly.
Austin and McKinley both were standouts with their playmaking on some jump balls or back-shoulder plays.
TE: Brock Wright & Tommy Tremble, George Takacs
LT: Liam Eichenberg, Andrew Kristofic, Cole Mabrey
LG: Josh Lugg, Hunter Spears, Max Siegel
C: Jarrett Patterson, Zeke Correll, Colin Grunhard
RG: Tommy Kraemer, John Dirksen, John Olmstead
RT: Robert Hainsey, Quinn Carroll, Quinn Murphy
Notes: LG Aaron Banks is out this spring while recovering from foot fracture.
Later in more live work with no contact, Hainsey and Kraemer were both kept out while recovering from their fall injuries. Same with Quinn Carroll, who had ACL surgery last August.
In that situation, the No. 1 line had from right to left Lugg, Dirksen, Patterson, Grunhard and Eichenberg.
It appears those rumors of a running back being injured and another one possibly transferring are false at the moment. All 4 RB practiced today while we wait for incoming freshman Chris Tyree to enroll this summer and add some much needed speed to the RB position.
If you look at the overall depth of the offense it would be hard to find one better in Brian Kelly's tenure. Even with starting guard Aaron Banks out with a fractured foot the offensive line has all 5 guys who have at least started multiple games ready to plug and play. Hunter Spears has made the position switch from DT to left guard which as far as I can see is the only position change this spring. The 2nd and 3rd stringers on the offensive line are all highly recruited sophomores now who have had a full season of strength coach Matt Balis program. I can't remember a more deep and talented offensive line at Notre Dame. In fact according to PFF they return 4 of the top 30 offensive linemen in the country. That's insane and they should dominate every team up front not named Clemson in 2020.
Here are some more highlights from today's opening spring practice.