With Notre Dame ready to go, here’s a look at four key positions
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media August 23, 2013 8:02PM
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly talks to his team during NCAA college football practice Thursday Aug. 22, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond) ORG XMIT: INJR106
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:32AM
Camp Shiloh is well in the rear-view mirror for Notre Dame. On Saturday, the Irish will open their 2013 season at home against Temple.
Notre Dame has used a bulk of its time since training camp began to build its depth.
‘‘We’re going to need a lot of players,’’ coach Brian Kelly said last week. ‘‘There are going to be a lot of players that are going to have to play significant roles throughout the year at a lot of different positions. Going into this preparation for 2013, it was important that we looked at the totality of the season . . . in getting a lot of players ready.’’
With the season opener less than a week away, here is how four key positions have progressed in camp through the eyes of the coaching staff:
The Irish haven’t had to tear pages out of the playbook while making the transition from Everett Golson to Tommy Rees.
‘‘Will we pull maybe from different parts of the playbook with the strengths and weaknesses of Everett vs. Tommy? Yes,’’ offen-
sive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chuck Martin said. ‘‘But it’s still the same playbook. And we’re teaching them all the same playbook, and they are learning the same playbook.’’
Rees has impressed Martin with his knowledge.
‘‘He’s well beyond his years as a quarterback of understanding what we’re trying to do and what the defense is trying to do to take away those things,’’ Martin said.
Notre Dame still is working through getting its offensive line set. Freshman Steve Elmer spent time at right tackle with the first string during practice Thursday. Kelly said Ronnie Stanley was out with a concussion.
‘‘[Stanley] is on track to be back Monday if all things continue to move in the right direction,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘Steve Elmer has done a great job there. It’s not something we’re ready to commit to right now. Both of those guys will play. We like them both, and they are both really good.’’
Zack Martin is the anchor at left tackle. His brother Nick is at center. Chris Watt and Christian Lombard worked at left and right guard, respectively.
Danny Spond started the final 11 games of last season at linebacker. Last week, he announced his playing days were over. He has suffered from hemiplegic migraines for the last year. Ben Councell and Jaylon Smith are getting a look at that spot.
‘‘Both Jaylon and Ben are going to be stalwarts out there at the outside linebacker position,’’ assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Bob Diaco said.
Smith worked with the first-team Thursday.
‘‘They were thrust into that
position really early and handled it really well,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘Ben has a lot of experience there. Jaylon has done remarkably well in such a short period of time picking up the defense.’’
Kelly said he can’t recall whether he has had as much depth at running back.
George Atkinson III, Amir Car-
lisle, Cam McDaniel and Greg Bryant are among those in the mix. The trick will be getting everyone involved.
‘‘Our guys have done a good job of championing each other’s
efforts,’’ running backs coach Tony Alford said. ‘‘The older guys have really helped Greg and Tarean [Folston]. Cam and George have done such an outstanding job of trying to teach the young guys.’’