Thoughts on the Presser

Charlie Weis met with the media Sunday to wrap up the Boston College game and was pretty candid with his thoughts. Here are the greatest hits.

* Weis was asked to talk about the evolution of Armando Allen, who has quietly built himself into a very solid all-purpose running back, in many ways similar to his predecessor, Darius Walker.

He’s kind of a lot of elements of Darius. He’s a little faster than
Darius, but Darius, he had one skill that was underrated; he was very
good at pre-snap reads of fronts, therefore he knew where to run with
the football. I think that Armando is a little bit different in that
he’s a stronger runner for his size, but there are a lot of elements
there.

When Armando Allen first came to Notre Dame, many thought the Irish were getting a back that had the chance to break a long one every time he touched it. That certainly hasn’t been the case with Allen, but he has become a dependable running back that’s be one of the Irish’s toughest interior runners. I still haven’t given up on the big play with Armando, only because he’s made such great developmental strides this season, and I expect to see even more during his senior season.

* Weis was asked about the divergent directions the Notre Dame defense is moving with regards to run stopping and pass coverage, and was later asked to expound on the problems of the secondary. I’ll just do a little cutting together, and give you all the relevant comments made in regards to stopping the pass.

When you stop the run, you leave yourself vulnerable
in the pass. But you have to find a happy medium because what we can’t
do, as much as our run defense has improved for the last four and a
half games let’s say, where it’s just gotten better in good production,
we have to get some things fixed in coverage because they’re not just
getting yards, they’re getting too many easy yards.

I really believe our best play on defense is yet to come. I think at
the beginning of the year we had a whole bunch of problems. I think
that we had problems stopping the run, we had problems giving up
chunks, we were giving up a lot of points. We had a whole bunch of
problems.
 
Slowly but surely we’re starting to solve some of these
problems to the point now — remember, defense gives up two touchdowns
in that game… The defense gives up 14 points in that game. You’d have
to say most games you play, you give up 14, you’re going to win. It
doesn’t make a difference who you’re playing against. Most times you’d
have to assume that the defense holds them to 14, you’re going to come
out on top.

At least now what I understand the problems are, if I thought the
problems for the most part were just no good, it would be a bigger
problem with — we’d have to fix it. And I would think that with the
exception of about one ball that clearly was a jump-ball situation
where anyone could have — either guy could have made the play or could
have knocked it down, all the other plays were just a high-low, getting
beat inside, more technique things than anything else.

And I
think that because I know now what the coverage are and the answers to
the test, I think there are some things that — like I said, we’ve
previously already addressed today. There’s some things that we can do
to try to get that number down.

There’s a lot here, and there’s even more that we’ll get to later in the week when the video team can get us some visual aids to help better understand what the problem(s) is (are). I think some of the adjustments the Irish made to shore up the run defense might have hurt the passing D, so hearing Weis speak about a “happy medium” is encouraging. Also encouraging is Weis saying he understands the problems.

To me, they’re pretty obvious. This is a team playing a lot of Cover 2. Unfortunately, they play a shoddy Cover 2. Going back to Weis’ “hang your hat,” comment, if you’re hanging your hat on a coverage scheme that you’re mediocre at playing, well — that’s why you’re giving up explosive plays by the dozen.

The coverage was better Saturday, even if it didn’t feel like it. And as the defensive backs get better at knowing their roles, they’ll get better at making plays on the football. It may feel like baby steps, but the Irish have two weeks against mediocre passing defenses to get things figured out.

* Mr. Floyd is close. Very close.

We’re waiting for that CAT scan a week from Monday or Tuesday and we’ll
see how that goes. Look, Michael and I — my guess is that the CAT scan
is going to come back and say, okay, he’s healthy enough to go.
Now, every week longer you wait is better. Every week longer after
you’ve been cleared to go is better. But then I think it’ll come a
point where the doctors say to Michael and myself, okay, it’s your
decision, realizing the longer you wait, the better it is. Knowing me,
I’ll leave it on Michael, and knowing Michael, he’ll want to get out
there as quick as he possibly can. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. We don’t want to be stupid
here. But we’ll just have to wait and see what the CAT scan says first
before we jump to any conclusions.

As a fan, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the Notre Dame offense back at full throttle. With Floyd back across from Tate, I expect the offense to be in a different stratosphere. All the complaints about Rudolph disappearing and the red zone struggles, I expect those to be silenced.

* After Ben Turk’s performance, the punting competition has reopened.

I had that discussion with Brian this morning, and I think after what
we saw in the game, yes, I think we have to at least let Eric have a
shot in practice and see how it goes.

I’ve mentioned before how important field position has been, but our friends over at Blue-Gray Sky had a nice nugget illustrating just how badly ND’s specialist play has hurt.

The Irish continued to lose field position on the exchange of
possessions due to inferior special teams play. BC averaged 42.0 yards
per punt to the Irish’s 32.7 average. BC had two punts of 50+ yards; ND
had none. BC had three punts downed inside the 20; ND had one.
Additionally, Boston College’s second touchdown drive started at the 44
following poor coverage on the opening kickoff of the second half. I
would probably peg the cumulative field position advantage BC obtained
through superior special teams play as comparable to a turnover or two.

ND needs to figure out a way to get this problem figured out. Whether it’s scouring the soccer team for a kickoff man or just getting the cobwebs between the ears of the punter cleaned out, the Irish have to get a better performance out of their kickoff man and punter.

* I probably got 100 comments asking where Shaq Evans was on Saturday. Rumors swirled that he was in the doghouse, but it turns out he just wasn’t in the offensive game plan.

There’s not a disciplinary issue. There was a sickness issue where he
came back from — came back and had spent some time in the infirmary
and stuff, and then Thursday before the USC game was the first time he
had been back to practice. So he really wasn’t ready to play in the
game plan for that game.
 
In this game plan he was ready to play
in the game plan as an outside receiver, but it was for Duval, and
Duval actually had one of his better games, so I wasn’t looking to get
Duval off the field the way Duval had a lot of production for us in
that game yesterday for us.

People had high hopes for Evans, but it’s been clear that he isn’t quite ready to step onto the field for the Irish yet. I’ve got to say that I was surprised — shocked, actually — that Robby Toma was playing before Evans, but it makes sense if we take Weis at his word that Toma’s a slot guy and Shaq’s an outside guy.  

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    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 8 Donte Vaughn, cornerback

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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2 ½, 209 pounds
    2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
    Depth chart: Of the oft-praised quintet at cornerback, Vaughn may be the least-heralded to date. Yet, he will see plenty of action in nickel and dime packages, as well as be one play away at all times from taking over for senior Nick Watkins, the likely starter at boundary corner.
    Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, Vaughn chose the Irish over big-time programs such as Auburn, LSU and Miami. Rivals.com rated Vaughn the No. 20 safety in the country and the No.7 player in Tennessee.

    CAREER TO DATE
    In part thanks to the dismissal of safety Max Redfield shortly before the season and the defensive backfield chaos caused by it, Vaughn saw plenty of action as a freshman, though largely in situational scenarios requiring nickel or dime packages, or perhaps option-specific attacks. Vaughn made seven tackles against Navy, his season-high, and started against both the Midshipmen and Army as well as Syracuse and North Carolin.

    2016: 10 games, four starts, 22 tackles, six pass breakups, one interception v. Duke.

    WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    Even without the boneheaded arrests from the weekend, Vaughn was going to play. But with uncertainty surrounding Ashton White and Redfield’s dismissal, this likely moves Vaughn into the plans against Texas — a jump that not many saw coming, even with his impressive skill set.

    “Someone is going to come out of the woodwork and step into an important role in the secondary. We’re already counting on that from Devin Studstill. Put Vaughn into that category for me, a player I expect to finish the season as a key building block for 2017.”

    2017 OUTLOOK
    Notre Dame will rely on its veteran linebackers to compensate for a weakness along the defensive line’s interior. Similarly, the Irish will count on its cornerback depth to assist its inexperienced safeties. With that in mind, all five cornerbacks will be needed, including Vaughn.

    His length and high school playing experience make Vaughn an intriguing last-ditch possibility for a safety replenishment. Even if that does not come to be, those attributes make Vaughn nearly the ideal extra defensive back in passing-specific situations. He can cover both deep threats and physical route-runners.

    That is not to mention the looming possibility of the backup behind Watkins suddenly becoming the starter. An injury kept Watkins out in 2016. Presuming health following a missed season is an optimistic, though possible, tactic.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Vaughn is in a tricky spot. Of the five cornerbacks, only Watkins has fewer than three seasons of eligibility remaining. While Notre Dame has not done well in cornerback recruiting of late, that will be a problem following Vaughn’s time. The lack of underclassmen pushing him further should not hold much of an effect. The three others at his position performing better to date will hold quite the effect.

    That is partly why the safety thought is mentioned. The Irish need help there. Vaughn might be able to provide it. If not, a solid career as a cornerback utility knife would fill a role needed in modern football.

    LINE

    A year ago, Vaughn wore No. 35, but per Blue & Gold Illustrated’s Lou Somogyi, Vaughn will switch to No. 8 this season.


    2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
    Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
    No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
    No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
    No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
    No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
    No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
    No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
    No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
    No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
    No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
    No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
    No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
    No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
    No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
    No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
    No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
    No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
    No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
    No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
    No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
    No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
    No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
    No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
    No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
    No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
    No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
    No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
    No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
    No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
    No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
    No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
    No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
    No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
    No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
    No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
    No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
    No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
    No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
    No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
    No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
    No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
    No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
    No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
    No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
    No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
    No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
    No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
    No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
    No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
    No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
    No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
    No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
    No. 26: Ashton White, safety
    No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
    No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
    No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
    No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
    No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
    No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
    No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
    No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
    No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
    No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
    No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
    No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
    No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety
    No. 12: Ian Book, quarterback
    No. 12: Alohi Gilman, safety
    No. 11: Freddy Canteen, receiver
    No. 10: Chris Finke, receiver
    No. 9: Daelin Hayes, defensive end

    TRANSFERS
    No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
    No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
    No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

    INJURIES
    No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 9 Daelin Hayes, defensive end

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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ½, 255 pounds
    2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
    Depth chart: Hayes will start as the weakside, otherwise known as the boundary or drop, defensive end. Sophomores Julian Okwara and Ade Ogundeji back up Hayes, but neither has shown any likelihood of challenging him for playing time.
    Recruiting: A rivals.com five-star prospect, Hayes received interest from nearly every big-time program in the country despite having shoulder injuries cut short two of his prep seasons. The U.S. Army All-American chose the Irish over Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama. (Note: Due to one of those shoulder injuries, Hayes did not play in the all-star game in San Antonio.) The No. 7 outside linebacker in the country, per rivals, and the No. 31 player overall, Hayes enrolled early at Notre Dame.

    CAREER TO DATE
    Hayes played in all 12 games last season, though he did not establish himself as the pass-rush threat some hoped he might from the outset. He did flash those abilities in this spring’s Blue-Gold Game, though those sacks obviously did not involve bringing the red-jerseyed quarterback to the ground.

    2016: 12 games, 11 tackles, one forced fumble vs. North Carolina State.
    2017 Blue-Gold Game: Seven tackles, four tackles for loss including three sacks.

    QUOTE(S)
    The injuries in high school robbed Hayes of the raw time needed to develop as a football player. This spring, many of his reps were the first of their kind, something Irish coach Brian Kelly noted.

    “The athleticism is what obviously stands out,” Kelly said in late March. “[Hayes] is extremely athletic, he’s fit physically, 250 pounds and very strong.

    “It’s the football knowledge. Learning the techniques at the position in which he plays is really the piece. It’s just learning right now for him. This is the time do it, in spring ball. … We have to be patient with him. He’s an explosive athlete, there’s going to be some mistakes along the way and I’m okay with that as long as he’s learning. Here’s the great thing about it: he cares a lot and he wants to get better. So we’re going to live with some of the mistakes as long as he’s the same kid every day, which he is, and he cares deeply about wanting to get better.”

    At the end of spring practice, Hayes had shown just how much better he had gotten.

    “I think it’s pretty clear that Daelin Hayes is going to be around the football and be a disruptive player for us,” Kelly said following the Blue-Gold Game.

    IN HIS OWN WORDS
    His three “sacks” in the Blue-Gold Game brought Hayes much attention, largely deserved. He quickly deflected that credit.

    “I’m not the same athlete that I was when I first came in, not by any means,” he said. “The biggest thing for me when I came in, I was off the injury, I was like 250 [pounds], 18 percent body fat. Now I’m at 10 [percent body fat], 250 [pounds], the same weight.

    “[Strength coordinator Matt] Balis is definitely working, not only for me, but for everybody in the program. … Buying into that offseason program is going to be huge for our team.”

    Even before the practice exhibition, Hayes had seen the benefits of his gained fitness.

    “That comes when you retool your body,” he said. “I remember my first time watching film, I look quicker, [have] more twitch than I did. I was definitely — it’s hard to put it into words, but to actually be able to go back and look at it and see how it affected the game was huge.”

    WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    I see a designated pass rusher season coming on for Hayes, with the hopes that it’ll allow him to specialize at something, and potentially stay healthy in a restricted role. Some have mentioned Kolin Hill’s freshman campaign as a [comparison]. I think that’s setting the bar too low.

    “Instead, look at Prince Shembo’s rookie campaign. Even as a tweaner, Shembo found the field in pass rush situations, putting together a nice stat line with five TFLs and 4.5 sacks as a freshman.

    “Again, the hope is Hayes is a quick learner, because he’s played less than a full season of football at the high school level. So while he may have been a workout warrior and dominated the camp circuit on his way to a 5-star grade, that’s just not a lot of experience.

    “The good news? Notre Dame’s not asking him to play quarterback or free safety. They need him to chase down quarterbacks — a skill [former Irish defensive line coach] Keith Gilmore should be able to unearth from Hayes rather quickly.

    “Hayes should play every week this season if he can stay on the field. If he does that, I’ll say he matches Shembo’s freshman season.”

    2017 OUTLOOK
    While Keith was off a bit about Hayes’ output last season, he nailed the most important part of the prognostication as it regards Hayes’ future. The then-freshman did stay healthy and, thus, did play every week of the season.

    For that matter, Keith was only off a bit about Hayes matching Shembo’s freshman season. In 2010, Prince Shembo recorded 15 tackles, with five for loss including 4.5 sacks and forced one fumble. Hayes essentially matched those gross numbers, the tackles just did not come behind the line of scrimmage.

    Obviously, that is a big difference, and one Notre Dame will be desperate to see change in 2017. Hayes represents defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s best chance at a true pass rush. He is, perhaps, Elko’s only chance at a true pass rush.

    Continuing to use Shembo’s on-field career arc as a template, he started eight games in 2011, saw action in 12 games and recorded 31 tackles. His numbers behind the line of scrimmage dipped — illustrating how much those may hinge on inconsistent variables — to 3.5 tackles for loss with two sacks.

    Hayes should start 13 games this season, and in doing so easily notch 30-plus tackles. His raw speed alone could get him close to that number. Elko, defensive line coach Mike Elston and Kelly will all very much hope for more than two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. If healthy, Hayes should exceed those numbers, and after a healthy freshman season, there is no longer reason to readily presume injury.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Hayes received national praise following the Blue-Gold Game. Some of that was the echo chamber of a content-starved industry in the springtime. Some of that was Hayes playing well, proving rivals.com may have been right as the only recruiting service to grant Hayes a fifth star.

    If that national praise is sustained in 2017, look for some to speculate about him heading to the NFL after 2018. Fast, agile, athletic defensive ends are a prized commodity for a reason.

    Whether that happens or not, Hayes will likely start on the end for the Irish for the rest of his career as long as he is healthy. A move to outside linebacker could be feasible, except for the simple fact Notre Dame lacks dynamic defensive linemen more than it does productive linebackers. Even with a shallow linebacker corps likely in the coming years, it looks stockpiled compared to the defensive line.


    2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
    Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
    No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
    No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
    No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
    No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
    No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
    No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
    No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
    No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
    No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
    No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
    No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
    No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
    No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
    No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
    No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
    No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
    No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
    No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
    No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
    No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
    No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
    No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
    No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
    No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
    No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
    No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
    No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
    No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
    No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
    No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
    No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
    No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
    No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
    No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
    No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
    No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
    No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
    No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
    No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
    No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
    No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
    No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
    No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
    No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
    No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
    No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
    No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
    No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
    No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
    No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
    No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
    No. 26: Ashton White, safety
    No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
    No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
    No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
    No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
    No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
    No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
    No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
    No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
    No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
    No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
    No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
    No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
    No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety
    No. 12: Ian Book, quarterback
    No. 12: Alohi Gilman, safety
    No. 11: Freddy Canteen, receiver
    No. 10: Chris Finke, receiver

    TRANSFERS
    No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
    No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
    No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

    INJURIES
    No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

    Friday at 4: Trust The Process

    @NDFootball
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    When Irish coach Brian Kelly previewed this past spring’s 15 practices, he said it eight different times. It was one of his seeming-clichés so relied upon, this scribe poked fun via everyone’s least favorite social medium.

    Following the Blue-Gold Game, Kelly said it eight times again. The day before, defensive coordinator Mike Elko used the buzzword four times.

    Following the spring finale, junior running back Dexter Williams said it twice. Junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush brought it up, as did sophomore quarterback Ian Book and senior safety and captain Drue Tranquill.

    Process.
    Process, process, process.

    It was sophomore defensive end Daelin Hayes, though, who phrased his sentence such that any self-respecting Sam Hinkie defender should have noticed. I own a politically-themed “I’m with Hinkie” notebook. I consider myself a Hinkie apologist, but I noted Hayes’ syntax with little more than a chuckle.

    “I just think obviously with last year being the year that we had, there was definitely a yearning for change,” Hayes said. “When you have basically a reboot of the program, the guys are hungry and they don’t want to have to experience the same season as last year. Just continue to trust in that process. We’re hungry for something to cling on and buy into.”

    Hayes’ version is not as succinct as the NBA lifestyle the former Philadelphia 76ers general manager figuratively died for, but it certainly gets across Hayes’ point. If still missing the message, the backs of the shirts Notre Dame is apparently wearing in summer workouts makes the statement clear.

    Trust The Process.
    TTP for those in the know.

    For those unfamiliar with the backstory, a quick 160-character summary: The 76ers were bad. Hinkie intentionally made them worse to stockpile young talent. Three terrible years followed. The 76ers are now on the verge of being good.

    Obviously there is more to the story. It involves a Cameroonian, a Croatian and an Australian. In his 13-page resignation manifesto, Hinkie cited the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffet and Elon Musk. The 76ers looming success will come, in part, thanks to the mistakes made by those in Chicago, Indianapolis and, before long, Cleveland.

    One reading of Notre Dame’s shirts could be, 2016 was the equivalent of those three years plummeting to the NBA lottery. One reading could be, the process took — will take — years, though obviously college football’s system of rebuilding greatly defers from the NBA’s. (Just take a look at the slow but steady improvement of Miami [Ohio] under the leadership of former Irish assistant Chuck Martin.)

    The most logical and likely the most accurate reading of that workout attire would be to take the phrasing at face value. There is no harm in reminding the players July’s work effects November’s fourth quarters. (more…)

    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 10 Chris Finke, receiver

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    Listed Measurements: 5-foot-9 ½, 177 pounds
    2017-18 year, eligibility: Junior with three seasons of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
    Depth chart: Notre Dame’s receiver corps presents a litany of options. Finke competes with junior C.J. Sanders to be the first chosen of the quick-footed, shifty grouping. With that designation, it seems most likely Finke’s time will come at the slot, or Z, position if the Irish opt for a more traditional approach than the size and physicality of sophomore Chase Claypool.
    Recruiting: A former walk-on, Finke shined so much in practice he earned a scholarship before his sophomore season.

    CAREER TO DATE
    After earning his scholarship, Finke made an impact in the Notre Dame passing game last season, highlighted by his four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in the finale at USC. It marked the second-consecutive game Finke found the end zone.

    2016: 10 games, 10 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

    Nine punt returns for 70 yards. Five kick returns for 85 yards.

    QUOTE(S)
    Compared to the plausible and sizable starting receiver trio of juniors Equanimeous St. Brown and Miles Boykin and the aforementioned Claypool, Finke and Sanders come across as near-anomalies.

    “[Sanders] and Finke would be certainly the exception to the rule of the receivers we have,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said at the end of March. “But they have a place in our offense, and they’ll be used accordingly. The offensive structure is such that we can use those guys. They have a place, they can be effective players, and they will be used accordingly.”

    2017 OUTLOOK
    Finke will almost certainly exceed last year’s numbers, but the question will be when and where. Notre Dame is not wanting at receiver, and that assuredness is not even factoring in the number of skilled tight ends available, as well. Finding a role in the rotation for all those capable, including Finke, will be a unique balancing act.

    At first glance, Finke’s 2016 paled compared to Sanders’. The latter racked up 24 catches for 293 yards and two touchdowns, but those scores came in the season’s first two games and the vast majority of the yards came within the first month. In the final seven games, Sanders made only seven catches for a total of a mere 39 yards. Across that same timespan, Finke caught eight passes for 103 yards and two scores.

    Nothing in spring indicated Finke had yielded that second-half momentum surge. With it, he should be ready to contribute at either the slot or the field receiver positions whenever Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long wants to downsize his target.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Finke’s ability to work his way through Notre Dame’s receiver depth is impressive, but it may not be enough to get him four full years of action. Following the 2018 season, both he and the Irish coaches could have a decision to make. Does he want to continue his football career for one more year, knowing the NFL doesn’t often come calling for physiques the NBA would deem too small? Does Notre Dame want to devote a scholarship to a good, but not great, contributor when it will certainly have other options at receiver?

    That will be a question for then, though. For now, Finke is in the rotation and will remain there in 2018, as well.


    2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
    Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
    No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
    No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
    No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
    No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
    No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
    No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
    No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
    No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
    No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
    No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
    No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
    No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
    No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
    No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
    No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
    No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
    No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
    No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
    No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
    No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
    No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
    No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
    No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
    No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
    No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
    No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
    No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
    No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
    No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
    No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
    No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
    No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
    No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
    No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
    No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
    No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
    No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
    No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
    No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
    No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
    No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
    No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
    No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
    No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
    No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
    No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
    No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
    No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
    No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
    No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
    No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
    No. 26: Ashton White, safety
    No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
    No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
    No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
    No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
    No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
    No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
    No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
    No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
    No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
    No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
    No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
    No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
    No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety
    No. 12: Ian Book, quarterback
    No. 12: Alohi Gilman, safety
    No. 11: Freddy Canteen, receiver

    TRANSFERS
    No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
    No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
    No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

    INJURIES
    No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship