Dec 23, 2010, 8:00 AM EDT
With preparations complete for the Sun Bowl, Notre Dame released its bowl game depth chart, which had a few interesting surprises, namely Daniel Smith’s first inclusion on the two-deep.
Here’s the rest of the offensive depth chart:
Mike Golic Jr.
Mike Golic Jr.
Notes on offense:
It’s interesting to see Daniel Smith’s name behind Michael Floyd, and the 6-foot-4, 208-pound freshman clearly looks like he’s impressed the coaching staff during the bowl season practices, and his ascension into the two-deep after playing on special teams could be the reward for his efforts. If Floyd decides to head to the NFL a year early, Smith might be the guy that fills in for him at that physical outside wide receiver spot, and those will certainly be big shoes to fill.
As we mentioned yesterday, Dan Wenger returning could add another veteran name to the interior of the offensive line, where Mike Golic Jr. is the primary backup at both center and right guard. The Irish will also have youngsters like Alex Bullard ready to enter the mix, and potentially veterans like Andrew Nuss and Matt Romine battling on the outside of the offensive line.
TJ Jones looks like the odd-man out and seems to have been displaced at starter by Duval Kamara, who has come on when the Irish needed him down the stretch. Jones was nicked up for a while, and will likely see the field in some speed packages, with Theo Riddick back in the slot and Robby Toma playing too well to be kept off the field completely.
Defensive depth chart:
With Danny McCarthy’s surgery, walk-on Chris Salvi reappears in the two-deep at safety, meaning that Harrison Smith, Zeke Motta and Jamoris Slaughter will get all the work they can handle, while Robert Blanton will continue to play in nickel situations. The fact that Motta is listed in front of Slaughter shows you the progress Motta has made at safety this season, playing rock solid football and improving quite a bit in pass coverage. Every safety returns next season (minus Salvi) and while the depth chart is still thin, expect them only to improve with another year of Chuck Martin’s tutelage.
At linebacker, Brian Smith continues his run at inside backer, bumping Carlo Calabrese into a backup role and allowing Steve Filer to get back into the mix at the ‘Dog’ backer position. Filer’s athleticism is still abundant and maybe next season can be that renaissance many expected this year. If you’re looking for a position to watch in spring, linebacker could be it, with guys like Prince Shembo, Danny Spond and Dan Fox impressing the staff enough to get in the mix at outside backer while Darius Fleming continues to improve at the ‘Cat’ position.
Don’t expect Sean Cwynar to just disappear now that Ian Williams is back in the middle. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco will now have the ability to use Cwynar in four-down sets as well as to give Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore a breather. The front seven of the Irish should be able to control the line of scrimmage against the Hurricanes, forcing Jacory Harris into some bad decisions.