Aug 30, 2011, 5:42 PM EDT
In anticipation of today’s press conference with Brian Kelly (more on that later), Notre Dame released their two-deep depth chart for Saturday’s game.
There weren’t any complete surprises, but rather some very reassuring developments for Irish fans looking for continued improvement.
Freshman Davaris Daniels, Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty found their way into the mix, as the Irish prepare to get their best eleven on the field against USF this Saturday.
Here’s the offensive depth chart:
OPENING WEEK OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHART
WR: TJ JONES, So.
WR: DaVaris Daniels, Fr.
WR: THEO RIDDICK, Jr.
WR: Robby Toma, Jr.
LT: ZACK MARTIN, Jr.
LT: Nick Martin, Fr.
LG: Chris Watt, Jr.
LG: Andrew Nuss, Sr.
C: BRAXSTON CAVE, Sr.
C: Mike Golic Jr., Sr.
RG: TREVOR ROBINSON, Sr.
RG: Conor Hanratty, Fr.
RT: TAYLOR DEVER, Sr.
RT: Christian Lombard, So.
TE: TYLER EIFERT, Jr.
TE: Mike Ragone, Sr.
WR: MICHAEL FLOYD, Sr.
WR: John Goodman, Sr.
QB: DAYNE CRIST, Sr.
QB: Tommy Rees, So.
RB: Cierre Wood, Jr.
RB: Jonas Gray, Sr.
While it was impressive to see DaVaris Daniels on the two-deep, it appears Davaris is still on the outside looking in for playing time.
“We’re working off a five-man rotation, and six and seven would be Daniel Smith and DaVaris Daniels,” Kelly said, before focusing on his talented freshman. “We’re going to sneak him in there when it’s a time and place where he doesn’t have to be counted on to make a big play as he continues to grow.
With Smith’s name not showing up on the two-deep behind Michael Floyd, it shows that John Goodman has done what Brian Kelly has repeatedly asked him to do this preseason.
“The last week I got what I wanted out of John Goodman, and he will be a valuable guy when we need him,” Kelly said.
On Signing Day last year, if you gave Irish fans odds on freshman finding their way into the two-deep, it’s safe to say that offensive linemen Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty would’ve been long shots. But with a few injuries along the offensive line, both find themselves with the No. 2s.
With Hanratty, it’s clear that his scholarship didn’t have anything to do with who his father is.
“You always hope in the recruiting process that you get what you think you’re going to get,” Kelly said. “We knew Hanratty was a tough kid, we knew he had to physically develop. What we liked on film was his toughness. He will hit you. He’s done that.”
Martin has worked at a variety of positions since coming to the Irish, but he finds himself behind someone familiar, backing up his big brother at left tackle. It’s clear, the Irish have got another great athlete in the younger Martin.
“As it relates to Nick Martin, when I saw him play basketball, that’s what did it for me. When I saw him move his feet I said, this is a guy that would be a great fit for us,” Kelly said. “He’s not only done that, but he’s shown that he can play the game of football. He has a natural awareness of his position.”
With Chris Watt named starter, Andrew Nuss and Mike Ragone are two fifth-year players that won’t be starting, but will be called on to play a significant role on the offensive depth chart. As the decision making process gets harder and harder on fifth year players going forward, Kelly gave a few hints as to what he’s looking for if a guy isn’t necessarily a starter when discussing Nuss.
“Great guy in the locker room,” Kelly said of Nuss. “He’s well respected by everybody, the coaches in particular, great leadership qualities. We want the right guys on the team, too, coupled with the fact that he has great versatility. He can play tackle, center, guard. As you stack up decisions that have to be made as a head coach as to who you’re inviting back, that was a pretty easy one.”
While Ragone has been hampered with a leg injury the past few weeks of camp, it appears that he’s back and healthy for Saturday. But how the Irish use their tight ends will be a question, as Tyler Eifert, Ragone, Alex Welch and Ben Koyack are all in the running for playing time.
“I think it’s been about Tyler Eifert being the starting tight end, and that’s been clear since day one,” Kelly said. “It’s, as you mentioned who is No. 2, who is No. 3, who is No. 4, because they’re all very equal. I think what put Welch and Koyack in the mix is that Mike has been slowed in camp with a quad injury. He ran yesterday well for the first time.
“I think you will see all four of them play, though, as the season progresses, all four will be on the field.”