Opening practice ushers in change

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After reading various reports on the first day of practice, one thing is very clear: there is a new sheriff in town.

Across the board, reporters are working hard to come up with a new word for face-paced. Even players were shocked.

“It was overwhelming, well, different,” Michael Floyd said after practice, catching himself with his word choices. “I didn’t expect as much. I underestimated it.”

As much as the frenetic pacing of practice was the story of the first day of the Kelly regime, for the Irish to succeed, the real story will be Dayne Crist’s ascension to the starting quarterback position. Five months after surgery to repair a torn ACL, Crist was moving at full speed with the offense, taking snaps from the shotgun and running option plays with tailback Armando Allen.

“I haven’t been able to do it for a while,” Crist said. “So it actually felt good.”

The Irish offense will only go as far as Crist can take it, and if there’s anything we learned from the 45-minute window the media was allotted at practice, its that they’ll try and get there in a hurry.

Notes from Opening Day:

* While Kelly made it known there would be no official depth chart, here’s who lined up as the starting offense. Crist at QB, Allen at RB, Floyd, John Goodman, and Duval Kamara at WR, Kyle Rudolph at TE, Dan Wenger at center, Chris Stewart and Trevor Robinson at guards, and Matt Romine and Taylor Dever at tackle.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the starting defense was Kapron Lewis-Moore and Ethan Johnson (now wearing number 90) at defensive end, Ian Williams at DT, Darius Fleming and Brian Smith at outside linebacker, Manti Te’o and David Posluszny at inside backer, Gary Gray and Darrin Walls at corner and Harrison Smith and Jamoris Slaughter as the starting safeties.

* Pete Sampson over at IrishIllustrated.com did a cool breakdown of the roster, comparing player’s weights from this year to last year. Here are the guys that had more than a 10-pound difference:

Carlo Calabrese +10 (245)
Mike Golic, Jr. -10 (283)
Robert Hughes +11 (245)
Jamoris Slaughter +10 (195)
Chris Stewart +14 (344)
Chris Watt +18 (313)

I think that bodes really well for guys like Calabrese and Slaughter. I expect Slaughter to be a playmaker in the secondary this season. Also, a pretty miraculous year in the weight room for Chris Watt, gaining 18 pounds. Robert Hughes was listed as a RB/FB on the new roster, possibly explaining the gain in weight. 

* Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune noted on his Twitter page: “Whatever Kelly & Notre Dame get from RB Cierre Wood, it’ll have to be gotten with a big cast on Wood’s right hand.”

An interesting note because Kelly didn’t mention Cierre in any of his comments regarding injuries.

* Blue-chip recruit Jordan Prestwood, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive tackle from Plant City, Florida, was in attendance, watching practice. He’d be a great get for the Irish, and has offers from Alabama, Florida, and USC.