Want to know what the new Notre Dame offense looks like? Well, it looks a lot younger without quarterback Dayne Crist and running back Armando Allen.
With Brian Kelly set to address the media in preparation for Utah, the Irish depth chart was released, and to no surprise, it’s continuing to get younger.
As quarterback, Tommy Rees sits atop Nate Montana, with Andrew Hendrix unlisted, but the emergency number three quarterback. Coaches, players and fans should all hope Hendrix never has to see the field, as this would be a terrible waste of eligibility after spending the first nine games running the scout team as a redshirt.
At running back, Cierre Wood is listed as the starter in place of the injured Armando Allen, with Robert Hughes and Jonas Gray sharing the No. 2 job, with Gray likely all the way healthy after struggling through a knee and leg injury.
TJ Jones is still listed above Robby Toma at the Z wide receiver, both replacing Theo Riddick who still sits with a badly sprained ankle. John Goodman is listed ahead of Bennett Jackson and Michael Floyd in front of senior Duval Kamara on the outside. I’m a little surprised that Kamara hasn’t been able to make a run at Goodman, especially with his propensity to move laterally on the field, and muffing a critical punt last week against Tulsa. Goodman has done a better job as the year has gone on, but he still drops too many passes and dances more than he should.
On defense, Kona Schwenke backs up Ethan Johnson at one defensive end position while Emeka Nwankwo is listed behind Kapron Lewis-Moore. Sean Cwynar starts his second game in place of Ian Williams at nose guard, with Hafis Williams backing him up.
Prince Shembo is backing up Darius Fleming at the Cat linebacker position, moving from the interior while Brian Smith has shifted back to the field-side outside linebacker, backing up Kerry Neal, a week after playing one of his best games on the inside. Carlo Calabrese must be close to healthy, as he’s back listed as a starting middle linebacker, with Dan Fox backing him up as Anthony McDonald backs Manti Te’o up.
I’m not sure if this is because of production or health, but Zeke Motta is listed as a starting safety across from Harrison Smith, with Jamoris Slaughter and Dan McCarthy serving as the backup safeties. Darrin Walls and Gary Gray are starting corners with Lo Wood and Robert Blanton serving as the usual back-ups.
Braxston Cave is now the short-snapper on field goals with Bill Flavin out with an injured ankle. And file this one under the bizarre category: Harrison Smith is the back-up punt returner, a scary thought for those who have watched Smith struggle to corral footballs when they’re thrown by opposing quarterbacks.