A closer look at the depth chart: Offense

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With injuries, suspensions, and uncertainty in a few position battles, Brian Kelly released the season’s first official depth chart with a few minor surprises. We already knew quarterback Everett Golson locked up the starting quarterback job, but let’s run through the position groupings and see who broke camp in the starting lineup.

Here’s our first look, breaking down the Irish’s starters and back-ups for offense.

QUARTERBACK

Everett Golson, Soph.
Andrew Hendrix, Jr.
Gunner Kiel, Fr.

Thoughts: It’ll be interesting to see where Tommy Rees inserts himself after he’s eligible to get back on the field. While the Irish staff has belief that Golson has the ability to lead this offense and run it in the fashion Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin hope, they also know Rees is capable — and likely ready — to take a step forward.

With the staff ready for anything, they’ll likely hope Golson does enough good to hold onto the job through the season’s first two weeks. More importantly, he’s got to get the Irish two victories.

RUNNING BACK

Theo Riddick, Sr.
George Atkinson, Soph.
Will Mahone, Fr.

Thoughts: Cierre Wood finds himself missing from this depth chart thanks to his violation of team rules. That opens the door slightly for Mahone, who I’m guessing the Irish coaching staff absolutely don’t want to see on the field this year.

If you’re looking to impress your friends and are feeling gutsy, predict a big game for Atkinson. After an impressive spring culminated by a nice performance in the Blue-Gold game, I expect Atkinson to get a ton of touches against the Midshipmen, and turn a few into really big plays.

WIDE RECEIVER

John Goodman, Sr.
Daniel Smith, Jr.
Justin Ferguson, Fr.

TJ Jones, Jr.
Davaris Daniels, Soph.
Chris Brown, Fr.

Robby Toma, Sr.
Davonte Neal, Fr.
Amir Carlisle, Soph.

Thoughts: This grouping is a head-scratcher. After hearing about the promise of youngsters like Daniels, Brown, and Neal, none of them are in the starting lineup. Whether that’s a nod to Kelly showing veteran loyalty or the talented trio not being ready, we’ll likely see in Dublin on Saturday.

There are rumors that John Goodman isn’t 100 percent going into Saturday’s game, which will likely shake up the depth chart outside. It’s also interesting to note that Amir Carlisle, who is still working his way back from a broken ankle, is listed at the slot receiver position.

Chris Brown, the freshman receiver who will likely signify the Irish’s best deep threat is buried beneath TJ Jones and Daniels. I still expect him to get a dozen offensive snaps this weekend. Also — even if Carlisle is injured, I expect him to see the field before Will Mahone, unless the Irish think they can save a year of his eligibility.

TIGHT END

Tyler Eifert, Sr.
Ben Koyack, Soph.
Troy Niklas, Soph.
Jake Golic, Sr.

Thoughts: It’s the worst kept secret that Eifert is the team’s No. 1 tight end. He’s also the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, making the depth chart worth little more than the paper you’ll print it on. With Alex Welch out, the role of a traditional tight end will be given to Koyack and Niklas, with both sophomores having worlds of potential.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Left Tackle:

Zack Martin, Sr.
Ronnie Stanley, Fr.

Left Guard:

Chris Watt, Sr.
Connor Hanratty, Soph.

Center:

Braxston Cave, Sr.
Mike Golic, Sr.
Matt Hegarty, Soph.

Right Guard:

Mike Golic, Sr.
Connor Hanratty, Soph.

Right Tackle:

Christian Lombard, Jr.
Nick Martin, Soph.

Thoughts: There’s a lot to process here, but the easy takeaway is that the Irish don’t have a ton of depth here. There might not be a bigger plummet on the two-deep than the drop-off between senior Zack Martin and freshman Ronnie Stanley. Likewise, it’s interesting to see sophomore Connor Hanratty make his move into the two deep, providing depth at both guard positions, but expect fellow sophomore Nick Martin to be the first man off the bench to see the field if someone goes down. Starting right guard Mike Golic will be the first to slide to center if anything happens to Braxston Cave, while the injury to Tate Nichols kept the Irish really shy on options for a unit that needs a healthy season.