Opening depth chart released

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With the opening game around the corner, Notre Dame released it’s two-deep depth chart for Saturday’s season opener against Temple. There were a few surprises, so let’s go over each unit and give some thoughts:

OFFENSE

WR
TJ Jones
Corey Robinson

WR
DaVaris Daniels
Daniel Smith

LT
Zack Martin
Hunter Bivin

LG
Chris Watt
Mark Harrell

C
Nick Martin
Matt Hegarty

RG
Christian Lombard
Conor Hanratty

RT
Ronnie Stanley
Steve Elmer

TE
Troy Niklas
Ben Koyack
Alex Welch

WR
Chris Brown
James Onwualu

QB
Tommy Rees
Andrew Hendrix

RB
George Atkinson
Amir Carlisle
or Cam McDaniel
or Greg Bryant

Thoughts: If you’re looking for early returns on the freshman recruiting class, the offensive two-deep is a good place to start. Seeing Corey Robinson, Hunter Bivin, Steve Elmer, James Onwualu and Greg Bryant all get mentioned on here is pretty astounding.

While a guy like Hunter Bivin probably isn’t the next guy in at tackle, Kelly did say that he expected Steve Elmer to play early and often.

“We have great confidence that Steve Elmer could go in there and start for us if we needed him to,” Kelly said. “It’s not out of the question that he could be playing there at some time on Saturday, as well.”

Seeing the tight end position go three-deep in the two-deep gives you an idea that Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and Alex Welch are all going to play quite a bit, often packaged together. Seeing a bunch of “or” listings at running back also let you know that all four of those guys are probably going to get a chance to get some carries on Saturday as well.

DEFENSE

DL
Sheldon Day
Isaac Rochelle

DL
Louis Nix
Kona Schwenke

DL
Stephon Tuitt
Jarron Jones

OLB
Prince Shembo
Ishaq Williams

ILB
Dan Fox
Jarrett Grace

ILB
Carlo Calabrese
Kendall Moore

OLB
Jaylon Smith
Ben Councell

CB
KeiVarae Russell
Lo Wood

S
Austin Collinsworth
Elijah Shumate

S
Matthias Farley
Eilar Hardy

CB
Bennett Jackson
Cole Luke

Thoughts: Perhaps the two biggest notes on here are the starting jobs won by Jaylon Smith and Austin Collinsworth, who must be fully recovered from the physical maladies that robbed him of the ’12 season. We’ll likely see a lot of Ben Councell and Elijah Shumate, but it’s a big deal for both players to have gone into camp and won a starting job.

Kelly talked a little bit about the platoon between Collinsworth and Shumate, and the reality of the situation being that both safeties will spend a lot of time on the field.

“I think it’s a 1A, 1B situation,” Kelly said. “Depending on where we are in the game, down and distance, a lot of those factors will be involved.  I think you’ve got to look at both of those guys playing an equal amount of football.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK
Nick Tausch
or Kyle Brindza

P
Kyle Brindza
or Alex Wulfeck

LS
Scott Daly

HLD
Luke Massa

PR
TJ Jones
Amir Carlisle

KR
George Atkinson
Cam McDaniel

KO
Kyle Brindza

Thoughts: One person we haven’t talked about much is redshirt freshman Scott Daly, Notre Dame’s new long-snapper. You’ve got to imagine quite a few butterflies will be churning for Daly in his first start with Jordan Cowart now graduated.

As Kelly discussed earlier at Media Day, the placekicking job is still up in the air, with Tausch and Brindza likely spending Saturday competing for the gig. On paper, this seems fine. But when there’s 100,000 screaming fans at the Big House next weekend, it’ll be interesting to see who Kelly calls on to kick.

It’d be great to see Luke Massa get a chance to use his sneaky athleticism and his throwing arm as the holder on a fake field goal. I’m not sure Notre Dame has attempted one since a Lane Clelland holding call erased a successful fake.