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Notre Dame Football

6 Thoughts on a Thursday

July 9, 2020

I go back and forth a lot on if there will be a full college football season this fall. The numbers rising for Covid-19 cases across the United States certainly doesn’t make me optimistic. Teams shutting workouts down right now doesn’t make me feel good about it either.

Ohio State and North Carolina are just the latest. It seems inevitable that others will join them in pausing workouts.

Remember when college coaches were calling for at least four to six weeks of training before players started to practice? Pausing workouts pretty much guarantees that it won’t happen for some of these teams because I’m pretty sure they won’t be pausing things for only a couple of days.

Decisions aren’t going to be made about the first week of the regular season until the last possible minute, but we wouldn’t be hearing about the possibility of spring football (more on that later), starting in October, or the Big Ten and Pac-12 playing conference-only schedules.

In recruiting, everyone always likes to say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If enough buzz and rumors are being discussed about a prospect making or flipping his commitment, then something is likely going to happen. It’s getting difficult to ignore the smoke surrounding the uncertainty of this season.

We’re eight weeks away from football and normally that would have everyone excited. I can’t blame anyone for tempering their excitement at the moment because there hasn’t been enough positive buzz about the season in the last couple of weeks to be definitive on what’s going to happen.

ESPN’s Heather Dinich put it pretty succinctly when it comes to who will make the call on college football.

If it was strictly up to athletic directors and coaches, there would be no doubt we’d be seeing college football in a couple of months. It’s not going to just be up to them, though. There are things that need to be figured out by people above them.

With no one from the NCAA having any type of authority whether to make the call or not, there’s going to be a lot of voices who have to come together and find common ground on when FBS teams will be playing football again.

2. From a glass half full perspective, this news from Notre Dame swings it back the other way.

No positive cases for Notre Dame says a lot about the preparation they put in and the attention to detail from the staff to the players. It also says at least a little bit about the reality of Covid-19 in an area like South Bend, Indiana compared to other spots where there have been more cases in recent weeks.

What does it say about Clemson that they have had 37 players test positive or other schools that have had to shut down workouts? One way to interpret it is that not everyone has the same standards, whether it’s testing or protecting their student-athletes, and that is concerning to me about football in the fall. There is no one to regulate to get everyone on the same page, even within a conference.

Notre Dame is doing everything they can to keep everyone involved with their program safe. It’s not guaranteed that everyone else is matching what Notre Dame is doing, which brings into question if some programs may not be okay to play this fall while others will.

With talk of the potential to postpone the season until the spring, it did make me think about the possibility of some teams playing this fall if they aren’t facing the same challenges. I know the discussion has been more about the conferences sticking together with scheduling, but with many conferences spread out due to previous expansion, regional scheduling might end up making more sense.

And even then, what if ⅓ of Power 5 programs are in a position to not play this fall. Are the other ⅔ going to be okay with waiting it out for a later start to the season whether it’s still in 2020 or the spring of 2021?

I don’t know if we’re going to see that solidarity when there is so much money at stake for these schools.

3. If football was pushed back to the spring, there is the possibility that many draft eligible players won’t elect to play. That could be devastating news for Notre Dame’s offensive line and extremely devastating news for Clemson with players like Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne potentially opting out.

I haven’t seen many people talk about what that would mean for recruiting. If FBS programs don’t play this fall, there is no way we’re seeing high school football.

Would that be pushed back to the spring as well? How would that affect signing day in December or February? I would have to assume everything would have to be adjusted.

That’s another reason why moving things back to the spring is going to be the last option. Recruiting would have to be completely reset as well and that would lead to plenty of chaos.

4. Well, hopefully you stuck around for me to go back to my happy place and talk ball. My brain is still thinking about Notre Dame playing Navy and everyone else on the schedule.

I know this isn’t the first time I’ve written this, but Notre Dame really needs to groom another nickel back other than Shaun Crawford. It’s not just about Crawford’s health either. It’s that having another slot corner gives Clark Lea and the staff more flexibility in sub-packages in addition to having someone ready for 2021.

If they have another nickel, Crawford may be able to stay outside or possibly be the third safety. Notre Dame played three safeties a lot last season because they could with Kyle Hamilton joining Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott. Crawford may be the best player for that role when they play on 3rd downs or when going up against specific teams who frequently play four wide.

TaRiq Bracy and KJ Wallace are two prime candidates to be that extra nickel and they should want to earn that job to help their future value as NFL prospects.

5. 7on7 season was pretty much non-existent this year due to the pandemic and one thing that could lead to is more receivers and defensive backs being more raw when they get to college because of all those lost reps. Another thing it could lead to is a number of 3-stars getting overlooked without being able to showcase their talent at major tournaments.

I know Notre Dame fans would be thrilled if the Irish added blue-chip recruits like receiver Donte Thornton Jr.‍ or cornerback Ceyair Wright‍, but there are going to be some sleepers who may shoot up the rankings or come into college football severely underrated because they didn’t get the exposure they would have had from 7on7.

6. Guess who from his signing day capsule in 2017:

There might not be a more ideal fit to play Rover. In many other schemes he could be seen as a tweener. In Mike Elko's, they should nickname him the Baby Bear (because he's justttttt right).
He's a phenomenal blitzer and is instinctive in coverage. He needs to improve his recognition skills versus the run, but he has the kind of speed to make plays all over the field. He isn't someone I expect to play from day one other than on special teams. I do think that he could end up being a big time player in a couple of years if he develops like he should.

Well, he has developed like he should and still has room to grow as a player. It’s pretty obvious that I was writing about Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and this one turned out pretty well.

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