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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame's Kelly: 'Lot of things' Brendon Clark can do

October 19, 2020

Forget one play away.

Now, it's one positive test.

In the COVID-19 era of this college football season, teams arguably are more susceptible than ever before to having their grandest plans sideswiped without notice.

For a moment, ignore injuries that are inevitable in the course of a game; if a quarterback tests positive for coronavirus, it can mean anywhere from 10 to 21 days away from the team, depending upon the severity of the situation and the respective conference protocols. The Big Ten, for example, mandates any player who tests positive is required to sit out for three weeks.

So it's a new set of challenges for Brian Kelly beyond just keeping Ian Book healthy on gamedays.

Different challenges in an altogether different year with no spring practice, fewer camp sessions and last month's program stoppage.

Brendon Clark is the Irish backup; however, he's been recovering from a medical absence that caused Clark to miss the South Florida game, when true freshman Drew Pyne got some late snaps.

“Clark gets 40 percent of the reps,” Kelly said. “And he gets a good chunk of them; we give Drew Pyne some reps as well. (Clark's) preparedness is such that he's like any backup quarterback who would be coming in and getting first-time action.

“There's a lot of things he can do, there are some things we would have to modify for him. But, you know, he's fortified with a really good offensive line and a support cast around him where he doesn't have to win the game; he just can't lose it. So, again, I think we've prepared him to go in and play but I think across the country, most head coaches would prefer to keep their starters in there and keep them healthy.”

Book is working with an almost entirely new set of pass catchers in 2020 while also dealing with the practice limitations and stoppages; he’s thrown for 714 yards, three touchdowns and one interception through four games after Book’s stellar 2019 campaign in which he passed for more than 3,000 yards and 34 touchdowns.


Isaiah Foskey has shown flashes of brilliance in limited game action; Joe Wilkins Jr. was the top Irish wideout in the opening win against Duke.

And Jack Kiser has the game ball from his eight-tackle, first-career-start performance in the 52-0 win against South Florida.

Kelly wants all three, and some additional players, to be more involved for the Irish moving forward.

“Foskey and Kiser are key players moving forward,” Kelly said. “They're both guys that have missed chunks of playing time but they have to get on the field for us. Postgame notes, maybe they're similar to yours, but in my postgame notes they were two guys Clark (Lea) and I talked about in terms of how do we get them involved more.

“Just like how do we get Joe Wilkins involved more. So there are guys that I jot down that I say, 'Alright, these are guys that we've got to get involved more in the game itself.'”

Foskey in five career games has seven tackles, 2.5 for losses and a blocked punt.


Running back Jahmir Smith, a former three-star prospect and consensus top-25 player from the state of North Carolina in the 2018 class, has exited the Notre Dame program, Kelly announced.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Smith appeared in 13 games during his time with the Fighting Irish, when he rushed for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Smith carried five times against Duke for 15 yards to open the 2020 season but did not register a carry since that game.

Kelly said he would have further discussions with Smith for his future plans, but Kelly indicated Smith did not intend to play football at this time.

Should Smith elect to continue his career elsewhere, he would have three years' eligibility left on his NCAA clock.

Per someone with direct knowledge, Smith had not entered the NCAA's Transfer Portal as of 2 p.m. Monday.

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