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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Hamilton and Williams Opting Out of the Fiesta Bowl

December 10, 2021

Kyle Hamilton opting out of the Fiesta Bowl was expected. Kyren Williams opting out was not.

Either way, both decisions are understandable. If this was a College Football Playoff game, both would be on the field for Notre Dame. It’s not and it’s the smart decision to protect their futures with them leaving early for the NFL.

Not having Hamilton is something that Notre Dame is used to on defense with him missing the back half of the season. There won’t be any real adjustments to make that we haven’t seen already. It’s a safe bet that we’ll see plenty of Ramon Henderson, DJ Brown, Houston Griffith, and Xavier Watts in this matchup.

This is the first game Williams will not be available for since he became the lead back for Notre Dame last season. The Irish are well positioned to be fine at running back without him, but there is no denying they will miss his ability to break tackles and turn negative plays into positive ones.

It’s fair to expect a pretty even split between Chris Tyree and Logan Diggs against Oklahoma State. This does give an opportunity for Audric Estime and/or C’Bo Flemister to be more involved as well, but Tyree and Diggs are the two I would expect to play the most snaps.

It’s a lock that Tyree will be involved on just about every 3rd down situation with his ability to pass protect, but now comes the new challenge for Tommy Rees to figure out how he might want to best utilize personnel in all situations.

When Avery Davis went out for the season, that saw an increase of 21 personnel (two backs, one tight end) with Williams often lined up out wide and Tyree in the backfield. This might allow for more of Tyree in the slot, which we saw a glimpse of against Stanford, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Flemister get more of a look if it’s strictly a blocking role.

There’s going to be disappointment that both of these great players aren’t going to suit up in blue and gold one last time. I hope that doesn’t overshadow the fact that Hamilton and Williams deserve to be celebrated for what they did at Notre Dame.

Hamilton is one of the best safeties ever to play for Notre Dame. His name belongs in the same breath as the greatest to play the position.

Williams is the best back to play for the Irish in the last decade and his name won’t be in the top-10 in the all-time rushing statistics, but not many others put together back to back 1,000 seasons or have the epic highlight reel moments he put together over the last two years.

It would have been fun to see one last ride with two, but the future is now at safety and running back for Notre Dame. Even without them, the future looks promising and we’ll get to see that on display in the Fiesta Bowl.

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