Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame's Spring Matchups to Watch

March 12, 2019
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Notre Dame started spring ball on March 2, but with students on spring break, they aren’t practicing again until March 19. Two days later they will open up full practices for media viewing for the first of seven practices that we’ll get to see.

At that time the pads will be on and the competition will be in full gear. Last year one of the best battles of the spring was Miles Boykin vs Julian Love. How Boykin performed in their constant one on one battles was a good sign of things to come for a player who eventually became the number one option in the passing game for the Irish.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most intriguing matchups for Notre Dame this spring. I expect everyone will be hearing a lot about these players in practice reports from March 21 onward.

CB Houston Griffith vs WR Chase Claypool

Out goes Love and Boykin and in goes Griffith and Claypool to battle it out on the boundary. Griffith gets a chance to show whether this is his spot for the next few years and Claypool is going to get all of those fades and back shoulder throws to show if he can be WR1 in this offense.

LT Liam Eichenberg vs Drop Julian Okwara

This is something Mike brought up in our most recent episode of Power Hour. This is Eichenberg’s chance to put everyone on notice the experience gained last year can push him towards the previous elite left tackles Notre Dame has produced.

Okwara might be on his way from very good to great, which could launch him into All-American territory before his senior season. There’s no doubt that when these two lock up, it’s going to be fun to watch.

DT Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa vs RG Tommy Kraemer

MTA had a strong spring in 2018 with Notre Dame deciding to protect Jerry Tillery for most of it. Unfortunately he didn’t get to follow it up after being injured in the first game of last season. He’ll get a ton of reps again this spring and will have to hold off Jayson Ademilola if MTA wants to secure the starting job at 3-tech.

While it will be exciting to watch a healthy MTA, it’s equally exciting to see if Kraemer can start being the player he was expected to be. Hopefully that means a more agile and consistent version of the player he was becoming later in 2018.

If both of these players look good this spring, that bodes very well for what Notre Dame will need this fall.

Buck LB Asmar Bilal vs LG Aaron Banks

Bilal is getting his shot playing inside after moving to Buck from Rover, but part of the deal is that he’ll have to handle taking on guards rather than receivers and tight ends out on the perimeter. It’s going to very different having to deal with big Aaron Banks.

When the Irish are running half-line, it’s going to be a new perspective for Bilal. Can he slip and defeat blocks when it’s a monster like Banks blocking him? We’ll find out soon enough.

CB TaRiq Bracy vs WR Lawrence Keys

Notre Dame needs a nickel corner and Shaun Crawford won’t be practicing this spring. It’s a perfect opportunity for someone like Keys to step up and own the position heading into the summer. He flashed some potential last fall and we’ll see if that experience helps him level up.

Keys has people within the program buzzing about his big play potential. Him and Bracy should be going up against each other in practice a lot during their time at Notre Dame. Think of it like two fast twitch point guard going head to head against each other.

Drop Ovie Oghoufo vs OT Quinn Carroll

Oghoufo is making the switch to Drop, which is more of a long term play for the coaching staff than an immediate need. He certainly has the athletic potential and frame to develop into a very good pass rusher.

He probably won’t be going up Eichenberg or Robert Hainsey very much in the spring. It’s more likely he will have to face an early enrollee like Carroll. It’s two players who could be big pieces of the future on both sides of the line that we’ll get a sneak preview of this spring.

Drop Daelin Hayes vs TE Brock Wright

Hayes is kind of unfairly forgotten because Okwara had such a breakout in 2018, but he’s still a quality player who still has room to grow his game. One area where it has already grown considerably is playing the run where he has become much better at controlling tight ends.

It’s time for a tight end like Wright to show if he can block a player like Hayes. Wright is finally going to get an opportunity to be more than a short yardage fullback, but if he wants to be a regular in the offense, his blocking has to be a huge part of it. Battling with Hayes every day will only make him better and hopefully lead to Wright emerging as a factor this season.

 
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