Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fighting Irish have plenty of position battles with the spring game around the corner

Photo Credit: Matt Stamey- USA TODAY Sports

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

Snow in the middle of April can only mean one thing, right?  Spring football time in the Midwest.  Notre Dame will be hosting its 89th annual Blue-Gold Game, presented by Boling Vision Center on Saturday, April 21, 2018 with kickoff at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Coming into the game, the most notable position battle sits under center between quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book.  Wimbush led the Irish offense for the majority of the 2017 campaign, starting all but one contest and finished with a scoring efficiency of 93 percent in the red zone, but often struggled with his accuracy throwing the ball.  Book showed last year that he looked comfortable passing the ball, but does not have the mobility that makes Wimbush a dual-threat quarterback.

With running back Josh Adams heading to the NFL Draft, the Irish will also need to find a new running back.  Dexter Williams seems to be the favorite to this point, but Tony Jones Jr. also seems like he’s making a case to split carries with Williams. 

Losing All-Americans Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson will be an astronomical loss for the Irish.  Projected starters from left to right are Liam Eichenberg, Alex Bars, Sam Mustipher, Tommy Kraemer, and Robert Hainsey.

Talent is aplenty at the skilled positions.  The Irish return Nic Weisher and Alize Mack as tight ends and Chase Claypool, Miles Boykin, Chris Finke highlight the receiving core. 

The transfer of Jay Hayes to the University of Oklahoma could be a disappointment for Irish fans, but the defensive front seems to have plenty of stability.  The return of Daelin Hayes, Jerry Tillery, Jonathan Bonner, and Khalid Kareem brings plenty of experience to the table.

Te’Von Coney and Drue Tranquill will bring plenty of senior leadership to the linebacker position.  Julian Love also returns to the secondary following his monster year last season.  If Love can continue at the pace that he finished last season, he will find his name on an All-American list following the season.Troy Pride Jr. and Shaun Crawford look to maintain their starting positions at cornerback and nickel, respectively.

Spring games are a great opportunity for fans to get a glimpse of the future and return their focus to the gridiron following another abysmal Indiana winter.  When the Blue-Gold Game concludes spring practices for the Irish, we will most likely be left with some question marks regarding the depth chart heading into week one.