Three for Thursday

Daniels is one of a handful of ready red-shirts

Too long for a message board post. Too short for a researched or cogent column. Allow me to introduce: Three for Thursday...

Three quick football-related thoughts as we head into the Holiday Weekend.

Breakouts

A New Ara message board post asked: Who will be this year's Tyler Eifert? If the answer is limited to "Who will be a first-team Walter Camp All-America?" as Eifert was last season, any reasonable answer outside of Manti Te'o might be a stretch, but my relative breakout players at present are:

  • 5th-year: Jamoris Slaughter - 3rd Team All-America status if in good health for three months...
  • Senior: Chris Watt - Could be the most physical interior masher at the program since center Jeff Faine
  • Junior: Prince Shembo - Its more important to see a player such as Bennett Jackson emerge, but Shembo is a natural at the Cat position…
  • Sophomore: Stephon Tuitt - The easiest call among the group and a true NFL talent with the versatility to play all along the 3-4 or 4-3 front...
  • Red-shirt freshman: DaVaris Daniels - A bit safer call than his quarterback buddy. If Daniels doesn't show up big, the passing game will scare no one after Week One...
  • True freshman: Sheldon Day - Thanks to transfer (Lynch) and an unexpected move to the real world (Cwynar), playing time assured in 2012. Look for a role in long down-distance situations to help him acclimate...

Trouble Spots

My annual "Trouble Spots" series begins on these pages in early June. The columns attempt to rank Notre Dame's hardest games next fall, not just rank the opponents' overall.

At first blush, the heretofore unnoticed "bad situation"? Purdue - the Irish depart for Ireland Wednesday evening, August 29. They face Navy and the Midshipmen's option offense that demands extra August camp attention on September 1, then fly home all day Sunday and play Purdue six days after landing.

That's two flights across the Atlantic and two college football games against disparate foes in a span of 10 days.

Conversely, the best situation amid a daunting slate? Miami in Soldier Field - A pro-ND crowd and Kelly & Co. have two weeks to prepare. The game is Miami's sixth in as many weeks with just one patsy, Bethune Cookman, and three ACC games prior as well as a trip to Kansas State. Both are must wins for Notre Dame; don't be surprised if the latter is far easier to attain.

RS Frosh Redux?

In 2010, Kelly's first season, four starters and two regulars emerged from the red-shirt freshmen class to play major roles from scrimmage: Cierre Wood, Zack Martin, Tyler Eifert, and Carlo Calabrese, plus Dan Fox and Chris Watt. Last year, those numbers dwindled to 1 (Louis Nix as the lone starter) and 2 (Andrew Hendrix and Alex Welch as the only semi-regular contributors).

The 2012 red-shirt freshmen should more closely resemble the impact of Kelly's first squad, with DaVaris Daniels, Everett Golson, Nick Martin and Ben Councell exiting spring fighting for starting roles, and Jarrett Grace, Tony Springmann, and potentially Jalen Brown firmly entrenched in game day rotations.

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