As the time draws closer to Team 131’s season, it’s time to look at the Senior and Grad Student-Athlete roster. The 2019/2020 team is made up of 23 Seniors and 6 Graduate students. That breaks down to 15 defensive players, 14 offensive players and 1 special teams player. You are probably asking if there are 23 Seniors and 6 Graduate students, how come that equals 30 positions? The answer is that Brandon Garcia is listed as a Cornerback and Wide Receiver. He gets an asterisk after his name in the breakdown list.
Senior/Graduate Players On Offense
With five well known players moving from Notre Dame, the offensive needs to fill some shoes. The shoes that need filling are of Dexter Williams RB, Sam Mustipher OL, Miles Boykin WR, Alize Mack TE, and Nic Weishar TE. All of these players left an “echo” for team 131 to carry on. Each planted a seed that needs to be nurtured and made fruitful for years to come. This group left behind a blueprint for success. Team 131 needs to build on it and carry the torch forward.
The stand out Senior on the offense is Quarterback Ian Book. Not to get mired in a jinx, but there are some that believed Book should have been a Heisman candidate last season. Last season was not time for that discussion. During the season some have even compared Book to the G.O.A.T Joe Montana and his numbers were darn close. The most important thing Ian Book must do is maintain his composure and continue to be the leader of this team. That is the biggest key to success for this team.
Tony Jones Jr
With the departure of Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr will have his work cut out for him. His Junior season saw him play in 12 games, racked up 392 yards and 3 touchdowns. his most notable play from last season was his 51 yard TD reception in a win over USC. With incoming Running Backs coach Lance Taylor taking the helm, Jones Jr will be looking to explode on the field during his Senior year.
The position at Wide Receiver left open by Miles Boykin is going to need a tandem to fill is departure. The first part of that tandem is fifth year Grad student Chris Finke. One of his biggest plays was in the opening game against Michigan. With 7:09 remaining in the first quarter, Finke goes up and over a Michigan defender to score the second touchdown of the game. Finke had 47 catches for 547 yards and two touchdowns. Finke brings back his leadership and tenacity that this team needs to feed off of.
The second part of the tandem at Wide Receiver is Chase Claypool. Claypool placed second on the team with 631 receiving yards on 48 receptions and four TDs. Chase has a strong work ethic and tenacity to match Finke. Claypool is ready to take the number one spot on the team stat chart as far as Wide Receiver’s are concerned. Book is going to look to him as the guy who steps out at the WR position.
Javon McKinley wants to make it one special Senior year. After battling an injury, McKInley is trying to work his way onto the depth chart. The Irish offense could use another target to throw at to spread the field.
The Senior Offensive Linemen need to protect Ian Book. With the exit of Sam Mustipher, Grad students Trevor Ruhland and Logan Plantz, need to guide the offensive coupled by Seniors Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer. Protecting Book is another key activity if the Irish are to return to the College Football Playoff. Book will need time to throw and the offensive line is where the whole play starts.
Senior/Graduate Players On Defense
Julian Love, the playmaker at Cornerback is now with the New York Giants. The Irish Cornerback core has very big shoes to fill. Senior Cornerbacks Troy Pride Jr, Donte Vaughn, Shaun Crawford, and Temitopo Agoro will be a platoon of players that fill that void of Love going to the NFL as stated by Coach Kelly at the Blue and Gold game in April.
Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question to Coach Kelly: Agoro had a pretty good break up in the second quarter. How do you fill the shoes of Julian Love and bring Agoro up to speed?
Coach Kelly response: “Well you know, Timmy, Timmy is done a really nice job. You know, we feel like he’s he adds to our depth as well. You know, sometimes he doesn’t get enough respect amongst our staff, our players respect him. I remind our guys even though he’s a walk on, he’s earned every rep that he he takes.”
” He’s a physical player. He can do some really good things for us. He’s not going to fill Julian shoes, a combination of players will, and he could be one of those combinations of players if you will. And as I mentioned earlier, you know, Vaughn’a going to get a chance, Crawford’s going to get a chance. Houston Griffin’s going to get a chance Timmy is going to get a chance. You know, Rutherford’s coming in as a freshman he’s going to get a chance Bracy he’s going to get a chance. You know, there’s a there’s a long list there. So all those guys will get a chance.”
Another group that is going to have to carry the torch from last season is the Defensive Linemen. Micah Dew-Treadway and Jerry Tillery have moved onto life after Notre Dame football. The group of Daelin Hayes, Julian Okwara, Jamir Jones, Khalid Kareem, and Adetokunbo Ogundeji are the next men up. The Fighting Irish Defensive LIne kept the team in many games. The defense was literally shutting teams out in the beginning of the season. Having a strong defense is a great balance to a great offense.
Te’Von Coney and Drue Tranquill leave a major void for Asmar Bilal to fill. Bilal had a great Senior campaign. Bilal is going to have to the anchor in this key position. Coney and Tranquill both were a pain for offensive coordinators to plan against. Bilal will have to step up and be the leader that Tranquill was in the defensive huddle.
Alohi Gilman is the epitome of the heart and soul that Notre Dame football player is expected to have. His Junior year, Gilman stepped up his game. The one game that stands out is the USC game in which he gives a passionate speech at half to motivate his teammates to crawl out of the deficit they were in. Alohi will probably be one of the Captains of Team 131. They are going to need his spirit and his energy if the defense is to improve even after last year’s performance.
The above picture says it all. Make the offense pay for mistakes they make on the field. Though this was during the Blue and Gold game, the offense is glad that Jalen Elliott is on their team. Jalen is one of those guys who has football sense. He can see what is going to happen before it does. Like Alohi, the Irish are going to need him to elevate his though it’s at a high level already.
The 2019/2020 football season has a lot of promise to it. The team has lost some key players to the NFL and they must carry on. Team 130 brought this years team to a place in which hasn’t been seen in a while. Both sides of the ball must continue to improve and get stronger. Reducing the number of penalties, the time in which the Irish defense needs to be on the field will work to the Fighting Irish advantage. Giving the offense time to build a lead, and punish the opposition’s defense will allow for the defense to spend minimal time on the field and stay fresh.
What are your thoughts, let us know and let’s engage in some good conversation before the season starts. It will be Labor Day before you know it and the Irish will be on the road against the Louisville Cardinals.