Saturday morning before heading out to LaBar Practice Complex, the media got quite a surprise. Coach Kelly in an announcement on social media released the names of the 2019 football season Captain’s. Coach Kelly announced the player’s prior to their practice in video format. As you now know, Ian Book, Robert Hainsey (Jr), Chris Finke, Jalen Elliott, Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara.
Past ND Football Captain’s, Manti Te’o, Drue Tranquill, Sheldon Day, Tyler Newsome, Isaac Rochell, Austin Webster, and Brady Quinn all speak in the announcement. Manti had a fabulous quote “Greatest leaders are the greatest servants” and Brady Quinn’s message was “Set the tone everyday, they go as you go.” What a great set of messages from ND Football great from the not so far distant pass.
What We learned On Saturday
The offensive squad is coming together. Book is getting his timing down with WR’s, RB’s and the TE’s. This especially important as last season the timing with the RB’s catching the ball was not all that crisp. Tony Jones Jr and Jafar Armstrong are both receiving the ball very well. Brock Wright stepping into first team reps as well. Having to step in as the interim lead TE in the absence of Cole Kmet.
Phil Jurkovec is sitting as the number two QB. He continues to work on his timing as well as his delivery. His confidence needs to bolster as he will be needed to take over at a moments notice.
Wide Receiver’s are just balling. The are going for all passes and pay the price for dropped balls, get the ball and run. The team executed tremendously on pass drills to various part s of the field as well in the endzone. Coaches can be heard on emphasis of using two hands, and getting after the ball and not giving up on it.
The defense has playmakers. Kyle Hamilton is pushing for a starting role on the team. Hamilton is leaving it all on the field in every practice. Khalid Kareem appeared to sack Ian Book on Saturday. As Book went to the ground, you hear a collective “oh” from the sideline bleachers. Alohi Gilman is all over the field. He can get you from across the field in short time. Jalen Elliott and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah both picked off Book in almost back-to-back plays. TaRiq Bracy even came up with an INT in the session.
The defensive Captain’s seem to have their side of the ball heading in the right direction. Practice is a no slouch zone. 110% dedication is the message you hear coming from the newly selected defensive Captain’s.
Jay Bramblett is working himself into the starting position. His hang-time on the football is between 4.5 -4.6 and Coach Kelly is good with that. Understanding he doesn’t have quite the depth on total distance but that will come with time.
Jonathan Doerer was taking both punting and field goal reps. He doesn’t beat Bramblett out for the starters spot in that category, but appears to be the go to field goal kicker and PAT guy.
Coach Kelly Press Conference
Coach Kelly met with the media following the practice on Saturday and the inevitable question of Captain selection came up.
Media Question: “People are used to seeing a smaller number of Captains. Some of yours have been larger. What is the advantage of having a seven man Captain Class?”
Coach Kelly: “Consensus. When it comes to selecting Captain’s, I have gone through the gamut for over 30 years of having two Captain’s. But I think today consensus, having the ability of getting together, guys as a leadership group have the ability to work together as a group. I think it has much more to do with their ability to act as a unified group more than it does anything else. And they operate so much easier together as that group. We layed that into place with our SWAT teams.”
Media Question: “When we talked with you on Sunday, you weren’t aware that Kyle Hamilton had 3 INT’s, did you know he had one today?”
Coach Kelly: “I did see that, as it was close coverage. Does that mean he has 4? Room responds “5”. “It’s amazing how you guys keep stats. Is there a big board that you guys keep too. He’s a good player, there is no doubt. He has my attention now.”
Media Question: “You have more open media practices this fall camp. Does this reflect how much you like all of us or is it something else at work there?”
Coach Kelly: “Definitely my closeness I have gotten to the media this year after winning. Next year if we don’t win, you will never see a practice again.” (Room laughter)
Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question: “Back on signing day we talked about getting Jay Bramblett out of Tuscaloosa. He seems to be coming along pretty well. How do you feel about his progress?”
Coach Kelly: “I think he has made really good progress. You saw that his ability is real. His ability to hang the football. We like his hangtime. He is not a 55-60 turnover, but he is a 4.5-4.6 hangtime guy. Which is what we are looking for, consistency and he is very coachable. He is wanting to learn every day. And he has a great arm, just throwing that out there.” (room laughter)
Ian Book Press Conference
Chris Finke Press Conference
Khalid Kareem Press Conference
Julian Okwara Press Conference
Robert Hainsey Press Conference
Alohi Gilman Press Conference
The “Wrap Up”
Team 131 continues move forward. With the Captain’s now in place the defined leadership for the team is in place. The seven selected players will be holding their teammates to high standards. Despite some setbacks with injuries, the tem is poised to be ready for the start of the season against Louisville. This team holds destiny in their hands. How much they apply themselves, will tell the direction this team will go. They just need to focus on getting better and worry about the season after they become crisp at their designated positions.
Don’t forget you now can subscribe to our youTube channel by clicking here. We will have post game interviews posted there and maybe a few other surprises.
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈⚡