The first “half” of the season is over and this week the Irish will surely work hard and do some self-scouting. Head coach Brian Kelly has a big time job to do, there are some holes that need to be fixed and now is the time to address them. Let’s take a look at a few changes the Irish make before the hit the field against USC on October 23rd in South Bend.
Choose a quarterback
Oct 9, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Yes, I will continue to say that having depth at quarterback is a good thing for the present and future. What I don’t like is the flip-flop of who get’s to start, who comes in if the other struggles. I’ve never been a Jack Coan fan and I think his time as the starter should come to an end when the Irish face off against the Trojans. This week Kelly and Tommy Rees need to decide between Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne and stick with them, no more back-and-forth unless an injury occurs.
Play the kids more
Oct 9, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Cain Madden (back) looks on as Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (right center) runs between Virginia Tech Hokies linebacker Dax Hollifield (left center) and defensive back Nasir Peoples (right) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Against Virginia Tech multiple true freshman got some playing time including running back Logan Diggs, wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr., Buchner and offensive tackle Joe Alt (who started). It seems like these three youngsters have really made strides during their short time in South Bend. Kelly has rewarded them with playing time and it should continue to rise over the second half of the season.
Continue to create depth for next year on defensive line
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 25: Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers tries to get off a pass as he’s hit by Blake Fisher #54 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Soldier Field on September 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jayson Ademilola, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, and Kurt Hinish all will most likely be moving on after this year. They are each big time contributors to the defense so defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will have to find some new stalwarts on the line. I love the potential of Rylie Mills, while Howard Cross has shown he’s got a solid future as well. Jordan Botelho has tons of upside, and he’s going to make mistakes but let him learn! Isaiah Foskey will return to be the star of the line, but in order for him to continue do keep up his high level of play, he’ll need his teammates to take the focus off him a bit.
Find a potential replacement for Kyle Hamilton
Nov 2, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Kyle Hamilton (14) intercepts a pass intended for Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Hezekiah Grimsley (6) in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t get me wrong, there is not one concern here at all about Hamilton’s play. He’s one of the best players in the country regardless of position. It’s the fact that Hamilton is most likely heading to the NFL after this year and he’s going to leave a huge hole in the secondary. Someone needs to be able to step into this place next year for the defense to continue to play at a high level. Freeman needs to find out who this will be and get them valuable experience.