After a long season filled with positives, the conclusion left us disappointed. The Clemson game was a heart-breaker for all Irish fans, although that didn’t need to be spelled out. In addition, losing such a strong core to the NFL draft is another area of concern. The list includes: DL Jerry Tillery (28 T 8.5 TFL 7 SK), CB Julian Love (63 T 1 INT 1 FF), LB Te’Von Coney (123 T 9.5 TFL 4.0 SK), and Notre Dame captain LB Drue Tranquill (86 T 9.0 TFL 4.0 PBU). Those are only a few of the Irish departures, and that’s only on the defensive side of the ball! On offense, they’re losing RB Dexter Williams (YDS: 995 TD: 13 RECYDS: 133) and WR Miles Boykin (REC: 59 YDS: 872 TD: 8), two key offensive contributors. The Irish will also be losing the heart and soul of Notre Dame special teams in P Tyler Newsome (44.7 P AVG) and K Justin Yoon ( 95.3% XPM 80.8% FGM) with both declaring for the NFL Draft.
However, the show must go on. The first step moving forward came when we were finally able to watch the beloved Notre Dame Blue and Gold spring game. It’s been a while since we had a taste of some ND football and it’s always an exciting game to watch. The player who stood out the most was Jahmir Smith, the 19-year-old running back out of Stanford, North Carolina. The sophomore looked electric during the game with 56 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He rolled off the line well and rushed for most of his yards after contact. After only one appearance in the 2018 season (Stanford), there’s a good chance we will see a lot more of him over the next couple of seasons. Jafar Armstrong and Chase Claypool also played very well. Fans could see big things from them this season with them stepping into larger roles. The defensive line was consistently blowing up the opposing lines and finished the spring game with a whopping 12 sacks (15 total sacks). The biggest downside of the game was sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Even though it was just a spring game, you could tell nerves ate him alive throughout the entirety of it. When he wasn’t taking too much time to move the ball, everything was either underthrown, overthrown, or rushed. I see great things in his future, but after the Wimbush transfer, it’s a little nerve-wracking knowing he is the steady backup at the quarterback spot.
With only 139 days until the regular season kicks off, I’ve already been looking through the schedule. I’ve noticed that it is similar to every other year – tough. To make matters worse, the Irish play seven teams coming off of their respective bye weeks. New Mexico (9/14), Bowling Green (10/5), USC (10/12), Virginia Tech (11/2), Duke (11/9), Navy (11/16), and Boston College (11/23) will all go to battle with the Irish well-rested. Georgia has a cake walk against Arkansas State before hosting the Irish. The only break, if you can even call it that, is Michigan who goes to battle with Penn State the week before the Irish head to Ann Arbor. All in all, Irish fans should be looking forward to the upcoming 2019 season.
Featured Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire