ND released the official Depth Chart for the tech game yesterday evening, along with 65 pages of pregame notes on both the Irish and the Yellowjackets. Some kneejerk commentary on the roster:
• You've got to love the creative writing at Quarterback. ("Sharpley OR Jones OR Clausen")
• Sophomore Darrin Walls over 5th year senior Ambrose Wooden at cornerback is the only true surprise. We had heard good things about Wooden during the spring and fall camps. Is Wooden banged up? Or did Walls just beat him out? Either way, it sure is nice to have depth at cornerback. On a sidenote, Walls already logged some time against Georgia Tech (famously sent on the field last year as a true freshman to cover Calvin Johnson.)
• Plenty of freshmen making their way up the depth chart, especially at the tackle and linebacker spots: Taylor Dever at right tackle, Matt Romine at left tackle, Brian Smith and Kerry Neal at outside linebacker, Armando Allen at running back (in another OR situation), Brandon Walker at kicker, Ian Williams at nose tackle, and of course, Jimmy Clausen at quarterback.
• 5th year senior Joe Brockington and sophomore Toryan Smith are co-starters at inside linebacker. My guess is look for a rotation between the experienced vet and the promising youngster.
• Mo Richardson is John Ryan's backup, rather than a contender for the starting spot opposite him. On that side we have Anthony Vernaglia as a clear starter at OLB with freshmen backups. Interesting.
• Starters by class (not including the QB):
- 5th year: 6
- Senior: 4
- Junior: 6
- Sophomore: 5
- Freshman: 0
• Two youngsters on kickoff return: Armando Allen and Golden Tate. ND has a reason to keep the grass short this year.
• Receiver X and Receiver Z. Generally speaking, the X is like the old split end, usually split wide, on the line, and on the opposite side of the tight end. The Z is like the old flanker position, usually off the line and on the same side as the tight end. Typically the Z is your best receiver, and putting him off the line gives him some buffer to avoid jams, and you can also motion him around.
For the past two years, Z has been Samardzija, while Stovall played the X in '05 and McKnight played the X last year. This year Grimes is the Z, and West is the X. Filling in on three wide receiver sets will be Hord or Parris, and as we've seen from Charlie's offensive organization, other guys could be subbing in for specific personnel groups.
• Some might be surprised to see lacrosse star Will Yeatman as the #2 tight end over Konrad Reuland. But remember, he was technically the #3 TE last year behind Carlson and Freeman. That being said, expect both to play plenty and see a number of passes thrown their way.
• No Ryan Burkhart on the 2-deep at kicker.
• Plenty of beef on the OL. All but Wenger are over 300 bills. (As much as roster weights can be trusted.)
• And last but not least, please welcome back a familiar face, for an encore performance, one season only...ladies and gentlemen, on the punt return...give it up for...Tommy ZbiKOWski!