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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
What we learned about Notre Dame

By Brian Bennett

Much of Notre Dame's first spring under new coach Brian Kelly wasn't for public consumption. The media received brief glimpses of practice in addition to one open scrimmage and the annual spring game. Still, a few things could be gleaned from the Irish this spring:

1. Kelly has made his mark: This was always Kelly's dream job, and he has ingratiated himself in the Notre Dame community quickly and impressively. He's also instilled a toughness about the team. He proudly pointed to the fact that every player practiced this spring, even the ones who were coming off of surgeries. Kelly understands all the many things it takes to be the Notre Dame coach; now all he has to do is win.

2. T.J. Jones is ready to compete now: The freshman wide receiver and January enrollee had a terrific spring, and Kelly said Jones would be a starter if the season started today. He had four catches for 56 yards and a score in the spring game. It looks like he's primed for a standout first season and a great career.

3. Offense won't be a problem: Sure, the Irish are breaking in Dayne Crist at quarterback, but he figures to improve as he gains more mobility in his surgically repaired knee. The receiving corps is deep with Michael Floyd, Jones, Shaq Evans, John Goodman, Duval Kamara and Theo Riddick, who was moved from running back to slot receiver. Armando Allen is a solid lead running back, while Cierre Wood did some good things in the spring game. And Kyle Rudolph is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the nation. Add in Kelly's offensive mind, and Notre Dame won't hurt for points in its new spread offense this season. The key, again, will be making sure the defense comes along for the ride.