It's been an interesting week for Brian Kelly at practice.
The Irish practiced without all four players -- CB KeiVarae Russell, WR DaVaris Daniels, DL Ishaq Williams and LB Kendall Moore -- during their afternoon practice on Friday, and at least got a glimpse at what life might be like without them.
Russell will be the most difficult player to replace for new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. A potential All-American after starting 26 consecutive games, Russell's absence likely means sophomore Cole Luke fills his place. Florida transfer Cody Riggs seems to be entrenched as the other starter at the position, but moving Luke up a line means a lot more snaps for sophomore Devin Butler or senior Josh Atkinson.
Losing Daniels is also a major blow, as he was not only the team's leading returning receiver, but a deep threat who was Golson's big-play target when the Irish turned in an undefeated regular season in 2012. The rest of the receiving corps is young and inexperienced, made worse by the fact that Torii Hunter Jr. is out the next month with a groin injury.
Corey Robinson and Will Fuller likely will see an increase in playing time with Chris Brown, Justin Brent and Corey Holmes also factoring into the rotation. None have seen much game action.
Williams doesn't have the resume that either Daniels or Russell do but was slotted in as a defensive end starter on the latest depth chart. Considering true freshman Andrew Trumbetti is also starting at defensive end, the Notre Dame defense will also be young and inexperienced up front. Either junior Romeo Okwara or sophomore Isaac Rochell figure to get first shot at replacing Williams.
Moore wasn't set to be a starter, but he figured to see quality playing time as a backup and on special teams. Sophomore Doug Randolph likely steps up to take his playing time after Kelly said Thursday that Greer Martini had won the backup job to starter Jaylon Smith on the weakside.
It might be a tough season ahead if Notre Dame is missing key contributors on both sides of the ball, but at least Kelly and his staff have a few days to figure out a plan of action before the opener on Aug. 30 against Rice.
Here are nine other things you need to know from Friday's camps:
- Miami (Fla.) head coach Al Golden said earlier that safety Rayshawn Jenkins is out for the year with a back injury. The junior made 12 starts last season but missed all of spring practice. Dallas Crawford and Deon Bush were listed on the most recent Hurricanes depth chart as the starters at safety.
- One tandem who could make the Maryland receiving corps even deeper is Lavern and Tavion Jacobs. The brothers are a pair of locals (one a junior, the other a redshirt freshman) who have drawn rave reviews during camp and could find some playing time behind the dynamic duo of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. The Terps are moving to the Big Ten, but they'll be bringing with them a very good passing attack this season.
- On Thursday night at his press conference, Nick Saban was surprisingly not asked about the Crimson Tide's quarterback situation. The coach was not forthcoming as one could guess, but did note both Jacob Coker and Blake Sims would receive an equal amount of snaps over the next week.
- Georgia coach Mark Richt hasn't said a peep about wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell's status for the opener against Clemson. The second-team All-SEC pick is still dealing with a knee injury.
- Former Arkansas linebacker Otha Peters made it to Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday. He decided to transfer to be closer to family, but limited playing time with the Razorbacks might have been a factor, as well. He'll have to sit out 2014 pending any waiver submission.
- Washington held a closed practice on Friday, but did put a new spin on things by holding the practice at the Seattle Seahawks' facilities. Chris Petersen surely hopes some of that winning magic the team had last season is able to rub off on the Huskies.
- Duke held an 80-play scrimmage and head coach David Cutcliffe seemed pleased at the results. "I really loved our energy," he said. "A lot of positive things. I think our defense was cohesive." Quarterback Anthony Boone went a reported 8-of-15 for 90 yards, while running back Jackson Conway was the leading rusher with 42 yards on the ground.
- Michigan held a team scrimmage earlier this week and true freshman cornerback Jabrill Peppers was one of the standouts according to reports that have trickled in since. From the sounds of things, the Wolverines might be solidifying most of their depth chart at this point in camp.
- Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze confirmed the worst possible news for defensive back Carlos Davis on Friday, that his ACL is in fact torn. The junior cornerback, who tweeted news of his injury to former Rebels teammate and Indianapolis Colts rookie Donte Moncrief, will miss the season in rehab. It was exactly the news Ole Miss didn't need as the Rebels lost another cornerback for the year, Tee Shepard, to toe surgery. Senquez Golson and Mike Hilton are the likely starters at corner for Ole Miss, but having two backups out for the year creates a depth problem. Suffice it to say Rebels fans will have fingers crossed for a healthy season for both starters.