With the season right around the corner it is time to bring back the Midweek Musings, and it's a jam-packed first edition.
XAVIER WATTS BACK TO RECEIVER
Notre Dame suffered a big loss this past week when veteran wide receiver and team captain Avery Davis was lost to a season-ending knee injury. Notre Dame had depth issues at receiver prior to Davis going down, and this only makes matters worse.
There are things Notre Dame can do with its tight ends and running backs that helps overcome the loss, and the remaining receivers on the roster clearly need to step up their game. Sophomore Lorenzo Styles and fifth-year senior Braden Lenzy have much greater pressure on them now.
On Saturday's Irish Breakdown show we discussed the potential moves to make, and the first was moving safety (and former wide receiver) Xavier Watts back to wide receiver. Today it was made official, Watts has moved back to wide receiver after earning action at safety last season.
Watts was recruited to Notre Dame to play wideout, but for whatever reason the previous receivers coach never gave the Nebraska native the opportunity to shine. Watts ultimately moved to safety last season when injuries devastated that position group. He's once again on the move, but this time it should be different.
I highly doubt Watts agrees to this move without getting some sort of guarantee about playing time, especially since he was certain to be part of the rotation at safety.
While this might seem to some as nothing more than a depth move, I actually think this move could end up being a major boost to the Irish offense. Watts is a talented athlete, and one I've always felt fit in best at wide receiver. He's a unique talent, and a year ago at this time he was playing wideout for the Irish, so he steps into a playbook he has familiarity with.
Watts moving is important because he can physically help right now, and he should be able to make a quick adjustment. Beyond that, the skillset that caused me to grade him out as a four-star recruit is something the current receiver depth chart doesn't have much of.
The 6-0, 193-pound receiver was an electric after-the-catch player in high school, which helped him haul in 61 passes for 1,072 yards (17.6 YPC) and 13 touchdowns as a senior, 67 catches for 1,093 yards (16.3 YPC) and 14 touchdowns as a junior, and 35 catches for 813 yards (23.2 YPC) and nine touchdowns as a sophomore.
Watts is not a burner, but he is quick, elusive and very strong for his size. He also shows an excellent feel for getting open before the catch and with the ball in his hands. Despite being just 6-0, Watts also has a knack for making plays in contested situations, which is why he could fit into the boundary position as well.
If given the opportunity I believe Watts can not only give depth snaps, he can turn into a productive player, one that could combine with Styles and Lenzy to give the Irish a dynamic trio to the field, which would then allow Jayden Thomas to get even more action in the boundary.
NOTRE DAME DISRESPECT CONTINUES
It's almost college football season, which means its time for ESPN to take their shots on Notre Dame. Paul Finebaum's uninformed rant isn't worth addressing, but he's not alone at the world wide leader.
It would seem the national media is also suffering from a case of BKPTSD, assuming that even with Brian Kelly gone the Irish are still going to get dominated in big games. It seems many are ignoring the losses Ohio State has suffered while harping on Notre Dame's.
At the end of the day this will continue, and somewhat understandably, until Notre Dame proves them wrong. They will get their shot on September 3rd, there's no doubt about that.
2022 SEC PREDICTIONS
Predictions for the SEC for the 2022 season.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
2. Tennessee Volunteers
3. Kentucky Wildcats
4. Florida Gators
5. South Carolina Gamecocks
6. Missouri Tigers
7. Vanderbilt Commodores
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Arkansas Razorbacks
3. Mississippi State Bulldogs
4. Texas A&M Aggies
5. Ole Miss Rebels
6. LSU Tigers
7. Auburn Tigers
SEC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama over Georgia
The top teams in each division was an easy selection, but after that there could be a lot of movement. Tennessee could surprise a lot of folks this season, and I'm surprised they aren't a consensus preseason Top 25 team. I liked Kentucky a lot last season, but losing OC Liam Coen could prove to be problematic and drop the Wildcats down a bit. Don't be surprised if South Carolina is better than expected and jumps up a spot or two.
I'm on the Arkansas bandwagon this year. They are a physical team, well coached and I dig KJ Jefferson at quarterback. Mike Leach and MSU are going to surprise some folks this year, and Texas A&M is poised for another disappointing season. LSU and Auburn will battle for the basement spot.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
One-on-one with wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Notre Dame is without wide receiver Avery Davis, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. We broke down the options for Notre Dame with him out.
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