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Leftovers & Links: Let’s talk about Peacock ... and Notre Dame’s QBs and defensive leaders

Jack Coan

Notre Dame will finish its 15 spring practices on Saturday with its annual Blue-Gold Game. The in-Stadium attendance will be limited to only students, faculty and staff, but there is reason to hope this is the last such instance of such precautions.

So for you and me and our parents and neighbors and friends and enemies to watch, we will need to familiarize ourselves with NBC’s Peacock streaming app before Saturday at 12:30 ET. The game will be broadcast exclusively on Peacock.

Let’s take a step behind the NBC curtain for a moment, and by that I mean, let’s show you how foolishly trusting my bosses are. Late last week, I dropped an email asking if there was any particular information I should be sure to note this week re: Peacock. The very simple response was to remind us all of the tune-in messaging and that was about it.

Dropping a quick link won’t drive a word count, though, will it?

Might you be frustrated by needing to find a new app to watch a simple spring practice? Perhaps, but in years past, you had to remember if you had NBCSN, and if so, what number channel it was. NBCSN costs money as part of a cable package. The Blue-Gold Game will be aired on Peacock’s free platform.

Don’t tell anyone at Comcast Universal, but yours truly terminated his cable (once again) as part of a recent residence move. Know what you do not need to sign up for Peacock? A cable subscription, so it genuinely is free. You need an email address and a 10-character password. Maybe 10 characters gets annoying, but enter it once and forget it forever.

Now to put the foolishly in “foolishly trusting,” we’ll skip any over-handed salesmanship here. Sure, via Peacock you can spend years with Norm Peterson and then more with Martin Crane, but maybe you have no tolerance for jackets and chairs with matching elbow patches. And yes, I have been personally impressed by the playback interface, but that is a relatively small thing when it comes to streaming services.

The only salesmanship that matters this week is: To watch Notre Dame on Saturday, you will need to install and sign up for Peacock. To install it, just go to wherever you installed Netflix or Amazon Prime or YouTube TV or Quibi — okay, maybe not Quibi — and search for Peacock. And if you have any trouble, chime in on the comments here and I will do my best to devote some time each day this week to helping out. Unless that help is requested by my parents; ask my godson.

Much of my help will come in the form of citing this how-to guide, which starts by pointing out you can stream Peacock via most web browsers alone. So if you can read this, you can watch Peacock.

Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees was reluctant to compare Notre Dame’s all-time winningest quarterback to the Wisconsin graduate transfer yet to officially win the starting job, and understandably so. But when he was asked to last week, Rees still did.

“Some of the things that made Ian (Book) great was the creativity, his ability to extend plays, his ability to buy time to get the ball outside,” Rees said. “One of Jack (Coan’s) strengths is playing from the pocket. Seeing things, he’s got an excellent feel within the pocket in terms of when to climb up, when to slide, when to move, and his eyes never seem to dip.”

More bluntly, Book was underrated as a dual-threat quarterback, while Coan makes his living behind his offensive line. Some may worry about that behind an inexperienced offensive line, but a roving and unpredictable quarterback can actually be harder to block for. With Coan, the possible freshman starters should know where they need to be and where their quarterback is in relation. Furthermore, as impressive as the stat is that Liam Eichenberg did not give up a sack the last two seasons, some of that was due to Book evading a few. Those lines were excellent, but Book’s mobility made them better.

Beyond Book’s eagerness to leave the pocket and Coan’s willingness to stand tall …

“[Coan] does a nice job of keeping a level focus down the field and being able to drive the ball to different areas of the field,” Rees said of his arm strength. “Is he the creator or runner that Ian is? Probably not. Does he do some things in the pocket where he is able to operate there that maybe Ian didn’t always do? Probably.

“They’re both really good players in their own right. It’s just going to be a different approach in how the quarterback position is coached.”

The first piece of this anecdote is something that will undoubtedly come up with some occasional regularity over the next few years: New Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has known cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens since high school, and they coached together at Cincinnati before Mickens arrived in South Bend a year ago. When Freeman was considering joining Brian Kelly’s staff, Mickens was obviously somebody he consulted, and after Freeman was hired, Mickens gave him the first overviews of the roster.

The second piece of this anecdote is what stands out, though. If asking a cornerbacks coach who to look out for on defense, you would think he might mention a … cornerback. If asking who is a leader on the defense, maybe the cornerbacks coach would go so far as to highlight All-American junior safety Kyle Hamilton.

Mickens singled out fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.

“I said, ‘I need to know who the leaders are and who has been the leaders in previous seasons of this defense,’” Freeman said when talking with Mickens after being hired. “One of the guys [Mickens] said was Myron. I remember reaching out to Myron and what an infectious attitude and energy the guy gives off.”

That is a testament to Tagovailoa-Amosa, as is Freeman’s willingness to defer to Tagovailoa-Amosa’s personal want in moving to end.

“In my head, you can come back and be the defensive tackle and (Kurt) Hinish the nose (tackle) and let’s go,” Freeman said. “[Defensive line coach Mike Elston] talked about [Tagovailoa-Amosa] wanting to play the defensive end position. He’s athletic enough. He was a little big, but he’s lost 15 pounds from last season in order to make that transition from inside at the tackle spot to playing outside at end. He’s done an excellent job. He would tell you he loves being at the end position.”

Maybe Tagovailoa-Amosa ends up a captain, maybe not. That team vote can be hard to predict, and every instinct suggests the defensive line already has a representative in the hard-nosed Hinish, but quite clearly, the coaching staff trusts Tagovailoa-Amosa on and off the field.

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