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Leftovers & Links: Notre Dame’s offseason comes to a close

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 13 Notre Dame Spring Game

SOUTH BEND, IN - APRIL 13: Notre Dame Fighting Irish players gather for in a huddle prior to game action during the Notre Dame Football Blue and Gold Spring game on April 13, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By no means is your offseason over. Just because Notre Dame will begin practice Sunday and Irish head coach Brian Kelly will meet with the media tomorrow, you do not have to stop enjoying your weekends. Frankly, blue-and-gold concerns will not infringe on those until mid-September.

August does not mark the end of summer, yet it does somehow still mark the beginning of fall. This space can no longer lazily churn out a player profile-per-day, and you should no longer opt to read only the ones that catch your interest. (Kudos to anyone who read all 85 of this year’s “99-to-2” entries.”) It is time to focus on actual football-related items, fresh material, things primarily looking forward to September rather than back on past performances.

Let’s tend to housekeeping first …

Notre Dame will begin practice Sunday, the earliest possible date allowed by the NCAA with a Sept. 2 season opener. The Irish will have one day off per week until they face Louisville on Labor Day (8 p.m. ET; ESPN), a game which will not only be played in the dark of primetime, but also in front of darkened Cardinals stands: Louisville announces blackout for Labor Day opener vs. Irish

After spending the first week of practices at Culver Academy, about 45 minutes south of South Bend, Notre Dame will have a new luxury at its disposal on campus if weather makes it necessary.

Per Irish Sports Daily’s Matt Freeman, Irish sophomore defensive tackle Ja’Mion Franklin is clear for preseason practices after tearing his quad last September. While expectations should still be tempered for a 308-pounder with only a few collegiate snaps, and no tackles, under his belt, a healthy Franklin still provides Notre Dame with needed — yes, this scribe considered placing desperately before that “needed” — depth along the defensive interior. As is, the Irish have only four fully-healthy defensive tackles, one of which is early-enrolled freshman Jacob Lacey. Another of the quartet, junior Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, missed the 11 games last year between the opener and the Cotton Bowl after breaking his foot against Michigan. Franklin, the fifth potential piece, could provide defensive line coach Mike Elston a bit better sleep over the next month if he is indeed full-go.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 55 Ja’Mion Franklin

When might that defensive line depth be first needed, at least genuinely? How about 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 21? Notre Dame’s trip to Georgia has been announced as a primetime affair, which is of note given CBS gets only one primetime SEC game a year and usually devotes it, understandably so, to Alabama vs. LSU.

The decision is an obvious one after looking at both the Irish and Bulldogs’ schedules leading up to that meeting. Notre Dame faces Louisville and New Mexico, arguably an easier pair than Georgia’s trio of Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State. Sept. 21 should feature a top-10 matchup, something not as expected in early November when the Tigers head to Tuscaloosa.

The hedges are still close to two months away, though, and even the Irish season opener is 32 days away yet. No need to spend all your time thinking about football already, but it is once more socially-acceptable, even expected, to bring it up in conversation.