Plenty of freshmen are making an impact during their first year at Notre Dame -- guys like Corey Robinson and Will Fuller, who each caught touchdowns on Saturday, or offensive lineman Steve Elmer, who started his first career game at right guard against Air Force. Linebacker Jaylon Smith's impact has been significant as well.
Those are just a few, but it's a group that -- if coach Brian Kelly can help it -- won't grow with four regular season games remaining.
Kelly rattled off quarterback Malik Zaire, offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey and inside linebacker Michael Deeb as guys he'd rather not play this year, but could if the circumstances are dire.
"Those are guys we don't want to put on the field unless it's a catastrophic situation with injuries," Kelly said.
Four freshmen started for Notre Dame against Air Force: Robinson, Fuller, Elmer and Smith; S Max Redfield, DB Devin Butler, WR James Onwualu, RB Tarean Folston, DB Cole Luke and DE Isaac Rochell all participated as well. That's the core group of freshman Notre Dame has used and will continue to use this season.
"By and large, these are the guys we decided we wanted to play," Kelly said. "We felt they could help our football team in 2013."