1 – The Running Backs: Or, as of today, Tony and the Joneses.

With Dexter Williams likely out for the first third of the season, Tony Jones, Jr. ranks as the only runner on the roster with field experience. Brian Kelly appears nonplussed by his running back situation, noting to und.com early this week that Chip Long’s Irish offense has “plenty of ‘backs.”

In that case, is it more likely that five ‘backs that aren’t able to distinguish from each other are generally quite good? Or instead closer to pedestrian?

It’s time for at least two to separate from the unproven quintet as camp progresses. Our early money is on redshirt-freshman Jafar Armstrong, especially at this juncture when the grind of camp and daily wear and tear should not be evident.

2 – The Freshmen: The media has been privy only to Day One – aka, when it’s impossible for a freshman to know what he’s doing.

In past Augusts, the wheat had begun to separate itself from the chaff by this point, as Greer Martini (2014), Josh Adams (2015), Julian Love (2016), and Robert Hainsey (2017) had each distinguished enough to secure varsity roles by the time their respective squads left Culver Academies. (Notable, in that none among them were early enrollees.)

Derrik Allen, Bo Bauer, Shayne Simon, Kevin Austin, and Lawrence Keys – plus the early enrollees led by Houston Griffith – top our list of likely suspects to watch Thursday morning in South Bend.

3 – Ade Ogundeji and Donte Vaughn – Wait, don’t hang up if you’re a casual fan. This pair of juniors replaced fifth year seniors Jay Hayes and Nick Watkins, at strong side defensive end and cornerback, respectively. Both are, as a result, default members of the defensive two deep.

Both have to prove worthy of such merit as either could be called upon in a pinch against Michigan – and certainly both will have to contribute over the long haul.

4 – The Rovers: Has senior Asmar Bilal secured the job? Can he stay on the field in situations other than 1st and 10 or obvious run? Has athlete Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah begun to somewhat grasp the playbook as a redshirt-freshman? Is former safety Isaiah Robertson still working at the position? Is true freshman Shayne Simon making waves?

Drue Tranquill’s moved to Buck left a void at the Rover position, one from which Notre Dame enjoyed consistent, sometimes spectacular production last fall. Who among the quartet will step up in Tranquill’s stead?

5 – Brandon Wimbush: Because – to channel the Irish Illustrated podcast’s off-season motto – if not…what are we doing here?

The senior is under the microscope until the Wolverines board their bus out of South Bend.

6 – Alex Bars: Most fans want to hear about new starter Liam Eichenberg, the tackle to Bars’ left. Others want to know how redshirt-freshmen Josh Lugg and Aaron Banks are progressing.

Colleagues I talk to are monitoring the progress of redshirt-sophomore Tommy Kraemer as a guard (right) rather than tackle in tandem with Robert Hainsey – after all, Kraemer is technically the highest ranked prep prospect on the Irish roster.

I want to see Bars dominate. Because if Alex Bars is just fine (again) rather than outstanding as a fifth-year senior guard, this offense isn’t going anywhere past nine…maybe eight wins.

Some players well equipped to take the proverbial “leap” must do so this year for the 2018 squad to be special. Bars is near the top of that list.