QB ConundrumRedshirt-freshman quarterback Everett Golson has the unique ability to turn a football field into his personal sandlot. It's a skill set that separates average and good QBs from stars at the college level, but I have a feeling the Irish coaching staff would like to see fewer examples of that in August when the play calls for a second mid-zone read…
Floyd need not be "replaced"It's shortsighted (and lazy) to continually point out that the Notre Dame offense has to replace Michael Floyd in 2012. Last year's team peaked offensively when it showcased Floyd, Tyler Eifert, Theo Riddick, and Cierre Wood. (Remember, T.J. Jones was inconsistent, John Goodman virtually absent, and Robby Toma didn't emerge until mid-season.)
Can Eifert, plus either Ben Koyack or Alex Welch, plus Jones, Riddick Toma, Goodman, and DaVaris Daniels, plus Wood and George Atkinson/Amir Carlisle, produce more points and third-down conversions when it counts than the limited group I noted above? Can the quarterback be a running threat? These are the relevant questions, not if the team can find the next Floyd, because none of the above is catching 100 passes.
More important: When Michael Floyd put up huge numbers over his four-year Irish career, the other team scored more points than Notre Dame. One star receiver can be a piece that puts a good team over the top, but his presence doesn't make a team good.
The will to run vs. willing to runA two tight end offense seems in the cards for 2012, at least for more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps. Coupled with a purported more physical approach from new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, and at least three road graders among the five starters up front (Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Braxston Cave), is there a chance the Irish finally commit to the power game?
I expect to see that approach vs. Navy and Purdue, but the true test will be if they stubbornly run on 3rd and 1 and 3rd and 2 vs. Michigan State in East Lansing, vs. Michigan in South Bend, and against Miami in Chicago.
If you see a preponderance of 3rd and 2 line checks and subsequent short throws by the Irish vs. the Spartans, you'll know "physical" and "Notre Dame" remains a relative comparison.
The running game is light year's better under Brian Kelly than it was under Charlie Weis, but it's still a "run when we can" and "keep the defense honest" attack, not one that imposes its will. Let's see a true attempt at the latter in 2013 – I promise fewer turnovers as a result.
Two related notes...What did Christian Lombard do to apparently decisively beat out Tate Nichols at RT, and is the Lombard at LG, Nichols at RT starting combo completely off the table?
My view of the battle between redshirt-freshman Nick Martin vs. 5th-year senior Mike Golic, Jr., for the starting right guard spot is similar to how I felt when then redshirt-sophomore Chris Watt was "battling" 5th-year senior guard Andrew Nuss for the starting nod on the left side in August 2011…I know it's a better sign if the youngster wins the spot outright.
12 down, 10 (not 9) to goIn case you missed a rather voluminous three-part series detailing Notre Dame's focus for rounding out the 2013 recruiting class, just note the following:
- The Ideal: three DL, two WR, three LB/Big Skill athletes, one CB, one RB named Ryan Green...
- The Acceptable: three DL, one WR, four LB/Big Skill athletes (including a true tight end), two CBs...
- The Acceptable but unlikely, not to mention challenging: two DL, one WR, one CB, six LB/Big Skill athletes (OLB/ILB/RB/TE/and hybrid safety types). Six such athletes would give Kelly the versatility he craves at the back end of the roster, especially if one can grow into a legitimate defensive end, even if just for 4-3 fronts.
Expect 10 more pledges rather than the oft-noted nine, as a Notre Dame player will transfer between now and National Signing Day 2013. It's nonsensical to think otherwise.
And for those of you with a lot of time on your hands, an extended lunch break, or an absentee boss, just click the links below for the full explanation of my numbers above: