20 Thoughts, Part II

Wondering what the offense will look like next Saturday in Dublin? How about at mid-season? Who'll emerge from a crowded backfield, from an unproven but promising group of receivers, and who can't the Irish afford to lose up front? We have 10 more such musings in this, the conclusion of our stream of consciousness columns regarding the 2012 Irish offense.

Click here for Part I and #s 1-10

11 -- Without hesitation, the offense can hang its proverbial hat on the following starters, listed in order: tight end, left tackle, running back, left guard, center…I could logically argue against everyone else. It is however fair to expect quality tight end depth, running back depth, and better quarterback play.

12 -- Irisheyes.com's projected percentages that one quarterback takes each of the team's meaningful snaps this fall? How about 1 percent? Odds that two share the duties over the long haul? 88 percent. Three QBs? 10 percent. Four overall? back to a 1 percent likelihood.

13 I'm in the minority, but I believe the quarterback's early season roles are clearly defined: Everett Golson will be the starter receiving 90 percent of the snaps until he proves worthy/ineffective and Andrew Hendrix will be used as a change-of-pace, one more likely to run by a 2/1 ratio than to pass. Look for Hendrix to play a traditional backup role vs. the Midshipmen before the tactic of keeping defenses off balance with a heavy dose of read-option keepers, goal line designed runs, and the occasionally play-action pass debuts in Week Three at Michigan State.

14 Can head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin consistently and effectively work No. 3 runner George Atkinson into the weekly mix? A blueprint for three 'backs can be found in the 2000 BCS squad that enjoyed 162 rushes from leader Julius Jones, 132 from 1A Tony Fisher (both future pros) and third-man-in Terrance Howard (75). Quarterback Matt LoVecchio ran 72 time as well. Then again, that team ran a combined 538 times and passed just 200. That won't be the case this fall.

Assuming he simply had a spring fumbling problem and he's not, instead, "a fumbler" Atkinson, the team's fastest player and offense's biggest 'back, needs to be on the field for the offense to reach its full potential…there's just not much room at the Running Back Inn.

15 -- Expect redshirt-freshman DaVaris Daniels to be the team's first receiver off the bench for Navy. Look for the Daniels/Brown package later in the contest, but Daniels will be a more regular member of the rotation from the outset.

16 -- 5th-year senior guard Mike Golic, Jr. is purportedly one of the offense's most improved players. Kelly noted earlier this month that Golic had taken "every first team snap" at the position. He appears more confident, leaner but bigger, and ready to roll. But if this is all hearsay, Notre Dame's offensive front is going to be in trouble at Michigan State in Week Three and also vulnerable in Week Two vs. Purdue's undervalued defensive line.

17 -- If sophomore transfer Amir Carlisle is unable to practice intermittently at present, what are the odds he forges ahead of George Atkinson at running back, Davonte' Neal at slot receiver, or any number of RB/WR cogs such as Theo Riddick, Robby Toma, or T.J. Jones? A redshirt-season seems fitting for Carlisle who would then compete with Atkinson for a lead role in 2013 and 2014, and still have eligibility through 2015.

18 -- Outside of the quarterback position, the greatest "pressure to produce" situations include: Golic, Riddick, Goodman, Daniels, right tackle Christian Lombard (assumed solid, but with no proof) and tight end Troy Niklas, who's transition from linebacker to tight end will be a talking point in September as he looks to impact the team's rushing attack.

19 -- What's more important: a 15 yards per catch average on about 20-25 grabs from DaVaris Daniels, or a combined 70 catches from the Goodman/Jones veteran duo? I'll go with the former, because total receptions are a useless stat in today's pass-happy game.

20 -- Notre Dame was 15 for 20 when it passed in third-and-short (3 yards or fewer to move the chains) situations last fall; 26 for 37 when it ran. Its fair to say Tommy Rees' ability to check to the correct play, pass protection, and quick, accurate throw contributed heavily to the 15-20 effort through the air. Its equally likely that the threat of the Golson/Hendrix keeper will improve an already solid 26 for 37 effort in the same situation this fall.

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