You were getting a little worried that Kelly wasn't going to name a starter at quarterback before the season started, weren't you? Fear not, the depth chart has been settled Irish fans.
Well, for the time being that is.
If you've missed any of the previous installments click on the hyperlinks below:
Now let's talk about those quarterbacks on the roster.
Depth chart listed after the jump.
Everett Golson, Sophomore*, 6'0" 185
Andrew Hendrix, Junior*, 6'2" 220
Gunner Kiel, Freshman, 6'4" 210
Tommy Rees, Junior, 6'2" 210
*Let's start with Rees who has fallen to the bottom of the depth chart due to his one-game suspension. Is he going to be back in the mix by the time the Purdue game rolls around?
At this point it's highly doubtful. I stated before that we haven't seen the last of Tommy Rees, but I think we have in terms of him starting ahead of everyone else on the roster---except if there are major injuries.
He's not going to be able to get enough practice reps to even seriously challenge the others in any of the games for the beginning third of the season. Once we make our way into the middle of the season and he still hasn't seen the field, the answer will become obvious.
Thursday August 23, 2012 will be an important date because it officially announced a new direction for the Notre Dame offense. Rees will be a trusted backup and teacher, but he's likely 3rd on the depth chart through 2013.
*Gunner Kiel's future is the most intriguing in my opinion. There are some whispers that he could play his way into some action this year but I'd bet he's almost a stone-cold lock to run the scout team all year and preserve a year of eligibility.
But what happens next year, particularly if Everett Golson has a successful year?
Kiel has a long time left in his career, but he's also possibly looking at an awfully long time before he's the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. Moreover, due to his high profile high school career, interesting recruitment, and NFL skill-set, I believe Kiel is most likely to transfer.
That seems to be the reality right now, but as we often see with college depth charts, it doesn't take long for things to change in radical fashion.
*Immediately following the announcement of Golson as the 2012 starter, we had a FanPost asking the OFD community whether Andrew Hendrix will/should/might transfer. In some ways it makes sense since he was a highly touted recruit who took his lumps as a freshman, but has found himself on the wrong end of back-to-back quarterback competitions.
As most of the OFD community has stated, it is highly unlikely that Hendrix transfers. Sure he was behind Crist, then behind Rees, and now behind Golson, but he may be a solidified 2nd stringer this year and for the foreseeable future. That's not a terrible position to be in, particularly if Golson can't stay healthy.
*Now, for some words on Everett Golson.
I know we're not supposed to expect much from a redshirt freshman, that he's completely inexperienced, and there's always an infatuation with the guy who hasn't played---but this kid is going to be special.
Here are some talking points:
- Huge Upgrade in Arm Talent
Golson has a very strong arm, and better yet, he's accurate and a natural passer. This could do wonders for an offense that has seen scatter-shot consistency through the first two years of Kelly's tenure.
No balls being skipped to receivers, but balls delivered quicker to receivers on screens, and the ability to make all the throws? That's a big boost for the offense, and it can't be understated.
Imagine a quarterback who can not only complete the deep post that was featured in Burger's profile of Golson from the Blue Gold Game, but can also do so on a consistent basis. Imagine a quarterback who can consistently push the ball down field in places for athletes like DaVaris Daniels and Chris Brown to make plays, or a quarterback who throws screens to Davonte Neal in the right spot with natural ease.
There are so many little areas with Golson's arm that I think he's going to make a big impact in the passing game. And for as inexperienced as he is, his arm and the ability to be consistent with screens, fades, deep balls, etc. might make up for that lack of playing time right off the bat.
- Perfect Fit for the Offense
As much as Golson's throwing skills are impressive, his mobility is enticing and a big part of his game as well.
With Golson as the starter now the whole playbook opens up. Now teams can't drop 8 defenders and expect the Irish QB to stand in one spot if all the receivers are covered. Now the quarterback can roll out and deliver balls down field and not wobbly ducks ripe for picking off. Now defenses have to respect that the Notre Dame quarterback will keep the ball on option reads and will scamper for yards and touchdowns.
When this mobility factor is added to Golson's passing skills, you can't tell me it's not scintillating. I'm not sure he'll run for a lot of yards, but even one or two decent runs per game can make a huge difference. Plus, his quickness and ability to buy time in the pocket are going to be further additions to the offense that have been missing for years.
- Golson Will Be Very Good Sooner Rather than Later
This isn't to say that Golson won't struggle in 2012, but I don't think we'll have to wait until the middle of his second season as starter to see a very productive quarterback.
Some may point to the first-year struggles of Jimmy Clausen and Brady Quinn, but neither was surrounded by the amount of talent that Golson is right now, and that doesn't factor in the chance that Golson just might be flat out more dynamic of a college player that those guys.
- Freshman All-American Season Wouldn't Surprise Me
Have I gone off the reservation and am I hyping Golson too much at this point?
I know people will see the All-American status and think it's ridiculous, but you don't have to be a star to gain that selection. Shoot, Aaron Lynch barely played in half the games last year, had one dominant game, was invisible for long stretches, and he still made Freshman All-American. Plus, there really aren't that many true freshman or redshirt freshman starters around the country so Golson won't have a ton of competition.
So what should we expect from Golson this season?
First, I want to say that there's a chance that the offense takes a step forward in relation to Kelly's first two seasons. I know for some that seems counter-intuitive with a first-year starter but I absolutely believe Golson raises the ceiling and production levels for everyone on offense and that the 2012 squad isn't limited to under 3,300 passing yards, 413 yards per game, and under 30 points per game simply because that's what happened last year and there's no way the team can do better with a new QB.
Second, we've talked about in the past how it was likely that Brian Kelly was going to figure out the quarterback position and when that happens we're going to see some explosive offense from the Irish. We've seen tiny glimpses since 2010, but with Golson the offense is now ready to operate with full power.
Again, that's not to say this is all going to happen from the first snap against Navy but I think we're going to start looking at the Notre Dame offense much differently now with Golson at quarterback.
Notre Dame could drop 50 on the military academies last year, but how about dropping a 50-spot on teams like Pitt, Wake Forest, or Boston College? That's the kind of improved offense that, despite even struggling against the top opponents like last year, the Irish can now threaten against more teams on the schedule.
So that's what I see with Golson. Obviously I am very high on him, and I understand if others aren't quite there yet as he hasn't played in a game in his career. But I believe he opens up the running game, he's a great passer, and he's improved since coming in as an early enrollee two springs ago.
He's the real deal and will be playing in a stat-friendly spread offense with a good offensive line, and plenty of playmakers. I'm telling you he will be dangerous this season, very dangerous.
Remember in the past when we'd all argue around the point that if Golson doesn't grab the starting spot then maybe we'd have to realize that he's just not as good as we think? Well, he's grabbed the starting spot now.
Think of all the issues surrounding this kid. Can he stay healthy---he has through a lot of practices while being live and taking hits. Does he have good decision making and can he protect the ball---he only threw 3 interceptions this fall. Can he run the offense and get the plays in efficiently---Kelly said this won't be a problem.
We're talking about one of the most prolific high school quarterbacks in American history, someone who's stats were on par with Jimmy Clausen's while also playing at a more competitive level as a prep star. He's shined in the big moments in high school and he's looked like a future star through two Blue Gold Games.
Now he's grabbed the starter position, teammates are throwing around phrases like 'the most talented human being I've ever seen' and he puts a big smile on Brian Kelly's face.
I'm not trying to convince anyone but there's been an awful lot of evidence pointing towards Notre Dame having a superstar in the making about to start at quarterback.
I won't make any statistical predictions but 3,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns won't surprise me in the least bit this season, even if it's not quite realistic for 2012.
HERE'S THE OFFICIALLY RELEASED DEPTH CHART FOR THE NAVY GAME:
QB- Golson, Hendrix
RB- Riddick, G. Atkinson
WR- Jones, Daniels
WR- Goodman, D. Smith
WR- Toma, Neal
TE- Eifert, Koyack, Niklas
LT- Z. Martin, Stanley
LG- Watt, Hanratty
C- Cave, Golic, Jr, Hegarty
RG- Golic, Jr, Hanratty
RT- Lombard, N. Martin
DE- Lewis-Moore, Day
NT- Nix, Schwenke
DE- Tuitt, Hounshell
OLB- Shembo, I. Williams, Rabasa
MLB- Fox, Grace, Schmidt
MLB- Te'o, Grace, Moore
OLB- Councell, Okwara
CB- Russell, J. Atkinson
CB- Jackson, J. Brown
FS- Motta, Farley
SS- Slaughter, Salvi
PR- Neal, Goodman, Riddick
KR- G. Atkinson, Riddick, McDaniel
P- Turk, Brindza
PK- Tausch, Brindza
LS- Cowart, Daly
SSn- Cowart, Daly
HLD- Turk, Massa