Welcome back to the grind, I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July holiday as much as I did.
Did you know we're only roughly a month away from fall camp beginning?
How about a mere 61 days until the season opener?
We're inching closer to the 2011 season!
On Saturday, Eric Hansen had a nice article talking about Brian Kelly and how he dealt with some of the adversity last year, among other things.
It's a really good read, and one that is certain to get you jacked up for the season, so check it out if you haven't already.
In it, there were a few comments from the head coach that caught my attention concerning the quarterbacks:
"Nobody really wants to play more than one quarterback," Kelly said. "But in college football - more than you do in any other sport - sometimes you have two guys who have a skill set that can help you win. In Urban’s case, Chris Leak was very good, but he was not complete."
"If I had (Stanford’s) Andrew Luck, then there’s no question. We’ve got one guy, and all the other guys can watch from the sideline. But we don’t have that situation at Notre Dame. Neither did Urban, and he still won a national championship."
"I never work with four quarterbacks in the fall," Kelly said, "but because they’re so close, we’re going to develop all four of them. The thing about Andrew and Everett, in time, they may become that quarterback who can do everything. But they won’t be that guy when we open on Sept. 3."
These are some juicy comments right there and I'm going to read into them as much as possible.
First, I'm still a little bit afraid of the 2-QB system.
I had my doubts that Kelly and the offense would actually go through with it, but as the season approaches they seem to be getting more and more comfortable talking openly about bringing in the "change of pace" guy.
And although Chris Leak never really reached the status of a great college quarterback, I'm a little tired of him being sold short in this kind of situation.
Tebow ran for 317 yards against SEC teams, played extensive minutes where he threw the ball 21 times in mop-up duty against Central Florida and Western Kentucky, and tossed some goal line jump passes.
Although the history of that 2006 season has continued to be re-written with the accolades Tebow achieved later in his career, I've always felt that Florida was going to win that first championship under Urban Meyer with or without Tebow there.
He had a nice little role in 2006, but hardly anything that transformative.
That seasons title game against Ohio State pretty much backs this up, as Leak put together 213 yards on 25 of 36 passing, with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Tebow rushed for 39 yards at 3.9 per attempt and completed one goal line touchdown pass.
Moreover, the Florida defense holding Ohio State to 82 total yards and Troy Smith to a mere 4 completions, says a lot about what made that Gator team tick.
They win the title without playing Tebow that year...it's just Meyer probably felt a lot of pressure to play Tebow after (likely) promising him the world during the recruiting process.
So while I'm excited to see a mobile quarterback option come in to play this year for the Irish, I'm not sure it's necessary to win. Maybe it makes it a little easier, but I wouldn't really point to the 2006 Florida team as a great example of how it could work, particularly when they are the only team in recent memory to ever pull off such a system, and only with perhaps the game's greatest player too.
Secondly, it's interesting that Kelly says he doesn't have an Andrew Luck to work with.
It seems fairly obvious, but I'd imagine that can't make Dayne Crist feel all that great when Kelly is effectively announcing to the world that he doesn't have a legit number one quarterback.
Heck, he doesn't even need to make comparisons to Luck in this regard, at least in the way that he framed the answer.
Notre Dame doesn't have that one starting quarterback like the vast majority of college football where all the others will wait behind him?
Is that really the case?
Some of Kelly's other comments (including in this very Hansen piece) seem to contradict that kind of statement (i.e. alluding to the notion that the 2010 record would have been better without the injuries to Crist).
I mean I really, really like Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson as the long-term future at the position, but I continue to believe that Crist is being under-valued as a potential star at this level.
If he can stay healthy, would anyone be shocked to see Crist in the top 15 or 20 nationally in passing yards, touchdowns, and passer rating.
I know I won't be.
Perhaps he won't be Andrew Luck, but that seems like the type of performance that can win Notre Dame a title, no?
Maybe he doesn't live up to that, but I believe the offense will take a big step forward and Crist is going to benefit immensely from year two in this system. And if that happens, Crist should be getting some All-American attention (though it's not likely he gets that honor) and I'm not sure Notre Dame really "needs" a two-QB system in whatever form in order to win games.
Something just doesn't feel right about this, and I've felt that way about the quarterback situation for a while.
Kelly never works with four quarterbacks in the fall.
But now he will.
99.99% of successful teams at this level never play more than one QB.
But now Notre Dame will.
It feels like we're jumping down the rabbit hole a little bit, not really sure of what's going to be on the other side.
And this isn't something that is likely to end whenever Dayne Crist leaves South Bend.
To say nothing of Tommy Rees, we'll still have the battle royale between Hendrix and Golson for the bulk of the 2012-2014 snaps.
Like I said, I really like Andrew Hendrix...but for every positive thing we hear about him (Kelly fawning over his arm and mobility, scout team rave reviews, his spring game performance), there are little snippets of comments from the coach basically pushing Hendrix back and lumping him in with Golson.
Not that it's necessarily a bad thing to be lumped with a major talent like Golson, but still. Hendrix has been on campus for a full year, he's bigger, stronger, played great in his first viewing for Irish fans...yet Kelly claims to not have one go-to guy, but has apparently already ruled out Hendrix starting before August even gets here.
Of course that probably leads to Crist starting with Hendrix coming in as the Tebow-guy, like many believe, but some of this offseason quarterback competition isn't making some sense.
There have been whispers that Hendrix was uber-talented and a near-perfect fit for Kelly's system, that he was going to break out in his sophomore campaign and possibly challenge for the starting job in the fall.
But now with him not being that "guy" to start already a full 2 months before the season and before fall camp even begins, I'm starting to wonder what's going on.
Not that I suspect Kelly of any wrong doing or stupid decision making, but rather, this is a situation that looks like he's going to need every ounce of his political savvy to balance four talented quarterbacks and hold this depth chart together and keep them all hungry.
I hope he has some super glue and not Elmer's.
If you were curious, here is EA Sports ratings of the Irish quarterbacks for their upcoming release of NCAA Football 2011:
Not that EA really puts much time or effort into these rankings, since they annually butcher numerous players on the roster, but there it is nonetheless.
I like where Crist and Rees are, but I would have bumped up Hendrix and Golson about three or four points a piece in their overall rating. No way can two mobile quarterbacks with elite arms be rated that low, right?
Lastly, the freshmen numbers have been released and boy do we have some delightful digits for some players.
1 – Ishaq Williams
4 – George Atkinson
5 – Everett Golson
7 – Stephon Tuitt
16 – Davaris Daniels
18 – Ben Koyack
19 – Aaron Lynch
21 – Jalen Brown
27 – Kyle Brindza
30 – Ben Councell
33 – Cam McDaniel
34 – Eilar Hardy
41 – Matthias Farley
43 – Josh Atkinson
50 – Chase Hounshell
56 – Brad Carrico
56 – Anthony Rabasa
58 – Troy Niklas
59 – Jarrett Grace
65 – Conor Hanratty
69 – Tony Springmann
72 – Nick Martin
77 – Matt Hegarty
We already saw Ishaq, Golson, Lynch, Brindza, and Caricco with their new numbers during the spring game.
It appears this group of freshmen especially are kicking the traditional number system to the curb, and I like it!
Two tall and rangy edge rushers like Williams and Lynch with # 1 and # 19 respectively is greatness waiting to happen.
A behemoth like Tuitt wearing # 7?
That will redefine cool.
Koyack with # 18 will be neat to see for a tight end.
I can't wait to see Councell mucking it up with the linebackers with # 30 and Texas' own Cam McDaniel in the big # 33 jersey too.
In a couple years, Notre Dame will likely have a front line on defense consisting of Lynch-Nix-Tuitt-Williams.
Across the line that will be 19-9-7-1.
Those four players will likely end up redefining Notre Dame's defense in every way, including their numbers.