The players reported for camp Friday morning, will start practice on Saturday, and head coach Brian Kelly held his annual fall press conference at high noon.
The 2011 season has officially begun.
This year's offering was not as exciting as last year, since we had obviously never seen Kelly in this position before. However, we did learn some things today and damn it if we aren't going to talk about the stuff that piqued our interest.
To the Goog!
Year two means working on fundamentals, looking at schemes situationally, and focusing on football. The players know what the coaches want and vice versa.
That's the year two jump.
He likes the experience and depth on both sides of the ball.
Don't we all. The question might not be if the lines will dominate, but how much?
All four quarterbacks can compete and try to help the team win.
Why do I get the feeling that Everett Golson won't be redshirted?
Cam Roberson and Lane Clelland are out for the year.
That's not new news for Roberson, but it is unfortunate for Clelland who will have to be asked back for fifth year in 2012 if he is to play again for the Irish. This injury should open the door for someone like Christian Lombard to get more playing time.
The team will get behind whoever plays quarterback because they are here to win.
Subtly, one of the strongest things Kelly said during his press conference.
Strength and conditioning of both lines looks great.
The expectations are amped up for both lines. Will we be disappointed?
Lack of depth at running back and wide receiver means freshmen will get a shot.
Naturally, and even though the lack of depth is bad, watching some talented freshmen fight for some spots will be interesting to watch during the fall.
The starting QB will be known two weeks before the season. They will prep for USF from there until September 3rd.
This is a good idea, as last year Kelly said they probably waited too long to start prepping for Purdue. Personally, I don't think we'll be waiting too long to know who is going to start.
Kelly and the players aren't satisfied with being ranked in the preseason. He wants to be talked about as the top team in the country and in the hunt for a national title. That's the goal. He doesn't walk around with his "Top 25" tee-shirt on.
LOL at that last comment. Every Irish coach has to say this because it's true but Kelly the politician always says it better than his predecessors.
Crist and Rees will not be hit. Hendrix will be a little bit, while Golson will be live.
This signals to me that Hendrix is definitely going to be the change of pace guy. Hendrix will be hit during the fall, but not too much because Kelly wants him healthy for the season. Golson had problems with ball security per Kelly, and needs to get used to being hit.
There will be game day captains.
I've always liked when a team brings out one player as a captain at games. Such a more powerful sign.
Harrison Smith, Ethan Johnson, Manti Te'o, Gary Gray, and Robert Blanton are leaders on defense. Crist, Rees, and Jonas Gray show great leadership on offense.
The most important of this group may be Jonas Gray. The team needs him in many ways this fall.
Kelly likes the offensive line, and four really good playmakers in Wood, Floyd, Riddick and Eifert. The team needs more consistent play from the quarterback position.
This is a good way of putting things. With better play at quarterback the offense could be very good in 2011.
He really likes the depth and experience on the defensive line, and being able to use someone like Ethan Johnson more effectively---which they weren't always able to do last year.
I'm sensing a theme, no?
The university makes it clear they want players to graduate and represent Notre Dame properly. He doesn't recruit kids who won't be able to swim in the competitive classrooms on campus.
Again, Kelly's media suave pays off when answering questions about possibly bringing in players of lesser repute to win games.
The team is confident, but has a tough schedule and has to stay focused all season long.
I'm excited to see a confident team that is fully prepared for USF.
Depth at running back is a concern, but they know what Wood can offer. Freshmen McDaniel and Atkinson will fight for the third position, but the key will be Jonas Gray who should be a power back like Hughes but with better speed.
There seems to be a lot of people who are high on Gray, and just as many that are low on him. I think I'm in between. He's never really been given the opportunity to get in a rhythm and run the ball a lot in his career. I think he'll do well this year, but probably not great.
Guys who didn't get a lot of hype coming in like Hounshell, Springmann, and Farley really impressed during summer workouts.
Here are three less heralded players to watch out for.
Louis Nix has matured and will be able to get significant reps at his current weight.
Big Lou is going to make a big impact this year.
Kelly learned last year that he can lean on his offensive line, control the clock, and run the football. They don't always have to be a team that chucks it all over the field, and can slow down if need be.
How interesting!!?!? I believe this will be Kelly's natural evolution at Notre Dame and a smart one. Most of the time, the team should run a fast no-huddle offense and take it to teams with aggressive play. However, it is probably just as important to be able to slow things down at times---and I'm not just talking when there is a big lead for the Irish. Being able to jerk a team back and forth between the two styles throughout a game could be much more effective than doing one style all game long.
Concerning the offensive line, he feels good about Mike Golic, Lombard has a ton of potential, and Watt looks to be a starter.
That's nice to hear about Golic as he may be needed at center if there's an injury to Cave. Lombard will likely have a role similar to Watt last year. Watt himself is likely to be a very good left guard this season.
There was a clear directive to the staff when he took over to build up both lines.
But why not just announce that the team will play nasty instead? Sorry Charlie....
The team is confident because of the way they won to finish 2010. Now players are leading and it has created a snow ball effect of overall team confidence.
Yeah it seems like coach-speak and all that, but it's been a long time since a Notre Dame team finished a season that strong with that many wins, and then brought back the bulk of those players. Good things are likely to come from such confidence.
The quarterback situation is a difficult one to handle with four guys who think they can play.
Yeah, no kidding.
The middle linebacker spot next to Te'o is up for grabs, but Kelly likes the players fighting for time there.
Calabrese is still the likely leader, but it shouldn't surprise anyone if multiple guys play next to Te'o this year.
He's not worried about Crist running the ball, but he wants him to have escapability.
Sounds like we're likely to see a gameplan similar to last year. Very few opportunities for Crist to take the ball on the option read and not many quarterback draws and such. It still seems like Kelly knows Crist is his number one guy and wants to protect him, yet shouldn't he let it all hang out with other quarterbacks believing they can play and help the team win too?
The goal is a BCS bowl, there is no other bar to be set at Notre Dame.
I get the sense Kelly really wants to get to a BCS bowl this year and very soon.
The offense went stale because Crist was injured. The offense revolves around the quarterback's knowledge and comfort in the system and playing a true freshman meant scaling back things late last year.
Kelly probably wants another week or two to see what progress was made by the quarterbacks during the summer, but it's pretty clear who he thinks is the leader. Of course it seems obvious that the offense would have to be scaled back with a true freshman, but Crist had the same amount of knowledge in the system and hardly any advantage in experience stepping on a college field.
PLAYER WEIGHT DIFFERENCES
CB Blanton- 200 (+4)
DT Cwynar- 285 (+5)
OT Dever- 301 (+4)
TE Eifert- 249 (+7)
OLB Filer- 245 (+10)
OLB Fleming- 255 (+5)
WR Floyd- 224 (-3)
OLB Fox- 240 (+10)
TE J. Golic- 245 (+10)
DE Heggie- 280 (+10)
QB Hendrix- 220 (+2)
CB Jackson- 185 (+4)
DE Lewis-Moore- 300 (+5)
OT Z. Martin- 303 (+3)
NG Nix- 326 (-14)
TE Ragone- 250 (+5)
QB Rees- 215 (+5)
OG Robinson- 311 (+11)
NG Stockton- 290 (-12)
WR Toma- 185 (+10)
WR Walker- 206 (+4)
NG H. Williams- 295 (+10)
RB C. Wood- 215 (+5)
CB L. Wood- 195 (+13)
NEW FRESHMAN WEIGHTS (Differences from Rivals listing)
WR/RB G. Atkinson- 200 (+6)
CB J. Atkinson- 185 (+5)
K/P Brindza- 219 (+24)
CB Brown- 198 (+25)
OT Carrico- 290 (+20)
OLB Councell- 230 (+5)
QB Golson- 185 (+15)
OG Hanratty- 315 (+10)
S Hardy- 177 (+2)
OT Hegarty- 291 (+26)
DE Hounshell- 265 (+23)
TE Koyack- 253 (+23)
DE Lynch- 255 (+25)
OG N. Martin- 280 (+20)
RB McDaniel- 192 (-)
OLB Niklas- 250 (+7)
WR Daniels- 185 (-)
WR Farley- 194 (-)
MLB Grace- 240 (-)
OLB Rabasa- 240 (+20)
DT Springmann- 280 (+23)
DE Tuitt- 295 (+35) BEAST MODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OLB I. Williams- 265 (+20)
*The presumed starting offensive line are now all 300 pounds or more and in the best shape of their lives.
*Cwynar has added some weight and is now healthy. That will be big for the team as he plays an important role at nose guard.
*Floyd shed a little bit of weight, just like last year.
*With Lewis-Moore now at 3 bills, both starting defensive ends are 300 pounds.
*Lo Wood added a lot of much needed weight for a smaller player who is likely to see a lot of action this year.
*Jalen Brown at nearly 200 pounds is a great sign he'll be in the mix this year. That's great size for a freshman corner.
*Councell at only 230 is a little surprising. He could be struggling to put on weight as some players do, or the staff wants him to retain his speed---which is his biggest asset right now.
*Umm, Ben Koyack is now the team's biggest tight end as a true freshman. Scary!
*Eliar Hardy is listed at only a quarter inch over 5'11" and is awfully skinny. He was listed at 6'1" by some services.
*Nick Martin is a big, big boy. I hope he's in really good shape at that weight.
*Daniels at only 185 is pretty skinny. He's also listed at six foot one and a half---not nearly as big as previously believed.
*Grace and Rabasa already at 240 is outstanding news for the future of the linebackers.
*Words can't describe how big Stephon Tuitt must be right now. If he understands the defense he is going to play a lot and be a possible freshman All-American.