Davie talks about the Notre Dame hot seat

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Few people are as qualified to talk about life on the Notre Dame hot seat as well as Bob Davie. Out of college coaching since he was relieved of his head coaching duties, Davie now broadcasts football games for ESPN and ABC.

Davie was on ESPN Radio this morning with Colin Cowherd to discuss the situation and had some interesting insights into what’s going on.

It’s a feeding frenzy right now,” Davie said. The real problem you have if your Charlie Weis, because I certainly felt it is,  one-half of the people sitting up there wearing the Notre Dame jerseys during the game, half the student body, half the alumni, maybe half of your own team, can kind of be hoping maybe you do lose, just to make the decision an easy one. It permeates everything you do, it just becomes so negative and you really do feel like its us against the world.

If you take the pulse of the average Notre Dame fan right now, I think that’s the exact situation the team is in right now, and a very big reason why Weis was correct in just establishing tunnel vision and keeping his team focused on the challenge ahead.

Davie also weighed in on what it’s like dealing with the Notre Dame administration in a time like this. While the people on top of the university have changed since Davie was head coach, last season’s uncertainty at least makes you think that the M.O. hasn’t changed.

“The administration becomes very quiet, there’s very little feedback, because they’re right now figuring out their plan, Davie said. He’s sitting right on the bubble, you would hope you’d have the next three game, potentially the bowl game, to figure out your fate so you can do it on the field, but you start to panic a little bit administratively, because things start happening.”

Davie pointed to the scrum for Urban Meyer when Notre Dame was looking to hire a coach after they fired Tyrone Willingham, and how many felt it was the inaction of the university brass that contributed to Meyer taking the Florida job over the Notre Dame offer. For the record, Davie thought that Meyer wouldn’t have taken the job regardless of the time frame or money.

One of the more interesting points Davie made was when he also talked about how difficult it was to build an elite defense at Notre Dame, which is interesting because Davie seemingly always struggled with his offensive production, not necessarily putting together a capable defensive unit. He thought the difficulty bringing elite defenders onto campus crystallized the issues that Notre Dame has when trying to become a truly elite football programs again.

“They want to be all things to all people. They want to be an Ivy League kind of setting, the Catholic university, it’s about doing everything right, everything structured. That’s not really defense. Defense is blowing guys up, attacking guys and living on the edge. It’s not really about talent, it’s about the culture, that’s there on the campus, kind of like at Stanford. You’re going to get offensive guys, you’re going to be able to perform offensively, because that’s the kind of guys you’re going to get.

I’d argue that Davie failed at Notre Dame because he wasn’t able to get the type of explosive offensive performers needed to win, in large part because he never adapted to the new offensive innovations that were taking over college football. Yet Davie actually advocates that Notre Dame should switch back to an option-based, running, ball-control attack.

“You can’t throw the ball any better than Notre Dame throws it right now. They’ve got three first round guys that touch the ball every time… Does the offense match and help the defense? That’s what it comes down to winning. They might be better off in a scheme like Georgia Tech, that helps the defense.

“You get a guy like Brady Quinn coached up, and he’s really good and Notre Dame is really good, and then he graduates. You have peaks and valleys because you’re in a system that’s very NFL oriented, but it’s hard to have the next guy that way. It took time to get Brady Quinn to be Brady Quinn. It took time for JImmy Clausen to be Jimmy Clausen. So the system needs to be geared a little bit more to run the ball.

“In the big picture, you need to help the defense, you need to play great special teams. It takes a unique guy to have the right kind of mindset and lack of ego in some ways to know how to win at ND.”

Therein lies the double-edged sword. Notre Dame wouldn’t have the offensive weapons if they didn’t play Charlie Weis’ NFL system. While it may be complicated, it may take developmental time, it’s a system that talented high school recruits want to play because they’re convinced it’ll get the to the NFL.

If Notre Dame switches to an offensive attack like Georgia Tech, they’ll still run into the same problems on defense, and while they’ll be masked more by the protection they’ll get from a running clock and a risk averse offense, they’ll still need to find a defensive coordinator that can coach up players and get the in position to make plays.

Notre Dame gets 10 invites to NFL Scouting Combine

2013 NFL Combine
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Notre Dame will send ten former players to the NFL Scouting Combine. The annual event in Indianapolis serves as the unofficial apex of draft season, a meat-market where the best professional prospects are poked, prodded, questioned and tested in a variety of on- and off-field drills.

Heading to the festivities from Notre Dame are:

Chris Brown, WR
Sheldon Day, DT
Will Fuller, WR
Nick Martin, C
Romeo Okwara, DE
C.J. Prosise, RB
KeiVarae Russell, CB
Elijah Shumate, S
Jaylon Smith, OLB
Ronnie Stanley, OT

For a prospect like Smith, it’ll be teams first opportunity to talk to the elite prospect and check his progress medically as he returns from a Fiesta Bowl knee injury. Russell will also be a non-participant in physical drills, waiting until Notre Dame’s Pro Day to go through testing.

Invites to Chris Brown, Romeo Okwara and Elijah Shumate are crucial in finding their way into the draft, as the three former Irish starters participated in the Shrine Bowl, where scouts had an early look at them. Likewise, Nick Martin and Sheldon Day continue their ascent, both coming off strong Senior Bowl weeks.

For Irish fans, it’ll be fun to watch early-enrollees Fuller and Prosise test. Both are expected to be some of the fastest players at their position. Brown may also have the ability to surprise teams, with his track background and leaping ability capable of earning him an extended look. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley will look to impress as well, hoping to check out as one of the draft’s most impressive athletes at offensive tackle.

Ohio State led all schools with 14 invites. National Champion Alabama had nine former players invited.

 

WR Corey Robinson named Notre Dame student body president

Notre Dame v Florida State
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On Wednesday, wide receiver Corey Robinson added another impressive title to his resume as a student-athlete at Notre Dame: Student Body President.

The junior, paired with classmate Becca Blais as his vice presidential running mate, won a majority of the votes cast by his fellow students, a runaway winner with 59.4% of the votes, nearly triple the next highest vote getter.

Robinson posted the following on Twitter, thankful for the opportunity to serve his fellow students:

Robinson’s time at Notre Dame has been filled with accomplishments both on and off the field. He was named an Academic All-American as a sophomore. He’s a six-time Dean’s List member in the prestigious Program of Liberal Studies and is also pursuing a sustainability minor. He’s won the team’s Rockne Student-Athlete Award as well.

That’s quite a bit on the plate of Notre Dame’s lone senior wide receiver. But as you might expect, Robinson is well prepared for the next challenge ahead.

“I’ve planned ahead, gotten all of my hard work out of the way this semester, and I’m finishing up my senior thesis,” Robinson told The Observer. “I’m doing all the hard stuff now so in the fall and the spring, I just have to take two classes pretty much.”

Robinson’s other contributions as a student-athlete at Notre Dame include One Shirt one Body, an opportunity for college athletes to donate their athletic apparel to local communities. Robinson has presented the plan to the ACC as well as the NCAA, earning immediate support from both organizations.

 

Mailbag: Now Open (scheduling input requested)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JUNE 01:  Actors Mike Myers (L) and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth from "Wayne's World" onstage during the 17th annual MTV Movie Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre on June 1, 2008 in Universal City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Okay folks, we’ve had enough semi-positive encouragement to keep the video mailbag going for another week. With that said, I’ll need some reader participation to keep this thing rolling on.

As always, submit your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold. You can also ask your questions live via Facebook. You’ll need to LIKE THIS PAGE first, and then at the appropriate time, head on over to watch and participate.

To that point, let’s pick a time that works for everyone. Right now, here are the options that work at Inside the Irish HQ.  Weigh in and the best time wins. (How’s that for a democracy?)

***

 

Restocking the roster: Offensive Line

Notre Dame offensive line
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When Notre Dame takes the field this spring, there’ll be two very large holes in the offensive line that need filling. All-American left tackle Ronnie Stanley is gone. As is captain Nick Martin at center. Both three-year starters leave Harry Hiestand with some big decisions to make in the coming months as the Irish look to fill those key positions and still field a unit with the ability to dominate in the trenches.

The Irish have had incredible stability at left tackle, with Stanley sliding in seamlessly after four seasons of Zack Martin. Perhaps the best six-year run in the program’s storied history at the position, Stanley will likely join Martin as a first-rounder, back-to-back starters at a key spot that often dictates the play of one of the most important units on the field.

Replacing Nick Martin could prove equally tricky. Rising junior Sam Mustipher served as Martin’s backup in 2015, filing in capably for Martin after an ankle sprain took him off the field briefly against UMass. But Mustipher will face a challenge this spring from rising sophomore Tristen Hoge, the first true center recruited by Hiestand and Brian Kelly since they arrived in South Bend.

Kelly talked about 2017 being a big cycle on the recruiting trail for restocking the offensive line. You can see why when you look at the depth, particularly at tackle. Let’s look at the work that’s been done the previous two classes as Notre Dame continues to be one of the premier programs recruiting in the trenches.

 

DEPARTURES
Ronnie Stanley
, Sr. (39 starts)
Nick Martin, Grad Student (37 starts)

2015-16 ADDITIONS
Tristen Hoge
, C
Trevor Ruhland
, G
Jerry Tillery
, T
Parker Boudreaux
, G
Tommy Kraemer
, T
Liam Eichenberg
, T

PRE-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Hunter Bivin, T
Quenton Nelson, LG
Sam Mustipher, C
Steve Elmer, RG
Mike McGlinchey, RT

Alex Bars*, T
Colin McGovern*, G/T
Mark Harrell*, C/G
Tristen Hoge*, C
John Montelus*, G
Jimmy Byrne*, G
Trevor Ruhland*, G

*Has an additional year of eligibility remaining. 

ANALYSIS:
It’ll be a fascinating spring up front for the offensive line. We’ll get our first look at potential replacements and see if the Irish staff values a veteran presence (as it has done in the past) or puts former blue-chip recruits in position to become multi-year starters.

For now, I’m putting last season’s backups in line to ascend to starting spots. That’s not to say I think that’s what’ll happen. Hunter Bivin may have been Stanley’s backup last season, but as long as Alex Bars is fully recovered from his broken ankle, I think he’s the best bet to step into that job. Sharing reps at guard—not a natural spot for Bars to begin with—was more about getting him some experience, with the aim to move him into the lineup in 2016. That allows Bivin to be a key swing reserve, capable of playing on either the right or left side.

At center, the decision is less clear cut—especially since we’ve yet to see Tristen Hoge play a snap of football. Size and strength is a genuine concern at the point of attack for Hoge, not necessarily the biggest guy hitting campus. But it sounds like he’s had a nice first season from a developmental standpoint, and if he’s a true technician at the position, he could be a rare four-year starter at center if he’s able to pull ahead of Mustipher this spring.

On paper, the other three starting jobs don’t seem to be in question. Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey are ready to step to the forefront. Concerns about Steve Elmer’s buy-in will certainly be answered by spring, there’s little chance he’ll be on the field in March if he’s not going to be around in August. I’m of the mind that Elmer’s too good of a character guy to leave the program, even if his life doesn’t revolve around football 24/7. Now it’s time for him to clean up some of the flaws in his game, the only starter from last season who held back the Irish from being a truly elite group.

Depth isn’t necessarily a concern, but there isn’t a ton of it at tackle. That happens when you move a guy like Jerry Tillery to defensive line and lose a player like Stanley with a year of eligibility remaining. That could force the Irish to cross-train someone like Colin McGovern, a veteran who can swing inside or out if needed. McGovern seems to be a guy who would start in a lot of other programs, but has struggled to crack a two-deep that’s now filled with former blue-chip recruits, all of them essentially handpicked by Hiestand and Kelly.