Getty Images - Jonathan Daniel

Molnar talks QBs


Offensive coordinator Charley Molnar, now with a load slightly lighter thanks to Ed Warinner’s promotion to run game coordinator, talked about his quarterbacks yesterday, shedding light on the four-man race this spring.

Much was made of the decision to roll four quarterbacks, with Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson joining part-time starters Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees in the rotation for reps this spring. But head coach Brian Kelly mentioned the time he committed to scripting plays with his offensive coordinator this spring, working to install packages for each of his four options, and building a knowledge base that’ll help each one of them contribute (if needed) come fall.

While Dayne Crist has taken most of the first team reps this spring with Rees working behind him, Molnar and Kelly have taken to shaking things up in as spring heads into its final 10 days.

“We mixed it up,” Molnar said yesterday. “Tommy took first team reps, Andrew Hendrix took first team reps. Nothing’s etched in stone. Everybody is going to get a chance as we go through this last week to work with the first team. To be really fair in our judgment, you want to work with the best offensive line, the best receivers, and the best tight end.”

With Crist coming off another knee surgery and Rees a somewhat proven commodity, all four quarterbacks continue to get the reps they’ll need to develop, though that won’t stay the case forever, essentially pitting Hendrix in a battle with Golson for snaps as the dual-threat quarterback option.

“I really believe we’ll have enough time to do it,” Molnar said. “We get enough reps in practice that I don’t think anybody’s really being shortchanged at this time. Eventually we’re going have to narrow a field down to three rather than four. When that time comes, you’ll see it and Coach Kelly or I will let you now what we’re doing.”

Until then, both Golson and Hendrix will take live reps with the defense, working to install the running portions of the spread option into an offense that missed that element last season with Crist and Rees.

Kelly has a reputation for playing a lot of quarterbacks, but someone would have to get injured, or perform well below expectations for all four to take consistent snaps. That said, if you’re building a program, you’re building it on competition, which is why you spend the time to give all four quarterbacks reps with the No. 1 offense. Could you imagine a quarterback like Zach Frazer getting reps with the No. 1 offense when he was fighting for playing time? (Or any of the quarterbacks behind Jimmy Clausen or Brady Quinn for that matter?)

Golson or Hendrix will see the fall next spring, but it’ll likely be in an option role. The quarterback that can do that best, as well as keep the defense honest, will be the guy taking the specialty snaps when Crist or Rees is out of the game.

Drue Tranquill named first-team Academic All-American

Drue Tranquill

Drue Tranquill was named a first-team Academic All-American. The junior safety, who returned from his second major knee injury during his three-year career, earned the honors after posting a 3.74 GPA in mechanical engineering.

Tranquill is Notre Dame’s first academic All-American since Corey Robinson earned the honor after the 2014 season. He finished second on the team in tackles with 79 and lead the team in solo stops with 52. He also had two TFLs and an interception.

Tranquill is Notre Dame’s 60th Academic All-American, the third-most of any school behind Nebraska and Penn State. He’s active in the university community, serving as a mentor for the Core Leadership Team for Lifeworks Ministry, and is a member of Notre Dame Christian Athletes. He is a also member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and Rosenthal Leadership Academy.


Postseason Mailbag: Now Open

SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 12: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly leads his team onto the field before the start of their game against Army in a NCAA college football game at the Alamodome on November 12, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

It’s been too long. Let’s talk about the season, the decisions ahead and where Notre Dame stands after its nightmare of a 2016 season.

Drop your questions on Twitter @KeithArnold or in the comments below.



If you’re interested in hearing my recap on the USC game and where Notre Dame’s goes now that the season is over, give a listen to the latest episode of Blown Coverage, with Newsweek’s John Walters. 


Report: Zaire set to depart with graduate transfer

Malik Zaire

The wheels are in motion for Malik Zaire‘s exit from Notre Dame. What felt like an inevitability after Zaire lost out to DeShone Kizer after the Texas game is now a reality, as the Ohio native is expected to receive his release tomorrow, according to a report from Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated.

Sampson identified four programs as potential landing spots for Zaire: Florida, Pitt, Michigan State and Wisconsin, Power Five programs that all had better seasons (minus the Spartans) than Notre Dame. All have uncertainty atop their quarterback depth chart, though none look like guaranteed jobs.

With Notre Dame out of a bowl, Zaire can get a jump start on looking around, capable of taking visits and finding a home after the semester. That would let him join a program in time for spring drills, where he’d compete and be able to play out his final year of eligibility.

When Zaire leaves he’ll join a line of recent quarterbacks to finish their eligibility elsewhere. Dayne Crist, Andrew Hendrix, Gunner Kiel and Everett Golson all either played or were recruited by Brian Kelly and finished their careers elsewhere. That could leave a scenario—one many predict—where the top-two on Notre Dame’s depth chart depart, Kizer to the NFL and Zaire elsewhere, turning the keys over to Brandon Wimbush who redshirted this season.

Tillery apologizes for actions during USC game

Jerry Tillery 247

Sophomore Jerry Tillery issued an apology for two controversial incidents against USC. Notre Dame’s defensive tackle was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a referee caught him stepping on Zach Banner‘s ankle. Cameras also spotted him intentionally hitting Aca’Cedric Ware‘s head after the Trojan running back was injured after a collision with Nicco Fertitta.

Tillery wrote on Twitter:

“I want to take full responsibility for my actions on Saturday. I am truly sorry. I acted in a way that was out of character for me. What I displayed in those two instances were completely unbecoming and not indicative of the kind of player or person I am. My actions in those two instances do not represent what my family or Notre Dame has molded me to be. I want to especially apologize to Aca’Cedric, Zach, their families and anyone else affected by what I did. I assure you I will learn and grow from this moment and become a better man because of it.”

While the backlash on social media has been harsh, USC head coach Clay Helton downplayed it.

“It was a poor decision by a young person. I know it’s not Notre Dame football and I know that’s not Brian Kelly,” Helton said. “He’s been a class act the whole way and I know he’ll address it with his player and handle it in a way that he sees fit. I have always found Brian to be a man of class and integrity.”

Ware himself responded via Twitter, doing his best to put the incident to rest.

Kelly stated after the game that he’d review the incidents, both plays Kelly didn’t see happen live. With the season over, Tillery’s discipline will be handled internally.