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Practice Report: Day Five update

Mar 29, 2012, 10:42 AM EDT

Andrew Hendrix Stanford

With one third of spring practice finished, the team at gave us a much anticipated update on the quarterback battle, the main storyline of spring practice. With some nice footage of all four quarterbacks competing, it’s clear that head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin are truly going back to the basics and making sure they reteach the guiding principles of this offense after last season’s turnovers kept the Irish from being more successful.

Starting at square one and reteaching isn’t just the only thing the Irish are doing. With the change to Martin, the offense will also be given more structure.

“We want our guys to be instinctual at the quarterback position,” Kelly told “There was a little too much thinking, too much programming, a little too much open for the quarterback to interpret. We’re going to get away from that. We’re going to control it a lot more. We can make sure we’re not open to interpretation. By the time we get through spring, we’re going to see our guys reacting and not thinking too much.”

That change could be a large one heading forward, and also likely signals a shift away from the read and react nature of the offense, which saw the Irish make a decision based on defensive personnel as opposed to playing quickly and forcing the defense to react.

Here are some observations from the practice video, a well edited piece of footage that does its best not to give anything to opposing teams likely just as interested in the quarterback battle brewing in South Bend.

  • 0:13 — Nicely done, Jack Nolan. Another piece of Notre Dame garb and a perfect weather report. Watch out, Brick Tamland.
  • 0:33 — A nice look at Kelly working with Gunner Kiel, going through the basics while Martin and Andrew Hendrix work in the background.
  • 1:12 — A nice look at multiple throws by both Hendrix and Everett Golson. Drawing too many conclusions from watching guys throw zero-step drop slants is pretty silly, but you can tell the contrasting styles pretty quickly, with Hendrix muscling throws while Golson looks smoother.
  • 1:45 — First look at walk-on quarterback Charlie Fiessinger (No. 17) who joined the program from Moeller high school, where he will once again serve as Hendrix’s back-up.
  • 1:56 — There’s our Amir Carlisle spotting for the day, his crutches on the ground as he watches drills and catches off for the quarterbacks.
  • 2:15 — While previewing Tommy Rees, it’s interesting to see the Irish run the stretch playaction play from under center, something we didn’t see much of the last two seasons. If there’s a revealing bit of film in all of this, I guess this qualifies.
  • 3:20 — Bravo to Andrew Hendrix, who acknowledged that he’s still learning the offense and needs to get better. The shift to Chuck Martin should pay dividends for Hendrix, who is still pretty raw as he enters his third year in the program.
  • 3:47 — A little Everett Golson run play to get Irish fans salivating.
  • 4:19 — Gunner Kiel showing why any freshman under center is scary, with a snap bobbling from his hands before getting it back under control. (Thanks edit team — trying to give us flashbacks?)
  • 4:45 — What a genuine sounding kid.
  • 5:00 — Looks like Chuck could play QB if needed. Nice work on the playaction drop back.
  • 5:50 — If you look carefully, it doesn’t look like Everett Golson throws with the seams, gripping them with his left hand and unloading with the backside of the football.
  • 6:05 — And the key statement by Kelly, acknowledging the need to get the QBs to play better: “We’ve really gone back to the basics with our quarterbacks. When we turn the football over as many times as we did we have to go back and really reteach all the principles,” Kelly said. We’re going to back things up and get back to the basics of this offense.”
  • 6:30 — No opposing coach is going to gain an advantage out of watching this Football 101 drill, with ND playing this segment pretty close to the vest. I don’t think we’ve seen a throw over 10 yards or anything more than a three step drop.


  1. NotreDan - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Damn I like that Golson kid.

    After seeing this, I really think it’s a 3-man race. Gunner is too green.

    It was interesting on the one out that TR threw, it hit the guys shoelaces, looks like his arm strength might not have improved much.

    So interesting, all the experience riding with the guy who has the least physical ability.

    Just hope they fix the turnovers… without them, would have been a different year last, and without them, will be a different year this.

    GO IRISH!!!

    • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      Football Observations
      1: AH looks to have worked on his throwing motion. That’s a good thing
      2. Sorry; Still don’t see what others see in the way of a beefed up TR.
      3. God I hope it’s Golson
      4. Kiel seems like a bright, intelligent, truly nice guy.

      Non Football Observations:
      1. Jack Nolan has the best job in the world
      2. Thought BK hails from Boston? Sounds like a good ol’fashion Chicago accent to me.
      3. Chicago trivia: “grochkee” = Garage Key

      • NotreDan - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:07 PM

        Nudist you never change… you have to tack some junk on to an early post in a reply, that has nothing to do with that post. I think you have an obsession with being seen. Maybe you’re looking for acceptance, but most likely, you’re not green and gold, Mr critical.

    • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 9:52 PM

      Actually NotreDan I was having a problem with my screen
      Could not scroll all the way down
      Sorry bud

  2. 04domergrad - Mar 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    I could not get over that Golson doesn’t grip the laces when he throws. Since he’s already a small guy with what looks likes small hands, this concerns me. His throwing motion where he brings the ball low in his wind-up is prone for getting stripped or even slipping out on a wet day. And after last season, turnovers are my biggest fear.

    I suppose now that the bandwagon has shifted to Golson from Hendrix after his subpar performance at the end of last season, a few Golson turnovers will surely anoint Gunner as the “real” savior…

    • dmac4real - Mar 29, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Wanted Golson to start since losing to UofM. This isnt just a phase fans are going through, most are legitimately wanting him to be the future for 4 years.

      • 04domergrad - Mar 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        You were in the minority then. This time last year, Crist and Rees were battling it out for the starting job. Crist was the clear fan favorite and won the job. Then he had a mediocre half against USF and got yanked. Before we can react, Rees comes in and has solid production in the second half. New fan favorite. The guy wins, stick with Tommy. Eventually, Rees fails to produce, so Hendrix is the new fan favorite. A few flashes of brilliance against AF and he’s “the guy.” Then Hendrix fails to produce against Stanford, FSU… Golson is the new fan favorite. A few flashes of brilliance in the spring game last year (all we’ve seen) so he has to be the guy.

        Anyone else noticing a pattern here? There’s a direct negative correlation between playing time and fan sentiment. The less we’ve seen of a guy, the more we pine for him. When Golson plays and struggles (as every new quarterback will), how long until we call for Gunner?

        I’ll let the coaches decide who starts against Navy this fall, but my only hope is that whoever it is gets a longer leash than Dayne got last year. QB controversies kill teams.

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        You make many good points here 04 domer. But there are things you’re omitting Rees, Crist and Golson. It is obvious to even the untrained eye Rees is not a D-I QB. He has an average arm and zero mobility. None. And he throws INTs like he gets a bonus for them. So there’s really nothing to be excited about there.

        With Crist, he had size and arm strength and he had a respectable 2010 before getting hurt. 2:1 TD:INT ratio. He was also reasonably mobile for a big guy. Hendrix has shown tremendous athletic ability and a strong arm. And Golson obviously has a great arm and feet. No guarantee either will be great QBs, but with both of them and with Crist there were things to be optimistic about.

        I’m sorry but Tommy gives me nothing to be optimistic about. They say he’s a coach’s son; so what? And a good game manager. A good game manager doesn’t fumble the ball and throw into quad coverage. 22 INTs in 1.5 seasons.

        I’d rather fail trying something new like AH or EG than go 7-6 or 8-5 again with TR.

      • 04domergrad - Mar 29, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        Not sure why I can’t respond to nude’s comment below, but this is the nearest “reply” button I could find.

        My comments referred to 1) the coaches’ selection of a starting QB and 2) the fans’ blind “grass is always greener” mentality. The actual competence of the QBs is irrelevant here. In fact, you can put me in the “anyone but TR” camp – I’ve seen enough his body of work to agree that he’s not a BCS caliber quarterback. He’s not going to win you any games, but he can (and did) lose games for ND.

        I’m a huge BK fan in all respects, except how he handles his QBs. Will the QB position be up for grabs every year? Looking ahead, it sure seems that way. And how is a guy supposed to get comfortable in an offense when he’s looking over his shoulder the whole time? The dual-QB system may have worked at UC, but ND is an entirely different animal. We live and breathe ND football, and a controversy like this divides your fan base and locker room. Benching Dayne in game 1 last year, right or wrong, was the worst decision he’s made as a coach here and now he’s fanning the flames again with the 4-way QB battle. Let’s hope this is a one-time thing to find the sub for TR, and whoever wins the QB battle and starts game 1 stays the starter all year.

      • dmac4real - Mar 29, 2012 at 7:26 PM

        04Domergrad: This “grass is always greener” mentality you speak of is dead on, but heres the thing: there is no problem with it. With Crist he was a china doll, and could not complete the short passes. Hes a great guy, but not a great spread QB. With Rees, hes immobile, average at reading a defense, and has horrible arm strength. So when you look to the next two guys (EG and AH) the grass has to be greener than that. They are mobile for one, and both have phenomenal arm strength. There is reason behind the optimism, and I think its unfair to give up on Hendrix after basically 1.5 games. Im as Pro-golson as they come, but if Hendrix or even Kiel starts, I wont be to angry.

        Secondly, BK has not handled the QB situation in a great way, but he really has not had to much of an option. He inherited ND with ONE scholarship quarterback. Ill repeat that: ONE scholarship quarterback. So he had no option but to play Crist. Crist goes 4-4 and gets hurt. He has no option but to play TR. Rees goes 4-0, and boom we have a controversy. Crist comes out on top, chooses not to show up against USF and had the entire stadium wanting Rees by half time (I was there). So Rees starts every game. Hendrix was not mentally ready to play a whole game, and EG was not mentally or physically. BK was put into a shitty QB situation, and while he hasn’t handled it great, hes at least tried to make things as good as they can be.

        Heres to Golson starting.

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM

        dmac and NotreDan

        dmac, that was a great post. Well summarized. Got me wondering, in all seriousness if BK knows he handled the QB thing badly last year or if he’d stubbornly insist he made all the right moves.

        NotreDan, I understood your “grass is always greener” point. I was just trying to illustrate that there is a decent reason why ND fans have this attitude now. Very few are in favor of Tommy and most, including you, agree that the talent on the bench is pretty exciting.

        So while the “grass is always greener” thing can, as you say, kill a team, in THIS instance I think it’s warranted.

      • 04domergrad - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:52 AM

        OK, I’m with you guys. I agree with everything you’ve said except that the whole stadium wanted TR at halftime of the USF game. I was there too, and was shocked that Dayne was done. I was probably in the minority though, once again illustrating my point that ND fans think the grass is always greener, even when it’s NOT warranted in the case of TR.

        Let’s think bigger picture here. Why didn’t BK just name TR the starter on day 1? Do you think he wanted him to be the guy all along but knew the fans wouldn’t be happy unless Dayne got a shot? And what was BK’s loyalty to TR anyway? We all agree he’s the least talented, lowest-ceiling QB on the roster. Maybe BK’s biggest mistake wasn’t benching Dayne so early, but came even earlier when he made it a 2-way QB battle between TR and DC. At the end of Hendrix’s second full season in the program, we still had to run a dumbed-down version of the offense for him. We’d be a lot further along now, instead of having to regress back to square one with everybody.

        I don’t think we’ll ever know the real answers…

      • nudeman - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        Those are great questions. Until someone writes a book or speaks out, we might never know the answers. But here are some possibilities that I’ve considered along the way:
        1. BK never totally bought in to DC, but his immense popularity among teammates and fans and his senior status sort of dragged him in that direction.
        2. Is there any possibility that BK was actually jealous of DC’s popularity? A bit of a stretch, and if true at all probably a secondary reason. But possible in a slightly subconscious way
        3. DC was never right for the spread O. This is in fact true, but doesn’t explain why he would drop him like a bad habit in favor of another guy who wasn’t right for his O.
        4. Tommy was younger, more malleable and a coach’s son,perhaps creating a feeling of kinship in BK and a feeling he was more coach-able.
        5. All of the above, in varying degrees.

  3. jimbasil - Mar 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Again, what stands out here is the ND QB’s don’t appear to be leading the receivers, even in practice it is much the same as in games. The receivers must adjust to the throw impeding their ability to advance the ball for more yards.

    That being said, I still haven’t a clue what Nudeman is on about with AH’s throwing motion. We see here, Kelly working on Keil receiving the snap learning to keep with the flow of receiving the ball for short quick throws but then he complements AH on his receiving the ball.

    Other than that, not much to see with the QB’s as far as who looks good and who doesn’t.

    Like Keith says, you can’t tell too much from this clip.

    • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      Many here and elsewhere have commented on Hendrix’s motion
      If Peyton Manning is the gold standard in terms of a quick release and Tebow is his polar opposite, Hendrix is somewhere in between.
      Manning is a 10 – near perfect
      Tebow is a 1 – terrible
      Hendrix is a 5. Functional, but needs work; looks slightly better than last year

      If you don’t see it, I’m not surprised based on other things you’ve posted

      • jimbasil - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        Yeah, thanks coach.

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        no problem

      • domer77blowsgoats - Mar 29, 2012 at 1:05 PM


        What football qualifications do you have that makes your opinion on someones throwing motion from a sample size of what, maybe 30 passes, any more correct then someone else’s? We can all watch ESPN highlights – but I am specifically asking what experience you personally have that adds any credence to your observations?

        Again, including “If you don’t see it, I’m not surprised based on other things you’ve posted” adds what exactly to this MB?

        Go take a walk, get outside, put the keyboard down for a couple minutes, try some broga – life is too short to be a DB 100% of the time

        • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 2:06 PM

          It’s my opinion, plain and simple. Sorry it doesn’t apparently mesh with yours. Re: my qualifications, does it matter? You’ll dump over anything I tell you, whether the answer is “none” or ” was Elway’s QB coach”

          My opinion, and it’s shared by many others.
          Deal with it.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Mar 29, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        again you fail to miss the point

        you made your opinion – I have no problem with that

        someone else made their opinion – again no problem

        you jump all over someone elses opinion bc its different than yours – so unless you have some qualifications that would enhance the strength of your opinion vs. anothers, I don’t see how creaming someone adds anything to the discussion whatsoever…

        so ulmighty nude – you danced around my question below so Ill pose it again:

        What does your following post add to this MB?

        “If you don’t see it, I’m not surprised based on other things you’ve posted”

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:55 PM


      • bernhtp - Mar 29, 2012 at 5:28 PM

        I suggest that you guys – Nude and Goat/UAW – exchange emails/phones and take this offline. Better yet, exchange home addresses and settle it.

    • domer77blowsgoats - Mar 29, 2012 at 6:20 PM

      Opppps. See Nude, the constant negativity has no place here

      I’m telling you, try broga, the results speak for themselves

      Back to football

      Anyone think the “offense” is too much? We seem to hear nothing but “XYZ doesn’t have a grasp for the offense” after 1-2 years….

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:57 PM

        You have no position lecturing anybody on negativity or relevance of their post.
        You posted here for months and had NOTHING positive or relevant to say
        Just attacked me with stupid and offensive names
        Now you’re on your BS high horse about negativity

        A joke

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:05 PM

        This point has been raised and discussed here about 20 times in the last 6 months
        Big yaw-w-w-w-w-nnnnn

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:09 PM

        “you fail to miss the point”. Huh?

        “oppps” Huh?


  4. leapingleprechaun - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Jimbasil, I am with you and Keith on ‘not being able to see too much’, however, I do see what Keith is referring to with AH. It seems he throws from an ‘even’ point with his shoulder forward…forcing the throw as opposed to having a natural motion where he it comes from behind his shoulder and is more fluid…Golson does not show a limit to his motion. This may be where he gets his zip on the ball for having such a small frame…For anyone who sees progress with TR…After two years and 5 short clips of spring ( I know very short clips )…I just don’t see any progress at all…low throws, on long throws receivers were slowing down to get or adjusting to the ball and the same low tone with no ‘demand’ in his voice which would give the incling of ‘some leadership’ potential…He should be teaching the younger guys like Dayne was involved with before his demise…I am sorry, he is a great kid who played ‘well’ under a great amount of pressure but compassion can only go so far Kelly. It is time to annoint ( ? ) the future of the program…AH, Golson or Kiel ( even as young as he is )…Period

    • jimbasil - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Kelly says to AH. “dont’ push to the right side,….to push off his right foot (toe)”, and “it’s a little low (I assume the throw is a little low)”. Nothing in the throwing motion. But I do agree, EG has that nice smooth stroke and lift in transition from receiving the snap. At least in comparison to the others.

    • vairish84 - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      I agree with Keith that AH looked a little forced. However, I thought it had more to do with footwork. EG was throwing from a bigger base, his feet seemed further apart. AH seemed to throw more with his arm from a more upright position. Could be wrong though.

  5. poppajohn818 - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Sid Luckman was one of the best QBs for the Bears and the ball was fat & he did not throw with the seams (small hands). I like this Golson’s foot speed. I would try to put him in the backfield or convince him to play defense. His speed is something that Rees has zero of, also if this offense is supposed to move quickly Rees has to speed up the game. He seemed so slow to get plays off I almost jumped through the TV & kicked his ass. He looks dumber then a box of rocks. He is not aggressive enough for me. Gunner is for next year and hopefully he will be patient sitting on the sidelines & learning. So I favor Hendrix right now with Rees as # 2

  6. nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    I just listened to the podcast on Irish Illust
    1) Theo Riddick looks so good he might beat Cierre Wood out
    2) Seem to be serious concerns about EG being able to run the offense.
    3) AH has taken obvious steps forward
    4) Kiel is just “underwater” right now
    5) Saving the worst for almost last … it sounds like there is a decent possibility TR starts or is #2. Please … NO!! I don’t care HOW GOOD he looks in 7 on 7 drills. NOOOOOOOOO
    6) Jaylon Smith is the one who they describe as the key guy to 2013 recruiting class
    7) They love all the new recruits, especially Kinlaw, McGlinchey and Zaire
    8) Ryan Green or Ty Isaac are “must gets” for RB. One or the other.

    • joeschu - Mar 29, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      I didn’t get a chance to listen. Did they describe what was it about EG that’s holding him back?

      • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:56 PM

        Just general grasp of the offense, mainly. My words, not theirs.
        Also bobbled a couple snaps the other day.

      • bernhtp - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:13 PM

        The also said they were told Golson was throwing arrows during closed practice times when no one could watch.

  7. ndrocks2 - Mar 29, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Last year Hendrix ran a very limited number of formations and this seems to explain the obvious.

    “Bravo to Andrew Hendrix, who acknowledged that he’s still learning the offense and needs to get better. The shift to Chuck Martin should pay dividends for Hendrix, who is still pretty raw as he enters his third year in the program.”

    How can someone be in what amounts to the start of his third season still be a project? He comes from Moeller which is one of the top football schools in the Midwest as well. This doesn’t add up for someone with his background, I would rather be reading they are inserting plays into the playbook to take advantage of his experience and abilities. Makes you wonder of his preparation abilities and dedication.

    • irishlion10 - Mar 29, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Really? Now we’re going to question a college kid’s dedication because he acknowledges that he has work to do? Tim Tebow acknowledges that he has work to do every chance he gets. What about his dedication?

      • bernhtp - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:03 PM

        I certainly don’t question Andrew’s dedication, but he has now (through mid summer) had enough time to learn the offense and effectively compete for the job. If he doesn’t win the job for Dublin, he will need someone to falter for him to see other than backup minutes for the rest of his career. I’m a fan and bet he wins the job.

      • ndrocks2 - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        Yeah really – two seasons in and you saw the plays he ran last year. Run the ball, strong arm no accuracy, very limited plays in playbook for him to run. Goal line when you think he would stay in, out he came. Something is not right. College football is not the NFL there are several freshman and sophomore starters, Rees as an example. I hope for the best because he has athletic ability but between the ears – we shall see…

      • irishlion10 - Mar 29, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        I am fully on board with the questions of his accuracy and the limited package he ran, however to question his dedication is absurd. That is my issue

    • dmac4real - Mar 29, 2012 at 7:29 PM

      Moeller is a straight option team. Thus AH came from an option oriented mind and has struggled picking up a passing dominent offense.

  8. kiopta1 - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    I would have a level of comfort with Rees if we saw him tighten up his reads and improve on the arm strength. Too many times he either forced the ball to covered (no opening) receiver at critical times or he threw under or wide of the intended target making it either a wasted play or a turnover.

    • nudeman - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:58 PM

      I wouldn’t, under any circumstances.
      That ship has sailed.

    • bernhtp - Mar 29, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      Arm strength and speed are not likely to improve materially at this stage for Tommy. He can learn to make fewer errors, but I believe that many of his errors are caused by the constricted field the defense can work in due to his lack of speed and arm. It’s hard for me to be optimistic there.

  9. kiopta1 - Mar 29, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    On the other hand part of me would love to see what Hendrix and gholson can do in real games.

  10. irishlion10 - Mar 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    If Zach Collaros at UC could put up Heisman numbers in 5 starts at UC under BK, I have faith that it doesn’t matter whether its AH or EG. If the light comes on for either of them, it’s game over for opposing defenses. When BK could call deep play-action / rollout passes for Collaros, the defense could do nothing to stop UCs offense. That is why the note about the stretch-play-action clip in the video is important, and tells me that we definitly see one of the more mobile options under center. They have the speed to rollout and look through options, and ultimately tuck it and pick up huge yardage if the primary reads aren’t available. They also have the mobility to stay alive behind the LOS and look back to the backside of the field. Getting a mobile QB ready and successfully using the simple dash/rollout play could be the key to turning the offense on in its entirety

  11. degosavage23 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    In response to the earlier post about EG throwing without the laces being a concern, it makes no difference. To quote BK in one of his first spring practices at ND: ”

    “Throwing with the seams is for high school quarterbacks, not scholarship quarterbacks at Notre Dame.”

    I trust BK so I’ll take his word for it. I think what he means is you don’t need to go out of your way to make sure you throw with the laces. Maybe that can be a reason for turnovers because taking that split second to find the laces takes away from your first read and can cause you to force a throw too late. Just an observation/personal opinion. I could be wrong, but it sounds plausible. Hey if that’s what works for him on the field, I’m perfectly fine with it.

    • joeschu - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      My understanding is that to throw the kind of “zero” throws out of the shotgun that BK is coaching up in the video, you don’t have time for laces. You’re catching the snap and bringing the ball up in a single motion, then you’re throwing that slant in the blink of an eye. You certainly don’t have time to spin the ball to find laces.

      • degosavage23 - Mar 31, 2012 at 3:12 AM

        Totally agree joe, time is of the essence in a fast paced, high octane offense like BK’s no-huddle spread.

  12. bb90grad - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Previous Heckle and Jeckle banter aside, domer brings up a good point. I just don’t get the issues with taking years to “learn an offense”. We just said goodbye to an Irish QB who started as a freshman and played most of 4 years. I was in middle school in ’80 and don’t know the particulars, but were offenses back then that basic? It’s not like they still had straps on the unies to drag guys through the line.

    Can someone with more x’s and o’s knowledge enlighten?

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