As our friends at UND.com take us around the positional groupings, no unit (at least offensively) has more question marks than the outside wide receivers. Now coached by Mike Denbrock, who spent his first two seasons under Brian Kelly coaching tight ends, and his last run at Notre Dame coaching tight ends and offensive tackles, the receivers are desperately looking for a competent replacement for the Irish’s all-time leading receiver Michael Floyd.
After an impressive run finding big-bodied prolific wideouts, this could be the weakest the position has been since the Ty Willingham era. (It really has been a great run for Irish WRs. In 2005, both Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall went for over 1,100 yards and 10 TDs. Samardzija and Rhema McKnight scored 12 and 15 TDs respectively in 2006. In the woeful 2007 campaign, Duval Kamara still set freshman records in two categories, Floyd broke them in 2008, while Golden Tate went for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Tate had a super-human season in 2009, while Floyd’s injury truncated season might have been even more statistically impressive.)
The usual suspects have been rounded up. John Goodman has been given a fifth chance to make good, and early reports are very promising this spring. TJ Jones, now a junior, should also be ready to take a step forward. Davaris Daniels, who redshirted last season, is probably the most physically gifted of the group, but what the Irish will get out of his depends on No. 16 himself. Daniel Smith and Luke Massa will compete for time as well.
As usual, here are some thoughts and observations after watching practice report No. 10:
- 0:11 — Getting lazy on us, Jack Nolan? I swear I’ve spotted that sweatshirt before…
- 0:21 — Louis Nix has been absolutely hilarious on Twitter lately. Whether its making Stephon Tuitt try and eat a spoonful of salt, or highlighting his mug in the past two team pictures, this kid is a real treat to follow. Perhaps Brian Kelly would like a little bit more business out of him, which explains why he’s been running with the No. 2 defensive line while Kona Schwenke is taking snaps as the No. 1 nose tackle.
- 0:24 — And there’s Aaron Lynch, coincidentally when Jack Nolan says, “And EVERYBODY came back with a lot of enthusiasm for today’s tenth practice.” Nice shimmy there, Aaron.
- 1:10 — Denbrock calls the talent at wide receiver “raw and under-developed.” That seems fair, and he’s acknowledged the “crutch” that was Michael Floyd.
- 1:31 — We’ve seen this throw before but it doesn’t get any worse. A perfect moon ball by Everett Golson, who hits John Goodman for a long touchdown. It’d have been great to see Goodman go and get the ball, and shrug off defenders like that against Florida State. (Cue the Lo Wood doesn’t play for Florida State jokes…)
- 1:44 — Denbrock calls John Goodman consistent. That’d be great.
- 2:12 — It doesn’t mean he’ll contribute next season, but Luke Massa looks like a wide receiver. Not a converted quarterback playing wide receiver.
- 2:20 — Denbrock talks about Danny Smith’s confidence. It’d be good to see the South Bend native make a mark on the offense.
- 3:05 — I’m excited to see what Denbrock’s impact will be as “passing game coordinator.” It very well could be a promotion in title only, but Denbrock has shown himself to be a very savvy coach, and between Denbrock and Chuck Martin, this could be fun.
- 3:48 — First two people Denbrock calls out is Tate Nichols and Jordan Prestwood. Once and O-Line coach, always an O-Line coach.
- 4:14 — Great exchange with Ben Koyack. It also sounds like Kelly wasn’t kidding around with the communal aspect of special teams. It sounds like Denbrock will have a hand in kickoff return.
- 4:45 — The art of wide receiver blocking. The joy of spring football.
- 5:40 — Denbrock coaches up Andre Smith, a preferred walk-on that’s seen a lot of camera time this spring. Not that it means he’ll play, but the North Broward Prep looks the part at 6-2, 190.
- 6:25 — Easy for you to say, coach…
- 6:50 — That’s a nice route by Davaris Daniels. Looks explosive.
- 7:04 — That’s a catch by Daniels, but not such great coverage by Josh Atkinson.
- 7:18 — “We’re just getting jammed all over the field,” Denbrock says. That’s what Irish fans are all worried about too, Coach.
- 8:04 — Nice coverage by Bennett Jackson on Danny Smith’s dig route.
- 8:24 — “All day long!” Denbrock shouts after Daniels makes a play. That’s a best case scenario for Irish fans.
- 8:44 — That’s a great throw by Golson and nice catch by Luke Massa in a tight spot.
- 9:00 — Luke Massa doing work, then making Denbrock chuckle.
- 9:30 — Think Brian Kelly is getting the idea with coaching clinic invites. Don’t think Rick Neuheisel or Tim Murphy are going to steal staff members.
- 9:43 — That’s a bullet there by Golson. Could work with that…