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Practice Report: Day Eleven update

Apr 15, 2012, 2:02 PM EDT

Chuck Martin 2

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Notre Dame has a new offensive coordinator. Not just any offensive coordinator, but a guy who just got done spending two years coaching safeties. And his pedigree? Before being a defensive position coach he was ran a D-2 football program in Michigan. National championships or not, that’s got “small-time” written all over it. From a glance, Brian Kelly, at an inflection point in his tenure at Notre Dame, chose a guy that has never coached offensive players in major college football to fix the Fighting Irish offense and a four-headed quarterbacking conundrum.

Of course, Chuck Martin belies any bullet-point bio you assign him. And while the above paragraph doesn’t misstate any of the material facts, it’s a huge disservice to one of the best coaches on the Irish staff, and one of Kelly’s most trusted lieutenants. Spend any time around the Irish football program, and it isn’t hard to notice the impact Martin makes. That’s why when Charley Molnar accepted the UMass job Kelly didn’t hesitate to point the offensive in Martin’s hands. It may have ended up costing him offensive line coach Ed Warinner, but it’s helped breathe confidence into a unit that desperately needed it after falling apart down the stretch.

The crew at UND.com put together this look at offensive coordinator Chuck Martin and his work with the Irish offense. As usual, I’ll provide some thoughts along the way.

  • 0:14 — That’s the spirit Jack Nolan. Finish strong on this 15-practice Irish issue-gear apparel swag fest.
  • 0:46 — Martin states that nobody has taken control of this offense or football team yet. Mostly because nobody has earned it yet — through success. (Another indicator that Tommy Rees‘ 12-4 record isn’t going to do him any favors as the Irish evaluate the QB position.)
  • 1:10 — Watching the four candidates go through the same drop back and throw drill one thing is certain: Equipment manager Ryan Grooms has got his guys wearing a motley mix of mismatched helmets. Hopefully they’ll break out the gold domes for the spring game.
  • 2:13 — Martin says what he enjoys most about switching to offense and working hand-in-hand with Kelly is that they share the “same aggressive nature” when attacking defenses. After getting way too horizontal in their passing game and vanilla in their play calling, it’ll be interesting to see how differently the Irish attack defenses with Martin helping to script the game plans.
  • 3:00 — “We’re preparing for the fourth quarter at USC in front of 90,000 hostile fans in the rain, hail sideways, everything’s against you, injuries, and trying to find a way to make a big play,” Martin says. That’s all.
  • 3:25 — “If there’s a pathetic old Division-III free safety that can rattle you, I’m pretty sure the Mike linebacker at USC is going to scare the hell out of you,” Martin says. “If I can get you off your game, then we’re pretty certain you’re not the guy we want out there at USC to win the big game in the big moment.”
  • 4:07 — Daniel Smith, getting an earful from Martin. No week is more important than this one for Smith, who has all eyes on him with the depth chart dwindling.
  • 4:57 — For those wondering if the Irish are working on those horrifically scary, almost backwards swing passes, the answer is yes.
  • 5:15 — And equally scary is that the one rep we see with Andrew Hendrix and John Goodman gets dropped, with Goodman looking for the ball too late.
  • 5:16 — Before you freak out in the comments, that’s EXACTLY what spring practice is for.
  • 5:24 — “That’s it George,” Martin screams at running back George Atkinson. “You’ve got great hands, George. I don’t believe what anybody tells me differently. Your hands are fine.”
  • 6:08 — Irish working fade throws in the corner of the end zone. Martin gets on his QBs for poor throws. “Out of bounds, no reason. We’ve got a touchdown and you just took it from us. 81,000 people want to yell and scream touchdown and you just threw it out of the end zone.”
  • 6:30 — Walk-on wideout Nick Fitzpatrick from Mishawaka gets barked at, then praised, by Martin for getting dominated by Josh Atkinson on a deep ball, but then rebounds to catch a slant the next rep.
  • 6:44 — Robby Toma could have a very big year in Martin’s new offense. He looks very sharp running away from Austin Collinsworth on a flag, making a nice catch and nearly taking out the cameraman.
  • 6:55 — Danny Smith makes a nice catch on Jalen Brown, using his hands like a savvy veteran. “Hallelujah! Everett! He’s always open, awesome job!” Martin exclaims.
  • 7:05 — Cierre Wood looks pretty dynamic. So has Theo Riddick. This could be a very fun two-headed monster, especially if they don’t have to run on that slop Stanford called grass.
  • 7:25 — Chuck Martin, Academic All-American at Millikin University out-duels pre-med Andrew Hendrix in a game of mental jousting.
  • 7:33 — Martin gets on Gunner Kiel for missing an open Riddick down the seam. “High and outside and we’ve got a 30-yard completion. Pretty ball, incomplete… We’re going to lead the nation in pretty balls incomplete.”
  • 7:50 — “You’re convincing me you can’t do it. I believe you can,” Martin says to Tommy Rees.
  • 8:15 — Rees hits Tyler Eifert on a nice red-zone route. “That’s all you’ve got to do,” Martin says. “It doesn’t matter. He’s always open, if you throw it high and away from the defense. They can’t defend that guy unless we defend him.”
  • 8:30 — This time Hendrix throws a TD to Eifert over cornerback Cam McDaniel‘s best efforts. “I don’t know why you’d want to do anything else,” Martin says.

***

  1. bernhtp - Apr 15, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    It’s becoming more and more clear that Eifert, and multiple TE sets more generally, will become a mainstay of the offense. Eifert cannot be covered by a corner given a decent throw. They will need to double-team him.

  2. don74 - Apr 15, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    I’ve watched all the spring practice reports and Kelly’s pressers. My overall sense of things is positive. The coaches all seem to be on the same page. The new guys appear to fit in and BK seems relaxed and confident. I thinik this team will be just fine regardless of who isn’t there. The guys that are there and those arriving in June are headed for big things. I am also confident the right guy is going to start. Don’t have any idea who that will be but it will be the right guy.

  3. smurphdoggy29 - Apr 15, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Why hath they forsaken you, Chuck Martin ?

    I have stated earlier, this offensive unit is just daring itself to explode in unpredictable ways, and Martin paired with the Head Coach will make seismic shock wave type of explosions happen in the Fall. Mark it down.

    No prediction on record but it will be better than what most think, and this team will be a LOT of fun to watch. They’ll not beat themselves, and teams we’ll have to beat them into the ground to get loose, the gum on your show type of annoying they will be !

    GO Irish !

    Who cares who is out, all in let’s go !

  4. kgirish - Apr 15, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    This is what this message board should read like…..positive! I love these 3 posts!

  5. rambler09 - Apr 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    I love Chuck Martin. I’m with you, Keith… I will watch anything that any video that he is featured in. I love his attitude, his energy, and the way he commands respect. I would want to work hard for him. His record makes it clear that he knows how to win games. I trust the offense in his hands. He also has head coach written all over him (obviously he was previously a HC) and I’m grateful that we have him. Thank God he grew up an Irish fan.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:05 AM

      Eifert will be glad he came back this season. He should secure his position in the next draft as one of the top TE’s in the country. Looks like they plan on using him a lot and he’s no matchup for your average CB.

  6. joeschu - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Chuck Martin or Bobby D? Which Irish coordinator gives better soundbites? They both seem like, “I’d really like to have a few beers with him,” kind of guys. Let’s hope they can put the results on the field.

    @kgirish – are you saying this should just be a sappy love-fest where everything is unicorns and rainbows? I certainly hope not. I’m hoping people engage in an honest and thoughtful examination of the program. The Irish have been substandard since 1993, and absent a few flash-in-the pan seasons, most of the evaluation of the program has to be pretty negative. Last season, full of hope, hype and promise ended 8-5. There have certainly been management decisions by the head coach and athletic department that warrant some discussion. I’d rather do that here with people who want more for the Irish than amongst the Colin Chowderhead & Mike Wilbon crowd, who want to see the Irish fail.

    I think the one true thread that runs though these comments is that everyone wants to see the Irish succeed. I think most would agree that they’ve yet to show sustained excellence since the late 80’s and early 90’s. I think many would say that the indicators seem to be headed in the right direction. However, I’d struggle to find anyone who feels that everything is perfect and we’ve “arrived,” so there’s nothing negative left to discuss.

    • nudeman - Apr 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      joeschu
      Agree1000000%

    • don74 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      I can see the negatives regarding the program as well as any one. I can also see the difficulties that ND faces in the current CFB climate. As Nude would say, “my opinion” is the coaching staff is pointing things in the right direction. Whether there is enough dynamic talent to get the team to the promised land remains to be seen. None of us know. We thought last year would be the breakout. Starting 0-2 changed the season. Climbing out of that hole was not only impossible it highlighted everything wrong with the season. Coming out flat against SC, WF and BC did nothing to help the cause. But, it’s a new year. Out of the 85 players on the squad I think 25 are sophs or 2 yr frosh. With a class of 16 or 17 coming in half the team have been recruited into a new system coached by a new staff. Not one of us knows how the season will turn out. Yes the schedule is tough but each of the teams we face has to fight off injuries to key players, keep everyone eligible and get a bunch of 18-23 yr olds though the grind of a very long season. We can end up 5-7 or 11-1, who knows. As of today I chose to be optimistic, after all I think ND is favored to win the Blue Gold game!

  7. bearcatirishfan - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    It’s harder to dig out of a big hole, there have been too many years of bad recruiting and bad coaching, it may take another two seasons before we get to 10 wins. especially considering this year’s schedule. Why can’t we get a schedule like Michigan. Even their side of the big ten Is terribly overrate.

    • gtizzo - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Maybe any other year I would have been with you…not this year. ND has a hard enough schedule lets not add Alabama to the mix.

  8. ct111 - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Have any of you guys heard about Louis Nix??? There is talk that he too is transferring out of ND. This will be a huge blow to the DL.

    • nudeman - Apr 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Nix supposedly put up FB post about getting out of SB and jumping on a Delta flight.
      It has since been taken down and Nix was at practice this a.m.

      Breathe baby, just breathe

  9. 1historian - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    I don’t think we’re going to miss Floyd all that much. (BTW I’ve been reading here and there that he is moving up steadily and might go in the 1st 10.) With Floyd gone who is your best receiver? Eifert, obviously, and with Floyd gone others will get their chance to make their marks and we still have incoming freshmen and some guys who are injured right now and we still have plenty of time.

    Not to worry.

    I think Hendrix will be the QB.

  10. bernhtp - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    There was tremendous optimism last year. We finished the 2010 season very strong and had a stellar recruiting class. Even the perennially skeptical national media were projecting ND to be well into the top 20.

    We didn’t expect the problems at QB. We expected Crist, with his strong return from injury, to attain his 5-star form and lead the Irish offense. Absent that, we expected Rees to continue his progression. None of this happened. Then there were the inexplicable turnovers, especially the first few games. We had darkness descend upon Garry Gray during the important waning seconds of the Michigan game. The team clearly underachieved.

    I expect better this year – maybe much better – though it will need to be better just to break even given the increased difficulty of the schedule.

    • dmac4real - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      I was thinking last night.

      Does anybody remember another time when we were having severe trouble under CBK? Well, there was the two loses to Navy and Tulsa back to back. That put us at 4-5. Combine that with the recruiting losses of Prestood, Lynch, Burton, and Justic Hayes. Things were not looking good. But they closed.

      Moral of the story: Pray that they close again.

    • 1historian - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      I can’t remember ANY media from last year projecting us to be “well into the top 20″.

      • bernhtp - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        It is indeed sad when Historian fails to remember history just 8 months ago. You don’t remember Urban Meyer (the analyst, not the coach and poacher) lauding the quality of the Irish team from what he saw in practice? Hell, even Mark May was high on ND.

        Here is the link to the preseason poll: http://espn.go.com/college-football/rankings/_/week/1

  11. bearcatirishfan - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Just remember every year we beat bc, and I don’t care if that’s the only win, is a good year.

    • bernhtp - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      I’m mostly responding to this because the web page showed 19 comments, and I wanted to change it so I am not reminded of #19.

      While 1993 still stings a bit, beating BC does not a good year make. BC is usually a lowly team that we should beat handily every year. We certainly have way more talent. Beating USC is the closest I can come to a single win that defines a good year, but even then it is not enough given an otherwise crappy year.

  12. bearcatirishfan - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Sorry first game ever in nd stadium was that game as a 13 year old boy. Flew in from Virginia. Beating BC IS THE GOAL every year for me, more wins is great.

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