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Five things we learned: 83rd annual Blue-Gold game

Apr 21, 2012, 6:05 PM EDT

Everett Golson Spring Game

Tolstoy once said that spring is the time of plans and projects. On display for all to see today were Brian Kelly‘s plans and projects, with quarterback Everett Golson and running back George Atkinson stealing the show. The soon-to-be sophomores showcased their respective talents this afternoon during the 83rd annual Blue-Gold game, while also reminding us that they are still works-in-progress.

“Both of those guys are exciting, electric players,” Kelly said after the game. “But they are a heart attack for me.”

On the scoreboard, the defense defeated the offense 42-31. But the stars of the game were Atkinson, who ran for 124 yards on 15 carries and caught three balls for 54 yards, and Golson, who completed 11 of 15 throws for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while chipping in 25 yards on the ground. In a crowded backfield, Atkinson clearly stated his case for seeing the football more next fall. He also lost two fumbles, showing the dangers of youth as he contributed more than his fair share to the offense’s six turnovers, continuing last season’s fit of self-inflected mistakes. While Golson played mostly mistake free football, Kelly continues to work with his young talent to make sure he’s able to properly manage a football game.

Spring football games are just another practice for a coaching staff that gets 15 opportunities to work with their team in the offseason. But for fans clamoring to get that first peak at what’s to come in the fall, let’s look at the five things we learned during the Blue-Gold game.


It appears that it’s only a three-man race at quarterback.

Brian Kelly laid out his plans for the quarterbacking position earlier in the week,  rolling Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel through the game based on seniority. But when the Irish took the field under a perfectly sunny sky, Kiel stayed on the sidelines for the first half, only seeing action in the second half while the clock rolled.

After the game, Kelly explained that Kiel wasn’t ready to run the full allotment of the offense, and kept him out of the fray as the other quarterbacks competed against the Irish’s top defense. And while Kiel will have his opportunity to learn and compete in the fall, it’s clear that a perfect world will feature the Irish’s five-star prospect watching and learning.

“We can’t run everything with Gunner at this point,” Kelly said. “He just doesn’t have the knowledge base. So from that standpoint we gave him all the reps in the second half and got him an opportunity to really feel like he was part of the game.”

Kiel was five of ten on the day, throwing an interception to Chris Salvi on one of many throws that sailed high on him. While he very much looks the part of a starting college quarterback, barring a big step forward during summer workouts and fall camp, Kiel will enter the depth chart at No. 4.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Entering the third year of building his program, Kelly has the luxury of letting his freshman quarterback develop properly. The future of this program very well could be with Kiel behind center. But it likely won’t be in 2012.


With six offensive turnovers, today’s snapshot felt too much like a replay of last season.

Kelly has stated that the minus-fifteen turnover ratio was more upsetting than the 8-5 record. And after today’s scrimmage, the head coach once again railed on the mistakes made on the offensive side of the ball.

“We saw some errors that, unfortunately, are all too familiar,” Kelly said. “So I think there were some strides made, but clearly we’re not there yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Atkinson’s fumbles pushed aside for the moment, both Rees and Hendrix made mistakes with the football that can’t continue. For Rees, it was over-throwing a seam route that ended in the arms of an over-the-top safety. For Hendrix, it was trying to force a throw in a place it should’ve never gone. Both quarterbacks struggled with accuracy, completing less than 50 percent of their combined throws, failing to capitalize against a secondary that was playing largely without Bennett Jackson.

After a relatively clean 14 practices, the Irish quarterbacks threw threw interceptions on 48 attempts. That’s not good enough, especially with 2012’s difficult schedule ahead.


There’s still plenty to like along both sides of the line for the Irish. 

With quarterbacks open game for Irish defenders, the stat-line in the sacks column was kept conspicuously clean. That’s a credit to Harry Hiestand‘s offensive line, still playing without starting center Braxston Cave, but also because the Irish’s top pass rushing presence was visiting South Florida while his former teammates battled. A year after Aaron Lynch treated offensive tackles like matadors, there was little pressure on Irish quarterbacks then they dropped back to pass.

That’s not to say that the Irish won’t get after quarterbacks without Lynch. Fifth-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore and Stephon Tuitt only made cameo appearances along the line while guys like Sheldon Day and Tyler Stockton saw a ton of time. Just as impressive was the effort by youngsters Anthony Rabasa and Jarrett Grace, who likely will be let loose in the pass rush next season. Kona Schwenke, voted most improved by the coaching staff after an impressive spring, should be able to replace Sean Cwynar as Louis Nix‘s running mate at nose tackle.

The Irish offensive line might be the best set of blockers this defensive front sees in the next calendar year. The Irish ran for 259 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry behind a group that substituted liberally. With a stacked backfield and limited receiving options, the Irish would do themselves well leaning on the line to power the offense. With a secondary also learning on the fly, the front seven should dictate the tone of the defense as well.

After struggling to fill a depth chart last season, there’s an embarrassment of riches in the backfield.

Last year, the Irish were worried about what they’d get from their running backs after Cierre Wood. While Jonas Gray stepped to the forefront, the Irish were thin in the backfield the entire season, having the shift Theo Riddick back to running back after Gray went down with a knee injury.

Turn the clock ahead and now the backfield is one of the undeniable strengths of the team. With Wood running for over 10 yards a carry this afternoon, Theo Riddick looking natural in the backfield, and Atkinson drawing oohs and aahs in the press box, Brian Kelly has more than enough to work with, even without injured back Amir Carlisle and incoming freshmen Will Mahone and KeiVarae Russell.

The versatility of this position group might be the best thing it has going for it. With Chuck Martin rebooting the scheme, Irish backs will be just as dangerous through the air as on the ground. Riddick led the Irish with eight catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Atkinson broke a big play on a pass as well. Carlisle was one of USC’s best two-way back last season, and he’ll move comfortably between the backfield and split wide.

The strategic benefit of Tony Alford coaching both backs and slot receivers forces the Irish’s offensive personnel to cross-train daily. We already saw Robby Toma get a carry this afternoon after only getting one all last season. With wide receiver still a big question mark heading into the season, creative personnel grouping between multiple tight ends and running backs could help alleviate any concern on the outside.


It’s only one practice, but a future with Everett Golson behind center could be coming.

The quarterbacking job is still likely Tommy Rees’ to lose. But for one afternoon, Irish fans had the ability to see what a dynamic playmaker Everett Golson can be in this offense. Golson was unquestionably the best performer of the four and his ability to make plays with his feet and flash a very big arm, help you understand why he’s always been such an intriguing prospect.

After the game, Kelly was quick to talk about the things that Golson needs to improve on, skipping over the undeniable ability that was on display for the 35,000-plus fans in attendance.

“We come at this from different perspectives,” Kelly said, slipping quickly past the two touchdown passes and nimble running. “The stats don’t mean anything to me. What I didn’t like was that he’s got to get the plays in quicker. He’s got to recognize the signaling. If I’m not out there getting guys set and making sure he knows what to play, we’re going to have flags thrown all over the place. So those things don’t mean as much to me as they do managing the offense. We’re making progress there, but we’re nowhere where we need to be.”

As the Irish head into summer workouts and team-run sessions, Golson will likely need to continue learning how to run a football team, something that Brian Kelly wants out of his quarterbacks. The record-setting high school quarterback that’s simply able to freestyle his way to a state championship is a guy that gets college coaches fired.

“The quarterback position is both art and science,” Kelly explained. “The art part he’s got down. It’s the science and the consistency, all of those things to be a championship quarterback.”

Kelly knows he’s got a project with Golson. As the Irish head into summer, it’ll be on Golson’s shoulders to finish the job and take control of the quarterback position.

  1. idratherbeinsouthbend - Apr 21, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    From my perspective…

    The upside: Golson, Atkinson, Riddick


    to put a positive spin on the statistics though, Notre Dame was -14 in turnovers last year. Today they were +/-0. Offense turned the ball over 64 times and the defense created 64 turnovers….

    Probably a good time to revist these two polls…

    Season outlook

    Who should start at QB

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      It’s weird that this comment appears sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t appear. Anyone else seeing this?

  2. herringbonesports - Apr 21, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    First, was hoping to bump into Keith during my first time in South Bend in almost a decade, but I guess I missed him yesterday and today. Maybe this fall.

    I will say that the noise heard in the stadium immediately following Rees’s interception was unlike anything I’ve heard at any sporting event ever. The combination of reactions from people who back Tommy to those who dont (and wanted to see that) to those basic “here we go again”, to even those cheering for their defensive friends made this “NOOWHOAUGHHHYEAH!” Just odd.

    Golson looked tantalizing at times obviously along with GAIII. While most defensive starters played little, Nix was not blocked by anyone today and appeared to be taking the Schwenke slight as we would like.

    Fun game, little resolved.

  3. jonathanfesler - Apr 21, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    All right, I get to start, I think Golson will be ready to start by the start of the season, and I predict he will light it up!!!

  4. irishsportstalk - Apr 21, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Was good to be there, great weather; but all too familiar turnover situation. (comment for Reese supporters) It was only one practice but he doesn’t look better than Hendrix or Golson.

    I’m working on a website based on The Drudge Report; but this is all about sports, especially sports relevant to Northern Indiana.

    • irishsportstalk - Apr 22, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      Why so many thumbs down?

  5. jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 21, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    I was really impressed by Golson and GAIII. Rees didn’t have a good showing and on that designed run on a QB draw, he looked like like he had cement shoes on after seeing Golson’s mobility. Golson showed accuracy, good decision making in knowing when to throw it away and great accuracy and strength. He also has that ability to extend the play, to string something out while providing that threat that he might take off and run. I think it has to be Golson as 1, Hendrix as 2, Kiel (hopefully redshirting) and let Tommy use his knowledge of the play book while wearing the red hat. The running game should be awesome with Cierre and Theo and GAIII (and we didn’t even get a look at Amir yet). On the D side, I wasn’t as alarmed by our secondary as I thought I might be. I thought they played fairly well actually. Also, note the D had more than a couple of personal fouls and Lynch wasn’t even on the team. Manti even had an uncharacteristic PF in his limited playing time. I didn’t see too much of a pass rush but I’m wondering if this means our O line is really as good as advertised. Overall, I am excited to see how the season will play out now after watching the spring game. I like 9 or 10 wins on the year. I think we may be a surprise to a few opponents.

    • dmac4real - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:29 PM

      Calm down with the 10 wins. Still had to many TO for that.

    • jimbasil - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:48 PM

      Kelly made gave out an interesting stat a month or so ago. Keith posted it and it made all sorts of sense when it comes to the ND offense.

      When the Irish had no negative plays in a drive, they scored a TD more than 90% of the time. When the Irish had one or more negative plays, they scored less than 20% of the time. A negative play would be a penalty, loss of yds. (I don’t think Turnovers were included in those numbers – Keith could correct the statement if it’s needed.

      The way the O was run by all the QB’s today, it’s likely ND doesn’t score but once.

      I’m hopeful but guarded.

  6. nudeman - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    1. Lead story is turnovers. All we’ve heard is “ball security” is the #1 issue for the QBs.The question has to be asked: Are BK and staff on the right track? After 6 turnovers whatever they’re doing, it isn’t working.

    2. Rees was just awful and might have lost his job today. But I was more disappointed in Hendrix. Zips a pass in for a TD one minute; then throws a pass that never should have been thrown for an impossibly easy INT. This kid is such a good athlete it’s a shame he isn’t playing a different position, like safety. He hasn’t developed and isn’t a reliable QB at this level.

    3. Who caught that long pass over the shoulder from Rees? Was that Daniels? Might have been the play of the game. Good to see him assert himself.

    4. GA III is a beast; and Josh made a nice play defending a fade route in the endzone.

    5. Hard to draw any conclusions from the D, given the limited playing time of some of the key guys. And the absence of “you know who”.

    6. Finally got to see what Keith looks like when getting interviewed by Alex Flanagan (though I was more interested in Flanny, frankly). Clean cut, short dark hair, sort of Rees-like in appearance. Relatives? Would go a long way toward explaining a few things.

    • bernhtp - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:49 PM

      Yes, that was Daniels who made that amazing grab and it was right in front of me,

    • mtflsmitty - Apr 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      Nude, you’re relentless.

  7. yllibnosredna - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    I’m disappointed I was unable to watch this anywhere on-line. It’s 2012, and we’re talking about a college football program that has the largest fan base nationwide (and worldwide for that matter. I live in Dublin, Ireland), and there’s no Plan B for streaming this game outside of Is there any footage/highlights currently available?

    • irish9314 - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Game is posted on Golson has to be the starter. I hope he starts to get more snaps in the practices. That would help a lot instead of splitting it 3 ways. GA III is a beast.

    • BurroTrailAlum - Apr 22, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      I’m with you, @yllibnosredna. Presuming that ND would handle as well as last year, I changed plans to be available, then ‘skunked’! I found out this AM that it was televised on some cable channels in US (no cable here, either). The blog-cast without “radio” broadcast was lame in 2012. Josh the Blogger kept typing that game was being televised on NBCSN, but NBC did not show in on schedule and did not webcast – that I could find.
      When Video links were posted last night, amazed me to hear the announcers talk as tho they thought they were “live”. But, conversation & camera work was filled with amateurism and breakdowns.
      Very Lame for the World’s Team and a top-notch sports broadcast outlet!
      I hope this gets handled better next year. Too many fans do not have US cable channels.

  8. yllibnosredna - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Brilliant. Thanks a ton.

  9. bernhtp - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    I sat in the front row right behind the bench area. While not a great place to get a broad perspective on the schematics – I’ll watch the highlights for that – there are some things you see that you can’t on TV. Beyond the obvious, here’s what I learned:

    – Longo is having a big effect on this team. Eifert looked noticeably bigger than last fall, but what really amazed me was Riddick. Theo has built ridiculously huge arms. I’m only commenting because I haven’t seen anything quite like that outside of oiled up and pumped up bodybuilders.

    – While obviously very green, Kiel is very physically talented. He’s big, much stronger than I thought especially given that he should still be in high school, has a big arm, and is surprisingly mobile/fast.

    – Daniels is a quite an athlete. The grab he made in front of me may have been the highlight of the game. If he gets more consistent, he’ll become a star.

    – Everett Golson was really enjoying himself. After his first TD, he had that big smile on and was really jawing it up with TJ Jones as Rees and then Hendrix took their series. The kid is getting some swagger and obviously wants the job badly. It was interesting watching his real demeanor, which is quite different from the controlled and uncomfortable affect he displays during interviews.

    – Alex Flanagan looked really good today.

    • nudeman - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      I’d have to give Flanny the game ball. And a hug.

      • bernhtp - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        The hot pink outfit was flattering.

      • nudeman - Apr 21, 2012 at 9:00 PM

        She could where beige and look great

        Not quite Norah O’Donnell’s league, but close.
        Very close.

  10. ndgoldandblue - Apr 21, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Since his hiring, I have been a big Brian Kelly supporter. At the time, I thought he was the best candidate who was interested in coaching at Notre Dame. Many of us would have rather had Meyer or Saban, but those guys don’t want to coach at Notre Dame. Of all the guys who were interested, I thought Kelly was the best option. That’s why I was thrilled when he accepted the position.

    I am still a big supporter of his, but my faith in him is faltering a little. Keith quoted Kelly from his press conference, referring to Golson: “He’s got to recognize the signaling. If I’m not out there getting guys set and making sure he knows what to play, we’re going to have flags thrown all over the place.” Damn it, man! Then, simplify it if he’s not getting it! Are you seriously going to start a quarterback who has the least amount of potential, possesses the fewest physical skills, and makes head-scratching decisions just because he the strongest mental grasp of your overly-complicated offense?

    Here’s the deal. If you’ve got a trio of quarterbacks with the potential of Golson, Hendrix, and (of course) Kiel, you don’t try to fit a square peg into the round hole that is your offense. You swallow your pride and chisel away at the hole until it is, also, square. When you say that none of these young men can’t be your starting quarterback because they have a limited knowledge of your offense, something seems backwards because their limited knowledge is still allowing them to perform better than the one quarterback who has a thorough knowledge of it. It doesn’t matter what your starting quarterback KNOWS. All that matters is what he DOES.

    Please, please don’t go back to Tommy in the fall. With the mass exodus of players and verbal recruits lately, I’m not only worried about losing Golson, but both Golson and Kiel.

    • yllibnosredna - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:06 PM

      Could not agree more. After watching the highlights of the scrimmage and listening to Kelly’s post-game press conference, I had the exact same reaction…It’s clear where your most effective talent lies under center, simplify the game for him a bit and maybe he gets out of his head a bit more and runs the offense more smoothly and continues to make plays that separates him from the rest of the pack….I really have nothing more to add. Ndgoldandblue–You hit the nail right on the head.

      • ndgoldandblue - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM

        I hear ya. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Kelly guy. You don’t have that kind of sustained success without doing something right. And I will admit, two consecutive 8-5 seasons is not as bad as many in ND Nation think it is. There are a lot of programs that have fallen a lot further than that (we were right there a few years ago).

        But I see a lot of talent on this team. There’s more talent than many of us give them credit for. I mean, the backup O- and D-linemen could be starters at many other D-1 programs. We seem to have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Plus, we have (and are bringing in) the kind of talent that could successfully play iron-man football (Niklas, Neal). I’m just waiting for this team to eventually take the next step. But when’s that going to happen? How can Cincy run this offense without problems but a team with more pedigree and talent can’t stop tripping over themselves.

        Just simplify it if they can’t get it, but continue to teach them so that they grasp more and more of it as they go along. Don’t wait until one of these three QB’s has “arrived”. If he does that, they may be gone before arriving ever happens.

      • nudeman - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:48 PM

        I agree completely with your post. It has confounded me for over a year now why this offense is so difficult to master. A few other thoughts to add:

        1. I am now certain AH is not the answer. His INT today was a carbon copy of a couple he threw last year. His physical ability and toughness are awesome, but I don’t ever see him being a high quality QB at this level. So …

        2. … Why waste his talent? He seems to have no feel for the QB position but I could see him being an incredible safety. 6’2″, 220 lbs and can run. I wonder if they’re considering that.

        3. In the first part of last season, Rees’ support peaked at about 30-40% of posters here and elsewhere. That declined as the year wore on, and right now I see NO ONE on any board chanting that “he’s 12-0 as a starter” BS. Interesting.

        4. What happened to the tremendous improvement he’s been showing in practice? I never bought it for a second, and it’s clear there has been none.

        5. Golson is electric but will drive us crazy at times this year. I was also surprised at how slight of build he seemed. But he looks to be the man now.

        6. I loved what I saw from GK. Looks like a prototypical pocket passer with a huge arm. Raw of course, but he’s basically a HS senior.

      • jimbasil - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:04 AM

        Nude, you were certain of AH’s ability long before today’s scrimmage. Nothing AH did today or could do, even if he tossed three TD’s and went for one by foot with a 12 for 12 200yds passing day could have swayed you from your deep-rooted bias on AH.

      • bblack55 - Apr 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        OK, I may be the last to do so, but I’m jumping off the TR bandwagon. I really expected to see more improvement from him. While his arm seems stronger and he at least tries to move around, his high-speed decision-making seems right about where it was. That’s Golson’s problem too, but he hasn’t started 16 games and shows the ability to make up for mistakes with physical talent. I don’t think it’s the complexity of Kelly’s playbook that’s giving these guys trouble, it’s the speed and quick decision-making. Golson looked confused most of the time he was in there (and a delay penalty is just like a sack, except you don’t lose a down). But the only way to get up to speed is to play. Kiel looks to me like the answer for the future, but redshirting him creates a small problem with Zaire coming in next year. Hendrix is an enigma – a talented guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.
        Defensively, the CB situation doesn’t look as bad as some would have it – and they’ll have a few games to get ready for OK and USC.

      • nudeman - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        I have no “bias” against AH. I’d love it if he’d emerge as the guy, But it’s clear he hasn’t developed the way we thought he would.

        1. 3 times now I’ve seen him throw the SAME INTERCEPTION. Drop back, stare at a receiver, and FIRE!!, regardless of who else is near. Against FSU, Stanford and yesterday. I think he gets too amped up and lacks poise.

        2. He is a gifted athlete and I think with his size, speed and love of the game he’d be potentially an All American safety.

        3. My opinion: Right now, he should be #2 on the depth chart. By season end I’d like to see Kiel #2. And next year I’d love to see Andrew at safety.

        No “bias”; just an opinion.

    • waydomer - Apr 22, 2012 at 3:33 PM

      Agree and what I would really like to see is Kelly swallow his pride and dump the signaling in of plays. It has not given us any advantage in running an uptempo offense, regardless of who is behind center, and rather has resulted in innumerable delay of game penalties, procedure penalties, and just plain confusion. Rotate receivers and have them bring the play into a huddle and I think that would in itself cure a lot of the ills with this offense. For heavens sake Kelly, give it up and move on.

  11. gtizzo - Apr 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    “If I’m not out there getting guys set and making sure he knows what to play, we’re going to have flags thrown all over the place. So those things don’t mean as much to me as they do managing the offense. We’re making progress there, but we’re nowhere where we need to be.”

    Is he joking?! BK a few delay of game calls or bad time outs…BIG DEAL! So the Irish punt, there are worse things like…maybe…not to go out on a limb…how about TURNOVERS!! You have a stacked backfield, and underrated offensive line, and enough slot receivers to fill a cargo fan! By the way the best tight end in the country in Eifert give Golson the ball in Ireland! BK it is very simple, if his first and second read are covered tell the kid to take off (which is unlikely against Navy). Need up tempo? Work it in over time Navy and Purdue perfect times for Golson to get use to having the offense. The ground game should be more the good enough to beat both those teams easily. Don’t be afraid to dig out Lou Holtz’s old playbook and run the option. May not work every down, but once in while, it gets the job done. BK you can have another 8-5 year, the fan base will cool off if the QB is someone they haven’t seen make a mistake. Golson fits the bill perfectly…not to mention you might just surprise a few people along the way.

    • gtizzo - Apr 21, 2012 at 10:51 PM

      In addition keep in mind BK you have lost to a mobile QB in Denard Robinson twice!!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:20 AM

      Good Point Gtizzo…

      bring to mind a couple of QB’s that recently won National Championships. Tim Tebow and Cam Newton….both had systems designed to have 2 reads if play was a pocket pass and multiple reads if the play was designed to move the QB out of the pocket. Obviously, the run game with those two had multiple reads as well.

      So, why not give Golson that offensive playbook?

      In baseball a great pitcher doesn’t master eight pitches. He masters 3-4 and uses them effectively…AND the catcher calling the pitches knows the pitchers strength. Johnny Bench never told Tom Seaver to throw a knuckleball.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 22, 2012 at 2:04 AM

        I don’t think Johnny Bench ever told Seaver to throw any pitch, unless it was in an All Star game.

      • alsatiannd - Apr 22, 2012 at 8:39 AM

        Bench and Seaver, 1979 NLCS.

    • mtflsmitty - Apr 22, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      BK is a ball buster. He knows/believes keeping guys on their toes (uncomfortable early) is the best way to get the best out of them. He saw the same things in EG we saw. But he’s not going to close down spring practice and leave EG, or anyone else for that matter, feeling too confident. He was tough on EG because he, like all of us, knows what he can be come September.

  12. jcarrillo7828 - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    “The record-setting high school quarterback that’s simply able to freestyle his way to a state championship is a guy that gets college coaches fired.”
    Another season of Tommy Rees will get you fired

    • nudeman - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM

      Did Kelly say that?

      • alsatiannd - Apr 22, 2012 at 8:40 AM

        No, one of the play-by-play guys.

  13. simmel65 - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Can anyone enlighten me as to why almost everyone of the quarterbacks stares down the receiver on almost every throw? I get being a rookie and doing that, but Rees and Hendrix still do it after three years now! Do they every practice looking off the receiver? Golson had a great move where he *GASP* pump faked, froze the defense and then threw to a receiver on the sideline. I haven’t seen that in I don’t know how long.

    Golson it is, I say. Way more upside until Kiel is ready. Reese showed no arm strength and to me lost his job today. Just no excitement with him. Hendrix was decent, but that pick…

    Go Irish!

  14. cpfirish - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Really??!!. So I guess TR still dosnt knwo that u dont throw into double coverage cause it gets pick off… yea yea EG had a few delay of game calls and had to call a timeout yea yea. I was really really impressed with EG today!!. for one he didnt turn the ball over. I think come the navy game we will see him lining up behind center. I cant handle another 19 turnover season from our qb! Maybe we need to start questioning BK. Its not like he doesnt have tons of talent!.. 8-5 again he may be looking for a new job.
    Go irish!!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:18 AM

      Your comments bring to mind a couple of QB’s that recently won National Championships. Tim Tebow and Cam Newton….both had systems designed to have 2 reads if play was a pocket pass and multiple reads if the play was designed to move the QB out of the pocket. Obviously, the run game with those two had multiple reads as well.

      So, why not give Golson that offensive playbook?

      In baseball a great pitcher doesn’t master eight pitches. He masters 3-4 and uses them effectively…AND the catcher calling the pitches knows the pitchers strength. Johnny Bench never told Tom Seaver to throw a knuckleball.

    • dmac4real - Apr 22, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      If EG starts, we will probably still have 19 or more turnovers. The difference will be the highlights that he will make up for it with. TR doesent have that ability, and it is most likely time to move one. That said, I wouldnt look higher than 8-4. The most frustrating part about the Notre Dame fanbase is is unrealistic expectations. “8-5 again he may be looking for a new job.” Uhm, no he wont. BK stated this last week: If we win 8 games this year, it would be the first time in EIGHTEEN years we had three straight 8 win seasons. He just got an extension. Give it time. Goodness.

      • gtizzo - Apr 22, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        You really should put that into context. Having 19 turnovers isn’t the worst thing in the world if you have 38 touchdowns on the stat sheet. Denard Robinson had 15 turnovers but he had 15 touchdowns with his rushing ability alone. Having an 8-4 record and having the turnover ratio the Irish had last season is a blessing not a curse. Could have easily been 6-6 or worse.

  15. jcarrillo7828 - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    I love Brian Kelly. I think he is the most dynamic coach we have had in many many years and despite some recent recruiting drama, he is brining in talent and speeding up our game. I wish though, he would have put Golson and Hendrix into more games last year. It’s obvious those two are Most likely the starters this season and actual game experience (I know Hendrix had a little in junk time) would have put those two much farther ahead at this point. I think Rees would be great signaling in the plays on the sideline with a red hat on and coaching up the QB’s between plays. Either way, I hope ND nation stays patient because BK is on the right track.

    • dmac4real - Apr 22, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      Some rational on CBK. Thank you.

  16. jcarrillo7828 - Apr 22, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Do you honestly believe Golson will have 19 or more turnovers? I don’t think so. There will be a learning curve but he’s a pretty smart kid. honestly, I could care less about our record the last 2 years. I am looking at QB development. At some point, BK needs to put his prototype player into his offense even if there is a learning curve. Reese is a great kid. Hell, we owe him for breaking the losing streak to USC. I just don’t believe BK’s offense will really take off till we have a QB who can sell the zone read or extend plays. I’m not a bK basher. I love BK. GO IRISH

    • dmac4real - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      Hed be a first year QB with a rough schedule, and he admittedly struggles with the playbook. So I think its within the possibility that he created 19 turnovers, but as I said his overall play would make up for it, and It would be more of a learning year for him. Also, I wouldnt say we owe Rees for breaking the losing streak to USC. He had 4 TO that game. I agree, i think it is just time to give Golson the ball, let him learn on the job, and take another 8 win season.

  17. alsatiannd - Apr 22, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    The more EG practices as the #1 the more time he’ll have to iron out the game management hiccups. BK couldn’t come right out and say it after the game, but EG separated himself from the others on Saturday. I was a big TR supporter when he had to step in for Crist, but he’s been pigeon holed since USC taught everyone he’s made out of glass. Everyone knows how to play him now. Can’t figure out AH and don’t want to have to after a MSU loss in September.

  18. 1historian - Apr 22, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    dmacforreal – your 1:18 a.m. – I agree with you and with jcarillo7828 that we should be rational and patient with BK because he is on the right track.


    This is ND nation.

    Need I say more?

    • dmac4real - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      And that would be the problem. Its just too bad.

    • txirish2 - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      This is Inside the Irish. ND Nation is way worse.

  19. Dillon Mahoney - Apr 22, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    Off topic, but could someone see if there is a correlation between overall success and which dorm a given player lives in? Non-domers don’t get this, but the hardest thing about being an athlete at ND is social life (awful), and the best thing about ND is how supportive your dorm-mates can be (superb). Or cannot be. I worry when the biggest revelation from the BG game was that a certain defensive end (my beloved old position) who recently decided to leave ND lived in Zahm. There you go. I’m an extremely biased and proud former Keenan Knight, but we took care of our athletes in Keenan. If you got homesick, if you had a bad week, we had a strong community. I’d see GI down in the chapel every Sunday morning, and we knew when people in our community, in our dorm, in our home, needed support, and we support them. I worry, honestly (and I admit my anti-Zahmbie bias). But dormlife at ND can be too, just, weird (start with parietals) How do we protect our athletes from this and put them into supportive communities? This is a real story. Dorm life at ND and its impact on athletes’ performance is much more complex than anyone, anyone in the blogosphere admits. I’m curious, as you discuss the QB battles, where do the QB’s all live? Can you find historic correlations between dorm and success? I remember hearing theories about Jarius Jackson’s success and the fact he lived in Carroll. I think Keenan produces the friendliest and maybe funniest (think Nick Setta) players. Somebody has to be bored enough to crunch the numbers … Anyway, GO IRISH!

  20. seanb20124 - Apr 22, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Lynch was visiting USF? So much for Tuck’s chance to change his mind. Oh well next man in as they say.

  21. jonathongorny - Apr 22, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    That post scrimmage press conference was brutal…

    I work with teenagers and also coach HS sports in Chicago. Not to say that I understand ND’s top athletes or that I have any insight that Kelly and crew don’t, but I know and have studied the psychology of HS kids, and after watching Kely’s press conference and his comments about Golson, I fear he has or is going to lose Golson soon.

    You cannot verbally, without end beat kids now and days. You can’t. Psychologically 21 is the new 18, 18 is 15 and so on. Today’s college athletes, for the most part, need support AND correction. Affirmation AND guidance. Kelly in his public statements, does little support or affirmation.

    Golson took care of the ball (most important), made plays (see the cross-feild check down bullet he threw off one foot. And the botched snap by the center that he turned into a +), looked off defenders (Turnover Tommy should ask him how he does it), threw his receivers open (see first TD), and was far more accurate than the others.

    But all Kelly can say is, “The stats don’t mean anything to me. What I didn’t like was that he’s got to get the plays in quicker.” Yeah, you’re subbing Qb’s in and out ever drive and they can’t get a rhythm or timing down, and that’s Golson’s fault? Come on man.

    As a HS coach and a person that counsels HS kids, positive affirmation and support unlocks their abilities. Loving support provides confidence. Whipping makes kids play in fear and turns QB’s gun-shy (See Hendricks VS FSU). Those QB’s are terrified to slip up because they know Kelly is going to rip them a new one. You can’t treat kids that way anymore. You have to give them the support they need to make big time plays.

    I hate to say it but a perfect example of this was Pete Carroll and Jim Harbuaugh. Carroll’s players loved him and were willing to fight every play for him. Carroll had some moral issues but he knew how to treat HS/college kids. Harbaugh was the same. So fiery and so intense in a supportive way. He yelled at refs not kids. His players loved him and he turned 3’s into 5’s.

    What I see in Kelly is a coach way to interested in keeping his job and image. He throws kids under the bus and rarely gives credit where credit is due. Manti saw it last year, Lynch saw it, Nix, and so on. Celebrity 19 year olds don’t need to be knocked off their horses, they need reigned in and given a team vision. Think stallions. They are wild and mean and fast but if you can lasso them, reign them in, and teach them how to operate in your system, then you have a thoroughbred on your hands.

    Kelly is more concerned about his image and his legacy and far less concerned about fostering kids and creating a winning program. He knows X’s and O’s (I think?) but what he’d benefit from is some classes in adolescent psychology. Coaching goes way beyond decisive schematic advantages.

    Brian, you got great kids here, they all are the RKG’s, that’s why you recruited them. Now treat them with some dignity and support and unlock their God given ability to beat the hell out of Michigan.


    • nudeman - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      It is hard to disagree with anything you’ve written here. Numerous examples of Kelly’s heavy handedness. Ran Crist off without even a modicum of respect; the “my guys” comment; when Crist had the devastating fumble against USC, Kelly was asked if he was worried about Crist being “down” and replied “I don’t have to worry about it, HE DOES”. And who knows what the relationship was like with Lynch.

      I hope there is a method to his madness, as he’s been very successful at every level. And I don’t believe every coach has to be Pete Carroll-esque. There’s still room for some Lombardi/Ditka/Parcells. His most damning comments were about the turnovers which ruined their 2011 season, so I understand the frustration there.

      But the negative reinforcement is wearing thin.

  22. getsome99 - Apr 22, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    If you’re going to over think Kelly’s comments regarding Golson after the scrimmage, it should be that he was concealing a major coaching boner over Golson’s performance. The kid is still young and learning and Kelly’s not going to publicly annoying him as the almighty savior just yet. So if he sounds highly critical of EG, it probably means he knows the kid has a very good chance of being “the guy” this season but wants the kid to stay grounded and focused on improving his play.

    • danirish - Apr 22, 2012 at 6:09 PM

      Great comment, tried to express the same sentiment but failed. Perhaps Kelly has already told Golsen he is the man or he is still lighting the proverbial fire under Golsen.

  23. nchdomer - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Enjoy Keith Arnold analysis throughout season. Hope your articles continue.

    As regards the BG game, it gave great hope for the season in my view. Given the schedule and the QBs at hand, it is hard to see Kelly achieving the National Championship in his 3rd year, as have all of the great ND coaches. Given that, it seems Golson should start. He was electric on the field. I’ll take his turnovers and upside over the turnovers and upsides of the other two. We have lived with TR and his turnovers, without which Kelly would be talking about the potential for three 9+ win seasons in a row instead of eight. Golson won’t get better until he is in real games.

    As regards the turnovers of Golson, he had no interceptions, showed great touch, a rocket arm, pocket presence and an ability to be a genuine running threat. If you have never taken a snap under center, you can’t appreciate the fact that it is a two man play. Different centers snap the ball differently – you can have no exchange problems with one center while another alwasy seems to be more of a concern (it is both ball placement and how hard the ball comes into the hands of the QB from the center – I remember bad plays last year where both Rees and Crist had trouble with the snap). Add to that the fact that you are taking more snaps from the shotgun position than under center and it is not easy to see how mistakes happen. The centers had some mis-snaps yesterday and one center, according to Mayock, snaps with his left hand, which is a different ball placement from the more typical right hand snap. And remember that the starting center did not play. The point here being that too much emphasis is being placed on mistakes in the center-qb exchange when analyzing Golson. More reps as the starter should eliminate these problems in short order.

    Finally, we all saw last year how Michigan’s Robinson was able to use his talent and leadership to overcome his mistakes to beat ND (and a lot of other teams). Golson has the type of talent and leadership to do the same. Moreover, he has a terrific arm and knows when to use touch or throw a fastball. Plus, if he has an open field in front of him on a broken pass play, he looks to be able to go the distance the way Robinson has done. If we don’t use Golson now, he’s gone. Don’t expect him to wait around for Kiel to take the job next year. I hope he starts but expect it to be Hendrix. If it is Rees – well, Kelly said it best, I’ve seen that movie (twice) before.

  24. nchdomer - Apr 22, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    One more comment. I would prefer an ND win that followed conventional wisdom but did not fit exactly within the coach’s “philosophy” or “system” than a loss where the coach’s “system” was given the highest priority. Sometimes the win creates a team confidence that trumps the benefits of following the “system,” while a loss sends the team in a downward direction. Tulsa in 2010 and Michigan in 2011 are examples of losses that changed the seasons of both teams. Does anyone doubt that Michigan’s season would have been much different if it had lost to ND? Where would ND be if it simply kicked the game winning field goal against Tulsa instead of throwing an endzone interception?

    I recently saw a replay on the Big Ten Network of part of the Michigan v. ND game last year. The long gain at the end of that game came on a play that I did not realize had earlier resulted in an interception of a Robinson pass in the first half. Prophetically, Herbstreit, on the replay of the interception, showed the running back alone on the sideline and said that if Denard had thrown to this player, it could have gone for a touchdown. I suspect the Michigan coaches saw that too and when the play was needed again, told Robinson to look to his right for a wide open receiver rather than hoping he would find the receiver going through his normal progressions. ND’s defense seemed to be the same on both plays, with the sideline pattern again being ignored in favor of covering the crossing pattern to the middle of the field. Sometimes simple works.

  25. danirish - Apr 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Stop stop stop! So sick of the armchair qb’ing. I don’t care if you’ve coached high school football, councilled kids, swept the floor of the Vatican, but you haven’t sat in a private conversation with Golsen or any qb with Kelly.

    Its 3rd and 1, the Irish need a first down, Golsen is confused, no matter how much physical talent he has can stop that! OH NO A DELAY OF GAME! Now the same head-bobbers who are screaming at Kelly to start Golsen are yelling AT Kelly AND Golsen!

    What I saw from the BLUE AND GOLD game was this – BETTER NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL THAN I’VE SEEN SINCE 1995. If you can’t see improvement, check your glasses.

    What I love about ND is that while Lynch’s departure stinks it was his decision not because he was suspended or busted for drugs. If he loves his girlfriend – great! At least we didn’t read where he beat her up! Which headline do we want? Maybe we should’ve told Tee Shepard to not go to class or major in parks & rec like they do at USC, Alabama, LSU?

    I belileve this is going to be a fascinating year, I hope for a NC but I think we are going to see something new, a beast being born.

    I’d start Golsen, but I’ll admit I wasn’t on the sidelines or in the locker room. Go Coach Kelly, Go Irish and GO IRISH NATION! GOLD AND BLUE, THROUGH AND THROUGH! SEPTEMBER IS TOO FAR AWAY! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    • nudeman - Apr 22, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      And who are you?

      Your post starts out ripping others for expressing their opinions, then you go on to give an earful of your “opinions.

      This board doesn’t exist without opinions and disagreement. As long as it’s civil. what’s the prob? Most here still like Kelly. But it’s all right to question moves here and there. His handling of the QBs during his tenure has been anything but perfect.

      Last: It’s “counseling”.

      • danirish - Apr 22, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        Who am I? I’m danirish. I was nothing but civil and coming from you seems a bit of a contradiction. I was not “ripping” but rather seeing as how some opinions seemed to edge towards “listen to me I know all” I found it funny and had to interject my opinion also. You’ve ruffled the feathers of quite of bit of people on this board, sorry to have moved in on your territory.

        You do have great posts for the most part and you do have to admit some people get carried away. I was civil and liken this baord to the local bar. For the most part I was the silent guy who finally decided to speak up. If I offended anyone then take this as my mea culpa, but for the last few days I’ve read mean posts about Aaron Lynch (and supportive) and mean posts about Kelly (as well as supportive)

        Do you not aggree it is better to see players leave for the reasons that they are unlike some programs who DON’T kick players for criminal acts. I live in Georgia where UGA has suspended all four DB’s for violations of somesort and the UGA fanbase is mad because UGA seems to be the only team that does that whhile players like Percy (failed drug tests) Harvin never seemed to miss a down – I don’t, as a ND fan, have to worry about that. My SEC friends jumped on me about Floyd but I shrugged it off.

        I can participate like anyone else and I will. As I’ve mentioned before, you are not innocent (what about dickasman or whatever that screen name is) of being hostile. I’ll keep it civil – you try also.

        Thanks for the spelling lesson :)

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