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Irish recruits hit The Opening

Jul 6, 2012, 1:20 PM EDT

Apologies for an abbreviated post. Thanks to a massive thunderstorm in northern Minnesota, we’re coming to you live via 3G with no power to be had in the greater Leech Lake area. But that won’t stop us from giving you a bit of an Irish football update, where six Notre Dame ’13 recruits will take part in The Opening, a high-profile Nike sponsored combine.

Jaylon Smith leads the group of recruits, joined by CB Devin Butler, OLs Steve Elmer and Colin McGovern, andWRs James Onwualu and Corey Robinson. The Notre Dame contingency will work through SPARQ testing and 7-on-7 drills while helping or hurting their proverbial stock, an exercise that’s a little bit silly considering just about every recruit in Oregon have multiple scholarship offers on the table.

One uncommitted recruit to keep an eye on is linebacker Alex Anzalone. He’s set to make a decision sometime this weekend, choosing between Notre Dame, Penn State and Florida. All three schools feel like they’re in a good place for the talented linebacker, with family ties to the Gators helping Will Muschamp, a brother in State College and proximity to home helping the Nittany Lions, and a great familiarity with players, coaches and recruits turning this into the Irish’s battle to lose. Locking in Anzalone would most likely finalize the Irish’s linebacking corps for the year and put together an impressive group with Smith, and Danny Mattingly on the outside, and Michael Deeb joining Anzalone on the inside.  


  1. canadianndfan - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    While it would be awesome to get a verbal from Anzalone, I’m really hoping that some of the other top recruits there are considering the Irish. We could really use a couple of DB’s and WR’s to help round out what has been an impressive haul thus far. I know Jaylon and the boys are doing their best to sway uncommitted players…..hopefully they’re listening!

  2. nudeman - Jul 6, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Waiting … watching … waiting ……….

    • papadec - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      nude – funny, but you have entirely too much time on your hands.

  3. paiten34 - Jul 7, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    Anzalone would be a nice commitment to receive at this time. Notre Dame needs a nice strong finish to this years recruitment class. After what happen last year ND could use a strong close to end the summer and start the season. Kelly will need to show a marked improvement this year in how the team plays. Even if ND only has a 8 or 9 win season they need to show improvement.

    Kelly can’t have another season full of mistakes that cause the team to lose. No matter who starts at QB ND must cut down on it’s mistakes meaning don’t beat themselves. Then the team must create more turnovers plus both sides of the ball need less penalties.

    As long as the team shows its recruits that they’re improving we should have a nice incoming class and the coaching staff will show that they’re building a program that will win games and help make its players better and allow them to have bright futures.

    • nudeman - Jul 7, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      “Kelly can’t have another season full of mistakes that cause the team to lose.”

      paiten, BINGO. No bigger issue in SB than this one, regardless of who the QB is.
      Here’s what concerns me: I know they ruined 2011 with mistakes. YOU know it.
      Most importantly, THEY know it.
      They talked about it all offseason. And I’m sure it was the focus of Spring practice.

      Then what happened in the B&G game? They came out and coughed it up 6 times.

      I’m not so sure they’ve figured this out.

      • bernhtp - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        Do you have any doubt that the QB position is foremost on Kelly’s mind? Don’t you think that he desperately wants one of the others to take a huge step forward and transcend Rees’ (obvious) limitations? Do you not think he sees way more than we do in evaluating the QB’s. Do you think that the advocacy of key players such as Floyd and Eifert for Rees last year was completely misguided?

        Kelly clearly saw significant weakness in the other QB options last year – Crist and Hendrix, with Golson not even being a contender – and figured the Rees would give the best opportunity for winning. He hoped that Rees would develop into a better QB than he did. Instead, opposing defenses learned to exploit his weaknesses and limitations so that he became even less effective with time. Do you doubt that Kelly understands this?

        If Rees takes significant snaps this fall, it is because the other guys haven’t progressed or were stricken with terrible injuries. I wouldn’t fault Kelly for the choice, but I would fault him for the lack of development in the other contenders. We have three guys that can be (much) better than Rees, and if at least one isn’t, I want to know why.

      • irishfb05 - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:26 PM

        If Kelly starts Rees I will for sure blame Kelly. Golson looked much better than the other qbs in the BG game. Sure he wasn’t perfect but of the few fumbled snaps he didn’t have any turnovers. Who cares if he doesn’t know all the playbook just have a smaller playbook you have to get your best athletes on the field. Golson can stretch the D with his arm and they have to respect his running ability which will make it a little bit easier to read the D as there will be more holes than with Rees who is essentially playing against a redzone defense the whole way down the field.

        I can’t figure Kelly out sticking by a mediocre qb just because he feels SAFE with that pick. He said Golson is a heart attack for him. Why is he anymore of a heart attack than the others? He will make some plays and sure he might make a mistake but we KNOW Rees will make a mistake. Why does Kelly feel better about this team if Rees turns it over 19 times as opposed to the other more athletic options?

      • nudeman - Jul 7, 2012 at 4:29 PM

        bern and irishfb
        I agree with all you’ve written, but – for once – my post wasn’t about Rees
        It was about the turnovers and how they torpedoed the 2001 season, and how it appears they haven’t figured it out

        You could EASILY make the case that had Rees been less careless with the ball, maybe only had 12 turnovers instead of 19, they win 10 games
        And that changes our entire dialogue during this offseason

        So with that as backdrop how do they come out and turn it over 6 times in BG?

        The most galling thing about the Rees/BK partnership isn’t how poorly he played.
        Rather it’s about how Kelly apparently NEVER held him accountable
        Kept running him out there and he kept turning it over
        I don’t get that

      • bernhtp - Jul 7, 2012 at 8:28 PM
        This is from an article about GA3, but expresses Kelly’s fear about Golson too:

        “George is too good of a player for him to sit on the bench and not get involved in what we do,” summarized head coach Brian Kelly, with the caveat that Atkinson and classmate/quarterback Everett Golson are also “a heart attack for me.”

        Unfortunately while Atkinson and Golson might be heart attacks, Rees’ play has proven malignant.

        I agree on the accountability quality. Everyone expected Hendrix to get some significant minutes after he really had a superb performance in the Air Force game. But that never really happened. Crist was left holding the clipboard during periods where Rees was absolutely miserable. Apparently Kelly thought that Rees was his best option and that pulling him, with the lack of confidence this represents, would diminish his performance further. No one agrees (or cares).

      • fredshaheen - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        Kelly is the biggest part of the puzzle. I believe that his on the field coaching and demeanor will be a big piece in whether of not the Irish have a successful season.

  4. c4evr - Jul 7, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    OK, turnovers and mistakes… What are the ingredients that make this irish stew? Insecurity, which leads to uncertainty, which leads to fearfulness. My theory is that many of BK’s calls and personnel moves have been made out of insecurity. Certainly, his public persona has been one of confidence and leadership, but how do you explain so many mental errors and turnovers?? His first year, he gets a pass – everyone’s learning a new scheme. By year 2, though, the ship should be pretty tight and players have bought in. An argument could be made that last year was a step backwards in regards to mistakes/errors/turnovers. Could it be that kelly is mishandling teaching opportunities as they arise? We’ve all seen him red-faced on the sidelines spewing profanities only to have mistakes continue and, in some cases, worsen. The quality and content of his ‘teaching moments’ can only be judged by results – and so far, the results have been mixed at best. I hate to keep playing the Holtz card, but he seemed to always do his yelling and then end end it with a pat on the helmet as if to say, “Hey, it’s only a game and we’ll figure it out.” And if you are going to be measured, you might as well be measured against the best.

    Number 4 on Holtz’s top 10 lessons:

    Coaches can never be “insecure” in who they are. Insecurity lessens a coach’s ability to give positive feedback and praise to their athletes.

    One red flag in regards to insecurity is a coach’s certainty that his way is right (see post game remarks after last year’s USC game), and that somehow it’s the players’ shortcomings. Today’s kids are pretty bright – especially ND kids – and they can read between the lines. He has often laid the blame at his players’ feet (or Weis’ recruits), which leads to another of Holtz’s lessons.

    Lou addresses uncertainty in lesson number 8, He believed three questions between the coach and the athletes needed to be answered through both words and behavior. These three questions were:
    1. Do you trust me (on and off the field)?
    2. Are you committed? (There are to be no pretenders and no imposters).
    3. Do you care about me? These questions needed to be answered if the team was to build strong relationships with each other.

    BK will go a long way in winning over players, fans (me included), and critics if he can communicate a ‘yes’ answer to the above questions in 2012. Now someone might say that Kelly answered ‘yes’ to #1 when he had Rees throw in the end zone against Tulsa. I contend that he said ‘no’ to #3 with that decision… the kid’s a true freshman and a lot rides on his early, formative game experience. If you care about the kid, DON’T SET HIM UP TO FAIL.

    It’s been a string of similar mishandled opportunities that has taken the Irish program from a culture of losing in to a culture of uncertainty resulting in mental errors and turnovers – and that has been a reflection of it’s coach. It’s the small details that show me where BK’s head is at, like adding rock music and glitzy new helmets… makes me long for the days when Holtz showed up and had all the players’ names removed from their jerseys to emphasize team play.

    • nudeman - Jul 7, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      A well written post, much of which I agree with. However …

      … I loved Holtz too, and remember lots of grabbing the facemask and screaming type of stuff but don’t remember a lot of helmet pats at the end of those blow ups.

      Also, when Rees threw that INT against Tulsa, BK met him half way out on the field, calm and collected, might have put his arm around him, and there was no animation or screaming. He handled that well.

      So my point is nothing is as black and white as you make it.

      There are lots of ways to skin a cat. Saban doesn’t strike me as a warm and fuzzy “hey, we’ll get ’em next time” kind of guy. Lombardi certainly wasn’t.
      The only one who was perpetually happy was Pete Carroll, and he had to cheat to win.

      I’m not a BK apologist and I’ve frankly been stunned by some of the game and personnel decisions he’s made, and the aforementioned turnovers and penalties. But I think too much has been made of a few isolated incidents and comments.

      So I think it breaks down this way:
      2010: Barely his team; new coach; lousy talent on D. He gets a pass.
      2011: Not so good. Penalties, turnovers, sloppy play, bad decisions.
      2012: This year will tell us if 2011 was an anomaly. There is no longer any excuse for:
      – 2 QBs who’ve been there over a year, neither of whom know the playbook
      – 2 QBs there over a year and he doesn’t trust them to to run the offense.
      – Using that as an excuse to play a MAC level QB who has no talent
      – Losing games because of penalties, INTs and preposterous game decisions
      – Blowing up after games and making “my guys” kinds of comments

      The seat is a little warmer now than 12 months ago.

      • c4evr - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:37 AM

        OK, so I might be editorializing on Kelly’s sideline admonishments, while being a little nostalgic in my memories of Holtz, but I stand by my theory otherwise. But it seems unanimous that year three is make or break for Kelly’s reign.

      • nudeman - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        I don’t really disagree with anything you wrote. I just think in this day and age of cameras and media everywhere, if you hiccup on the sidelines it’s on ESPN with 1M commenting on it.

        When Ara was the coach, they were on nat’l tv 2x year and there were probably no more than 3-4 cameras per telecast. Now 13 games are televised, there are probably 15 cameras there to catch every little transgression where it can be played over and over for weeks, not to mention be posted on YouTube where it lives forever.

        Lou most definitely got it done. Kelly is still trying to find his way.
        I sincerely hope he does because he seems like an honest, ethical, hard working ND type of guy. Great recruiter. Great Irish pedigree. I still like him.

  5. nudeman - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    The more I think and read about it (some guy with the handle of “nddecker” posts some great inside info on 4HL) the more convinced I am that Tommy Rees, barring injuries, is finished taking meaningful snaps as the ND QB.

    We might see him in garbage time, but he’s done as a starter.

    Just a strong hunch.

    • russknox - Jul 8, 2012 at 12:08 AM

      Nude I love your comments. I find them to be both thoughtfull and they utilize common sense. Rxcept for the arguments with goat,,, hahaha. Keep em coming with the insught and thought provoking responses.

  6. 11thstreetmafia - Jul 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Why do you people leave such long posts?

    • nudeman - Jul 8, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Because we can

    • c4evr - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      Why the long posts? Because some people are hub people and some are spokes people. While many posters like to debate the pros and cons of specific details, I feel the problems stem from the heart of a matter. All current issues surrounding ND football flow from a central issue, IMHO, which is Kelly’s inability to handle a program of this magnitude. He’s a nice guy, a lot to like, you want to root for him. But at the end of the day, he’s more like the coaching version of Tommy Rees – still making the same mistakes while apparently avoiding all the responsibility.

      • nudeman - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:22 PM

        I think that’s a bit harsh

        For now, especially on the heels of the Anzalone announcement, the man is building a very talented roster and can recruit with the best

        Having said that, if this year’s team exhibits the same proclivity for turnovers and penalties and just f**king THROWS games away like last year, and if FOR GOD’S SAKE HE STARTS TOMMY REES at qb, then I’ll revisit the issue

        But today is a GOOD day and I’d high 5 BK if he was here right now

      • bernhtp - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:55 PM

        You miss the forest for the trees. Kelly et al are building a program. I see the progress.

        Listen to Swarbrick on the matter:

      • nudeman - Jul 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        That Swarbrick clip was great. The line at the very end was the best: “your weakest link will determine your fate”. How true.

        The weakest link is no longer the OL and DL. Nor is it the D in general.
        Right now the weakest link is at QB, and frankly a close 2nd is Kelly’s game management. I’m prepared to say last year was an anomaly, but if this year is full of interceptions, fumbles and Tommy Rees starting games, then BK is officially is the weak link.

  7. irishdodger - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Anzalone is Irish…for now.

  8. bearcatirishfan - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I know I’ve been by pro kelly, but nude I’m on your side with the last comment. There needs to be tremendous improvement in game management and ball control. If this doesn’t happen then the writing is on the wall I’m afraid. QB, unfortunately I want to say we have to have improvement, given what we have just not sure it’s going to happen regardless of who starts, Rees is Rees, the others will make mistakes given their inexperience, hopefully better play calling will help stave some of that off.

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