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A closer look at the depth chart: Offense

Aug 27, 2012, 9:17 PM EDT

John Goodman

With injuries, suspensions, and uncertainty in a few position battles, Brian Kelly released the season’s first official depth chart with a few minor surprises. We already knew quarterback Everett Golson locked up the starting quarterback job, but let’s run through the position groupings and see who broke camp in the starting lineup.

Here’s our first look, breaking down the Irish’s starters and back-ups for offense.


Everett Golson, Soph.
Andrew Hendrix, Jr.
Gunner Kiel, Fr.

Thoughts: It’ll be interesting to see where Tommy Rees inserts himself after he’s eligible to get back on the field. While the Irish staff has belief that Golson has the ability to lead this offense and run it in the fashion Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin hope, they also know Rees is capable — and likely ready — to take a step forward.

With the staff ready for anything, they’ll likely hope Golson does enough good to hold onto the job through the season’s first two weeks. More importantly, he’s got to get the Irish two victories.


Theo Riddick, Sr.
George Atkinson, Soph.
Will Mahone, Fr.

Thoughts: Cierre Wood finds himself missing from this depth chart thanks to his violation of team rules. That opens the door slightly for Mahone, who I’m guessing the Irish coaching staff absolutely don’t want to see on the field this year.

If you’re looking to impress your friends and are feeling gutsy, predict a big game for Atkinson. After an impressive spring culminated by a nice performance in the Blue-Gold game, I expect Atkinson to get a ton of touches against the Midshipmen, and turn a few into really big plays.


John Goodman, Sr.
Daniel Smith, Jr.
Justin Ferguson, Fr.

TJ Jones, Jr.
Davaris Daniels, Soph.
Chris Brown, Fr.

Robby Toma, Sr.
Davonte Neal, Fr.
Amir Carlisle, Soph.

Thoughts: This grouping is a head-scratcher. After hearing about the promise of youngsters like Daniels, Brown, and Neal, none of them are in the starting lineup. Whether that’s a nod to Kelly showing veteran loyalty or the talented trio not being ready, we’ll likely see in Dublin on Saturday.

There are rumors that John Goodman isn’t 100 percent going into Saturday’s game, which will likely shake up the depth chart outside. It’s also interesting to note that Amir Carlisle, who is still working his way back from a broken ankle, is listed at the slot receiver position.

Chris Brown, the freshman receiver who will likely signify the Irish’s best deep threat is buried beneath TJ Jones and Daniels. I still expect him to get a dozen offensive snaps this weekend. Also — even if Carlisle is injured, I expect him to see the field before Will Mahone, unless the Irish think they can save a year of his eligibility.


Tyler Eifert, Sr.
Ben Koyack, Soph.
Troy Niklas, Soph.
Jake Golic, Sr.

Thoughts: It’s the worst kept secret that Eifert is the team’s No. 1 tight end. He’s also the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, making the depth chart worth little more than the paper you’ll print it on. With Alex Welch out, the role of a traditional tight end will be given to Koyack and Niklas, with both sophomores having worlds of potential.


Left Tackle:

Zack Martin, Sr.
Ronnie Stanley, Fr.

Left Guard:

Chris Watt, Sr.
Connor Hanratty, Soph.


Braxston Cave, Sr.
Mike Golic, Sr.
Matt Hegarty, Soph.

Right Guard:

Mike Golic, Sr.
Connor Hanratty, Soph.

Right Tackle:

Christian Lombard, Jr.
Nick Martin, Soph.

Thoughts: There’s a lot to process here, but the easy takeaway is that the Irish don’t have a ton of depth here. There might not be a bigger plummet on the two-deep than the drop-off between senior Zack Martin and freshman Ronnie Stanley. Likewise, it’s interesting to see sophomore Connor Hanratty make his move into the two deep, providing depth at both guard positions, but expect fellow sophomore Nick Martin to be the first man off the bench to see the field if someone goes down. Starting right guard Mike Golic will be the first to slide to center if anything happens to Braxston Cave, while the injury to Tate Nichols kept the Irish really shy on options for a unit that needs a healthy season.


  1. halfwhitey - Aug 27, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    Just under 4 and a half days to go.

  2. bernhtp - Aug 27, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Keith, please keep a positive/informative article in your back pocket for use right after you need to post on an injury or suspension. I don’t want the negatives to dominate for so long again.

  3. nudeman - Aug 27, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    “they also know Rees is capable — and likely ready — to take a step forward.”

    Based on what, Keith?

    Played a little worse each wk last year until he was completely unwatchable vs. FSU
    Got zero snaps in camp. ZERO.

    Everything I see by other ND writers is that they have progressed so far past what Rees can do that there is no going back to him, and it’s likely he’ll never take another meaningful snap at ND.

    So you’re either selling your usual bowl of Tommy Sunshine or you know something the others don’t

    I tend to think it’s the former

    • bernhtp - Aug 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      Nude: don’t assume that Rees’ readiness to step forward is toward the football field. I certainly hope not.

      • nudeman - Aug 27, 2012 at 10:37 PM

        Nor do I
        But how can you interpret Keith’s comment any other way?
        I know I beat the TR drum too frequently, and I just was getting to the point where I thought he was in our rear view mirror

        Then Keith writes about how “capable” he is and how the coaches know it


        Do you see ANYONE ELSE writing or saying that?

        NOBODY believes he has a future as a QB at ND

      • bernhtp - Aug 27, 2012 at 10:49 PM

        I read and listen to a fair number of analysts/writers and I can’t think of any that see Rees getting the job back absent tragedy to more capable players. For one, it would mean taking a step backward in the playbook/offense where it now has progressed to exploit other QB abilities to provide a run threat, extend plays with their feet, and throw bullets down and/or across the field.

    • nudeman - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:28 AM


      Keith, I have long wondered if there is a relationship between you and the Rees family
      Friends? Relatives?

      99% of what you write on this blog is informative and on target. A great read.
      The 1% has been your consistent support of Rees
      You’ve written things that absolutely no one else believes are remotely close to true

      I know this article is about a lot more than the QB situation so I’ll cool it
      But I have felt and continue to feel there is more at work here than your journalistic observations

      • don74 - Aug 28, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        Nude reads or hears the name….Tommy Rees. Darkness fills his face, his eyes narrow, his body grows stiff and then…madness erupts…………..

        Slowly I turned,,,,,,. step by step,,,,,,,inch by inch……..

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:57 AM


      I love ya man, but SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY!!!

      Just let the TR stuff float in one ear and out the other (or rather float in one eyeball and out the other?) So Keith gave TR a semi-compliment…GIVE IT A FLOCKING REST ALREADY…

      • nudeman - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        Well I knew I’d get pounded for that and you all didn’t disappoint
        That is my final word on the TR subject
        Unless and until he takes a snap with the game on the line
        Or unless Keith writes a 1000 word piece on why he should be starting

        Keith, good zinger, sir
        Even if I was the “zing-ee” it’s good to see you stay engaged on a thread

    • Keith Arnold - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:32 AM

      Nude, I think after the last few weeks of breaking stories you’d maybe get the idea that I might have some insight into the program and access to people who have some qualified thoughts on the roster.

      Or maybe I just felt like trolling you from Ireland to get you worked up.

      Tough to tell.

      • dmacirish - Aug 28, 2012 at 8:05 AM

        love it.

      • joeschu - Aug 28, 2012 at 8:18 AM

        Best. Comment. Ever.

        I twitched a bit when I read that line in the article too… just aching to get down to the comments to see nude’s naked explosion.

        Then to get down here and see KA himself toying with the guy over a tasty Guinness… WOW!

        Well played Keith… well played sir!

        Nude: Perhaps KA is plugged in to BK in a way that neither admits. They seem to be the only people outside Tommy’s Mom who think he should take the field again. 😉

      • NotreDan - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        BAH hahahaha

        Keith, drink one for me too. LOL

      • nudeman - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        And Keith, I don’t believe for a second you’re tweaking your columns in order to tweak me
        If that’s the case then you’ve let ME get to YOU

        More likely, for some reason you really do believe ths stuff you write about Tommy
        “Why?” is anybody’s guess. I’ve stated what mine (guess) is.

    • cameronemclaughlin - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      It’s not crazy to think that Tommy could be better than he was last year. While his arm and speed won’t improve, his biggest problem was decision making and taking care of the football. This is something that can improve dramatically with maturity.

      Yes, Tommy’s had off-field problem indicating immaturity, but M. Floyd had similar issues and came back for a huge season.

      Golson will play well, and this will be a non-issue unless he’s hurt, but I think Tommy will backup Everett. From what I’ve seen (last year, Blue/Gold, tiny practice snippets on, while Tommy isn’t the QB of the future, I think with improved decision making he gives us a better chance to win than Hendrix.

      I just don’t know if Hendrix will figure it out, and Gunner just might not be ready (though I’d be darn excited to see what he could do).

      • nudeman - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        It IS crazy to think that. Sorry
        It just is.

  4. aceinthehole12 - Aug 27, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Can’t wait til Golson and Wood are on the field together.

  5. georgegipp - Aug 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    I love the starting 5 on the O-line. Experienced, big, strong. Can compete with almost anyone. SEC caliber. I also think Golic is going to excel at guard (for those of you who had questions about his performance at center last year).

    The lack of depth is worrying – more than 1 injury and things start to look sketchy. Moreover, our lack of depth with really come into play next year. I can see us starting at least 1 true freshman next year alongside a bunch of guys with very limited playing time. Particularly if Prestwood doesn’t make it back to ND.

    I hope Kelly gets the QB situation sorted this year while we have our big, experienced O-line. Because the idea of starting a new or inexperienced QB next year alongside a new and inexperienced O-line is a recipe for disaster.


  6. 04domergrad - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Before reading this article, I was excited about the fresh blood at receiver (Daniels, Brown, Neal), but now it looks like we’re in for another ho-hum dose of Goodman, Jones and Toma. 2 starting white receivers is rarely a recipe for success, and both guys are 3rd down, possession-type receivers… a role already filled quite well by Mr. Eifert. TJ Jones has seemingly been on a steady decline since he’s got here.

    We need playmakers at receivers. Maybe we’ll see 7-8 receivers rotating in and out all game, but I’m hoping that depth chart is flipped upside down by the end of the season.

    Screw it, just run the ball!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:04 AM

      Yeah, i hate those Wes Welker, solid hands, just get open and do your job types. Pisses me off. And the comment about white receivers….I KNOW, RIGHT!

      BK is starting CAWCASHUNS!!! REEEE DIK YOU LUS!!!! Put those honkies on the O-Line. People are going to laugh at us every time those guys accidently catch an 8 yard pass for a first down….

      Can’t believe BK is doing this…he’s been at every fall practice, but we’ve seen numerous 2 minute clips. Kinda makes you say WTF is he thinking?

      ….white people starting at receiver (idrather shaking his head)

    • cameronemclaughlin - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      This guy didn’t see the catch totals that Welker, Hernandez, and Gronkowski put up last year.


      97 receptions
      1,269 yards
      11 TDs

      • 04domergrad - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        You referenced a team with 1 starting white receiver…

  7. mcartman89 - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    hate to be the pessimest in the thread, but say 6 games in the Irish are 2-4, I can only see a full swing youth movement by BK to save face and show the true direction of the Irish program. Outside of the all-americans, ND doesn’t have the talented experienced upper-classmen that a USC or pretty much any SEC school has.

    • piratey - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM

      You are aware that USC is starting a true freshman at left tackle right? No? You’re not? I didn’t think so. You also didn’t know they have almost no scholarship depth on either the Offensive or Defensive line. Their D-Line was ravaged by injuries.

      USC is an EXTREMELY flawed teams. Yes their is talent at WR and they have one talented QB. But their lines are trash. Their secondary ranked 102nd in the nation against the pass last year. And last I checked, their coach is a buffoon.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:17 AM

      6 games in we SHOULD be holding 5-6 wins. Personally, i think Michigan State and Stanford are highly overrated.

      I’d expect the MSU running game to be tough (it always is), but I don’t expect them to have great success against our front 7. And their defense will probably be quality, but nothing to fear.

      Stanford returns an unproven head coach and a handful of position players that have NO experience…most notably at QB and TE.

      Miami will be wasted from a night on the town in the windy city…making it rain in strip clubs creates a sloppy football game.

      Shoelace Robinson and the Wolverines are the only game in the first 6 that should pose a real threat.

      ND will do better than 2-4 if they rotating in QB’s every play and move Manti to free safety.

  8. mmcss690 - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    Keith, ohhh, snap! you got nude… Hook, line, and sinker!

  9. gtizzo - Aug 28, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Nice Keith,

    I think we will see a lot of the younger wide receiver talent this season. Also the offensive line is getting help with 5 more this recruiting class. Who on the offensive line has another year possible?

  10. ndnphx - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Goodman and Jones have not shown much Division One ability to separate and catch passes, and Toma is a possession receiver. This personnel group is out there to block. The coaches must be planning to run, run, and then run some more.

    That should take care of Navy. We’re going to need to use the kid receivers for the rest of the schedule, though, and I hope we see them at least situationally in Dublin.

  11. mmcss690 - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    And the final jeopardy round question.

    Known for his many starting QB rantings, followed by one of the following lines:
    That is my final word on the TR subject…
    This is the last time I mention the starting QB….
    Ok, I’m done talking about Rees…


    • NotreDan - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      who is…


      • nudeman - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        Close … very close
        But no

        On the right track, but wrong out of control whack job

      • dmacirish - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        got to hand it to you there nude, if you can’t laugh at your own naked self then life could be kind of difficult.

        mm – i gave you one of those thumbs up by the way, inventive and funny.

  12. notredave - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    I agree with you 100% on your opinion about Tommy, nudeman. No sense getting worked up about it unless and until he enters the game though. Barring injury, I don’t think EG is giving up the rock. I’m also hoping AH is the next option if EG should get hurt. Should be securing my tixs to the ND/OU game this weekend! GO IRISH!!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      First of all, NOBODY agrees with Nudey 100%, because you’d have to know what all of the voices in his head are saying to agree 100%. and secondly…..

      I think your screen name violates the second commandment?

  13. chisports14 - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Can anyone tell me which senior offensive linemen still have eligibility left? It looks like the position will be extremely thin next year

    • rico75 - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      I think Cave and Golic are the only ones who will use up all their eligibility this season.

  14. 818irish - Aug 28, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    I just got done re-watching Golson’s High School highlights as well as his Blue/Gold highlights… Time to get excited folks.

  15. mmcss690 - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Thanks dmac, I appreciate positive feedback! It’s the negative stuff I can’t deal with (according to my wife).

  16. seamus0317 - Aug 28, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Pay attention to Christian Lombard, this kid can play!

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