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Martin looking for better execution from young offense

Sep 28, 2012, 12:41 AM EDT

Chuck Martin

One of the unfortunate byproducts of Notre Dame’s decision to keep the assistant coaches away from the media is that we get less time with offensive coordinator Chuck Martin. Moved from the secondary to get the Irish offense back on track, Martin has been tasked with getting an offense with a first time quarterback, a rebuilt offensive line, and without the school’s all-time leading wide receiver playing better than it did last season.

While Notre Dame is 4-0, the results haven’t come quite as quick as many have hoped. And with the Irish on bye week, Martin was afforded the opportunity to discuss with the media why. You can see the entire conversation below in the video, but here are some parts that I found interesting.


When it comes to evaluating the play of rookie QB Everett Golson, Martin certainly doesn’t dwell on the fact that the sophomore hasn’t finished any of his starts. He considers the fact that he’s playing in front of a depth chart that features Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, and Gunner Kiel, enough of an accomplishment.

“The kid’s started four straight games as a first year player,” Martin said. “You’ve got to take some solace in that if you’re Everett Golson. There are three other talented kids and you’ve got the nod. The first four games of eligibility he’s started.

“And then the second thing is you keep accentuating all the good things that he’s done. He’s played a lot of snaps and done a lot of good things. We’ve said from day one, you’re not going to be a great quarterback as a freshman. It’s very rare. He may be great in spurts, for a period of time, or a completely game. Just to play, there are so many experiences from him.”

A good glass-half-full solution to the situation for Golson, who needs to put the past in the rearview mirror  and try to forget about his performance against Michigan.


If you were looking for a better rationale for when Tommy Rees gets inserted into the game, Martin was candid about the inexact science about bringing in the back-up, more experienced, quarterback.

“You’re still just making an educated guess. You don’t know,” Martin confessed. “We brought Tommy in last week and the first drive we drive down and score. We didn’t know. It looked pretty good after we drove down and scored. It’s more of a feel and it’s also the feel of having a young quarterback and knowing how he’s doing in that moment in time.”

It was pretty good timing for Kelly and Martin on the quarterbacking move and its hard to fault the coaches for riding Rees until the end of the football game. Building a young quarterback’s confidence is important, but no where near as important as winning the football game.


A few days after Brian Kelly downplayed Tyler Eifert‘s role as a receiver in the passing game, Martin admitted that Notre Dame needs to find ways to get the football to its All-American tight end.

“It’s not as much a product of Tyler not being involved in the passing game, but how efficiently we can throw the football in certain situations and make good decisions and make good reads,” Martin said. “Trust me, Tyler has been doing awesome and he’s been an unbevlieable teammate and competitor. We’re a better team if the ball gets in No. 80’ss direction more.”

Part of the problem here is the fact that the Irish aren’t getting great blocking out of the tight end position. Not to pile on sophomore Ben Koyack, but he’s struggled in the execution portion of this offense. Whether its attached to the offensive line or in space on screen passes, Koyack has swung and missed on a number of blocks, forcing Eifert to stay in the role of a traditional tight end while Troy Niklas continues to play impressive football at the point of attack.


With young offenses, you often wonder what the identity of the unit will become. Martin isn’t so worried about that, he’ll leave that for someone else to decide. He’s working on getting the team to execute better.

“I don’t think we’re searching for identity,” Martin said. “We’re still searching for consistent execution in the run and the pass game. Our run game has been better over the first four games than some of the things we’ve done in the pass game. We’re still trying to be consistent in both areas, when we’ve executed we’ve been pretty good in both areas. When we haven’t, we’re playing pretty good teams. When you’re not executing against the teams we’re playing, you’re not going to have success.”

Will that execution include getting Golson more involved in the run game with the zone-read quarterback keep?

“The kid can definitely be an asset in the run game long term,” Martin said. “The rest of this year, I don’t know how much we’re going to run him. We know he’s got some good athleticism and the ability to run the ball. But there’s a lot on his plate.”


  1. dickasman - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Chucky, I ain’t been too impressed with your play calling. I’m not sure if its you or bk but you need to stop going to the well one too many times. Let it be known that the well has been a shallow one at that. You ain’t no gruden chucky! There is plenty of room for improvement in play calling dept.

    • turkisland - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:54 PM

      Agreeed !

    • turkisland - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:55 PM

      Exactly right about that !

  2. seadomer - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Stanford>USC, WA>Stanford … that takes out some fun chopping the tree.
    Kinda knew we could beat them if we bring a complete game.
    It cautions the Irish not to over look Miami and BYU etc

    • alsatiannd - Sep 28, 2012 at 7:28 AM

      Our strength of schedule stock seems to plummet every weekend. I take solace that we’ve gotten good results with one hand tied behind our back, aka a sputtering offense. Once the offense gets itself together, this team backfills its hollow Top Ten ranking. Then we’re solid Top Ten, not dubious Top Ten.

      • madmick69 - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        That’s why they need to stop ranking teams in the preseason and hold off until week 5 or 6. It is a formula that really doesn’t work. Last years record + or – returning players = preseason ranking. Just doesn’t work that way. Couple that with most teams scheduling cream puffs as their non-conference games and you really don’t get an adequate evaluation of exactly how tough or easy a schedule is or how good a football team is for that fact.

        Just my thoughts on it…really boils down to some teams don’t or haven’t earned the ranking they have been given.

  3. yaketyyacc - Sep 28, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    don’t look at their record. Miami will be the most dangerrous team yet. their passing game has resembled the miami of old. EXPLOSIVE. they can score two touchdowns in two minutes. an 18 point lead over them, doesn’t shake them.
    The best defense Notre Dame can have is a good offense. We will need at least 30 points to be in the game. you’ve will have had two weeks to wake up the offense, and turn it into a razorsharp well-executing unit.
    Frankly, the article doesn’t reflect it. I hope this will be a matter of your actions speaking more then the iffy words.

    • ndgoldandblue - Sep 28, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      And good morning to you too, sunshine. I’m not overlooking Miami, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that they’re the most dangerous team that we will have faced compared to Purdue, Michigan and MSU. If you’re worried about Miami’s offense, just look at Purdue. They scored 48 and 54 points, respectively, in their other two games. Against the Irish, Purdue put up a big whopping 17. With Miami, the only decent defense they have faced this year limited them to 13 points.

      I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Miami’s defense, which is about as porous as swiss cheese. I’m pretty sure 21 points wins this game for the Irish, and I’m certain that 24 does it. Now, if Notre Dame’s offense can’t score three touchdowns on this Miami defense, then they really have some issues to work out.

    • bearcatirishfan - Sep 28, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Not that I think the Kane’s should be taken lightly but let’s remember Miami might have score points but it ain’t exactly been against stellar competition. BC, cook, and GT. Their one loss came agains Kansas state and they only scored 13.

      I don’t know who cook is.

    • ndfaithful - Sep 29, 2012 at 6:10 AM

      I respect the opinion, and I think it’s important to not overlook Miami. I think they are a good team. But I’m not buying the fear factor so much.

      I don’t see Miami putting up 24 points next week even if our offense sputters. I think the longer our defense is on the field, the more sacks and injuries for Miami will pile up. While I’d never ask for a long day with the defense on the field a lot, it wouldn’t worry me. Heck – they (ND’s defense) is going to score a few points too given enough chances.

      I think the UM game will wake up a few Irish players and I think they’ll come back strong. I expect the Irish to get real healthy against an old rival. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us with our best appearance (at least on the scoreboard) since the Navy game.

      GO IRISH!!!

  4. North of Denver - Sep 28, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    EG simply has not matured. The most illustrative example is when he threw those interceptions against UM. BK was on the sidelines ready to talk with him and EG ignores him and goes to sit on the bench. EG will need time to solve that and get comfortable running the offense. Once he does, the interceptions will be limited, the pass game improves, opponents stop loading the box and the running game improves. This offense will rise and fall with EG’s maturity level. Until then, I’m banking on the Defense (and TR in the 4th quarter) to get us through the season.

    • ER Jedi - Sep 28, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      Give me a break. If 5 weeks ago someone told you that EG would only throw 3 pics in the first 4 games, everyone in SB nation would be be like, “Sounds great! Sign me up”. The kid’s doing great,and has exceeded my expectations for a first time starter, anywhere on any team. Do I need to remind you that the Heisman candidate on the other side of the ball threw 5 pics in a row? IF EG is “immature” then what is Denard? Far more than than not, the kid’s making the right play, doing the smart thing. Sure, he’s made a few bad snap decisions, but he’s never looked lost out there, never looked out of control, panicked or clueless. 90% of the time he throws it away when should, pulls it down and runs when he should. Show me another first year quarterback that’s looked better than this kid has. Hell, show me all the seniors doing it better. I’ll take EG to the bank any day of the week, for a freshman quarterback, or for any QB.

      • turkisland - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:04 AM

        ER Jedi . . . Golson has been both good and bad . If your not willing to admit that , yourt as bad as those your condemming for having an opinnion opposite of yours .
        Golson has in fact looked loss a couple times….and really hasn’ shown “great” legs he’s been adertised to have. One nice rrun to the outside cone for touchdown was good !
        I wouldn’t brag too much about averaging amost 1 interception a game seeing as Tommy’s had to finish some for him .

      • ndfaithful - Sep 29, 2012 at 6:17 AM

        If you could take the Michigan game and remove it from history, I’d agree with you. But I cannot. Against Michigan, he absolutely looked out of control, panicked, and clueless (simultaneously at times).

        Now, on the other hand, i think it’s downright silly to say he hasn’t ‘matured’ or to conclude that he’s immmature or think that he ignores the head coach. The young man has played his first four games in a fishbowl and in high pressure situations each week. I think he’s doing very well when you consider everything and I think he has some very special performances within him this year. Let’s not forget – he WAS the scoring offense against MSU. I just don’t think you can expect it every week yet.

        P.S. – LOVED the Martin interview

    • nudeman - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      has not “matured”???

      Give me a break. How much does ANYONE “mature” in 4 weeks?
      Actually, his sideline demeanor was markedly better when he was pulled vs. UM as opposed to vs. Purdue.

      So the kid’s making progress. Leave him alone.

      • North of Denver - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        Jedi/ Nude:
        1) I agree with both of you, but please re-read my post. Nobody (including me) could reasonably expect a first year starter to lead us to a NC. I am not saying he should be mature (just ask Fr. George in Alumni where I was at at the same time); I am only saying that he isn’t and it’s going to take a while for him to feel comfortable running the offense. Until he reaches that point, expectations for high Offensive performance has to be subdued. I am comfortable with where he is at and that he’s meeting all reasonable expectations for a first year starter.
        2) Jedi: May the Force be with you.

      • nudeman - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        Golson is a great example of the trite saying “everybody’s different”
        Tommy Rees, by all accounts seems mature beyond his years
        Hendrix seems to be a little but less so, but in no way “immature”
        Kiel, from the few interviews I’ve seen seems very bright and mature

        Golson strikes me as a kid who is extremely sensitive. If a coach gets in his face or if he gets yanked from a game, he’ll take it more personally than the other guys.
        Does this make him the wrong profile for a QB? Does it mean the other guys are what you always want?
        Absolutely not.
        It means he’s a young kid and coming along at a different pace than the others. I guarantee he’s more grown up and mature today than 2 months ago.
        He’ll be fine.

  5. bernhtp - Sep 28, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    I personally enjoy the press conferences by Martin and Diaco more than Kelly. They bring a less-filtered and refreshing candor and style. They are impressive. I expect that both of these guys, especially Diaco, will get head coaching offers relatively soon. I hope the offer they can’t refuse – one by an upper-tier program – doesn’t come in the next couple of years.

    • nudeman - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      Martin seems like the ultimate “guy I’d want to have a beer with”

      • brothertrip - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM

        Had him as a teacher for coaching theory class his final year at GVSU, he is definitely that guy you want to have a beer with. Hilarious and straight to the point. Not to mention one heck of a football coach in my opnion.

      • don74 - Sep 28, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        Should I be insulted?

  6. madmick69 - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Play calling has been less than stellar but good enough to get things done. However, Chuck you’ll need to dial it up a bit with some of the opponents that are coming up on the schedule. I think the biggest bit of work still lies with the O line. While they have been adequate, they need to get back to basics and start opening some running lanes for the trio of speedsters in the backfield. Second, they need to do a much better job of giving EG time to throw the ball and third, need to get back to some verticle routes. I can’t recall the last time I saw a tailback on a wheel route! Dust off the screen and draw play a little more to keep defenses honest as well. More teams are going to force EG to beat them with his arm. He has the physical and mental tools to do it, he has the weapons at the skill positions, but the play calling hasn’t allowed him to take advantage of either tool set.

    One game at a time!

    GO IRISH!!!

    • ndfaithful - Sep 29, 2012 at 6:33 AM

      I think the play-calling has been fine. And I’m sure I’ll get the nay-sayers climbing all over that statement, but before they do – let me explain.

      I think a good coaching staff understands where their team is and calls plays that give them the best chance to win. Consider this:
      1. We got all over Navy and played to the strong mismatches all day long
      2. We threw the ball for nearly 300 yards in Golson’s first home gam
      3. We attached MSU early and got a solid lead. Play action, veritical routes, etc.
      4. We didn’t do anything stupid when we had solid leads and the defense was dominating.
      5. We haven’t been predictable all season – varying the game plan from Navy, to Purdue, to MSU, to UM, etc. (Seems the game plan for play calling went out the window at halftime along with EG).

      I think way too often, people look at struggling offenses and blame play calling. When the reality is that the coaches work with the players day in and day out and know their abilities and strengths a lot more than any fan does. Then they call plays and the kid misses a block or falls down or isn’t in the right place – and everyone says it was a bad play call.

      This interview reminded me that while BK and Kelly’s system have started to settle in after a few years of consistency, the Irish have essentially a new man in charge on offense and a shuffled coaching staff. Add in a first-year QB and toss out your best offensive player and you’ve got a recipe for a struggling offense.

      I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the coaches, especially when it comes to play calling. I’d like to see a few series with just better blocking and execution before I blame the calls.

      To me – when a coach calls a 2-yard pass on 3rd and 15 and the offense executes perfectly for a 6 yard gain, i think – that was a bad call. But when the 15 yard out breaks down due to bad blocking or a bad route by a freshman receiver, I can’t blame the play call.

      Just my $0.02. Maybe that was $0.04 this time…

      • ndfaithful - Sep 29, 2012 at 6:34 AM

        …darn mobile phone keypad… sorry for the typos…

      • bernhtp - Sep 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        I agree with you (and Chuck Martin). There have been a few problems with offensive production:

        1. Developing a new QB. We’ve missed a lot of reads and open receivers. Golson should continue to progress with the occasional step back as we saw against Michigan. Kelly will keep Golson in the game as long as he can and still be confident of the win.

        2. Execution more generally. The o-line, in particular, has under-performed their capability, but appear to be improving. Golic and Lombard played much better at Michigan relative to their poor performances at Purdue and MSU. They also play better late in the game.

        3. Conservative playcalling, especially once Kelly feels confident that the defense can finish the game. The playcalling would be more aggressive (and more risky) yielding more yards and points were there not so much confidence in the defense to close it out. When we’ve needed big plays (e.g., at the end of Purdue and Michigan), the offense got them.

        I expect better offensive production with Golson’s continued development and better execution. However, I expect the conservative playcalling to continue in close games where the D is dominating.

  7. nudeman - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    If anybody wants to know the difference between a Charlie Weis organizationl and Brian Kelly’s, it’s very revealing to look at the interviews of Diaco and Chuck Martin, then compare them to Jon Tenuta.

    Diaco & Martin: Sharp appearance, articulate, straight to the point but personable
    Tenuta: T-Shirt, unshaven, rude, arrogant and dismissive of the media. Maybe he isn’t a jerk, and maybe he’s a great guy. If so the videos are a great disguise.

  8. ndmsu2006 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I think EG would start to feel more comfortable if they allowed him to be more physical by running the ball. Taking some hits early on in a game isn’t always a bad thing. It helps settle you down. I remember when Clausen used to get hit over and over again -but after a while, it made him a pretty damn tough QB. I would love see EG develop into a “dangerous” runner, it would open up alot options on offense.

    • seadomer - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      I think they are saving EG, giving him a chance to go thru his progression reads but when necessary, the coaches will let him loose.

  9. fitz79 - Sep 28, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    It’s amazing how offense and defense at Notre Dame have reversed roles in the leading of the team. But ya know what, offense wins the most highlight reels but defense wins championships! Ask Bama. Ask LSU. EG and the O line will continue to get better week by week (and the running backs are already pretty good), but in the meantime our team leader is undeniably T’eo!

  10. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Anybody see Diaco’s “Freddy Krueger” question during his press conference…clearly he was not impressed with the question. And i love the way he handled it.

    Wonder how long Diaco will be around…if he puts up another year or two like this, he’ll be on a short list of head coaches for those middle-of-the-road BCS conference jobs.

    • bernhtp - Sep 29, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      Diaco didn’t like the fact that someone spoke about what was said in the locker room. He obviously views that as a completely private conversation.

      With that said, the defense clearly has been going Freddy Krueger all over their opponents, and I have little doubt that numbers 5, 9, 7, 55 … swirl around in their nightmares.

  11. irish4006 - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    While defense carried the team so far, I hope the offense steps up quick so that we play a complete game and see how good the team really can be. I felt that the focus in the last couple of games was to “not do anything stupid” offensively. Defense was playing really well, we had double digit leads and played conservatively to close out the games. While I don’t want to complain about the conservative playcalling (winning the games was far more important), we as fans are left in the dark as a result. We really don’t know what kind of offense we have esp. since we were not put in a position in any of the games where we had to go out, take some chances and score more points. In the UM game, however, I was surprised to see so much of Riddick (even when he seemed out of breath) and not a lot of CW and GA III.

    I am, at this point, just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Will Miami be the game when it all comes together? I don’t know. Aaarrghhh!!!

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