Stanford v Notre Dame

Cleared to practice, Golson needs to elevate his game

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As expected, Everett Golson passed the final portion of concussion testing, clearing him to play this Saturday against BYU. Now, the sophomore quarterback needs to make the strides on the field to reward Brian Kelly’s faith in him.

Golson’s first season has been like many other rookie debuts: a work in progress. As the Irish were apt to do when discussing Tommy Rees‘ early appearances, it’s worth noting that Golson’s W-L record is sterling. He’s 5-0 as a starter, with his lone no-decision coming when Golson took over the offense after Rees took the offense’s first three snaps against Miami. But Golson has hardly been winning games for Notre Dame, having been relieved by Rees against Purdue and Michigan, then again after getting his bell rung against Stanford. Golson obviously hasn’t lost any games, but the offense has tagged along with the dominant defense, often times celebrating a victory in spite of the team’s offensive production.

An obligatory look at the stats gives you an idea of where Golson is through his first half-season playing quarterback at Notre Dame.

He’s completed 79 of 135 passes, a 58.5% clip, for 968 yards. He’s thrown four touchdown passes and three interceptions. As elusive as Golson is, he’s still been sacked 10 times. After failing to run for positive yardage through four games, Golson has carried the ball 21 times for a respectable 92 yards against Miami and Stanford. He’s also lost four fumbles, three coming against Stanford.

For the sake of an obvious comparison, through Tommy Rees’ first six games, he completed 100 of 162 passes, a 61.7% clip for 1,106 yards. (A slighty lower per throw average.) He tripled Golson’s touchdown passes, throwing 12, while more than doubling his interceptions with seven. He too was undefeated in those games, coming in as a reliever against Navy and Tulsa, and playing his worst in a rain-soaked victory against USC.

Instead of kicking another hornet’s nest, that’s where the comparison is going to end. Rees and Golson both play the same position, just as your reliable, hand-me-down Volvo and fit-filled Jaguar convertible are both automobiles. Each have their own admirers. When the the temperamental Jag ends up in the shop, you yearn for the days of the ol’ reliable Volvo, safer than a tank. When the Jag flies around you burning rubber, you start thinking that maybe a few extra trips to the garage aren’t so bad as long as you have a chance to feel the wind whip through your hair.

Credit Brian Kelly for show patience this season, especially as the leverage keeps cranking up. Letting Golson work his way through the slumps of Saturday night was admirable, and a decision not many people in Notre Dame Stadium would’ve been able to reach. Perhaps it was his belief in his defense (or his relief QB) but letting Golson work his way through the tough spot could be a launch point for the young quarterback playing another stingy defense.

Kelly talked about seeing progress when not many of us saw it.

“This is just the development of a young quarterback who is taking to coaching and understanding,” Kelly said. “Everett had his best four plays of the game with the last four plays that he was in there. I think probably his best play… he threw a ball out to T.J. that seemed to flutter.  He had somebody in his face.  He set his feet.  He stayed in the pocket.  He didn’t try to escape, which he did earlier in the game.  So that learning curve is taking place, series by series.

“That throw is something that he’s developed into by being out there.  That’s the value and the benefit of him playing this year with four seasons of competition.  That’s what I see and those are the things that keep me moving towards seeing the positive things.  I know there’s others.  He’s got to take care of the football.  He’s got to set his feet.  He plays sloppy at times but boy, he competed his butt off.  I couldn’t be more proud of the guy and the way he competed.”

Kelly stuck with Golson Saturday night, letting the young quarterback fight back from a tough situation. Now it’s up to Golson to reward his coach with more progress, putting together a complete game against the Cougars.

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

echoes
@NDFootball Twitter
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DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend

 

 

Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.

 

Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

aaron-banks
Tom Loy, Irish 247
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Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Senior
Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.