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IBG: Halfway home

Oct 18, 2012, 6:42 PM EDT

ibg_nokelly3

At long last, it’s finally an interesting fall for Irish fans. Thanks to an unblemished first half of the season, Notre Dame is in the national conversation, not to mention the hunt for the BCS.

After an excellent victory over Stanford, people have started drawing conclusions. Bowl eligibility? Check. Inside track to a BCS bowl? Check. Aspirations of greatness? Well, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, or at least that’s what Brian Kelly is telling his players.

Whether you believe in trap games or not, BYU does a lot of things that keep coaches up at night. And while we’ll spend the Pregame Six Pack getting you up to speed on the Cougars, I took my IBG questions and tried to put Josh Flynt’s feet to the fire. Sure, he’s writing for UND.com’s Strong & True football blog, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t take part in some of the discussions happening on message boards and around water coolers everywhere.

For more IBG, check out Her Loyal Sons and The Subway Domer, while I also answered questions for Josh.

Here goes:

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1) Notre Dame’s 6-0 start has done a ton (understandably) to help Brian Kelly’s approval ratings. It’s also started some online debate that the head coach has changed some of his ways, obviously in this case for better. Is Brian Kelly a different coach this year or is he just doing a better job? Have you noticed anything different with BK this season?

It seems like Coach Kelly has been more comfortable, from the beginning of training camp and his opening press conferences – even before the Irish took the field in Dublin. Kelly knows that Jack Swarbrick and Father Jenkins, the two people whose opinions matter most, believe in him.

Following some restructuring and a few off-season additions, Kelly is surrounded by a group of great assistant coaches. Both he and the staff seem more comfortable with one another and their roles.

For those that watch the Irish Connection videos (shameless FIDM plug) or listen to the Thursday night radio shows, you’ll also notice that Kelly has developed some special relationships with his players. He’s still their coach, he’s still the guy in charge, but you get the sense that there’s a stronger bond than in years past. He jokes with them, and they joke back. Heck, he even guest starred in Trick Shot Monday at the end of last season.

Of course, everything’s easier when you’re 6-0 and fielding questions about BCS possibilities rather than your job security, but more and more fans are starting to see that Brian Kelly may very well be the man who leads Notre Dame back to the promised land. This program is continuing to grow, the future looks bright, and if you’re under the age of 30, there’s perhaps never been a more exciting time to be a Notre Dame fan (at least that you were old enough to appreciate).

2) Let’s put you on the quarterbacking hot seat. Would you have stuck with Everett Golson as long as Brian Kelly did on Saturday? Is it possible to keep playing this two-QB dance successfully?

It’s hard to say what I would’ve done had I been in Coach Kelly’s shoes, but I am definitely glad he made the decision he did. While Golson is extremely talented, Kelly recognizes that the redshirt freshman is a work in progress. There will continue to be some growing pains, but I think those struggles are crucial to his develop as a football player.

Golson has a lot of potential and I like that Kelly and his staff are giving him the opportunity to learn from his mistakes, rather than keeping him on too short of a leash. Against Michigan, Golson got rattled early and didn’t recover. In the Stanford game, he fought back from mistakes, and put the ball exactly where it needed to be for his All-American tight end to tie the game.

I don’t know how much longer this two-QB system can last, but I like it right now. Golson has the ability to be the quarterback of the future, but that will only happen if he has the chance to grow in the present. Rees on the other hand, seems to have developed into the “closer,” Mr. Reliable – whatever you’d like to call him. He’s certainly not as flashy, but he has the experience and football IQ necessary to lead this team in those pressure situations. Eventually, Golson will get there too.

We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks, but at this point, I think it would be a disservice to Golson’s development if Rees became the “permanent” starter/primary QB.

3) If you could get one position group/player to have a breakout Saturday this weekend, who would you want it to be?

I think (or at least hope) the strength of BYU’s rushing defense presents a big opportunity for a breakout game from the wide receivers.

Earlier in the season, we saw a glimpse of Chris Brown’s elite speed, when he destroyed a Michigan State defender for a sure-thing touchdown. Golson overthrew him, and it seems like we haven’t heard from Brown much since.

DaVaris Daniels is another young talent who I hope gets more involved with the offense this weekend. On the other hand, there are veterans like Toma, Jones and Goodman, who’ve come up with big catches, but have yet to really have a “breakout” game this season.

Much of this will be dependent on how comfortable Golson is behind center, but if we see an Irish victory and a stronger performance from the offense on Saturday, I think every Notre Dame fan will be much more confident heading into next week’s battle in Norman.

  1. ndfanwabashman - Oct 18, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    “If you could get one position group/player to have a breakout Saturday this weekend, who would you want it to be?”

    Turk has been having a solid season, but I would like him to have a breakout game one of these days. I feel like he still has not played to his full potential yet. I would love to see him nail all of his kicks Saturday. It would be huge.

  2. 808raiderinparadise - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    WTF is kelly thinking even mentioning Hendrix ???

    Your 6-0 and looking to a possible 3rd string QB starting cuz he had a good week in practice?

    or… the kitten?

    If Golson is healthy (which he is cleared) then quit the BS and start him undoubtedly.

    quit tickling the media & believe in Golson.

    • heisenbyrg - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:20 PM

      I seriously doubt he is giving any thought to playing Hendrix. He’s probably doing one of two things 1) throwing a bone to the Junior for having a productive week of practice; and/or 2) indicating to BYU that they will need to undertake the difficult task of preparing for three different quarterbacks.

      Relax. BK has handled the quarterbacks perfectly this year, and I have no doubt he will continue to do so.

    • ndfaithful - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      Seems like Hendrix’ name came up because of concern for EG’s noggin. BK’s started the year with the idea that all three could compete and play and hasn’t seemed to change that idea.

      While I’d be surprised to see him play, I can picture it if EG’s out for health reasons. With Golson out, I could picture a Rees/Hendrix two-headed QB plan.

      I hope not… I’m tired of the QB drama.

  3. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    At this halfway point of the season, I am reminded of the immortal words of Winston Wolf: “Let’s not start sucking each other’s d***s just yet.”

  4. 1notredamefan - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    All I got to say in this trap week that we are all looking at square in the eyes…. “The Pride and Tradition of Notre Dame Football will NOT be left to the weak, timid or none committed!” GO IRISH!!!

  5. 1notredamefan - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    I have only attended one other game in my entire life, (Boston College ’97) and I can honestly tell you that this was the best day of my entire life! Other than my children being born this was “IT”! Undeniably Incredible game day experience! Rain and all!!!

    • andy44teg - Oct 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM

      DUDE!! I was at that game too for my one and only visit to South Bend!!! How ’bout Allen Rossum’s TD return?? That was a pretty fun game to see.

  6. Josh Flynt ('11) - Oct 19, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Reblogged this on Notre Dame Football Blog and commented:
    If you did not catch it yesterday, check out my answers to this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering, over on Inside The Irish.

  7. cdeluca495 - Oct 19, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    People seem to forget that Brian Kelly used two quarterbacks all the way to a 12-0 season at Cincinnati. I’ll gladly take two qb’s if ND gets to be 12-0.

  8. getsome99 - Oct 20, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Golson needs to start throwing to Eifert more. If he can get enough confidence enough to throw to Eifert in double and triple coverage, this offense can be dangerous. And yes, I can’t wait to see Brown and Davonte Neal on the field with Golson. With the way Golson scrambles and extends plays, most routes are broken off by then anyway. We’re wasting snaps on guys like Daniel Smith (and Daniels) on passing downs and need to get some playmakers on the field with Golson if we’r going to have a chance against OU and USC. I agree this Saturday would be ideal to start working those guys in.

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