Skip to content

Competition: Crowded depth chart part of evolution

Mar 21, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Matthias Farley

Just a few minutes after talking about Gunner Kiel’s decision to leave the football program, head coach Brian Kelly deflected a question about the battle to back-up Everett Golson. It was an interesting look into the psyche of a head coach that’s spent four years building a roster that’s going to feel mighty crowded for years to come.

“We had kind of created an opportunity for him to compete in the spring,” Kelly said of Kiel, when asked if he was surprised to hear about Kiel’s move. “So maybe I was a little surprised from that standpoint, because he was actually told that he would be given an opportunity to compete.”

That appears to the only right for any player on the roster this spring. Compete for a job. Even if it appears the one in front of you is locked up.

“Everett Golson has experience, but that’s all he has,” Kelly said, when asked about the battle at back-up quarterback. “It’s your job to go out there and show us that you can be the starting quarterback, not to settle for being the backup. When you’re given your opportunity, to compete and keep pushing. If you back off at all, you don’t want to be the starter, we can make that happen for you.”

That competition won’t just happen at quarterback. Tracking some of the major position battles, expect to see these fifteen practices only the beginning of the competition at positions like center, running back, tight end and a very crowded secondary.

At center, Kelly identified Matt Hegarty, Nick Martin and Mark Harrell as the three guys competing for the job. For Hegarty, getting on the field after a serious medical condition showed Kelly a commitment to the team that impressed. For Martin, the opportunity to start alongside his brother on the offensive line feels like it should be quite a motivating factor. And for Harrell, his work not just in the offseason, but in the month of bowl prep, when there was next to no depth on the line, was the look he needed to get Harry Hiestand’s attention.

“That’s what we’re looking for. We want competition,” Kelly said Tuesday. “Your program is in good shape when there’s competition within. And competition without thinking about who’s coming in.”

That’s certain the case at running back, where George Atkinson will be given the first chance at holding down the starting job before talented freshman Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston arrive. And with Amir Carlisle’s ability to add competition now that he’s returned after injury, there’s another wrinkle that maybe didn’t exist last season.

“He’s got a gear. He’s got a high level where he’s really going to be able to help us,” Kelly said of the USC transfer. “He’s got the ability to play, he’s a very good pass catcher, he’s got good ball skills, I could see us getting him the football in a number of a different ways with another running back on the field.”

Perhaps no competition will be more interesting than the one being waged in the secondary. With Bennett Jackson being protected this spring after shoulder surgery, there’s a chance for just about everybody to take a shot at the starting lineup. That includes Lo Wood, who is likely gunning for a starting job he lost to KeiVarae Russell. And Austin Collinsworth, who would have been on the field before Matthias Farley last season.

“I think the way we set things here, there isn’t a depth chart,” Kelly said. “You don’t walk into the locker room and see a depth chart.”

That’s probably for the best, because things could get mighty confusing in the secondary, especially with the Irish finally having the flexibility to play a dime defense for the first time in the Kelly era. That means guys like Josh Atkinson and Jalen Brown are competing for jobs. Elijah Shumate will push his way onto the field, now that he’s locked in at safety. And even starters like Russell and Farley, they’ll be challenged all the way to fall.

“Keep in mind we also have to go through the spring and find a Matthias Farley,” Kelly said, talking about unearthing contributors. “We need to find those guys that are going to step in and be key players for us during the season.  You can never have enough of those guys.  We welcome that.

“The best guys are going to play.  We’ll choose the right 11.”

 

 

 

 

Latest Posts
  1. Rumors swirl about offensive line shuffle

    Sep 18, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

    notre-dame-ol

    Over the weekend, Brian Kelly talked candidly about finding a better performance from his offensive line. With talented personnel that’s still finding its identity after Zack Martin and Chris Watt graduated, Kelly and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand have an off week to find the five optimal starters — and their positions — before taking on Syracuse next weekend.

  2. Mailbag: Now Open

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT

    Mailbag

    Questions before a weekend without Notre Dame football? Drop them below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  3. Jenkins addresses football suspensions to Notre Dame faculty

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:36 PM EDT

    Rev. John Jenkins,Jack Swarbrick Rev. John Jenkins,Jack Swarbrick

    After missing the first three games of the season, the fate of DaVaris Daniels, Eilar Hardy, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams is still up in the air. After announcing an official investigation into academic dishonesty in mid-August, updates on the status of the five players have been limited to head coach Brian Kelly’s weekly loop of uncertainty.

  4. Notre Dame bye week number crunching

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Everett Golson Everett Golson

    With the Irish getting a much needed Saturday off, we won’t hear from Brian Kelly until he’s previewing Syracuse for us next weekend. But with one quarter of the season in the books, let’s take a look at some of the surprises after three games, digging deep in to the stats after victories over Rice, Michigan and Purdue.

  5. It’s still way too early, but Notre Dame’s path is open to CFB Playoff

    Sep 15, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    Tyler Murphy, Josh Bordner, Bobby Wolford, Scott Felix Tyler Murphy, Josh Bordner, Bobby Wolford, Scott Felix

    It’s still way too early.

    I’ll type it again: It’s still way too early. But with one quarter of Notre Dame’s football season behind them, the Irish’s path to the first ever College Football Playoff looks wide open.

  6. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Purdue

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    Raheem Mostert, Romeo Okwara Raheem Mostert, Romeo Okwara

    Don’t tell me you wouldn’t take it. Notre Dame, entering their first off week at 3-0. The offense, averaging a hearty 36.3 points a game. The defense, giving up just 10.3 points a game.

  7. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 30, Purdue 14

    Sep 14, 2014, 1:32 AM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

    After two weekends of crisp, mistake-free football, Notre Dame walked into Lucas Oil Stadium expecting to roll over Purdue. And they played like it.

  8. Live Blog — Notre Dame vs. Purdue

    Sep 13, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    notre-dame-shamrock-series

    With two victories behind them in impressive fashion, Notre Dame has a chance to start September with three straight victories for the second time in three seasons. Off to a clean start, the Irish are tied for the best in the nation in turnover margin, sitting pretty at +6 heading into Saturday night’s game.

  9. Watch Notre Dame vs. Purdue anywhere

    Sep 13, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT

    SportsLiveExtra

    As usual, for those of you away from the TV on Saturday night, we’ve got your covered. Notre Dame’s primetime affair with Purdue will air not just on NBC at 7:30 p.m., but will be hosted as part of the NBC Live Extra app, as well as online at NBCSports.com

  10. Mailbag: Purdue edition

    Sep 12, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bertsch Michael Bertsch

    With the festivities already started in Indianapolis, let’s empty the mailbag before tomorrow night’s Shamrock Series game against Purdue.

  11. Pregame Six Pack: An all Hoosiers Shamrock Series

    Sep 12, 2014, 3:26 AM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It’s that time of year again. The annual Shamrock Series. For a program built upon tradition and history, consider the Shamrock Series something similar — only started five years ago. (So maybe not that similar at all.)

  12. Hazell understands the challenge at hand

    Sep 11, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    Western Michigan v Purdue Western Michigan v Purdue

    With a betting line that’s hovering just above four touchdowns, this weekend’s Shamrock Series game looks like it could be the most lopsided matchup since the series premiere against Washington State. But if the last five years tell us anything, expect the unexpected against Purdue.

  13. Mailbag: Now open

    Sep 10, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT

    Mailbag

    Two weeks in and we’ve got plenty to talk about. So if you’ve got questions on Shamrock Series, Purdue, the end of Michigan, or anything else… Drop it in the comments or hit me on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  14. BK on Jim Rome: Didn’t see Michigan shutout coming

    Sep 10, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly, Brady Hoke Brian Kelly, Brady Hoke

    With his team 2-0 and looking well positioned to get out of September undefeated, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was a guest on Jim Rome’s radio show Wednesday afternoon. The Irish head coach shared some interesting thoughts, while also being very candid about the Irish’s 31-0 defeat of Michigan.

  15. And in that corner… The Purdue Boilermakers

    Sep 10, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    Hunt, Dean Hunt, Dean

    For the second week in a row, we’ll be up late watching Notre Dame, only this Saturday it may be tough to decipher who the Fighting Irish are. Travis Miller of SBNation’s Hammer & Rails gets us ready for Purdue, as this year’s Shamrock Series kicks off this weekend.

  16. With Michigan in past, focus shifts to Purdue

    Sep 9, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Michigan Getty Images

    As Brian Kelly pointed out on Saturday night, the decisive victory over Michigan counts as only one win. So while Saturday night’s game against Purdue looks like one of the more lopsided on the Irish schedule, consider the past two matchups.

  17. Even after shutout, Irish hope best is yet to come for young D

    Sep 8, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    During the postgame interviews, it was hard for players to hide the joy they were feeling. For a team that’s struggled to beat Michigan in the past, the 31-0 victory certainly earned the Irish every minute of the 24 hours they planned to celebrate.

  18. Jaylon Smith nominated for Lott IMPACT Player of the Week

    Sep 8, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT

    Jaylon Smith

    Fresh off his 10 tackle performance and leading Notre Dame to a 31-0 shutout of Michigan, linebacker Jaylon Smith earned a nomination for the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week award.

  19. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Michigan

    Sep 7, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    As the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry takes an indefinite break, the Irish’s most lopsided victory in the series leaves the programs in two very different places. Even as Brian Kelly plays 19 first-year contributors (true and redshirt freshmen), the Irish won all three phases of the game. Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly.

  20. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0

    Sep 7, 2014, 1:43 AM EDT

    Amir Carlisle Amir Carlisle

    This might have to be it for Notre Dame and Michigan. Because in the 42nd and final scheduled meeting between the Irish and Wolverines, Notre Dame’s delivered a 31-0 knockout punch that could very well leave Brady Hoke’s program left for dead.