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Kelly on the recruits: Offensive Line

Feb 7, 2014, 1:45 AM EDT

Alex Bars

The dust has settled. Notre Dame’s Signing Day class is in the books. With Brian Kelly at Pebble Beach, competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, let’s walk through the head coach’s comments on each position group from his introductory press conference.


BK on Alex Bars: 

“Another young man that we got a chance to see in the summer, has a great pedigree, a couple of brothers that play college ball, dad played here at Notre Dame, and it’s one of the things sometimes‑‑ you know, everyone thinks, well, if the parent played here you have an easy connection.

“Sometimes it’s the most difficult, right. Dad played here, it’s an easy leap; not so much. Sometimes you’ve got to work harder to get that young man to come to Notre Dame because he wants to go off on his own sometimes.

“Alex is a young man that we think has all the gifts necessary to be a great student athlete here at Notre Dame.”


BK on Jimmy Byrne:

“Really love the way Jimmy has progressed, especially his senior year.  We liked Jimmy last year.  He was an early offer for us and committed, and then really had a great senior year from our standpoint.  Physical, moves his feet well.

“You’re going to see that there’s an athletic component to all of these guys, and Jimmy certainly fits that, and really excited about him.  He’s a great student, great young man, and a great fit for Notre Dame.”


BK on Sam Mustipher:

“I think what stood out for us with Sam was his ability to move his feet again.  All these guys can be big and strong and physical, but if they can’t move their feet, if they can’t bend, if they can’t get out of their stance and do a good job and moving and bending, then we’re moving on.

“They’ve got to be good people.  They’ve got to be tough, competitive kids.  They’ve got to be benders.  They can’t be waist benders, they’ve got to be knee benders.  And again, they’ve got to be able to move their feet.”


BK on Quenton Nelson:

“I think the one thing that stands out about Q is that here’s a guy that just is relentless.  He’s going to come after you play after play after play.  And again, his desire to want to be great is what always stood out about Quenton is that he’s always pushing himself.

“Every time we talk to him he’s coming back from something.  He plays basketball, he’s working out, he’s a guy that’s driving himself always to be the best he can be.

“One of the best players in the country at his position, but physically strong, and at 6’5″, 300 pounds as a senior in high school, I mean, this kid can still move his feet and he’ll continue to work on that, and he’s a guy that is so focused on what he needs to work on, that’s what we loved about him.”

  1. irishpuma - Feb 7, 2014 at 2:01 AM

    I am in first. Good night you princes of notre dame, you kings of south bend.

    • DPU Man ND Fan - Feb 7, 2014 at 3:20 AM

      John Irving – one of my faves.

  2. mtflsmitty - Feb 7, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    With all the strength up front and three great RBs it feels like we’re in a great spot to run a power game a la Bama. But then again, with all the speed we’ve brought in like Brown, Fuller, Brent, Holmes, Hunter, Onwualu, and the rangie Robinson it feels like the spread might be a better option. Good problem to have.

    Does anyone have fact-based insight if preference for different offensive schemes is simply a matter of a coach’s philosophy, or is it a way to capitalize on particular strengths (or limit the impact of weaknesses)?

    In lieu of actual knowledge, feel free to just make stuff up.

    • yogihilt - Feb 7, 2014 at 9:17 AM

      As a coach, you always hope for a team that can do it all, but that does not occur often. A coach will always recruit for a team that he can mold to his philosophy, for the most part. Putting character/academia aside, though, the best athlete available is what will always dictate recruiting.
      Then, the best coaches will let his gathered talent dictate the direction of his philosophy. Be it to hide weaknesses, or to enhance strengths, one must bend his offense/defense to the players at hand.
      You should always be ‘in the moment’.

    • irish13pa - Feb 7, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      With BK calling plays again, this offense will be confused, taking delay of games, and using all 3 time outs early in the 1st and 3rd quarters…. Why oh WHY can ND not hire a good off cord??

    • ndgoldandblue - Feb 7, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      I don’t know much about difference in schemes, but I will say I like the approach of recruiting from the inside out. As a high school QB, I can tell you that a great offensive line makes a world of difference. My cousin was my center, and God bless him; I love him to death, but at the beginning of my senior season, he couldn’t protect me to save my life. By the end of the year, he was doing a much better job, as were the rest of the linemen. It was no coincidence that the points went up, sacks went down, and the touchdown-to-interception ratio improved. My point is, no matter what the scheme, a great offensive line will make any offense look better. Skill positions are important, but the trenches get overlooked at times.

      • dudeacow - Feb 7, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        In my opinion, the offensive line is the most important position in football. If they can open lanes, bad running backs can look good. If they can protect the quarterback, a bad quarterback will have plenty of time to find the best option. If they completey shut down the ends, bad receivers will eventually get open.

  3. chaunce922 - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:36 AM

    While all 4 of these kids are legit talent and could make an impact in their first 2 years in any college program, Im most excited to see Nelson and Mustipher.

    Nelson looks like he can contribute as a freshman, and appears to be the most college ready out of the other 3 guys. After watching his highlight tapes its clear hes a monster and hes athletic as can be for someone his size and i think he can play every position except maybe center.

    Mustipher too looks like hes ready to be a guard/center on a college level, he forsure has the body of an interior guard, like they said in some of those videos he needs to hit the weight room to get some more strength and explosion to compete with the talent ND will be up against.

    I wish we could of snagged McKenzie, Quick, Mama and Juju Smith but this class is still really good and imo underated by all these sites…

    • irish13pa - Feb 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      I dont know chaunce922… this class looks like the 11th rated class. The O-line does look impressive… and getting Morgan and Luatua were HUGE… but other than that its an average class. I still think Luatua ends up at USC with his boys (Mama & Smith) before its all said and done.

  4. oldschoollyons - Feb 7, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    ND can’t hire a good offensive coordinator, Irish13pa, because Kelly wants to keep a crony in the job. Of primary importance to Kelly is having underlings who he is sure will be compatible with him. Kelly is a bit of a control freak too. He knows he can get compliant allegiance from offensive coordinators who have already worked under him for many years.

    Kelly also thinks he is a great play-caller. Since he is also obsessive about being in control, he calls the plays. Unfortunately, contrary to pre-Notre Dame flack, he isn’t a very good play-caller or strategist. He doesn’t adjust until halftime to unexpected moves by the other team in the first half. He is, instead, a good recruiter and organizer of the program.

    His pride won’t let him admit or even see his shortcomings as a play-caller. He thinks he will at long last have offense he wants this year. We’ll all see how good he is or isn’t this season. It’s his year to put up or shut up.

    • danirish - Feb 7, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Doesn’t every coach want a staff that is compatible? Do you think if some asst. coach told Nick Saben off he’d keep his job?

      The strange thing is that Kelly morphed into something else when he got to ND. The guys at Her Loyal Sons (who are awesome) had several articles on Kelly’s offense at past schools. The Bearcat offense at Cincy was awesome, flexible, always attacking, quick.

      The question is not whether Kelly can call plays (or other “let’s bash on Kelly since its cool!”), the question is why hasn’t it translated to ND.

      We can come up with excuses such as Weis’s players and Golson was suspended but I’m sure Kelly is just as frustrated as fans still waiting for this fast-paced, score a ton offense.

      As with every year – we will have to see

      • tburke9601 - Feb 7, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        I think that is what our offense would have looked like this past year. The previous 12-1 season, we had one of the top 5 defenses in all of college football. Kelly adjusted to his strengths that year, and said we dont need to score a lot of points, our defense will win the games. This past year, I think it was after the Michigan game, he came out and said that the offense would have to score points because the defense was not going to be as good this year. The problem with that is that he did not have a quarterback to run his offense. And could it possibly be that he got a little snake bit after the 2011 season and all the turnovers?

      • ndgoldandblue - Feb 7, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        This is an excellent post, dan, and I agree wholeheartedly. Kelly’s strengths at ND have been sort of unexpected, i.e. program building, recruiting, winning low-scoring nail-biters. The offense, which was believed to be Kelly’s strong suit, has been a bit disappointing. It’s odd to me that his Cincy offense hasn’t translated to Notre Dame. And I don’t want to hear the easier schedule argument. Kelly’s Bearcats had no problems hanging big points on Pitt while the Irish can’t seem to do much.

        I also agree on the “bashing Kelly ‘cuz it’s cool” trend. Most of it is nonsense. Agreed, I have expressed some criticism of Kelly, but only where it’s warranted or obvious. Even a football novice can see that the Irish special teams have been downright awful and the running game inconsistent. But I’m not about to say that he’s in over his head or everything he’s done has been bad. That would just be untrue.

    • mediocrebob - Feb 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM


      Kelly is a “control freak”…and Saban, Meyer, Miles and every other major HC isn’t? I like that Kelly is a control freak. He should be. You know who wasn’t a control freak? Ty Willingham.

      Kelly is a bad play caller…based on what? Last time he was calling plays, Irish went 12-1.

      Your dislike for Kelly is fine. But don’t just spit out nonsense because you don’t like him.

      • irish13pa - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        There is a BIG difference between Saban, Meyer, & Miles… compaird to Kelly. They have all won national championships…. and they are HEAD COACHES…. not play callers. They control EVERYTHING…. not just the play calling. Those coaches play the CEO part perfect. How can one as a head coach be worrying about the defense or special teams crap when he is trying to figure out what plays should he adjust too on the next drive?? You cant, and thats why a head coach should not play offensive cord also. A head coach should be communicating with all other coaches and managing the game… or adjusting on the fly… WOW, that would be nice for a change.

        Yes Sean Peyton did it with the Saints 1 year and only 1 year….but ND doesnt have Drew Brees at QB.

      • mediocrebob - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Irish, I’ve learned 2 things on this website.

        1) there are wayyyyy too many people on here that have no clue what they’re talking about that think they know it all (like you)

        2) don’t take too much stock in what they say on here.

        Your point about Kelly not being any good bc he hasn’t won a NC is funny. How terrible of a coach is he? He couldn’t win. NC at some terrible MAC program (which he turned around) and he couldn’t win a NC at Cinci. And he hasn’t won’t a NC at Notre Dame in 4 years. How does this man still have a job?.??? Your ignorance is getting old and boring. Like I said. If you don’t like the guy fine , but don’t make yourself sound like a jackass by rambling nonsense and calling for him head.

        There was another guy with the last name of Kelly who had it a lot easier at his school (recruiting, admittance ect) that never won a NC. He had a decent year in the NFL with the Eagles. Get my point? STFU about BK. He’s not going anywhere and he’s improved the program tremendously.

      • irish13pa - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        Yo Bob, I did not say Kelly was a horrible coach. I was implying that you comparing him to the likes of Saban, Meyer, and Miles was rediculous. I never said I do not like Kelly either… maybe you should read before bashing.

        Ok, since you did not read what I said…. I was basically trying to point out NO team wins with the head coach calling plays. There is too much to manage as a head coach to also call plays. Get it?

        Also, Chip Kelly got lucky with his QB this year and yes he does call his own plays. Last time I checked that Eagles team did not win anything either…. Get it??

        As far as you ripping people for saying this, or saying that…. isnt that what this board is for?? Now read before you start blabbing on again.

      • mediocrebob - Feb 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        You implied that Kelly is too much of a control freak. You weren’t complimenting him. I stated that most big time coaches are control freaks which is why they are where they are.

        Chip Kelly got lucky with his QB? Foles isn’t even his prototypical QB. Maybe he got “lucky” that Foles had a good year in his system, but in the NFL, I don’t think luck has as much to do with it. It was his first season and he created nightmares for DC all over the league.

        I read all your gripes and there was quite a bit that seems to be just complaining about nothing. Chip Kelly didn’t win a NC at Oregon but he was a consistent winner. And they were in the title picture consistently. Is that not what you want at ND? BK took them to the NC calling plays. They were outmatched and that’s the bottom line. 5 years ago would you have imagined being in the NC?

        Sure, this is a great venue to place opinions. Which is what I did about your comment. To say that ND can’t win with BK calling plays is just wrong and it was proven in 2012. Nobody was crying about the play calling when they were booking flights to South Beach.

  5. irish13pa - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Hell, I wish ND would have signed Lane Kiffin as the Off Cord…. Saban is no dummy, thats for sure.

    • c4evr - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:47 AM


  6. runners00 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I think Kelly’s fine. Will we win a title with Kelly? I don’t know — I sure hope that we do.

    If we keep logging great recruiting classes and we have Kelly at the helm, we will be fine. We need to do better than 9-4 (never should have lost at Pitt), but it’s a process. Kelly’s in year five of that process. He’s not perfect but he’s getting the kind of kids who need to be here for us to win titles.

    As for a coordinator, I say this: a coach who knows his players really well can be an offensive or defensive coordinator. Kelly’s got Denbrock to serve as his offensive coordinator so he must think that he needs some help on offense but that he can call plays. This is fine, from my perspective.

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