With one third of spring practice finished, the team at UND.com gave us a much anticipated update on the quarterback battle, the main storyline of spring practice. With some nice footage of all four quarterbacks competing, it’s clear that head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin are truly going back to the basics and making sure they reteach the guiding principles of this offense after last season’s turnovers kept the Irish from being more successful.
Starting at square one and reteaching isn’t just the only thing the Irish are doing. With the change to Martin, the offense will also be given more structure.
“We want our guys to be instinctual at the quarterback position,” Kelly told UND.com. “There was a little too much thinking, too much programming, a little too much open for the quarterback to interpret. We’re going to get away from that. We’re going to control it a lot more. We can make sure we’re not open to interpretation. By the time we get through spring, we’re going to see our guys reacting and not thinking too much.”
That change could be a large one heading forward, and also likely signals a shift away from the read and react nature of the offense, which saw the Irish make a decision based on defensive personnel as opposed to playing quickly and forcing the defense to react.
Here are some observations from the practice video, a well edited piece of footage that does its best not to give anything to opposing teams likely just as interested in the quarterback battle brewing in South Bend.
- 0:13 — Nicely done, Jack Nolan. Another piece of Notre Dame garb and a perfect weather report. Watch out, Brick Tamland.
- 0:33 — A nice look at Kelly working with Gunner Kiel, going through the basics while Martin and Andrew Hendrix work in the background.
- 1:12 — A nice look at multiple throws by both Hendrix and Everett Golson. Drawing too many conclusions from watching guys throw zero-step drop slants is pretty silly, but you can tell the contrasting styles pretty quickly, with Hendrix muscling throws while Golson looks smoother.
- 1:45 — First look at walk-on quarterback Charlie Fiessinger (No. 17) who joined the program from Moeller high school, where he will once again serve as Hendrix’s back-up.
- 1:56 — There’s our Amir Carlisle spotting for the day, his crutches on the ground as he watches drills and catches off for the quarterbacks.
- 2:15 — While previewing Tommy Rees, it’s interesting to see the Irish run the stretch playaction play from under center, something we didn’t see much of the last two seasons. If there’s a revealing bit of film in all of this, I guess this qualifies.
- 3:20 — Bravo to Andrew Hendrix, who acknowledged that he’s still learning the offense and needs to get better. The shift to Chuck Martin should pay dividends for Hendrix, who is still pretty raw as he enters his third year in the program.
- 3:47 — A little Everett Golson run play to get Irish fans salivating.
- 4:19 — Gunner Kiel showing why any freshman under center is scary, with a snap bobbling from his hands before getting it back under control. (Thanks edit team — trying to give us flashbacks?)
- 4:45 — What a genuine sounding kid.
- 5:00 — Looks like Chuck could play QB if needed. Nice work on the playaction drop back.
- 5:50 — If you look carefully, it doesn’t look like Everett Golson throws with the seams, gripping them with his left hand and unloading with the backside of the football.
- 6:05 — And the key statement by Kelly, acknowledging the need to get the QBs to play better: “We’ve really gone back to the basics with our quarterbacks. When we turn the football over as many times as we did we have to go back and really reteach all the principles,” Kelly said. We’re going to back things up and get back to the basics of this offense.”
- 6:30 — No opposing coach is going to gain an advantage out of watching this Football 101 drill, with ND playing this segment pretty close to the vest. I don’t think we’ve seen a throw over 10 yards or anything more than a three step drop.