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  • Summer Stock: Offense

    by SEE

    After four years of meager offensive production (26, 29, 25, 27 ppg), Kelly enters year 5 with few excuses. This year Kelly has a seasoned and talented QB, a wide receiving corps that runs 2-deep, a senior and highly recruited tight end, a talented, if young, offensive line, field turf on the ground and Kelly has himself assumed full control of the offense.  A running team in 2012, a mixed and painful bag in 2013, 2014 will likely see Notre Dame finally use tempo and spread the field to what the coaching staff believes is a talented set of wide receivers.


    • *5            Everett Golson           SR              
    • 8            Malik Zaire                  SO           
    • 14           Deshone Kizer            FR           

    LIKELY STARTER: The most important position on the team has been, arguably, the biggest question-mark on the offense in each of Kelly’s four years.  This year, Kelly has the strong-armed and fleet footed Everett Golson running the team with four years in the system.  After working with quarterback coach George Whitfield in the offseason and a strong spring, Golson earned some nice reviews at The Opening event in Oregon “Star of the morning session of Elite 11 at Nike? Everett Golson.” “Elite 11 counselor was on point and dialed in. Looks great.”  But Golson’s physical skills have never been a problem. Early in his career, Golson wasn’t always viewed as a natural leader, his ability to work through progressions is an open question and his “poor academic judgment” and suspension dealt a critical blow to team hopes in 2013.  If Kelly’s offense is going to finally take off, Golson is going to have to meld the physical and mental aspects of the game (the art and science as Kelly calls it.)

    IN THE WINGS: Malik Zaire has exhibited the leadership the staff expects since arriving on campus, but not always the consistency.  Golson has been the better practice quarterback, but Kelly continually points out the fact that Zaire is a gamer which Zaire was able to demonstrate in the Blue Gold game by throwing for 259 yards (albeit against a watered down defense.) While the competition is technically open and the staff is high on Zaire’s potential, Kelly doesn’t like a two QB system.   It would be a shock if Golson didn’t start, but Zaire will be one injury away from playing time and Golson wasn’t injury free in 2012.  Deshone Kizer will come in as the third string QB (with offers from Alabama and LSU among others). The Ohio QB blossomed as a senior passing for 2,847 yards and 30 touchdowns with six interceptions while rushing 62 times for 530 yards and six touchdowns.  His High School coach had this to say about him: The Toledo Blade on Kizer

    “You’re seeing what NFL quarterbacks look like in a high school kid, physically. He has great feet, great arm strength, and great vision. The pass rush doesn’t affect him. He’s always looking down field. He throws the deep ball with more accuracy than any high school quarterback that I remember ever seeing live, and I’ve seen some good ones. We played against Brady Quinn [in 2001], and I saw Ben Roethlisberger as a high school player. DeShone is in that conversation with those guys.”

    Running Back  

    • *25        Tarean Folston            SO       
    • **1        Greg Bryant                   SO       
    • **33       Cam McDaniel            SR      

    STARTERS & WINGS: Known more for his breakaway ability than power, Tarean Folston came in in great shape in 2013 and took the starting role by the end of the season running for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.   Folston is the odds on starter, but Greg Bryant (looking like superman on the left) will challenge him for playing time.  Bryant ran for 101 yards in the Blue Gold game and has been consistently lauded by Kelly for his hard and tough running style.  The under-appreciated Cam McDaniel led the team in carries and yards last season and showcased great receiving ability out of the backfield in the Blue Gold game.   Expect him to get a fair amount of carries as Kelly rotates his running backs throughout the season.

    Wide Receiver

    • *10             Davaris Daniels            SR   
    • *88             Corey Robinson            SO
    • *3                 Amir Carlisle                SR
    • **2                    Chris Brown            JR     
    • **7                    William Fuller         SO  
    • **20                  C.J. Prosise              JR
    • 11                    Justin Brent                 FR           
    • 16                    Torii Hunter Jr.          SO           
    • 15                      Corey Holmes             FR

    LIKELY STARTERS: When Kelly talked about having the right personnel to run his system I have to think the receiving corps was a big part of that deduction.  Davaris Daniels has been saddled with the “P” (potential) label since he arrived on campus and if Notre Dame is going to become a BCS team this year, Daniels will have to fulfill that potential.  With a 40 inch vertical leap and sub 4.5 40, Daniels has all of the tools, if he can become a consistent leader this year, he could be an early round draft pick.  On the opposite side, Sophomores Corey Robinson and Will Fuller seem to have the inside track over Chris Brown (if he doesn’t start, he’ll likely back up Daniels.)  Robinson’s giant “catch radius” makes him always open.  Fuller has great play-making ability and is a deep threat.  Both players could use a bit more time in the body shop, but each player had multiple starts in 2013 and Kelly clearly has confidence in each of them.

    The slot receiver position is perhaps the most intriguing battle.  Amir Carlisle and CJ Prosise both have playmaking ability. Carlisle is very quick and has a slight edge according to most, but Prosise offers something unique, a 220 lb body to use in the run game combined with surprising 6.53 55 speed.

    When Kelly starts weighing who starts expect consistency and blocking to become major factors in his decision-making.

    IN THE WINGS: Now fully recovered from his broken leg, Torii Hunter is a heck of a talent to have on your three deep.  Hunter was the highest rated of this wide receiving class and can play any of the three spots on the team, but he’s going to have to battle to crack the rotation.  Justin Brent has an NFL body, but based on the spring has a ways to go in terms of route running.  Corey Holmes comes in a little under the radar, but Bryon Driskell over at ISD loves the kid and with offers from FSU, Florida, Clemson, South Carolina and many other top schools, he’s clearly not the only one.

    Tight End

    • *18             Ben Koyack                        SR         
    • 80             Durham Smythe                 SO  
    • 9               Mike Heuerman                  SO
    • 82             Nick Weisher                      FR 
    • 13             Tyler Luatua                        FR

    LIKELY STARTER: Ben Koyack had only 14 catches last year, but averaged 17 yards per catch.   And that squares with his MO from high school which was that he was more of a receiver than a tight end.  But blocking is about “want to” as much as skill and at 6’6”, 260 pounds, Koyack has the size and ability to excel in 2014.  The big tight end generated some buzz about his leadership ability at the Irish Invasion this summer and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he becomes the next great Irish tight end.

    IN THE WINGS: Even with no catches or starts Durham Smythe has received more praise from Kelly than many starters.  “He’s an in‑line blocker,” Kelly said after Saturday’s Blue-Gold game. “I think he’s accomplished in the sense that the game comes pretty easy to him and as an in‑line blocker from a technique standpoint, he picks up things very well. Got good hands, body awareness and he’s got good size. I really think he’s going to be a key contributor for us in the fall.”   The undersized Mike Heuermann has all of five pounds on CJ Prosise and is having hernia surgery which means we’ll need freshmen to play this fall.    Speaking of the freshmen, Nic Weisher looks next in line. Weishar received a lot of praise at the Under Armour all-star game and could challenge for the third spot right away, though he’s on the light side of the scale.  Tyler Luatua (number 13) comes in as a bit of a wild card.  At one time one of the top ranked Tight Ends in the country, but Luatua slipped his senior year.   A strong kid, some view him as a H-back type recruit.

    Offensive Line

    • *68                   Mike McGlinchey            SO       
    • *72                   Nick Martin                      SR        
    • *78                   Ronnie Stanley                JR      
    • *79                   Steve Elmer                       SO       
    • *74                   Christian Lombard        SR       
    • 65                    Connor Hanratty            SR        
    • 56                    Quenton Nelson              FR
    • 70                    Hunter Bivin                   SO       
    • 75                    Mark Harrell                  JR       
    • 77                    Matt Hegarty                  SR        
    • 62                    Colin McGovern             SO       
    • 60                    John Montelus             SO   
    • 52                    Sam Mustipher             FR
    • 67                    Jimmy Byrne                 FR
    • 71                     Alex Bars                        FR


    Right now, Stanley, Elmer, Martin, Lombard and McGlinchy look like the top 5, but Kelly has repeated many times that he has no problem shuffling the lineup and Quenton Nelson presents an intriguing option at guard. The giant McGlinchy is athletic enough to have Kelly toying with the idea of playing him at tight end.  Where will Steve Elmer end up?  Elmer has been slotted in at guard next to Ronnie Stanley, but if Elmer moves to the opposite tackle, he’ll open up a spot on the inside. Second year OL coach Harry Heistand wants an open competition as well,  so the starting five may not be settled until game week.  Overall, the Irish are young, but have a deep talent pool to pull from in 2014.

    IN THE WINGS:  Everybody.  Conor Hanratty, Quenton Nelson  and Matt Hegarty figure to be the leaders for near term playing time, but beyond them it’s a big pack.  The Irish are finally stocking up in the trenches.  With nine recruits over two years, 8 of whom were four stars or above, the Irish finally have depth if not experience.

    *27            Kyle Brindza            SR
    85            Tyler Newsome         FR

    My kicker can kick your kicker’s ass. Kyle Brindza is 236 pounds and one of the top returning kickers in the country.  Tyler Newsome is 6’3”, 190.  That’s all I got.

    IN SUM: Kelly finally has his QB and the talent he thinks he needs to run his offense.  Someone needs to get one of Chaz’s No Excuses t-shirts and send it to Brian’s offense.

    9 Responses to “Summer Stock: Offense”

    1. canuck75 says:

      The countdown begins! I am very excited at the possibilities, although fate dealt us a bad break with FSU at a peak. The O will be great, but I am hoping that the more aggressive D with faster athletes on the field will translate into many more turnovers and sacks. Winston was rattled much of the championship game last year. Why not do it to him again.

    2. huetown says:

      The topic of this article is right on point. There are really no excuses anymore. We obviously have the pieces to do some damage. All we need now is someone to put the pieces together. Hopefully Kelly can do that in his 5th year. Go Irish! Going to interesting to say the least.

    3. This is the pivotal year for Kelly’s tenure. 9-3 or worse regualar season spells long term mediocrity.
      10-2 at minimum, to propel his team into national title/playoff scenarios in years to come.

    4. Chuckie says:

      Yes. The desiredgc personnel are now present. It is a matter of coaching them.
      Only thing looming is the quality competition. They will be tough to beat.

    5. All the pieces seem to be in place for an exciting season. I agree that there are no more excuses on offense. I’m fairly confident that this team can average around 35 pts a game and capable of winning some shoot outs. Not sure now many victories this can equate to. Michigan is the key. Win that one and I think this team is capable of at least 10+ regular season wins.

    6. Since the beginning of Summer there has been nothing new written about the ND Football team. Just a lot of speculation that can all be summarized as “Long on talent, short on experience.” Maybe something new will surface once The Lads get back from Culver. August 30 can’t get here soon enough! GO IRISH!

    7. Does anyone care about the schedule? Why don’t we start with teams such as Samford, La. Monroe, Sam Houston State, Presbyterian, Furman, etc. Stay fresh and healthy and lots of fun practice. FSU had one of the easiest schedules in the country last year.

    8. I look forward to this season. If no injuries early, ND is going to be very, very good all season. Still, pray for ND.
      Jack McGee, Thousand Oaks,CA

    9. Lets Go Irish! Excited to see this offense and would be confident of at least 10 wins but this schedule is brutal particularly the month of October. I would love to see us heading down to Tallahassee with an undefeated record but that will be tough to come by. If we do get to that game undefeated we should be ranked around 5th and the ACC will get a home run in year one of this new agreement!