We flat out will never win a title at ND without a dominant run game that is nearly impossible to stop by any team anywhere -- essentially what Holtz had.
We don't need balance in terms of yards passing versus running. We need the ability to get 3rd and 1 98% of the time running the ball -- no matter where it is on the field. We need to be 90% or above on 3rd and 2 via the run.
Until that happens ND will not be elite and they won't be able to beat elite teams -- no matter what we have passing wise.
History shows we need to average 180 rushing yards minimum to be playoff level. However, the average is less our concern than what I said above. We have averaged enough multiple times under Kelly -- but we have been extremely poor in short yardage since the day Holtz left.
The QB is going to suck at least 1 game every single year. Odds are they will be below average at least 3-4 games per year. When that happens against elite teams we have 0% chance of winning historically. When it happens against top 30 ish teams we often lose. Why? Because we have no run game we can execute no matter who we are playing to fallback on.
JT has listed what can easily be done to in effect give us about 4x the diversity in our running scheme. If we had that, then we have the ability to turn to some subset of our running game every single game that will work. Today we have an extremely limited scheme and we consistently see elite teams take away those few plays by design and it is game over for running -- we have nothing else to turn to. When you have a very diverse run scheme, teams can't take EVERY aspect of it away from you.
Then layer a competent passing game on top of the running game -- and oddly enough with legitimate play action as a threat, that alone goes a long way to improving the passing game.
Kelly has learned a number of things on the job at ND. There are no signs at all that expanding the running game is one of them. Thus we have 0.001% chance of going 14-0 and that's the only record that will ever win ND a title.
QB and the other offensive skill positions are good enough to succeed behind a good line against most opponents. If the line is no better than this year, those skill players will look average at best.
There are a couple of holes on defense that must be addressed. Many candidates but no obvious replacements for Coney, Tranquill and Love. Depth along the interior DL.
of experienced OL players returning.
Eichenberg is a right tackle trying to play on the left side.
Ruhland needs to improve technique and get stgronger to win the job at center, but there isn't much competition.
Kraemer is okay at right guard, but often a liability in pass pro.
Hainsey is a guard trying to play tackle.
I like Banks at LG.
Quinn has a long way to go to prove to me that he is a quality OL coach.
We will know within 1 or 2 games whether he is or not. All signs from 2018 are he has some form of issue because returning starters all regressed technique wise per the analysts covering ND. They made essentially the same mistakes every game of the season - so no evidence Quinn either was aware of the problem or was just unable to teach how to fix it.
My guess is Quinn is a large step down from HH, but is a small step up from the other OL coaches Kelly has had.
book's perceived lack of arm strength is the least of our worries. the fact that he makes quick decisions and reads defenses offsets this.
it makes no sense for Claypool to put on weight to be a hybrid WR/TE.
Also curious on Book's deep throw incomplete passes, how many were over throws versus under throws.