“The quarterback spot? I really don’t know. I’m taking all suggestions. I can make a case passionately for any of the four. We can’t go into the season not knowing what we’re doing. We can’t do musical chairs.”
Those are the words of Irish football coach Brian Kelly last month when he spoke at an IMG sales luncheon in Chicago for clients of Notre Dame’s football radio network and at a dinner following the 25th annual Notre Dame Club of Chicago golf outing.
That quote pretty much says it all when it comes to what the main story lines will be for both the offense and the overall team when training camp opens next month. In other words, it’s all about Dayne Crist vs. Tommy Rees vs. Andrew Hendrix vs. Everett Golson. More on that here and here.
Go here for our season preview of the 2011 ND Defense
Go here for our season preview of the 2011 ND offense (running game)
Brian Kelly’s high-powered spread offense in Cincinnati netted him a 41-12 record with the Bearcats. They were fourth in the country in scoring (38.6 ppg) and second in pass efficiency (161.21). But his system didn’t have the same pop in South Bend.
But Kelly is a second year guy. In his second season at Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ scoring offense improved by 15 points per game, and the team’s passing efficiency soared from 45th in the nation to eighth. Here’s a statistical anomaly that will really get ND fans excited: four of the last 12 national champions were led second year coaches. Five of the 12 were coming off a 5 loss season.
Last year in the Declan Sullivan game, a home loss to Tulsa which seemed much worse than it really was at the time, Dayne Crist, suffered his second serious knee injury in as many years. With QB1 out for the season, all looked lost. But freshman Tommy Rees took over and finished the season 4-0, leading to the QB controversy we have to because the Irish went 4-5 in Crist starts last year (though that includes the Tulsa loss, in which he threw only two passes before being injured. Crist is bigger and taller, with a better down field ball. And he’s slightly more mobile. But Rees had a better passer rating, he’s more accurate and superior in the short-range passing game.
Wide receiver Theo Riddick talked about adjusting to the QB rotation.
“It just makes you more consistent, because you can’t sit there and adapt to every QB, and it’s making me more detailed in what I do.”
Look for Riddick to have a huge jump in production from last year, because he’s no longer dealing with the adjustment from running back to wide receiver. He’s got his WR feet wet now.
“Last year I was still in the midst of becoming a wide receiver, and I was far from my destination I’ll tell you that,” Riddick told me after the spring game. “Coming in this year, I feel a lot more comfortable and it just felt like a normal practice.”
Then there’s the Michael Floyd issue.Floyd led the team last season with 79 receptions for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns but was suspended after his third alcohol-related offense this spring. (Or at least what is spring on the calendar, if not in weather. It freakin SNOWED at the spring game this year, held on April 14th)
Will he get it together and come back? Here’s the latest.
Floyd, along with Crist, was named a Maxwell Award candidate. But if he isn’t reinstated, his loss hurts as much or more as that of NFL early draft entry Kyle Rudolph, the Minnesota Vikings second round pick.
Luckily, he showed his replacement, junior tight end Tyler Eifert, a few things before moving on. “He really helped me with my reads and overall knowledge of the game. We watched film together, scouting an opponent is where he helped the most,” Eifert said.
He’s good, but will need to continue improving, to take pressure off of Riddick and T.J. Jones if Floyd isn’t around. “I just need to be more consistent in every practice being a great practice for me. And I still have some practices with some dropped balls,” said Eifert.