the key to slowing down ND, just like last year, is getting to the QB.
ND Offensive Depth chart
Received a big response from the pre-fall depth chart that I threw pretty arbitrarily in a diary about a month ago. There were quite a few requests to expand it, so I included those requests with the updated depth chart for the Purdue game this weekend. I will try to keep this as organized as possible: rivals star ratings in parenthesis, since it was requested, names are followed by media guide class and measurements. (All classes are “true” – whatever, Walk-on = W, Former Walk-on = FW ) The depth chart was a 2 deep so there is some imo beyond the first 2 names listed, but it is an educated imo. Here is the Offense, I will do Defense tomorrow.
QB: Dayne Crist, Jr 6-4 235(5), Tommy Rees, Fr 6-2 210 (3), Nate Montana, Jr 6-4 215 (FW), Andrew Hendrix, Fr or Luke Massa, Fr. Biggest change here is Rees breaking the 2 deep over Montana. I am not sure on how much separation there actually is between the 2 of them, it was a strong battle all camp per the media, but as Rees is the younger by a lot he may have been given the nod just based on his future potential. There will still be a big drop off in experience, yes experience, and ability at the 2nd position no matter who comes in. Nice to see Rees be competitive so quickly, he was an EE, but it doesn’t really fortify the position over what we knew going into the fall. Crist is 100% and practiced without a brace throughout the summer, I still expect to see him in one on game days.
WR: At the beginning of camp there was only 1 known WR (Floyd) with many expecting Kamara to get the second one followed by a bunch of hunches and gut feelings. As camp progressed Floyd locked down his spot as expected and as did recently moved, from RB, Theo Riddick. In the final 2 weeks of camp it was a 3-way battle for the final spot between Tailer Jones, Duval Kamara and Shaq Evans, a week later it was a battle between Jones and Kamara and that is how they finished. Evans just announced his transfer, likely to Oregon it seems, though it isn’t only depth related but I would expect it to be a factor. On to the depth chart:
(X, L – R, I think): Tailer Jones, Fr 5-11 187 (4), Duval Kamara, 5th 6-4 225 (4).
(Z): Theo Riddick, So 5-11 198 (4), Robby Toma, So 5-9 175 (3)
(Y): Michael Floyd, Jr 6-3 227 (5), John Goodman, Jr 6-3 207 (3)
You know Floyd already, Jones is my favorite recruit from the last class, once a Stanford commit Weis flipped him back to ND and he held strong through the coaching change. If you want to see a DB get abused search for his highlight videos from last year, worth the time. The X spot could very well be an “OR” situation depending on the match up the coaches are looking for. Expect to see Kamara on the field quite a bit; I would have said the same about Evans if he hadn’t transferred as well. Riddick as I mentioned was recently moved from RB, which he played last year as a true freshman. I don’t remember how much UM saw him last year, but lets just say he has some speed to burn. The last RB to transition to WR made out pretty well in the end, the staff sounds pretty confident in what Riddick is capable of. Beyond the 2 deep there isn’t much I can say, Chris Collinsworth’s son, Austin (Fr) had a chance to crack the 2 deep and may see some garbage time this year. Otherwise it is mostly freshman destined for red shirts at the position.
RB: Armando Allen, Sr 5-10 205 (4), Cierre Wood, So 6-0 178 (4), Robert Hughes, Sr 5-11 245 (4), Jonas Gray, Jr 5-10 240. The new name here is Cierre Wood, star of the spring game, he showed everything ND fans had hoped for this spring and fall by cracking the 2 deep. It was clear everyone was behind Allen going into the summer, but just how it would shake out was anyone’s guess. Hughes is still also listed as a part time full back and Jonas has just as much size if not more from summer workouts. I really see a division between the “Speed” and “Big” backs here and the Speed backs are the ones on the depth chart. Both Jonas and Hughes will see the field but just how is a bit unclear; Kelly is really high on this position group, they will be getting a lot of touches.
TE: Man I love tight ends, enough man-crushing. Kyle Rudolph, Jr 6-6 265 (5), Tyler Eifert, So 6-6 242 (3), Bobby Burger, 5th 6-2 248 (FW), Mike Ragone, Sr 6-4 245 (4) The whole country has met Rudolph, not a lot more to say. The big riser here was Eifert who now weighs in at +25 his freshman year, he has filled out to say the least. You can expect to see his name for a few more years as he still has 4 years of eligibility left, as of now. Ragone was the faller, after his off the field troubles in the off season, and past off seasons it may be part disciplinary part never getting over his knee injuries. Burger is a utility player, he can line up at TE or FB and HB. He transferred to ND and then walked on his junior year, nice little story. The staff is very confident in Eifert, Kelly named him as someone he needs to find a place for on the field. You can expect to see 2 TE sets often.
LT: Zach Martin, So 6-4 290 (4), Matt Romine, Sr 6-5 295 (3). Martin is the first or three new starters on oline. He was originally slated for guard with the previous staff but was moved by the oline coach when he saw how quick Martins feet were. Seems to have worked out so far as he locked up his starting spot 2 weeks into camp. Martin was expected to take the spot over semi-incumbent Romine after spring ball.
LG: Chris Stewart, 5th 6-5 351 (4), Chris Watt, So 6-3 310 (5). Stewart is the first ND football player to not only play but also play while he is going to law school. (You can expect to hear that once or twice more this year on NBC) Stewart is huge, huge and strong, huger (yeah I know) than his listed 351; I expect he and Robinson (RG) to be the jumping-off-points for the running game. Watt was a late addition to the 2-deep, he is also the #3 center, I expect he will see the field more than a couple times as the season goes on.
C: Braxton Cave, Jr 6-3 301 (4), Chris Wenger, Sr 6-4 298 (4). I expected Wenger to hold the position down, but after he missed a few practices with a concussion it opened the door for Cave and he locked it up. I am sure both will play and both will start, I don’t know if this position battle will end anytime soon, which is a good thing. ND officially returns 2 starters now on oline.
RG: Trevor Robinson, Jr 6-5 295 (4), Mike Golic, Jr 6-3 283. Not a lot has been said about this position in the last 3-4 weeks. Robinson was expected to have this spot locked down after the staff tried him out at tackle a bit in the spring, and he did. Same with Golic, I don’t remember hearing either Golic mentioned much this fall at all.
RT: Taylor Dever, Sr 6-5 297 (3), Andrew Nuss, Sr 6-5 297 (3). This was also a position battle going into fall practice and was just a quickly locked down by Dever as Martin at LT. Freshman Christian Lombard, 6-5 290 (4) was talked up quite a bit late as a RT candidate, but hasn’t cracked the 2-deep as of yet. I expect to see him quite a bit as the year goes on though.
Expectations: I already hit on the running game a bit, but for emphasis Kelly has repeatedly talked about how strong a group he thinks they are, they have been one of his surprises from the fall. Armando Allen hasn’t shown to be much of an every down back and has gotten pretty banged up as each season wore on, Cierre Wood is the perfect fix for that. He has great vision and awareness on the field and brings good speed and athleticism to get up field quickly. Both big backs may only see situational touches but the way Kelly talks about the unit I really doubt it, not really sure what to expect here to be honest. The passing game is pretty straight forward, Crist needs to protect the ball and get it to his play makers which he has many beyond Floyd and Rudolph, the offense will hinge on his play more than anyone else. With the addition of 2 TE sets the possibilities are enormous, Eifert at 6-6, Floyd at 6-3, Rudolph at 6-6 and Kamara at 6-4, which one will the defense double team? Each one can get it in the end zone. The potential is there for some big numbers on offense but it all comes down to Crist.
Defense tomorrow, probably
...from our perspective. I doubt we'll be able to just sit back and hope that our new DBs can cover Floyd, Rudolph, and their other receivers.
From ND's perspective, I think Irish is correct that it comes down to Crist. I wouldn't be surprised if he's effective from day 1, and I wouldn't be surprised if it takes more than two games for him to settle in as a starter. You just don't know with new players.
I'll take the latter please, I hope it takes Crist 3 games to settle in at QB
...the power of a well-timed un-flagged pass inteference.
It's nice to have some insight into ND. Much appreciated.
Looking forward to the D run down. Puddue has managed to climb below ND on my hoosier totem pole of infamy so here's to a great clash of unbeatens in about 10 days.
Did Kelly run a lot of 2-TE sets at Cincy? I honestly didn't watch them that much.
Also, when he talks about the running backs a lot, do you think he is talking about a traditional running game or about getting them the ball in lots of different ways (through the air, etc)?
I only ask because I don't remember the kind of running Kelly did at Cincy. Pead was their number 1 right? But I don't think he got more than about 10-15 touches a game with all the other weapons on that offense.
Just curious if we can expect to see the Cincy offense in week 2 or something different based on the personnel at ND?
I am honestly not sure myself, I wasn't really watching UC games till the end of the season, so I don't know their whole offense very well. The complaint on Kelly's UC offense was that RBs didn't get touches, but he basically had only 1 RB. That doesn't seem to be the case at ND; he would talk about each RB at times but when asked about why he thinks the offense will be good he always named the RB position as one of the biggest strengths.
Kelly does like RBs who can catch and make plays in space, which is why Justice Hayes was at the top of ND's list at RB in this class. I expect to see the RBs with the ball a lot, both direct hand offs and tosses to the flats, based on what is being said.
ND's media curtain was dropped for all but 4 practices I think. And at those 4 practices they got to watch stretching and drills before being kicked out. Practice video is pretty non-existent except through und.com which is obviously controlled, I don't know how Kelly will run the offense. No one really does yet, all I know is what he has available on the field really.
and the impression I got was that Kelly was impatient. If the running game was ineffective for a play or two he'd just go away from it. They were 109th in rush attempts last year, in a year where he had talked quite a bit in fall camp about being committed to the run, from what I remember.
that will be an easy weakness to exploit if the trend continues.
has about 5 running plays on his playbooks, though there are variations of 5 running plays.
He used the running game as a change up in his offense. It will never be a primary part of the offense.
His offense is very simple, not very difficult to learn. However, what Kelly does a great job is coaching up players into executing plays into perfection.
It could be, it would seem to fit the offensive mind set of score quickly. Its not as though his running game was poor, averaging 5 yards per carry on 361 carries is quite good. It dwarfed ND's 3.8 from last year (on 401) by quite a bit.
I have no problem with you guys being skeptical, just relaying what i have been hearing.
Goddamn we have to score a lot of points. ND also brings some talent at RB. Thanks for the info, Irish.
team. He reminds me of Stocco and Sorgi, it seems like he never runs out of eligbility.
Man, he's been at ND forever. I remember him playing in Jimmah Clausen's Yakety Sax game in 2007.
Harvey Unga was on BYU for like 6 seasons.
Crist to Floyd is a terrifying thought, as is just about anyone to Floyd against this secondary. That said, if Crist isn't able to translate the hype to the field, Notre Dame might be in trouble this year. I only remember him playing against Purdue and basically running (well) over and over. I don't remember much passing.
Of course, you are referring to JT Floyd.
It is even easier to hate ND when I am more familiar with the players. Familiarity breeds contempt indeed.
Good post, thanks for the research and input.
It takes a team about two years to make the transition to the spread no huddle. It will be interesting to see how this talent can make the transition in comparison to Michigan's hurdles.
notre dame who?
1. "The Hell with Notre Dame"
2. Nice diary - thanks
3. "The Hell with Notre Dame"
Wow there are a lot of Seniors in the two deep on the OL considering they are replacing 3 starters. There two deep will be young again next year too due to graduations.
I dont think NDs transition will be as difficult as ours for a number of reasons:
1) they have a QB that is likely at least servicable which we did not
2)the spread they are adopting is closer to a two-minute offense variety as opposed to a system such as RRs which was completely new to most of Michigan's players.
3)the expectations are lower because ND has been down for a while and Michigan's fall was more abrupt and thus more painful.
4)ND doesn't have a bunch of interconference coaches willing to share info on them with their other opponents.
5)Michigan did not have touchdown Jesus to pull them through (God as your 12th man is cheating--as much money as organized religion collects each year there is no way he still has his amateur status--NCAA investigation pending) JK
Yeap. It's definitely offensive.
It will be interesting to see how your 350+ lb guard handles the fast pace of Kelly's offense.
yes it will, just hoping its harder on opposing defenses. They have certainly practiced for it though, they ran 60 plays in 20 min stretches.
any of the RB stuff. Let me clarify. I agree that A. Allen is a great, small, speedy back - and Hughes is a great bulldozer. Any team in the nation would love to have that 1-2 punch in their arsenal. The problem is that Brian Kelly doesn't run the ball. You won't get to see these guys produce because they won't get the chance. History repeats itself. I've watched Cincy play many times, and the running play is a trick play in his offense. I do have to say he's got a counter that he runs out of the shotgun that is a nasty thing to try to stop. However, he will go 5 wide and chuck the ball all over the field. 10-15 runs a game would be a lot for this coach.
IMHO ND hired an offensive coach who likes to spread the defense out and throw it all over the field. How is this different than Charlie? College experience? I really don't think they hired the right kind of guy... a defensive minded coach would have been a better fit for what they will need this year. ND will have the same problem as we do - defense. This year's game will be another shootout that will probably be determined by who has the ball last.
...that people make against RR being a "fit" for Michigan. Perhaps you subscribe to that argument, but I sure don't. I think both coaches will be rocking in two years, given their track records.
UC averaged 28 runs per game last year which amounted to around 140 yards per game. So 10-15 is pretty unrealistic especially if he plans to keep Crist somewhat protected, which he will do. I don't know how many runs to expect but our RB's will carry a load this season, a bigger load than they've been used to at ND.
I kind of feel bad for Jonas Gray. In a pro offense he could have pushed for some serious carries this year, he showed flashes of being a very talented back, but needed to work on ball security.
Theo Riddick in space should scare anyone, but they have inexperience on the line. The defense should be improved with the players playing the scheme they were actually recruited for.
Look for Darrin Walls to step up this year, word is he's been preparing with Shane Walton in the offseason. As long as Harrison Smith doesn't implode again like Michael Williams in the safety spot I'm looking for their defense to be improved. The difference being that Smith actually has the size and athleticism to play the position. I honestly can't remember the last time they had a linebacker with the physical skills of Te'o. The last few good ones I can remember are Crum, and Boiman, Corey Mays was decent.
Road game at ND scares me this year
Kelly's system makes it easy for a QB to step right in and succeed. Especially with loaded skill guys. Colloros was an example of that. And the run Cincy had 2 years ago was wth FIVE different starting QBs. But that offense against our secondary is scary Our secondary makes it easy for a QB to succeed .We are gonna need to score a bunch of points to win that game. Which is why UCONN is so important to win in my opinion.
Where's the ND defensive preview? Pasting the offense, knowing how bad our secondary is, over here is like the rich kid going over to the poor kids house on Christmas morning with his presents. Look what I got!
lol, its coming working on it now
He's got the Midas touch in preparing no-name, unranked quarterbacks for spectacular performance. It's ridiculous. He also wants 2 or 3 QB "to win with", because it's required with the kind of offense he runs. i would not be surprised if Hendrix or Rees burn their redshirts this year. Kelly's quarterbacks are well-coached but they do get hurt a lot. So Kelly just waves a wand and makes a quarterback "nightmare" at Cincy into a freaking Disneyland ride.
With Crist, Allen, Rudolph, Jones and Floyd, the Irish might be shaky at times, but overall very effective on offense.
On defense, I don't know what to expect, but I'm predicting a rough start with gradual improvement as the season progresses.
it will be interesting to follow the QBs through the year, hopefully ND won't need to put more than one in for anything other than garbage time. Hendrix and Massa are both still relegated to the scout team, there may even be a walkon ahead of them tbh; Rees has definitely burned any chance of a red shirt already.
Seeing that it will be Dayne Crist's second career start if we can get any kind of pressure on him we can make them commit some turnovers. We really need that pressure though because Michael Floyd, while very annoying, is a beast.