Here is the offense, I will probably do defense sometime tomorrow. Wrote the majority of this friday night, so it was kind of funny to see how some of the stuff manifested on the field saturday. Post USF game reflections on some of the more, how you would say "memorable" moments are at the end.
QB: Jr Dayne Crist (LY 174 of 294 15 TD, 7 INT), So Tommy Rees (LY 100 of 164 12 TD, 8 INT) So Andrew Hendrix, Fr Everett Golson
Crist went down for the year during the Tulsa game last season with his 2nd knee injury since coming to ND. After rehab and spring ball was announced the starter about 2 weeks ago, expected to be the starter as long as he is healthy (err uh the first half of game 1….., well actual announcement will be made Monday but just look at the drive chart: http://espn.go.com/ncf/drivechart?gameId=312460087). Has been very business like when it comes to practice and camp this year, had done a lot to win back his position. The problem with Crist as a starter is that he isn’t the steadiest guy on the field, letting a play go, getting the offense refocused it just doesn’t always happen. Rees came in as a true freshman in 2010 and finished with a 4-0 record, though ND is 0-3 when he has had to come in to replace Dayne. Strong depth at QB this year, Golson is the guy of the future but it isn’t clear where he and Hendrix shake out at this point. Either one could see a special package this season which is more in line with their running ability.
RB: So Cierre Wood (LY 119 for 603yds, 3TD), Sr Jonas Gray (LY 20 for 100yds, 0TD), Fr Cam McDaniel, Fr George Atkinson
Wood grew through the year along with ND’s run game, the staff is expecting him to be a workhorse but this isn’t a position of great depth. Gray didn’t see much time last year because he wouldn’t play the role the staff asked of him, ie he wasn’t playing the power back his body is equipped for. If he were reliable it would add much needed depth to a position lacking a lot of it, the early returns aren’t very good for his future. The running game was emphasized much more this year through the spring and summer camp.
WR (X): Sr. Michael Floyd (LY 79 for 1025yds, 12TD), Jr John Goodman (LY 15 for 146, 0TD)
Floyd’s off field stupidity has been discussed pretty thoroughly and what he can do on the field is nothing new either. Goodman is not Floyd, he has similar size but saw the majority of his play on special teams as a sure-handed punt returner. Not so much the return part though, I believe his average return was in the 1-2 foot range, he was reliable though. I am sure his touches will go up this year, the staff is relying on him to be a solid contributor.
WR (Y): So. TJ Jones (LY 23 for 352yds, 3TD), Fr DaVaris Daniels
Jones did pretty well as a freshman last year, he wasn’t targeted nearly as much as Floyd or whichever TE was in at the time. Daniels is a bit of an unknown, supposed to be fast but every kid in the preseason is fast, it does mean something to see him in the 2 deep to start the season though.
WR(Z): Jr. Theo Riddick (LY 40 for 414, 3 TD), Jr. Roby Toma (LY 14 for 187, 0TD)
Riddick the converted RB (sound familiar) was still learning the WR position last season, expected to be the #2 WR behind Floyd. Toma hasn’t seen many snaps, mostly last year as the backup to the slot. Not a ton of top end speed but he is quick enough to get open underneath.
TE So. Tyler Eifert (LY 27 for 352, 2 TD) Sr. Mike Ragone (LY 3 for 32, 0TD)
Eifert was a bit of revelation once Rudolph was knocked out for the year in week 6. The way he played to end the season, he is expected to be a big part of the offense going forward. Ragone has battled multiple injuries through his career, he saw most of his time in protection when on the field last year.
LT Jr. Zach Martin, Fr. Nick Martin
Zach earned his spot last year and has held onto it since then. His backup is actually his brother. I am not yet sold that Nick would be Zach’s first backup as every lineman has cross trained at other positions.
LG So. Chris Watt, Sr. Andrew Nuss
This was the only battle on the Oline coming into summer camp. It is likely there will be a rotation to some degree at the position. One has been talked about as more of a run blocker while the other a pass blocker
C Jr. Braxston Cave, Jr. Mike Golic
Cave held this position all of last year to my knowledge, not much new to really tell. Oh the first Golic sighting. Not a lot has been said about Cave or Golic, it a position of good depth and not really a concern.
RG Sr. Trevor Robinson, Fr. Conor Hanratty
Another returning starter from last season Robinson is a 5th year senior and one of the leaders on the Oline. The offense will not shy away from running in his direction. Hanratty is another freshman Olineman. This one has received quite a bit of praise through camp while putting a lot of time in the weight room from high school.
RT Sr. Taylor Dever, So. Christian Lombard
Dever did well last season, another returning 5th year. He has seen a lot of coaches but really helped the run game develop at the end of the year. Lombard, his backup saw sometime as a freshman last year, he is the heir apparent at the position going forward
The oline needs to show they can be a cohesive unit as they were at the end of the year last year if the running and passing games are going to be effective this year. It all starts on the Oline and with 4 returning starters it should be decent at least. ND has one of the best receiving corps in the country on paper, the WRs themselves along with the TE and RB out of the backfield are all capable receivers. The QBs need to trust their WRs enough to put a few of them out there for them to go and get, but at the same time they need to take care of the ball. Crist has gone through camp this year with actual competition, he sounds to have learned a great deal as well, so we’ll have to see what happens. The running game right now is going to come down to depth, both freshman are likely to play at some point but how much will come down to Gray. If he can be dependable in his role it will take a ton of pressure off the freshman and the offense itself.
USF Game Reflections (NOTE: I did miss the rest of the game past the 2nd weather delay):
Crist threw a horrible pick in the end zone, it was late it was to a covered guy, plus he had floyd, of all people!, open underneath that would have gotten a first down if not a TD. He was supposed to be past this, but his timing is still late, and was really one of the first pieces of the team to crumble. Playing at home, he was playing scared, it really doesn’t get much worse than that.
Gray, opening drive, 3 yards from the goal line, this is what we have a big back for, hand him the ball he fumbles on the 1 its returned for 6. He had 2 more touches during the game. (which surprised me a bit to see him get in at all, probably a reflection on the freshman to be honest)
TJ Jones, 2 drops and one deflection off his head (in the red zone of course) which resulted in the 4th TO. I am not a position coach but I would expect my WR to be ready to receive a ball when on a crossing route just beyond the line of scrimmage. The best part was after he felt himself get hit by the ball, he turned around like who ran into me? Like he was looking for a flag or something.
Riddick, oh man. Well his biggest impact was on the muffed punt, that should be TO #3 I believe, that USF recovered, Mayock was great “he just handed the ball to him” man he is good at this. I was in full ROFL mode at this point. After that he had 2 more muffed-ish punts where he basically would just fall directly onto the ball after catching it. Paging John Goodman, John Goodman into the starting lineup please? Thanks. After that he had a least a couple drops, 1 in particular was just memory inducing. After missing his whole “receiving” role in the offense on this play, he stood up looking to blame the drop on someone, he was wiiiiiiiiide open, ball hit him on both arms it was perfect. Another mayock moment, “not sure who he thinks he can blame that one on but himself”.
Eifert, had a couple drops, 1 was behind him but still the QB is hitting him in the hands with the ball unless he has a broken hand there isn’t an excuse that works.
Wood and Floyd were the only dependable skill positions during the game. Oline did what they needed to. The QB doesn’t need to be a world-beater for the offense to have success but he cannot be the weakest link on the field, in the first half it was absolutely true. Crist had soooooo much confidence in the preseason; everyone wants to know where that was coming from at this point.