Duranko’s Digest: Ranking Notre Dame’s Projected ’14 Offensive Starters

Everett Golson - 2014 Notre Dame Quarterback
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) scrambles against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, a prediction, not a guarantee. Change happens!! And, both healthy and after injuries, depth is more important in this era of football than ever before.

QB Everett Golson – Strong, accurate arm who is equally comfortable in the pocket or departing from it. Had a 12/6 TD/Int ratio as a redshirt frosh, a ratio which typically improves SIGNIFICANTLY for upper class quarterbacks. Has worked to develop his physique from that of a spindly point guard to a 210 pound football player who can take a hit. A tactical rather than strategic runner, he has maddening (to THEM, not US) escapability. With a full complement of WRS and RBS to work with, should have an explosive, productive year. When he first took the starting job, he was limited in his grasp of the playbook. Early on, Kelly would only let Golson audible from a called run to another run, then from a called pass to another pass. Golson had more flexibility by year end of 2012. Last Spring, Kelly was clear that Golson had seen the light and fully grasped the playbook. Kelly remarked that he was so eager that Everett almost wanted to do too much.  In 2013 the passing game to the running backs was weak, particularly early. Golson should be able to change that in 2014.

T Ronnie Stanley – at 6’6″ 318 lbs is the “new normal” for ND offensive linemen. A former starter on Bishop Gorman’s State Basketball champs, he shows that nimbleness on the field. Long arms and quick feet make pass protection easy for Stanley. Can block in space.  Has the necessary mean streak. Yet, he’s a happy warrior, could be a captain in the future.

RB Tarean Folston – A strong, quick runner whose vision and wiggle allow him to navigate for extra yardage in traffic inside. Not just an outside threat, he can make defenses accountable if they strengthen the flanks and weaken the middle. Blocked better than most frosh rbs and his receiving yardage should skyrocket in 2014.

T? or G? Steve Elmer  – More than adequate as a true frosh, held his own against USC’s Leonard Williams and almost held his own against Aaron Donald of Pitt. He may not see better DL until we play Florida State. Tremendous, even for an OL, lower body strength, long arms, capable of moving to tackle in 2014. But he may play guard again in 2014 (see McGlinchey, below).

WR Davaris Daniels – If he maximized his potential, might be at the top of the list. Tall, fast with good, but not Robinsonian hands, and, even with 49 carries for 745 yards and 7 touchdown receptions in 2013, it seemed that he underachieved.  Will he replace T.J. Jones as the go-to guy? If not there are plenty of eager volunteers to so do.  While ineligible for the Spring, he is the presumptive starter and go to guy for Fall.

C Nick Martin – First rate DNA, and was a marked improvement over Cave in 2013. Will sit out Spring recovering, but should be ready for Fall.  Had a few false starts, rare for a center, but that will be fixed in Spring. Could have a lof of fun blocking for the nimble Golson.  At 6’4 1/2′, 295 pounds, could be the runt of the Offensive Line litter if McGlinchey starts. Some runt. Some litter!

WR Will Fuller  – Swift and sure handed. Surprise contributor as a frosh. A winter of Longo and a Spring practice will cement his position.  Will occasionally carry the ball. More mature and consistent than T. J. Jones was as a frosh receiver. A PLAYMAKER!

G Christian Lombard – Third year starter in 2014, he successfully moved from tackle to guard in 2013, a key part (playing between two first time starters) of the crew who, somehow, left Rees virtually unsacked in 2013. Not an NFL prospect, but a solid career for the Irish.

TE Ben Koyack – Highly rated prospect wandered in the bushes for two years before finding himself as a junior.  Even playing behind Niklas, Ben caught 10 passes for 171 yards, with 3 touchdown passes caught. He showed a nice nose for the goal line. Came in with reputation as a pass catcher, but now carries 261 lbs on his 6’5″ frame. A harbinger of things to come for the Fighting Irish. Even when an All-America candidate like Niklas leaves, Monty Hall reveals what’s behind Door #2- a solid, seasoned, accomplished player like Ben Koyack.

WR Chris Brown  – Adjustment from track star to football player nearly complete. Had a mid-season sophomore slump, but rallied in the bowl practice for a productive and significant performance in the Pinstripe bowl.  Was a one-trick (Fly Pattern, mostly post) pony as a frosh, he has a more diverse repertoire.  Could be the primary beneficiary of Golson’s scrambles. If the man covering him makes a false step toward Golson, Chris may be gone!.

T Mike Mcglinchey – OK, we’re out on a limb here, but it’s a mildly educated guess. He may well be this year’s Ronnie Stanley: too big, too athletic (Kelly has contended that McGlinchey is nimble enough to play tight end.) and too mean to keep out of the lineup.  Remember last Winter and Spring, the conventional wisdom was that Lombard would stay at RT and Hanratty start at RG.  Hiestand kept up the smokescrren, asking, with feigned surprise “Why would you move a successful tackle?”  McGlinchey got good reviews all Fall and Kelly noted his progress and athleticism in the bowl prep.  He measured at 6’7 1/2″, 290 lbs as an incoming frosh. Should be 320 by Fall.  If he starts it could be the tipping point for the new era of ND Olinemen.  McGlinchey, Elmer and Stanley are tall, thick, quick-footed, and play with a certain darkness in their hearts.

DISCLAIMER-OBVIOUSLY, starters are not everything, and the second string is important. And then some. Clearly our depth is far better than in recent years.

Go Irish!

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  1. Unrelated to topic, just had Yeargin D-Commit and picked up DT Pete Mokwuah. Oh, well, its a wash but we pick up about 8o lbs.

    1. I disagree. ND needed an interior lineman, they have plenty in this class for OLB or ILB. Now they need yo land another DT.

      1. We don’t disagree, the OLB Yeargin De-commit and went to Clemson we picked up the 6’3″ 305 lb. Rutgers commit at DT.

      2. I dibt think its a wash and ND is solid at LB. It won’t hurt ND if their able to pick up some solid recruits on signing day

  2. Good post, and I agree it’s tough to know who will be the fifth OL,
    and how that will shuffle Lombard, Elmer (Hanratty), and the role
    of Hegarty. What might be an interesting post is speculating just
    what the second string will look like, and who might be sleepers to break
    into that depth. Probably easier to do after Spring ball.

    Might not be that far away from inserting a second string offensive unit
    in on, say, the third possession of each half. Wasn’t that done by a
    ND coach back in the day? We’d know we’ve arrived in elite depth
    when a second team offensive unit takes the field and we don’t even notice the fall off.

    Utilizing depth and maximizing its talent on game day is well under way;
    As the talent deepens, let’s hope more are allowed to showcase their
    abilities so we never again have only one guy ready on game day to excel at any position,
    especially at QB!

  3. i cant believe it. kelly hired a quarterback coach from the redskins, via central michigan. i guess he is hiring his team for the pros. now all he has to do is recant his statement that he would call the plays. like one after another long tommy rees pass until he gets 2 or 3 interceptions. i still think we need the kid from oregon for oc, someone that can produce offense. kelly has failed to do that for four years.

    1. Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, Golson (freshman and 12-0), Tommy Rees

      In those four years, look what Kelly had as QBs. The next few years are going to be awesome offensively.

  4. This past year was hard to watch not because of Tommy Rees. It was due to very poor defense ,poor QB managemen ,awful second string QB prep, awful kickoff coverage, safeties too far back and difficulty getting plays off. It’s amazing they won nine games. ND is loaded with talent and Kelly needs to do a better job of preparation and the basics of blocking and tackling. By the way Golson is not the second coming. Remember he hasn’t played competitive football for a year.

  5. This should be a productive year for the offense. Proven depth everywhere except QB and tight end, with lots of promising redshirts ready for the lights.

    This offense should be able to control the ball the way it did in 2012, eating the clock in long scoring drives that keep the defensive rotation fresh. It should also be able to strike fast and often, if necessary.

    I respect Tommy Rees but he has been hard to watch. I am ready for excitement.

  6. malik needs to take 50% of the snaps this spring, and get real playing time in the 1st game. This is the fall out from the Keil abortion and how it affects things even 2 years later. A top program doesn’t get caught short at the most important position on the field in back to back years. Besides, I don’t trust Golson. THE PROGRAM JUST GOT DONE BURNING A YEAR FOR NOTHING.

      1. Will, how did a year waiting work for Andrew Luck, A.J. McCarron, Michael Vick and many, many more…………..

      2. Ladies, ladies, ladies… “But he (Will5) started it!” “Did not!” “Did so!” “Did not!”

      3. I agree. They all redshirted thats why i dont understand how the program burned a year? Malik will be much more effective from redshirting with four years left to play.

    1. My favorite Ted Williams story of all time is the one that Mickey Mantle tells on himself in Ken Burns’ magnificent “Baseball” series. Mick was the “aw shucks” kid from NE Oklahoma and “The natural.” Williams was a scientific, analytic hitter. One year at the All-star game Mick listened to Williams “science” After the break he put the tenets into practice and went about 3 for 40. Mick laughed and said he realized science was for Williams and he’d just go back to being the Mick.


    NO— crossing of legs on DROPBACK.

    …. off balance – on balance – off balance – on balance

    1 + 1 = 2; -2 . -2 = +4; a2 x b2 = c2 — Mr Paganini or whoever ..asis

    Boston Baseball Atlanta a.k.a. John F. Fitzgerald

    1. maybe he will help:

      First reported Thursday by the Washington Post, former Redskins quarterback coach Matt LaFleur has been hired to the same position at Notre Dame.

  8. Does anyone realize how many talented receivers we have on the team for the next few years? If we managed to sign Michiah Quick and Isaiah Mckenzie, we will have 10 highly talented and nearly proven receivers–11 if you want to consider CJ Prosise. Quick Brent Holmes Mackenzie Fuller Onwualu Hunter Jr Robinson Prosise Brown Daniels all are coming in this year. There is potentially a few options here. Either we have 3/4 receiver Redshirts (I doubt we would RS all the receivers as there is a very high change one is ready to plan right away, ex: Brent/Quick/Mack), we couldn’t allow DD to stay for a 5th year (likely wouldn’t have happened, I know), or we stop playing a few frosh who played last year and potentially lose a few to transfers. While I don’t imagine a large number of Redshirts or anything else, I believe that we will RS Holmes by default, I believe 3 of the frosh play on SP or get some action, and I don’t think Prosise ever sees the light of PT again. A lot of this depends on the development of Chris Brown–because he has his only shot to seize play time this year–if he doesn’t, he could quickly find himself below 6 WR (Quick Brent Mackenzie Fuller Onwualu Hunter Jr Robinson Daniels). This is going to be a cut throat year, but it is actually a huge blessing in disguise that Daniels will miss the spring, because there are alot of WR who need a lot of reps.

    1. Tom, I am psyched about the receiving corps. I rated them low on the unit rankings because only two had more than 10 career receptions, but they could be the strongest unit of the team, or fighting it out with the OL in 2015. there is a lot of talent, and you well point out the “blessing in disguise”
      for the Spring. Very talented players competing
      for starting positions and depth slots. This is what a BCS unit looks like.

      Just one note about McKenzie.
      It is conceivable that he will play as a frosh merely for punts, kickoffs and jetsweeps and fake jetsweeps, delaying his introduction as a receiver until 2015. It will be fun to watch.

  9. That O-line may be what saves us from our lack of depth on the other side. Anybody want to line up against those guys in the 4th quarter in steam roller mode? Great writ-up, as usual.

    1. Just think how many 5 wides Kelly can call insteand of milking the clock or pounding the other team into submission.

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