4 Pivotal Notre Dame Players for 2014

There are many players who will be important for Notre Dame in 2014, but today we identify four Irish players who, individually and together, may well determine the Irish success and final record in 2014.

We here use pivotal based on the root word “Pivot:” something on which an event turns or depends. Certain players are, pretty much, known quantities.  In different ways and on different levels, we know what we can expect (injuries can change this) from Jaylon Smith, Christian Lombard, Sheldon Day, Austin Collinsworth, Tarean Folston, Corey Robinson and Joe Schmidt. But the four players in this article have question marks. Each has excellence within him, but there is nothing so illusive, or frankly, elusive,as unrealized potential. They could go either way. After each player’s discussion, we’ll list the November “one-liner” for each player with both a good spin and a bad spin.

1. Everett Golson

Who is he? The rising star who took off in the second half of 2012 and then held his own against the mighty Crimson Tide? Or the guy who still had a “long way to go” in the Spring and appeared to be in a QB battle with young Malik Zaire? If there is a legit qb battle in August it will mean that Golson has not solidified his position over the “youngster” and that we will no be all we can be. But if Golson takes hold and is, early, and unequivocally, anointed as the starter, we could rise. Golson has a HIGH ceiling. He can not even come close to Marcus Mariota’s running abililty but he can be a much better passer. He spent the time with Whitfield, and his time is now!

November one liner

Good: “Everett Golson, much improved on his return to Notre Dame, continues to draw comparisons to Russel Wilson, and
will have to seriously consider the NFL draft after the season….

Bad: “Everett Golson, though holding on to the starting job in a tight battle in August with Malik Zaire appears to be adequate, but not elite……

2. DaVaris Daniels

Tall thick and fast, his talent package has been more advanced than his dedication heretofore.  He is not Michael Floyd, but he can be the lead receivers and put tremendous pressure on the defensive secondary. Daniels has the ability to defy single coverage. If he can require a defense to provide help to their lead corner when covering Daniels, and do so ON EVERY SNAP, then that opens up space and opportunity for the younger, and very talented, receivers in the Irish arsenal.

We don’t have a mental scan of what Daniels was thinking in his time away. Did he accept the bit and say “it’s different this time and I’m all in!”
or is he still just a college-age kid who is sorting through life its own self? How much did he miss Golson personally and as a passer, and is he now humming Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited?”.

November one liner

Good: “Slay the fatted calf, Davaris Daniels’ return has been outstanding, and he is beginning to evoke comparisons with former stud Michael Floyd……

Bad: “Maddeningly inconsistent, Daniels teases us with big days and big plays, then seems as if he’s reliving the movie “Now You See Me, Now you Don’t”…….

Golson and Daniels together. Look, these two combined for 6 receptions for 115 yards against Alabama and that glittering, NFL prospect filled secondary. They were both REDSHIRT FRESHMEN that day. That was 18 months ago, and it would be NATURAL that they could do even better today. Golson to Daniels can become a nightmare for defensive coordinators, the first order of business, and the air and bloodsucking challenge for the opposing coordinators. They don’t need to be Hanratty and Seymour. Just close.

3. Ishaq Williams

Looks great in the airport and coming off the bus. Each Spring he is anointed as the next defensive breakout player, and each Fall is found wanting. But three things are at play here:

  • He is now, in the Van Gorder defense, stationed at DE, and relieved of the ornate, intricate responsibilities of playing OLB in the 3-4.  His job description now is simpler.
  • He is now out of the occasionally daunting shadow of the departed Prince Shembo. Some players step up when they are the starter.
  • Kelly noted that Ishaq had really stepped forward with his conditioning and desire, and was carrying his 271 pounds very well.

If, in late October, we are astounded at Ishaq, and there is a split of opinion over whether Williams or Day is our best DL, then that portends one set of outcomes. If, on the other hand, in late October, we are unanimous that Williams is okay, but the fourth best lineman after Sheldon Day, Romeo Okwara and Jarron Jones, then that portends a different, less joyous set of outcomes.

November one-liner

Good: “Ishaq Williams, enjoying a new position at DE and the starting job, is finally unleashing his marvelous potential and athleticism. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both see him as a definite Day Two choice in the NFL draft, with McShay particularly sanguine that Williams’ combine scores will leverage his productive Senior year……

Bad: “Ishaq Williams will always remind us that not all Five Stars become true stars…………

4. Mike McGlinchey

McGlinchey has a massive upside and is a diamond in the rough.  He is 6’8″ and 300 pounds (for now, but Longo will add more lean muscle mass) has the agility of a former basketball player, has been identified by Kelly as having the ability to play tight end if needed, and has the mean streak that OL coach Harry Hiestand requires. He held the right tackle spot in the Spring, had a few first time starter bumps but still has to show enough to hold off Connor Hanratty in the pre-Fall.

McGlinchey, Ronnie Stanley and Steve Elmer are an imposing trio, and have plenty of eligibility left. If McGlinchey can hold off Hanratty, and survive the September four game set with a minimum of rookie mistakes, he may be set for the October gauntlet of Stanford, North Carolina and mighty Florida State. There is a Saturday with no game (September 21) and that is a nice week for Hiestand to smooth off the early rough edges.

McGlinchey has NFL potential. How close, or how far, he is from that Sunday job, when the calendar flips from September to October is a massive pivot point for the 2014 Irish.

November one-liner

Good: “Following the footsteps of Zack Martin, Mike McGlinchey showed that an outstanding player can start for the mighty Irish in their second year of play after redshirting in his first. McGlinchey will be playing on Sundays….

Bad: Locked in a dogfight with Conor Hanratty all season for the fifth starting spot on the ND OL, Mike McGlinchey showed glimpses, but will need another Spring and pre-Fall before he can be fully trusted by Harry Hiestand as a full-time starter……

Everett Golson, Davaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams, Mike McGlinchey.

When Thanksgiving comes will we be celebrating their stardom or wondering what might have been.

Go Irish, and Go Everett, Go Davaris, Go Ishaq and Go Mike!

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  1. thanks ron and shazam, is vince stromboni the world class offensive coordinator that kelly hired to attract guys like barnet to the team?
    that was supposed to be a tony rice video, boy i loved that deep drop, the great option runs and that poor guy from miami he smashed in the pre game brawl


    go eve

  2. Forgot to mention one of my fondest LA Coliseum memories….1988, Rodney Peete throws interception and Frank Stams unloads a massive block on him, separating his shoulder. IRISH win!

    That year, I was fortunate to be able to attend that game, along with the Miami game at ND, and finally the NC game against Major Harris and the West Virginia Mountain Queers in Tempe. What a trifecta!!!

    Side note: I had a buddy named Jeff Chadwick, he played receiver for the Rams. He said Stams was a BEAST. He had unbelievable strength…benched over 500 lbs.

    Glory days….may they return to us soon!


  3. Just thinking about the glory days of 1988. If I am not mistaken, Pat Terrell was on that team. He was on bad a$$ hitter. He annihilated people.

    Also, remembering Reggie Brooks. He had the most amazing season I ever saw from an Irish player. I was in LA coliseum when he burst right down the middle of the field and split their safeties. It was an incredible display of sheer speed.

    OK regarding 2014, BVG is not Tenuta. I think BVG is just perfect for our personnel. We are going to be a faster defense. Look at the center of the field…Sheldon Day, Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield. we are going to get a lot of sacks and turnovers.

    Diaco’s D was painful to watch. It was effective in 2012 because we could shut down anybody in the red zone. In 2013, we let our opponents waltz down the field and then weren’t able to tighten up enough. 2014 D will be much better than 2013’s.

    Regarding Offense, I see us being a LOT BETTER. TR’s lack of mobility and weak arm created a one dimensional attack. This year, we are going to be way harder to defend. I think we are going to score a lot more points.

    Go IRISH!


  4. Seppanen has the right idea, rest Golson early. The future is uncertain, but if we can get big leads on Rice, Purdue and Syracuse in September, then Zaire can get some serious time, hopefully some with the first unit.

  5. To have Zaire pushing him is great. He is a better runner than Golson and
    should see valuable playing time. Lets hope in the opener but Rice has
    Texas high school players so could be tougher than many think.

    1. Jerry,
      Do you think Zaire is going to see a lot of playing time? I sure do not want to see rotating qb’s. It never seems to work.

    1. “bj… you can be as great as you want to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive, and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life while learning to be patient and supportive for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” Vince Stromboni

      1. “It’s true… I live on a horse farm, and horses, they are bigger and tougher on the playing surface than football players”

        -Old MacJohnson-

        (who had a farm)

  6. These new d-coordinators always claim they’re going to be “aggressive” or “attacking”.

    Remember, years ago, how Tenuta was going to do the same thing?

    1. To this day I’m not really sure why Charlie Weis ever hired former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta in the first place.

      Corwin Brown was already the ND defensive coordinator.
      Brown had been in place as such before Tenuta was hired. Clearly he had seniority over the defense and Tenuta.
      Brown had already implemented his “Read & React” style of defense and was committed to it.
      And he over ruled every attempt by Tenuta at being more aggressive.

      Here you had two men who both considered themselves top defensive coodinators, both with diffrent styles, and both who continuely butted heads with each other.
      The only thing they ever accomplished together was leaving the players on defense completely confused.

      I saw the hiring of Tenuta as nothing more than a terrible waste of other peoples time, and terrible waste of other peoples money.

      The one trait that CW really seemed to excel at during his time at ND.

    2. C’mon mayon! BVG not only has the pedigree, (pro-experience) he “looks the part.” ND’s New Defense (no – that’s not a coincidental joke) will be meaner this year. Tougher. This is necessary.



  8. Frank was SOME player. i remember him well along with many of the other players in 1988. A wonderful year to be Irish. I sill watch the 88 ND/USC game every once in a while. If the rest of the players do their job we can have an exciting year. Everett is only one of the crew. I see a real competition between the two QB’s. Tony Rice was also a very exciting player that year. There were also some real studs on both sides of the ball in 88. I agree with your assumptions, it is the future we need, no just this coming year We have a great bunch of recruits. It is not necessarily 5 stars that can play. I also remember there was a 5 ‘ 9’ defensive back Lou wanted very much to not give a scholarship to because he was too small, slow and so on, but as in many cases he turned out to be a super DB.Go Irish !

  9. Trusting Everett enough to turn him loose to maximize the entire offense potential we’ve been waiting for since BK arrived could be key to how we see him in November. As for Ishaq, I recall there once was a senior DE named Frank Stams who was placed into his ideal position and came of age in ’88 just in time to impact that ‘D’ and translate that very successful season into a magical year.

    ND depth makes “the next man in” mantra more than a catchy phrase. It’s critical that a certain few step up, and a certain few remain healthy. A very challenging schedule might not translate into 10 wins, but I’m watching for how this team develops come October and beyond into future seasons. It should get noticeably better. Beyond these four, red zone offense scoring TDs instead of FGs and a pressuring D’ forcing TOs and QB sacks/ mistakes despite giving up a few more big plays will also determine our success.

    My optimism soars like a hawk.

    1. Notre Dame’s depth is unusual in that it is now balanced. Oh, sure, we’re out of whack this year on the DL and LB positions, but that will be fixed by the Spring.

      Kudos to the Archangel and kansirkid for refreshing the memory of Frank Stams’ arrival in ’88 and his particular harassment of Steve Walsh in the Miami game.

      But for the guy who is the all timer for dormant early years. then went ballistic in his last year, I’d give a split decision to John Huarte and Reggie Brooks.

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