Irish Blogger Gathering: Dancing with the (Sun) Devil

Stephon Tuitt - Notre Dame DE
Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt (7) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Louis Nix III (1) in action during a football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Oklahoma Sooners, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. The Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by the score of 35-21.

We’re a little late to the party this week – that whole real life thing got in the way again – but here is this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering with questions answered for us by NBC’s Keith Arnold.

As always, here are the links to all the other participants in the IBG:

1. Tommy Rees had one of the worst performances of his career last week against Oklahoma. Should Brian Kelly burn Malik Zaire’s redshirt and get him some snaps the rest of the way to see if he can ignite the Irish offense?

Burning Zaire’s redshirt makes no sense to me. Everett Golson will be back and has two years of eligibility left. Unless Zaire has a cape and S on his chest that we don’t know about, he’s not going to beat out Golson for the starting job next season. So ultimately, putting Zaire in would start his eligibility clock now, having him waste two seasons backing up Golson, and then potentially have just one season left as the starter.

The other factor in all of this is what’s Zaire going to actually bring this team? He’s been sick with mono for much of the season’s first month. That’s kept him out of pads and unable to do anything but take mental reps. He also comes from a mostly running system in high school football, and while we all want desperately to believe that Zaire really did absorb the offense this spring, thinking he’s going to be the answer for Notre Dame’s problems and help the Irish run the table sure sounds silly to me.

Nobody likes hearing it, but Tommy Rees is the best quarterback on Notre Dame’s roster.

2. George Atkinson had a breakout game last week and looked had the looks of a feature back – the first time any RB has had that look for the Irish this year – and Tarean Folston showed big play ability as well. Should these two backs start to see the lion’s share of the carries moving forward or should Notre Dame continue to rotate backs?

I’ve got no clue. Are we sure that Atkinson’s one good game is going to be the launch pad for him? I’d wait until I see how well he does against the Sun Devils, a perfect defense for GA3 to go big against because they’re pretty mediocre against the outside run, basically Atkinson’s specialty.

Is Folston the next guy in? I’m not sure, either. If Greg Bryant is really hurt, and more importantly, if he’s able to keep a redshirt on this season, then I don’t see the harm. But I’m not ready to kick dirt all over Amir Carlisle or Cam McDaniel, and I still like McDaniel as the closer at the end of the football game. (If I’m coach — I turn Carlisle into a slot guy now, and run some fly sweeps to him or quick bubble screens, and if he is running the ball from the backfield, it’s after he motions there.)

Keeping a backfield like this happy is tough. Doing it when you’re only running the ball 20 times a game is even tougher. Hopefully the Irish put together a game plan that calls for 30+ runs this week and against the Trojans and it helps everybody figure out their roles a little better.

3. ASU scored 62 points last week on USC and Notre Dame is coming off a game where they couldn’t get a key stop in the second half to get the ball back in the offenses’s hands down less than two scores. What can the Irish do to slow down the Sun Devil offense enough to have a chance to stay undefeated in Shamrock Series games?

Get back to the basics. Bend, don’t break. Tackle well in space. Win the battle up front with solid defensive line play. Get Prince Shembo out of the Witness Protection Program.

But just as important — keep the ASU offense off the field and behind schedule. It’s tough to run the football when you’re down a couple touchdowns, and that falls on the Irish offense, who should be able to score points and move the ball consistently against ASU’s defense.

Notre Dame 2018 Under Armour & Army All American Bowl Preview

If the Sun Devil offense is turned one-dimensional, that’s going to be a big help for Bob Diaco’s troops. Getting a few big plays out of this group wouldn’t hurt either.

Bonus: This is now the fourth Shamrock Series game, what are your thoughts on the positive or negative impacts of the concept so far?


I think it’s been great. I don’t have the disdain for the alternate uniforms as some other people, but each game seems to be a nice addition to the schedule, and ND-Miami in Soldier Field and ND-ASU in JerryWorld are cool games.


If the economics of everything work out for Notre Dame, I’m all for keeping it on the schedule, if only to help equipment manager Ryan Grooms keeping trolling the Irish twittersphere.

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  1. Fred Menkens 4 years ago

    I think the best thing for Kelly to do is to flip a coin. He can’t win no matter what he does. It might make more sense for Hendrix to start just because nothing else has made any sense for the Irish this year. It’s a loss no matter how you look at it. I just can’t watch Rees run around changing plays that never work, and watching out for the next mistake. Hendrix is just as capable as Rees is to make mistakes, the difference is he can run the ball a little bit!

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    1. JC 4 years ago

      Amen Fred,

      It’s pretty bad when your down to yanking and playing someone out of the bleachers to have a chance!

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  2. jimbasil 4 years ago

    As always, the assumption Rees is the best QB on the team rears its head again. What about who is the best QB for the team being mentioned because clearly he is not.

    What keeps showing up is the agreement AH is so terrible he couldn’t QB at ND when certainly he couldn’t be that much worse than TR and seeing AH has never seen the field as a starter and has been given several games in a row to see if he can settle in strikes me as odd (seeing Kelly let TR get his game legs through several games) – you don’t know what he can do and neither does Kelly – for the reasons mentioned.

    You and so many others just nod to each other as if Rees is this best candidate as if it were fact when it isn’t. It’s an unknown.

    Tommy Rees is just as bad as the other two because surely the other two aren’t any worse. Having Tommy in as QB is ND giving up. There is still a season to play for and with TR in there, a 6 – 6 season is very possible. With the other two, the same is possible – time to look to the future and put AH in there and see if he can come back next year as either the incumbent or as the strong back up to EG with MZ as the kid who could take over at any time. That’s looking into the future – not the Tommy Rees is the best QB you contend.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

      Where’s the love for Luke Massa???

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      1. JC 4 years ago

        Amen Ron,

        Since we are saving Zaire for graduation.

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      2. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

        Now that is funny.

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      3. jimbasil 4 years ago

        Practicing to be a slot receiver.

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  3. George 4 years ago

    I would be ecstatic to beat ASU. Feels kinda sad.

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  4. qb2333 4 years ago

    It hurts but this one’s a loss, Stanford’s a loss and maybe one more in between. 8-4 or 7-5 season

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    1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

      Optimism at its finest.

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      1. JC 4 years ago

        Opinions vary!

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    2. George 4 years ago

      8-4 is realistically a best case scenario. Pitt and BYU will both be really close. USC is a toss up.

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  5. JC 4 years ago

    Frank, the shamrock series has been a great addition! Further, what is your prediction for the ASU game! Who’s going to win? No worries, I won’t crucify you on the result like our other die hard fans here. Hahaha!

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  6. Damian 4 years ago

    I actually agree with not using Zaire for the reasons Arnold noted. EG hopefully will be back next year. He’ll likely be a little rusty at first, but hopefully he’ll get back to form quickly and his ability to use his feet will allow Kelly to open things up quite a bit.

    Let’s face it. Rees does not play the offense Kelly typically coaches, so that limits what he can do. Plus, I’ve always believed Rees is great as a back-up option and occassional starter when the starter gets hurt. But he just can’t play at the high level needed start to finish for 12 games.

    For this year, I don’t think ND has any choice. Rees is the starter by default if nothing else. You can use Hendrix too, but unless he gets more accurate throwing the ball, he becomes a little too predictable. But I wouldn’t hesitate to use Hendrix under certain situations.

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    1. cousinnap 4 years ago


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      1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

        Speak up, we can’t here you!

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