Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog A Notre Dame Football Blog Wed, 27 May 2015 10:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.5 Straight Expectations: Chapter One – Will Fuller http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/27/straight-expectations-chapter-one-will-fuller/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/27/straight-expectations-chapter-one-will-fuller/#respond Wed, 27 May 2015 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29561 (Photo Credit: Nick Gonzales/The Elkhart Truth) In what’s become not unusual territory for Notre Dame’s offseason, a substantial amount of the media and blog “ink” has been about the players yet to see a game (recruits) and those that will not be with the team come next season (transfers). Roster changes make great fodder, but […]

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Fuller-Michigan

(Photo Credit: Nick Gonzales/The Elkhart Truth)

In what’s become not unusual territory for Notre Dame’s offseason, a substantial amount of the media and blog “ink” has been about the players yet to see a game (recruits) and those that will not be with the team come next season (transfers). Roster changes make great fodder, but it’s the guys that return who matter most. With that in mind, I’ll be taking some time over the next few weeks to discuss some of the most important (or interesting) players of the 2015 season. And NOPE, I’m NOT starting with Malik Zaire. Instead, let’s talk about the guy who brought us so many great “Clear eyes, Fuller hearts” references during the 2014 season, junior wide receiver Will Fuller.

Why isn’t more expected of Fuller?

Fuller seemed to emerge out of nowhere from the much heralded 2013 recruiting class. With recruiting class teammates like Jaylon Smith, Greg Bryant, Max Redfield, Tarean Folston, and Eddie Vanderdoes, it was easy to overlook the lightly recruited Fuller. While 247Sports had Fuller as a Composite 4-star and #37 overall at wide receiver, consider how ESPN valued Fuller: A 3-star and just the 172nd receiver in the class. Rivals liked the Pennsylvania native considerably more valuing him as the 19th best receiver and 176th overall prospect, but if your list of offers gives an indication of your perceived stock, it’s safe to say the program opinions of Fuller were closer to ESPN’s. Fuller’s list of offers: Notre Dame, Boston College, Delaware, UMass, Old Dominion, Penn State, Rutgers, Temple, Toledo, Towson, and Villanova. Given that Fuller’s calling card has been elite speed at the receiver position, ESPN’s listed 40 time of 4.53 might have caused a lot of programs to miss. Their miss, was Notre Dame’s gain.

Fuller dressed for all 13 games as a true freshman. The first time he registered on Notre Dame fans’ radar was the Michigan State game when Fuller hauled in a 37 yard reception…the very first reception of his career. You might remember that game as Sparty’s only loss of the 2013 campaign. I could have sworn all of Notre Dame’s receptions that day came in the form of a pass interference (for the record: Mark D’Antonio would agree with me), but it turns out Tommy Rees also introduced folks to what Fuller was capable of. Fuller finished his freshman year with 6 receptions for 160 yards (26.7 yards per reception) and 1 touchdown. With Golson’s return, the prevailing opinion coming into 2014 was Fuller’s brief flashes were enough to justify measured enthusiasm.

I’ll give Keith Arnold some love here who provided a bold prediction that Fuller would go for 1,000 receiving yards in his sophomore season. You can read Arnold’s full profile from 2014 here. Of course, Arnold was careful to note that with DaVaris Daniels, Corey Robinson, Chris Brown, and a stable of other options around, whether Fuller could get on the field enough in 2014 to reach his bold prediction was still very much in doubt.

Fuller’s Breakout:

Offseason, off field problems for Daniels as well as a hand injury to Corey Robinson cleared a path for Fuller to get some early playing time. For a guy as fast as Fuller, it should provide no surprise that he took that opportunity and ran (away) with it. Fuller led the team in receiving yards each of the first two games of the season versus Rice and Michigan. He hauled in 13 passes for 174 yards and scored 2 touchdowns. The only other receiver to top 100 yards over the first two games was Amir Carlisle. Even with Robinson’s return in week 3, it was Fuller’s presence on the field that rarely waivered. Robinson and Chris Brown became compliments for one another as did Amir Carlisle and C.J. Prosise. However, Fuller rarely came off the field for even a single snap. Quite simply: his explosiveness was too important to the Irish offense to spare. Even if it was on occasion just to keep the opposition honest.

Fuller’s 2014 ended up being one of the great receiving seasons in Notre Dame history. Fuller scored a touchdown in 11 of 13 games. Broke 100 receiving yards 4 times, had 5 games with at least 17 yards per reception and established himself as the offense’s most consistent weapon. In a season that ended in so much disappointment (until the bowl game victory), it’s easy to forget that in those darkest games versus Northwestern and Lousiville, that Fuller caught 14 balls for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns.

It’s also worth putting Fuller’s season in perspective compared to the other great Notre Dame receivers of recent vintage. Let’s see how Fuller’s season stacked up in several categories for receiving seasons since 2000:

Fuller’s 76 receptions ranked 6th.

Fuller’s 1,094 receiving yards also ranked 6th.

Fuller’s 15 receiving touchdowns tied for 1st…the other seasons: Rhema McKnight (2006), Jeff Samardzija (2005), Golden Tate (2009).

While Tate, Shark, and Michael Floyd would still have to rate higher than Fuller in on field performance, Fuller deserves to be mentioned with these guys more than he has thus far. Fuller doesn’t have the unworldly athleticism and hands of Golden Tate nor does he have the size/hands combination of Shark or Floyd. However, his top end speed and ability to go the distance on any play is on par with any of those guys, and he’s now done it for a full season at that same level of production.

So What to Expect:

This is a difficult question. Golson’s departure and the perceived strengths of Malik Zaire could easily point to a more rush oriented offense. For everything that Fuller offers, rush blocking has not been part of his game thus far. Things can certainly change, but given Fuller’s frame and comments Brian Kelly’s made in passing, I would not expect to see Fuller turn into Michael Floyd or Daniel Smith in rush blocking any time soon.

On the other hand…there’s this: Zaire to Fuller Blue/Gold Game (Warning: Video contains unbridled enthusiasm and hope for what could be).

Some fans may have noticed that Malik Zaire is the excitable type. The type who likes to make things happen, and well, if that’s what Malik wants to do, his home run threat is Fuller. Fuller’s ability to stretch the field won’t just be a decoy, and as good as 2014 was, I think 2015 will be just as good. I’m not sure you can predict another 15 touchdowns, but I’ll say this: I think Fuller exceeds 1,000 yards receiving again and improves his yards per reception average from 14.4 a season ago to 16+ in 2015.

Selling Fuller as just a verts guy is unfair. While that’s certainly his forte, he’s an improving route runner with elite skills to separate from defenders at the line. Fuller’s major improvement need was his hands. He had a tendency from time to time last season to let the ball get into his body causing him to drop several shorter routes. It only manifested itself on shorter routes, and given Fuller’s display of hand eye coordination on the long receptions, it should not be a major concern coming into this season.

Will Fuller’s a true #1 receiver, and maybe 2015 will be the year folks around the nation really start to take notice of that fact. Oh yeah, Brian Kelly also sent this out on Sunday…

Vrooooooooommmm.

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Morning Roundup: May 26, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/26/morning-roundup-may-26-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/26/morning-roundup-may-26-2015/#respond Tue, 26 May 2015 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29548 Good morning! NDTex has a new post up this morning answering the question any passionate Irish fan asks: How do we judge the head coach? His article makes a great point about the misleading nature of wins and losses. I definitely recommend you read that first. How do we judge Brian Kelly in 2015? And […]

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Good morning! NDTex has a new post up this morning answering the question any passionate Irish fan asks: How do we judge the head coach? His article makes a great point about the misleading nature of wins and losses. I definitely recommend you read that first.

And here are your other headlines from the Memorial Day weekend:

PODCAST

RECRUITING
OFFERED

ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

SCHEDULE

IRISH IN THE NFL

MISC.

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How Do We Judge Brian Kelly in 2015? http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/26/how-do-we-judge-brian-kelly-in-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/26/how-do-we-judge-brian-kelly-in-2015/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29552 The public and constant evaluation of the head coach of Notre Dame football might as well stand with death and taxes in the certainties of life. It comes with the territory and, in this day and age, provides easy fodder for spilling internet ink on blogs, forums, and social media. However, just because this fruit […]

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via @WatchND

via @WatchND

The public and constant evaluation of the head coach of Notre Dame football might as well stand with death and taxes in the certainties of life. It comes with the territory and, in this day and age, provides easy fodder for spilling internet ink on blogs, forums, and social media.

However, just because this fruit hangs low doesn’t mean it isn’t worth taking a look at. Looking at a coach’s progress and/or expectations is a solid health check for the program in both its current state and the future. The higher the standard, the better the program.

Since the time that I started my Notre Dame obsession, the Ty Willingham years when I walked onto campus in 2003 season (yeah, I didn’t even get to enjoy 2002…), to now, I have learned that there are two absolutes to this little exercise:

  1. A “national title or bust” attitude is an impossible standard, especially in this current era where parity is at an all-time high. Even in this playoff era, expecting to always be one of the top four teams in all of college football is a little unrealistic. This should always be the ultimate goal for any serious program like Notre Dame, but if this is your annual expectation, expect to be disappointed almost every year.
  2. Mediocrity is unacceptable. Every Notre Dame fan will agree with that statement. Every Notre Dame fan will have their own definition for just what the hell mediocrity is.

In my opinion, the definition of mediocrity in regards to ND football is the #1 argument among ND fans. It’s also the #1 thing that has college football fans around the nation ready and willing to laugh at us once they claim to see or hear an Irish fan proudly setting an absurdly high bar, usually with a specific win number attached to it, as their definition of mediocrity.

And, to be honest, using the number of wins as the sole measuring stick every year seems to be a fool’s errand. Schedules and their difficulty are fluid entities and thus so should the number of wins expected on an annual basis. Further, who the wins and losses come against should matter. For example, beating LSU in the Music City Bowl was a fantastic win, but that doesn’t wash away just how bad the Northwestern loss was.

Or, to put it another way, think of every argument that we’ve use against other teams and their inflated win totals when debating rankings. It cuts both ways.

Rankings, as volatile as they can be, are likely a better standard to judge a team and its coach. In fact, when Bill Connelly of SBNation did his preview for Notre Dame, he did so with the title of “Notre Dame football has no excuse to finish outside the top 20″ instead of assigning a win total. Basically, it’s asking the audience to judge Notre Dame’s potential as one of the 20 best teams in college football, rather than making the assumption that a 9 or 10 win season gets ND there.

And with practically every starter returning for Notre Dame in 2015, Bill’s standard of a top 20 finish might actually be something of a low bar for the Irish to clear. Sure, Malik Zaire, with only one start at quarterback under his belt, is a huge wildcard for this team, but then again, so was Everett Golson in 2012. Now, I’m not saying Zaire should go 12-0 (after all, he doesn’t have a veteran like Tommy Rees as a safety net), but I am saying that I expect that Brian Kelly is true to his “next man in” mantra and can recruit quarterbacks in the same caliber as Golson and results shouldn’t see a major drop off.

Even with a rookie QB, the offense has an embarrassment of riches in their two-deep. Will Fuller should have himself a whale of a season with opposing defenses needing to worry about the new dynamic that Zaire brings to the run game with Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant in the backfield. The offensive line brings back 67 career starts and, thankfully, zero need to thrust a true freshman into the two-deep this season.

While the offense has plenty of weapons, Brian Van Gorder’s defense is the bigger question mark. It’s almost impossible to judge that unit’s performance last season, an absolute collapse that followed incredible early success. That collapse, however, was triggered by practically everyone getting injured. The injury situation became so comical/sad, that no one would’ve been surprised if Kelly pulled someone from the stands to play LB last season just to get a warm body in there. Still, even with all the questions surrounding the defense, with the return of KeiVarae Russell to the secondary, coupled with the 2014 starters coming back healthy, you would think that situation will never get to the lows that it saw last season.

So with all that being said, for me, judging Kelly boils down to two huge factors:

  1. Can he coach Zaire to succeed with all of the weapons that surround him? We’ve seen Kelly’s success in recruiting at the skill positions; in fact, 2014 was “who will step up at WR?” and then Fuller happened. So now it’s time to see if he can translate that success to the all-important QB position. After all, Kelly had the Cincinnati offense running so well in his final season there that it looked like a fern could slide in a QB with no dropoff. But was that thanks to then assistant Jeff Quinn or has Kelly found the right guy in Mike Sanford?
  2. Has Kelly found the proper replacement for Bob Diaco in Brian VanGorder? There’s certainly plenty of talent on the defensive side on the ball to be solid and with practically every starter having a year of experience in VanGorder’s system, there should be marked improvement. If there isn’t, I’m personally going to be a little concerned that Kelly without Diaco could equal defensive nightmares down the road.

And as far as the results in the rankings, here’s how I see it and where I see Kelly’s future in each scenario:

  • Unranked: Something went terribly, terribly wrong. Unless the 2014 injury bug returned, Kelly’s seat is going to get quite warm going into 2016.
  • Top 25: Fully within this team’s potential; however, if the Irish struggle to just hang on to their ranking, Kelly should certainly shoulder some criticism and his seat should be “Jack Swabrick ‘accidentally’ left the seat warmer on” level of warmth.
  • Top 20: I think Bill’s earlier headline is a decent standard, but on the low end of what this team could and should achieve. The only way I see Kelly’s seat getting warm in this situation if is something disastrous like “lost to UMass/Temple” is something that we have to say about the season.
  • Top 15: Personally, this is what I want to see. It’s aggressive for a new QB, but the Irish simply return too much talent for me to sleep on them (especially as a homer). Another reason for this: the Irish lost an absurd amount of fumbles last season and that seems to correct itself quite quickly the following year. I expect turnovers to be down across the board, but even in a worst case scenario, dumb luck alone should improve it. As for Kelly? Everything remains status quo.
  • Top 10: High end of my personal expectations. A lot has to go right for this to happen, but this team has a lot of “trendy sleeper pick for playoff contention that really isn’t a sleeper” going on in my mind right now. Kelly’s 2012 season now looks more like a realistic occurrence than a one-time outlier.
  • Playoffs: This isn’t even on my radar this season. Personally, I’ll be thrilled if the Irish find their way into the conversation. If they somehow make it, sign him to the Weis deal (kidding).
  • National Title: Actually sign him to the Weis deal.

Yes, you can bookmark this post and throw it in my face later if it looks like I start to backtrack if things go south. Simply put, I have high expectations for the Irish this season despite new QB and questionable defense concerns and it ain’t just because I’m looking at everything with blue and gold glasses. This team is absurdly talented and I cannot wait to wait them kick off against Texas in September.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know how you see it.

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Morning Roundup: May 24, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/24/morning-roundup-may-24-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/24/morning-roundup-may-24-2015/#respond Sun, 24 May 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29543 Good morning! FROM OUR SITE Friday roundup: Episode 29 (May 22, 2015) (43:37) RECRUITING OFFERED Horns Digest ($): Florida WR an option for Longhorns? (✰✰✰✰ FL WR Tre Nixon) Irish247 ($): Irish staff check in on some elite talent Irish247 ($): Tunnel vision Irish Illustrated ($): Big board: Running back Irish Illustrated ($): Insider report: […]

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Good morning!

FROM OUR SITE

RECRUITING
OFFERED

ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

IRISH IN THE NFL

SCHEDULE

EVERETT GOLSON

MISC.

 

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Friday Roundup – Episode 29 (May 22, 2015) http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/23/friday-roundup-episode-29-may-22-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/23/friday-roundup-episode-29-may-22-2015/#respond Sat, 23 May 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29537 An interview with Jack Jorgensen from FanSided.com to get the Florida State perspective on the Everett Golson transfer, a former Northwestern player chasing a WWE dream, an examination of some major potential changes to the game, and a roundup of the some of the headlines from around the nation.

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Friday RoundupAn interview with Jack Jorgensen from FanSided.com to get the Florida State perspective on the Everett Golson transfer, a former Northwestern player chasing a WWE dream, an examination of some major potential changes to the game, and a roundup of the some of the headlines from around the nation.

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Morning Roundup: May 23, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/23/morning-roundup-may-23-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/23/morning-roundup-may-23-2015/#respond Sat, 23 May 2015 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29533 Good morning! I hope you’ve been following the progress of Elli Thatcher, the girlfriend of ND quarterback DeShone Kizer, who has been recovering from a 17-hour procedure to remove a baseball-sized tumor from her neck. Elli has blessed us with an update on her 271 Miles blog, which you can read here. If you want […]

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Good morning! I hope you’ve been following the progress of Elli Thatcher, the girlfriend of ND quarterback DeShone Kizer, who has been recovering from a 17-hour procedure to remove a baseball-sized tumor from her neck. Elli has blessed us with an update on her 271 Miles blog, which you can read here. If you want to start at the beginning, our story is a great primer.

Now here’s some recent headlines regarding Notre Dame football:

PODCAST

RECRUITING
COMMITTED

OFFERED

ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

IRISH IN THE NFL

MISC.

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Morning Roundup: May 22, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/22/morning-roundup-may-22-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/22/morning-roundup-may-22-2015/#respond Fri, 22 May 2015 15:45:53 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29523 Good morning! (What’s left of it, at least.) I’m getting this update just in under the wire to bring you some of the latest headlines in Notre Dame football. I hope you enjoyed my article Thursday about the quarterback situation at Notre Dame. If you didn’t see it, check it out below. FROM OUR SITE […]

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Good morning! (What’s left of it, at least.) I’m getting this update just in under the wire to bring you some of the latest headlines in Notre Dame football. I hope you enjoyed my article Thursday about the quarterback situation at Notre Dame. If you didn’t see it, check it out below.

FROM OUR SITE

RECRUITING
COMMITTED

OFFERED

ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

SCHEDULE

EVERETT GOLSON

MISC.

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Friday Roundup: The “Winds of Change” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/22/friday-roundup-the-winds-of-change-edition/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/22/friday-roundup-the-winds-of-change-edition/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29521 On the morning of November 4, 2015, I figured that my life would make quite the drastic change. I decided to do something crazy and launch a radio show on my own dime. It was a huge financial risk, but an opportunity to be on the DFW airwaves seemed too good to pass up. So before […]

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Friday RoundupOn the morning of November 4, 2015, I figured that my life would make quite the drastic change. I decided to do something crazy and launch a radio show on my own dime. It was a huge financial risk, but an opportunity to be on the DFW airwaves seemed too good to pass up. So before I left for work, I signed, scanned, and emailed the final documents to make the entire thing official.

As soon as I reached my office door, I was greeted with a handshake from my manager whom had just packed up his things and was being escorted out in a layoff.

It hadn’t even been an hour since I put my signature on that piece of paper. Now, I sat at my desk, terrified that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. I just made a huge financial commitment for at least six months and I was worried that I would have to text my newly pregnant wife that I would be jobless. Thankfully, I was not one of the employees that had to walk out of the door, but ever since that fateful November day, life has been a constant whirlwind of change and I know that change in my life is far from done.

I’m still with the same company, but my job with them will change. To what, I have no idea. Baby Tex will be in the world by then and my daily routine will mostly involve me learning how to be a functional zombie. Even sooner than that, next Friday to be exact, I will say farewell to studio at KVCE and bring the show to a 100% home-produced podcast format.

I could have never predicted that a Tuesday morning in November would send ripples through my life that I would still feel today.

I have to imagine that just about everyone involved in major college football feels like I did at my desk that day. The future is anything but certain and the climate has already changed. It’s clear that student-athletes in major revenue sports will see some sort of increased compensation whether it ends up being additional stipends or cost of attendance. With the O’Bannon case, student-athletes will could also be allowed to make money of their image and likeness, something Jack Swarbrick has come out in support of. However, the term student-athlete might not even work in this current climate depending on a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as student-athlete could become employee and teams could become unions.

And that’s a whole other can of worms that moves beyond compensation. Swarbrick said Notre Dame will want no part of that and Northwestern has made a similar statement as well. And while ADs aren’t coming out of the woodwork to join that opinion, I feel that the safe bet would be on quite a good number of schools banding together to explore a new athletic model in such a brave new world.

Combine this with the explosion of TV revenue, especially among the Power Five, and the whole thing feels like one giant bubble that’s about to burst. Something has to give, whether the NCAA and/or all its members institutions make some major reforms or a gigantic court ruling forces their hand.

Either way, I know for sure that there will be one thing that will not change and that is that I will forever be obsessed with Notre Dame football and the college game as a whole no matter what form it may eventually take. Football will still be football and my alma mater will still be taking the field.

And, hopefully, whatever the future may hold, we can still look out on the field of Notre Dame Stadium with the knowledge that Michigan still hasn’t scored.

The Roundup

Speaking of conferences and the crazy money going around, this is a fascinating read at how the Pac-12 does it different than everyone else, considering they still own their own network. There’s some comparison with other conference revenues as well in there. Spoiler alert: it’s a ton of cash.

BREAKING: Coach of #1 seeded team in playoff thought everything was about him. Nick Saban ignored the sky-rocketing TV numbers and thought people only cared about the playoffs during the bowl season. Jeff Long decided to put him in his place saying that “I’m not sure how aware [coaches like Saban] are of what’s really going on out there in the real world” much to my amusement.

ALSO BREAKING: Playoff committee member confirms what we already knew. The Big XII doing their “co-champion” ridiculousness cost them a playoff spot. Duh?

I always love reading about other fanbases losing their minds about traditions. It’s too easy for us to get in our own outrage bubbles, but Syracuse reminded us that all college fans are crazy this week.

My love of the WWE and college football collide again. A Northwestern player has decided to call it quits to go chase a WWE dream. The full story is much more complex, touching on things like mental health, and is certainly worth your time.

And now your moment of Nix… “Go over to the baseball field and turn that shit off” – Butch Jones commenting on “Sweet Home Alabama”

The Booze

Every now and then my wife surprises me with a six pack of beer she thinks I’ll like when she’s at the grocery store. This time around, the delivery was Sam Adam’s Porch Rocker which is a hell of a lot like a Summer Shandy but a lot less sugary. It toes the line between “tastes too much like lemonade” and “actually tastes like a beer” fairly well. And considering that, as a child of the South, I grew up drinking lemonade like it was water during the summer months, I suppose my palate was made for such a beverage.

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ND’s QB Exodus is Slightly More Than Top Schools, But Little Cause For Alarm http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/21/qb-exodus/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/21/qb-exodus/#respond Thu, 21 May 2015 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29505 I admit I bristled when South Bend Tribune writer Mike Vorel tweeted this after Everett Golson announced he’d be transferring from Notre Dame: Since the end of the Holtz Era, 18 #NotreDame QBs have either switched positions, transferred, or both. Add Golson: http://t.co/Mvi9XAgxv2 — Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) May 7, 2015 I don’t like stats that […]

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I admit I bristled when South Bend Tribune writer Mike Vorel tweeted this after Everett Golson announced he’d be transferring from Notre Dame:

I don’t like stats that lack context, although I’m guilty of offering them up from time to time myself. This tweet prompted two questions: Is this something to be concerned about? And how does this compare to other Top 25 teams?

I’ve now done the homework myself. Since 1999, high school athletes recruited as quarterbacks have transferred from Notre Dame at a slightly more frequent rate than nine other schools – Alabama, Boise State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and USC. (Walk-ons, whether they were eventually given scholarships or not, were not counted. Those who have already enrolled – such as Alabama’s Blake Barnett – were counted, but those who have signed a letter of intent but have not yet enrolled – such as Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush – were not.)

The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen, citing the stat he created and Vorel mentioned, said these 18 QBs represented a “staggering number of detoured dreams.” I disagree – and I’ll explain why in a moment.

First, let’s look at the numbers – again since 1999:

Tracking QBs from Major Programs Left early (NFL), Quit (injury/new sport), dismissed (no transfer)
Team # of QBs Still QB on team Graduated Transferred Position Switch
Alabama 19 3 4 8 1 3
Oregon 20 3 6 7 2 2
ND 20 2 3 9 5 1
Oklahoma 18 3 3 5 4 3
Michigan 18 3 5 7 1 2
Boise St. 17 4 7 4 1 1
Texas 17 2 6 6 1 2
USC 17 4 5 4 2 2
LSU 17 3 5 5 0 4
Ohio St. 16 3 7 5 0 1

For reference, here are the wins for each program since 1999: Boise State (165); Oklahoma (159); Ohio State (157); LSU (148); USC (146); Texas (145); Oregon (144); Alabama (135); Michigan (118); Notre Dame (115).

ARE THE NUMBER OF TRANSFERS, POSITION SWITCHES & EARLY EXITS SOMETHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT?

First: Let’s talk math.

If we compare program wins to # of transfers, the correlation is -0.82, which suggests that high number of transfers at the quarterback position equates to less program wins (and vice versa) – for at least these 10 programs. Then again, the coefficient of determination is 0.6864, which means that 68 percent of the total variation in wins can be explained by a linear relationship between quarterback transfers and team wins. The other 32 percent of the total variation remains unexplained.

Now: Back to English. Clausen

In Notre Dame’s case, I’d argue the number of transfers, position switches and early exits aren’t something to be concerned about.

Let’s break it down, starting with the easiest category.

Notre Dame has 1 individual who either left the program early to join the NFL, quit because of injury or to pursue a different sport or was dismissed without landing at another school. That was Jimmy Clausen.

Clausen listed to the advice of the coach who recruited him, Charlie Weis, and declared for the draft with one year of college eligibility remaining. At the time, he was “perhaps the top quarterback in this year’s [2010] class,” according to ESPN.

I think it reflects well on Notre Dame’s program that they had a quarterback that was coveted by NFL teams, so this is no cause for concern from my perspective.

The Irish had five individuals who switched positions:

Courtesy of UND.com

Courtesy of UND.com

Jared Clark, recruited in 2000, was stuck behind Carlyle Holiday and former walk-on Pat Dillingham on the depth chart when he switched to tight end in 2002. He played 47 game minutes in 2002 and 95 in 2003, ending up fifth on the team in receptions his senior year.

Holiday, also recruited in 2000, started at quarterback for most of 2001, all of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 until Brady Quinn emerged as the definitive signal caller. Holiday switched to wide receiver his senior year and, although undrafted, played four seasons in the NFL at wide receiver.

Abram Elam, also recruited in 2000, switched to safety in August of his freshman year. After a solid showing as a reserve safety, his Notre Dame career ended poorly. He was dismissed from the team after a felony sexual battery conviction. He’d eventually enroll in Kent State and ended up playing 7 years in the NFL, all at safety.

Darrin Bragg, recruited in 2004, was moved to wide receiver by new coach Charlie Weis in 2005. He quit the team after receiving no playing time at wide receiver over two seasons, but rejoined as the team’s third string quarterback in 2007.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Tedmoseby

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Tedmoseby

The Irish never found the right spot for Luke Massa, who was recruited in 2010. He was moved from quarterback to tight end to receiver before settling in as the team’s holder for field goal attempts.

Since Elam and Holiday ended up in the NFL, I’d say their “detours” worked out in their favor, regardless of the circumstances. I don’t think fans should be concerned that it didn’t work out for them at quarterback.

The Irish took four quarterbacks in 2000 if you count Elam – which I did, but others don’t – so it was inevitable that someone was going to draw the short straw. Clark did not realize his potential at QB, but he still contributed to the offense. He also graduated from Notre Dame, which should not be discounted.

In all, I don’t believe it should concern Irish fans that five individuals recruited as quarterbacks switched positions – especially when Notre Dame recruited the most QBs (20) in the 15-year stretch I studied.

Now let’s discuss the nine who transferred:

Dayne Crist, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson took advantage of the graduate transfer rule and left after finishing their degree at Notre Dame.

Crist, who was recruited by Charlie Weis, joined his former coach in Kansas after being benched by Weis’ replacement, Brian Kelly.

Image courtesy of Flickr (via Michael Li)

Image courtesy of Flickr (via Michael Li)

Hendrix, who came in with Kelly’s first class, had NFL ambitions and knew he wouldn’t get snaps if he stayed at Notre Dame. So he transferred to Miami (Ohio), where he knew he’d be the No. 1 starter.

Golson transferred to Florida State, presumably to keep his own NFL ambitions alive.

The relationship between student-athlete and university is supposed to be mutually beneficial: The school gives the student-athlete the opportunity to earn a degree, while the student-athlete gives his benefactor his best four years on the field. If Crist and Hendrix had stayed, I’m not sure either would have seen the field during the 2012 and 2014 seasons, respectively. Their decision to transfer makes sense, and doesn’t seem to reflect poorly on Notre Dame.

That leaves six who left Notre Dame before graduating and sat out a year before playing at a different FBS school: Matt LoVecchio, Christian Olsen, David Wolke, Zach Frazer, Demetrius Jones and Gunner Kiel.

LoVecchio transferred to Indiana after barely playing in Bob Davie’s final disastrous year and with Tyrone Willingham unwilling to make him the starter in 2002.

Olsen admitted after transferring to Virginia, that he “really didn’t want to be at Notre Dame from [his] first semester on” and that “it just wasn’t a school that I fit in at.” That’s a bigger concern: That Notre Dame coaches didn’t correctly identify a player who wanted to be there.

Wolke, who left in the summer of 2006, was Brady Quinn’s backup for two seasons before losing that job to Evan Sharpley. With Zach Frazer and Demetrius Jones incoming, Wolke left for Western Kentucky – where, frankly, he had two very disappointing seasons for the Hilltoppers.

Image via Spokeo

Image via Spokeo

Had Wolke stayed, he would not have had to contend with Frazer or Jones – because they both left too. Frazer was considered fourth best in a competition for the starting spot in 2007. Had he stayed, he would have most certainly played behind Clausen – but may have had a shot when Jimmy sustained injuries. Of course, Frazer levied his comeuppance on Charlie Weis by beating Clausen and the Irish in South Bend as a member of the UConn Huskies.

Jones won the starter’s job in 2007, only to transfer immediately after losing the job in the first game to Clausen. Jones, who ended his career playing tight end and wide receiver at a Division II school said his “only regret [was he] didn’t stay at Notre Dame,” adding, “If I had stayed and played multiple positions like I went on to do, I’d be playing on Sundays right now.”

Gunner Kiel transferred to Cincinnati because he “didn’t want to run the scout team anymore.” It makes sense to me.

LoVecchio, Wolke, Frazer and Kiel left for a better opportunity to start, while Olsen and Jones transferred after becoming disillusioned about their future in South Bend.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO OTHER TOP 25 TEAMS?

Of the 10 schools surveyed, Notre Dame had the highest percentage of its recruited quarterbacks transfer to a different school. Michigan was second.

The Irish were second-to-last in the number of high school athletes who were recruited as quarterbacks, remained in the position and exhausted their eligibility. Just three – Brady Quinn, Evan Sharpley and Tommy Rees – out of 20 were in this category. Oklahoma was worst, with just 3 - Jason White, Joey Halzle & Landry Jones – out of 19 in this category.

However, I reject the notion that it’s appropriate to consider positions switches equal to transfers as part of an umbrella category. While those on Notre Dame that moved positions didn’t likely change the outcome of any single game, they still contributed to the team’s success. With transfers, there’s zero additional benefit.

If position switches are combined with graduations, Notre Dame looks a lot better in comparison to these nine outstanding teams. There are eight individuals recruited as quarterback who eventually graduated from Notre Dame with no eligibility remaining, tied for first with Oregon and Boise State.

If the goal is graduating student-athletes, then Notre Dame is doing just fine with their quarterback recruits.

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Morning Roundup: May 20, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/20/morning-roundup-may-20-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/05/20/morning-roundup-may-20-2015/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=29494 Good morning! This is my 100th post on Her Loyal Sons. I’m glad to be here and happy to bring you the latest news on Notre Dame football (almost) every day. Without further fanfare, here are your headlines: FROM OUR SITE Chop to the heart, Golson transfers to Florida State RECRUITING OFFERED Bruin Report Online […]

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Good morning! This is my 100th post on Her Loyal Sons. I’m glad to be here and happy to bring you the latest news on Notre Dame football (almost) every day. Without further fanfare, here are your headlines:

FROM OUR SITE

RECRUITING
OFFERED

ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

SCHEDULE

IRISH IN THE NFL

EVERETT GOLSON

Golson 0

Golson 1

Golson 2

Golson vs Winston

 CHARLIE WEIS

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