Yes, you read the title correctly: The Subway Domer has pulled a recruiting coup for the IBG and NDNation has joined the fold.
For the post Blue/Gold Game edition, we got the first crack at asking questions of Mike Coffey, aka El Kabong, of NDNation. He, in turn, has asked his questions three of Kieth Arnold of Inside the Irish who will eventually have Subway’s answers up. And you can find my answers over at The Subway Domer this week. Eventually, we will have the Strong and True blog back in the fold once they find someone to fill Josh Flynt’s shoes.
Without further ado, here are Mike’s answers to my questions:
1) Needless to say, the offense struggled mightily, especially in the red zone. Do you feel that this a sign of future offensive struggles or a chance to praise the Irish defense?
I believe it’s neither.
The Spring Game is a difficult thing to analyze. We ND football fans haven’t seen a meaningful snap in three in a half months (or more, depending on how you felt about the bowl game) and won’t see one for another four months. We’ve got a jones to see the players in action in a game-like atmosphere at the location we all associate with great games, and the Spring Game gives us that. Trouble is, given the familiarity the players have with each other’s abilities, the general knowledge of the plays being run, and the well-known tendency of coaching staffs in general (and this one in particular) to play things close to the vest in a non-competitive situation, it doesn’t give us much else.
No doubt the defense “showed” more than the offense during the scrimmage. Maybe they were more motivated. Maybe they took advantage of the temporarily poor OL depth or the larger number of dinged-up players on offense. Maybe Chuck Martin didn’t want to show off too much in a situation that didn’t matter. Maybe our defense is really really good and when our offense goes up against a less-talented group, it’ll be their time to shine. Maybe the the red-jersey rules limited Everett Golson in ways we won’t see when Temple comes to town.
In the words of Edward Nygma, too many questions. Guessing which (if any) of the possibilities are true is just that — guessing. We know we had a good defense last year, and nothing that happened Saturday showed us any different. We know the offense had its issues last year at times, and nothing that happened Saturday showed us any different. Unfortunately, until that first snap on August 31st, that’s what we’re left with, and I don’t want to color the perception of what happens at and after that snap with judgments based on guesses.
Given the caveats of answer #1, I was interested in seeing a couple things.
The OL was low on bodies, so I went in expecting them to have problems. I thought they performed relatively well given the limitation, but certainly wasn’t wowed. I would have liked to see their ground game performance more, as that’s what I expect will drive the success or failure of the unit next season. I enjoy ND being able to redshirt freshmen offensive linemen to allow them to grow and get more seasoned, but it’s possible we won’t have that luxury this year.
Given the change in depth at the position, I was also interested in comparing Malik Zaire to his competitors, both physically and (to an extent) emotionally. I found him to be very refreshing in both aspects. I thought his passes had good power and accuracy, certainly moreso than Andrew Hendrix. He seemed to exhibit a reasonable confidence for a freshman. It remains to be seen if we’ll see him behind center at any point, and I’d expect Brian Kelly and the staff will do their utmost to preserve a redshirt year for him. Having said that, however, if Golson has the improvement we all expect, it’s not a given he’ll be behind center for a third year in a row, and perhaps some experience for Zaire will leave ND in a better position for 2014. If they don’t, Rees once again was his workman-like self, and while he has his limitations, I wouldn’t be prepared to throw the season away if the situation meant extended time for him at QB.
As I noted above, Zaire’s performance made me interested in seeing what he’ll be able to do, especially on the ground to keep defenses honest. C.J. Prosise certainly is more than serviceable at a position of need. I liked George Atkinson, but if he doesn’t learn to keep those pads down, he’ll miss more time this year.
But I would say the guy who stood out for me was Chuck Martin. Even though he’s the OC for an offensive-minded coach, he’s putting his stamp on the game plan. He probably never will run the ball as much as I’d like, but he’s shown he respects the need for (at least a semblance of) balance. For a guy who spent most of his time on the defensive side of the ball prior to ND, that’s a great thing to see, and had Brian Kelly’s chat with the Eagles gone a different way, I’d be comfortable with Martin at the helm.
So much for everything being calm on the Notre Dame football front.
Irish Sports Daily first broke the story that Gunner Kiel would transfer from the Irish and later the Observer had sources confirm that Kiel had cleaned out his locker. At this time, there is no official word from Notre Dame or the athletic department. There also is no word on where Kiel plans on transferring to as well.
Honestly, this is isn’t at all surprising. Since the 2012 season, many Irish fans have discussed if one of the current Irish QBs would do just this. With Golson seemingly having the starting job locked down, veterans Rees and Hendrix as backups, and top recruit Malik Zaire enrolled early, there is quite a crowd fighting for playing time at QB. Add on the fact that Golson also has three years of eligibility left and Kiel is starting at the possibility of having only one year to start at QB barring an injury or serious decline by Golson.
While I would’ve loved a dream scenario of being able to transition from Golson to Kiel and then to Zaire, I can’t blame Kiel for wanting a shot at better playing time. Thankfully, Kiel’s departure doesn’t cripple the Irish and makes Kelly strategy of going after a QB in every recruiting class seem all the wiser. Needless to say, I’m not exactly terrified at the potential of three more years of Golson followed by two years of Zaire.
Best of luck to Gunner in the future, where ever that may be. Unlike Les Miles, we here at HLS definitely think you have the chest to handle the reins of a top program.
After all the insanity that was January, we deserved a National Signing Day like this.
All 18 unsigned verbal commits sent their national letters of intent to South Bend. There were no surprise defections; in fact, the only surprise of the day was a positive one as Eddie Vanderdoes became the 24th and final member of the recruiting class dubbed as the Irish Mob.
Just how great was this recruiting class? Let’s take a look:
And below is the full roster for the recruiting class of 2013 complete with links to their bios here at HLS:
Personally, I’m thrilled with this class. The only thing that would’ve possibly made this class better would have been if Alex Anzalone had stayed in the fold to bring the class to a full 25, but, honestly, at that point, I’m just being greedy.
With this class the Irish could almost field an entire team of just freshmen on both sides of the ball save for one linebacker. The Irish managed to snag four five-star players (according to Rivals) which is the most I can ever remember the Irish having in a single class.
Notre Dame also only trailed a single school in the Rivals average star ranking. That school is Southern Cal, who bested the Irish’s 3.92 average stars with 4.42 average stars — of course, USC only managed to sign 12 players, so that skews that average ever so slightly.
Oh, and right below the Irish in the same ranking: Alabama with 3.84 average stars.
I could go on and continuously gush about this class, but the bottom line is that Notre Dame finished yesterday with an elite recruiting class. It is incredibly well balanced, addresses areas of need, and stocks the depth chart in crucial areas like both the offensive and defensive line (and Brian Kelly said he still considers those areas of need for 2014 — this is a man after my own heart).
Be excited, be very excited about what Brian Kelly and his staff just pulled off. This future is beyond bright for this team.
Finally, the folks at IBN Sports have reached out to us to share their ND signing day segment, featuring Mike Frank of Irish Sports Daily. They have loads of other signing day segments over at their site as well so be sure to check them out if you are interested.
Five new members of the Irish enrolled, from five different states, and they may play 5 different positions. Let’s talk a look at the kids that are now officially in the program.
Steve Elmer- 4 star OT- 6’6” 310 lbs 4.33 GPA
First member of what would become the “IrishMob13″, Mr. Elmer has been a member since 2011. Slated to play OT, but like most lineman will likely be moved around until the staff finds his strengths. A big, strong kid who could theoretically push for playing time. Would be nice to “red shirt” him, but it is also good to have someone available to step in in and emergency, even as a freshman. With room to grow and an extra 1/2 year to get acquainted, hopefully he will be a big piece of the O-Line in the future.
James Onwualu – 4 star ATH- 6’2” 205 lbs 4.2 GPA
James joins a crowded depth chart as he is projected as a WR, but could slide into that hybrid RB position. Early on listed as a 3 star but caught the attention of all but one recruiting service and earned his 4th star. Apparently has been quoted saying he’s never lifted a weight a day in his life, so it will be interesting to see if he puts on some pounds after Longo gets to him. Really like this kid, seems to be a very balanced wide receiver. Looks like should be able to go deep and hurt you, or just burn you on a short pass. Reminds me of a cross between Floyd and Tate at the high school level.
Malik Zaire – 4 Star QB 6’1” 190 lbs 3.0 GPA
Coach Kelly said he’d take a QB every year, this year is no different. Zaire is an interesting prospect and part of the Elite 11. Seems almost to good to be true, a mobile QB that keeps his eyes down field and has all the throws. He’s entering what seems like a logjam at QB, but with Hendrix and Rees both going to be Seniors he’ll likely get his shot sooner or later. I expect him to redshirt considering Gunner Kiel enrolled early last year and will likely get the reps Malik would be after. It will be interesting to see if he gets his chance at the field, changes position, or transfers. I for one would like to see what he can do for us. Oh, and he’s a lefty.
Corey Robinson – 4 Star WR 6’4” 200 lbs 4.4 GPA
Son of the Admiral and not a bad athlete himself. A raw receiver, Robinson didn’t play football his whole life. We’ve got a lot of WRs on the roster right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he redshirted as well. However, he’s got the size, hands, speed, and athleticism to be a big time WR. He could easily bulk up to 225 in a few years. If he’s coached up well and works hard in the weight room we could have a steal at WR here. Him getting in early leads me to believe its only a matter of time. Another athlete that picked up a 4th star after he was committed just goes to show how well these coaches recruit. Also has shown time and again to be an excellent citizen.
Mike Heuerman – 4 Star TE 6’4” 220 lbs 3.3 GPA
Welcome to TE-U Mr. Heuerman. Another in what is becoming a long line of great TE’s we snagged from the south and the jaws of many other elite programs. Seems to be a very balanced TE, being adept at blocking and catching. Call me crazy, but I think the kid genuinely enjoys blocking. 4 stars across the board and top 10 at his position on every recruiting service as well. There is some depth at TE ahead of him, but Eifert is out the door. Koyack, Welsh, and Niklas are all ahead of him as of today. He will have to put on some lbs but I think his ability as a blocker will get him on the field sooner than we think. Could see special teams as a freshman but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another redshirt.
So, five 4 star young athletes and scholars are enrolled in classes. Hopefully, we’ll have enough depth to give them a full year and a half to adjust via a “red shirt”. However, they could contribute early if need be. Given their accolades, potential, and early start; I wouldn’t be surprised if we know these names very well by the time they get to be Seniors. With patience and hard work I’d say it’s likely we’ll be speaking quite highly of them by the time that rolls around.