The “Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy” series continues today with tight ends – one of the easiest positions to choose for the Irish, and one of the most difficult positions to pick out for Notre Dame’s opponents.
Position: Tight End
Height/Weight: 6’6”/251 lbs.
We all know Eifert’s story – seemingly average recruit; doesn’t play freshman year; fills in when Rudolph gets hurt; turns out to catch everything that is thrown his way; works with Michael Floyd to make Tommy Rees appear to be a serviceable QB; etc. After flirting with the prospect of moving on to the NFL after the 2011, Tyler Eifert chose to stick with his teammates in South Bend.
With the name of the Dublin starter still very much in limbo, Eifert’s ability to create defensive mismatches (particularly on routes of 15-yards or less) could be a must-needed crutch for the 2012 Irish offense. With Michael Floyd now working alongside Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, and without an established threat at receiver to fill his shoes, Eifert will likely be even more of a focal point to the ND attack than he was in 2011 when he caught 63 balls for 803 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Other than the clairvoyant among us, not too many Domers would have expected Eifert to turn into a better pass-catching college tight end (the NFL may offer a different story) than his predecessor Kyle Rudolph, but he has the opportunity to cement that legacy this season. For his next surprise, let’s hope and dream that Eifert decides to snub the pros once again and come back for a 5th go-around donning the blue and gold.
Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo
Positions: Tight End
Year: Both Seniors
Height/Weight: Ertz – 6’6”/252 lbs.; Toilolo – 6’8”/265 lbs.
Stanford returns two of the mainstays in its 3-man tight end rotation (with Coby Fleener joining his pal Andrew Luck in Indianapolis) in seniors Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo. Last season Ertz caught 27 balls for 346 yards and 4 touchdowns while missing 4 games with an injury, and Toilolo snagged 25 passes for 343 yards and 6 touchdowns.
It is difficult to quantify, but it is not a stretch to say that these numbers were handicapped by the combination of the top quarterback in the country, one of the top tight ends in the country drawing most of the attention, and a lack of many threats at wide receiver. While the talent level may have dropped, we can still expect Stanford’s tight ends to play a big role in David Shaw’s offensive scheme this year with both Ertz and Toilolo offering safe, effective targets to the winner of the Brett Nottingham/Josh Nunes quarterback battle.
Toilolo was named to the Mackey Award Watch List (along with 3 other Notre Dame opponents including Hubie Graham of Pitt, Chris Pantale of Boston College, and Dion Sims of Michigan State) after earning honorable mention all-conference last season.
Similarly to how the Irish utilize Eifert, you’ll likely see Ertz lining up outside as well:
Previously in the Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy series:
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