Monday, March 3, 2014
With Spring football just underway in South Bend, there is a lot of excitement on where the team can go in 2014. After a step back in 2013, Irish fans are hopeful of a return to being a national title contender. But there are three key areas that need to be worked on during the Spring.
Notre Dame fans might think that this area is fixed with the return of Everett Golson. However, if we learned anything last year, you can never have too much depth at quarterback. Yes, Golson had to spend a year away. He worked with a great trainer and will hopefully be better for it.
But Tommy Rees is gone. While his experience as the starter had it's ups and downs, he was very valuable in a back up role in the 2012 season. While last year, fans called for Rees to be benched on occasion, the reality is that Brian Kelly had nobody else to go to. Andrew Hendrix who was a major disappointment is also gone.
Red shirt freshman Malik Zaire is slated to be the back up. While Zaire does have the talent, he lacks experience at the college level. If Golson is ever out, he is the quarterback. So his development over the spring is huge.
This was an area last year that took almost the whole season to figure out. After being suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl, George Atkinson has left the team for the NFL. He was a disappointment to begin with. Amir Carlisle appears to be moving to wide receiver. that could be good because after a great first run of the season he did nothing the rest of the year. Maybe a position change is what he needs or maybe we should never trust a USC guy again.
The only guy who was consistent all year was Cam McDaniel. Then with the late season emergence of Tarean Folston, it became clear on who the two runners who should get the bulk of the carries are. Kelly hopes Greg Bryant can play a bigger role too.
But one thing is for sure. It needs to be settled in the spring and in summer camp. We can't have another year of going week to week with it.
Once the most feared defense in college football, Notre Dame has lots of reloading to do. Bob Diaco left for Connecticut and will be replaced by former Jets assistant Brian Van Gorder. He will have two huge holes to fill on the defensive line with Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt both gone to the NFL. Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones will both be expected to have huge roles in this area.
The linebacking unit does have for returning players to start in Jaylon Smith, Ishaq Williams, Kendall Moore, and Jarret Grace. The problem is depth though. The only other guy with any experience is Ben Councell but he is coming off injury. No other player has any significant experience,
In the secondary, KeVare Russell will have to go from being the underclassmen corner to more of a leader back there. This is a unit that does have talent but a lot of youth and little experience. Their development in the spring is also huge.
The Blue-Gold game is April 12. It will be fun to see how all these areas developed over the spring.