Welcome to Round 2 of a scheduled 5 between Team Rees, represented by Tyler Moorehead, and Team Golson , represented by me, Steve Herring. Learn a little more about Tyler and the Debate Rules in Sunday’s Press Release. Our names link to Twitter accounts … so go follow us.
QUESTION #3: Are we looking to “win now” or making the best choice for the program in terms of pursuing a NC. Can those ideas conflate?
Tyler Moorehead (Team Rees): Those ideas definitely conflate. Certainly, the goal of every major program, but especially Notre Dame, is to win a national championship. So the belief is that sometimes you have to “sacrifice” and sit better, more experienced players on the bench during years that you likely won’t contend for a title, in order to let younger players develop and get better so they are prepared to chase the championship when the time is right.
But this logic has some serious flaws. First of all, coaches have to “win now” if they want to keep their jobs. Notre Dame fans do not want to see Brian Kelly win 8 games for the third year in a row. After all, how can you say that he is legitimately improving the team if the record shows otherwise? So the best players are going to play, and those usually (but obviously not always) are the older, veteran guys on the team. It is generally not a good sign if younger players are jumping their older teammates on the depth chart.
Secondly, a coach can’t simply sit better players for the sake of the future, or he will lose the support and respect of his team altogether. How can you convince your players to work and practice their asses off every day if you aren’t going to reward them with playing time? You can’t. Benching a lot of your veteran guys would have an unbelievable trickle-down effect that would de-motivate a lot of the players. Furthermore, it would have a profound negative effect on recruiting, because no talented players want to hear that a coach will not reward them for their efforts.
Steve Herring (Team Golson): Guess which Notre Dame English major worded this question ladies and gentlemen. (Hint: It’s not me. Looking up “conflate” in the dictionary: con∙flate: “to join or merge two or more thing into a unified whole”)
It is my belief that the choice of Everett Golson as the starting quarterback at Notre Dame can achieve con∙fla∙tion in our pursuit of winning this season and improving our chances of the long-awaited National Championship (nailed it.) I’m confused by any coach that would, in any situation, choose the QB they thought would result in fewer wins during that season. As we’re all realizing, the offseason is LONG and the program is provided ample time to decipher how they can project players in certain roles. What happened in that rain delay we may never know, but I think even Brian Kelly would agree that flip-flopping in 2012 would be far from ideal as he tries to win now AND later. If a true starter is named for September 1st, we should anticipate it’s the player that BK is plying his wares with for the next 1-2 full seasons minimum.
This is the University of Notre Dame’s football program – we’re always trying to win now and the goal is always the National Championship. The question seems to dictate that Kelly would start the player with less talent/potential in an effort to limit the damages that could await in 2012. But do we really think Tommy is even 1 game better over 12 full games? Due to the nature of Tommy’s athletic abilities and little threat of a deep ball, he will face packed fronts and 5-6 man rushes on passing downs. Assuming that the Irish fall behind in at least 1-2 of the marquee match-ups, doesn’t it concern you that he does nothing on his own to take advantage of mismatches? It does for me.
Selecting the right QB is really only a small part of the NC formula. It’s a team game and I believe Everett Golson gives his offensive teammates the best chance to succeed as a whole for the foreseeable future. The reigning National Champion Crimson Tide took home the crystal ball behind SOPHOMORE FIRST YEAR STARTER A.J. McCarron’s mediocre stats. McCarron did account for 13 fewer turnovers than “experienced sophomore” Tommy Rees. I don’t think a defense resembling Bama’s in 2011 will be wearing Blue & Gold this fall, despite the schedule’s SEC-like degree of difficulty. Everett can challenge quality defenses immediately and present bigger threats down the road. Golson presents the ideal scenario where Fighting Irish Football ideals can con∙flate.
QUESTION #4: How much does Rees experience outweigh his deficiencies in other areas?
Tyler Moorehead (Team Rees): There is nothing that I can stress more than the idea that experience matters enormously in college football. The whole premise of “experience” is based upon the idea that a player has to step on the field and make enough mistakes to learn the game’s most crucial lessons.
Well, there is no disputing that Tommy Rees has made his fair share of mistakes. He has 22 interceptions in 20 games, and large number of fumbles on top of that. But you can expect him to significantly cut down his turnovers this season, due mainly to the well-documented sophomore-to-junior quarterback jump .
When quarterbacks hit their third season, they often start using the phrase “the game is slowing down” or something to that effect. This is the ultimate testament to experience, because it means that they have had almost every defense thrown at them before and have begun to recognize how to attack them more efficiently. This tends to lead to marked improvement in offensive numbers across the board, and it also happens to be where Tommy Rees is at right now. Contrary to popular misperception, Tommy improved his completion percentage, yards per attempt, and turnover ratio from his freshman to sophomore season. He also learned to spread the ball around more, completing passes to 12 different receivers (yes, I know Michael Floyd caught 100 balls. But a good quarterback also knows to get the ball in his playmaker’s hands. Dayne didn’t do this in one half versus USF, and consequently lost his job. Bottom line, Tommy still spreads it around). He hung tough in the pocket, and now is able to make much more advanced reads. Tommy is not a game-breaking athlete, and that will always remain his number one deficiency. But the quarterback position has always been about intangibles such as poise, leadership, savvy, and is ultimately a position where brains matter more than brawn.
The other side of the coin is that Golson is extremely inexperienced. It has been cited time and time again that he does not yet have a good grasp on the playbook, and in his only game action (the Blue-Gold game, not even real, live stuff) he struggled to even line up the team and get the ball hiked. He had so many delay of game penalties that the play clock had to be turned off. He simply is not ready to be thrown into the fire. Quarterbacks have to be leaders, and he isn’t mentally ready in terms of playbook knowledge and command to go out there and be the guy. All of the athleticism in the world cannot save him there. There is no denying that Everett Golson has awesome potential, but if plays this year, he could fizzle out before he ever really has a chance. He needs to continue to work hard in practice and get in the playbook for a much longer time before it is his turn.
Steve Herring (Team Golson): What does the term “experience” mean in college football? Dayne Crist played in 17 games at Notre Dame, but Kansas writers touting him as an “experienced 5th year senior” would be quietly mocked by the majority of Irish faithful coming across such a line. Tommy, who is 2 years younger with only 3 more games under his belt than Dayne, is then labeled “established veteran” in South Bend? This isn’t the NFL folks. Tommy Rees v. Everett Golson is not comparable to Tom Brady v. Robert Griffin in 2012 despite factions of Rees’s support base implying a massive experience discrepancy.
The answer to this question for me is “Rees’s experience doesn’t outweigh much right now”. You can’t know how a QB will handle 100,000 fans, national TV rivalries, down by 7 in the 4th quarter on the road, or a fumble on the first possession that results in a 14 point swing. These questions have faced every quarterback prospect at every major school in America for 100+ years. The uncertainty of their answers should not be accepted as a valid counterpoint. Every great Irish QB you can name trotted out against the Trojans for the first time once because he was given that opportunity. If it’s not Golson now, it will be somebody later.
I don’t mean to discount what we think we know of Tommy Rees and what he has accomplished. He’s been consistently frustrating during his time as our signal-caller, especially in marquee match-ups. Both of his best “big game” performances came in his career’s first six starts at SC & Michigan (Games 3 & 6). Quality opponents have since discovered how to contain his limited abilities. Without Michael Floyd that could result in his own series of growing pains.
While fans point out that Brady Quinn’s interception in years 1-3 went 15-10-7, you’re comparing Brady Quinn to Tommy Rees so you might want to stop. In those same seasons Quinn’s average number of passes between INTs went 22.1, 35.3, 64.3, which is astounding. Rees is looking at 20.5, 29.4 and you’re still comparing Tommy Rees to Brady Quinn.
Sticking feathers in your butt doesn’t make you a chicken. Taking snaps in games where you played poorly doesn’t improve your overall status and it shouldn’t be the leading argument in your defense.
|Steve Herring is the Editor-in-Chief of HerringBoneSports.com and also hosts TNNDN’s Down the Line. As the TNNDN Network President he acts as Executive Producer of four Notre Dame related shows.
Steve worked in broadcasting at Madison Square Garden Media and the Arena Football League. You can find all his articles and radio show links on this site.
Contact Steve on Twitter @HB_Sports or e-mail HerringBoneSports@gmail.com
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