Jun 072012

Welcome to Round 4 of a scheduled 5 between Team Rees, represented by Tyler Moorehead, and Team Golson , represented by Steve Herring. Learn a little more about Tyler and the rules in Sunday’s Press Release. Our names link to Twitter accounts … so go follow us.

QUESTION #7: Tommy has led this team now for a year and a half and has come out victorious more often than not. The team rallied around him after Crist’s injury in 2010, then again after Crist’s benching in 2011.
Would starting Golson have negative ripple effects in the locker room?

Steve Herring (Team Golson): Switching quarterbacks is something I have lengthy experience with as a player (for better & worse). I played offensive line on teams that made an offseason or in-season QB change with the incumbent still on the roster in High School, Junior College and at I-AA Wagner. When I think about those times …  well actually, the situations are rather unmemorable. It happened, we played football. The end.

We talk about how Brian Kelly sees 99% more of these players than we do; that applies tenfold to their teammates who see them play, prep for games, interact outside of practice with teammates, and everything involved with living on campus (not that I’m referencing anything particular). They eat together, study together, chase co-eds together and talk about coaches, practices, games, and teammates for hours at a time. The reason I mention this is because when a change is made at any position, they all have seen it coming in some regard. Trust me – it’s been discussed by them as much as us.

Reality – the world athletes live in is much different from our own. They are competing for their spot every day. Their best friend is too. The teammate they can’t stand is. The guy they think is underused is. The guy they think is overused as well. Battling for their playing time is part of their day-to-day. If a player lets the change at QB affect their own play or attitude then the team has a bigger problem.

Notre Dame Football isn’t a Disney movie. If Golson is named the starter no player in Blue & Gold is sacrificing their own Saturday playing time in protest. Manti Te’o isn’t laying his jersey on Kelly’s desk and proclaiming, “For Tommy coach”. (“You’re an All-American and our Captain! Act like it!” …) The team is going to accept the coach’s decision in their own way and each player will keep working to get on the field. Period. In Tommy’s defense, I would expect his teammates might call this decision slightly more memorable than I remember my own.

Tyler Moorehead (Team Rees): I don’t think that the locker room consequences of starting someone other than Tommy would be catastrophic, but I don’t think it would be a very popular decision either. It is absolutely true that the team has rallied around Tommy Rees and views him as a winner. Has he made his mistakes? You bet. But in his freshman campaign he took a sinking ship and made it float, and then was seen as a savior yet again after he had to step in for Dayne Crist. He has been the shot in the arm for the Irish time and time again.

Players definitely take note of this, and while they trust the coaching staff to make the right decision, they definitely have their own preferences as well. It was just a year ago that Michael Floyd was urging Brian Kelly to make Tommy Rees the starter , and I would say that Floyd’s opinion is one that should be valued. The fact that Floyd was confident enough in Rees to speak out is A) a testament to Rees’ ability,  B) evidence that he commands the respect of his teammates, and C) evidence that players are going to make their preferences known.

The reason players having preferences is exceptionally important this year is that almost all ND’s big receiving targets are likely in Tommy’s camp. As discussed yesterday, Tyler Eifert already has excellent chemistry with Tommy, and Tommy Rees has been roommates with both TJ Jones and Robby Toma previously, both of whom are figured to be heavily involved in this year’s passing attack.

Now, this isn’t to say that Tommy Rees should be named the starter simply because he is well-liked or friends with the receivers, but it is definitely something that does not hurt his cause. Knowing that your teammates trust and have faith in you is a huge confidence boost. That, combined with the fact that he has been a spark the last two years, bodes well for Tommy Rees.

QUESTION #8: The Irish are expected to try to pound opponents on the ground this year. Does this have a signficant effect on which quarterback is chosen, or does it give either guy an advantage?

Steve Herring (Team Golson): The short and long answer here is – Yes. Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before: of these two quarterbacks, only one can run the option. The option game with a running threat at QB sets up backs and puts defenders out of position. In 2012, the running game in general should be setting up the entire offense and starting Everett Golson should give it the needed jump start into the ranks of rushing elite.

Last round we discussed ND utilizing schemes like the Oregon Ducks to take advantage of defenses and their deep backfield depth chart. I hope Irish fans realize how far the run game would need to go in order to approach Chip Kelly’s atmosphere and his mastery of multiple backs. Oregon has averaged nearly 4,000 Rushing Yards and 42 touchdowns per season in 2010, 2011. Under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has 3,731 Rushing Yards and 36 Rushing Touchdowns in two seasons … COMBINED. The difference is the Ducks averaging over 6 Yards/Carry and the Irish under 4.5 Yards/Carry. To get over 3,000 on the season ND would need to total 70 more yards rushing per game and to touch Oregon add 150 yards/game to ND’s 2011 totals. Tell me how Rees passing 38 times/game helps this happen.

I don’t think it’s a reach to say Notre Dame’s 2012 stable of running backs compares to what Oregon has worked with of late and Notre Dame could get themselves in that 3,000 rushing yards club with Golson leading the way. It would be beautiful to see defenses separate on simple stretch handoffs because of concern for Golson’s legs or witness backside rushing lanes appear as the DE spies contain on the inside hand-off. These types of numbers are a near impossibility with Rees taking snaps and closing the field down on our backs.

One area where Rees has been mostly solid is making line of scrimmage checks into quality run plays. There is valid concern that Golson cannot replicate some of these adjustments and that is fair. Where we counter is his ability to check into plays that Tommy cannot himself. In every series and every game Tommy Rees can’t take what the defense gives him on plays where Everett Golson can. In my humble opinion, that outweighs the portion of playbook Rees has a better handle on.

It’s getting drilled home at this point, but the ceilings are absurdly higher now, and later, for Everett Golson in the run and pass game. As he gains that experience on fall Saturdays there could be no limit to how much he could improve the careers of Wood, Riddick, GAIII, Carlisle, Mahone, Russell, Neal, and more. More importantly there is no telling how many more W’s could be piled up and that is the only stat we’re really counting, right?

Tyler Moorehead (Team Rees): First off, no matter WHO is named quarterback, it is fantastic for the Irish that they will have a great offensive line and strong running game to rely on. The running game is any quarterback’s best friend. That being said, I think that because of the presence of a strong running game, Rees is the better choice for several reasons.

For starters, Tommy Rees’ pre-snap reads are second to none on the team. He knows where his players are supposed to be, and lines them up accordingly. He is pretty good at identifying what defenses are going to do in advance, and has shown good capability and willingness to change the play at the line to get into something that works if he does not like what he is seeing. Many times last year he audibled into runs on key third downs and it paid off as he found where the holes in the defense would be.

And why were his audibles from passes to runs so effective? Plain and simple, because all he does is pass. Golson supporters will argue over and over that the blueprint for how to stop Tommy is out, and that you beat him by dropping 7 or 8 players into coverage and making him force throws. Defenses know that if they do not drop so many back, there is a good chance that Tommy leads a march down the field. But if they are going to just sit back, the Irish rushing attack is going to absolutely dominate this year. Teams will have to pick their poison whether to respect Tommy’s arm and drop guys back, or stack the box and let him throw wild.

Defenses will absolutely not respect Everett’s arm as a newcomer. Therefore teams will stack the box and really make him prove that he can beat them. Additionally, if teams DO drop 7+ guys into coverage on third down, Golson just isn’t ready to change the play the same way that Rees is.

Absolutely, the presence of the running game is going to benefit the quarterback regardless of who is in. But Tommy Rees’ style, combined with the rushing attack, forces defenses to keep guessing. They are more likely to be exposed in bad schemes, because Rees’ pre-snap abilities allow him to take advantage of whatever he is facing.

(Bell Rings – End of Round 4 – We can attest both fighters are exhausted)

For the 5th & Final round the questions will take a completely different, fresher turn. Only so many times we can say Tommy is experienced and Golson is talented. It will be worth the final look.

Please continue judging the rounds for yourself below. It’s looking like it will go the full five.


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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  17 Responses to “Tommy Rees v. Everett Golson Rd 4: How The Run Game & Locker Room Affect Notre Dame’s QB Decision”

  1. 1. “He has been the shot in the arm for the Irish time and time again.” He has been lousy, time and time again. More bad games than good. And ZERO good games against good teams.

    2. Why does everyone accept the blather that “he makes good calls and checks us into good plays”?
    How do any of us know what play he was checking OUT of? This is blather perpetrated by Kelly to justify his decision to play this guy, and the media, fans and you guys lap it up like it’s gospel. Let me ask you this: If he’s always checking us into good plays, why is the offense so below average with him at QB?
    No TDs with Rees vs. USC
    No TDs with Rees vs. Stanford
    1 TD with Rees vs. FSU

    His performances against weak sisters like Maryland and Wake weren’t all that great either. He stunk against Pitt. I could go on. Point is STOP THE NONSENSE about him checking us into good plays. I don’t buy it.

  2. Darron Thomas of Oregon is 6’3” and he excelled in that offense because he made instant decisions at the line that were usually right. Pretty retarded that he went to the NFL cuz he probably has no shot at doing anything. Golson is probably like 5’9” you guys saying he’ll do some of the same things are not getting it.

    Hendrix is at least 6’1” and ran the option in HS. If ND is going to score like Oregon then he’s the right dude for the damn job. Then it’s onto Kiel running that spread like Weeden. Yeah I said it. Kiel to Daniels and Chris Brown bitches.

    What did Tommy audible to when that cop told him to stop walking? Went about as well as the pooch punt against Stanford.

  3. There was an update in here since the morning. The link in Tyler’s comments about Michael wanting Tommy as QB are now this:


    Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s a little more direct in saying Tommy & Mike were good off the field. More specifically is OC Charley Molnar saying “Dayne DID (have a good relationship with Michael Floyd) too” just days after USF. “DID”. Poorly chosen I’d think.

  4. I’m not one to defend Tommy here, but it must be mentioned that this theory came straight from Jonas Gray’s mouth after the Maryland game. Fair to expect that Tommy is somewhat ahead of other QBs in the in-game checks but the point of emphasis is that I think that advantage can be negated in the short and long term.

  5. I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea that because we have a strong running game defenses would have to pick their poison as to whether they want to stack the box or drop 7-8 guys into coverage. Nick Saban has a really easy answer for that, and its called the Zone Blitz. Show a 5-6 man rush at the line and then drop 2 of them back into coverage at the snap and Rees’ checks are often voided. Especially since they’ll be dropping into zone and not man coverage like you would expect on most zero blitz schemes. The point here is that there is too much value placed on checks at the line for Tommy. Just because he can check into a HB Sweep from a PA Rollout doesnt mean defenses will be stumped. I would sooner believe that defenses would be on their toes more having to anticipate whether Golson is going to check into a Speed Option, Read Option or PA Pass just because he actually poses the threat to bust open huge runs.

    RD 4 – Golson. (see where im going with this by now?)

  6. We’re on the same page entirely. 7-8 guys in coverage against Rees is a differnt defense than 7-8 guys in coverage against Golson and it has nothing to do with respecting his deep game and everything to do with respecting his running ability. His threat makes bigger rushes and passes possible on every single snap of the football.

    Love the Saban reference. Maybe should have used Bama’s run defense as an ND measuring stick over Oregon’s absurd stats the past two years which are highly attainable with this schedule I’d think.

  7. *Obligatory Fist Bump*

  8. Floyd passed that ball to himself about 15 times against FSU and it was so badly thrown by Tommy that it caused him to get injured and cost us the game. Hendrix will fire those right in there.

  9. Big Jonas fan. Remember when Mayock said after the USF fumble he’d likely never play again in 2012?? haha. Why the hell can’t we get Gus Johnson on that NBC game?? Goddam Hammonds reflects what America thinks of this team. Old, slow, and boring as hell.

    I bet commits would come just to hear Gus Johnson call their TDs for their highlight reel. Madden knows what they’re doing and ND’s board should take notice before it’s too late.

  10. Excellent point Marcus, about Everett being miniscule. People have dogged Tommy about his size, but Everett is legitimately only like 5′ 10″, 185 lbs. ANY of the other QBs are able to withstand hits better, and furthermore, Golson may not even be able to see over the line by the time he’s a senior (recruits that are 6′ 7″, 6′ 8″, and 6′ 9″ already). Only half joking there.

  11. What percentage of plays would Golson be sitting back in a 3-5-7 step drop? 5%? Maybe. Dude will be rolling out, Play Actioning, optionging, and keeping everything on it’s toes.

  12. Gr8shane if Tommy can’t read the zone blitz you speak of there is no way in hell Golson will read it!

  13. Saban? how’d that zone blitz work in the NFL?? We sure as hell won’t ever know cuz he skipped town like a joke. Zone, man, whatever. Hendrix is gonna light it up this year and if not it’s Kiel Kiel Kiel. I know plenty of people that were at the Maryland game and they all said the same shit – Tommy can’t cut it but ND had more talent than they expected everywhere else.

    Don’t even get me started on this dude Randy Esdall. How the hell we lost to that uconn team he coached is pathetic. Whole goddam team hates his guts. I hope it’s not like that with Kelly if he lets Tommy get another shot. damn i hope not.

  14. Can I say I’m kinda surprised that nobody commented on my sweet “Just Hand Off The Ball” pic with our backfield boys … I mean, c’mon!

  15. First off, get your facts straight. I am a current student at ND and Golson is 6′ even, while Hendrix is all of 6’3. Golson is also the best natural athlete I have ever seen/competed against. His speed and agility is unmatched on that roster.

    Kelly would be smart to employ a two QB set with Golson easily evading pressure with his slippery athleticism and Hendrix pounding LB’s with his powerful drive. Both have strong, NFL arms, and it would be a total waste for one of them to rot on the bench all season.

    With that said, I think Golson should get the majority of the snaps (as evidenced by his strong spring game performance). Not only would he standout at QB, but Mike Brey would be wise to try and get this kid into a bball uniform because he would be better than anybody on that roster as well.

  16. “Competed against”. Where did you compete against Everett Golson? Football? Bookstore basketball?

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