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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