Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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18 OCT. 1, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED for what looked like a "pretty" 301.3 yards per game. With the 4-0 finish, it was only 173.2, but a better and more efficient overall team. • When Golson was a redshirt freshman in 2012 with no experience, Notre Dame became a defense-dom- inated team that ran the ball — 202.4 yards per game during the 12-0 regu- lar season, the first time it surpassed 200 in the regular season in 12 years — and tailored the offense to areas where he excelled. As Kelly himself stated, Golson's role was to not drive the bus, but just be a good passenger who follows instructions. Then, once Golson had experience, they went back to being a "throw it all around the field" foot- ball team. • When Zaire and Kizer were new starters with no experience, Notre Dame was a running-first team that stretched the field and tried to play good defense. While finishing 7-5 in 2014 under Golson, Notre Dame averaged a mod- est 150.9 rushing yards per game. Then in the bowl against LSU it decided to commit to "physicality" and run- ning the ball with Zaire at the throttle. Voila! The Irish rushed for 263 yards in the victory versus the typically strong Tigers defense, led by Zaire's 96. In 2015, to take some of the onus off Kizer, the Irish leaned more on the run and averaged 207.6 rushing yards per contest and a modern day school-record 5.6 yards per carry. Once Kizer had more experience, though, they became an offense that wanted to throw the ball all around the field, going away from what Kizer did well and trying to do too much. The rushing average in his second year fell to 163.3 yards per game during a 4-8 campaign. • When Wimbush was a first-year starter with no experience, Notre Dame was a team that emphasized running the football and built the offense around the line and what Wimbush did well. The result was 269.5 rushing yards per contest, which ranked seventh in the country and marked the highest output at the school in 21 years. In those seasons — including the 4-0 finish to 2010 with the freshman Rees at the controls and Zaire mak- ing his first start in 2014 — Notre Dame averaged 216.1 yards per game on the ground and 5.5 yards per rush. Its record was 37-7 (.841 win- Taking The Fifth … Or Not Redshirting a quarterback has become a pretty useless endeavor at Notre Dame for two reasons. One, if he is good enough, it's not really about whether he will return for a fifth season, but if he will even come back for his fourth, a la DeShone Kizer despite the 4-8 season in 2016. Second, if his progress is stymied to the point where he is in jeopardy of losing his starting job (if he hadn't already), then that fifth season will be used at another school rather than Notre Dame. That occurred with Dayne Crist at Kansas (2012), Andrew Hendrix at Miami (Ohio) (2014), Everett Golson at Florida State (2015) and Malik Zaire at Florida (2017). Whether current senior Brandon Wimbush will use his fifth season of eligibility at Notre Dame in 2019 will be up in the air (no pun intended). Second-year Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees was thrust into a starting role late in his freshman year and completed his four years of eligibility (2010-13) with the most starts (31) and wins (23) during the Brian Kelly era. Currently, freshman Phil Jurkovec is in redshirt mode, although new NCAA rules this year would per- mit him to play four games at any time this season without losing a possible fifth season of eligibility. If he's good enough, would he need the fifth? For now, he is biding his time on the scout team. "If we got an opportunity we would love to get him some playing time as well," Kelly said. "We've been in some close, hard-fought games. It's hard when you're running someone else's offense each week. … He's working off a card. "What we like the most about him is his leadership presence, just the way he handles himself. But I couldn't tell you whether he could go in there and run the offense. He hasn't had that much work." — Lou Somogyi Freshman Phil Jurkovec (15) has been in redshirt mode early this season, working with the scout team, but head coach Brian Kelly has noted that he and his staff would like to get him some game action in 2018. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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