Blue and Gold Illustrated

BGI April 2019

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

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Page 4 of 55 APRIL 2019 5 FAN FORUM MONEY TALKS Love the work you do at Blue & Gold Il- lustrated, but I have to laugh at the column written by Todd Burlage, "Diminished Roles Not Slowing Three Irish Seniors" (December 2018 edition). He is comparing Brandon Wimbush, Nick Coleman and Alex Bars to Nick Bosa. Bosa is going to be a top-three pick (maybe No. 1), and he is talking about the high-character guys that Brian Kelly recruits. I guess he forgot about the four players that Kelly had to kick out before last year's Citrus Bowl, and count- less players over the years. Wimbush and Coleman have absolutely no shot at the NFL, so the comparison is laugh- able. Bosa will make more money by being smart now than Wimbush, Coleman and Bars will make combined in their lifetime. Please tell Todd to come down off his perch and be realistic. Jeff Rey Via the Internet Mr. Rey, in my defense, the point of the column was not designed to compare any of the Notre Dame players' talent level to Ohio State's Nick Bosa or to knock Bosa's choice to leave school early after a serious injury to concentrate on his NFL career. The story even mentions that Bosa had to make the decision that was best for him and, as poten- tially the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, leaving Ohio State made sense in the same way the decision to leave Notre Dame early is starting to pay off for former Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith, who also left school as a junior and after serious injury. The primary point of this story was to celebrate the university and the Notre Dame coaching staff for luring talented underclassmen back for their senior seasons to graduate and improve. Ronnie Stanley, Te'von Coney, Jerry Tillery and Chase Claypool are a few recent examples. Beyond that, head coach Brian Kelly and Co., have even managed to convince NFL-caliber guys to delay draft entry and return for a fifth year to hone their skills. Nick and Zack Martin, Alex Bars, Drue Tranquill and many others highlight this list. Coleman and Wimbush were mentioned in the story, but not to compare their draft prospects or future earning power to that of Bosa, but rather to recognize how two contributing and steady up- perclassmen set aside the disappointment of being benched and put team pursuits ahead of self-pity. Thanks for the feedback. FROM THE WEB Entering his 10th season at Notre Dame, has head coach Brian Kelly assembled his best staff ever? The question pertains to recruiting prowess in addition to on-field growth and development. Six new on-field assistants were hired in 2017, but since then defensive coordinator Mike Elko (now at Texas A&M), offensive line coach Harry Hiestand (Chicago Bears) and running backs coach Autry Denson (head coach at Charleston Southern) have moved elsewhere. Notre Dame is 22-4 the past two seasons, but is the best still ahead with the new staff? Here were a few thoughts on Tbru13: Not sure on coaching yet, but this very well could be the best recruiting staff. FightinMike87: 2017 would be the best he's had. No Brian VanGorder, Chip Long as of- fensive coordinator, Hiestand and Elko. Could this be the best recruiting staff Kelly has had? Potentially. Thomasna: This is Kelly's best recruiting staff on paper. Elko and Hiestand are huge losses. Denson was a really good coach but left a lot to be desired in recruiting. Grizz23: This offense is still wildly inconsistent when facing big-time teams, so the jury is still out. I need to see development from the offensive line, quarterback and wide receiver (more) to say what potential this staff could have. Linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties and defensive line are getting great coaching. Dawnpa: I will hold off on my opinion of Jeff Quinn as the offensive line coach until next year. The current coaches — especially the defense — have coached well and recruited well. Kelly has not had the benefit of having the coaches do both things well early in his Notre Dame career. Apegambino: This year's schedule on paper seems very manageable again. New Mexico, Bowling Green and Navy should be automatic wins. The five-game ACC schedule shouldn't be that tough with Virginia, BC, Duke, Virginia Tech and Louisville. I expect some competitive games, but if Notre Dame is a true "tier-2 team" it has no business losing to any of these five. That leaves four games that should make or break the season: Georgia, Stanford, Michi- gan and USC. ND can't afford to lose to Stanford. I have a ton of respect for David Shaw, but for the past two years Stanford is not a top-10 program anymore; it is just hanging on to a top-25 team. Michigan should be better on offense, but defensively they lose a ton from last year. USC returns most key guys and should be better, but they definitely have some internal issues, especially on the coaching staff. Georgia might be the one chance ND gets in the regular season to face a team that finishes in the top 10. My guess is ND will be favored in every game except on the road against the Bulldogs. To stay on par with last season, ND has to go 11-1 or better. 10-2 is a step back and 9-3 or worse is a failure for this coaching staff. BE HEARD! Send your letters to: Letters /Blue & Gold Illustrated P. O. Box 1007, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or e-mail to: Since Brian Kelly revamped his staff in 2017, the Fighting Irish boast a 22-4 record. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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