Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2022

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

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Page 53 of 55

54 SEPT. 17, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED S enior linebacker and All-America candidate Manti Te'o is well on pace to become the third-leading tackler in Notre Dame history, behind only Bob Crable (521) and Bob Golic (479). Perhaps for that reason, many Irish followers were stunned to realize that in this year's opener against Navy, Te'o recorded his first career fumble recov- ery and first career interception during the 50-10 trouncing of the Midshipmen. It wasn't from a previous lack of skills. Rather, so much of everything just comes down to timing. "He's always been very good in pass coverage," head coach Brian Kelly said of Te'o. "Sometimes you're just not in the right place at the right time. We were confident for him to be on the field [in] third-down situations. We never take him off the field." With today's saturated recruiting coverage, there can be a tendency to want to see instant results from a highly coveted prospect such as Te'o. If there isn't, oftentimes he is labeled a "disap- pointment" after his freshman season, an "enigma" after this second year and a "bust" after the third. Yet as you span the decades in Notre Dame football history, it is replete with examples of superb talent that often took time to blossom — or just suddenly a stroke of fate provided an opportunity to carpe diem. For many others, the opportunity just never materialized. In the last 25 years alone, there were people such as Frank Stams, who went from 14 career tackles and no starts on defense his first four seasons to a con- sensus All-America pick and pass-rush- ing terror for the 1988 national champs. Or how about running back Reggie Brooks totaling 165 yards rushing through his first three seasons before finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting with his monster senior year (1,343 yards rushing at 8 yards per attempt)? Wide receiver Maurice Stovall snared more passes as a 2005 senior (69) than his first three years combined (61) … and could you have ever envisioned safety Harrison Smith becoming a first- round pick last spring? Upon his arrival at Notre Dame in 2010, former safeties coach and current offensive coordinator Chuck Martin wondered aloud, based on feedback from Notre Dame followers, whether Smith was responsible even for Original Sin. Nowhere is "right place, right time" more conspicuous than quarterback. John Huarte was a beaten-down se- nior who had barely played entering his senior year, yet won the Heisman as a 1964 senior. The "timing" for him — as well as receiver Jack Snow and the rest of the team — was the arrival of head coach Ara Parseghian. Joe Montana entered his senior year in 1977 on the third team, coming off 1976 shoulder surgery and having completed only 42.4 percent of his passes, with twice as many interceptions (8) than touchdowns (4). How would history have been altered had No. 1 quarterback Rusty Lisch, a future pro, not faltered or No. 2 Gary Forystek not suffered a career-end- ing injury in the 1977 Purdue game that propelled Montana into the spotlight? Senior Kevin McDougal had thrown 21 career passes entering his senior year and then in the 1993 preseason was out- shined by freshman phenom Ron Pow- lus — until Powlus broke his clavicle the week before the opener. McDougal was "forced" into the lineup and became the school's all-time pass efficiency king during an 11-1 season. How would his skills have been showcased without the injury to Powlus? Then, there is the flip side of quarter- back timing: Daryle Lamonica (1960-62) was 12-18 at Notre Dame — but he became a Pro Bowl performer and his .784 winning percentage as a starter at the next level is second only to Cleveland Browns great Otto Graham (.810), and just ahead of Tom Brady (.780). It's timing. What if Lamonica could have played for Parseghian? Jimmy Clausen (2007-09) was 16-18 as Notre Dame's starting quarterback, broke the 60-year single-season pass efficiency standard at the school … but was labeled a "loser." What if he could have had a defense like a Joe Theismann at Notre Dame, when the Irish could win slugfests by scores of 10-7 (Georgia Tech) or 3-0 (LSU) in back-to-back weeks? Using such convoluted logic, Paul Hornung also was a "loser" during the 2-8 debacle at Notre Dame in 1956. Similarly, Tommy Rees received way too much credit on the outside for Notre Dame's 4-0 finish in 2010 and a ridicu- lously inordinate amount of blame for the 8-5 ledger last year. History might some day show that in 2012, quarterback Everett Golson was in the right place at the right time at Notre Dame, when a confluence of offense, defense, coaching and myriad other factors finally meshed as one within the program. Or maybe it will take more time for everything to shake out again. Either way, the art of timing, being at the right place at the right time — and also being properly prepared to face the moment — remains an eternal link in athletics or day-to-day life. ✦ Frank Stams went from 14 career tackles and no starts on defense in his first four seasons to a consensus All-American and pass-rushing terror for the 1988 national champs. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS BEST OF THE FIFTH QUARTER ✦ LOU SOMOGYI ✦ SEPT. 17, 2012 Right Place, Right Time Has Many Forms EDITOR'S NOTE: The late, great Lou Somogyi possessed an unmatched knowledge of Notre Dame football, and it was his mission in life to share it with others. Those of us at Blue & Gold Illustrated would like to continue to provide his wisdom and unique perspective from his more than 37 years covering the Fighting Irish for this publication.

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