Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2017

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

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Page 26 of 55 FEBRUARY 2017 27 BY MATT JONES B rian Kelly has found the man to run his offense at Notre Dame. Chip Long, a 33-year-old former Memphis assistant, will be the new offensive coordinator for the Irish, the school announced Jan. 9. Long's hire ended a nearly month- long coordinator search after the de- parture of Mike Sanford to Western Kentucky (head coach) and Mike Denbrock to Cincinnati (offensive coordinator). Long received a multiyear con- tract with Notre Dame, according to a report by FOX Sports. The finan- cial terms of the agreement are not known. "It's an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve as the offensive coordinator at the Uni- versity of Notre Dame," Long said in a statement. "The challenge to lead at a university with such high standards is incredibly motivating. I'm very grateful to Brian Kelly and Jack Swarbrick for extending this opportunity. "It's Notre Dame: the values, the culture and the leadership. My wife, Kari, and I are excited to move to South Bend and to join the Notre Dame family." In a bit of a surprise, Kelly an- nounced that Long will call the plays for Notre Dame. There was specula- tion that after the departure of San- ford and Denbrock that Kelly would call the plays himself, especially considering the pressure facing the eighth-year coach in 2017. "Chip will be given the full respon- sibility to call plays in 2017," Kelly said in a statement. "His offense at Memphis displayed a unique blend of physicality, athleticism, versatil- ity and explosiveness. Chip's play calling created mismatches all over the field and did it in a number of different ways. "He likes to use players who can fill numerous roles in an array of for- mations, whether that be two and three tight ends or multiple running backs." The press release by Notre Dame did not specify what position Long will coach with the Irish, though he has extensive experience coaching tight ends. Long spent the past season as the offensive coordinator at Memphis. He spent the prior four seasons at Arizona State, where he coached the tight ends and was the Sun Devils' recruiting coordinator for two sea- sons, then added offensive special teams to his duties. In 2016, Memphis ranked among the top 20 teams in the country in passing offense (304.4 yards per game, 14th), scoring offense (38.8 points per game, 16th), completion percentage (63.5, 17th), passing ef- ficiency (152.53 rating, 19th) and first downs gained (303, 20th). The Tigers were one of six Football Bowl Sub- division teams to rank in the top 20 in each of those offensive categories last season, despite the departure of quarterback Paxton Lynch, a first- round draft pick. First-year starting quarterback Riley Ferguson broke Lynch's single-season passing touch- down record with 32. Under first-year head coach Mike Norvell — whom Long worked with at Arizona State — Memphis finished 8-5 and reached its third consecutive bowl game, losing to Western Ken- tucky in the Boca Raton Bowl, 51-31. A native of Birmingham, Ala., Long was a wide receiver and tight end for North Alabama from 2002-05, earning first-team All-America hon- ors as a senior. He's used that playing experience as a tight end in his coaching career, developing Arizona State tight end Chris Coyle into one of the country's best. In Coyle's senior season in 2013, he placed third in the nation among tight ends with 4.4 catches per game and averaged 14.6 yards per recep- tion. He finished his career third on the program's all-time list for most receptions by a tight end (92). In four years with the Sun Devils, Long helped coach Arizona State to 14 games of 50 or more points in his time there. Before going to Arizona State, "HIS OFFENSE AT MEMPHIS DISPLAYED A UNIQUE BLEND OF PHYSICALITY, ATHLETICISM, VERSATILITY AND EXPLOSIVENESS. CHIP'S PLAY CALLING CREATED MISMATCHES ALL OVER THE FIELD AND DID IT IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT WAYS." KELLY ON LONG In Long's lone season as the offensive coordi- nator at Memphis, the Tigers were one of six Football Bowl Subdivision teams to rank among the top 20 in passing offense (304.4 yards per game, 14th), scoring offense (38.8 points per game, 16th), completion percentage (63.5, 17th), passing efficiency (152.53 rating, 19th) and first downs gained (303, 20th). PHOTO COURTESY MEMPHIS

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