Posts Tagged 'golden tate'

What Should We Expect From Brian Kelly in 2010?

After a 9-3 season, which was capped off by a BCS bowl game against Ohio State, the Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame took a drastic turn for the worse.  In his last three seasons at the helm, Weis led the Irish to a combined record of 16-21.  Last season’s 6-6 record marked the end of Weis’ five-year run in South Bend.

Brian Kelly enters the spring season with an empty cupboard on offense (google images)

Enter former Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly.  As we head into spring football, College FootBlog takes a look at the program that Kelly inherits and the current state of what is perhaps college football’s most storied program.


The strength of Notre Dame last season was the offense, led by future first rounders, quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate.  As good as the offense was last year, Kelly will have a lot to replace.  As mentioned, Clausen and Tate chose to leave after their junior seasons, and four of the five starters on the offensive line are now gone.  

The Irish will return starting tailback Armando Allen, but the rushing attack was not exactly explosive a year ago.  Allen, who led the team in rushing, managed 697 yards rushing, but he only managed to break 100 yards once all season (against Purdue).  Allen also only managed to find the end zone three times on the ground all year.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd has shown some great promise and could very easily be a first round draft pick in the next two seasons.  The problem Kelly and his staff have now is finding someone to throw him the football.  Junior Dayne Crist was the second-ranked quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, but since his arrival from the 2008 class, he has yet to see any significant playing time, and although he is ahead of schedule, the junior QB from California is recovering from a torn ACL, which he suffered last fall against Washington State.

That leaves true freshman Tommy Rees, who just enrolled at Notre Dame in January to run the offense in the spring.  After Rees, the only other option at quarterback is wide receiver John Goodman.

Now, for the bad news–Notre Dame’s defense was 86th nationally in total defense, averaging just under 400 yards allowed per game.  The good news for Irish fans is that last year’s defense was very young, with three of the four leading tacklers coming back for next season, including linebacker Manti Te’o, who started last season as a true freshman.

Despite the departures of several key starters on offense and a struggling defense last season, Kelly and his staff should have an improved defense in 2010, and overall, Kelly has already proven to be a more successful head coach at the college level than the last three head coaches brought into the program.

The offense will likely struggle at times for the Irish in 2010, but look for Kelly and his staff to do a much better job of coaching the entire team than Weis did.  Unlike his predecessor, Kelly has shown that he can win with great offense, as he did last season in Cincinnati, but he has also shown that he can win with a solid defense, as he did in 2008.

A relatively soft schedule in 2010, which includes Western Michigan, Army, a struggling Michigan program and a Stanford team (minus Toby Gerhart) should set Kelly up with a great opportunity to at least match Weis’ six win total from 2009.  But don’t expect much more than that from Notre Dame this fall.  The losses on offense and the state in which Weis left the defense will likely be too much to sustain.

Look out for Notre Dame in 2011, though, especially if Floyd stays for his senior season and Crist is as good as advertised.  That will also be the season that the Irish defense that was smacked around last season will be comprised of juniors and seniors with bigtime game experience.


Bradford or Clausen? An Inside Look at the Draft’s Top 2 QBs

As the NFL Combine continues through this weekend, much of the buzz the last few days has centered around the debate of which quarterback will be the first to go in April’s draft.  College FootBlog will break down the top two candidates, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford by analyzing five key categories to see which one is most likely to hear his name selected first by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

1.  Size

Bradford is hoping that his added body weight will help ease NFL scouts' concerns of his durability (google images)

At 6’4″, Bradford is an inch taller than Clausen, but the biggest difference is weight.  Bradford tipped the scales at 238 lbs last week, which should make NFL scouts feel much more comfortable about his durability (which came into question last season after separating his shoulder).  While Clausen showed durability at Notre Dame, he is about twenty pounds lighter than Bradford.  EDGE:  Bradford

2.  Accuracy

Clausen has proven he can make every single throw, but Bradford may be the most accurate quarterback to enter the draft since Drew Brees.  Not only did Bradford consistently deliver accurate passes that hit his receivers in stride, he did it consistently with a multiple receivers like Ryan Broyles, Jermaine Gresham, Juaquin Iglesias, etc.  While Clausen is very accurate as well, the vast majority of his passes were to his go-to receiver, Golden Tate EDGE:  Bradford

3.  Offensive System

While OU head coach Bob Stoops brought Bradford more under center and had more of a pro-style offense his sophomore season, there is no question that Clausen has the edge here.  Although Charlie Weis did not perform as a head coach, Notre Dame’s offense is as close to an NFL offense as any college program in the country.  Clausen, and more importantly, his future NFL team will benefit greatly from Weis’ tuteledge.  EDGE:  Clausen

4.  Competition

Oklahoma not only competes in one of the major BCS conferences, but they also play at least one competitive non-conference game a year.  Bradford also faced much better defenses in his bowl games, as he led the Sooners to back to back BCS games.  Even though the Big 12 is known more for its explosive offenses, Bradford did have to go against Will Muschamp in the Red River Rivalry three times in his career.

Notre Dame on the other hand, had a schedule that was absolutely laughable during Clausen’s career.  The Irish didn’t exactly load up with competition last year, scheduling Nevada, Washington, Washington State and UConn.  EDGE:  Bradford

5.  Intangibles

Bradford ran a no huddle offense that was one of the most explosive attacks in college football history.  Although his back up, Landry Jones, did an admirable job replacing him last season, Bradford was clearly what made OU’s offense click on all cylinders.  He had a solid grasp of the scheme, and he showed the ability to read defenses. 

Clausen not only had a strong grasp of Weis’ offense, in nearly every game last season, he showed a lot of poise and moxy.  He was at his best when the game was on the line and always seemed to make big plays when it counted the most.  EDGE:  Clausen

Final Analysis:  An argument can be made for either Bradford or Clausen to the be first QB taken in the upcoming draft, and both have put up big numbers in their college careers.  However, Bradford had two exceptional seasons at Oklahoma, while Clausen really only shined in his third year at Notre Dame against a weak schedule.  Despite Bradford’s injury last season, he has the more impressive and more complete body of work that Clausen. 

Let us know your thoughts!  College FootBlog wants to know who you think should go first in the NFL Draft?