Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

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

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20 APRIL 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED had the fewest sacks by linemen (three) among Power Five teams. Without them … that's why Clem- son graduate transfer Scott Pagano, who took an official visits to Notre Dame in March, would be consid- ered the team's top lineman in 2017 if he opted to enroll at Notre Dame. Running Game — In the five of seven seasons under Kelly when the Irish lost four to eight games, they averaged 148 yards per game on the ground. A 200-yard range is preferable. A LESS CROWDED KITCHEN Two significant changes on offense are expected to occur. One is the "too many cooks in the kitchen" method when it comes to play calling will not be a part of the operation. Last year at this time, it was referred to as a "collaborative" effort among Kelly, associate head coach Mike Denbrock (now the offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati) and offen- sive coordinator Mike Sanford (now the head coach at Western Kentucky). This year, the keys to the kingdom will be entrusted to first-year offen- sive coordinator and tight ends coach Chip Long, who held the same du- ties at Memphis last year. If progress occurs, there might even be more tempo added to the offense, but that remains to be worked out in the com- ing months. "Chip will be allowed to put all of his time and effort in running the offense and playing fast," Kelly said. "I'm go- ing to give him that autonomy to do that. I think over the last few years it's been a committee running the offense. There is no committee now. … Get out of the way and let Chip run it." Meanwhile, don't expect an on-go- ing QB debate from spring through the opener, a la 2016 between De- Shone Kizer (now preparing for the NFL Draft) and Malik Zaire (still de- ciding on where to transfer for his fifth season). First-year coordinator Chip Long has been given full autonomy to run the Irish offense, from calling plays to picking up the pace. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND Leaning On The Staff Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz (1986‑96) used to joke that the Holy Bible's Abraham died by leaning on his staff — and that's the way he'd like to go, too. In 2017, eighth‑year Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly will lean more heavily on his staff — most notably six new members — than ever in his career to turn around the trajectory of last year's 4‑8 season. The six new staff members — not including strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Balis — are the most in Notre Dame history without a change in head coach. Here is the 10‑man staff, with quarterbacks coach Tom Rees designated more as a graduate assistant unless the NCAA passes, as projected, in April a vote to add a 10th staff member: Offensive coordinator/tight ends — Chip Long (1st year) Defensive coordinator/safeties — Mike Elko (1st year) Special teams coordinator — Brian Polian (1st year) Quarterbacks — Tom Rees (1st year) Running backs — Autry Denson (3rd year) Wide receivers — Del Alexander (1st year) Offensive linemen — Harry Hiestand (6th year) Defensive linemen/recruiting coordinator — Mike Elston (8th year) Linebackers/rovers — Clark Lea (1st year) Cornerbacks — Todd Lyght (3rd year)

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