Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2017

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

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10 JUNE/JULY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME The Notre Dame men's golf program missed out on an NCAA Tournament bid this spring despite setting the school record for lowest per-round scoring average at 289.52. Three seniors led the way for head coach Jim Kubinski's program, but underclassmen played in a majority of the season's matches, and a strong two-man recruiting class gives Kubinski and the team confidence heading into the 2017-18 season. BGI: How did the spring season go in compari- son to your expectations? Kubinski: "We had one of the most interesting years since I arrived (2005) in that we set multiple school records, including the lowest scoring aver- age ever posted, and won multiple events. "We had some great opportunities lost, which is disappointing of course, but at the same time 65 percent of our team rounds were played by freshmen and sophomores this season. We feel we're moving in a strong direction now." BGI: What is the early outlook for the program for the 2017-18 season? Kubinski: "Extreme optimism and excitement. We've had many talented freshmen play for us right away, but I can't recall a time when we've had as many freshmen competing for us as start- ers in consecutive seasons. All six of our under- classmen have started for us multiple times now and have posted rounds in the 60s already. "We have a great schedule nearly complete for next season … the opportunity to move back up onto the national stage awaits us." BGI: How difficult will it be to replace the senior trio of Blake Barens, Liam Cox and Matt Rushton, and what they brought to the program? Kubinski: "Matt, Blake and Liam each provided different things over the years that our returning guys will build upon and improve. Matt ended as our third all-time scorer, Blake had our third-best single season this year and Liam was a player who provided a daily example of team dedication and hard work, regardless of his score, and he had his scores at times. "Those are impressive things, but the exciting part is we have returning and incoming players capable of matching or exceeding their accomplishments." BGI: What do you feel the incoming freshman class will bring to your program? Kubinski: "We've relied so heavily on production from young players the last two years that I'm look- ing forward to the coming few seasons when we're led by a large group of experienced players. At the same time, both Davis Chatfield and Alex Jamieson are talented enough to compete upon their arrival. "I believe Davis was the first player in over a hundred years to hold both the Rhode Island Junior and Rhode Island Amateur titles concur- rently. He has played well all over though, as has Alex. He has been a top-10 machine in junior golf. Both players will come in with confidence." BGI: What players currently on the roster do you feel need to be the leaders of the program next season? Kubinski: "Miguel Delgado and Ben Albin are the two players with the most experience the last two years and possibly a matched but not exceeded drive to win. Both played in U.S. Ama- teurs as high school golfers, started for us largely throughout their freshmen and sophomore years, with some very strong finishes in places. "The truth is, though, we need all our guys to be leaders, on and off the course. … We have a group capable of offering 10 leaders next season." — Corey Bodden Five Questions With … MEN'S GOLF COACH JIM KUBINSKI Right Tackle Needs Stability By Lou Somogyi Last month our focus in this forum was on defense, the sore spot in recent years. This month we center in on offense, the perceived strength. Led by junior Josh Adams at running back, junior Equanimeous St. Brown at wide receiver, and the tandem of junior Alizé Mack and fifth-year senior Durham Smythe at tight end, there will be rotation of more than a dozen quality players at those positions. Above all, junior starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush and sophomore backup Ian Book can lean on a veteran offensive line that might possess a couple of top future NFL picks (fifth-year senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey and senior left guard Quenton Nelson). We know the history: Brian Kelly is at his best when he has a green QB (23-4 with a true freshman or redshirt freshman) who has less on his plate (no paralysis by analysis), while a seasoned line asserts control. That is why the one new starter at right tackle, likely sophomore Tommy Kraemer, is a crucial component. He doesn't have to be stellar, just consis- tently serviceable to help the offense thrive and expand. Making numerous position changes along the line — like during the 2014 season — is not ideal for the offense's rhythm and could produce a negative domino effect. In 2015, Nelson was the new sophomore figure who blended right in to facilitate a productive attack. Kraemer will now have a similar role at a more crucial position on the edge. The Return Of Tight End U. By Bryan Driskell A strong case could be made that fifth-year senior left tackle Mike Mc- Glinchey needs to put together a strong season beside senior left guard Quenton Nelson for the offense to really reach its peak. However, McGlinchey is a bit too proven and experienced to really be considered an emerging player. So, the next figure whose emergence could have the biggest impact this season is junior tight end Alizé Mack. Mack hauled in 13 passes for 190 yards as a true freshman in 2015, and he was expected to have a breakout season last fall before an academic sus- pension sidelined him for the entire season. He is back and in the spring he showed he has taken his game to another level. Notre Dame's tight ends combined for just 12 receptions last year, and with them out of the mix in the pass game the Irish were forced to rely too heavily on their outside receivers. Opening up the middle of the field will make the entire offense better. If Mack can be a consistent presence over the middle it will harder for opponents to game plan to shut down junior wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, and bringing safeties down in the box to defend the run could be a risky proposition. Mack has the speed and ball skills to stretch the field. If he can add a vertical presence to the tight end position, he could have a monster season. Point ✦ Counterpoint: EXCLUDING QB, WHOSE EMERGENCE IS MOST IMPORTANT TO NOTRE DAME'S 2017 OFFENSE? TOMMY KRAEMER ALIZÉ MACK Kubinski led the Irish to three tournament vic- tories and a school-record, team-scoring aver- age per round (289.52 strokes for four golfers) in 2016-17. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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