Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2017

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 63

8 AUGUST 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Notre Dame's men's golf program will feature a new face at the helm this fall with former Florida associate head coach John Handrigan replacing longtime leader Jim Kubinski. Handrigan, the 2015 National Assistant Coach of the Year, spent the past several seasons serv‑ ing as an assistant at Kansas (2009‑11) and Florida (2011‑16) before being promoted to asso‑ ciate head coach at UF for the 2016‑17 campaign. BGI: What made Notre Dame an attractive opportunity to pursue? Handrigan: "The biggest thing would be the national brand of Notre Dame academically and athletically. It's the most — if not, then one of the most — prestigious schools in country for both those avenues. … "I went to quite a few schools interviewing, and there's nothing like what I experienced here as far as the people, atmosphere, the culture and the family values we have here. It's pretty special." BGI: What do you hope to bring to the Irish program? Handrigan: "It's hard to say what they've al‑ ready had in the past, but I think there will be a culture change. I think there will be more, not pushing players, but motivated players that are willing to work and strive to get to that next level and improve their game. "Notre Dame golf has an ex‑ treme amount of potential. … I would like to work hard to im‑ prove those guys and develop them to help make them into the top players they were re‑ cruited to be." BGI: When you look at the current roster, what needs to improve? Handrigan: "I don't see any weaknesses. We have a great incoming freshman class that is two really strong players. We have a lot of skilled players. Not to be negative, I just think they've underperformed. "They've done a good job recruiting several of these players and it's our job now to develop them into the top players across the country. … There are no negatives to the players we have. It's all positive and we just have to get them going to the right direction." BGI: How has your time at Kansas and Florida prepared you for this opportunity? Handrigan: "I've been fortunate to work for some of the coaches in the country and top programs. I worked for Buddy Alexander [at Florida] for three years and biasedly he's the best coach that's been in college golf. I learned a great deal from him on how to make a top‑notch program. I'm ready for that role. "I've worked with J.C. [Deacon] the last few years at Florida and he's helped me by not treat‑ ing me as an assistant. He treated me as a head coach and gave me all the authority of a head coach, which helped prepare me for this level." BGI: How do you think recruiting will be at a program like Notre Dame? Handrigan: "It sells academically, and the cul‑ ture and prestige of the university sells a lot to the right player. Obviously, it isn't right for every‑ one. For the right person we are recruiting, the Notre Dame brand sells itself. "Golf wise, we have one of the best courses in the country as far as a university course. Recruit‑ ing is never easy. There's a lot of good coaches and programs out there, which makes it very competitive, but when you have things to sell like the academics, the golf course and our facilities, it does make it a lot easier." — Corey Bodden Five Questions With … MEN'S GOLF COACH JOHN HANDRIGAN Martin And Watt Remain The Standard By Lou Somogyi A consensus theme about the 2017 Notre Dame team is the left side of the offensive line with fifth‑year senior tackle Mike McGlinchey and senior guard Quenton Nelson is the No. 1 strength, and perhaps even the best in the nation. Popular preseason opinion holds that there is a le‑ gitimate chance the Irish could produce two first‑round selections along the offensive line next spring for the first time since 1967, when tackle Paul Seiler and guard Tom Regner achieved the distinction. Of more recent vintage, tackle Zack Martin and guard Chris Watt set a high bar as well from 2011‑13. When the Irish needed to rely on the run in 2012, that duo set the pace for a 202‑yard rushing average during a 12‑0 regular season. When they turned more to the pass the next sea‑ son and had to protect the less mobile Tommy Rees at quarterback, the pass blocking was extraordinary and allowed the nation's fewest sacks while putting together the most wins over two seasons (21) since 1992‑93. Martin went on to become a first‑round selec‑ tion, while Watt was a third‑round pick. The duo of McGlinchey and Nelson might be even more esteemed in the eyes of NFL scouts, but after a 4‑8 season they have to dem‑ onstrate much more of a take‑charge role under line coach Harry Hiestand, who developed Martin and Watt. That will be difficult to eclipse in just one season. McGlinchey And Nelson Have More Upside By Bryan Driskell If we are talking about what each has accomplished up to this point it's an easy choice. Zack Martin and Chris Watt played side by side for three years and were rocks for the Irish offense. From a projec‑ tion standpoint, however, the combination of Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson should go down as the most dominant Notre Dame one‑two punch on the offensive line in a very long time. Nelson has been a standout in each of his two seasons as a starter, both of which came at left guard. He was arguably Notre Dame's best player in 2016, and he's been named a first‑ or second‑team All‑American by every major pub‑ lication up to this point. McGlinchey took a step back in 2016, his first at left tackle and first playing beside Nelson. It took some time for McGlinchey to settle in play‑ ing the game left handed, and his technique in protection took a step back. If the fifth‑year se‑ nior can carry over his strong spring into the fall, he will be just as dominant as he was in 2015. When playing at his best McGlinchey can come close to how effective Martin was in 2012 and 2013. Where the current group gains the advantage is with Nelson, who has already been a more dominant player than Watt. If they are both on top of their game, the McGlinchey and Nelson duo will be Notre Dame's best. Point ✦ Counterpoint: Can Mike McGlinchey And Quenton Nelson Surpass Zack Martin And Chris Watt As The Best Irish Left Tackle/Left Guard Tandem In Recent Memory? Handrigan is the seventh head coach in the 89-year history of the Notre Dame men's golf program. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand has the good fortune of coaching some talented players dur- ing his time in South Bend, but McGlinchey and Nelson have a chance to be the best. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - August 2017