Below is Part One of two looks at head coach Brian Kelly’s post-spring wrap-up of the team’s offensive personnel. The quarterbacks will be discussed in our next edition this afternoon.
Kelly’s Wide Receivers Review
“The receiving corps as we know was a little thin. But John Goodman, Robby Toma, and now this last week, DaVaris Daniels, really stepped up his play, became a guy we can feel comfortable saying that he’s going to help us win games next year, and that’s a really important thing.
“So if you’re checking off the box in terms of offense, we really like the way our quarterbacks developed, the communication system: (Offensive Coordinator) Chuck Martin and myself working with the offense and QBs in particular, I was really pleased with that.”
(Among the receivers): “(John) Goodman and (Robby) Toma established themselves, and then DaVaris Daniels and Daniel Smith. Danny is a young man that had to fight through a number of injuries. He did not miss one spring practice and that was really big for him in terms of his confidence. It was really big for us in developing the players we need for the fall.”
On the key to Daniels’ late surge: “Being healthy, probably. Really more than anything, being healthy, he got confidence after he made a couple of plays. All he’s heard is all this potential, potential, and then he makes a couple of plays, and you know that’s the (ignition). Once that got ignited, he made a ton of plays. We know its there, now we have to get it from him and we feel really good about going into the summer as it relates to Daniels.”
Regarding Junior Daniel Smith’s emergence: “Daniel is important to us. We need him to come up and be a consistent player for us. It’s been about injuries for him. He has the injury bug, but it looks like he’s kicked it, because he’s made every spring practice and he hadn’t been able to do that in his previous time here. A really positive step for Daniel Smith this spring.”
Kelly on the Rest of the Offense
Running Backs: “I think we all know about Cierre (Wood) and Theo (Riddick). With George (Atkinson), they proved to be three guys that can help us move forward to win football games.
"I thought Cierre had a great spring, transitioning to that wide receiver work that the running back now needs. I thought he did a terrific job, I mentioned him the other day in our meeting. We’re really short with our receivers; he jumped right in without having to be asked; that showed me a lot about our football team: your guys with big resumes and guys that have played a lot will jump in there and help us run our offense.”
The Offensive Line: “We know about the left side with (tackle) Zack Martin, again, just continues to get better. He and (left guard) Chris Watt working together is outstanding for us. And now the right side, Golic has down a nice job at center and guard for us, as well as Nick Martin (right guard) and Christian Lombard (likely right tackle), and that’s where it seems to be right now.
Injury Update: “I’m really pleased with (5th-year senior center and sure starter) Braxston Cave and his ability to move. We probably could play him (Saturday) but we don’t need to. He’s moved so well we could probably give him the green light. We put him through a battery of conditioning and agility drills because one of the things is getting the bio-mechanics back relative to that injury.”
The Tight Ends: “(Tyler) Eifert, obviously we know what we can do with him. He’s a guy that can play a number of positions and I think we’ve developed some nice depth with Alex Welch coming on this spring and playing well, and Ben Koyack (too).”
Editor’s Note: Kelly offered on Saturday that former linebacker and current sophomore tight end Troy Niklas had missed (at least) two practices with an intestinal issue. I'd be surprised, however, if Niklas plays Saturday (a gut feeling).
The team’s No. 2 tight end, whoever it may be, is likely to receive “starters” playing time next fall.