Notre Dame makes it official, promotes Denbrock to offensive coordinator

ERIC HANSEN
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame finally made it official Thursday.

Wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock is officially the Irish football team’s offensive coordinator, the third under head coach Brian Kelly as he enters year five at ND.

With the announcement six days ago of new quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, whose emphasis it appears will be on developing ND’s young quarterbacks — redshirted freshman Malik Zaire and incoming freshman DeShone Kizer — the next layer to unravel is how all this knits together with Kelly’s resurrected desire to call offensive plays.

The first real clues toward that come Friday at noon EST, when both Denbrock and Kelly are scheduled to meet with the media.

Denbrock has been Kelly’s coordinator twice before, once on offense for four seasons (1992-95), once on defense for three seasons (1996-98) — and both during Kelly’s long run as head coach of NCAA Division II power Grand Valley State.

They were also graduate assistant coaches and roommates during the 1987 football season at GVS when Tom Beck was the head coach.

Denbrock got a taste of his new role in December, when he was named interim offensive coordinator for ND’s Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl date with Rutgers and the 25 days leading up to the game. Denbrock’s predecessor, Chuck Martin, left ND after being named head football coach at Miami of Ohio on Dec. 3.

“I think we’re at our best offensively when we can run the ball and kind of control the game from the offensive side of the football,” Denbrock said of his philosophy, days before the 29-16 Pinstripe Bowl win, “and that’s not going to change regardless of who the opponent is that we’re playing against.

“We’re always going to do what we can to establish what we feel we need to do to win the football game, instead of concentrating much on what their (the opponent’s) strength or weakness might be.”

The Irish (9-4) are coming off their worst showing of the Kelly Era in the national rankings in total offense — 67th out of 123 charted FBS teams in 2013. ND was 74th in scoring offense and 77th in red-zone offense.

Where they shined offensively is ranking second nationally in sacks allowed and tied for first in fewest lost fumbles.

Notre Dame adds formerly exiled quarterback Everett Golson back into the mix this spring. The junior-to-be spent the past semester on a university-imposed suspension for academic misconduct after helping lead the Irish to the BCS National Championship Game in the 2012 season.

Gambling website Bovada.LV established Golson at 25-1 to win the Heisman Trophy in 2014, behind reigning winner Jameis Winston of Florida State (2--1), Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (7-2), Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (4-1) and six others.

Notre Dame made it official Thursday, promoting receivers coach Mike Denbrock to the position of offensive coordinator. (SBT Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES)