SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Priority No. 1 for new Notre Dame offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford is to work with quarterbacks Everett Golson and Malik Zaire. Those responsibilities could grow to play calling, just not yet.
"All we said, and I said this I think when we were here, is that his focus right now is we've got two very, very good quarterbacks," head coach Brian Kelly said. "His focus is on our quarterbacks right now and learning the offense and that's Job 1. The next job will be obviously continue to grow and learn the offense so there's play-calling opportunities there."
Kelly had called plays in four of his previous five seasons at Notre Dame, with coordinator/QBs coach Chuck Martin being the only other Irish coach to handle those duties, in 2013. Martin left after that season to become head coach of Miami (Ohio), and Mike Denbrock was moved from outside receivers coach to offensive coordinator, while Matt LaFleur was hired from the Washington Redskins to be QBs coach, resulting in Kelly once again taking over play calling.
With Irish signal-callers now facing their third different position coach in as many years -- Denbrock now holds the title of associate head coach/receivers coach, and LaFleur left for the Atlanta Falcons -- Kelly once again will be back in a familiar role, one he has held in 24 of his previous 25 years as a head coach.
"Mike Denbrock right now is running the entire offense," Kelly said. "Those are his calls and his decisions to make. Mike (Sanford) really is somebody capable of doing all of those things, but not at this time. His focus right now is working with the quarterbacks. And so when we put a timetable on it, right now I'm more ready to be the play caller until all these guys are in a position where they can take more of a role offensively. That's just a matter of where we are right now because most of Mike's time has been developing the quarterbacks."