Notre Dame's quarterbacks broke into their positional drills during Friday's practice, same as they've done all season. Except this time there was no quarterbacks coach leading the way. Instead, Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Matt Mulvey looked at one another and tried to figure out what to do next.
The guy missing was Charley Molnar, current head coach at the University of Massachusetts and former offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame. Molnar accepted his first head coaching position late last week.
"It kind of hurt us a little bit because we didn't have that direction in the back of our ear telling us follow through or stop locking your hips," Golson said. "We definitely miss him."
In the week since Molnar departed the program it's forced Brian Kelly to reshuffle his responsibilities, taking over a position he's wired to coach. Notre Dame's head coach now leads quarterback meetings, although he can't devote all his time to Rees, Hendrix, Golson and Mulvey.
Still, despite a few early practice inefficiencies, Notre Dame's quarterbacks believe they're progressing just fine without a position coach in the short term. With Rees now the most veteran quarterback with Dayne Crist no longer part of the program, the sophomore has attempted to set the practice tempo.
"I try to take it over," Rees said. "But without a coach there kind of barking or helping us out it's a little different. They put us in a good position to succeed where we can do some things on our own where we know what to expect and what to work on."
While Molnar didn't call plays on game day, he was the go-to guy for Notre Dame's quarterbacks between series with phone calls to the press box. Molnar will be with the team for a few practices in the run up to the Champs Sports Bowl, although likely in a limited role. Molnar will also be at the bowl, watching from the press box.
But in effect, Notre Dame's head coach will also be the program's offensive coordinator.
Kelly said he plans to play Rees and Hendrix in the bowl, perhaps creating a few extra moments to counsel his quarterbacks during the game. Even if losing Molnar doesn't help the program in coaching attention for players, it appears the quarterbacks are enjoying the extra time with Kelly.
However, the group didn't hesitate to admit they're missing something in not having Molnar around the program fulltime.
"Coach Molnar, he's definitely great with X's and O's. His mind is one of the best if not the best that I've ever been around," Hendrix said. "His knowledge of the game and ability to coach what he sees in his own mind with us has been awesome. Losing that ability to coach the X's and O's along with technique is something that we'll lose.
"Losing coach Molnar, now coach Kelly can overview the field, help everyone out. Now obviously he has to just stay with us for the time being."