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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quarterbacks Shine in Spring Game

I am never one to take a lot out of spring games. It is against your own team and so it is hard to really access a whole lot. Having said that, this day belonged to the quarterbacks. I was a little surprised to see Malik Zaire start the game over Everett Golson, but I really don't want to read too much into that. 

The fact is that both quarterbacks performed very well, especially in the first half. Zaire had over 200 yards passing and had two touchdown passes. Golson had some really nice throws as well and had a rushing touchdown.

It didn't matter who was in. The offense just marched right down and scored a lot. The quarterbacks were helped by a nice trio of runners in Cam McDaniel, Tearean Folston, and Greg Bryant. They have a young group of receivers led by Corey Robinson.

So who will ultimately be the starting quarterback? My guess would be Golson and here is why. Although Zaire did have better day in the scrimmage, it really looked like the defense was throwing a lot more at Golson. The package appeared very basic when Zaire was in. You also cannot ignore the progress Golson made two years ago in the magical season.

So although, Zaire did start in the Spring game and did have a little better day, it still appears to be Golson's job to lose.

I give the defense an incomplete because they really dialed it down and did not show a lot.

I cannot wait for the Rice game.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Three Areas To Work On In The Spring

With Spring football just underway in South Bend, there is a lot of excitement on where the team can go in 2014. After a step back in 2013, Irish fans are hopeful of a return to being a national title contender. But there are three key areas that need to be worked on during the Spring.


Notre Dame fans might think that this area is fixed with the return of Everett Golson. However, if we learned anything last year, you can never have too much depth at quarterback. Yes, Golson had to spend a year away. He worked with a great trainer and will hopefully be better for it.

But Tommy Rees is gone. While his experience as the starter had it's ups and downs, he was very valuable in a back up role in the 2012 season. While last year, fans called for Rees to be benched on occasion, the reality is that Brian Kelly had nobody else to go to. Andrew Hendrix who was a major disappointment is also gone.

Red shirt freshman Malik Zaire is slated to be the back up. While Zaire does have the talent, he lacks experience at the college level. If Golson is ever out, he is the quarterback. So his development over the spring is huge.

Running Back

This was an area last year that took almost the whole season to figure out. After being suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl, George Atkinson has left the team for the NFL. He was a disappointment to begin with. Amir Carlisle appears to be moving to wide receiver. that could be good because after a great first run of the season he did nothing the rest of the year. Maybe a position change is what he needs or maybe we should never trust a USC guy again.

The only guy who was consistent all year was Cam McDaniel. Then with the late season emergence of Tarean Folston, it became clear on who the two runners who should get the bulk of the carries are. Kelly hopes Greg Bryant can play a bigger role too.

But one thing is for sure. It needs to be settled in the spring and in summer camp. We can't have another year of going week to week with it.


Once the most feared defense in college football, Notre Dame has lots of reloading to do. Bob Diaco left for Connecticut and will be replaced by former Jets assistant Brian Van Gorder. He will have two huge holes to fill on the defensive line with Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt both gone to the NFL. Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones will both be expected to have huge roles in this area.

The linebacking unit does have for returning players to start in Jaylon Smith, Ishaq Williams, Kendall Moore, and Jarret Grace. The problem is depth though. The only other guy with any experience is Ben Councell but he is coming off injury. No other player has any significant experience,

In the secondary, KeVare Russell will have to go from being the underclassmen corner to more of a leader back there. This is a unit that does have talent but a lot of youth and little experience. Their development in the spring is also huge.

The Blue-Gold game is April 12. It will be fun to see how all these areas developed over the spring.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Former Irish Teammates to Face Each Other in Playoff Game

 Two team Captains from Notre Dame's 2012 team that went to the BCS title game will face each other later today in the AFC Wild Card game between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. Tyler Eifert was drafted by the Bengals in the first round and Manti Te'o followed shortly after going to the Chargers in the second round.

Both guys have had respectable rookie seasons. Te'o recorded 61 total tackles for the season which is pretty good considering he missed the first few games of the season with a foot injury.  Eifert caught 39 balls for 446 yards and two touchdowns. Both had respectable years but Irish fans expect a lot more from both in years to come.

But for now, it will be strange watching them compete against each other. I am sure they went against each other a lot in practice at Notre Dame so they are familiar with each other. So it will be interesting if they are ever matched up against each other during the game. I am not sure who I will root for but I look forward to watching.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rutgers No Match For Notre Dame

Yes the score was only 29-16, but that does not accurately give a picture of how dominant Notre Dame was. Mistakes really allowed Rutgers to stay in the game for longer than they needed to be. An early muffed punt return by TJ Jones led to a field goal. Then dropped touchdowns by William Fuller, DaVaris Daniels, and Jones kept points off the board.

But the running game took over in the second half thanks to a dominant line anchored by game MVP Zach Martin. Cam McDaniel led the way with 81 yards while Tarean Folston added 74 yards and a touchdown. Going forward, these two need to be the featured runners next season.

It was a nice game for Tommy Rees to go out on. He threw for 318 yards and more importantly no turnovers.

Defensively it wasn't really anything spectacular just another day at the office. They held the Scarlet Knights to just 16 points and only 3 after halftime. The Irish  forced 4 turnovers. The most important stat was that they were able to get off the field. Notre Dame dominated in Time of Possession. The Irish had the ball for 35 minutes to 20 by the Scarlet Knights.

The game wasn't really all that exciting to watch but it is always nice to end with a win. I cannot wait until next season. The offense will be deadly with the return of Everett Golson and all the returning weapons he has. We just need to keep Coach Kelly away from the Detroit Lions.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bowl Season Set to Kick Off

In the last year of the BCS and before the landscape of college football changes dramatically, from top to bottom there are some really good bowl match ups this year. Unfortunately the Pinstripe Bowl is not one of them. I am not talking just the BCS Bowls, there are some good match ups. Boise and Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl is a nice match up. BYU and Washington in the Fight Hunger Bowl will be a good one.

Although Notre Dame does not have a good match up, there are two other bowls that day that will be worth watching. Miami-Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl and Michigan-Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl should be great match ups.

Oregon-Texas in the Alamo Bowl should be a great one. That is Mack Brown's last game. What about Duke-Texas A & M in the Chick  Fil A Bowl? That will be an interesting one.

Then we get into the bigger bowls. As usual there is a Big Ten-SEC challenge on New Year's Day. Expect the SEC to dominate it again. But Michigan State can give the Big Ten some hope with a win over Stanford in the Rose Bowl. That will just be a tough physical game.

Then honestly all the BCS games are good match ups. It will be an exciting bowl season. It all kicks off this Saturday with 4 games. The headliner is USC-Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. I honestly cannot think of a better way to start the bowl season than with a USC loss. And maybe another locker room fight occurs and Marqise Lee announces he is leaving minutes later like Robert Woods did last year. That would be great.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good For You Coach Diaco. You Deserve It

I write this blog with mixed emotions. Bob Diaco came with Coach Kelly from Cincinnati. In his four years he has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation. Nobody will ever forget that defense he put together in 2012. There is no doubt that his departure leaves a huge hole on the coaching staff. He will certainly be missed and we are sorry to lose him.

At the same time, I am really happy for him. He has earned his right to be a head coach. While Connecticut may not be a big time program, it is a good opportunity for him to get his feet wet and it is one where he will have time to build it without immediate pressure to win.

The downside he is going into a conference that is really a rag tag league. The American Athletic Conference is leftovers from the Big East and former members of Conference USA. Two of those teams, Louisville and Rutgers are leaving. While that is bad for the league, it could put Connecticut in a more competitive spot.

Congratulations and good luck to Coach Diaco. I hope he sticks around for the bowl game but I will understand if he has to go now.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thank You Louis Nix

Not a lot needs to be said about Louis Nix. We all know how important he was to that defense. One thing that stands out was last season when Manti Te'o was asked if he had a vote for Heisman, who would it be? He said Louis Nix. Nix often took two blockers or even three which freed up not only Te'o but that entire linebacking crew.

It is a fact that in a 3-4 defense, if you don't have a good nose tackle your defense will not be that good. Nix was just a rock for so long. He will be missed.

Thank you Louis Nix for all you did for Notre dame. Get well and I will be rooting for you to do well in the NFL unless you get drafted by the Jets.