Friday, December 6, 2013
I know it is likely to be cold and snowy, but there is something about Notre Dame playing at Yankee Stadium that just makes sense. It is often stated that the two best jobs in the country are the Head Coach at Notre Dame and the Manager of the New York Yankees. I really thought it was awesome when they played Army a couple years back at Yankee Stadium. We are talking about two of the biggest brand names in all of sports.
Looking at our other options, we could go to Detroit for the Little Caesars Bowl and play a MAC team. not to sound like a snob or anything but that game is beneath us and we prove nothing by beating up on a Mid major.
Another possibility is a trip to Florida for the Beef O'Brady's Bowl against a C-USA team. While the weather is nice I still think we can do better than this one.
A trip to San Diego to likely play Boise in the Poinsettia Bowl is a little more appealing. Boise is not the program they used to be but still a good matchup. I can live with this one but still I want to see them at Yankee Stadium.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
With Chuck Martin moving on to be the head coach at Miami (Ohio), Notre Dame now has to fill that position. We all know that Brian Kelly is not going to allow an offensive coordinator come in and run his own system. Kelly wants the quick spread. Therefore, The Irish need someone who knows Kelly's system well. After being in the system for four years, I think it is safe to say that Tommy Rees knows that system and the playbook inside and out.
I know suggesting something as radical as this will create a lot of debate and doubters. Some will say he may be a good coach but he is too young for a job like this. That is ridiculous though because either you know football or you don't age has nothing to do with it.
Then there will be those who are so hell bent on hating Rees, they will totally scoff at the idea. But that is also ridiculous because playing ability has nothing to do with knowledge. Not only does Rees know Kelly's system inside and out, but he also is a coaches son meaning he was raised around this game.
The fact is that during his four years, Rees has shown signs that he could do a great job of coaching. He was a great mentor to Everett Golson during the magical season of 2012. Golson said he was blown away at how much football knowledge Rees has.
Rees showed that this year as the starter too. How many times did he see what the defense was doing before they did it and audibled out. He had a lot of success with that. His knowledge in many ways made up for any physical limitations.
Not only is Rees smart, but he also has the respect of every player in that locker room. They followed him as a player and trusted him as their quarterback.
So to those of you who think he may be too young or just are too anti-Rees to be on board with this, I ask you these questions. Who is out there that knows this offense better than Rees? Who is out there that has more respect from the team than Rees?
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
So I can certainly understand why Pat Haden would have reservations about making Orgeron the permanent coach. We have seen this before where a new coach takes over who is a polar opposite of the guy who was fired and not well liked by the players. The team goes on an emotional run but that emotion runs out. The name Larry Coker stands out and to a smaller degree Charlie Weis. We will never know if that would have been the case with Orgeron or not.
My take on it was they might as well just give him a year and see what he does. He earned and there still is sanctions for a couple more years. That was unless there was a big name coach out there that wanted the job like Jack Del Rio.
That is why this hire of Steve Sarkesian just makes me laugh. I know he had success as an offensive coordinator in their recent glory days under Pete Carroll. But as a head coach at Washington, he did an OKAY job. He did decent but nothing to really get excited about. His record in five years 34-29 and he was 1-2 in bowl games. The program is in better shape now than when he got there but it is still nowhere near Oregon, Stanford, or even UCLA.
In fact, there was even some rumor about whether or not Sarkesian would be fired had they not beaten in state rival Washington State.
Another thing that is funny about this is that he actually mentored the guy Haden fired in the first place. That alone should say something.
The USC players seemed to really like Orgeron and played really hard for him. So if you are going to replace a coach like that, you better had a guy whose name already demands respect. But I am sorry but Sarkesian is not that guy.
I don't blame Orgeron one bit for resigning. He could have been a really high paid assistant, but it was not about the money. I am sure he wants to get back at Haden and USC. So if I were him I would apply for the Washington job and really stick it to them if Washington wants him.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I had to take some time to think on this one because the Stanford loss was one that just seemed a little different than the other three. In the first half the effort looked just pathetic honestly. Stanford was running the ball at will and Notre Dame could not run at all. That once again put way too much on Tommy Rees. Looking at Coach Kelly's demeanor on the sidelines and he honestly looked disinterested in the game. It is true that our bowl positioning probably would not have changed regardless of the win or loss, but still it is a rivalry. It is not USC, but it is still a rival.
Then came the second half and the team played a lot better at least on offense. The defense never did figure a way to stop workhorse Tyler Gaffney who ended with 189 yards and a touchdown. But the offense did get going as Rees threw two touchdowns that got the Irish back into the game. Unfortunately for Rees, there are too many idiots that call themselves fans. They will not remember the two touchdowns. They only care about the two interceptions late that sealed Notre Dame's fate.
Clearly these fans know very little if anything about football. They pay no attention to the fact that they were asking way too much of Rees because of a lack of a running game. They also pay no attention to the fact that if you have to pass that much, interceptions will happen regardless of who the quarterback is. The fact is that Rees this season threw more than twice as many touchdowns as he did interceptions.
In his career, Rees has thrown 61 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. That is almost double the total. In fact, that is a difference of 24. For those idiots who probably don't understand basic math either, that means he threw 24 more touchdowns than he did interceptions.
I appreciate everything this young man did for Notre Dame and I hope he stays on as a GA. I especially appreciate the fact that he was committed to stay at Notre Dame even though it looked like he would be the back up. He could have very easily have transferred to an FCS team his senior year and said "screw you" to all you ungrateful fans. Quite frankly, I would have done that. That is why I really appreciate this young man.
Now moving forward, it is looking like we will be making a trip to Yankee Stadium to play Houston in the Pinstripe Bowl. Although it is not official, that is what the experts are predicting.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
And both teams have had impressive wins, The Irish had signature wins over Michigan State, Arizona State, and USC who are all ranked teams. Stanford's signature moment was Oregon of course but they also had huge wins over UCLA and Arizona State.
But both teams have also had disappointing losses. Notre Dame lost to Michigan and Oklahoma in games where the losses look a lot worse now than they did at the time. Then the Pitt game was just a dark spot on the season. Stanford had an inexcusable loss to Utah who won't even make a bowl game. They also lost to USC and not to discredit what USC has done since the coaching change but the Cardinal should have taken care of business in this one.
Based on that, that makes this game somewhat irrelevant on the national scale. Stanford will not play for a BCS title, but they will play in the PAC 12 Championship regardless of the outcome. The game is a little more relevant for Notre Dame because as I said in my last blog, they are not mathematically eliminated from the BCS, but it will take a lot of help. So being realistic, whether the Irish are 9-3 or 8-4 probably won't affect too much what bowl they get.
But whether or not the game matters nationally, it is still another huge rivalry for the Irish. It is not a rivalry like USC, Michigan, or Miami where the two teams just don't like each other. It is more of a rivalry like Navy where the two teams have a mutual respect for each other and how both teams build a strong program while still maintaining tough academic standards. But make no mistake of it, both teams want to win bad.
And this will be another physical battle. Stanford is a really tough team who loves to play smash mouth run the ball style. We all remember the overtime battle last year in which it took a Tommy Rees to TJ Jones touchdown followed by a signature goal line stand. That gave the Irish an 18-9 series lead.
What will decide this game this year is who runs the ball most effectively and on paper that favors Stanford. They have a senior in Tyler Gaffney who has rushed for 1296 yards and 16 touchdowns. That will be a tough battle for Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, and Jaron Jones. Notre Dame's leading rusher on the other hand is Cam McDaniel with 608 yards and 3 touchdowns. Having said that, the Irish do have a little more depth at that position because George Atkinson has 554 yards with 3 touchdowns, and the late emergence of Tarean Folston has added more to the running game. Outside of Gaffney, Stanford's next leading rusher has 262. So while both teams want to run the ball, the Irish have to basically prepare for one guy while Stanford has to be ready for a committee who all have different running style. That could be a slight advantage for Notre Dame.
The quarterbacks have had similar seasons but Notre Dame has a clear edge in the passing game. Kevin Hogan has thrown for 2052 yards with 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while Rees has thrown for 2739 yards and 25 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Hogan's best receiver is Ty Montgomery with 50 catches for 822 yards and 9 touchdowns but the next highest receiver has 22 catches for 396 yards. Rees on the other hand has Jones who has 59 catches for 986 yards and 8 touchdowns. But Jones is not the only weapon. DaVaris Daniels has 41 catches for 641 yards and 6 touchdowns while Tight End Troy Niklas has added 26 catches for 398 yards and 5 touchdowns.
It is safe to say for both offenses that this is one of the more physical defenses they have faced. Unfortunately for Notre Dame though, Stanford's defense has stayed healthy for the most part. This will be a battle and I am glad that the players will have some time for the bowl game. They will need it to heal.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Believe it or not, Notre Dame is still not mathematically eliminated from the BCS. It will take a victory over Stanford and a lot of help. Plus, the voters never seem to be on the side of the Irish and tend to point out Notre Dame's failures rather than their successes. I will break my TV next time I hear a commentator say, "I don't know how Michigan State lost to Notre Dame." It never even enters their mind that maybe Notre Dame is a pretty damn good team. But enough about that, let's explore just how Notre Dame can still pull off a trip to the BCS.
They are currently ranked #25 and need to be at least #15 in the final poll to be eligible. That means we have two weeks to climb 10 spots. we are off that last weekend, but that can actually be a good thing.
Just ahead of Notre Dame is Duke. They play North Carolina this week and if they win as expected, they will play Florida State in the ACC Championship in which the Seminoles will likely make them sorry they were ever born. So passing Duke should not be a problem.
Ahead of Duke is USC and UCLA. The best value that has to the Irish is that they both play each other this week. This will be an interesting game to watch and much of the focus will be on whether or not Ed Orgeron will get the job as Head Coach on a permanent basis. Since taking over he has only lost once but it was to Notre Dame which is a big loss to them. He can get some redemption with a win over their other big rival, but a loss will make it hard for Pat Haden to ignore the fact that Jack Del Rio is out there. Expect this to be one of the best games in this rivalry in a long time. The good thing is that one of them will lose.
Ahead of these two LA rivals is Texas A & M led by Johnny Football. They play Missouri this week who with a win will advance to the SEC title game. I expect the Tigers to take care of business. So passing the Aggies seems to be very realistic.
The next team at #20 is Louisville who has the week off before ending the year against Cincinnati. I think Coach Kelly's old team is underrated and has a real chance in this one. The game is in Cincinnati.
Ahead of Louisville is Central Florida and it might be hard to pass them because they have two games left against two teams that tackle like wimps. But SMU is always tough with that Run and Shoot offense so maybe they can pull off an upset. This one may take an act of God.
Next up is Oklahoma who has struggled since their win over Notre Dame. They have one game left against in state rival Oklahoma State who is currently #7. The Cowboys will win the Big 12 with a win which will make it even tougher for the Sooners. That is good for the Irish.
#17 is LSU who has one game left against Arkansas who has only 3 wins all year. Ouch, this one will be tough.
Next up is Fresno State who plays San Jose State before playing either Utah State or Boise in the Mountain West Championship. I don't see them losing this weekend but there is potential in the title game.
At #15 which is where the Irish need to be is Wisconsin. They have one game left this weekend and it is against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are a tough team but I am not sure they match up with the Badgers and this will be their Senior Day. This one will be tough.
Just ahead of Wisconsin is Northern Illinois who won't lose today against Western Michigan, but the MAC Title games are always exciting and either Bowling Green or Buffalo will give the Huskies all they can handle.
Another game of interest to Notre Dame is the Big 10 Title game with Michigan State and Ohio State. This can be good either way. If the Spartans pull off the upset, our victory over them looks even better. But if the Buckeyes win, Michigan State will potentially fall far enough.
Oregon seems to have lost a lot of momentum and a loss to Oregon State would help. Also, Arizona State plays an emerging Arizona team this week, but I kind of want the Sun Devils to win because it makes our win over them look better.
Of course Notre Dame can help it themselves with a win over Stanford who is #8 but will fall many places with a loss to the Irish. Of course, Stanford will play Arizona State the following week in which one of them has to lose.
The thing that does hurt us though is that our losses are bad ones. Neither Michigan nor Oklahoma lived up to expectations and Pitt is well Pitt. So there are a lot of things that do need to happen in the Irish's favor and it will be tough. So the best thing Notre Dame can do is have a great week of practice, play the game of their life against Stanford, and let the rest take care of itself.
Monday, November 25, 2013
My apologies for the lateness of this blog. I was indisposed this weekend and was just able to see the game film now.
Things always look better after a win. Fans were really questioning the direction of the program after the Pitt loss. But now things are looking a lot better. The team is now 8-3 and not mathematically eliminated from the BCS. Although they do need a lot of help to make it there. But let's not go there just yet.
On Saturday, the Fighting Irish finally played the kind of game they should have been playing all year. That is a physical running game and play action passes off of it. The first drive was symbolic of that as emerging freshman Tearean Folston ran effectively for the whole drive until Tommy Rees hit a wide open DaVaris Daniels for a 61 yard touchdown.
That was the theme all day as Folston along with Cam McDaniel just ran it down BYU's throat. McDaniel gained 117 yards on 24 carries and Folston had 78 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. George Atkinson also pitched in with 42 yards on 6 carries. The USC kid never saw the field.
There was enough balance in the passing game as Rees finished with a respectable 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Daniels finished with 6 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown while TJ Jones had another solid day with 5 catches for 95 yards.
The defense had a nice effort. They did give up yards but managed to keep everything in front. Dual threat quarterback Taysom Hill had 168 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception along with 101 yards rushing. The defense really did a nice job of stopping Jamaal Williams as he only had 43 yards.
Defensive standouts were Jaylon Smith who keeps getting better and better and Jarron Jones who filled in nicely for Louis Nix. I am excited for the careers these young men could have. Jones had a huge field goal block late in the game that would have pulled the Cougars to within a touchdown.
Great win for the Irish and it is now time to prepare for our annual year end trip to California to play Stanford. This year the game may not mean much on paper, but it is another big rivalry for Notre Dame.