Wednesday, May 14, 2014
This past draft was a great weekend for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame had 8 players drafted total which was second only to LSU. Zack Martin went on the first night. The second night saw four players (Stephon Tuitt, Troy Niklas, Louis Nix, and Chris Watt) all come off the board in the 2nd and 3rd round. Then in the late rounds on the final day, Prince Shembo got the call from Atlanta, Bennett Jackson got picked by the Giants, and TJ Jones will join Golden Tate and Theo Riddick in Detroit.
It did not stop there. Five former Irish players signed free agent contracts. George Atkinson signed with Oakland, Carlo Calabrese with Cleveland, Dan Fox with the Giants, Kona Schwenke with Kansas City, but the most surprising one in many eyes was Tommy Rees with the Washington Redskins.
Rees was definitely the most debated quarterback I can ever remember. He was loved by many for his heart and toughness, but disliked by many for his lack of ability. I always liked the kid because I had no doubt he gave all he had. I knew he wasn't the most talented quarterback Notre Dame ever had, but he left nothing out there.
Now here he is signing a free agent deal with the Redskins. It will definitely be tough for him to make the squad. RG III is going nowhere and Kirk Cousins has proven to be a quality back up. Colt McCoy is currently the third quarterback and he was a starter for Cleveland before.
It seems impossible for him with those guys there. However, a door might open for him if Cousins gets traded and that definitely is a strong possibility. But if there is anything I learned about him over the years is to not count him out. Here is a kid who was on a roster with Dayne Crist, Andrew Hendrix, and Everett Golson. On paper, Rees was the least talented but yet all these guys were watching him from the sidelines.
I just want to wish him luck and if he doesn't make it, I hope considers coming back to South Bend as a Grad assistant.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Former Irish teammates Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt were part of one of the best defensive lines in college football the last two seasons and both were projected to go in the late first round. But both fell in the draft. The good news is that both landed in good places.
Tuitt was picked in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 46th pick in the draft. The Steelers are second to none when you think of hard hitting defenses. And legendary defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau is one of the best of all time. This is a great place for Tuitt to be.
Louis Nix was then taken by the Houston Texans in the third round with the 83rd pick. Although the Texans had the worst record in the league last year, they do have makings for a really good young defense. JJ Watt is already one of the most feared defensive ends in the league. Then of course the Texans drafted Jadeveon Clowny to play on the other end. Now they can put Nix in between them. That is just scary.
The most notable Irish players left are Troy Niklas, who clearly appears to have made a mistake by leaving early, TJ Jones, George Atkinson, Bennett Jackson, and Tommy Rees. It will be interesting to see which of these guys get selected on the third and final day or who gets a free agent contract.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Notre Dame played Arizona State at AT & T Stadium in their Shamrock Series last October. It was their annual home away from home game. Little did Zack Martin know that it would become a permanent home for him. On Thursday, Martin was selected by the Dallas Cowboys.
Martin was the only former Irish player taken in the first round. Many thought that Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt would also go on the first night. But Nix and Tuitt along with other Irish players such as Troy Niklas, TJ Jones, Tommy Rees, George Atkinson, Bennett Jackson all still await to see where, when, and if they are selected for their NFL futures.
It will be an exciting weekend for these former Irish players.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
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
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.
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
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
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.