Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Manti Te'o Just Doesn't Seem Like Himself

After such an inspiring 2012 season that involved overcoming personal tragedy, Manti Te'o learned at an award show that one of his tragedies was a big hoax. We all know the story and how embarrassing it was for him. What still remains to be seen is whether or not Te'o will ever get passed this.

The BCS title game was the worst game of his college career and he did not look like himself. Now we know why. Now after his poor performance at the NFL combine, we still don't know. While I am not one to put too much weight on work out sessions and am more concerned with on field performance, Te'o just has a different vibe to him right now on the field. He does not look like the inspirational leader he was last season.  He needs a much better performance next month at his pro day to get a better draft positioning.

In interviews, he sounds fine and says the right things. Now he needs to take it to the field.

This came two days after Tyler Eifert was the most impressive tight end. Running backs Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick also had nice workouts, but neither really stood out among the other runners.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tyler Eifert Shines At the NFL Combine

 As the NFL Combine got underway on Saturday, much of the focus regarding Notre Dame was on Manti Te'o's press conference where he addressed the media with questions that mostly covered the story that just won't go away.  Te'o did well for himself in the conference and said that he has no indication that the incident will hurt his draft stock. We shall see on that one.

That unfortunately overshadowed Tyler Eifert's big day who solidified a likely first round selection and is the top tight end according to the experts. I have to be honest. I am not a big fan of using what they do in shorts as an indicator. I do believe Eifert is the best tight end in the draft, but I make that assessment based on his on field performance in both blocking and catching. His commitment to the blocking game last season really helped him.

For what it is worth, Eifert ran a 4.68 40, benched 22 reps, and had a veritcal leap 35 1/2 inches. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network who also does Notre Dame's home games on NBC, thinks Atlanta would be a good place for him regardless of whether or not Tony Gonzalez retires.

Braxston Cave also had a solid workout with the offensive lineman.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Time For Notre Dame to Move On and Get Ready For Spring

After 2012 was the best year for Notre Dame since 1988, it ended with a chain of events that put a damper on it. It started with the National Championship butt kicking they received from Alabama. Then came the scare of Coach Kelly flirting with the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles. That fear was quickly replaced with the whole Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax. That made Notre Dame very nervous about the NCAA Nazi's placing sanctions on the school for something they weren't involved in. With Mr. Tuiasosopo admitting that he set the whole thing up, it appears that while Te'o will have to continually answer questions about it, but Notre Dame appears to be done with it.

With all that going on, Notre Dame very quietly has put together it's best recruiting class in years. Five star linebacker Jaylon Smith might be able to be the replacement for Te'o. Another huge five star recruit is running back Greg Bryant who can compete with George Atkinson and Cam McDaniel to fill the huge holes left by Theo Riddick and Cierre wood.

The offensive line will leave holes to fill as well with the graduations of Zack Martin, Mike Golic, and Braxton Cave. The Irish do have a host of four and five star recruits along the line featuring guys like Hunter Bivin from Kentucky.

Don't blink but spring practice is right around the corner and he Blue-Gold game is on April 20. The Irish need to focus on not only filling those holes among others but also taking Everett Golson to the next level in his development. The progress he made from the the start of last season to the USC game was incredible. Now the next step is for him to be able to run the offense at the fast pace Coach Kelly likes.

This is a big year for Notre Dame not only because the expectations are once again where they need to be in  South Bend, but also because this is the last year that Notre Dame will play Michigan and Big Ten rivals (Michigan State and Purdue) will likely be gone too. That is of course due to the agreement Notre Dame has with the ACC to play five teams annually.  Ironically, this year the Irish will only play Pittsburgh who is also a new face in the conference. Therefore winning these games not only matters for rankings but also for lifelong bragging rights in the end of these great rivalries.

Notre Dame also plays traditional rival USC which appears to be a down program. They have traditional service academy opponents Navy and Air Force. They have a rematch in South Bend with Oklahoma. They also have non traditional opponents in Temple and Arizona State. Senior day will be against BYU. While those are mostly formidable opponents, those should all be wins with an experienced Golson and still a dominant defense even without Te'o and Kapron Lewis-Moore.

That will all lead to a showdown in Palo Alto with Stanford led by Kevin Hogan in a game that will likely have national championship implications for both teams.