Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Will Brian VanGorder Attack The Navy Triple Option?

One of my favorite games every year is Navy. It is not because Notre Dame has an easy win, but because I have the utmost respect for those who serve and protect or great nation. This game is a result of a lifetime contract that begin during World War II when Navy was allowed to use Notre Dame's campus as training. This might have saved the school from going out. Kids were not going to school during that time because of the draft.

The Notre Dame-Navy game honors that every year. Historically, Notre Dame has dominated this rivalry. They won 43 straight. Navy did go on a stretch during the Charlie Weis years where they won 3 out of 4. That last win was technically Brian Kelly's first year, but it was heavily loaded with Weis recruits. Since that time, the Irish offense has completely dominated the Midshipmen defense. Navy just does not have the athletes on defense to stay with Notre Dame. I am not seeing anything to convince me that anything will be any different this year. So unless Notre Dame is super flat, they should have another big offensive day.

Where Notre Dame has had struggles is with the defense. We all remember last year when it was really a case of who had the ball last would win. When Notre Dame builds a defense each year, how to stop Navy is not at the top of the list of priorities. So the defense has to adjust for one week and that is tough considering you don't build a defense to stop Navy. Bob Diaco always had a more of a bend but don't break style and had inconsistent results with it.

Brian Van Gorder has a much different mindset. He likes to blitz, then blitz more, and then blitz some more. I am curious to see if he sits back a little more or if he just attacks it. If he attacks it, the results will be either big loss or big gain. In other words, if you go after them you better get there.

What has hurt the Irish in the past is the play of the fullback. This year it is Noah Copeland who has over 600 yards with 3 touchdowns. That is the one that I would gear to stop. I would assign Joe Schmidt to him and have him take him out on every play.

That would force QB Keenan Reynolds who has 639 yards and 11 touchdowns to match Jaylon Smith speed for speed on the outside. With all due respect to Reynolds, I don't think he can do that.

Notre Dame really should have no trouble winning this but they have a tendency to play down to the competition.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Playoff Process Looks Like a Complete Farce

Notre Dame comes it at #10 in the first ever college football playoff poll. Now there are worse places to be ranked. The Irish are ahead of 7 teams who have just one loss as well. Among those teams are Georgia, Ohio State, Nebraska, and future opponent Arizona State.

But there are teams in front of Notre Dame who shouldn't be. #9 is Kansas State whose only loss was to Auburn. But the Tigers have a loss as well and the Irish have only lost to an undefeated team.

At #8 is Michigan State and this one just irritates me. Where do I start? How about with the fact that the Irish beat them last year with Tommy Rees at quarterback? What do you think would happen this year with Everett Golson? Seriously!

Notre Dame picked the wrong year to not play them considering they beat them the last three times. But looking at this year, Sparty is in a weak conference and had a weak non-conference schedule other than Oregon who blew them out 46-27. How is that a more quality loss than a last second controversial loss to the defending national champs? How is it a quality loss at all? It is a bad loss. Their best win was Nebraska which is hard to convince me that they are better than Stanford.

At #7 is TCU. Their toughest non-conference game was Minnesota who is not as good as Stanford. Their loss was to Baylor in which they gave up 61 points. That is not quality at all.

At #6 is Alabama and I won't complain about that or about Oregon at #5.

What I really don't like is the SEC bias. Mississippi State, Auburn, and Ole Miss would all be in in spite of the fact that Ole Miss just lost and hasn't played anybody outside the SEC of significance. Neither has Mississippi State for that matter. I don't have too much of an issue with Auburn being there.

It is still early on the process but I don't like the early returns on this new system. It looks to be not as good as the BCS. In closing, remember that humans are biased and computers are not.

Lou Holtz Said Notre Dame Should Join a Conference

One of my favorite segments on ESPN is the weekly Final Verdict between Notre Dame legend Lou Holtz and Notre Dame hater Mark May. It is very entertaining. This week Holtz shocked me when he made a surprising suggestion for Notre Dame. He was arguing the case that in this playoff, only conference champions should be included. His argument was that if you are one of the 4 best teams in the nation, you should be able to win your conference.

Rece Davis then asked the obvious question of what about Notre Dame? I expected Holtz to say something along the lines of Notre Dame having different requirements as they did in the BCS era. But instead he said that they need to do what the basketball team did and join a conference.

I was shocked to hear him say that. I expect that from those who don't really know what Notre Dame is all about, but not from him. Notre Dame has too much tradition in being an independent to join a conference.

I do agree with him for the most part that the playoff should be for conference champs. But how you address Notre Dame is you  tell them their schedule has to have 10 out of 12 games against Power 5 teams. If they go unbeaten they are in and if they win 11 they are eligible to be picked.

What do you think of Lou Holtz's point of view?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just Cut Justin Brent Already

Up until two days ago, nobody even knew who Justin Brent was. He is a bench warmer who has not caught a single pass all season. I am not sure if that is due to being red shirted or just not being very good. Regardless, there are 100 receivers in the country who would love a chance at a school like Notre Dame. It is a privilege to wear the gold dome. With that comes certain standards that a player is expected to live by. One of those standards is to not do anything that would publicly embarrass the school.

Who a player dates is his own private business. But when you publicly post a picture of yourself with a porn star over the internet, it is no longer private. Instead of bragging to everybody about hooking up with her, he should have kept a private matter private. This was just dumb and is not the kind of distraction Notre Dame needs.

He should just get cut from the team. He can go to an SEC team. He would fit right in and would be a team captain.

This is one of the negatives that can happen on a bye week. I don't trust anybody with two first names anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2014

What My Criteria For The Playoffs Would Be and The SEC Would Hate It

I have been a bit of a critic of this new 4 team playoff for college football. The main reason is because it is left up to a selection committee whom have not really had a criteria for how they will select teams. Or at least they have not been transparent about it.

Another fear I have is the idea of human bias. I have a funny feeling that the SEC will get preferential treatment. They currently are considered the toughest conference. I have been a critic though because they really don't schedule tough non-conference games. For example, look at the two Mississippi schools who are the supposed darlings of college football right now. There is no doubt that they have taken care of business in conference, but their non-conference schedules are jokes. The Bulldogs have on their schedule Southern Mississippi, UAB, South Alabama, and Tennessee-Martin. The Rebels have Bosie State, Louisiana-Lafeyette, Memphis, and Presbyterian.

The SEC is known for this and their justification is that they play tough conference games. Nobody is denying that but if they truly are the best conference, they should have no problem with teams from the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, or PAC 12.

But looking at the current situation, only those two schools and Florida State remain unbeaten. The two Mississippi schools will play each other, so at least one of them will lose. That means that there will be some one loss teams to choose from.  Besides Notre Dame, there are currently 15 teams with just one loss. The SEC has Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn. The ACC has Duke. The Big 12 has Kansas State, Baylor, and TCU. The Big Ten has Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Finally, the PAC 12 has Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, and Utah. Many will play each other and knock each other out, but still it could be a sticky situation.

Earlier I was listening to ESPN radio talking about what will be the criteria for what teams they choose. They just said pick the 4 best teams. But the problem is that that is subjective. So in order to pick that out you need a process of elimination and that is where the criteria would really help.

I would have two simple criteria that would eliminate a lot. One would be that you have to be a Conference Champ. How can you be the best team in the country if you can't even win your conference. Now the obvious question is what about Notre Dame. For Notre Dame, make it simple. Go 12-0 and your in. Go 11-1 and your eligible to be selected. Seems simple to me.

But that begs the question is that there are 5 conferences and only 4 spots and if Notre Dame is in, it will be only 3. That brings be to the second criteria. That would be scheduling other power conferences. What I mean is that in order to make the playoff, you would have to have at least one win over a team from another power conference. If that criteria were in place, both Mississippi schools would be out for not playing a worthy schedule. Only TCU from the Big 12 would be alive. Only Nebraska from the Big Ten would be alive. Arizona from the PAC 12 would also be out.

On that scheduling note, it should also be a rule that to make the playoff, you are only allowed one FCS team. For Notre Dame not being in conference, I won't make it easy. 10 out of 12 games need to be against power 5 competition.

Prior to this, we had 3 unbeatens and 16 one loss teams. That is trying to pick 4 from 19. With this criteria of elimination, we got it down to 11 teams to choose from. Given that many will play each other, the odds are you may only have 6 teams to choose from in the playoff. That would almost take the subjectivity out of it. This seems like a fair way to do it. I am curious to see what the actual criteria is.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Teams I Will Be Rooting For This Weekend On The Bye Week

With Notre Dame not playing this week, Irish fans all over the country wonder what games they will be watching. Although the Irish aren't playing, there are games that could impact their playoff chances. With two Mississippi schools and all the other one loss teams, seeing a few of them go down wouldn't break my heart. So here are some of the teams I will be rooting for this weekend.

This one will be tough to root for but we picked the wrong year to leave Sparty off the schedule. Both of us have a single loss and we need them to lose. So I hope Michigan can pull off a miraculous upset against their in state rival.

It would really help if another PAC 12 team can knock off Oregon. Go Cal.

Although the Irish will open their next two seasons against Texas, this weekend they can help Notre Dame by pulling off a great upset against Kansas State. So for one weekend, Hook 'em Horns.

Although a traditional basketball power, this year they have a really good football team. Are they good enough to knock off Mississippi State? It will help Notre Dame if they are.

I am feeling good about this one. LSU can knock off Mississippi and end their fairy tale.

Tennessee used to be a regular opponent for Notre Dame. This weekend they can help the Irish by knocking off Alabama. That one might be tough but the Tide might be on a real high after demolishing Texas A & M.

Lou Holtz's other team, South Carolina, can help Notre Dame by knocking off Auburn. This one can happen.

Our last bowl opponent Rutgers can help by taking out Nebraska.

Finally, another old Notre Dame rival, Penn State, can get back on track with an upset of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Those are just a few games that the Irish fans can watch with interest this weekend. I will sit back and watch them and then next week is Navy week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tarean Folston Needs To Be The Featured Back At This Point

One of the few concerns the first weeks of this season was the Irish running game. Maybe the appropriate term is lack of running game. Coach Kelly used a three man rotation with Tarean Folston, Cam McDaniel, and Greg Bryant. The problem is that would never allow for one guy to get into a rhythm. I understand that Notre Dame has three talented backs and wanting to use them all, but here's the problem. We all agree that Malik Zaire is a talented young quarterback, but does that mean we will rotate him with Everett Golson? Of course not. Zaire can play in blow outs and will have a chance one day.

That is exactly how the running back situation should be handled as well. Folston has really done so much better these past two games when he was given a bulk of the carries. For the season he has 383 yards with 2 touchdowns. That may not seem like a lot but more than 200 of those yards came in the last 2 games. That gets back to the point of letting one guy get into a rhythm. He also showed in the North Carolina game his ability in receiving game as well. He caught 5 for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Bryant and McDaniel don't even have as many yards rushing as Golson. I am not saying we just kick them to the curb. They both can have valuable roles. McDaniel can be the bruising short yardage and goal line back. That is a very important role. Bryant can be brought in every now and then to spell Folston and be the change of pace.

So Bryant and McDaniel both have their places on this team, but the key to really getting the running game going is with Folston getting most of the carries.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Open Message To Florida State and Their Fans

Congrats on the win Florida State. I believe that referees are there for a reason and part of their job is to call penalties. I also believe that if it is a penalty on the first play of the game, it is a penalty on the last play of the game. So I will not complain about the call. 

However, here is what I do have a problem with. Spare me the the crap about "we know how to win." Acknowledge that you were very fortunate to get the victory. Was it a penalty? Yes. Would Robinson have scored if not for the pick? Not sure, but probably. I remember two years ago when we were lucky to dodge a missed field goal in OT to escape Pittsburgh. We weren't arrogantly saying "we know how to win." We were feeling fortunate to still be unbeaten. That is how Seminole fans should be looking at this. 

Celebrate your win. Fine. 23 straight wins is a big deal. You are on pace to win a second straight National Title. But at the same time acknowledge that you are a bit lucky that your winning streak is still alive. Good luck the rest of the way. I hope you not only win the rest of your games, but I hope you blow everybody off the face of the earth. The reason is that I want a rematch in the playoffs. Nothing was settled in this one and deep down you guys know that.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Congratulations Florida State, I Want a Rematch

Going into this game, I really did not know what to expect. Notre Dame was 6-0, but I like so many was still not sure how good this team is. Their signature wins were Michigan and Stanford. Michigan is horrible and the jury is still out on Stanford. Then last week North Carolina gave the Irish a scare. However, I have a feeling that that win will look better in the upcoming weeks. But the point is that there was real uncertainty as to how Notre Dame would match up against the elite teams in the nation.

Well, that question was answered by the end of the first quarter. Not only was this game on the road against the defending national champions, but it was probably the most hostile environment the Irish have seen in a long time. Often when Notre Dame is on the road or at a neutral site, the Irish fans are just as loud if not louder than the opposition. That was clearly not the case tonight. Before the game was the loudest tomahawk chop I have ever heard. But the Irish came out and were unphased by it.

They attacked the Seminoles and really dominated the line on both sides early. Notre Dame actually had a 17-10 halftime lead. Then the second half was back and forth. Notre Dame kept taking the lead, but Florida State kept answering it. It was not until the 4th quarter when the Seminoles took the lead at 31-27.

Then Notre Dame appeared to have come back late for the win when a touchdown got called back for offensive pass interference. It was a controversial ending and you hate to see a game get decided by a flag. But if it is a penalty, it is a penalty. By rule it was the correct call.

Although Notre Dame came up short, a lot of positives can come out of this one. This is the premier program in the country right now and the Irish dominated the line of scrimmage for much of the game. That is a much needed confidence boost for the offensive line.

Everett Golson was able to throw for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did have two more interceptions but one was on an attempt to win the game and he did not fumble. His best receivers were Corey Robinson who caught 8 for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns and Will Fuller who caught 8 for 79 yards and a touchdown.

Tarean Folston had another big day with 120 yards rushing. He has established himself has the primary runner.

The primary concern I would have is that the defense looked solid in the first half but really wore down in the second half. They could not stop the Seminoles in the second half.

But even with a loss, I have a much more certain feeling about this team going forward. Notre Dame's playoff hopes are alive and well. In fact, once it was apparent that this game was going down to the wire, I thought to myself that the final score is somewhat irrelevant because both teams will be in the playoffs if they win out.

The reason why I am so certain of that is because of how the schedule is set up. After a bye, the Irish have their third neutral site game against traditional rival Navy. That is kind of a tune up game for 4 really tough games to finish it up. They have two road PAC 12 road trips to Arizona State and USC. Northwestern really has been up and down in the Big 10 and Louisville is no slouch as their last ACC opponent. The good thing about it is that the Navy game is first which means no more trap games.

For Florida State, they do not have a team on that schedule who will challenge them with the possible exception of Louisville.

What also helps is the fact that Baylor lost and is likely out of the picture due to a weak non-conference schedule. That will make it tough for the Big 12 to be represented because all the teams could end up with multiple losses. In the SEC the two Alabama schools and two Mississippi schools still have to play each other and will knock each other out. In the Big 10, Michigan State and Ohio State will cancel each other out when they play. Oregon could possibly get in if they win out but they still have a brutal PAC 12 schedule ahead.

Bottom line is that Notre Dame will make the playoffs still as long as they win out. So I really have just two things to say to Florida State and their fans. 1) Congratulations and great game. 2) I want a rematch.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Notre Dame And Florida State Both Have Questions About Their Teams

It is just a day away. The game we have been talking about since Notre Dame's schedule game out. Two teams who have played in the last two BCS Title Games. Both have quarterbacks who know nothing but winning. Neither team has lost a regular season game with their current quarterbacks. Both teams have hard hitting defenses. But both teams have had their problems with the offensive line.

Turnovers for both offenses have been a problem in recent weeks as well. Although both teams are 6-0, there is still questions about how good either team is because at this point, neither has really played a tough schedule. Neither program can be faulted for that though. 

Notre Dame Scheduled annual Big Ten rivals Michigan and Purdue. It is not the Irish's fault those teams aren't up to par this year. Florida State cannot help who is in their conference. They were not that impressive in their opener against Oklahoma State. But Oklahoma State is a legit program and has not lost since. Their only other notable game was Clemson. In that game, Jameis Winston was suspended. The Tigers were in position to win but self destructed. Florida State knows how to win. The following week they had a let down against North Carolina State. They were down 24-7 after one quarter before they put together a huge rally in the second half. 

Getting back to the Irish, they had a similar situation after the Stanford game when North Carolina got a big lead in minutes before the Irish got going. So neither team is really been that battle tested this season. It is hard to say how good Clemson, Oklahoma State, and Stanford are at this point. We shall see how as the season plays out and how they do in their conferences.

To this point, they have had one common opponent is Syracuse and the score was very similar in both cases. Notre Dame won 31-15 while Florida State was 38-20. That is almost equal. 

This is really a hard one to predict because there is still a lot that needs to be found out about both teams. This is really Notre Dame's first true road game. They only had two neutral field games up to this. It is also their first game on grass. That is an advantage for the Seminoles. But where Notre Dame will have an edge is that they will have a bigger chip on their shoulder. 

Time for talk is done. Let's get it on. 

Go Irish!!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why I Will Not Bash Florida State For How They Have Handled Jameis Winston

For weeks leading up to this game, I have heard from so many fellow Irish fans bashing Jameis Winston and Florida State and how they have handled him. They say, "If he were at Notre Dame he wouldn't make it." That may be true, but that doesn't mean we are right. Each school handles it's discipline it's own way and yes some are better than others.

But looking at all the incidents involving Winston, I am not sure I can blame Florida State or Jimbo Fisher for anything. Let's go case by case. First up was an alleged rape. That was a bunch of "he said/she said." Nothing was proven and no criminal charges were filed. Could the team have suspended him? Sure, but I don't think there is anything wrong with letting the legal system handle it and then determining appropriate action. Now, if it comes out that the school covered things up, that is a different story. But so far there is no evidence of that.

Next up, was when he went into a store and stole crab legs while trying to say he just forgot to pay for them. That was horrible, but that was during baseball season and he is on the baseball team. That means that at that time he was the responsibility of the baseball team. They suspended him for the rest of the season. So if I am Jimbo Fisher and the football team, I ask, "What do you want from us?"

Next was the really obscene gesture that took place during the week. Now if this was a stand alone incident, nobody would care. He did get suspended for the Clemson game which is a bigger game to them than Notre Dame. If they would have lost that game, the Seminoles would not play in the ACC Championship. The punishment fit the crime. One game was appropriate for that.

Now we have the autograph allegations. All we have is speculation at this point. If it comes out that he did take money, he will get the consequences coming to him. But I am going to give Florida State the benefit of the doubt right now. I am not sure I would have done anything different based on the facts that I have.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Everett Golson and Jameis Winston Have Followed Similar Paths

Everett Golson and Jameis Winston are two of the premier quarterbacks in all of college football. They both led their teams to the BCS Title game as Redshirt Freshmen. The obvious difference is that Winston finished the job. Both are winners. Neither has lost a regular season game as a starter.

Both have had their off the field troubles. Golson lost a whole year of eligibility due to cheating on a test. Winston has just trouble follow him everywhere. None of us know what happened with that girl, so it really is a bunch of he said/she said. But then he stole crab legs from a store and claimed he just forgot to pay for them. That action got him suspended from the baseball team the rest of the year. Then earlier this season, he got suspended a game for yelling a really obscene remark. Now he might be involved with signing autographs for money. So while both have had their troubles, it does appear that Golson has at least learned from his mistakes.

On the field their numbers this season are similar as well. Golson 1683 yards passing with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 6 games. Winston has 1605 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 5 games. Where Golson has an edge on him is in the running game. He has 209 yards with 4 touchdowns while Winston has just 38 yards and 2 touchdowns. Of course, Winston has not fumbled 5 times the last 3 games.

But the thing that these two have in common above all else is that they both are at their best with the game on the line. That is a big reason why neither has tasted defeat in the regular season. That will obviously change for one of them this weekend. But neither will want it to be him. The drama is just crazy thinking about that.

Game Will Mean More to Notre Dame in Terms of Making Playoffs

Now I will talk about the game of the year. I am the type of person who refuses to put up a Christmas tree until the day after Thanksgiving. Along those same lines, I have been annoyed the past few weeks hearing all the talk about our game with Florida State. I deal with one game at a time. I refused to talk about Florida State until the final tick of the North Carolina game.

Now it is time to hype the crap out of it. For Notre Dame, this is in all sense a playoff game. I know it is only the half way point of the season, but whether or not the Irish ultimately make the playoffs will be greatly influenced by what happens in this game.

There are three scenarios that can happen after this game for the chances of Notre Dame making the playoffs.

Scenario #1-Irish Win

Notre Dame wins and they control their own destiny. A victory would certainly put the Irish in the top 4 and as long as they keep winning, they make the Final Four.

Scenario #2-Irish lose a close one

Looking at the schedule before the season, I thought that if there is one game Notre Dame can lose and still make the playoffs this is the one. They will still have two PAC 12 road trips to Arizona State and USC. Both are among the best in the conference. They also play Northwestern at home who is suddenly making some noise in the Big Ten. Louisville is their last ACC game and they are no slouch either. So there is still plenty of opportunity to impress the committee even with a loss.

But here is the thing. They have to at least be close to Florida State. By close, I mean within single digits. We will also have to get help and hope many of the Power five champs have multiple losses.

That is obviously a much less comfortable path.

Scenario #3-Irish get beat handedly

Bottom line is that if Notre Dame loses by two touchdowns or more, they are done. What they do the rest of the season will mean nothing in terms of making the playoffs.

Conversely, Florida State will not be impacted at all by this game in terms of them making the playoffs. Of course, they will come ready because everybody wants to beat Notre Dame. But still, it will have no impact on the selection process.

They are the reigning national champs. If they lose this game, they fall maybe to #5 or #6. That will not matter because SEC and Big 12 teams will knock each other out. The Seminoles will win the ACC and have a victory over Florida. Being that they already have a non-conference win over Oklahoma State, there is no way they get denied regardless of what the outcome of this game is.

This is huge game for both programs, but make no mistake of it. It is much bigger for the Irish in terms of making the playoffs.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tarean Folston Has Huge Day as Notre Dame Avoids Trap and Becomes Bowl Eligible

We were all afraid of North Carolina being a trap game. Whenever you are coming off an emotional win and you have the #1 team in the nation and defending champs on deck, it is so easy for a let down to occur. Top that with the fact that the team you are playing is actually better than their record indicates at least on offense anyway. Those are the kind of conditions in which upsets occur.

The way this game started, that is exactly what it would like. Everett Golson missed his first five passes. He also fumbled which set up an early touchdown. He also threw a pick six.

But right after that, North Carolina was put on their Tar Heels. Notre Dame scored touchdowns on four straight possessions. The Irish hung 50 points in all. Despite his continued problems with turnovers, Golson threw for 300 yards with three touchdowns. He also rushed for 71 yards.

Will Fuller had another big day receiving with with 7 catches for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has really established himself as the go to receiver.

But the offensive star of this game was Tarean Folston. Notre Dame hadn't been able to run the ball until today. Folston ran for 98 yards with 2 touchdowns. He was also a factor in the passing game as he caught 5 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. He had the hot legs today among the running backs so Coach Kelly stuck with him rather than rotate. That is the right thing to do and I hope it stays like that.

The defense had it's toughest day in surrendering 36 points. The quick movement by Notrh Carolina made it tough for the defense to get the signals and substitutions in. Also the short field on the turnovers did not help. Multi-threat quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 303 yards with two touchdowns.Williams was their leading runner as well with 132 yards and a touchdown. He even caught a touchdown from 23 yards.

In spite the struggles, Notre Dame got the win and became bowl eligible at 6-0. Although the bigger goals are still out there, becoming bowl is the first step in making the playoffs. Now it is time for the game we have all been waiting for as the Irish prepare to travel to Tallahassee. This one will be hyped all week and ESPN will be at the game for game day.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Irish Need to Beware of Trap Against North Carolina

When I first saw this season's schedule, the match up with North Carolina stuck out like a sore thumb. That is not because the Tar Heels on paper poses a serious threat to Notre Dame. On paper, The Irish should win this one easily. North Carolina gave up 70 points to East Carolina and are giving up an average of 41 points a game. That is a real chance for Everett Golson and company to have a big day offensively.

The Tar Heel offense does have a little explosiveness to it. They are led by Junior quarterback Marquise Williams who has 1083 yards passing with 9 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Williams is also the leading rusher with 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. Having said that, his numbers aren't even close to Golson's and this is without a doubt the toughest defense they have seen all year.

But what is dangerous about North Carolina is their placement on the schedule. They are sandwiched in between Stanford and Florida State. That of course would bring up the obvious concern of a trap game. After coming off such a big win against The Cardinal and with the Seminoles on deck, it is so easy to look past this game. That is what is dangerous. Not only that, but teams also have a way of getting up for Notre Dame. And although this team has not had a good start to the season, they were ranked at #23 in the Preseason poll. That means that they were expected to be better and potentially could be better than their record indicates.

Bottom line is, Notre Dame needs to come to South Bend ready to play the Tar Heels. I don't see Notre Dame losing this game, but I can see it being a lot closer than it needs to be if they are looking ahead. As exciting as that game was last week, I think I speak for all Irish fans when I say I have no interest in a close game this week. Notre Dame needs to put this one away by half time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Would Bringing The Five Players Back Do Anybody Any Good At This Point?

This is my one and only article on this subject. I am not into worrying about who is not there and would rather focus on the players we do have. Nobody knows the truth but that will eventually come out. But the bottom line is this. The season will already be half over after this next game. That means that if they were to come back tomorrow they would have lost a half season of eligibility. For them, they would be better served to just sit this one out and then either transfer or come back next season.

For the team, fitting them in at this point may be tougher than you think. Davaris Daniels would have to work his way back among Will Fuller, Amir Carlisle, Corey Robinson, Chris Brown, etc. Notre Dame is loaded at receiver and Everett Golson already has chemistry with the other receivers.

For Ishaq Williams, Kendall Moore, and KeVarae Russell, they have to work their way back into a new system half way through the season. Although Bob Diaco and Brian Van Gorder are both great defensive minds, their systems and styles are totally different. If that isn't enough of a challenge, with as great as the defense has done all year who would you take out?

For Eilar Hardy, his spot on the bench has already been taken. It will probably be hard for him to find another one.

For the school, they are taking a major chance on getting future sanctions with the NCAA by letting these guys back. Although the school may find nothing, the NCAA is unpredictable. Therefore, the safest thing for Notre Dame to do to avoid sanctions is sit them out and is some if not all of them transfer, then so be it. That is much better than risking any kind of probation.

Based on all that, I would like to have them back but I am really not sure the risk is worth the reward.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Notre Dame Gives Coaches and Fan Base Heart Attacks In Win Over Stanford

WOW! What a game! This was a classic in the history of the Notre Dame-Stanford rivalry.

Going into it, I didn't really know what to expect. The reason being that I really didn't know how good either team was. Sure The Irish have been dominant and were 4-0, but their opponents were a combined 7-12 with no wins over teams from major conferences. There were just as many questions about The Cardinal. Shut out wins over Army and UC Davis are nothing to write home about. They had also lost a defensive struggle to USC and was very shaky a week ago in beating Washington.

One thing we did know was that this was going to be the toughest defense Notre Dame has seen all year. Going into the game, Stanford had only given up 26 points all season. This defense also is a veteran group with mostly seniors.

Take that and combine it with the worst weather conditions of the season so far, you would conclude that Everett Golson and company would have a really tough day. And they did. Golson had a fumble and an interception early. That led to a Kevin Hogan rushing touchdown on a drive that only required 10 yards. Not only that but Golson completed less than half of his throws and really was off on many of them.

But give him credit. He responded by making a run over 30 yards that led to a touchdown pass to Chris Brown. He also led an early fourth quarter drive that ended in a heck of a kick by Kyle Brindza from 45 yards. That gave the Irish a short lived lead. Stanford then put together a long time consuming drive that ended in an 11 touchdown run from local kid Redmound Wright. There were only three and a half minutes left. Golson had one last chance and he made the most of it. On 4th and 11, he found an unlikely hero in Tight End Ben Koyack in the endzone to take the lead with only minute left. Koyack has not caught many passes all season and only had one for five yards all day.

Golson finished with 241 yards and two touchdowns. Given the weather conditions and the fact that this is one of the best defenses in the nation, that is pretty damn good. His best receivers were Brown and Corey Robinson who came to life in the 4th quarter. The Irish finally got a little production from the running game with Cam McDaniel who had 41 yards. McDaniel was the primary featured back in this game and it seemed to pay off a little.

One guy who really deserves a lot of credit is Hunter Smith. This young man had a hard time handling the snaps in the weather conditions. Holding is not easy to begin with but in weather like this, it is even tougher. For him to botch two and still have the confidence to come back and put a critical one down says a lot about him.

Now for the studs of this game, the defense. Under Brian VanGorder, this young unit has really been impressive. Guys like Jaylon Smith and Max Redfield are really beginning to make names for themselves. It is a totally different style from Bob Diaco's bend but don't break style. This is all out attack bringing everybody. Other than that one long drive late, Stanford's offense was able to nothing all day. Their leading rusher was Wright with only 29 yards. Hogan was intercepted twice by Cole Luke and he only had 158 yards passing. The unit brought the house at Hogan on the final drive that forced him to throw an intentional grounding ball. That caused a runoff that ended the game.

From the time of Brindza's kick to the intentional grounding Irish fans everywhere had their hearts beating over 100. It was never a safe feeling until the final seconds ticked. With the win, the Irish move to 5-0 and will likely jump a few spots with Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A & M, and UCLA all losing.

Going forward, Notre Dame has North Carolina next followed by a trip to Tallahassee for a showdown with Florida State. They also end the season with two PAC 12 road trips to Arizona State and USC. Northwestern is starting to play really good football and Louisville is looking good too. If Notre Dame makes it to the playoffs, nothing would have been handed to them.

Go Irish! Great Win!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Stanford Appears To Be Notre Dame's Toughest Opponent So Far

As Notre Dame looks to add to it's 4-0 record, fans are excited yet curious about just how good the Irish are. Sure they have looked dominant for the most part, it has been against four really weak teams. Now here comes another traditional rival in Stanford into South Bend. When you think of Stanford, you think of a tough physical team that loves to run the ball. So on paper, this looks like a great game like the OT thriller two years ago.

But the reality is that the jury is still out on both teams. Stanford looks to have a very impressive defense as they have two shut outs in four games. Over all, the defense has surrendered only two touchdowns in four games. But those shut outs were against UC Davis and Army. That is clearly inferior competition.

Offensively, they have new starters on the line which has hurt their once great running attack. The leading runner is Barry Sanders with just 153 yards and a good chunk of that came in those two easy games. I think Notre Dame fans can relate to this on.

Kevin Hogan is now a Junior. He has less yardage and less touchdowns than Everett Golson. His best receiver is Ty Montgomery who has 26 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

Stanford is 3-1 but I am not sure how impressive that is considering their one loss was to USC at home and they struggled to beat Washington who nearly lost to Hawaii.  Although we can hope for a good game, we will really only know that one team is out and will not know how good the winning team is. A loss will all but kill Stanford's playing chances. Notre Dame will have to win all games it seems to get in.