Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Help Wanted - Need More Writers

We at Domer Sports Report are looking for more help. We are looking for more help in the form of a couple of more writers. The topics that the new writers would cover would include football, men's basketball, women's basketball as well as other Notre Dame sports updates. If interested, please email Mark at mkallen3@sbcglobal.net.

We are also looking for more members of our message board. The board seems to be picking up, with a solid core of posters. But, as is usually the case on message boards, the more, the merrier. So, come on in and join us. Tell your friends about us, too. To go to the message board, click here. That is the message board index. You will find the registration link in the upper right part of the board. There is still time to get involved in our prediction contest. We hope to see you there!

We will also be having another chat this coming Thursday at 8 p.m. est.. The chat room link is located in the right margin of this page. It's pretty easy to use. All you do is click on the link, enter a user name and click login. In a matter of seconds you will be in the room. We hope to see you there! Remember, please feel free to comment below this article or on the board if another day and time works out better for you. We will sure take that into consideration.

I also wanted to remind viewers to please click on our ads. That really helps us out. So, whether it is a google ad, yardbarker ad or any other ad on the site, please click them. We will use proceeds from these ads for prizes in our prediction contest. We also have a shop for all of your Notre Dame needs. You will find our Amazon.com shop in the right margin and also at the bottom of the page. We have a lot more products than those shown on the page. Click the Amazon ad to be taken to our shop. Thanks ahead of time!

Go Irish!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Notre Dame (2-1) vs. Purdue (2-1): Previewing Tiller's Last Trip to South Bend

College Football, Big Ten Football, Independents Football, Purdue Football, Joe Tiller, Charlie Weis, Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame Football, Curtis Painter, Kory Sheets, Preview/Prediction

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By Nick Shepkowski of Domer Sports Report

A year ago we remember the match up in which the Irish waited until they trailed, 23-0, before showing any signs of life in West Lafayette. That game was a coming out party of sorts as Golden Tate emerged on the scene with a touchdown on three receptions for over 100 yards receiving. As the story goes, we all remember that it would take until week one of 2008 to hear from Golden in such a way again.

When the Boilermakers enter South Bend this Saturday they will be led under the Golden Dome one last time under the reigns of head coach Joe Tiller. Tiller, who will retire at the end of the season became Purdue's all-time winningest coach last week, passing Jack Mollenkopf. Tiller looks to finish his career against Notre Dame right at the .500 mark as he enters Saturday 5-6 all time against the Fighting Irish, but only 1-4 in South Bend. Often under appreciated, one can not argue that Joe Tiller has put Purdue football back on the map after a rough start to the 1990's.

The Boilermakers come in fresh off of a come from behind win against familiar foe, Central Michigan. Trailing by one with under two minutes to go, Kory Sheets took a handoff 46 yards to give Purdue their second win of the season. What must Notre Dame do in order to keep Purdue from leaving South Bend with a 3-1 mark Saturday? Lets take a look...

The Purdue offense enters dangerous as usual, led by very possibly the most pro-ready quarterback in next years NFL Draft, Curtis Painter. Painter may not have the same kind of weapons around him like he has in years past, but is still a dangerous quarterback who will not let the hectic Notre Dame blitz get in his head. Painter is coming off of an impressive 27-of-36 showing against Central Michigan where he threw for 261 yards and a touchdown. One negative of Painter so far this fall, his interception total matches his touchdown total with three a piece. Don't worry too much about him fleeing the pocket, but when Notre Dame blitzes it will be important they get to him in a hurry because he will make them pay if they fail to.

Kory Sheets carries the bulk of the weight in the Purdue run game as he enters leading the team in touchdowns with six, and two of them coming one week ago. Personally, I would like to see the Irish slow down Sheets and make Painter beat them. I'm not saying Painter is a bad quarterback by any means as I have already stated how pro-ready he is, but his receivers this year aren't quite the receivers of previous Purdue teams.

Kevin Smith, Greg Orton, and Desmond Tardy are Painters go-to guys, all averaging over 50 yards a game this season. On third down and long Irish fans be wary as these will be the weapons of choice, don't expect any of these three to be the reason Purdue may walk out victorious on Saturday, if they do it will because of Kory Sheets.

The inability to run the football killed multiple drives early on in this past Saturday's game against Michigan State. This is a game where there should be no excuse for the Irish to not be able to run the football effectively. If they fail to, there will be nobody to blame besides themselves.

Purdue enters this week having major problems stopping the run. A week ago Central Michigan was able to spout off just under four yards a carry for the entire afternoon against the Boilers. Previous to that, Oregon ran all over the Purdue defense in a game they averaged 7.1 yards per carry, on their way to a 306 yard day on the ground. As I stated, expect Charlie Weis and Notre Dame to try and use the combination of Robert Hughes, Armando Allen, and James Aldridge. If Notre Dame can't run the football against Purdue, then I am scared to see what the rest of the season brings in this department.Although Purdue is better against the pass than they are the run, they have still had troubles this season in stopping teams through the air. The Ducks of Oregon aired out right at 200 yards of passing offense while Central Michigan's Dan Lefevour threw for 291 yards a week ago. The defensive line is the strong point of the Purdue defense, but if the Irish line can give Jimmy Clausen time, much like they did against Michigan, expect Clausen to have a big day if the running game fails.

Remember the game plan against Michigan which was to try and use play-action early on to take advantage of the weak secondary of the Wolverines? Expect the exact opposite this Saturday. I fully expect to see Notre Dame come out and try to pound away at the Purdue defense on the ground, then setting up a play-action deep ball. Then again, if the Irish have success running they may not stop either.

Special teams on both sides of the ball will be an exhibit in what not to do this Saturday. Both Purdue and Notre Dame enter this weekend with subpar field goal units. Sadly the edge probably does go to Notre Dame in this department as they have at least covered kicks slightly better than Purdue to this point in the season. I hope this game does not come down to field goals because it could last until eternity if it did.

I would like to see a few things from the Fighting Irish this Saturday that would let me breathe easier and be able to expect a win.

1 - Stop a Third and Long...Please!
Each opponent has converted a third down and long this season and wound up getting points as a result. It would be nice to see the Irish not allow a Purdue first down this weekend when they give the Boilermakers over seven yards to get.

2 - No Dumb Penalties...Enough said but I'll say more!
A week ago we saw Sam Young get called for a personal foul while the Irish were setting up show in their first possession of the game. It may not have directly amounted in points for Michigan State, but it killed any hopes of Notre Dame picking up a third down and did not help in the field position battle. Its a little thing but it goes a long way at the end of the day.

3 - Turnovers...Must win this battle!
The last two weeks Notre Dame has been given a free lesson in winning the turnover battle. Michigan was obviously for the better and MSU for the worse. Win the turnover battle, convert turnovers into points and 9 out of 10 times you win the game.

4 - Let Golden make a play!
Golden Tate has emerged as legit playmaker on this offense. There aren't a whole lot of go-to guys like this on Notre Dame for the time being. He's a weapon and a proven go-to guy so far this season. When he gets touches good things happen, so make sure he gets the ball in his hands.

Prediction Time:

The Irish run game takes steps in the right direction while mixing in some long passes along the way as well. After seeing amongst the best running games in the nation a week ago Notre Dame slows down Purdue in that aspect...

Nick (3-0): Notre Dame 27 Purdue 21
Mark (3-0): Notre Dame 34 Purdue 21
Joe (2-1): Wait to See...

Domer Sports Report Chat - Thursdays at 8

Like to talk about Notre Dame sports? Have a gripe? Are you excited about the upcoming game? Are you still dwelling on the past game? Well, we are the place for you! Domer Sports Report now has a chat room.

Initially, Domer Sports Report will have scheduled chats, regularly, on Thursdays at 8. The first one will be held on Thursday, September 25, 2008. To be taken to the chat room, please click here. It's easy. All you do is choose a user name, enter it and click login. In a few seconds you are there. You all are invited. We hope to see as many of you as possible over in our chat room. So, whether you love Notre Dame or are an opponent, you are welcome!

We'd also like to invite you to our message board. The board seems to be building up nicely, lately. But, the more, the merrier. So, come on over and join in on the fun. There is also still time to enter our prediction contest.

We also have exciting news for the future. We are currently researching the possibility of having an internet radio show. Once we finalize the plans we will let you know. So, we hope that you will join in and participate. You can just listen or actually call in with your comments and questions.

Joe, Nick and I (Mark) look forward to seeing you in chat as well as on the message board!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pucker, Pucker, Pucker!: Notre Dame set to Invade East Lansing this Saturday

By: Nick Shepkowski

Two years, its really been that long? It seems like just yesterday I was sitting by my computer in my dorm room, listening to all the things in the world that went wrong for the Spartans in East Lansing by none other than Mike Valenti. In a way, that was a turning point for MSU as they struggled the rest of the season and replaced John L. Smith with Mark Danton
io after 2006. Needless to say, its been a change for the better in Spartan-land.

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame hit the road this weekend for the first time in 2008 as they enter East Lansing in hopes of improving to 3-0 on the year. Fresh off of a 35-17 victory over Michigan, the Irish must improve on a few aspects of the game if they hope to pull an upset as they enter as 8.5 point underdogs to a 2-1 Michigan State team.

When Michigan State has the Ball:

Irish fans meet Javon Ringer.

Remember him? Hes the guy who has been tormenting the Irish for the past decade or so it seems when its really only been the past three seasons. He will enter Saturday just shy of 500 rushing yards with a total of 498 as he runs for just under five a carry at 4.8 yards per attempt. Simply put, stop him or even slow him down and the chances of pulling out a win in East Lansing sky rocket.

What is concerning about the fact that Ringer is the go-to man offensively is how the Irish performed last week against Sam McGuffie of Michigan. Only a freshman, McGuffie was able to scrap off 131 yards on twenty-five carries. Ringer is bigger, stronger, faster, and more experienced than McGuffie so the Irish defensive front will have no choice but to improve before this weekend.

Michigan State fans were very high on Brian Hoyer entering this season after he showed potential in his first season as the starting quarterback a year ago. Unfortunately for Spartan fans, Hoyer has struggled through the first three weeks of 2008, completing only 44% of his passes with just one touchdown thrown. The good of Hoyer? He's thrown just one pick so far in 75 attempts. It's obvious what this means Irish fans - make Michigan State put the ball in the air. Be able to do so and the Irish should be in business.

The Irish will also find a very capable deep threat in East Lansing this Saturday with Mark Dell. He has been the go to man for the Spartans in passing situations as he has hauled in over a third of the teams 36 receptions with thirteen of his own for 320 yards. BJ Cunningham is thrown to about half as much, but has still pulled in eight catches, averaging 17.4 yards per reception. Sure the stats with this are a bit intimidating, but remember, Hoyer's percentage of completed passes and know that getting pressure on the quarterback will be key. If the Irish can "make" him make a play instead of "let" him make a play they should be okay in pass defense.

To sum up the defense as a whole this weekend, I feel the Irish should do all in their power to control the running game and take their chances against Michigan State's passing game. Hoyer hasn't seen quite a defense like Notre Dame's so far this season. Do I mean the Irish bring that great of one to East Lansing? No. I mean what Notre Dame's gameplan consists of, which is blitz, blitz, and blitz again for the most part. To a quarterback that has not seen it before or at least - this season, this can reek havoc, expect the Irish to try and use that to their advantage in obvious passing downs.

When Notre Dame has the ball:

We saw Jimmy Clausen come alive in the fourth quarter against San Diego State and keep the momentum going into the first half against Michigan. Obviously, the weather and score of the game changed the Notre Dame gameplan for the second half, but the key stat to me from one week ago was the number 3.3. The Irish entered with a struggling running game and faced one of the best front-seven units in college football with Michigan, a team that was allowing right at one yard a carry against opponents entering last Saturday.

The Spartans bring a defense to the game Saturday which struggled very much against Cal in week one. Allowing 467 yards of total offense that day, as Michigan State struggled to find a way to slow down the Bears. I hope to see good weather this Saturday in East Lansing because this is a game where I feel the Irish are capable of throwing the ball around once again.

Coming off of last week it is easy to say this, but against Michigan State, I feel that it will be crucial for Notre Dame to get an early lead and to not turn the ball over. Golden Tate has been the go-to guy so far when the Irish have needed a play and for the most part he has come through for the Irish in 2008. The defense of Michigan State has allowed big plays this year, there is no reason why the Irish shouldn't be able to break one or two again this week.

Michigan State brings in talent, but a lot of question marks still lie in their defense where experience is not there in most respects. I feel that this game is going to turn into a shootout to some degree based on both teams defenses.

Notre Dame is facing a front-seven which is not nearly as talented as that of Michigan was. What does that mean exactly for the Irish? Success in establishing a running game as well as the ability to give Jimmy Clausen time to throw the ball down field. I would be surprised if the Irish offense can't put at least 24 points on the board this weekend.

Looking at special teams, that of Notre Dame's has come on very strong this season. Last week there were only two real mishaps, one when Armando Allen fielded a ball that was going out of bounds and gave the Irish poor field position, the other when a third quarter punt was partially deflected. Other than that special teams came up huge for Notre Dame, keeping Michigan deep in their own territory, something they need to do to Michigan State again this week.

I'll be honest, before writing this article and researching Michigan State a bit more, I did not like the Irish's chances too much in East Lansing. However, if Notre Dame can catch a couple of breaks and be able to do the things I talked about they should be in it late in the ballgame and we all know anything can happen then.

Unfortunately, I feel this week will be a bit of a hiccup for Notre Dame as Javon Ringer will prove to be just too much to handle.

Nick(2-0): Michigan State 34 Notre Dame 28
Mark (2-0): Michigan State 24, Notre Dame 13
Joe (1-1):
Michigan State 34 Notre Dame 31 OT

...and they say Notre Dame fans never think their team has even a chance of losing. Let's hope for the best on Saturday.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

WWR 2.0

By Nick Shepkowski

A few short years ago the campus of Notre Dame was blessed by the presence of the likes of Maurice Stovall, Jeff Samardzija, and Rhema McKnight, forming WWR (Weis Wide Receivers) 1.0 . My fellow followers of football, under the watch of Touchdown Jesus, a new core of receivers has shown its face on Notre Dame's campus and in my eyes looks to be even better than the aforementioned names. That's right, Duval Kamara, Michael Floyd, and Golden Tate will not only equal what Stovall, Shark and McKnight offered, they will be better.

How scary this young group of wide outs has to be for opposing defenses can't be fun to think about. We saw flashes in the pan of what Kamara can do in a jump ball situation against a cornerback in the endzone, with notable catches against Navy last year and Michigan this past week. Need someone to go to in one-on-one coverage? Kamara is amongst the best in the business in the college today, as a sophomore.
What Jeff Samardzija was able to do in a Notre Dame uniform is unbelievable considering how unknown he was a very short time before bringing on his stardom. Samardzija is the kind of receiver I expect to see Michael Floyd be one day. As a freshman Floyd was shown the awareness and leaping ability you expect to see from a veteran, not a player who has now seen the field in only two career college football games.
Michael Floyd already does many things very well, but has time to get even that much better. Floyd has shown his ability to go up for a jump ball much like Kamara is able to do, but he also shows the ability to run away from defensive backs just like we saw from Samardzija. Already seeing valuable playing time as a freshman, expect Floyd to turn into amongst the best wide outs in the nation before his tenure under the Golden Dome is complete.
The biggest play maker of the youthful group so-far in 2008 has to be none other than Golden Tate. Whether it has been a late fourth quarter drive where the Irish face an obvious passing down while needing a first down, or in a surprise deep fly route, Golden Tate has continued to impress early in 2008.
When Tate came onto the scene against Purdue last season he seemed like he was plenty capable of running a fly route, but what scared me was how he struggled in getting open if he wasn't trying to run right by a defender. It is safe to say that Tate has figured out how to go about doing just that.

Whether it was being a key cog in two fourth quarter drives against San Diego State or the receiver of the third touchdown in the win against Michigan, Tate has turned the corner. Not only has he improved in his ability to run routes, he has become the best route runner on this Notre Dame team. He has caught on very quickly, learning proper separation techniques that are even more key because of his lack of height compared to others.

Notre Dame fans have cried about not having anyone to throw the ball to since the departures of Samardzija and McKnight at the end of 2006. Led by Golden Tate, Duval Kamara, and Michael Floyd it is my true belief the wait is over. WWR 2.0 is currently in development and will be even better than its original in due time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Michigan at ND: Did You Notice?

By Joe Pierce

  • Notre Dame hadn't scored 21 points in the first quarter of any game during Charlie Weis' tenure until Saturday? Let's hope the trend continues.

  • Sergio Brown does a fine job running with receivers, but never turns around to look for the ball.

  • After Brian Smith's fumble recovery for a TD, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez covered his mouth while he yelled at the people in the booth. I guess he didn't want NBC to read his lips and see who he was ripping.

  • Hammond and Haden brought up the arch-nemesis of Notre Dame and Lou Holtz, Mr. Mark May? I agree, I think Lou was happy to get away from him for a day, too.

By the Numbers vs. Michigan

By Joe Pierce

The number of sacks allowed by Notre Dame through two games.

The number of consecutive games Notre Dame allowed a sack before this season.

The number of turnovers forced by David Bruton inside Notre Dame's five yard line this season.

Golden Tate's previous single-game high for yardage before gaining 127 against Michigan Saturday.

Lou Holtz' record as Notre Dame's coach. Holtz was honored before the game with the dedication of a statue in Notre Dame Stadium.

The last year Notre Dame won the National Championship. Their 20th anniversary was honored this weekend.

Report Card vs. Michigan

By Joe Pierce

QB: B+
Jimmy Clausen lead the team well, and made some key passes to put Michigan out of the game. However, you can't ignore the fact that he threw two pretty bad interceptions. One thing's certain, though - Jimmy Clausen's the real deal.

RB: B+
Notre Dame's RB-by-committee trio played pretty well, lead by Robert Hughes' two TDs. James Aldridge contributed with some tough running in the red zone, but Armando Allen played sparingly and poorly, mustering up only 4 yds on two carries. I want to see someone emerge as the featured back.

Golden Tate is a star, Michael Floyd is a star in the making, and Duval Kamara rebounded from his poor game last week to score a touchdown on a beautiful jump ball in the end zone. The TEs were quiet in the receiving game, but must be contributing in the blocking game by helping keep Jimmy Clausen clean two weeks in a row.

OL: A+
The big guys didn't allow a sack for the second week in a row, and imposed their will on a very tough Michigan front seven. Trevor Robinson made his Notre Dame debut, spelling Chris Stewart at RG.

They were more active than last week, and Pat Kuntz played well, but they were gashed all day by Michigan RB Sam McGuffie. Michigan State will destroy them next week if they don't get it together.

LB: B-
They made some nice highlight reel plays, including Bryan Smith's fumble recovery for a TD, but they need to take some blame for the poor run defense.

DB: A+
David Bruton, Sergio Brown, and Kyle McCarthy pace the defense and are true playmakers. I also believe that Saturday was Raeshon McNeil's coming out party. I haven't seen him play this well his entire career at Notre Dame.

ST: B+
A punt was tipped, but they recovered a muffed kickoff and pinned Michigan deep most of the day. Mike Anello is one of the best gunners I've ever seen.

Overall: B+
This was a terrific and fun game to watch, but there were mistakes made, too. If Notre Dame makes the same mistakes against Michigan State next week, the outcome will be significantly different.

Irish Win Revenge, Respect Against Wolverines

By Joe Pierce

Who knows what is was - Lou Holtz & the 1988 National Championship team on the field yelling support to the current players after being honored in the first quarter, the thirst for revenge following a 38-0 shellacking in The Big House last year, or this young Notre Dame team coming of age; whatever the cause, Irish eyes were smiling as they watched Notre Dame force two early turnovers, score on four of their first five drives, and outclass Michigan in all three aspects of the game en route to a 35-17 tour de force Saturday in a swampy Notre Dame Stadium.

Sophomore WR Golden Tate proved to be more than a one-week wonder, as he caught four passes for 127 yds and a touchdown, as well as being on the receiving end of a 60 yd beauty by Jimmy Clausen that split double coverage up the seam. Tate's jump from being a deep threat-only last year to being one of the most dangerous receivers in college football (yes, I said in all of college football) is remarkable. Now that the secret's out, we'll see how he responds to double coverage and how Duval Kamara (1-10-1) and Michael Floyd (2-10-0-2 key pass interference penalties drawn) do with having some open real estate to work with.

Jimmy Clausen (10-21-147-2-2) was impressive, even though the stat sheet says otherwise. He threw two picks he shouldn't have, but he made some key throws, including the long pass & touch pass TD to Tate, as well as a nicely-placed jump ball TD to Kamara. Even though he's a sophomore, you can tell that he possesses the intangibles needed to be a top quarterback - poise, control of the team, leadership ability, and a cool as the other side of the pillow demeanor. If he stays through his senior year, there's a good shot he'll be Heisman Trophy winner #8 (#9 in you count Rocket Ismail being robbed).

The Irish running game turned in a fine, but unspectacular performance Saturday. Robert Hughes is establishing himself as the Irish's primary back, rushing 19 times for 79 yds (4.2 ypc) and two scores. James Aldridge made his 2008 debut, moving the offense well in the red zone while rushing 9 times for 28 yds (3.1 ypc). Armando Allen played poorly, gaining 4 yds on 2 carries. While the running back by committee plan has worked thus far, I'd like to see someone step forward to be the featured back before Cierre Wood comes to South Bend and takes over in 2009 or 2010.

If I'm being impartial, Notre Dame's defense scares me a little. Yes, they caused five turnovers (plus another on special teams), and the defensive backs are playing amazing football, lead by David Bruton's 15 tackles and interception, but the defensive line was weak, allowing true freshman RB Sam McGuffie (131 rushing & 47 receiving yds) to look like Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. Also, they didn't register a sack against a very young Michigan front five. Either Jon Tenuta's blitzes are being figured out, or the Irish need to shake up their personnel, like they did by benching Justin Brown in favor of freshman Ethan Johnson. The LBs played fairly well, but part of the run defense blame falls on their shoulders, too. One thing I'm certain of is that they need to tighten up before next Saturday, when they travel to East Lansing to take on a Michigan State team that thoroughly enjoys pounding the football.

Overall, it was a great win for Notre Dame. They proved that the can handily beat a major conference team (I don't care if Michigan is "down" this year - they're still an arch rival and the winningest program in college football history) and jump on a team early and often. Charlie Weis ended up leaving the game on crutches after tearing his ACL & MCL when John Ryan took him out after being pushed out of bounds by a Michigan player. It's unknown when Coach Weis will get surgery, as he may put it off until the offseason. What can I say, the man's Jersey-tough. Michigan State will be their toughest opponent to date, so we'll see how good this team really is next Saturday.

Michigan: K.C. LOPATA 23 YD FG

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Notre Dame (1-0) vs. Michigan (1-1) Preview

By Nick Shepkowski
Domer Sports Report

Who: Michigan (1-1) at Notre Dame (1-0)
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana
When: 3:30 p.m. est
Television: NBC

In a series that has offered many great moments such as Rocket Ismail's two return day in the Big House to Desmond Howard's "catch" two years later, Notre Dame and Michigan have turned in multiple classic games. Remember just two years ago, the two teams met in South Bend and, after Michigan dominated ND all afternoon, both teams still went on to qualify for BCS games. Or remember last year, the first time in history both teams were 0-2 in the same season? It seems that these two programs are not headed for any BCS games anytime soon, but both will prosper once again in given time. Saturday will likely not be this day.

So what will 2008 bring in the storied matchup? Notre Dame is coming off of a come from behind win at the expense of San Diego State in the Irish's season opener a week ago, while Michigan enters 1-1, fresh off of a 16-6 win over Miami of Ohio. Based on those scores alone you can tell these aren't your father's traditional Irish and Wolverine teams.

Michigan will enter Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday with a spread offense attack, just lacking real spread offense type players. Despite the lack of overall speed on the Wolverines, Rich Rodriguez decided to go with the same offense he found great success with at West Virginia with the likes of Pat White and Steve Slaton. Fortunately for the Irish, there is nowhere near the talent of those West Virginia teams on this Michigan squad.

The Irish should match up very well with Michigan when the Wolverines have the football. Led by quarterbacks Nick Sheridan (15 of 24 for 138 Yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) and Steven Treet (14 of 32 for 132 Yds, 1 TD, 0 INT), the Wolverines have struggled to move the ball offensively this season. Successfully blitzing either of these two quarterbacks will be a big key in deciding what exactly happens on the field Saturday. With the lack of experience upfront (one starter back from a year ago on the offensive line) do not expect Michigan to take to much blitzing very kindly.

Kevin Grady was supposed to head this backfield for the Wolverines, but an off season DUI has slowed his time this year. He was suspended for the week one contest vs. Utah and rushed for only six yards on three carries against Miami (OH). In his place the Wolverines have inserted freshman Sam McGuffie, who has carried the ball 25 times and averaged only 3.3 yards per in that time. Once again, the weak offensive line of Michigan will not do any favors for the running game and Notre Dame should be able to control this aspect of the game.

Gone from a year ago are the likes of Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington and in their places are Martavious Odoms, Junior Hemingway, and Michael Shaw. Odoms leads the bunch with eight receptions for 64 yards in two games, but Hemingway and Shaw are the only Wolverines to bring down a touchdown reception so far in 2008, having one apiece. None of the three supply the same kind of deep threat that Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington both did and there won't be any Michigan wide outs donning a #1 jersey anytime soon in Ann Arbor.

The bottom line is that this offense is not your typical Michigan offense. The Irish were able to rush the quarterback a week ago and for the most part slowed down the San Diego State running game as well. Especially after already seeing a spread offense that is likely just as good, if not better than Michigan's, I really expect to see Notre Dame control this aspect of the game.

When Notre Dame has the ball I ask for the Irish to be able to do one thing this Saturday: Avoid third and longs. That is a key to almost every game, but against Michigan it comes out to be that much more important. If the Irish can get any sort of ground game going and force the defense of Michigan to keep guessing, Notre Dame could very easily put a lot of points on the board.

Unfortunately, with what I saw against San Diego State, I do not feel that Notre Dame will be able to run the ball as well as Irish fans would like. Although Robert Hughes and Armando Allen both showed good things at times this past Saturday, the offensive line will have their work cut out for themselves against the front seven of Michigan, anchored by Brandon Graham and Terrance Taylor.

Where Notre Dame will likely find success on offense on Saturday will be in the short yardage passing game, much like they did late in the game as Jimmy Clausen found Golden Tate on a pretty regular basis. According to my prediction that the running game will struggle, if that holds up I would expect to see the Irish start to work in short pass routes to try and pick up some yardage. After a few short passes is when the inexperienced safeties of Michigan in Stevie Brown and Artis Chambers will cheat up a bit or try to help out a bit too much. Expect to see the Wolverines burned deep over the middle at least once for a big play in Notre Dame's favor through the air this weekend. The safeties aren't a strong point for Michigan, but the corners (Donovan Warren and Morgan Trent) are. That's why attacking the safeties deep off the bat will be almost too predictable of thing to do.

Overall this match up of Notre Dame offense vs. Michigan Defense turns up being quite the draw. If Notre Dame can establish a running game it will be a rout in Notre Dame's favor. However, don't count on that and expect the Irish to have to pass in order to be able to pick up consistent first downs.

The special teams on Saturday may go a long way in deciding the winner of the ballgame. Notre Dame showed great discipline as they allowed very minimal returns each time against San Diego State in both the punting and kickoff teams. Michigan offers a better kicker and punter in Zoltan Inekso and KC Lopata than the Irish. Slight advantage to the Wolverines in Special Teams.

Finally its prediction time...

Notre Dame will be able to blitz Michigan fairly well most of the afternoon. Early success means an extra back or tight end staying into block. Expect the Irish to maybe not have a pick-6 but at least one touchdown set up by way of turnover which will be the difference in the end.

Notre Dame over Michigan, 17-7 - Nick (1-0)
Notre Dame over Michigan, 24-14 - Mark (1-0)
Michigan over Notre Dame, 21-20 - Joe (1-0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Irish Hoops Faces Tough Schedule

Mark Allen
Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Men's Basketball

Be careful what you wish for, they say. You just might get your wish. That applies to Notre Dame basketball fans' cry for a tougher schedule. You asked for it; you got it!

The 2008-2009 edition of the Notre Dame men's basketball team returns its' top eight players from last year's team. They will need every bit of their experience against the schedule that awaits them. Not only will they face the usual murderer's row of Big East Conference competition, but they will also face a tough non-conference schedule. They will also do it on television - a lot!

Speaking of televised games...the Irish will appear on the ESPN networks no less than 14 times this season. In addition, Notre Dame will play on CBS two more times. If you are even mediocre in math, you see that that makes a total of 16 games that are guaranteed to be on television. That should satisfy your Fighting Irish hoops fix.

The non-conference schedule has been upgraded, to say the least. Sure, the Irish still will play games that are virtually guaranteed to make it into the win column (Can you say South Carolina Upstate? If you have ever heard of that school, you deserve some sort of prize.). But, they also play some very tough teams. Consider that the Irish face Big Ten power Ohio State in Indianapolis (December 6). The Irish are also in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. They drew Indiana in ghe first round. But, after that, they have the chance to play Texas and North Carolina. The latter of which appears in many polls as the number one team in the nation. Then, after getting into the Big East Conference schedule, the Irish "take a break" by going out to Los Angeles to play another top team in UCLA (February 7).

Many have Notre Dame in the top 5-10 in the country. The Irish do return some experienced talent. But, will a tougher schedule make it tougher for the Irish to get to those lofty expectations? Notre Dame, in theory, could have a better team (than last season's team), but not have as good of a record (25-8 in 2007-2008). However, should the Irish win some of those tough games, look for their best finish in years!

The full schedule has been posted on Domer Sports Report. You will find it just below the football schedule in the right margin.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Did You Notice?

By Joe Pierce

- Long hair must be en vogue in northern Indiana - Jimmy Clausen and a bunch of his teammates had Kevin Green-like manes coming out of their helmets.

- The Irish defense had to hit the brakes about a dozen times when trying to time their blitzes. Losing your running start is a blitz-killer.

- The NBC announcing team was both clueless and pushy. As several replays were running on TV, they were talking about the play having a completely different outcome. Also, Jimmy Clausen was pestered during his post-game interview and missed half of the Alma Mater.

- Five true freshmen hit the field for the Irish Saturday: TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Michael Floyd, DE Ethan Johnson, LB Darius Fleming, & OL Braxton Cave.

- Charlie Weis deferred the coin toss. That's only the second time he's done it, with the first being against Southern Cal last year.

By the Numbers vs. SDSU

By Joe Pierce

0: Number of sacks given up by Notre Dame's offensive line. Nice work, boys.

1: Number of sacks registered by Notre Dame's defense. San Diego State did a nice job of running quick-hit plays to render Irish blitzes irrelevant.

100: Well, 105, really - Notre Dame rushed for over 100 yards on opening day. They didn't accomplish that until week 4 last year.

14: Number of tackles by Kyle McCarthy, who played a terrific game.

2: Number of tackles registered by the entire Irish defensive line. Take notes from Kyle McCarthy, please.

9: The number worn by both TE Kyle Rudolph and DE Ethan Johnson. Steel cage match for #9!

200: Number of consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium.

400: Total number of games played at Notre Dame Stadium.

Irish Report Card vs. SDSU

By Joe Pierce

QB A: Jimmy Clausen lived up to the hype Saturday, engineering two 4th quarter scoring drives that clinched the game for Notre Dame. He threw two interceptions, but I blame those on Duval Kamara, not Clausen.

RB C-: Armando Allen showed flashes, but he fumbled once, as did Robert Hughes, who ran without confidence all day. Work needs to be done here.

WR/TE B+: Golden Tate played like a superstar, and David Grimes & Michael Floyd contributed with a TD each. Duval Kamara started the game with a nice catch, but made several mistakes throughout the game. TE Kyle Rudolph is a star in the making.

OL A: They didn't give up a sack and made holes all day for the running game. I'm impressed by the big guys.

DL D: They didn't get gouged, but they only registered two total tackles as a unit. That's unacceptable.

LB C: They were solid, but Crum took a couple bonehead penalties on one drive and Brian Smith blew a coverage to allow a huge SD State gain, putting them on the goal line. I think they'll be fine as they mature as a unit.

DB A+: They paced the defense and made several big plays. Even without Darrin Walls, this is a huge strength for this team.

ST D: There were big mistakes here, mostly by Braxton Cave snapping the ball all over the place. They need work. Walker missing an admittedly hard FG didn't help, either.

Overall B-: There were some definite signs of life not seen since Brady Quinn wore a gold helmet, but there's a lot of room to improve. Let's hope it was simply a case of opening-day rust.

Tin Can Opponent Proves to be Made of Cast Iron against Irish

By Joe Pierce

I hope Saturday’s performance by the San Diego State Aztecs was a case of South Bend Fever inferior teams sometimes get when visiting South Bend. It’s a funny virus, that South Bend Fever – it makes teams play over their heads for three hours, only for them return to being whipping posts for the rest of their conference. Without David Bruton’s timely strip and recovery at the Irish goal line and Jimmy Clausen’s late-game heroics, there’s no way Charlie Weis would be using phrases like “I’ll take an ugly win any day of the week…”

However, the Irish did win, and while they didn’t win any style points Saturday, they’re 1-0 heading into a showdown with archrival Michigan. They can also hang their hats on some terrific individual performances. Jimmy Clausen, new surfer ‘do and all, has officially arrived as the leader of Notre Dame’s offense. He rebounded from two Duval Kamara mistakes that gift-wrapped interceptions for San Diego State to have his best quarter of football since he laced them up for Oaks Christian. In the 4th quarter, Clausen was 5-5 for 76 yards & 3-4 for 22 yards with touchdowns on both drives, clinching the win for the Irish. Clausen’s poise and confidence, I’m sure, reassured all Irish fans that the program’s in capable hands moving forward.

Golden Tate also proved that he’s ready to be a full-range WR for this team. Even during slow patches, Tate showed the skill and determination of a #1 receiver. Tate finished with 6 catches for 93 yards and a score. If Duval Kamara can rebound from his poor game and Michael Floyd continues to emerge, the Irish receivers should give defensive coordinators something to worry about.

Saturday also proved to be a coming out party for safety Sergio Brown, who finished with 6 tackles and 2 pass break-ups. Even though Kyle McCarthy was the star statistically with 14 tackles, Brown’s presence and big-hitting ability set the tone for a very good outing by a much-improved Irish defense. Though they only managed one sack and had a hard time syncing their blitzes with the snap count, they were stout through most of the game and didn’t give San Diego State a whole lot to exploit.

The Irish offensive line also made itself known to the Aztec defense, keeping Jimmy Clausen clean for the first time in his career. In fact, there wasn’t a game at all last season where the quarterback wasn’t sacked at least once. Let’s see what they do against the talented Wolverine front seven next week.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention the fine game by San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley. Though his stats don’t pop out at you (29-59-1-1), the redshirt freshman showed great maturity, leadership, and a quick release that nullified most of Jon Tenuta’s blitzes.

Mistakes seem less important when your team wins, but I’m sure Charlie Weis will be drilling them into the heads of his players as he prepares them for a visit from Rich Rodriguez and 1-1 Michigan. He’ll be smart to.

Scoring Summary

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Brey Gets Third Commitment

By Mark Allen
Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Men's Basketball

Notre Dame received its' third verbal commitment for the incoming class of 2009 over the weekend. He is Mike Broghammer out of Orono, Minnesota. The other two verbals for 2009 are 6-8 Jack Cooley from Illinois and 6-5 Joey Brooks out of Texas.

Broghammer is 6-8 and 215 pounds. He is considered a 3-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout. Last season he averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds per game. However, recently, his stock seems to be rising due to the AAU summer basketball circuit.

Broghammer was at Notre Dame over the weekend for his official visit. He mentioned that Notre Dame just felt like the right place for him to be. According to scout.com, "I really liked the players, and I really liked the coaching staff", Broghammer said. "I loved the campus, and it just felt right to me."

Broghammer will be visiting Notre Dame again in January. He also plans to enroll during the summer school session at Notre Dame.

The power forward has some good lineage. He is the nephew of former Duke standout Christian Laettner.

I had the fortune of watching Broghammer scrimmage at the Joyce Center prior to the San Diego State-Notre Dame football game on Saturday. Physically, he is lean, but muscular. He could use a few more pounds before entering Big East play for Notre Dame. During the scrimmage, I didn't see him do much down low as far as banging. But, he did have a very good outside shot, which seems to fit the mold of recent Notre Dame forwards.

What effect will Broghammer's commitment have on another targeted big man? One of the highest rated Notre Dame recruits comes in for the Michigan game. His name is Ryan Kelly. Will Mike Brey secure another commitment from another big man for the class of 2009? That would bring the total of big men verbals to three. Kelly, who is also being recruited by North Carolina and Duke, would be a huge get.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Notre Dame (0-0) vs. San Diego State (0-1) Preview

By: Nick Shepkowski

After a season that could not finish soon enough and into a season that could not get here quickly enough, its finally time for the Irish to open 2008. They will do so on Saturday (3:30 EST, NBC) with a home game against the 0-1 San Diego State Aztecs. Although there is not a whole lot known about either squad coming in, the Irish find themselves to be 22 point favorites in Vegas.

The Aztecs will bring in a very inexperienced team, a very similar build up to what Notre Dame has but with less talent. Youth, which was much of the reason for the Irish's debacle in 2007, will be looked on for veteran leadership in 2008. Yes, veteran leadership will be expected out of the vast number of contributing freshman and sophomores from a year ago. The Irish are expected to start fifteen starters from a year ago with the bulk of them having still another year or two of eligibility after 2008.

San Diego State brings in a fairly young team as well, having only 14 starters back from a 4-8 ballclub a year ago. The Aztecs dropped their week one contest against Cal Poly, being the only Division 1 team to lose to a CFS team this past weekend. Let's look at both sides of the ball and see what should be expected.

The Aztecs will bring a spread offense that likes to throw the ball around the field to Notre Dame Stadium and Saturday. In a game where the Irish defense should be far superior to the offense of SDSU there are a few things that I look for to happen:

1) Obtain a pass rush.
Corwin Brown, and his 3-4 being helped out now by Jon Tenuta, seems to be a group that will blitz more than we have seen in years past. It is important that we are able to get to the quarterback on a regular basis this Saturday - we sure as hell aren't going to be able to get to the quarterbacks of the Michigan's, Michigan State's, and North Carolina's of the world.

2) Force Turnovers.
This goes hand in hand with getting to the quarterback, but with a pass happy team coming to town, we already know that Chuck Long's gang is not planning on trying to run the ball down Notre Dame's throats. The Irish have a defensive line that nearly weighs the same on average as the SDSU offensive line. The Irish weigh in on average only 23 pounds lighter than that of SDSU (305 lbs to 282).

3) No long drives.
This is a team, that, for lack of a better term, is awful. If the Irish are to win more than five or six games this year the defense will be called upon. There is nothing that makes you feel worse than when your defense is stomped all over on an eighty yard, 15 play scoring drive. I do not want to see anything like that this weekend.

The offense for Notre Dame in this game should be given an asterisk before any snaps are taken. Would you expect to see them show a whole lot for coming opponents in a game where they are just trying to survive and win? No, absolutely not. Notre Dame is far more talented in every aspect of the offensive game than SDSU is on the defensive side. With ND's line weighing nearly 40 pounds more than what's up front for the Aztecs, Notre Dame needs to be able to dominate up front.

There are however three things I would like to see Notre Dame's offense be able to do on Saturday that would make me feel better when looking ahead to the coming weeks.

1) Stay out of third and long.
Last year was a pain as you sat and watched Notre Dame not pick up yards on a regular basis on first and second down. You can have the most talented teams in the nation and if they are given consistent third-and-eights or worse, they won't succeed. 1st and 2nd down production is a must for this Irish team.

2) Dominate the line of scrimmage.
I am not going to say that a 100 yard rusher is a must, because the way carries could be split between (Robert) Hughes, (Armando) Allen, and (James) Aldridge, you can't anticipate that one will get enough carries to do so. However, with Hughes running for 100 yards in the final two games of 2007, it would be nice to see him crack that 100 yard mark. As a whole though, I would like to see the offensive line pushing guys back and making holes and the running game to seem unstoppable.

3) A big pass play for a score.
The longest pass for a touchdown last season was a brisk 26 yards a year ago. This kind of shows how bad the offense was as well. But, against a weaker defense I would really like to see Jimmy (Clausen) connect on a deep pass with one of his multiple receivers and show the Irish have at least a threat of the deep ball this year.

Finally, on special teams, Notre Dame can restore a bit of the success it had with these in the first two Charlie Weis seasons. I'm not asking for a return for a touchdown, but on kickoff returns, I would like to actually see blocking take place and for Notre Dame to show even a hint that they may be able to bring a kick back for a score this year. The kicking game is going to struggle for the Irish this year. For some reason I get the feeling that something will go wrong during an extra point and the Irish will miss one of those.

Prediction Time:

Mark Says: Notre Dame 38, San Diego State 10
Nick Says: Notre Dame 37, San Diego State 6
Joe Says: Notre Dame 27, San Diego State 17