Friday, October 31, 2008

And the Winner is....

By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2009 Recruiting

Wide receiving prospect Shaquelle Evans plans to announce the winner for his college services November 7th. Evans, a 6'1 203lb receiver from Inglewood, California says that he has decided on the university that he will attend next year, but plans to wait until the 7th to declare his allegiance during a ceremony that will include his official invitation to participate in the U.S Army All-American Bowl in January.

Evans has said that the decisive factor in choosing the school he would attend would be finding the place where he feels the most comfortable. After his recent visit to South Bend on September 27th to watch the Irish defeat Purdue, Evans said how comfortable he felt on the Notre Dame campus and how special of a place it was.

Irish assistant coach Brian Polian made one last pitch for Evans services when he was in attendance last week to watch Inglewood play. Evans, however, was sidelined due to a suspension the previous week for excessively celebrating a touchdown.

Shaquelle holds offers from USC, Michigan, Colorado, California and UCLA but rumors have it that USC and Notre Dame are the finalists. Keep counting down the days until November 7th and keep your fingers crossed that Evans will be donning an Irish cap at his ceremony.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Previewing the Pitt Panthers

By Nick Shepkowski, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
Game Preview

As Notre Dame welcomes the Pitt Panthers and Dave Wannstedt to South Bend, the Irish will be playing with a chance to become bowl eligible with a victory. Both teams enter the game with 5-2 records, but are coming off polar opposite outcomes. A week ago Notre Dame defeated Washington 33-7 in what turned out to be Tyrone Willingham's final game before being let go by the Huskies (It should be mentioned, however, that Willingham will coach the rest of the season). On the other hand Pitt lost its second game of the season at Heinz Field, a 54-34 contest against what is now a 3-5 Rutgers team.

Something was exposed last week in Pittsburgh - something that should have Panthers fans nervous entering this weekend. Mike Teel of Rutgers completed only 14 passes on the afternoon, but for an electric total of 361 yards and six touchdowns. Average it out and thats over 25 yards per completion. Needless to say, expect to see the likes of Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, and Kyle Rudolph amongst others used fairly often. Jimmy Clausen is coming off of a very mediocre showing as he went 14/26 for 201 yards and a score while throwing one interception as well against Washington a week ago. A weak secondary like Pitt's is just what the doctor ordered for the sophomore quarterback.

A question mark leading into Saturday will be whether or not Pittsburgh's junior quarterback Bill Stull, who received a concussion last Saturday against Rutgers and remained motionless for nearly ten minutes before being carted off of the field and spending the night in the hospital, will play. If Stull is unable to go, it will be up to Pat Bostick for the Panthers who went 5/10 as Stull's replacement, throwing for 69 yards and one pick.

Pittsburgh will enter 37th in the nation, overall, in total yardage on offense, going for 395 yards a game while scoring over 28 points per contest. They are led by LeSean McCoy who has rushed for 835 yards and 14 touchdowns so far in 2008. Notre Dame will have to keep McCoy from getting the wheels going on first and second down and make Stull or Bostick throw the ball. La-Rod Stephens-Holwing will also see touches as he has carried the ball 55 times for 247 yards and four more touchdowns this season.

It is extremely important the Irish contain the running game of Pitt on Saturday, because I have doubt either of the two quarterbacks of the Panthers will be able to beat Notre Dame, especially because of the lack of playmakers Pitt brings to the table. The favorite targets this year for Pitt have been Jonathan Baldwin and Derek Kinder who have pulled in a combined 34 receptions for just under 500 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense the Pitt Panthers will come after Clausen as they have gotten to the quarterback 21 separate times this year and walked away with a sack. Notre Dame will have to have a good game from the offensive line this Saturday in order to rack up the point total that many Irish fans expect them to be able to do. Jabaal Sheard and Scott McKillop lead the Panthers with 8/5 sacks between the two. McKillop leads the Big East in total tackles with 67, so the Irish must be wary of him. Teams attempt roughly 25 passes a game against Pitt who enters with six interceptions defensively. However I truly feel that this set of DB's was exposed last week against Rutgers and that Jimmy Clausen will come out firing on Saturday.

Expect to see Notre Dame use the short pass to set up the deep ball in this contest. What does that mean exactly? A lot of throws to Armando Allen on swing passes out of the backfield, Golden Tate on slant routes, and Kyle Rudolph on quick outs for yardage. Expect to see that early on, how many teams try and use the run to set up the pass. Instead, I feel Notre Dame will use the short pass to set up the deep ball and would be shocked if Clausen throws for less than three touchdowns on Saturday.

What scares me this week is how Notre Dame has been against the run so far this season. Sure, last week, steps were taken in the right direction against Washington, but at the end of the day they are a bad football team. Pitt, although not great, is still plenty competent on the field. They will try to run the ball and make it a much shorter game than Notre Dame wants to. If the Irish can stop the run it will get ugly. If not, the Irish will be sitting at 5-3 that evening. I have all the confidence in the world that Notre Dame will put points on the scoreboard but as for stopping Pitt, I have my concerns.

Prediction Time:
Nick (6-1): Notre Dame 45 Pitt 35
Mark (7-0): Notre Dame 35 Pitt 20
Michael (1-0): Notre Dame 28 Pitt 14

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2009 Recruiting Update: Part Four- Tight Ends

By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2009 Recruiting

The Irish have two verbal commitments at tight end already and have their eye on a third. The Irish, who already have good depth at the tight end position have their eye a few guys that could come in and play multiple positions.

Tight Ends

Tyler Eifert, a 6'6 220lb tight end from Fort Wayne, Indiana committed to Notre Dame in early July. Eifert is better described as an athlete than a tight end. Charlie Weis has said he has the possibility of playing multiple positions during his time in South Bend.

Eifert also held offers from Purdue, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Indiana, Minnesota, and Northwestern. He caught a huge 27-yard touchdown pass this past weekend on a 3rd and 19 with only 19 seconds left to give his Bishop Dwenger team a 21-17 win in their sectional opener. Eifert said that the tradition at Notre Dame played a huge role in his decision.

Notre Dame also received a commitment from 6'4 202lb Jake Golic. Golic, the son of Irish grad Mike Golic Sr., will join his brother, Mike Golic Jr. who currently plays center for Notre Dame.

Golic, who attends Northwest Catholic in West Hartford, Connecticut, also held an offer from the University of Connecticut. Golic, who was the first member of the Irish's 2009 recruiting class to commit, did so in early April. Here is his evaluation from

"Like his brother (Mike Golic, Jr.) before him, Jake Golic is an undersized but talented player. He has the frame to add bulk and the tools to be a productive college player. Hes a tall, rangy frame, but lacks the burst and separation speed to stay at wide receiver. Has the frame, ball skills and physical nature to develop into a well rounded college tight end. Has good hands and very good ball skills. Can be a bit of a body catcher, but has shown the ability to snatch away from his body. Can locate the ball and make over-the-shoulder grabs. Displays very good concentration in traffic and will take the hit to make the grab. He's competitive and will elevate to go get the ball at its highest point. Has the height, leaping ability and attitude to be a solid red-zone option. Has adequate speed and runs solid routes. Needs to build speed and will be most dangerous in short and intermediate zones. He isn't especially elusive, but he's savvy enough to make a defender or two miss when he catches in stride. Has eye-opening blocking potential. Plays a physical game despite being light in the pants. Has some experience as an in-line blocker, and shows promising toughness and technique. Makes good initial contact and quickly establishes good hand placement. Golic needs to hit a college weight program to add alot of bulk, but he could be a difference-making college player if he adds enough size without losing any speed."

The Irish also have an offer out on Gabe Ikard. Ikard is 6'4 246lb tight end from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He currently holds offers from Tulsa, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas.

It appears that hometown University of Oklahoma is currently the school of choice for Ikard. Gabe was in Dallas to watch the Sooners take on the Texas Longhorns several weeks ago and comes from a long line of Sooner graduates in his family. Both of Ikard's brothers are graduates of OU and he plans on becoming a doctor.

Due to the depth that Notre Dame has at the tight end position along with the fact that they already have two tight end commitments for the '09 class, it is said that Ikard could come in and play defensive end. He came on an official visit to South Bend to watch the Irish dismantle the Michigan Wolverines and left impressed with the turn around from last years team. Time will tell on where Ikard will attend college and we will be sure to keep you posted.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2009 Recruiting Update: Part Three- Wide Receivers

By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2009 Recruiting

After a big win this weekend against former Irish coach Tyrone Willingham, the Irish hope to close in on some key recruits at the Wide Receiver position.

Wide Receiver

One of the most recent verbal commitments Notre Dame has received was that of athlete Nyshier Oliver. Oliver projects to be a wide receiver when he steps on to campus at South Bend. Oliver, (5'10 175lb 3-star recruit from originally committed to Tennessee in June, but then decommitted in mid-August. Oliver said he felt like he rushed the recruiting process when he initially committed to the Vols.

Nyshier was on campus taking his official visit to watch the Irish manhandle the Michigan Wolverines in September and committed to Notre Dame on October 1st. Oliver, who plays for St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey, said that the academics, the tradition, and the fact that Notre Dame has the best fans in college football was a deciding factor in his decision. Charlie Weis currently sees Oliver playing slot receiver.

Nyshier is willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field, whether that means playing safety, running back, or wide receiver.

Besides Tennessee, Oliver had also received offers from Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Maryland. Nyshier, who runs a 4.4 forty yard dash, will join an already solid group of wide receivers. Here is his scouting report from

"Oliver should be nicknamed Houdini being he can slip through the smallest of places without being touched by the opposition. Even though he's not the biggest skilled athlete in the country, he is a very talented football player. Colleges might tend to recruit him as a safety, but he is very good running back and overall offensive skill player. He is equally as effective running inside or outside. He can cut the isolation play back against the grain for big yards or bounce it all the way out to the perimeter then use his great speed to take it down the sideline. Sometimes can bust a run up the middle and go completely unscathed and often times maintains his balance when hit by would-be tacklers. Hits and spins for extras yardage showing great balance and body control. Can catch the football out of the backfield and turn a short reception into a homerun. Very light on his feet; his quick moves and agile feet often leave defenders flat on their face after they miss. Equally as talented as a return specialist. Shows a real burst in the open field and makes his cuts going full speed. Reads his blocks well as a returner. Oliver has great hips and can change direction in an instance. The colleges like him as a safety but I think it's going to be impossible to keep this talent from handling the football."

The Irish also have offered a scholarship to the #2 overall prospect in the 2009 class and the #1 ranked wide receiver Rueben Randle. Randle (6'3 195, 5-star, plays for Bastop HS in Bastrop, Louisiana. Randle has offers from Alabama, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma as well as Tennessee. He is the do-it-all type, similar to Terrelle Pryor last year.

Currently, Randle is playing quarterback for his high school team and is completing 74 percent of his passes. Beyond the incredible arm and accurate touch, Randle is blazing fast. Through five games this season, Randle has thrown nine touchdown passes and only one interception.

Reports say that Randle is currently leaning towards in-state favorite LSU, but time will tell. I personally think he would look good donning a Gold helmet and smacking the "Play like a Champion" sign in South Bend. Here is his evaluation from

"Explosive and fluid for a size receiver, Randle resembles a taller Josh Jarboe (class of 2008). He is big and strong, but athletic for his size. Plays fast and has explosive playmaking skills. His size and speed make him a legitimate deep threat. He's versatile and able to play multiple spots in a formation to create mismatches. Struggles to get off press coverage against talented, savvy cornerbacks--like most young receivers. He's tough and fearless over the middle. Makes tough catches in traffic and secures the ball even when absorbing a big hit. He's a bit high-cut, but shows little stiffness in his hips. Has more explosiveness running vertical routes than he has after the catch, but his initial burst and second gear still make him a threat to go the distance. Shows surprisingly fluid athleticism with the ball in his hands and isn't strictly straight-lined in his movements. He isn't exactly shifty in space, but he has natural cutting ability. Catches the ball in stride and has enough elusiveness to make multiple defenders miss. Can turn a short catch into a big play. Has very long arms and can high-point the ball in traffic. His size gives him natural red-zone tools, and he can make the acrobatic catch. Has a wide catch radius and very impressive focus. Has very good return skills and vision in the open field. Needs to polish his route-running skills, but that should come with time and experience. Randle has the blend of size, speed and playmaking ability to create mismatch problems on the perimeter or in the slot at the college level."

If you hear whispers of "Shaq Diesel" on campus at South Bend, it's not the students of Notre Dame reminising about former L.A. Laker Shaquille O'Neil, it's that of standout wide receiver Shaquelle Evans. Evans is a 6'1 203lb wide receiver from Inglewood, CA, a 4-star recruit from and most recently a decommit to the coveted brain trusts at USC. Evans is the number 3 ranked receiver in a very talented 2009 class. Evans was in Trojanland to watch USC rout Ohio State earlier this year and reportedly gave coach Pete Carroll a verbal commitment. However, those close to the situation report that Evans' commitment was a "soft" commitment, meaning that he was still going to visit other schools.

Evans was on hand September 27th to watch the Irish defeat Purdue 38-21. At that game, Evans was hoisted in the air by the fans and followed the tradition by doing pushups after Golden Tate scored a second quarter touchdown. Evans said the tradition, the academics and the overall comfort level he felt in South Bend are a big reason why they are currently his favorite for next year. Here is Evans' evaluation on

"Big, fast and explosive are the three words that best describe Evans. He is a true difference-maker in the return game and moves like a smaller, quicker receiver in the open field. Has good size and has room on his frame to get even bigger. Shows an explosive surge off the ball and eats up a cushion quickly. Uses his body effectively to shield defenders from the ball. He isn't afraid to go over the middle and can catch in traffic. Has big, soft, strong hands. Can pull the ball away from defenders when fighting for it in the air. Can catch over his head and pluck on the run. He's a smooth and fluid route runner and shows some explosiveness out of his breaks. Possesses a good feel for finding soft spots in zone coverage. Shows good body control and balance. Can adjust to poorly thrown balls and is effective working the sideline. He's a vertical threat because of his size and speed. Has the wide wingspan and leaping ability to be a weapon on fade routes, especially in the red zone. Like most young receivers, he may initially struggle against press coverage when matched up with cornerbacks who are better equipped to face him. Needs to sharpen his route precision and become more crisp into and out of his cuts. Evans rates among the best in his class, regardless of position. He's a very good player and an outstanding prospect."

Irish Rout Huskies 33-7

By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
Game Recap

Notre Dame used a swarming defense, a five wide receiver look, and some trickery to dominate the Washington Huskies, 33-7, and improve to 5-2. The Irish, who were going up against former coach Tyrone Willingham, looked rusty on offense but played a relentless defense.

The Irish scored on their opening possession as Jimmy Clausen connected with Michael Floyd for a 51 yard touchdown reception to take a 7-0 lead. On Notre Dame's second possession, they went 65 yards on seven plays covering just over three minutes and capped it off with a 21 yard touchdown run by Golden Tate. Notre Dame took a 17-0 lead into the half and opened the third quarter with a five play 61 yard drive culminating with a James Aldridge four yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 24-0. Aldridge scored his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter on a three yard run.

The Irish defense forced Washington to six three-and-outs and kept them off the scoreboard until the Huskies scored on a six yard touchdown pass with 2:56 to go in the 4th quarter.

Notre Dame dominated the Huskies in every statistical category. Notre Dame gained 459 total yards and held the Huskies to 124.

The defense continuously got into the Huskie backfield and sacked quarterback Ronnie Fouch four times.

Clausen finished the game a mediocre 14-26 for 206 yards an interception and one touchdown pass.

The majority of the Irish offense came on the ground as the Irish out gained Washington on the ground 252-26. Aldridge led the ground attack rushing for 84 yards on 13 carries. Armando Allen rushed for 62 yards on 15 carries and Jonas Gray ran the ball nine times for 61 yards.

Next week the 5-2 Irish take on the 5-2 Pittsburgh Panthers in South Bend. A victory over the Panthers makes the Irish bowl eligible.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2009 Recruiting Update: Part Two- Fullbacks

By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2009 Recruiting

In part two of our series, we will take a look at who the Irish are looking to bring in next year to play the fullback position. Notre Dame currently has offers out to two of the nations top ranked fullbacks.


  • Toben Opurum is a 6'2 230lb fullback from Plano, Texas. Currently, Opurum holds offers from Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, LSU, Nebraska, Purdue, Texas and Notre Dame. He is considered a tweener by many recruiters. Florida, Kansas, Purdue, Texas Tech and Arkansas all view Opurum as a running back and Notre Dame and LSU view him as a fullback. Toben, a running back for Plano East, prefers to play running back in college, but is still considering the possibility of playing fullback. The Irish offered him a scholarship over the summer when he came to South Bend for a visit. Opurum wants to make a decision on his position and where he will attend school after his Plano East season is over. Recruiting Coordinator Rob Ianello and Charlie Weis have been in contact with Opurum and Ianello actually went to Plano East HS to visit him this past weekend. If Opurum decides that he wants to play fullback in college he would probably schedule another visit to Notre Dame in the winter but if he prefers running back, it appears he will not be visiting South Bend. Here is's scouting report on Opurum:
"Opurum is physically impressive as a running back prospect with his great size and above average straight-line speed. He is tall, well-built and still lean enough to add another 10-15 pounds of added bulk while retaining his current speed and quickness. Hands are soft and overall receiving skills are good making full or H-back a strong possibility. Has a knack for finding the soft spots in zone defenses, snags most balls with his hands, transitions quickly upfield and can make the first defender miss. As a runner, he shows some shiftiness through the hole and possesses adequate lateral quickness for his size to sidestep the initial traffic and bounce outside. Lacks good urgency out of his stance through the hole but can be a load at the high school level to bring down once he builds speed. Runs through arm tackles with his long, strong stride and thicker thighs. However, he displays very little burst through the hole and runs without good body-tilt. Will struggle retaining current yards after contact production at the next level and could expose his body to big hits. He is a big target out of the backfield as a pass catcher, but his long body often hinders his suddenness as an in-line runner. Marginal extra gear when he gets outside or finds a north-south seam. Overall, Opurum looks good on paper as a running back prospect but lacks good explosiveness as a downhill, in-line runner and the perimeter speed and quickness to hurt you outside. Tools to develop into an effective tailback but upside may be better as a tight end, full or H-back at a BCS level program."

  • The other fullback the Irish are targeting is 6'1 215lb Tyler Gaffney from San Diego, California. Gaffney has scholarship offers from San Diego State, USC, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and the Irish. A 4-star fullback according to, Gaffney recently narrowed his choices down to three schools. Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame all made the cut. USC likes him as a running back or fullback. Stanford sees him strictly as a tailback and the Irish want to use him purely at fullback. Gaffney will take an official visit to South Bend November 21 to watch the Irish take on Syracuse. It is said that Tyler grew up rooting for the Irish and loves the tradition. Through four games this season he has rushed for more than 600 yards and 14 touchdowns. Here is his evaluation from
"Gaffney is a load of a back at the high school level with a good blend of size, speed and determination as an in-line runner. He is tall, thickly-built but does a job of running with proper shoulder lean and body-tilt. Shows deceptive lateral quickness and burst bouncing it outside and turning the corner but most production stems off tough, explosive, between the tackles runs. Hits the hole with good urgency and is quick to square up his shoulders out of his initial cut and head north south. Generates good speed and power quickly allowing him to run through arm tackles and bounce out of traffic; this kid finishes runs. Possesses a thick and powerful upper- and lower- body and runs low to the ground with great leg drive; difficult to wrap him up solidly. However, he currently lacks the vision, suddenness and feel for the cutback lane to project well as zone runner at the next level. Struggles picking and sliding through traffic, slipping through the small creases and making something out of nothing. A true north-south back that could continue to develop the size and strength necessary to wear down a defense as a college runner and occasionally break off a long run with his good top-end speed. Overall, Gaffney could be productive in the right downhill, power running system or potentially make a slide down to fullback or over to defense as an outside linebacker with his great size to speed measurables. Great athlete for his size and should be an asset on special teams as well."

2009 Recruiting Update: Part One- Running Backs

By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2009 Recruiting

At 4-2 we know Notre Dame is having a good season on the field, but how are Charlie Weis and the Irish doing on the recruiting trail? As of right now, the Irish have 16 verbal commits with many more offers on the table. Here is a breakdown, by numbers, of the list of commits:

2 RB's (Wood, Riddick)
1 WR (Oliver)
2 TE's (Golic, Eifert)
3 OL (Bullard, Martin, Watt)
1 DL (Stockton)
2 LB's (Calabrese, Fox)
2 CB's (Banks, Pollard)
1 S (Motta)
1 K (Tausch)
1 P (Turk)

We are well into the thick of things on the recruiting trail with many offers on the table and recruits narrowing their choices and many making verbal commitments. Over the next week I will be breaking down each position and updating what recruits have verbally committed as well as where we stand with recruits in which we have offers on. I also plan to give updates on how the recruits are performing so far this season.

Running Backs

Dalton Hilliard, a 5'11 182 LB running back from Honolulu, Hawaii, recently returned from a visit to UCLA where he picked up an official offer. Hilliard, a 3-star recruit according to now has offers on the table from UCLA, Notre Dame, Washington, Colorado, UNLV, Nebraska, Arizona, Baylor, Stanford, Utah, Army, and his home town team Hawaii.

Hilliard said that UCLA has been recruiting him from the beginning of the process and that he was very happy when they finally offered him a scholarship on his visit last weekend to UCLA's homecoming game. Hilliard said he loved the coaching staff at UCLA and sees the program headed in the right direction with the addition of Norm Chow as offensive coordinator this year.

Hilliard, who has yet to officially visit Notre Dame, said that he "has always been a fan," of the Irish and grew up rooting for them. We will keep an eye on Dalton as he says he "wants to make a decision in the near future."

Here is's scouting report on Hilliard:

"Hilliard is a well-rounded, elusive back, and a kid we feel is going to start gaining big momentum on the recruiting trail. He is tall, high-cut and well-defined; should blow up to 200-pounds once he attacks a college weight-training program. Hits the hole at full speed and is very shift through traffic while losing very little in transition when cutting. Shows great balance, loose hips and body control sliding through the small creases and eluding the initial trash with great stop-start quickness. Runs with good pad level and his initial burst through the hole allows him to occasional run through arm tackles. While he shows the perimeter speed needed to turn the corner he lacks a great second gear and is not overly explosive when he gets a seam. Top-end speed is good but he is not a burner in the openfield or a true homerun threat for a non-power back. Runs with square shoulder pads and will occasionally flash a strong stiff arm but he lacks the bulk and lower-body leg strength at this time to consistently break tackles and earn good yards after contact as an in-line college runner. With that said, Hilliard possesses excellent receiving skills and can line up and hurt a defense in a number of ways as an offensive skill player. Great upside to become a productive featured back with his room for physical development."

Cierre Wood, a 6'0 192lb running back from Santa Clara, California gave the Irish a verbal commitment back in early April. Wood, who attends Oxnard High School, was on campus October 4th as the Irish beat the Stanford Cardinal. A 5-star recruit according to, Wood led his Oxnard team to a 21-16 victory last weekend as he scored on a 58-yard catch and run with just over a minute to go in the 4th quarter.

Here is's evaluation of Wood:

"Wood is a terrific athlete with the physical tools to excel on either side of the ball at the next level. He has a tall, high-cut frame that has room for plenty of additional bulk. Has the speed, elusiveness and quickness to excel on offense, especially on the perimeter. Shows the great vision to set up his downfield cuts and has the loose hips to make defenders miss in space. Flashes good balance, body lean and leg drive. Has deceptive lower-body strength and can break through initial arm tackles. Displays good receiving skills out of the backfield and in the slot. Can find the soft spots in zone defenses. Has soft hands and good concentration. Knows how to high-point the ball. Has questionable skills as an in-line runner. Doesn't attack the line of scrimmage downhill, pick his way through traffic or pick up quality yards after contact. Has an elongated lower body that makes sharp cuts difficult. Sometimes lose something in transition. High-cut frame could expose his body to big hits between the tackles at the next level. Speed is good but not elite. Tends to build up to speed and lacks elite burst and acceleration. Wood has potential on offense, but his excellent range, leaping ability, ball skills and athleticism may be better suited to safety than running back. He figures to be one of the smoother, more versatile athletes in the class of 2009."

The Irish also received a verbal commitment from RB Theo Riddick (4-star recruit from from Immaculata HS in Somerville, NJ. Riddick verbally committed to the Irish in the middle of April and was in South Bend for his official visit to see the Irish demolish the Michigan Wolverines back in September. was able to see Riddick this past weekend as his team defeated Voorhees HS (NJ) 42-20 as Riddick ran for 46 yards and a td. Rivals scout Mike Farrell, who was at the game said that Riddick has "quick feet and is excellent in space. He's also physical and an active blocker, and has good hands out of the backfield." As far as weeknesses Farrell says that, "Riddick isn't that big and doesn't have the look of an every-down back at the next level. he runs a bit high and sometimes tries to do too much by reversing field." Riddick, who also had offers Penn State, Pittsburg, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia, Boston College and Maryland, said that he chose Notre Dame, because of the tradition as well as the high academic standards.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Irish Look for First Road Win of '08: Washington Preview

Nick Shepkowski, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
Game Preview

As we enter the second half of the 2008 regular season the Irish seem to be primed to make a bowl appearance, something that seems like somewhat of an accomplishment after last year. Game seven sends Notre Dame to the great northwest to try and conquer ole' Ty once again as the 4-2 Fighting Irish take on the 0-6 Washington Huskies in a primetime game this Saturday night on ESPN2.

When the 2008 schedule was put together years ago, Washington was in the midst of a run which included eight straight bowl appearances and a victory in the 2001 Rose Bowl over Purdue. Sadly for Washington fans, the Huskies have not returned to a bowl game since the Sun Bowl on New Years Eve in 2002, a loss to that same Purdue team.

In 2008 it is safe to say the 0-6 Huskies will be waiting until at least 2009 to make a return trip the postseason.
What is it exactly that has caused the problems for Washington this year? All one needs to do is look at the "points allowed" column to see that the Huskies give up 40.6 PPG. Give them credit in scheduling the big dogs like Oklahoma and BYU as well as Notre Dame in the non-conference slate, especially when you compare their schedule to the likes of the Arizona's and Washington State's of the Pac-10.

The biggest worry for Huskies fans going into this Saturday is the fact that Jake Locker will not be under center, due to a broken thumb. Locker not only was the quarterback of this team, but also leads the Huskies in rushing yards as well. Needless to say, losing him has made a bad team even that much more horrendous this season.

Not only has the defense been a dark spot for Washington, but the offense hasn't exactly 'lit up the joint' either. The offense has put together 17.6 ppg on average, not great but not terrible...until you look at the fact that exactly 20% of their points this season have been scored while trailing by thirty or more points.

This Washington team is shaping up to be just what the doctor ordered to stop the Notre Dame traveling blues.
With Locker out, Ronnie Fouch will be left with the quarterback duties for Washington. Fouch, a sophomore, has thrown for 782 yards and three scores this season, completing 50% of his passes and throwing four interceptions. Don't blame Fouch or Locker for any of this, but the Huskies just do not have the talent on offense to be putting up many points a game.

David Freeman
leads the Huskies in rushing yards (136) outside of the versatile Locker, but has not played since their matchup with Stanford on September 27th. Freshman Terrance Dailey has emerged on the scene as a capable back, running for a 59 yard touchdown against Oregon State last week. The bad news with Dailey - his other 21 carries this season have gone for just 61 total yards. Brandon Johnson has seen the ball the most times for Washington, but his touches have diminished in recent weeks. Johnson has had 32 carries for 63 yards, but only had two carries a week ago against the Beavers. As you can tell by the numbers, this shouldn't be a team who can run all over Notre Dame. Then again, the Irish run defense has been far from great. But, expect to see improvement in that aspect this week.

D'Andre Goodwin is the weapon of choice of the wideouts for Washington, pulling in 32 receptions for 451 yards (14.1 per). Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar have each compiled over 200 yards receiving, but Kearse has the only two touchdowns of the three names mentioned. As implied throughout, this is a weak offense all around and the receivers are just another example of that. Defensively, expect Notre Dame to have many successes against this Washington team.

The Huskies enter Saturday with the 115th best run defense in the nation, giving up 232.8 yards a contest alone on the ground. At 98th best, the pass defense looks that much better as they allow 250 more yards a game.
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim leads the Huskies as he has come up with their only three sacks in 2008 from his defensive tackle position. Mason Foster leads the defense with 50 tackles, good for second most in the Pac-10. Nate Williams has added 43, good for 7th in the conference as well. The defense has only forced two turnovers all season long, both being interceptions.

Notre Dame is headed west this Saturday and look to make it 5-2 on the season. Washington has been a program that has hit the ruts under Ty Willingham's watch and many Irish fans would like to see nothing more than Notre Dame clobber their old coach and keep him 0-'08 another week. With the two products that will be out on the field Saturday, Notre Dame's will offer a much better brand of football. Vegas says Notre Dame by 11, we here at Domer Sports Report say:

Nick (5-1): Notre Dame 44 Washington 17

Mark (6-0): Notre Dame 42 Washington 20

Makes you just long for the days, doesn't it?

Expanded Recruiting Coverage - Coming Soon!

We, at Domer Sports Report, are happy to announce that we will be expanding our recruiting coverage in the near future. We are serious about the site and we are serious about our love for the Fighting Irish. So, we decided to elevate our recruiting coverage to another level. We really believe this coverage will be the best of any free site out there.

Here is what you can expect from our coverage of Notre Dame recruiting coverage by Nick Shepkowski and Michael Rubin:

  • Verbal commitments - who has committed to us.
  • Offers - what prospects have we offered?
  • Prospects - who are we looking at?
  • How our commitments are doing at their respective high schools - how have our commitments done on the field? What are their statistics?

As mentioned, our coverage will be thorough. But, the best part is - it's free! However, there are things that you, the viewer, can do for us - and, it won't cost you a thing! Things you can do to help:

  • Click on any advertisement you see on the home page. There is no cost to do this. So, whether it is a google ad or a yardbarker ad, for example, please click.
  • Shop with us. We have a Notre Dame products shop through The prices are very reasonable. We offer all sorts of clothing, books and videos. So, when looking for Notre Dame stuff, please see the links to our store on the right side of the page as well as at the very bottom of the home page.
  • Join our message board. We have a very good group of posters on our message board. But, the more the merrier! So, please consider joining our board and talking about the Irish. The link to the board index is: Message Board Index.

Thanks for your consideration. We hope to see you on our message board! We also know you will love our free coverage of Notre Dame football and basketball recruiting. As always, Go Irish!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weis and Willingham: 4 Years Later

Four years ago two programs with very proud traditions chose opposite routes to try and re-discover football gold. Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham and hired New England Patriots offensive coordinator and owner of three Super Bowl rings in that time, Charlie Weis. The Washington Huskies in turn hired Willingham to replace Keith Gilbertson and try and return the Huskies to Pac-10 relevance. Four years later, we look back on what has changed for the better, for the worse, and the future of both coaches.

Since Willingham's firing the Fighting Irish have gone a combined 26-17 while the Huskies have gone a mind-boggling 11-30, a record that is unheard of for Washington football and even Tyrone Willingham who previous to taking the Washington job was a combined 65-52 as a head coach, including his 21-16 record in South Bend.

The first two Fighting Irish teams coached by Weis went to BCS games, combining for a record of 19-6 in Charlie's first two seasons. As Irish fans know, 2007 took a turn for the worst in a 3-9 campaign that included a pair of 38-0 losses against Michigan and USC and also featured a home loss against the Naval Academy. Things have gotten better in '08 for the Irish who after sneaking by San Diego State in week one, have totaled a 4-2 record and seemed primed for a bowl appearance which is saying a lot considering where the team was a year ago.

Willingham stumbled out of the gate in '05 for Washington, going just 2-9 while defeating only Arizona in Pac-10 play. In '06 things seemed to be getting better as the Huskies reached five in the win total. Sadly, that's as good as things have gotten under Willingham's watch, the Huskies went 4-9 in '07 and are yet to find the win column in '08, so far totaling an 0-5 record.

The biggest difference between the two coaches likely comes from events that do not necessarily start on the field of play. I'm talking about recruiting, something Willingham does not seem to grasp the concept of. Part of the reason Willingham was fired from Notre Dame was because of the position he was setting the Irish up to be in, in coming years. After a great class which included the likes of Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, and Tom Zbikowski in 2002, Willingham's classes in '04 and '05 ranked 32nd and 40th respectively.

While in Washington Willingham has recruited the 35th, 36th, and 24th ranked classes in his three full classes, 2006-08 respectively. Talent has yet to be shown with these classes now as his first full class was rated 35th in the nation and the Huskies remain winless, despite this class being juniors now. Although early, Willingham's Huskies are only 91st in the nation while ranking verbal commitments so far.

Weis has severely outdone what Willingham has in the same amount of time, twice bringing in the eighth ranked class while also having the number two class in recruiting a year ago. With his first full class now juniors we are catching a glimpse of what Weis' Irish will be able to do in the coming years. as this team has improved on a weekly basis.

It is safe to say that Notre Dame is not having the type of year that most fans are used to and like to see. However, compared to where this program was in where it was in great danger of heading it is clear to me that Notre Dame made the right choice in firing Tyrone Willingham. If Ty would have been permitted to stay longer its tough to imagine that Notre Dame would have only had one 3-9 season, the Irish were likely headed on a path straight towards bowl berths suddenly becoming a "great accomplishment".

Say what you want about Charlie Weis, about the University of Notre Dame, and about the racism the Irish showed. The fact of the matter is that Notre Dame football is under better guidance today than it was exactly four years ago and nobody can argue that.

Many want to argue that Notre Dame was unjust in allowing Weis to continue after a struggling third year as they fired Willingham after a very average third campaign. However, look where the programs are headed now, Ty Willingham's worst case scenario with the Irish played out the way we feared it may, Charlie Weis' was a result of Ty's with the best days of the Weis era still ahead of the Fighting Irish

Four years later, Notre Dame's decision to fire Willingham remains the right move.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Expectations Are High For Experienced Irish

By Mark Allen, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Men's Basketball
Season Preview

Expectations for the 2008-2009 edition of the Notre Dame men’s basketball team are sky high. But, unlike past seasons, the expectations are not only from within the program, but also on the outside. Many publications and websites have the Irish ranked high going into the season. For example,, in their rundown of the top teams, has the Irish coming in at #5. ESPN has Notre Dame as their #11 team.

What are the reasons for such optimism? A good start is that the Irish return 4 of their 5 starters from last season. They lose only Rob Kurz (12.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg), who graduated after last season. They also return 7 of their top 8 players and 11 of 12 monogram winners.

Notre Dame’s cause and hopes are bolstered by the fact that two of their starters are also Big East Conference first teamers. The two players are senior Kyle McAlarney and junior Luke Harangody. Harangody also garnered Big East Player of the Year honors.

Head Coach Mike Brey
The Irish, of course, are coached by Mike Brey. Brey is entering his ninth season with Notre Dame in 2008-09. He is a 2-time Big East Coach of the Year winner, which says a lot. His record at Notre Dame is 167-86 (.661). In 13 years as a head coach, Brey is 266-138 (.658), which includes a 5-year stint at Delaware. Prior to Delaware, Brey was a top assistant at Duke, where he was a great recruiter.

Brief Review of 2007-08
Last season can be considered successful. How it ended, can be considered frustrating. The Irish finished the 2007-08 season with a very good, 25-8, record. They were tied for second in the Big East Conference with a 14-4 record. The Irish, though, lost to Marquette in the conference quarterfinals. They made it to the second round of the NCAA’s where they were blown out by Washington, 61-41.

Projected Starters: Tory Jackson, Kyle McAlarney, Ryan Ayers
Off the Bench: Jonathan Peoples

The Irish return one of the Big East’s most dynamic backcourt duos in Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson. They are also vastly underrated, nationally. Notre Dame played 33 games last season and both guards started all of them. Talk about experience!

Jackson (Junior, 8.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.8 apg) will be running the point. He is ultra-quick and is a very good ballhandler. Last season, he led the conference in assists. He can penetrate with his quickness. The Irish will need him to do so in order to feed the big men for close in shots or to have them kick it back out for open threes.

On a team that has to emphasize better defense if it wants to go deep into season-ending tournaments, Jackson is Notre Dame’s best defender. He was first on the team in steals (58) and ranked sixth in the Big East.

Look for Jackson to improve on his downside. That downside is in the area of shooting. From the floor, he shot 38.6 percents and from beyond the arc, he was 30.2 percent. Point guards are usually very good free-throw shooters. Jackson shot only 52 percent last season. Ideally, he needs to get into the mid-60s on free-throws and mid-40s from the field.

Kyle McAlarney (Senior, 15.1 ppg) just might be the nation’s premier 3-point shooter. His range is almost to midcourt. As a matter of fact, McAlarney led the Big East in 3-point shooting (46.3 percent in the Big East and 44.1, overall).
McAlarney is the perfect compliment to Jackson. He is a catch-and-shoot player. However, he is more. Underrated is the way he can drive the lane and score on the floater. With his reputation as a long range bomber, teams might cover him outside. In that case, look for more drives this season from McAlarney.

McAlarney is also a very good free-throw shooter. Last season, he shot 82.1 percent from the line.

The Big East first teamer will be an important cog in this year’s team. With people doubling and tripling down on Luke Harangody, he might actually become the leading scorer on the team.

Notre Dame will go with a three guard lineup. The third guard is Ryan Ayers. Ayers played in all 33 games last season, starting 17 of them.

Ayers is another excellent long range shooter for the Irish. He was second on the team in 3-pointers attempted (122) and made (55) for an excellent percentage of 45.1. He is important as far as being a safety valve when teams concentrate on Harangody and McAlarney in their game plans.

Look for Ayers’ role to increase in his senior season. In Ireland, Ayers was on fire. He also seemed to take more of an active leadership role.

Ayers is also important for his defense. Much like Jordan Cornette, from a few season’s back, he is long. That really helps on defense, whether the Irish are in a zone or in man-to-man. Many times, coach Brey will put Ayers on the opposition’s best player.

Projected Starters:
Luke Harangody, Zach Hillesland
Off the Bench: Luke Zeller, Ty Nash, Carlton Scott

The heart and soul of the Fighting Irish is Luke Harangody. He is the anti-Brey in terms of outward intensity. If Brey is “ice”, then Harangody is “fire” in terms of showing emotion. For the most part, that is a plus. However, Harangody has said that, for the 2008-09 season, he is going to try to get more under control. Many times, he allowed bad calls to get to him.

Harangody is the returning Big East Player of the Year. He averaged a double-double for the season (20.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg). In conference play, he led the league in scoring (23.3 ppg) and was second in rebounding (11.3 rpg). He had 17 double-doubles and scored in double figures in 32 of Notre Dame’s 33 games.

Harangody might have been a big surprise during last season. He certainly will be no surprise for this one. What does he do to counteract that lack of surprise? He became known for his little flip shot that was a combination of a hook and shot-put. Most of the time that was done with his right hand. Look for him to use his left hand more.

There are two other ways in which Harangody will look to make his game complete. First, as evidenced against Louisville last season, he will shoot some from the 3-point arc to 15 feet. He definitely has the range to do it. Also, since he will no longer be a surprise, teams will double and triple team him as soon as he gets the ball. Look for Harangody to kick the ball out much better to open long range bombers like Ayers, McAlarney and Zeller.

The second frontcourt starter for the Irish, likely, will be Zach Hillesland (6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Hillesland, at 6-9, is a decent ballhandler. He also shot 50 percent from the floor last season.

Hillesland is one of those role player that has to step up in his senior season for the Irish to reach their high goal. Two things he has to do, offensively, to improve. First, many times he drives the lane and appears out-of-control. He has to pull up on those drives. Secondly, he has to start shooting the mid-range jumper. If he can shoot it from about 10 feet, the Irish will be better for it.

Rob Kurz was the only loss to graduation. One question asked about the Irish basketball team is where will Kurz’s minutes be divided and who will do the things that he could do (play defense, take charges, get garbage baskets, etc). The answer will, most likely, come from the next three frontcourt players.

Luke Zeller (4.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg) is a former McDonald’s All American and Player of the Year in Indiana. He is the tallest player on the Irish roster at 6-11. Many think that Zeller has not lived up to his early hype. This is the season for him to step up.

There is no doubt that Zeller is an excellent offensive player. He can shoot from the outside. He was 32-of-84 from 3-point land (38.1 percent). But, in his senior season, Zeller needs to do more. He will be counted on to rebound and also play defense. How he does will go a long way in determining the success of the 2008-09 season.

Mike Brey is notorious for having a short bench. The Irish, for this season will have a solid rotation of 7 players. There is room for two more if they earn it. Those two players are Ty Nash and Carlton Scott.

Ty Nash (1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg) appeared in 15 games for the Irish in his freshman season. At times he appeared very good. He is very athletic with a muscular build. In short, he has a “Big East” body. Will he get increased minutes in the upcoming season? The best chance will be doing it the “Kurz” way. He must do things such as rebounding, playing defense and diving for loose balls.

Many are anxiously awaiting the introduction of Carlton Scott. Scott was redshirted last season. Brey redshirted him in order for him to get stronger. Scott has a basketball body. He is long and can jump out of the gym. In practice, he has shown that he can dunk spectacularly and also has a 3-point range. Many think he will get more of a chance this season than Nash. Regardless, both players have a great upside in terms of talent.

Sophomore Tim Abromaitis might end up being the odd man out for this season. However, he does have talent. The former Connecticut Player of the Year runnerup can shoot the ball. If Brey, somehow, expands playing time, look for Abromaitis to play.

The Schedule
Notre Dame, in 2008-2009, just may be playing one of the toughest schedules in their history. That includes both, conference and non-conference games.

Last season, many complained about Notre Dame’s out-of-conference schedule. The RPI index of the opponents were low and provided no benefit to the Irish in terms of schedule strength, many believed. That is not so for the upcoming season. The Irish will “dive right in” (where have we heard that phrase before?) this season.

Notre Dame will travel to Hawaii to participate in the Maui Invitational. They will face rival Indiana in the opener. After that, possible opponents could be Alabama, Texas and North Carolina. In early December, the Irish will face Ohio State in Indianapolis. Then, in the middle of the rugged Big East portion of the schedule, Notre Dame takes a “break” and faces UCLA, in Los Angeles, in February.

Predictably, the Big East Conference leaders rewarded Notre Dame’s finish last season with a brutal schedule for this season. The Fighting Irish will face Connecticut and Louisville, no less than twice, this season. Both of those teams have been picked in the national top 5 by many publications and websites. Trips to Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Syracuse figure to be tough, too.

Expectations are very high for this edition of the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team. The players and coaches have been downplaying it during the offseason, saying they haven’t earned anything. But, you know it is in the back of their mind that this could be something special.

In order for the Irish to reach their high goals, a few things have to happen. First, as a team, they have to find a way to score 80 points a game. That should be no problem, given the firepower they have. On the opposite end, Notre Dame must improve defensively. The Irish ranked 12th in the Big Eat in scoring defense. The goal should be to, at least, move up to middle-of-the-pack.

Notre Dame needs to replace the hustle factor of Rob Kurz. No one person can do it. It has to be done by committee. So, key players in this endeavor will by Luke Zeller, Ryan Ayers, Zach Hillesland and the combo of Ty Nash and Carlton Scott. Point production would be nice, but diving for loose balls, playing defense and rebounding are more important.

Luke Harangody is no lone a surprise, as mentioned. Neither is Kyle McAlarney. But, each can help the other. When Harangody has no room, kick it out to McAlarney. When McAlarney is covered, get the ball to Harangody. If this happens as well as Tory Jackson driving and dishing, offensively, at least, the sky is the limit.

The Irish have been working very hard in the offseason on all of the aspects mentioned. Look for Notre Dame to have a very successful season – perhaps, their best since 1978 (Final Four season). A Big East championship, whether a regular season or a tournament one, is not out of the question. Neither is a deep run into the Big Dance. With the chips falling right, a run to the Elite 8 – or beyond – is possible.

01 Ty Nash, F, 6-8, 220, Sophomore, Queens, NY
02 Tory Jackson, G, 5-11, 193,Junior, Saginaw, MI
05 Tom Kopko, G, 6-2, 184, Sophomore, Chicago, IL
14 Scott Martin, G, 6-8, 200, Sophomore, Valparaiso, IN
20 Jonathan Peoples, G, 6-3, 215, Junior, Bellwood, IL
21 Tim Abromaitis, F, 6-8, 232, Sophomore, Unionville, CT
22 Ben Hansbrough, G, 6-3, 206, Junior, Poplar Bluff, MO
23 Kyle McAlarney, G, 6-0, 195, Senior, Staten Island, NY
33 Zach Hillesland, F, 6-9, 228, Senior, Toledo, OH
34 Carlton Scott, F, 6-7, 215, Sophomore, San Antonio, TX
40 Luke Zeller, F/C, 6-11, 245, Senior, Washington, IN
41 Tim Andree, F, 6-8, 213, Junior, Colts Neck, NJ
42 Ryan Ayers, G, 6-7, 210, Senior, Blue Bell, PA
44 Luke Harangody, F, 6-8, 255, Junior, Schererville, IN

Head coach - Mike Brey (George Washington, 1982)
Associate Head Coach - Sean Kearney (Scranton, 1981)
Assistant Coach - Anthony Solomon (Virginia, 1987)
Assistant Coach - Rod Balanis (Georgia Tech, 1993)
Coordinator of Basketball Operations - Martin Ingelsby (Notre Dame, 2001)

20th Anniversary

It was the "greatest game ever played in Notre Dame Stadium" according to a poll conducted by the University a few years back. It was October 15, 1988, eleven years before I would ever be lucky enough to see Notre Dame Stadium in person for the first time. Maybe this article won't be filled with a whole lot of punch, but why not take a look back at what happened twenty years ago today and hear a few stories from the great afternoon...

The Final Moments...9 Minutes Worth

The Rocket on The Brawl in the Tunnel

It must have been something to watch live or watch in person, I was lucky enough to be there exactly seventeen years later, needless to say I did not leave the stadium as happy as a fellow writer of DSR did in 1988.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tar Heels trip up Irish 29-24

Jimmy Clausen threw for a career high in yards (383) for the third consecutive week, but the number that had the biggest impact on the game was 5. That is the amount of turnovers the Irish had on Saturday in Chapel Hill, NC as the Irish fell victims to the North Carolina Tar Heels for the first time in 48 years.

It was a tale of two halves, the Irish looked like a 4-1 team in the first half jumping out to a 17-9 halftime lead, only for turnovers to doom them in the second half. The Tar Heels scored 21 of the final 28 points to overcome an 8 point halftime deficit and win by five.

The Irish offensive line gave Clausen tremendous pass protection as he finished the day 31-48 and threw two touchdowns. Clausen was only sacked once and distributed the ball well as he found seven different receivers. Clausen's two touchdown passes came in the first half and gave the Irish a 17-9 halftime lead.

Coming out of the half, the Irish had all of the momentum. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Quan Sturdivant intercepted a Clausen pass and returned it 32 yards to make it a 17-16 game. Two possessions later, the Irish had the ball on the North Carolina 46 with the score 24-16.

With the score 24-22, Clausen was sacked for a seven yard loss and the ball came loose and was recovered by the Heels. Seven plays later the Heels scored on a QB sneak by Cameron Sexton from four yards out to make it 29-24 UNC.

The Irish had a chance to win the game with a 3rd and 13 on the North Carolina 33 and 21 seconds remaining when Clausen found Michael Floyd for a 26 yard gain down to the UNC 7. With time winding down, Floyd looked like he attempted to lateral the ball but Trimane Goddard recovered the fumble, allowing North Carolina to kneel down and close out the victory.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zeke Motta commits to the Irish

                                (photo taken by

Safety Zeke Motta (Vero Beach HS, FL), ended his recruiting process on Monday evening when he verbally committed to Notre Dame.   Motta came on his official visit October 3rd and saw the Irish dismantle Stanford and run its record to 4-1.   Motta told

"My official visit to Notre Dame was great.  The academics are so good, the football program is great and the fan base has so much to do with my trip being so pleasurable for my Dad and me.  I am going to Notre Dame."   

Motta, a 6'3 215 lb safety, was also considering Auburn, Boston College, Florida, Clemson, as well as Stanford.   According to Motta, the reason he chose Notre Dame was because he, "wanted the opportunity to excel in the classroom and on the football field and to grow as a person, and so in the end, Notre Dame is just the best place for me to do that."   There is a debate as to whether Motta will be linebacker or a safety when he arrives in South Bend.

Motta attended the Irish's summer football camp last year, where he earned his scholarship offer.   To make sure he can make an immediate impact next year, he plans on enrolling early and attending classes beginning in January so he can learn the playbook faster.   

Motta is the Irish's 16th commitment for 2009.

Irish Prep for North Carolina Trip

It was two years ago when Notre Dame was in the midst of a BCS season and North Carolina was right at the bottom of the ACC. Two years later the roles have changed as Notre Dame hits the road for only the second time in 2008 this coming Saturday, this time against a potential BCS team, as crazy as it sounds to say. Butch Davis has done a great job at UNC and credit him in turning the program around.

Notre Dame has shown growth offensively, specifically in the passing game where quarterback Jimmy Clausen has had career games in each of his last two contests. How will Clausen fare this weekend in Chapel Hill? Tough to say because he will be facing a defensive scheme that he is not used to seeing.

North Carolina will likely not be going after Clausen, which is a changeup compared to what Clausen has seen this year. Sure the Irish have only allowed five sacks so far in 2008, but Clausen has been blitzed fairly heavily as well. Instead of looking for immediate openings due to the forthcoming blitz, Clausen will have to not get overly anxious. It will also be up to the offensive line to not allow the defensive front of UNC to get to Jimmy.

Despite only getting to the quarterback six times this year North Carolina has forced 12 picks, something Notre Dame must avoid in order to win on Saturday. Leading the way in the defensive backfield for UNC has been Trimane Goddard who is responsible for four interceptions and 22 tackles. Mark Paschal has pulled in two picks himself while the other six interceptions have been brought in by six separate Tar Heels. Its important that, if Clausen does make multiple mistakes, his wideouts in Floyd, Tate, Grimes, and company not only make plays, but also play pass defensive and knock away potential interceptions when necessary.

Statistically, North Carolina has averaged 200 yards allowed through the air while just under 150 a game on the ground. This defense has talent, but as long as the Irish are patient and don't fall victim to the turnover game, the offense should be fine in continuing to put points on the scoreboard. Running the football will be key against this defense since they won't likely be sending linebackers or safeties too often. It's up to the offensive line and running backs to take advantage.

Notre Dame will catch a break defensively where North Carolina is stuck with their second string quarterback from the start of the season, Cameron Sexton. A week ago Sexton threw for only 117 yards, but much of that is due to the fact North Carolina led from early in the first half and was able to run the football.

Two of the biggest playmakers on the field this weekend have the same last name. Notre Dame of course brings Golden Tate, the playmaking wide reciever to the table while North Carolina counters with Brandon Tate. The latter Tate is one of two excellent wide outs for North Carolina (16 Rec, 376 Yds, 3 TDs) who is accompanied by Hakeen Nicks, who is just as daunting of task to try and cover (24 Rec, 412 Yds, 4 TDs). It can be argued that this pair is the best group of wideouts Notre Dame will see in 2008, so David Bruton and company - please come ready to play.

The running game of North Carolina is no great shakes, especially after seeing the powerful running scheme that Stanford brought to Notre Dame Stadium a week ago. Former Notre Dame verbal, turned Tar Heel commit on Signing Day '07 Greg Little leads the Tar Heels with 223 rush yards on the season. Shaun Draughn has only two-thirds the carries as Little, but averages a yard more per carry with 4.7 per. After seeing a strong running game a week ago I expect Notre Dame will be able slow down these two.

What scares me in a game like this is how important special teams will be in the outcome. Obviously, the Irish kick/punt coverage has been a strong point during the season. However, the times Notre Dame has been pressured in the punt game, they have either had balls deflected or have come very near to having them blocked. That won't fly this weekend as UNC is coming off a game where Bruce Carter blocked three punts himself en route to a blowout win over UConn and former Irish quarterback Zach Frazer.

Notre Dame let a team back into the game last weekend, due partly due to bad special teams play, when Brandon Walker had two chances to wrap things up and failed in both. Jay Wooten is by no means great, but gives the Tar Heels an advantage in special teams by converting 4/6 field goals this season with a long of 43.

Prediction Time:

Man Oh Man...At the start of the week I had extreme doubts in the Fighting Irish coming into this weekend. "Is Notre Dame back?" is a question many of us have heard the past week with the 4-1 record, but not really a "marquee win" as the pollsters love to see. Can it change this weekend? The rest of the Notre Dame fandom may think I'm nuts in saying this, but here it goes...

Nick Says(5-0): Notre Dame 28 #22 North Carolina 24
Mark Says (5-0): #22 North Carolina 27 Notre Dame 21
Mike Says (0-0): #22 North Carolina 28 Notre Dame 24

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Former USC commit decides he doesn't want to ride the Trojan Horse and instead favors South Bend

                    (photo taken by

Shaquelle Evans (#3 ranked WR in the nation), has decided that he no longer wants to be known as a soft commitment to USC.   The fact of the matter is he has decided USC is not even his top choice.   Evans told ESPNU's Greg Biggins:
"Right now, I'm really feeling Notre Dame," Evans said. "I had a great trip back there and that's where I feel most comfortable.  It's hard to explain but I just felt so at home at Notre Dame and I've never felt that way around any other school."

That's right Irish fans, the 6'1 203 lb WR who runs a 4.43 40 yard dash, has decided that Notre Dame is on the top of his wish list of colleges to attend next year.   Shaquelle, who is from Inglewood HS (CA), took an official visit to South Bend and watched as they took on, and defeated, the Purdue Boilermakers two weeks ago.   Evans came away from his trip LOVING the atmosphere and loved just being at Notre Dame stadium.   The biggest thing for him however, was, "just the comfort level," and that he has always believed that you should go where you feel most comfortable and, "right now for me, that's Notre Dame."

Evans was in California to watch the Trojans dominate the Buckeyes last month and gave the coaches there a "soft commitment" meaning that he wanted to keep his eyes open.  Fortunately for Irish fans, that means putting Notre Dame at the top of his list.   Shaquelle has not said when he will decide on his college choice but insists that "I am going to pick the best school for me no matter where it is, and right now, I think that's Notre Dame."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Career Day for Clausen Helps the Irish Clip the Cardinal

(photo by Associated Press)
Jimmy Clausen threw for a career high 347 yards and three touchdowns and the Irish defense was very opportunistic, intercepting Stanford three times, as the Irish held on for a 28-21 victory over the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday and improved to 4-1.

The Irish took a 28-7 lead into the fourth quarter and closed out the game by forcing Stanford to a turnover on downs with 2:24 left. Stanford got the ball again with eight seconds left but fumbled on their own 10 yard line to end the game.

Clausen, who has had back-to-back career games in terms of passing yards, (275 and 347 yards respectively) looked to have total command of the offense this week as he completed 29-40 passes. His three touchdown passes were from 21, 48, and 16 yards out.

Michael Floyd led the Irish receivers with five catches for 115 yards. Floyd and Clausen connected on a 48-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter to give the Irish a 21-7 halftime lead. The Irish put the finishing touches on with a 16 yard touchdown reception to Kyle Rudolph. While the Irish running game struggled, 83 yards on 27 carries, the passing game dominated the Stanford defense winning the time of possession 33:20 to 26:40.

The Good
Clausen clearly is coming into his own with the passing game. He threw the deep ball very well today connecting on seven passes of 20 yards or longer. He spread the ball well, completing passes to seven different receivers and did not turn the ball over.

The Irish played a bend but do not break style on defense. On their first offensive possession Stanford drove from their own 26 down to the Notre Dame 34 before David Bruton intercepted a Tavita Pritchard pass. That interception led to a 21 yard touchdown pass to Armando Allen to give Notre Dame an early 7-0 lead. On their second possession, the Cardinal drove down to the Irish 29 yard line and Pritchard threw his second interception of the game. On the day, the Irish defense had three interceptions and sacked Pritchard five times.

Punter Eric Maust had two punts that pinned Stanford inside of their own 5-yard line.

The Bad
The Irish defense was run all over today. Stanford averaged 6.6 yards per carry, led by running back Toby Gerhart's 104 yards. The Irish have to go back to the drawing board and develop a better game plan against the run as they travel next week to Chapel Hill to take on the 4-1 North Carolina Tar Heels who demolished the 24th ranked UConn Huskies 38-12 yesterday. The Heels are averaging 120 rushing yards per game.

The Ugly
Field goal kicking is an area that greatly needs to improve. Brandon Walker was 0-2 in field goal attempts (41 and 47 yards). Neither field goal was close. Charlie Weis says that in practice Walker is constantly put in pressure situations and continues to come through. Unfortunately for Weis, Walker is 1-7 on field goal attempts for the season with his only made field goal (41 yards) came last week against Purdue.

What's Next
Notre Dame will travel to Chapel Hill this week to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in a battle of 4-1 teams.