Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Football Recruiting Class of '09: The Final Week...

Nick Shepkowski, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2009 Recruiting

Notre Dame enters the final week of recruiting for the 2009 high school seniors as the Irish continue to fall down the ranks of both Rivals and Scout.Com's lists. The Irish have lost a verbal commitment by Nyshier Oliver, the 3/4 star athlete from New Jersey who seems to be headed to Tennessee now. Not only have the Irish lost a potential future star, but they haven't added any for quite some time now.

Currently, the Irish sit just inside the top 25 in rankings for recruiting this offseason. Sure, when you lose a borderline 3/4 star player decommit the rankings go down, but how at this point can the overall talent pool of the Fighting Irish move up?

Two Words: Manti Te'o

Commonly reffered to as the top high school linebacker in the country, Manti Te'o has listed Notre Dame as a finalist to attend next year. Along with Notre Dame, the rumors have Te'o also flirting with both USC and UCLA. If the Irish are able to land Te'o they will have an immediate answer to the departure of Maurice Crum, Jr. who leaves Notre Dame after four seasons (five, if you count the one redshirt season) in the blue and gold.

Te'o would be able to fill the middle linebacker void and with the Irish not being primed for a title run in 2009, he could add valuable experience in 2010, a year Notre Dame will have enough talent to make a serious BCS run.

Sadly for Notre Dame fans there are a few things that remain an obstacle in order for the Irish to pull in Te'o and the biggest one would have to be those three dreaded letters, U-S-C. Te'o is expected on making one more visit to Pete Carroll and the USC campus before February 4th.

I was excited about learning Te'o had not eliminated ND from contention, I have to admit a commitment from him would mean more to me than the Jimmy Clausen commitment did. Te'o would come in not wearing four state title rings and the punchline of many college football blogs. Te'o is more NCAA ready at his position coming out high school than Jimmy was. Te'o can be an instant contributor for whichever school he chooses.

Sadly, in my eyes, I feel the fact he's taking another look at USC before signing day (in which he plans to have decided by) makes me feel the Irish and Bruins are just being dragged around for the rest of his high school ride and that he will choose to be a Trojan.

However, as most of you know I am nearly never right so let's hope that is the case again!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Irish Face Road Challenge...Again


To say the Big East in basketball is like the SEC of Big XII of football does not do the conference enough justice. What Big East basketball teams are going through this season is even a bit extreme for for Big East standards and just days after an overtime loss on the road in Louisville, Notre Dame looks to get things back on track against #8 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

When you talk about teams who are statistically twins, Notre Dame and Syracuse come about as close to that as they can. Notre Dame averages 81.6 points per contest while Syracuse enters
only scoring 80.9 a game themselves. Defense is the same story where both the Irish and Orange are allowing averages of 68.8 and 68.1 ppg respectivley.

In order for Notre Dame to win Luke Harangody needs to play an entire basketball game. Against Louisville, Luke faultered down the stretch a bit and did nothing in overtime. By no means can you expect the Irish to win going away, having Harangody be a factor for all forty minutes and then possibly beyond is a must because Syracuse offers great guard play that could very well shut down the outside game to a certain degree.

Personally, based on the skill of the opposition I do not feel that
McAlarney, Jackson, and Ayers can be counted on to put up their usual numbers. The more I look into this game, the more I feel Luke Harangody needs to have a "Harangody type game".

Syracuse, led by coach Jim Boehiem, has seen great guard play this season from both
Jonny Flynn (Soph.) and Eric Devendorf (Junior). Flynn enters whiel putting up 16.3 ppg and dishing out nearly six assists per contests. Devendorf enters scoring right at fourteen points a game. The Orange are led on the boards by forwards Paul Harris and Arinze Onuaku.

I feel that due to better defense being played by Syracuse and them being able to handle the Notre Dame snipers a little bit better than most schools are, expect to see this game not be quite as high scoring as many think it will be. I feel that Notre Dame is too good of a team to not beat a quality Big East team on the road this season and they get a big victory this afternoon in the dome.

Notre Dame 72 Syracuse 70

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Notre Dame Does Its' Fire-Hire Thing

Mark Allen, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
Breaking News


"Verducci replaces John Latina who resigned Wednesday to pursue other opportunities."

The above quote is the "official" word from Notre Dame. But, does anyone really believe the embattled offensive line coach wasn't fired? The coach, after all, was the coach at the helm of the offensive line that gave up an at-the-time record 58 sacks in 2007. Although, the sack number was a definite improvement in 2008 over 2007, the running game was another story. The Irish averaged 3.3 yards per carry and 109.7 yards per game running the ball.

Latina becomes the third Irish assistant coach to "pursue other opportunities". One, of course, was legitimate. Offensive coordinator, Mike Haywood, left Notre Dame to become the head coach at Miami of Ohio. Defensive line coach Jappy Oliver, like Latina, was, most likely, fired.

Not long after rumors circulated that Latina was let go, the Irish announced the hiring of Cleveland Browns offensive assistant coach Frank Verducci.

So, who is Frank Verducci? For one thing, he has experience at both the professional and college level. Most recently, as mentioned, he was an offensive line coach and assistant for the Cleveland Browns.

Verducci's resume:

1980: Colorado State (grad assistant)
1981-83: Maryland (tight ends)
1984: Northern Illinois (running backs/strength and conditioning coach)
1985-86: Iowa (graduate assistant)
1987-88: Northwestern (wide receivers)
1989-98: Iowa (offensive line, recruiting coordinator, running game coordinator)
1999-2001: Cincinnati Bengals ( tight ends, assistant offensive line)
2002: Dallas Cowboys (offensive line)
2004-05: Buffalo Bills (offensive line/tight ends)
2007-08: Cleveland Browns (offensive assistant coach)

Verducci's most impressive college experience was gathered at Iowa, where he coached under Hayden Fry. In his decade there, the running game averaged 171.5 yards per game. During the 1990, 1994 and 1997 seasons, Iowa averaged 224.9, 221 and 217 yards per game, respectively. He had twelve of his offensive linemen make it to the NFL. Six of those were All-Big Ten players.
Not only was the running game successful under Verducci, but he was also very successful as a recruiter. Tom Lemming named him as a top ten recruiter for 1990. Allen Wallace of SuperPrep named him as a top ten recruiter on four occasions (1990-1992 and 1995).

More recently, Verducci has success with the Browns. In 2007, the Browns' offensive ranked 8th in the NFL. In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, running back Jamal Lewis went over the 1000 yard mark for the season.

Verducci, like Charlie Weis, is a native of New Jersey. That should help Notre Dame in recruiting in the Northeast. His wife, Noel, is a Saint Mary's of Indiana graduate.

Will Verducci be an instant impact hire? Can he turn around the offensive line, thereby improving the running game? Stay tuned!

In other news, Charlie Weis has offered Ohio State linebacker's coach Luke Fickell a chance to coach with the Irish. Domer Sports Report will update that story as information comes in.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Irish face Cards in Big Monday Showdown

Nick Shepkowski, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Men's Basketball
Game Preview

Every time a college basketball fan has turned their head this month, a Big East showdown has been taking place. That trend gets no different tonight as the Fighting Irish head south to take on the Louisville Cardinals. The Irish, led by Luke Harangody (24 pts, 12 boards/game) and Kyle McAlarney (16.5 ppg) face a tough matchup in the Louisville Cardinals.

The Cardinals began the year ranked in the preseason top five in the nation but have struggled so far, going 11-3 so far this season while starting the Big East season 2-0 so far. The Cardinals bring in a much deeper lineup than the Irish but don't have quite the same upperclassmen leadership Notre Dame does. Earl Clark leads the Cardinals in scoring with just over 13 ppg while Samardo Samuels and Terrance Williams average over ten a game.

Louisville will look to slow things down a bit more than the Irish are used to. In order for Notre Dame to walk out of Louisville with a victory they better be ready to run the floor and not let Louisville get too comfortable in slowing things down.

With the Irish coming out a bit flat this weekend against Seton Hall I suspect they were looking ahead a bit to this Big Monday matchup. However, I feel that this being on the road will do the Irish in although they keep it very close.


Louisville 71 Notre Dame 68

Monday, January 5, 2009

Irish Bounce Back Against Georgetown

Luke Harangody scored 31 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as Notre Dame (11-3, 2-1) bounced back from a loss to St. John's last Saturday in New York. The 13th ranked Irish held on for the win, 73-67, over #9 Georgetown (10-3, 1-2).

Notre Dame, which led at the half, 39-28, was a different team in this game compared to last Saturday. Although, the Hoyas eventually won the rebounding battle, 37-34, the Irish scrapped and hustled. They had the rebound when it was key. They also played much better defense for most of the game versus Georgetown.

Although, he scored 10 points, Tory Jackson was the epitomy of this game as far as being clutch and hustling. Early on, he hit a key jumper. But, later in the game he also drew a charge when Georgetown was trying to pull closer. His no-look pass with 4:07 left led to a dunk by Harangody and a 65-54 lead.

Back to Harangody. Early foul trouble could have caused most player to play timid. But, in achieving his 34th double double, Harangody was anything but timid. As a matter of fact, he played the last 11:34 with four fouls. He did not foul out.

The Irish shot 44.6 percent from the floor. They held Georgetown to 41.7 percent. Notre Dame's foul shooting was key to the win. They hit an outstanding 15-of-16 from the line.

Notre Dame, besides Harangody's 31 points received 17 from Kyle McAlarney. Tory Jackson had a very good seven assists. Georgetown was led by freshman center Greg Monroe who had 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Notre Dame now owns the nation's longest home court winning streak. They have won 44 games in a row at the Joyce Center. They will be back in action on Saturday at 2 p.m.. The opponent will be Seton Hall. The game is at the Joyce Center.

Irish Receive First 2010 Verbal

Mark Allen, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football
2010 Recruiting

Christian Lombard, an offensive lineman from Palatine, Illinois has given a verbal commitment to play football for the University of Notre Dame. Lombard, a current junior, becomes the first verbal commitment for the recruiting class of 2010.

The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman made his announcement in San Antonio, Texas. He was there for the U.S. Army All-American game. He was among the juniors who were invited. He will play in next year's game.

The highly rated lineman (At least one service projects him as a five-star prospect) chose Notre Dame after narrowing his list down to three. The other finalists were Iowa and Wisconsin.

Stating why he chose Notre Dame, Lombard cited a few reasons. Lombard said, "Overall, it's a good fit. I just think I can play early. I want to make an impact on that team because I know they're going to be good and I want to be a part of that."

But, like many who come to Notre Dame, Lombard also stated what many of his predecessors have said. "I think if things don't work out with football I'll still have a shot at making money with that degree," Lombard said.

Lombard also said that playing early due to a lack of tackles played a part in his decision. He also said that he would become a recruiter for the Irish, attempting to sway other recruits in Notre Dame's favor.

2010 recruiting is off to a very good start. Welcome to Notre Dame, Christian!

*Mark Allen has been a fan of Notre Dame since watching the Irish on Sunday replays in the late 1960s. He is a former minor league baseball player. He currently live up near Notre Dame. Charlie Weis does not live far away. He has degrees in psychology and sociology with minors in philosophy and theology.