Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Irish Set to Welcome Washington

Fresh off of an escape in Purdue last weekend, the Irish get set to welcome the revamped Washington Huskies to South Bend in week five of the college football season. Yes, this is a team that went 0-12 a season ago, a team the Irish defeated 33-7 on the road a season ago. However, its also a team that has already done something in 2009 that Notre Dame hasn't successfully done since 2001: Beat USC.

The Huskies are coming to South Bend fresh off a 34-14 loss at Stanford a week ago. In the loss the Huskies gave up 321 of the 424 yards allowed on the ground to the Cardinal, they have also allowed 250 rush yards against USC and 149 rush yards versus LSU during the year. Although in USC's case it didn't result in points, expect the Irish to follow the lead of these teams and come out trying to establish the run.

Unlike a week ago the Irish will be with Armando Allen this week. If he at all struggles or is limited in carries, Jonas Gray had an impact out of the backfield a week ago while Robert Hughes reintroduced himself to Fighting Irish fans. Through four weeks the Irish have rushed for 632 yards on 151 carries, good for 4.2 yards per carry, a yard better average per rush than from a year ago.

The Irish bread and butter of throwing the football will be tested on Saturday, Washington brings a strong pass defense and secondary to South Bend. Golden Tate is a playmaker as we have all learned, expect Charlie Weis to get the ball in his hands in creative ways once again this week. I do expect the Irish to come out with several more multiple tight end sets this week then we have seen early on. I fully expect Kyle Rudolph to lead the Irish in receptions on Saturday.
Duval Kamara did himself no favors a week ago with multiple illegal formation penalties. Shaq Evans also showed his green by costing the Irish a timeout when not knowing where to line up last week. No replacement for Michael Floyd has been found yet, I don't suspect the Irish find their go-to this weekend either.

Washington will be led by junior quarterback Jake Locker, a former five star recruit. Locker has had two years experience already and its starting to show as he's already thrown for over 1000 yards on the season. He has also added 74 rush yards with two touchdowns coming on the ground. He's an all around athlete, more along the mold of a Tim Tebow than a Tate Forcier, both of which are very successful spread quarterbacks.

Washington will attempt to establish the run like all teams against Notre Dame in order to pull the upset will have to throw the football with success. The running game of the Huskies is led by Chris Polk who has rushed for 316 yards this but is only averaging 3.8 ypc. Jake Locker is the second leading rusher on the team, as a whole they pick up 3.3 yards a carry but only 108 yards or so a week on the ground.

Steve Sarkisian brings a more successful passing game to Washington from USC as the new coach is having success throwing the ball already far beyond what Tyrone Willingham was able to do in Washington. James Johnson is the go-to receiver for the Huskies, he has 19 receptions, 220 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Locker will also look to Jermaine Kearse and Kavario Middleton who both have double-digit receptions.

The Irish enter Saturday's game as a 13 point favorite over the visiting Huskies. Sure Washington did beat USC but this is still a very flawed team coming to South Bend. The Huskies can't stop the run to save their lives, as long as Notre Dame doesn't get themselves into many third and longs they should be just fine putting points on the board.

While beating USC, the Huskies kept the Trojans from converting a third or fourth down the entire game. Sure USC was playing with a backup quarterback but their game plan was getting them into several third and longs, they also coughed the ball up one too many times.

The Irish appear to be getting healthier headed into their final game before a bye week. I expect a big day from Armando Allen as Charlie Weis comes in with a run heavy offensive game plan with the use of multiple tight end sets.

Prediction Time:

Nick (3-1): Notre Dame 28 Washington 17 (I had to change mine, Mark picked the exact same score as me originally and he got it to me first)

Mark (3-1): Notre Dame 31 Washington 20

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Brian Dascenzo, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football

Quick hits from the Purdue game...

Did the running game seemingly get better without Armando Allen?

I think that talks about Purdue more than anything.

Jimmy Clausen is pretty, pretty good.

Dayne Crist got some meaningful snaps which could become necessary if Clausen can't get better.

Jimmy on one leg is better than Dayne right now.

The defense still hates tackling.

Darrin Walls needs to knock the fourth down pass down and not intercept it. Cost the team 20ish yards of field position.

Purdue bailed the Irish out by not kicking long field goals and missing the fourth down conversions.

Golden Tate is very good, the last thing I remember him doing in the Wild Cat was tackling Armando against Nevada.

Charlie did a great job of game planning around not having Armando.

Jonas Gray and Robert Hughes were very good in replacing Armando and Riddick is this close to returning a kick.

The tackles did not play their best, at least I hope that wasn't their best.

The wide receivers did not step up for the Floyd absence. Unless you count Kamara lining up wrong multiple times, although I guess he was noticed this game...

The third quarter is still an issue, even though they held the ball for 12 minutes. No points in the quarter almost led to a disaster.

If Charlie really was planning on spiking the ball with 36 seconds left that is a terrible decision. Thankfully Purdue bailed him out, although I think it might have been a fake spike play because that is the only thing that makes sense.

If I never have to see Todd Blackledge and Brad Nessler discuss food for four plays in a row I'll be a happy guy.

Tenuta adjusted the defense, I think. It's still a bend and don't break scheme. They did shut down Bolden though.

Nessler has regressed almost as much as Juice Williams.

A win is a win is a win, but I'd like to be able to breathe during the fourth quarter this week.

Follow me on twitter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Irish Set to Battle Boilermakers

Stand by Ar-man, and tell the world you love him...

Notre Dame is an eyelash from being 1-2 on the season after barely getting by Michigan State this past Saturday in South Bend. If you are an optimist you will say they are an eyelash from being 3-0 after being just one more first down away from victory in Ann Arbor. One thing I fully assume for this Saturday is that Irish fans won't have to sit through the duration of the second half chewing on their finger nails due to nerves caused by the game.

Losing Michael Floyd does no favors for the Irish, with his quick start to 2009 the national media has been all-over calling him a future first round pick in the NFL draft, something I have been saying since signing day well over a year ago. The hurt that this injury puts on this offense will not show its head this weekend however as the Irish will get off the bus running the football against Purdue and continue to do so until the Boilermakers adjust their defense.

Plain and simple, the Boilermakers can't stop the run. Notre Dame has some issues themselves but nowhere near as bad as Purdue has an issue with stopping the run in 2009. So far this year we have seen Akron, Oregon, and Northern Illinois average 181 yards per game on the ground against the Boilermakers this season, expect that trend to continue.

Armando Allen had a coming out party of sorts a year ago when Purdue traveled to South Bend, he put 134 yards on the ground while averaging 5.0 ypc. To that date, it was his best performance in a Notre Dame uniform. Expect another big game from the running backs this weekend as well.

Jimmy Clausen has moved his way up the ESPN Heisman rankings, checking in at fourth this week. He loses his favorite target in Michael Floyd but don't expect this to slow the passing game when the Irish deem it necessary to throw. The oh-so-present run threat will keep Purdue cheating up until they are burned on a deep ball, perhaps even afterwards.

Jason Werner leads the Purdue defense, expect the Irish to throw and run away from where he lines up on defense, much like they threw away from and ran away from Greg Jones of Michigan State a week ago. So far on the year Werner has 6 tackles for loss, a sack, and an interception. He happens to be a playmaker but is the exception to the rule for Purdue on defense.

The Boilermakers have given up an average of 32.3 ppg this year, I don't see the Irish having a major hurdle to jump over to reach that. This will easily be the best offense Purdue has seen to date, don't think Notre Dame won't make that a known fact by the end of the evening.

To Purdue's credit they have put up 36.3 ppg this year in three contests. Ralph Bolden leads the Boilermaker charge as he has rushed for 421 yards on the season while reaching the endzone 4 times. He currently holds a 6.8 average yards per carry, a number Notre Dame looks to bring down. The passing game is what Purdue offenses have become famous for but stop the run on Saturday and it turns into a very long evening for the Boilermakers. A big game from both Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams as well as a little help from the linebackers will be needed.

Joey Elliott will be doing the quarterback duties for Purdue on Saturday night, he has a strong arm but has had trouble in decision making this season, already throwing five interceptions three games in. His favorite targets are Keith Smith and Aaron Valentin who have combined for 33 receptions and have each scored a touchdown in 2009.

Purdue will be playing with a sense of urgency after falling to Northern Illinois in West Lafayette a week ago. Expect the Boilermakers to come out swinging, perhaps a trick play or two on their first series even.

At the end of the night it will however be another win for Notre Dame in a game that shows how far off track the two programs currently are with each other.


Nick (2-1): Notre Dame 38 Purdue 20
Mark (2-1): Notre Dame 42 Purdue 24

In the meantime, enjoy what happened when Notre Dame traveled to Purdue four years ago. Just happened to stumble upon this earlier, thought everyone would enjoy looking back on a very enjoyable night.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Brian Dascenzo, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football

I've changed the name of the article just because I can.

Quick hits from the State game.

Armando Allen continues to grow as a running back and is even being trusted to take snaps late in games.

Michael Floyd isn't going to play against USC until his junior year (knock on wood).

The catch rule in the end zone has to be looked at and changed. A touch down should end the play, a late hit should not affect a catch that has already happened.

Golden Tate, remember him? He's still awesome even with a drop or two.

Charlie didn't shy away from throwing late in the game even without his best receiver.

The defense, outside of Kyle McCarthy, can't tackle. Plain and simple.

Jimmy Clausen grew up these last two weeks, especially this week. Leading the team while hurt and having to arm pass most throws today showed a toughness I don't know that we'd seen.

Jonas Gray got Clausen killed by not blocking either of two blitzers.

Big 11 officials know what conference they come from.

Missed extra points are unacceptable... unless it evens out and you kill a long field goal.

Wins are better than losses. Not to go out on a limb.

Charlie still gets too cute during play calling. I don't know if he out thinks himself or what but there are plays every game that I just can't believe he called.

I can't believe Charlie Jr. is 16.

Duval Kamara is going to have to step up or get out. It's make or break time Duval.

Mike Floyd needs a nickname that doesn't involve his injury proneness. Something like G.O.A.T.

Kyle Rudolph, meet the limelight.

The offensive line is about to get abused by Charlie, I think the run game is going to get used a bit more these next two games.

I still don't understand how MSUCKS only ran for 105 yards without a sack against. It seemed like every time they ran it went for at least five yards.

Remember the field goal that slammed against the upright? Me, too.

The look ahead to ND curse hit Purdue this week as they lost to Northern Illinois. Or Purdue isn't very good (remember MSUCKS lost to CMU last week?).

Blitzing on every down and not getting sacks doesn't make any sense.

Blitzing on 3rd and long doesn't make sense at all.

I'm questioning Tenuta, sorry, but I remember what he did to ND in 06 and 07 and this isn't it.

The biggest (errr second biggest) play by the defense was a defensive lineman chasing down a running back from behind on a screen pass. This shows positives (speed) and negatives (no one else could make the tackle).

Shouldn't the non-KMac defensive backs make plays? Not you Ray, no one knew you were on the roster.

Can someone explain Pat Haden and Tom Hammond's insistence that Cousins' pass into Ray Herring was a great show of poise?

I hope MSUCKS planted a flag after their Montana State win, because they just lost their home away from home. I think Notre Dame goes back to dominating this series 3 out of every 4 as a worst case scenario, you know like Michigan does to their little brother...

Follow me on twitter, and cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Battle for Megaphone Speaks Volumes

This was supposed to be a game where both Michigan State and Notre Dame proved they were back. One was supposed to be sitting pretty at 3-0 with the other at 2-1 after this weekend. After each falling in week one we know that won't be the case, now each team looks to stay above the .500 mark in seasons that were supposed to mark major turnarounds for both squads.

What's worse, losing at home to a directional school from your own state or falling at one of your biggest rival's stadiums when you are the only ranked team in the match up...and your rival was 3-9 a season ago? Easy to say Notre Dame lost to the tougher team but both losses sting the Spartans and Irish respectively.

Despite being an eleven point favorite in Vegas, the Irish have dropped six straight meetings in South Bend to Michigan State. Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and now Charlie Weis have all gone winless at home versus the Spartans. Here's what the Irish need to look out for in order to stop the streak.

Michigan State has a solid run defense, but another weak secondary. I don't expect anything out of the norm from whats been shown the first two weeks. The trifecta of Floyd, Tate, and Rudolph remains key for the offense. Opening up a passing game and allowing Armando Allen room to run. I am not usually a fan of pass-first offenses, but the heavy threat of passing has been the biggest key to why Allen has had a strong start to the season running the football.

Greg Jones is the major play maker on defense for the Spartans. The reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year has 29 tackles two games into 2009, that's good enough to lead the conference again at this point.

Jones and Michigan State are extremely strong in the run defense, that's why I expect Notre Dame to come out throwing the football. Opponents have averaged only 2.2 ypc vs. MSU this year while they've put up over 6 yards per pass attempt (225 ypg), easy to see why I expect Jimmy Clausen to come out firing again on Saturday.

The Spartans come into South Bend still looking for a full-time replacement to Irish-killer and current Tennessee Titan, Javon Ringer. Caulton Ray has compiled 122 yards on the ground and been the only Spartan to score running the football this year. Larry Caper has also seen 13 carries for less success but its safe to say the running game isn't the same as it has been in recent years for Sparty.

Michigan State enters Saturday still using two quarterbacks, all reports make it sound as if Mark D'Antonio isn't really feeling the need to name an exclusive starter just yet. Kirk Cousins has thrown for 347 yards and 4 TD this year while former Oklahoma recruit Keith Nichol has added 3 TD passes himself. Both are yet to throw an interception but it must be noted that Cousins has nearly a 20% higher completion percentage while attempting nine more passes.

Blair White is the target of choice for both quarterbacks Notre Dame will see on Saturday. White is the only Spartan with double-digit reception numbers so far (12) and has 2 TD receptions to boot. BJ Cunningham has 117 receiving yards on the year for MSU as he has also taken 2 catches for scores. On offense I see the Spartans trying to run the ball the majority of the afternoon as long as the score of the game allows them to.

Neither of the quarterbacks that the Irish will see threaten to do quite what Tate Forcier was able to do last Saturday in Ann Arbor. If d-linemen from Notre Dame kept their feet instead of constantly diving, Forcier doesn't do half the things he did. Credit the kid for making plays but don't let yourself think it was only him, the lack of defensive discipline helped the freshman quarterback out a ton.

Notre Dame will blitz the middle very much on Saturday, trying to make Michigan State throw the football. The Irish play well against the pass as long as they get a pass rush, like any team the secondary breaks down when the quarterback isn't being pressured. That is a key this Saturday for Notre Dame, get pressure up the middle and they will be in business.

The combination of Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams is huge for me on Sunday. Michigan State has talent at quarterback but not a lot to throw to, if Notre Dame can force them to pass it will catch up with the Spartans. If not then the Irish will be headed for 1-2 and a long fall.

This is an absolute must win for the Fighting Irish and Charlie Weis this weekend. I don't agree with an 11 point line that the Vegas oddsmakers have put out but this is a redemption game for Notre Dame. Not that it isn't for Michigan State but playing on their home field and without a conference affiliation, the Irish have more running on Saturday's end result.

I expect struggles early to move the football for the first time this season, perhaps even falling behind again. I do feel the home field comes back and saves the Irish in this one as they squeak by to 2-1. Its a must-win for Charlie and Company and they pick up the win.

Nick (1-1) Says: Notre Dame 31 Michigan State 27
Mark (1-1) Says: Notre Dame 34 Michigan State 24

Post your Saturday prediction on the Domer Sports Report Message Board! Remember, awards will be given out at the end of the year so stay with us all fall long for plenty of Notre Dame football chatter!

Preview Written By: Nick Shepkowski, add me as a friend on facebook or follow me and my random Irish thoughts on Twitter!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grant Becomes Third Verbal For 2010

Mark Allen, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Men's Basketball

It came down to between Notre Dame, DePaul and Providence. Then, Jerian Grant took a visit to the University of Notre Dame. Grant went home, talked it over with his parents and brother and committed to Mike Brey and the University of Notre Dame. He had seen enough to make his decision.

Of course, there were other factors on Notre Dame's side. One influence was the "DeMatha factor". Does the name DeMatha Catholic ring a bell? It should. Notre Dame once had a pipeline there and continues to have connections. Former stars such as Sid Catlett and Adrian Dantley went there. Current Notre Dame coaches Mike Brey and Rod Balanis are graduates of DeMatha. And, of course, there is the high school teacher who continually plied Grant with the history of the DeMatha - Notre Dame connection.

If you are looking at stats, Grant's will not jump out at you. The 6-4, 180 pounder averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. Those stats might be a bit deceiving. He played for the seventh ranked team in the nation and they were loaded. DeMatha finished 32-4.

Grant's ratings with the various recruiting services are much better than his stats. Rivals has him as a 4 star and the 92nd rated player overall. Scout has him a 3 star, but the 35th rated player overall. In addition, Grant is the son of a former NBA player Harvey Grant. So, the pedigree is there.

Grant, a shooting guard, becomes the third verbal commitment for the class of 2010. He joins Maryland recruit Eric Atkins. Atkins is a Rival 4 star and the 58th rated recruit. He is also friends with Grant. 6-6 Illinois shooting guard Alex Dragecivich rounds out the three verbals.

Brey has one more scholarship to give out for 2010. There is no doubt who is high on his wish list. It is 6-8 forward Tobias Harris out of New York. Harris is a 5 star recruit by both services. He is also a top 10 rated player by each.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Return to Relevance for Notre Dame/Michigan Rivalry

Both Notre Dame and Michigan started their seasons on the right foot this past Saturday with home blowout victories. The Irish defeated Nevada 35-0 while Michigan blew out Western Michigan 31-7 in week one. Both teams started on the right foot in seasons they hope to turn heads and regain national respect on the football field.

Michigan is powered by a two headed monster at quarterback between Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, both freshman who were brought to Michigan by Rich Rodriguez. Forcier is the throwing quarterback (13/20, 179 yds, 3 TD vs WMU) while Robinson is in as a run-first threat (2/4 for 18 yards passing, 11 rushes for 74 and a touchdown vs WMU). Both quarterbacks are freshman and didn't see pressure from Western Michigan like they will see from Jon Tenuta and the Notre Dame defense this Saturday. Because of this added pressure and inexperience at the D-1 level I fully expect to see multiple turnovers by this combo on Saturday, I also don't expect to see Robinson be quite the threat he was against Western Michigan just because the overall speed of Notre Dame's defense isn't even comparable to WMU's. Nick Sheridan should also see time for Michigan at some point but don't expect much put on him.

The target of choice for Forcier will be Junior Hemingway who took in five receptions for 103 yards and two scores this past weekend. Kevin Koger was responsible for the other touchdown reception for the Wolverines on Saturday.

In the passing game don't expect Michigan to be throwing deep like they did on Western Michigan. The speed of the secondary (or lack there of) allowed Michigan to throw deep with much success this past weekend, however watching the ball that Forcier throws it still takes a while to get to his WR's. Quicker safeties and corners will feast on Forcier all season if this continues to be the game plan of the Wolverines. Expect Michigan to throw into the flats and over the middle of the field Saturday, I can promise Notre Dame won't be getting beat on the deepball against Michigan.

Carlos Brown has emerged as the biggest running threat for Michigan early this year, he had 10 carries for 54 yards last week, also pulled in a catch for 14 yards. Brown has come on strong for Michigan after getting only 35 touches in all of 2008. Kevin Grady and Michael Shaw will also get touches out of the backfield for Michigan.

Michigan's offense will be to try and attack Notre Dame up the middle due to the amount of yards Notre Dame gave up there a week ago (Vai Taun 114 yards on 18 carries). Part of that was due to the amount and style of blitzing ND was doing, the other part is likely that this part of the defense isn't its strong suit.

The Wolverines will also attempt to the quick hitters to receivers because of the blitzing by Notre Dame. Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson will have to think a lot more on the fly than they had to a week ago against WMU a week ago, for that it plays into Notre Dame's favor. As long as the Irish keep contain when Robinson is in the game I am not terribly scared of his legs and would love to see him have to throw the football.

How Notre Dame will Attack on Offense:
Michigan's secondary was responsible for two interceptions a week ago and held the pass heavy Broncos to 263 passing yards a week ago (73 were on one play, late in the game). Charlie Weis and company know that the Irish's strong point is their passing game, especially after seeing what Jimmy Clausen was able to do with Michael Floyd a week ago.

Michael Floyd will attract extra defenders coming off his huge performance in week one, I expect the Irish to use Golden Tate in a bigger role this week. We should see routes where Tate uses his speed and awareness to catch the ball on shorter passes while in full stride. The Irish will try and get these plays towards Tate to go for big yardage, hoping Michigan will then have to lay off of Floyd a bit.

Also by getting Tate to run shorter routes over the middle it will cause a movement in linebackers, expect to see a miscommunication at least once that allows for Kyle Rudolph to get big yardage on a play. The Notre Dame passing game is downright scary and we will see that shown again this week.

The only thing that scares me this week is that Michigan was great against the run a week ago as WMU only put up 38 yards on 24 attempts (1.6 ypc). Notre Dame won't be this bad running the ball but I'm not expecting the running game to be a game breaker, either. James Aldridge is out and Robert Hughes will play in his spot at fullback on Saturday. Expect the Irish to run many screens and Armando Allen and Jonas Gray, this to try and free up space later in the game between the tackles.

To me Notre Dame has too much experience matched with talent to fall against Michigan this weekend. You can tell in watching the Wolverines that they will have moments in the sun in 2009 but they will have growing pains along the way. The overall youth of this team will cost them some games this season but they are headed in the right direction, no question about it.

Domer Sports Report Predictions:
Nick (1-0): Notre Dame 35 Michigan 20
Mark (1-0): Notre Dame 24 Michigan 14
Brian (1-0): Notre Dame 38 Michigan 21
Steven (1-0): Notre Dame 27 Michigan 14

Go Irish, Beat Skunkbears!
Nick Shepkowski works as a producer at 670 The Score in Chicago as well as a co-host of the Big Ten Network Football Podcast (right column on link). Random ND Fandom Fact: Nick has seen three ND/Michigan football games (2004, 2006, 2008) and the Irish are 2-1, he will not be in attendance on Saturday.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blowout Victory Amounts to 15th Commit!

Plenty of heads turned when the Irish defeated Nevada in convincing fashion on Saturday, perhaps none more important than that of Cameron Roberson. Roberson, a four star running back from Newbury Park High School in California gave Charlie Weis his word on Monday, making him the fifteenth commitment in the class of 2010 for Notre Dame.

The Irish appeared to be the leader heading into the weekend as they were listed as Roberson's only visit to be taken in 2009. Roberson becomes the fifteenth commitment in the class and the third 4-star offensive commitment in this year's class (per rankings). He joins quarterback Andrew Hendrix and TE Alex Welch, both Ohio products.

Roberson rushed for 1,452 yards with 18 touchdowns as a junior in high school. He added an additional 279 yards receiving and 3 scores when getting thrown to.

Roberson is the first running back to commit to the Fighting Irish in this class, very possibly the last as well. He has an extremely impressive initial burst of speed, that's something that's tough to judge fully until he is seen against other D-1 talent.

Welcome to Notre Dame, Cameron Roberson!


Brian Dascenzo, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football

This is basically a breakdown of what I saw on Saturday. You may have gotten a preview on twitter if you follow me....

I love Jimmy Clausen tucking the ball and running for yardage when no receivers were open on the first play from scrimmage.

Michael Floyd looks gigantic and he lost no speed. In short he is a freak and will be a first round pick in the NFL.

Kyle Rudolph looks like a bigger version of Michael Floyd, he just needs to be a better blocker.

Golden Tate fell down throwing a block and still blocked two guys on Mike Floyd's second touchdown.

Armando Allen is still not as good as he will be.

Jonas Gray looks special.

Theo Riddick is very quick, I think he will be the best returner since Joey Getherall.

Nick Tausch will end his career at Notre Dame as the all time leading scorer.

Mike Anello acts like he didn't break his leg.

Kyle McCarthy is a great example for his little brother.

The corner backs did not show their potential at all.

I love defensive line men that wear unusual numbers. KLM and Ethan Johnson in-particular.

*Manti T'eo is one half of the best jersey value you can have.

Ethan Johnson is going to benefit from sharing a jersey with Kyle Rudolph. (Rudy 2.0)

Blitzing is the norm not the oddity.

Duval Kumara was not noticed.

A more then welcome back to Darrin Walls.

Tom Hammonds is a terrible play by play guy. I would prefer Joe Buck's emotionless play calling to him.

*Armando Allen is the other half.

Nevada's run defense was only good last year because their pass defense was so bad.

The Colin Kaepernick being recruited by ND for baseball made for a cute story, his team made it seem like his future was in baseball.

Michigan is a better test then Nevada, I wasn't sure about this before Saturday.

*You can support Notre Dame and this site with the store on the right side of the page or this link.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Irish Nearly Perfect in 35-0 Opening Win

Early, often, and all afternoon. That's the way the Notre Dame offense approached its season opener against Nevada on Saturday in South Bend and they walked away with an impressive 35-0 victory in the process.

Jimmy Clausen and Michael Floyd connected for three Irish scores on the afternoon while Kyle Rudolph and Armando Allen each also found the end zone. Nevada put together a decent drive to on their first possession but were held in check by the Notre Dame defense the majority of the afternoon.

Jimmy Clausen got things going early on as he found Kyle Rudolph on a post route midway through the first possession. The touchdown pass capped a 12 play, 67 yard drive that put Notre Dame in front six and a half minutes in.

Nevada started the following possession and began cruising downfield before a sack on Colin Kapernick did the Wolfpack in. Richard Drake in turned missed a 38 yard field goal for Nevada, the Irish responded quickly with a nice drive put together with multiple solid runs by Armando Allen. Michael Floyd made it 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter on a 24 yard touchdown reception from Jimmy Clausen. Floyd split the safeties beautifully and put the Irish up two scores.

Nevada needed to respond their following drive but were instead held to a three and out. Two plays later it was again Clausen finding Floyd, this time for seventy yards and another Irish score.

Goodnight, Wolfpack.

The teams traded possessions a couple of times before the Irish took control with 5:51 remaining in the first half. Leading by 21 Charlie Weis gave a steady dose of both Armando Allen and Jonas Gray before the drive was capped off with only 1:59 remaining in the first half on a one yard touchdown run by Allen.

28-0 at halftime, things couldn't have gone much better for the Irish.

Charlie Weis called a pretty vanilla second half as the Irish put it on cruise control. The one major highlight of the half was another connection between Clausen and Floyd, this time for 88 yards. Clausen and Floyd each picked up their two longest completions/receptions of the day on the two long touchdown passes.

Nevada threatened the shutout midway through the third quarter but running back Vai Taua fumbled on a pitch that would have scored a touchdown. Instead it was Kapron Lewis-Moore jumping on the loose ball and Notre Dame held the shutout intact.

All in all a successful afternoon for Notre Dame, your tell-all stats:

Jimmy Clausen: 15/18 for 315 yards and 4 TD.

Turnovers: Nevada 3 Notre Dame 0

Rushing Yards: 178 yards on 41 attempts (4.3 ypc) against what was supposed to be a solid rush defense.

So its 1-0 for now and time to get ready for the Michigan Wolverines, a 31-7 winner vs. Western Michigan in the Big House on Saturday.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recruiting Trail: This Weekends Visitors

Four Star Recruit Sean Parker at a workout. Parker is will be on campus this weekend as Notre Dame tries to get him to choose the Irish over other major powerhouse programs like Florida and USC.

Three prospects will be in attendance this weekend as Notre Dame opens up the 2009 campaign against the Wolfpack of Nevada. Of the three, one is verbally committed to the University of Notre Dame already while the other two have Notre Dame on their short lists.

Justin Utupo committed to the University of Notre Dame on July 6th of this year. At the time Utupo was the tenth commitment in the growing class and remains one of three commits at the defensive end position for Charlie Weis this year. At the time of his commitment there was hope in Irish Country that he could get one or two of his high school teammates in Jesse Scroggins (5 Star, QB) and Dion Bailey (4 Star, Safety) to commit to the Irish as well, unfortunately those two have since committed to USC.

Cameron Roberson, a three star running back has an offer on the table from Notre Dame and his trip to campus this weekend is his only planned trip of the fall thus far. Notre Dame is listed in the running for the Newbury Park, California product along with the likes of Arizona, Northwestern, UCLA, and Washington.

The third player making a visit this weekend is Sean Parker, a four star safety from Nathaniel Nerbonne High School in Harbor City, California. Parker as listed as the fifth best safety in the national class and will be a prized commitment for whichever school ends up with him. As you would likely guess, the top programs like Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, and USC are all considered very much in the running for Parker's duties.

Maybe an extremely impressive showing by the Irish on Saturday could get a verbal commit from one of the two who are yet to make a decision but I really wouldn't count on that this early in the season. As of now there are ten more visits scheduled for this fall but that number is sure to change and likely in a short amount of time. Thoughts on the visit day or on the recruiting class in general? Be sure to post a comment here or check out the Domer Sports Report Message Board where Notre Dame discussion is always going on.

Nick Shepkowski is an avid Notre Dame fan who has followed the blue and gold longer than any other of his favorite sports teams. He currently works at 670 AM in Chicago as well as at the Big Ten Network, also located in the Windy City. Random Notre Dame fandom fact of the post: Notre Dame Football is 11-3 in games attended by Nick but the men's basketball team is winless in three attempts.

Top Five: Games This Season

This should be a recurring theme from me. Every week or two I'll do a new top five list with contributions from the staff. This weeks is about which games this season you're most excited for.

Honorable mention: Nevada, if it wasn't Nevada the first game of the season would be on the actual list. I'm having a tough time forgetting the San Diego State game from last year but I'm still trying to quell expectations of a blow out, as you can see in the prediction thread on the message board.

#5: Boston College Oct. 24th. The Mark Herzlich cancer story makes it harder to hate BC, but they somehow beat an evenly matched Irish team last year 17-0. This is a game that could serve as a barometer as to how good the Irish are following what should be a battle with SC (more on that later).

#4: Michigan Sept, 12th. I don't expect much from Wolvey this year, I have a sneaking suspicion that Western is going to beat them. I have a hatred for the team from Ann Arbor that is unmatched for any team in college football and I look forward to this game every year. Without a coach in Ann Arbor I think the Irish romp and the calls for RichRod of Death's head picks up even more. Plus, I'll be on a pseudo camping trip with a bunch of friends with most of them rooting for U of M.

#3: Stanford Nov. 28th. This could be the game that stands between the Irish and a BCS game. Jim Harbaugh the former Wolvey QB who I believe has been disowned by his college for calling out the fact that some athletes have bad degrees (never mind that any degree from U of M is a pretty good degree). I expect an improved Stanford team and an improved Irish team to battle it out much like in Charlie's first year.

#2: Michigan State Sept. 19th. Another home state team, but this is one I root for on occasion. Most of my friends went to State and the first Notre Dame game I went to was at Spartan Stadium. It's about time Notre Dame wins at home against Sparty and Charlie backs up the talk of never losing to MSU again. Without Hoyer and Ringer Sparty has to much to replace this early in the year.

#1: USC Oct. 17th. The game that tells us how good the Irish actually are. A team that has thrashed the Irish for three years in a row and Pete has only lost to the Irish once. This is the year to jump on a freshman QB (if he's still starting at that point) and a mostly new defense. This is the game that Charlie needs to be able to point to from a competitiveness stand point to keep his job. See Lloyd Carr versus Ohio State.

Mark Allen's
5.Stanford - For me this is political. I despise Stanford. I will not forget the anti-Catholic stuff the band did nor how liberal the school is. I also am sick of the ND administration saying they are an "aspirational peer"!
4.Pittsburgh - We had them beat, 17-0, last season and let it slip away. The Panthers are a quality team on paper. A win on the road would be a big win.
3.Michigan State - They have beaten us in 6 straight at Notre Dame Stadium. A win would be a huge step for this season.
2.Michigan - True, Michigan might still be rebuilding. But, this is a rivalry game. to win on the road at the "Big House" would be a big win.
1.USC - We have been smoked three games in a row by 31 points each. This game, should we win, would announce that the Fighting Irish are back.

Clashmore Mike's

1. Nevada (the season begins!)
2. Michigan (the only team I hate more than USC)
3. Mich. State (haven't quite gotten over planting the flag...)
4. USC (no explanation needed)
5. Boston College (it's time to put Little Brother in his place)

I should be live tweeting during most Irish games so feel free to follow me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Notre Dame Vs. Nevada - Opening Weekend in South Bend

Written By:
Nick Shepkowski

Finally. It's as simple as that for not only Notre Dame but college football fans in general. This Thursday offers an appetizer to opening weekend with Saturday being the full course meal. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame start their campaign with a 3:30 EDT kickoff against the University of Nevada in South Bend.

It is the first meeting between the two schools, for those unfamiliar Nevada had an electric 2008 where they went to their fourth straight bowl game with an appearance in last season's Humanitarian Bowl against Maryland.

To know the Wolfpack, you must know their quarterback, Colin Kaepernick who alone was responsbile for supplying the Wolfpack with just under 4000 total yards a year ago, 11oo of those yards came on the ground. Kaepernick is the first of several mobile quarterbacks the Irish will face in 2009 but he also could very easily be the best of the mobile ones. Also helping in the running game will be Luke Lippincott who missed all of 2008 with a leg injury, he did however put up 1420 rushing yards in 2007 to lead the Wolfpack.

Kaepernick and Lippincott will line up together in the pistol formation which allows the quarterback to receive the snap quicker than in the regular shotgun set. As a result the defense must react quicker to things and because of the proximity to the line of scrimmage often times play action and counters set themselves up in this formation.

Throwing the ball Kaepernick put up 2849 yards a year ago while tossing 22 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. Some good news for the Irish comes with the fact that Kaepernick's two favorite targets from a year ago have graduated leaving the Wolfpack with many questions in the passing game, don't expect Nevada to try much of passing until they are absolutely forced to.

I expect to see the Irish come out playing their base 3-4 defense with the defensive backs in straight man-to-man coverage until they are proven incapable of doing so. The talent differential in the passing game both ways tilt to the Irish, expect Corwin Brown and John Tenuta to do everything they can to get Nevada to have to pass the football. Man defense with an extra man sneaking in towards the line of scrimmage is an excellent way to do just that.

Defensively the Wolfpack have their issues, especially in defending against the pass where they had the worst pass defense in college football last season, allowing 311 yards through the air per contest. If you are wondering, Central Michigan had the second worst pass defense statistically as they allowed 287 yards a game, a whopping 24 yards less than the Wolfpack. Nevada wasn't bad against the pass last year, they were downright awful.

You know what that means...Jimmy Clausen, find your targets and get ready to feast, right? The last time Clausen was seen in actual game action he was busy carving a WAC defense and having a career afternoon in the Hawaii Bowl. That should be the case again here but I am not sure how much the Irish will want to have to use the aerial attack in the Nevada game.

Don't get me wrong, Notre Dame has more talent than Nevada and will be able to score at will through the air. I do feel that Charlie Weis and company will be interested in trying to establish a running game early on. Imagine what Clausen and Co. would be able to do if a running game is established and Nevada begins to even hint at slowing it down, the Irish will then attack over top.

I fully expect Notre Dame to come out running and see what they have going on in the running game. Will the Irish be able to run the ball down the throats of Nevada? We shall see in time but keep this in the back of your mind for the time being, Notre Dame's starting offensive line checks in averaging 6'4" and 316 pounds per starter. Nevada's defensive front? 6'3" and 261 pounds is your average. Don't think for a minute that Charlie Weis won't try and exploit this differential.

As I stated before, the more the Irish run the ball well the more Nevada will try and play men up in the box. Well, that's when Jimmy will take over as his targets in Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, Duval Kamara, and Kyle Rudolph should be far too much for the Wolfpack to handle.

Nevada will move the ball early on before the Irish figure out how to properly defend against the Pack. In this game I like the scoreboard to be lit up a lot and the Irish offense to really shine, something we failed to see a year ago in the season opener against San Diego State.

My prediction: Notre Dame 41 Nevada 21 with Armando Allen getting the game ball.

Other DSR Staffers Picks:
Mark: ND 41 Nevada 20 (This wasn't discussed between the two of us, great minds just happen to think very much alike)
Steven: ND 28 Nevada 14
Brian: ND 41 Nevada 20 (See comments after Mark's prediction...)

Reminder, if you are interested in getting in our Domer Sports Report message board pick 'em go ahead and head to our message board and sign up for an account if you haven't already. Simply post a prediction in the proper thread during each week and we will track how close everyone is throughout the course of the season. Who knows, the winner just may get something pretty cool at the end of the year!

-Hoping to be there on Saturday...

Nick Shepkowski is an avid Notre Dame football fan who lives and works in the heart of Big Ten country as he holds a job at the Big Ten Network in Chicago. He also is a radio producer at 670 The Score in Chicago. Random Notre Dame fanhood fact: First ND game attended was in 2000 against Stanford which was also Irish legend Matt LoVecchio's first start at QB for the Domers.