Sunday, July 5, 2015

Can Malik Zaire get us there?

        That should be the question on every single true Notre Dame fan's mind coming into the 2015 season   After watching Malik Zaire COMPLETELY DISMANTLE the vaunted LSU D (ranked # 09 in total defense giving up a paltry 316 ypg), I'm calling it early, yes he can.  You heard it here first. 

And let me explain why.........

        Everyone should know by know that Cardale Jones (Ohio State QB) has the strongest arm in college football. If you don't, just refer to Ohio State's Spring Game.  They held multiple competitions for the fan's sake.  One of them was longest throw.  Cardale Jones beat out J.T. Barrett with a mind blowing 74 yard throw.  That is not a mistake.  74 yards.  In the air. That is mighty impressive.  Enter Malik Zaire.  At ND's Spring Game, Zaire threw a TD pass to Will Fuller that was every bit of 60 yards in the air (for a 68 yard TD). Did I mention the throw hit Fuller in stride with a defender on him?  Of course these are only spring games, but they most certainly can be a barometer for the upcoming season. 

(Photo courtesy USA Today)

         So we established that he has elite arm strength.  Looking back at The Music City Bowl the stats tell a story as well.  This was Zaire's coming out party.  22 Carries for 96 yards and a TD.  12/15 96 Yards a TD and zero interceptions. This against a perennial SEC power.  An SEC power whose passing D was ranked #3 in the country in yards allowed per pass (5.5 ypp) as well as passing yards allowed per game (164.8 ypg) at the end of last year. Zaire averaged 6.4 yards per pass and was on par to throw for more yards than was averaged against LSU all year (he split time under center with Golson.  They did combine to throw for 186 yards in the game.  Beating LSU's average by in excess of 20 yards).

        He is the best fit QB Coach K has had while at ND to fit his system.  Kelly's style of offense is most efficiently run with a true dual threat quarterback.  The type of QB that forces the D line to always expect the run. At the same time making sure the LB's stay honest, while still having the ability to make deep and accurate 1 on 1 throws to their WR's.  Against LSU, the Irish ran 56 times for 256 yards. Averaging 5.2 yards per run on a D that for the season only gave up 4.6 yards per run and 161 rushing yards per game.  This opens up countless big play possibilities. 

(Photo courtesy

       He is showing all the intangibles of this type of player.  All of that coupled with the Irish returning what is possibly their deepest O line of Kelly's tenure, the obvious talent and depth at the tailback and receiver positions, and the upgraded and more experienced D,  I think Malik Zaire is more setup for success than anyone at Notre Dame has been for quite some time.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tarnishing the Golden Dome

The picture above shows Notre Dame freshman wide receiver Justin Brent in bed with porn actress Lisa Ann.  There are more tame pictures being circulated around the internet.  And, now news services such as The Huffington Post and Fox have latched onto the story.  Many on my facebook group, Domer Sports Report, find the actions of Brent humorous.  I do not.

Throughout it's history, the University of Notre Dame has been proud of it's academics.  The standards are higher than at most Universities.  It is near Ivy League in it's academics and entrance requirements.  In addition to academic standards, Notre Dame likes to boast of the character of it's students and alumni.  For the most part, the University has a reason to do it.  The overwhelming majority of past and present students do have a high character.  Many back up their lofty reputations of good character by volunteering, which is a Catholic tradition.

Notre Dame is a private institution and a Catholic one.  As a private Catholic school, Notre Dame has a right to have a moral code that is far more strict than at public institutions.  Cheating on tests is against this moral code as we have seen recently.  But, being with a porn actress and posting pictures on the internet?  Imagine how Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins feels.  Imagine how athletic director Jack Swarbrick feels.  Imagine how, hopefully, football coach, Brian Kelly feels.  Some might find what Brent did as funny.  Some hold him up as some sort of conqueror because he "bagged" a porn star.  But, this is Notre Dame.  This is not the University of Kentucky or Florida State or Miami of Florida!  Notre Dame has a moral code.

How can Notre Dame and Notre Dame fans now point the finger at others who violate moral codes such as stealing or being accused of rape if breaking a code of morality continues to happen?  This just gives the haters out there more fodder to point the finger at Notre Dame being arrogant and "holier than thou" while having these things continue to happen.  It make us look hypocritical when we point the finger at Jameis Winston.  We look like hypocrites!

In addition, the decision making on the part of Justin Brent has to be called into question now.  He is 18 and Lisa Ann is 42.  What would be said if it were reversed and the man was 42 and the young lady was 18?  As far as Lisa Ann being a porn actress, on, one poster pointed out that Jesus hung out with Mary Magdalene, a prostitute.  My response to that is she changed her ways after she started hanging out with Jesus.  To my knowledge, Lisa Ann, has not changed from being a porn actress.

My prediction is that Justin Brent's days at Notre Dame are numbered.  If Notre Dame does not say or do anything to straighten him out, he will do something stupid to get kicked out of Notre Dame.  Mark it down.  If Notre Dame does have a talk to him, he might even leave out of his love - or, is it lust? - for his porn star fantasy woman.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Editorial: Everyman Versus The Big Snobby Monster

I am tired of the media not liking Notre Dame. Now, I am not paranoid. I know not all dislike us. But, ESPN type media paints us out to be this big, snobby monster. Everyone else, particularly, the SEC, is made to look like the underdog "Everyman". These types do not care if Notre Dame does it the right way and FSU does it the "not right" way. We are the huge snobby monster and UK basketball who cheats and does one and done basketball players is looked at heroically. From the time of Rockne, the Nation looked at us as how America should be - hard working, clean and honest. Somehow, that does not matter to a lot now days. I was as frustrated as anyone about the length of time it took to get a "verdict" on the 'Frozen 5'. But, compare that to an accused rapist, who might also have broken NCAA rules and also notoriously swiped crab legs and not a damn thing was done! Why is it decency is ignored now days and shady characters are "Everyman" heroes? I maintain this started with the advent of ESPN. It started when they needed ratings to move forward. So, they pleased the ND haters and Notre Dame was a side dish. Make no mistake, a lot of people love Notre Dame. BUT, I hate to say it, even more hate us. We are the big, snobby monster of education and athletics. Somehow, the media has forgotten that blue collar types also root for Notre Dame. But, of course, UK basketball, Miami, Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State football - ESPN-types think that is where the ratings and common man lives. If there is justice, we will win Saturday and when we do, let's all talk about how good beat evil. How right beat wrong. How clean beat dirty.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Help Wanted and an Explanation

I am looking for a few people to write for the blog.  Any topic of Notre Dame sports is on topic.  There is no pressure.  You can write what you want, when you want.  The more the merrier.  I want our blog to be more active.  Please email me at if you are interested.

I apologize for the blog being slow.  Back in late October I went to the emergency room.  I had gangrene in a couple of toes.  They kept me for a week and I had two operations.  They removed two toes and a little of the ridge on the outside of my left foot.  I have been wearing a wound vac and recovering ever since.  But, the doctors have been saying I am healing very well.

Thanks!  Go Irish!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bruton Fake Punt Run One of Many Big Plays For Former Irish Players

BY: Elliott Carwile

The casual NFL fan may have caught a glimpse of Kyle Rudolph – TE – Minnesota Vikings – catching nine passes for 97 yards and a touchdown in the 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Or Michael Floyd’s – WR – Arizona Cardinals – five receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown in a 32-20 loss to San Francisco. Maybe even the stat line of the week, Joe Fauria – TE – Detroit Lions (Transferred to UCLA) –three grabs for 34 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-17 win over the Cleveland Browns. None of these were the most electrifying play for an ex Notre Dame player in week six however.

That honor goes to David Bruton – S – Denver Broncos –the special team’s captain took a direct snap on what appeared to be a punt attempt and raced down the left sideline gaining 34 yards and firing up the home crowd in the 35-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Minnesota Vikings are the NFL team with the most former Irish players on their roster. Besides Rudolph four more ex Golden Domers played for the Vikings on Sunday.  John Carlson – TE – caught two passes for 10 yards in the 35-10 loss to Carolina. Robert Blanton – DB –recorded one tackle. Harrison Smith – S –had four tackles before being injured and leaving the game. And John Sullivan – OL –started at the center position along the offensive line. J.J. Jansen – LS – Carolina Panthers – saw action in the game as well.

The New York Jets fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-6. Darrin Walls – CB –started at defensive back and registered three tackles. Brady Quinn – QB –did not see any game action.

Tyler Eifert – TE – Cincinnati Bengals – caught two passes for 13 yards in the 27-24 overtime win over Buffalo. Trevor Robinson – OL – did not see game action. In the same contest Sam Young – OL – Buffalo Bills – saw game action.

The Houston Texans got destroyed Sunday by the St. Louis Rams 38-13, maybe they should have used Cierre Wood – RB – who did not see any game action. Teammate Ryan Harris – OL –started at tackle in the loss.

The Thursday night game saw Justin Tuck – DE – New York Giants – record three tackles and a pass deflection in a 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Theo Riddick – RB – Detroit Lions – saw action in the 31-17 win over Cleveland.

Golden Tate – WR – Seattle Seahawks – caught five passes for 33 yards in the 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Ronald Talley – DL – Arizona Cardinals (Transferred to Delaware) – saw game action in the 32-20 loss to San Francisco.

Former Irish players who were on active rosters this but did not see action were:

Will Yeatman – OL – Miami Dolphins (Transferred to Maryland) – BYE WEEK

Sergio Brown – S – Indianapolis Colts – MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Anthony Fasano – TE – Kansas City Chiefs – was inactive in 24-7 win over Oakland

Manti Te’o – LB – San Diego Chargers – MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Zeke Motta – S – Atlanta Falcons – BYE WEEK

Derek Landri – DL – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – did not see game action in 31-20 loss to Philadelphia

Ian Williams – DL – San Francisco 49ers – did not play (injured – broken ankle) in 32-20 win over Arizona.

Injured Reserve.:

Kapron Lewis-Moore – DL – Baltimore Ravens

Eric Olsen – OL – New Orleans Saints

Darius Fleming – LB – San Francisco 49ers

Practice Squad:

Jonas Gray – RB – Baltimore Ravens

Jamoris Slaughter – S – Cleveland Browns

Braxston Cave – OL – New England Patriots

The Irish had bye week Saturday and will welcome the Trojans of USC to South Bend this week.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Big Week Five For Ex Irish Players

BY: Elliott Carwile

Week five in the National Football League saw several former Golden Domers have impressive games. Starting with Golden Tate – WR – Seattle Seahawks – Tate caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks 34-28 loss to Indianapolis. Tate has emerged as a big time play maker and deep threat and his stat line would have been even better had quarterback Russell Wilson not over thrown him on a deep ball that would have been another touchdown.

Tate’s former pass catching partner at Notre Dame Michael Floyd – WR – Arizona Cardinals – led the team with five catches for 61 yards in a 22-6 win over the Carolina Panthers. 

Tyler Eifert – TE – Cincinnati Bengals – caught five passes for 53 yards in a 13-6 win over the New England. Trevor Robinson – OL – Cincinnati Bengals – did not see game action.

Cierre Wood – RB – Houston Texans – carried once for five yards and had one kick-off return for 20 yards in the 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Ryan Harris – OL – Houston Texans – started at tackle in the loss.

Robert Hughes – RB – Indianapolis Colts – one catch for six yards in the 34-28 win over Seattle. Hughes saw his first game action of the season after being signed this week to the Colts active roster. Sergio Brown – S – Indianapolis Colts – also saw game action in the win over the Seahawks.

Manti Te’o – LB – San Diego Chargers – registered five tackles in a 27-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Justin Tuck – DE – New York Giants – recorded three tackles in the 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Several other Ex-Notre Dame players saw the field in week 5.

Sam Young – OL – Buffalo Bills – saw game action in a 37-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Will Yeatman – OL – Miami Dolphins (Transferred to Maryland) – saw action in a 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

David Bruton – S – Denver Broncos – saw action in a thrilling  51-48 win over the Dallas Cowboys to keep the Broncos season perfect at 5-0.

Theo Riddick – RB – Detroit Lions – saw action in a 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Joe Fauria – TE – Detroit Lions (Transferred to UCLA) – also played in the game.

J.J. Jansen – LS – Carolina Panthers – saw game action in a 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. In the same game Ronald Talley – DL – Arizona Cardinals (Transferred to Delaware) – recorded one tackle.

Here is the list of former Irish players who were on active rosters but didn’t play.

Brady Quinn – QB – New York Jets – MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Notre Dame-Michigan St. Preview

Notre Dame QB's: The Irish come in with the 16th ranked pass offense that averages 326 yards a game and starting quarterback Tommy Rees is 7th in the nation in terms of total passing yards. Rees has thrown for 969 yards and has a 60.7 completion percentage and has completed 65 out of 107 passes with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix has appeared in all 3 games so far this season but has only completed 1 of 5 passes for 9 yards this season.

Notre Dame QB's vs. Michigan St. Pass Defense: The Spartans have the 5th best pass defense in college football and have done an amazing job against opposing quarterbacks by only allowing 34.7 percent of passes to be completed and have intercepted 4 passes this season. They allow only 126.7 yards a game and they have intercepted 4 passes this season. Tommy Rees bounced back from throwing 2 interceptions against Michigan to throwing zero interceptions against Purdue. Rees needs to be accurate and to not force the ball or get into turnover situations. He has done well this season, but is going to need to be at his best against one of the top pass defenses in the nation.

Edge: Even

Michigan St. QB's: The Spartans have used multiple quarterbacks this season in Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook, and Tyler O'Connor. The pass offense overall is only 107th in the nation in passing yards with 160 passing yards per game. Connor Cook will most likely be the quarterback face as he is coming off a win over Youngstown St. where he completed 15 of 22 passes (68 completion percentage) for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns. Overall this season he has completed 27 of 49 passes for a 55.1 completion percentage with 276 yards and 4 touchdowns. In addition, Cook has ran for 70 yards on 15 attempts for a 4.7 yard average and a long of 20 yards. Andrew Maxwell has completed half of passes this season on 15 completions to 30 attempts for 114 yards and zero touchdowns. Tyler O'Connor has thrown for 90 yards on 9 completions to 14 attempts and a 64.3 completion percentage. The Michigan St. quarterbacks have not thrown any interceptions this season but the longest pass by any quarterback has only been for 26 yards (Done by both Cook and Maxwell).

Michigan St. QB's vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: The pass defense for the Irish has been very inconsistent this season. The Irish come in with the 91st ranked pass defense that has allowed opponents to complete 57 percent of their passes for 259.3 yards per game and have allowed 7 passing touchdowns. The Irish have intercepted just 2 passes this season but both went for touchdowns for Notre Dame. While Connor Cook is the likely quarterback that Notre Dame should face, the Irish need to account for the possibility of the Spartans using more than one quarterback in the game. Consistency is extremely important here and Notre Dame needs to prevent the Spartans from completing their passes and prevent long gains. Since Cook is the teams 4th leading rusher, that also must be accounted for as well as preventing plays from being extended is also important. The Spartans may have one of the lowest ranked pass offenses, but they are not to be underestimated at all.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame RB's: Amir Carlisle leads the Irish in terms of rushing yards with 148 yards on 30 carries for a 4.9 yard average. Cam McDaniel is second with 125 rushing yards and 1 touchdown and a 4.3 yard average. George Atkinson III has 98 yards on 18 carries with a 5.4 yard average and 1 touchdown. Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston each have 14 rushing yards for the Irish. Will Mahone has yet to have any rushing yards yet but had missed the first game of the season with injury. The unit overall gives Notre Dame the 92nd ranked rushing offense with 125 rushing yards a game.

Notre Dame RB's vs. Michigan St. Rush Defense: Michigan St. is also strong against the run as well as they are the 4th ranked rushing defense that has allowed just 50.3 yards a game and only 1 rushing touchdown and for opposing ball carriers to have just 1.8 rushing yards per attempt. Notre Dame may be talented, but no single running back has emerged to be the main ball carrier. Cam McDaniel closed out the game for the Irish in the win over Purdue and could potentially be the starter for this game, but Notre Dame has a variety of running backs to play and it might be time for Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston to start getting more carries. This might be the best run defense the Irish face this season, but quite a few Notre Dame opponents have high-ranked rush defenses at this time.

Edge: Even

Michigan St. RB's: Michigan St. comes in with the 44th ranked rush offense that averages 209.6 yards per game and has averaged 4.8 yards per rush and has 5 rushing touchdowns. The top player for the Spartans in the ground game is Jeremy Langford who has 200 rushing yards on 44 carries for a 4.5 yard average and a team-leading 4 rushing touchdowns. Nick Hill has 179 rushing yards on 25 attempts and a 7.2 yard average with 1 rushing touchdown and the longest run on the team at 35 yards. Riley Bullough has 82 rushing yards on 21 attempts and a 3.9 yard average.

Michigan St. RB's vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense: Notre Dame has the 26th ranked rushing defense that has allowed 112.6 yards a game, 3.8 yards per rush, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Containing Langford, Hill and Bullough will be important, but Notre Dame shut Purdue down on the ground and allowed only 38 yards on 21 attempts and zero rushing touchdowns. The Irish need to build upon that and contain the Spartans running game.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame WR's and TE's: This has been one of the best units on offense for the Irish. DaVaris Daniels has a team-leading 299 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on 17 receptions and a 17.6 yards per catch average. TJ Jones has been the leader in receptions and makes many key plays with 19 receptions for 289 yards, a 15.2 yard average and 1 touchdown. Tight end Troy Niklas has done well with the loss Tyler Eifert and has 8 catches for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns and a team-leading 18.9 yard average per reception. Chris Brown has 7 catches for 125 yards and a 17.9 yard average. All four of the top receivers for the Irish have caught a pass of 40 or more yards this season with the long being 82 yards by Daniels. CJ Prosise has made 2 catches for 28 yards and Corey Robinson has 1 catch for 12 yards. Quite a few players have seen playing time at the receiver position. DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones are 16th and 21st in the nation in terms of total receiving yards this season.

Notre Dame WR's vs. Michigan St. DB's: Michigan St. had an experienced unit coming into the season despite the loss of Johnny Adams (1st team Big 10 last season). The best player in the secondary is senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard who was also 1st team Big 10 last season. Dennard will most likely be matched up against DaVaris Daniels who made quite a few plays for the Irish and has the lead on receiving yards and touchdowns for the Irish this season. Dennard has done a great job in defending the pass with 5 pass breakups and has been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks with 2 quarterback hurries even. Even though Michigan St. has a talented secondary they have a significant amount to account for in the passing game with Daniels, Jones, Brown and Niklas all capable of making big plays for the Irish.

Edge: Notre Dame

Michigan St. WR's and TE's: Macgarrett Kings has been the top player in terms of receiving yards and is tied for first in receptions and receiving touchdowns. He has 8 catches for 99 yards and 1 touchdown with a 12.4 yard average. Aaron Burbridge has 8 receptions as well with 80 yards and a 10 yard average per reception. Bennie Fowler has 5 catches for 73 yards and 1 touchdown along with a 14.6 (team-high) average and Tony Lippett has 4 catches for 41 yards and a 10.2 yard average. Keith Mumphery has 6 receptions for 47 yards and tight end Josiah Price has 3 catches for 28 yards.

Michigan St. WR's vs. Notre Dame DB's: The main targets for the Spartans are Macgarrett Kings and Aaron Burbridge who have 16 of the teams 51 receptions. However the ball has been spread around extremely well with a combined total of 15 different players having at least one reception and 4 players that have a touchdown reception which also ties all 4 players for the lead in touchdown receptions. Notre Dame won't be able to focus on one specific player as the ball has been spread around well. Consistency is extremely important here and the Irish need to improve on that if they want to shut down the passing game.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame OL: The offensive line has been doing a decent job in the pass protection area as they have allowed just 3 sacks, which is tied for 23rd in the nation in sacks allowed. The opponents they have played are tied for 28th in the nation for sacks (Purdue) and two are tied for 51st (Michigan and Temple) However, they have also allowed 15 tackles for loss and the running game is averaging 4.1 yards per rush and 125 yards per game.

Notre Dame OL vs. Michigan St. DL: Michigan St. has been great in the sack department with a tie for 10th in the nation in sacks with 9 sacks and getting into opposing backfields has been easy with 18 tackles for loss this season. The defensive line has 7 of the Spartans 9 sacks this season as well. Keeping Tommy Rees protected is important as the Irish will need to be able to get passes off quick as the quarterback pressure is also a strong point for Michigan St. with 27 total quarterback hurries. The battle in the trenches is once again one of the most important battles Notre Dame must win.

Edge: Even

Michigan St. OL: Run blocking has been solid for the Spartans who average 209.7 yards a game on the ground and 4.9 yards per rush. They have done a great job in containing opposing defenders as they have allowed just 2 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. They have also allowed only 9 quarterback hurries as well.

Michigan St. OL vs. Notre Dame DL: The Irish haven't done as well at getting to the quarterback with only 3 sacks, but have 12 quarterback hurries. Part of this could be attributed to facing quarterbacks who are capable of extending plays on the ground and make it easier to avoid sacks. Notre Dame does have 14 tackles for loss. The Irish have done well in run defense, but this is going to be an even matchup considering the Irish have a strong defensive front led by Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame DL: Louis Nix III leads all defensive lineman in tackles with 8 and 1 tackle for loss. Sheldon Day has 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss and Stephon Tuitt has 4 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 2 quarterback hurries, and an interception touchdown. Issac Rochell has 3 tackles as well and has appeared in all three games this season. The unit has had solid losses due to injury in the offseason as well. Sheldon Day had been injured vs. Purdue and is coming along, but should play against the Spartans. Considering injuries, the Irish can't afford to lose anyone.

Notre Dame DL vs. Michigan OL: The Spartans have done well in the blocking and protection departments. This is one of the most interesting matchups between the two lines. Louis Nix III will most likely be double teamed when playing. The Irish need to able to stuff the run and pressure the quarterback to win this matchup.

Edge: Even

Michigan St. DL: The Spartans may have lost William Gholston and Anthony Rashad White, but the defensive front remains strong once again. Tyler Hoover has 9 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble and 1 quarterback hurry. Marcus Rush has 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble, and 1 quarterback hurry. Shilique Calhoun has been the best lineman for Michigan St. this season so far with 5 tackles (all solo tackles), 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception return (that went for a 56 yard touchdown), 8 quarterback hurries, and 3 fumble recoveries (2 of which have gone for touchdowns). Calhoun is the 2nd leading scorer for Michigan St. and is a major impact player on defense to keep an eye on. Micajah Reynolds has 10 tackles and 3 quarterback hurries.

Michigan St. DL vs. Notre Dame OL: The defensive line that Notre Dame will be facing is possibly one of the best the Irish face all season. Shilique Calhoun has been absolutely dominant for the Spartans with 3 defensive touchdowns on returns. Tyler Hoover and Marcus Rush will also pose problems. Blocking is going to be important in preventing turnovers and keeping Rees protected. As it has been all season, the battles in the trenches are most important for either team.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame LB's: Three inside linebackers make up the top 3 tacklers for the Irish defense in Dan Fox, Jarrett Grace, and Carlo Calabrese. Fox leads with 24 tackles and 2 tackles for loss, while Grace has 20 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. Carlo Calabrese has 18 tackles and a team-leading 3 tackles for loss and 1 fumble recovery. Prince Shembo has 10 tackles and 6 quarterback hurries (leads team) and Jaylon Smith has 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. Ishaq Williams has 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack.

Notre Dame LB's vs. Michigan St.: The Irish have seen quite a bit of impressive play out of Jarrett Grace and Jaylon Smith. Grace has been better suited for pass coverage and could wind up starting over Dan Fox or Carlo Calabrese by seasons end if he continues to play as well as he has this season. Jaylon Smith is continuing to improve week after week and looks to be another 4 year starter after the graduation of Manti Te'o. The Irish will need to contain the run-first Michigan St. as the running game has been a stronger area on offense.

Edge: Even

Michigan St. LB's: Denicos Allen is tied for 1st on the team with 3 tackles for loss and has 15 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and 3 quarterback hurries. Max Bullough also has 15 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup, and 3 quarterback hurries as well. Taiwan Jones has 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 quarterback hurry. Jarius Jones has 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 interceptions.

Michigan St. LB's vs. Notre Dame: The starting unit features all upperclassmen in seniors Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, along with a junior in Taiwan Jones. They give the Spartans one of the top linebacker units in the country that that had returned the 1st and 3rd tacklers overall from a season ago. Notre Dame has some talent they will have to account for, as Troy Niklas will be a matchup nightmare with his size and strength. The front seven of Michigan St. might be one of the best in the country with the experience and the play making ability.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame DB's: The secondary has been a step down from the unit a year ago that rarely allowed opponents to pass for 200 or more yards, but has been made a couple of plays in recent times that had impact. Bennett Jackson has 17 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception (that went for a touchdown), and 1 quarterback hurry. Matthias Farley has 13 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups. KeVarae Russell has 8 tackles and a pass breakup and Austin Collinsworth has 3 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries. Cole Luke has seen extensive amounts of playing time as a true freshman with appearances in all 3 games this season along with 3 tackles and 1 pass breakup.

Notre Dame DB's vs. Michigan St. WR's: The Spartans certainly have options at receiver, but not a single player is dominant at this position as the total numbers per player might look like what one gets in a single game compared to three games into the season. Either way, the Irish secondary will need to be at their best in coverage and prevent any deep passes and short gains turning into long ones. No matter what stats a player has so far on the stat sheet, all must be accounted for.

Edge: Even

Michigan St. DB's: Kurtis Drummond leads the Spartans in tackles with 17, has 1 interception (went for a touchdown), and has 2 passes broken up. Isaiah Lewis has 11 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and 1 quarterback hurry while RJ Williamson has 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. Darqueeze Dennard has 9 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 5 passes broken up, and 2 quarterback hurries. Trae Waynes has 5 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Michigan St. DB's vs. Notre Dame WR's: The Michigan St. defensive backs may have experience on their side, but they face the best receiving unit so far this season in Notre Dame's unit that has a trio of receivers who can all catch long passes and turn short passes into long gains. Trying to account for DaVaris Daniels, TJ Jones, and Chris Brown will also be a challenge. Tight End Troy Niklas will also be a factor as he can catch the ball too, but might get used for blocking with how great the Spartans pass rush is.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Kicking Game: After missing his only attempt of the Temple game, Kyle Brindza has hit 4 field goals in a row and has shown steady improvement with a long of 44 yards. He also handles punting duties with a 39.5 yard average with a long of 47 yards, 2 touchbacks, 3 fair caught, and 2 inside the 20. Alex Wulfeck has 1 punt for 38 yards that was also fair caught and inside the 20. Kyle Brindza is at his best generally in kickoffs with a 64.2 yard average on 18 kickoffs, and has 10 touchbacks as well.

Michigan St. Kicking Game: Kevin Muma has made 4 of 5 field goals with the miss being for 25 yards and has a long of 30 yards. Mike Sadler handles punting duties with a 41.2 yard average, a long of 54 yards, 2 touchbacks, 4 fair caught and 11 inside the 20. Kevin Muma has a 63.2 yard average on 18 kickoffs with 10 touchbacks. Kevin Cronin has 2 kickoffs for 125 yards for a 62.5 yard average and 1 touchback.

Stronger Unit: Even

Notre Dame Return Game: While not to the level of his freshman year, George Atkinson III has done well with 8 returns for 235 yards, a 29.4 yard average, and a long of 50. TJ Jones has returned 4 punts for 41 yards with a 10.2 yard average and a long of 18.

Michigan St. Return Game: Nick Hill has returned 4 kickoffs for 87 yards for a 21.8 yard average and a long of 27 yards. Andre Sims has returned 14 punts for 121 yards, an 8.6 yard average, and a long of 33.

Stronger Unit: Even

Everything Else: The Irish return home after a road win over Purdue and a loss at Michigan. Michigan St. has one of the best defenses in college football. However, the level of competition is quite suspect as they have played a Division 1-AA team, South Florida who might be the worst BCS-Conference in the nation (0-3 with a blowout loss to a Division 1-AA team and a non-BCS Conference team), and a winless non-BCS team in Western Michigan. Michigan St. has had issues with quarterback, but it looks like it is Connor Cook that will start. Notre Dame will need to pass the ball and run the ball on the highly ranked Spartans defense. The defense accounted for 4 of the 6 touchdowns in Michigan St.'s first two games against Western Michigan and South Florida. This will be the first road game of the season for Michigan St. who opened with 3 straight home games this season. The offensive line will need to protect Tommy Rees and the running game from the strong pass rush and front seven of Michigan St. Notre Dame's defense will need to improve and be consistent as well. The battles in the trenches are going to be important as well. The Irish receiving unit does give them a big edge in the passing game and limiting turnovers along with field position will be big as well.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Michigan St. 13

Friday, September 13, 2013

Notre Dame-Purdue Preview

Notre Dame QB's: Despite Everett Golson being gone for this season due to a suspension, Notre Dame has the 17th ranked pass offense nationally. While Tommy Rees did throw 2 costly interceptions in the loss to Michigan, he still has done a decent job this season with 60.8 completion percentage on 45 completions and 74 attempts. In addition, he has thrown for 660 passing yards and 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Andrew Hendrix has appeared in both games as well this season and has only completed 1 of 5 passes for 9 yards, but appeared in the final drive in the first game and for one play against Michigan when he attempted a long pass in the closing seconds of the first half.

Notre Dame QB's vs. Purdue Pass Defense: Purdue has the 71st ranked pass defense that has allowed 3 passing touchdowns and opponents to complete 65.7 percent of their passes. Purdue has allowed 46 completions on 70 attempts. They have allowed 460 passing yards total or 230 yards per game, and a 10 yard per catch average as well. Considering the options that Tommy Rees has in Troy Niklas, TJ Jones, DaVaris Daniels, Chris Brown and more, this gives the Irish a considerable advantage and a great opportunity for Tommy Rees to bounce back from throwing 2 interceptions.

Edge: Notre Dame

Purdue QB's: Rob Henry has been the only quarterback to have any passing numbers this season with a 55.9 yard completion percentage and has completed 33 out of 59 passing attempts. He has thrown for only 311 yards, has thrown 2 interceptions, zero passing touchdowns, and has a long of just 29 yards. Henry also has 8 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown as well. His backups are young with Austin Appleby and Danny Etling who are redshirt freshman and true freshman, respectively and neither have any game stats so far.

Purdue QB's vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: The Irish are ranked 89th in pass defense and haven't done as well as the 2012 unit thus far. They have allowed an average of 261 passing yards and opponents average close to 12 yards per completion and 4 touchdowns. Rob Henry hasn't looked good this season at all and this could look well for the Irish to have their best game of the season when it comes to defending the pass.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame RB's: Amir Carlisle has the lead in terms of rushing yards with 132 rushing yards on 19 carries and has a 6.9 yard average per rush, and also has the team's longest running play with it being a 45 yard run. George Atkinson III has 71 rushing yards on 13 carries with 1 rushing touchdown and a 5.5 yard average. However, he has struggled a bit with catching the ball and had quite a few missed receptions in the loss to Michigan. Cam McDaniel has 69 yards on 13 carries as well with a 5.3 yard average. Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston only appeared against Temple so far and have 14 and 12 yards so far. Will Mahone missed the Temple game with injury and did not play against Michigan, but could see playing time against Purdue.

Notre Dame RB's vs. Purdue Rush Defense: Purdue's rushing defense is ranked 50th in the nation and has allowed 130 yards per game and only 3.8 yards a rush. However, they have allowed 4 touchdowns on the ground. Notre Dame comes in with just the 79th ranked rush offense, but does have a 5.2 yard average a rush and 1 rushing touchdown overall. Notre Dame should try to run the ball more and be balanced, and should try to play each of the running backs so they are able to get some playing time and experience as well.

Edge: Even

Purdue RB's: Akeem Hunt is the leading rusher for the Boilermakers with 103 rushing yards on 29 attempts and a 3.6 yard average. Dalyn Dawkins has 61 rushing yards, a 4.1 yard average, and on 15 carries. Receiver B.J. Knauf has made his contribution to the running game with 43 yards on 7 attempts with 1 rushing touchdown and a 6.1 yard average per rush.

Purdue RB's vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense: Purdue's rushing offense is ranked 104th overall with 99.5 yards per game, and the team is averaging just below 3 yards a carry. Notre Dame is ranked 62nd in rushing defense and has allowed 150 yards per game. The Irish should be able to have their best showing in the run defense department of the season so far against Purdue, who is one of the lowest ranked teams in rushing yards per game. Containing the ground game will be crucial and the Irish should be able to keep Purdue below 100 rushing yards.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame WR's and TE's: This has been one of the strong spots for the Irish. TJ Jones leads the Irish in receptions and yards and so far has 15 receptions for 232 yards. He also has a 15.5 yard average per catch and 1 receiving touchdown. Troy Niklas has been a real surprise for the Irish with 7 catches for 142 yards and a team-leading 20.3 yards per catch, and he also has 2 touchdowns as well. DaVaris Daniels has been great too with 7 receptions, 132 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns. Chris Brown had improved on his 2012 numbers against Temple alone and has 6 catches for 85 yards. C.J. Prosise and Corey Robinson had their first career receptions against Michigan for 16 and 12 yards, respectively.

Notre Dame WR's and TE's vs. Purdue DB's: Purdue's most experienced members of the secondary are cornerback Ricardo Allen and safeties Landon Feichter and Taylor Richards. The unit has allowed a 10 yard per catch average and 3 passing touchdowns. Despite the experience the Boilermakers have, they have a challenge in handling Notre Dame's deep receiving unit that has four players as the main targets and others who can step up.

Edge: Notre Dame

Purdue WR's and TE's: Not a single player has caught a touchdown amongst the receiving unit of Purdue. Gabe Holmes, a tight end, has a team-leading 9 catches for 69 yards. However, Gabe Holmes was injured in practice this week and that will have a major impact on the Boilermakers offense. Shane Mikesky has 4 catches for 43 yards, Gary Bush has 4 catches for 14 yards, and B.J. Knauf has 2 catches for 25 yards. The top two running backs have actually had a couple of the most important contributions to the receiving game with Dalyn Dawkins having 4 catches for 52 yards and Akeem Hunt with 3 receptions for 43 yards.

Purdue WR's vs. Notre Dame: With the unremarkable numbers by Purdue's receivers, things look better for the Irish secondary that should be able to bounce back from allowing 4 passing touchdowns. Gabe Holmes had been the main target and the next receiver after him had less than half the amount of receptions as he does. Notre Dame needs to be prevent the large chuck plays and the deep ball to win this matchup. Consistency is major need out of the Irish secondary for this game and for the rest of the season. Look for the Irish to also bounce back and contain this unit.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame OL: The offensive line has done well in giving Tommy Rees time to pass and has allowed only 2 sacks and 9 tackles for loss. The run blocking has been good with a 5.3 yard average. The unit has also been one of the stronger areas for the Irish this season so far.

Notre Dame OL vs. Purdue DL: The front four of the Purdue defense is a strength and all 6 of the Boilermakers sacks were by defensive lineman. Purdue is able to get into the backfield as well with 10 tackles for loss this season. The battle in the trenches might be the most important matchup in this game between these units. The Irish need to have their best pass and run blocking while keeping opposing defenders out of the backfield.

Edge: Even

Purdue OL: The offensive line came into this season with a combined 52 career starts and had 3 starters. Run blocking has been poor with 2.9 yards per rush, and they have allowed 3 sacks and 9 tackles for loss this season so far. The unit is primarily seniors starting with 4 of 5 starters being a senior.

Purdue OL vs. Notre Dame DL: Purdue will have more trouble when it comes to running the ball with the poor average per rush (107th overall). Pass blocking could be an area they fare better in as the Irish have 2 sacks this season. The Irish have been able to get quarterback pressure with 12 quarterback hurries and also have 10 tackles for loss this season.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame DL: Louis Nix III has a defensive line-leading 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Nix did well against the Michigan offensive line. Stephon Tuitt added another touchdown to his career with an interception in the endzone on what originally might have been a safety had Devin Gardner not tried to throw the ball away. Tuitt now has a fumble recovery touchdown and an interception touchdown for his career. He also has 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 quarterback hurries this season. Sheldon Day and Issac Rochell have 3 tackles each so far.

Notre Dame DL vs. Purdue OL: The Irish need to constantly put pressure on Purdue's offensive line so that they can stuff the run game and force Purdue into turnovers. The Irish have a great edge on containing the run game in particular.

Edge: Notre Dame

Purdue DL: One of the best strengths of Purdue is in the defensive line, despite the loss of Kawann Short, who was a 2nd round draft pick, 2nd team All-American, and 2-time first-team All-Big 10. Bruce Gaston might be the best player on the line and possibly the defense and he leads the team in tackles with 12 and has 3.5 tackles for loss (team-leading) and 2 sacks. Like the offensive line, it has quite a few seniors starting on it. Greg Latta has 9 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and 2 pass breakups. Ryan Russell has 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Jalani Phillips has 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a pass breakup. Ryan Issac has 2 tackles and 1 interception.

Purdue DL vs. Notre Dame OL: This is one of the biggest matchups in the game. All 6 of Purdue's sacks have come from defensive linemen and it is a unit that has quite a few seniors on it. Notre Dame needs to keep Tommy Rees protected and give him opportunity to pass. Preventing Purdue from getting into the backfield is key for the Irish. If the offensive line can handle Purdue's front four, then everything else will be significantly more easy.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame LB's: Starting inside linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese are the top 2 tacklers for the Irish and they have 20 and 14 respectively, and they both have 2 tackles for loss as well. Jarrett Grace has done quite well and could potentially be starting over one of them by the season's end. Grace has 10 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Prince Shembo has 6 tackles and 6 quarterback hurries this season and Jaylon Smith has 6 tackles as well with a pass breakup. Ishaq Williams had his first career sack against Michigan and has 4 tackles as well.

Notre Dame LB's vs. Purdue: The Irish face one of the worst rushing offenses in Purdue who are 104th overall in the nation. While the inside linebacker play outside of Jarrett Grace hasn't been as great with the loss of Manti Te'o, this is an opportunity to improve.

Edge: Notre Dame

Purdue LB's: Sean Robinson leads the linebackers in tackles with 9 tackles and 1 pass breakup. Joe Gilliam has 8 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Will Lucas has 6 tackles and 1 pass breakup and Armstead Williams has 3 tackles. This unit also has quite a few upperclassmen in it as well.

Purdue LB's vs. Notre Dame: The Boilermakers have quite a bit to handle in a deep running game that the Irish have and Troy Niklas who has been quite impressive for the Irish so far this season. Purdue has an upperclassmen-heavy unit at linebacker, but the Irish could easily be a major challenge for them.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame DB's: The secondary has been a step down for the Irish this season as they are 89th in the nation in pass defense and have allowed 261 yards per game and 4 passing touchdowns. This is a prime opportunity to improve against a Purdue unit that doesn't have many top players in the receiving unit and inconsistent quarterback play. The defensive backs haven't deflected many passes with only 3 (4 overall if the entire defense is factored in).

Notre Dame DB's vs. Purdue WR's: The loss of Gabe Holmes is a big one for the Boilermakers, but the defensive backs for the Irish must be consistent and improve on their play against Michigan last week. Preventing big chunk plays and short gains turning into long ones is as important as preventing the deep ball here.

Edge: Notre Dame

Purdue DB's: The most important play in the Boilermakers secondary is senior cornerback Ricardo Allen. Allen will likely be lined up opposite of TJ Jones and that will be a big matchup to watch. On the season, Allen has 7 tackles and 1 interception this season so far. The other important player is Landon Feichter who had 4 interceptions last season and this season has 8 tackles. Frankie Williams accounts for 1 other interception made by the defensive backs.

Purdue DB's vs. Notre Dame WR's: Ricardo Allen vs. TJ Jones will be major matchup here, but the Purdue secondary has to also account for DaVaris Daniels and Chris Brown as well. If Tommy Rees spreads it around and avoids turnovers, then the Irish will win big in this area.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Kicking Game: Kyle Brindza really improved between game 1 and game 2. After missing 2 field goals against Temple, he hit all 3 attempts with 2 of the 3 being for 40 or more yards. He did better at punting and has a 40.9 yard average with a long of 47, 2 touchbacks, 2 fair caught, and 2 inside the 20. Brindza also has a 64.3 yard kickoff average and has 6 touchbacks on 12 kickoffs.

Purdue Kicking Game: Paul Griggs has made 2 of 4 field goals, but is 2 of 2 after starting out 0-2. Cody Webster has a 49.9 yard average and a long punt of 73 yards and has been able to pin it deep with 4 touchbacks and 3 punts of 50 or more yards. Thomas Meadows is the kickoff specialist and has a 64.3 yard average and has 1 touchback on 7 punts.

Stronger Unit: Even
Notre Dame Return Game: George Atkinson III has returned 4 kickoffs for 116 yards and a 29 yard average and has a long of 50 yards on a return. Punt returns have already looked better than the previous season with TJ Jones returning 4 punts for 41 yards and a long of 18.

Purdue Return Game: Akeem Hunt has 3 returns for 143 yards and an impressive 47.7 yard average and a return for a touchdown. Frankie Williams has 1 punt return for 14 yards.

Stronger Unit: Purdue

Everything Else: The Irish are coming in off a loss at Michigan and Purdue is coming in off a close win over Division 1-AA Indiana State. The Irish are considerably stronger at numerous positions over the Boilermakers. The big thing is to limit turnovers on offense, establish the run and to try and contain the front four of Purdue. Look for more balanced showing on offense and opportunities for younger players such as Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston and other freshmen to get playing time.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Purdue 6