Jul 31, 2010
His junior tape from Preps Report is the best film—not to mention the most entertaining—of any of his fellow ND verbals. The seven minutes are repetitive for all the right reasons: 6-6, 266 Lynch is too big, fast, and strong for any takers in the Ft. Myers area. To compliment his physical gifts, Lynch shows skill in breaking up passes. For Lynch, the tendency to go for deflections is a double-edged sword at times when QBs use a pump fake, although at the 1:07 mark he recovered for the sack anyway.
Impressive against the run, Lynch has sufficient lateral speed to contain a back in the flat and force him to the sideline. He doesn’t take himself out of plays and he’s a consistent terror on every down. Lynch sometimes rushes as stand-up blitzer, so he’ll need to get comfortable playing each snap in a down position. He’s agile enough to develop DE moves and he can chase down skill guys from the line of scrimmage. He can refine these traits and gain muscle mass, but unlike most freshmen on the line, it won't happen during a redshirt year. Lynch looks physically ready to get a little PT for the Irish in 2010 let alone 2011.
While nose guard Louis Nix is comparable in terms of prototypical fit for the scheme, no ND defensive lineman matches Lynch’s upside. His sack numbers as a freshman in 2011 will be similar to Ethan Johnson’s ’08 pace. While Lynch isn’t the first defender in ND’s 2011 group who garnered offers from the SEC’s best teams, he’s probably the first of the caliber who would actually beast at those schools. Lynch is a perfect 3-4 DE and the cornerstone of Kelly’s recruiting class. Soon enough, he’ll also be the centerpiece of Diaco’s defense and maybe, just maybe, Notre Dame’s next national championship.
ESPN also has junior film showcasing Brown in mostly man-to-man coverage. Watch him deck the WR in the play that starts at the :50 mark. In other segments, Brown shows hops (1:37), closing speed (:32), and run support (2:22). His film makes it obvious that Brown’s coaches in a football-crazed state have done well with him. With a complete corner skill set and great size to boot, Brown is a candidate to play early even before factoring in our thin CB depth chart. This commitment gives Notre Dame flexibility to fulfill needs in the defensive backfield. Although Brown is similar to 2008 signee and DB utility man Jamoris Slaughter, the Irish should keep Brown at CB and instead use Eilar Hardy at safety, his most natural position. ND’s three current scholarship players from Texas are all starters, and Jalen Brown will continue this legacy in due time.
Jul 30, 2010
A lightning-fast first step makes Rabasa a sack master in Florida’s largest classification, some of the best competition in the country. Because he isn’t able to physically overpower linemen, an early understanding of hand placement is a sort of silver lining for the glaring weakness that Rabasa can’t do anything to improve: height. His listed 6-3 frame dictates a move to outside linebacker in ND’s 3-4 defense. Catching a speedster from behind at the 4:36 mark of his junior highlights is reason to believe Rabasa can adjust to linebacker duties:
ND now prefers longer arms even of its outside backers, and it’s hard to tell if Rabasa's frame can hold much more weight. His game will take a similar transition to that of fellow commit Clay Burton, also a pass-rushing specialist but without Rabasa’s unreal explosiveness. Although Rabasa is unproven in moving laterally and reading running lanes and backs, speed alone makes him the favorite to succeed Darius Fleming as the starting CAT backer in 2012.
Please note to turn off sound if you're at work:
Hayes needs to work on pass blocking and following blocks, especially when collegiate defenders marginalize his quickness. He looks comfortable running in a spread offense, and he will probably play RB at Notre Dame. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield will help his cause either as a back or moonlighting as an inside receiver. He has the talent to take some carries away from probable future starter Cierre Wood. Even if or when Hayes isn't the featured back, his moves and pass-catching ability will earn him touches in some capacity.
Jul 28, 2010
In an exclusive report, Irish Creed has learned that Notre Dame pitcher Evan Danieli will forego his senior season with the Irish and sign a contract with the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him in the 24th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft.
One of the top pitching high school prospects in the country, Evan was selected in the 2007 draft by the Minnesota Twins albeit his strong commitment to play at Notre Dame. Despite a college career that was hampered by injuries, including rehabilitation following Tommy John elbow surgery that caused him to miss the 2010 season, the Braves clearly were impressed by his 90+mph fastball that reportedly topped out at 97 in previous summers in the Cape Cod League, a commanding curve ball, and overall ability to pitch.
Evan’s outgoing and fun-loving personality will be sorely missed this year in Alumni Hall, around campus, and on the baseball team. But, we are excited to know that he departs to an organization with an outstanding reputation for grooming star MLB pitchers.
Don’t forget all those great Dawg Pizzas we’ve made you big guy, and get us tickets to your pitching duel when you take down fellow Seton Hall Prep star Rick Porcello. Best of luck as you begin your MLB career.
Jul 27, 2010
Irish Creed is pumped up to participate for the first time in the Irish Blogger Gathering, a feature in which ND blogs respond to the same set of prompts. It's like an essay test for a Mendoza student, only harder. The six-question format works perfectly for us to split the responses evenly among our three resident writers. Thanks to Matt from We Never Graduate for writing the questions this round to get our brains working just in time for August camp. Did we nail this exam?
1. First, before officially shifting focus to what matters most, let's take a moment to offer a way too early evaluation of Team Kelly's recruiting efforts. They've got verbals from some highly touted prospects (Hegarty, Koyack, Prestwood) and are in the hunt for quite a few more (Aaron Lynch, George Atkinson, Justice Hayes), but it seems like this class lacks the flair and star power of Charlie Weis's classes. We're not even in the hunt for a Rivals five-star rated prospect and we've already taken as many three-stars as the '07 and '08 classes combined. Sure, Kelly can transform two-stars into seven-stars, but the numbers of the last ten years don't lie--championships are won with teams chock full of four and five star talent. Are you at least a little worried at this point or still in the RKG Honeymoon period?
The reason the honeymoon is alive in my mind is that our commits almost all hit on their position-respective “profile” for size and speed that Kelly likes so much that he dropped the word six times last signing day. Hegarty and Prestwood are perfect spread tackles with an emphasis on agility over bulk. At 6-4, Grace matches the inside backer profile. 6-6 defensive ends Springmann and Carrico might not be as good overall, but they at least meet the profile height that that you can’t teach.
The disappointing lack of Rivals five stars isn’t as bad as it seems because they’ve only named 11 fives so far. It’ll finish around 30, which might include now-No. 32 Matthew Hegarty. The bigger picture problem with the new recruiting is potential de-emphasizing California. While Florida recruiting has picked up, it looks like ND is now involved with only three Californians: the Atkinson twins and Niklas. Nonetheless, this class is on pace to finish strong in addition to current commits potentially moving up the national boards. The staff should probably offer the next tier at safety in order to not get shut out of a position of need, but ND is otherwise getting “profile” players to transition schemes with sound scholarship distribution and a couple of underrated commits to boot.
2. The Irish switch from a pro-style offense to the spread this season. We saw it unveiled in the spring game and it is (understandably) a work in progress. That being said the Irish have a veritable bevy of talent, size, and speed at the skill positions. In general, what's your take on the switch to the spread and how high or low should expectations for the offense be going into the year?
Expectations should be moderately high for the offense because of—not despite—the new scheme. Upon installing the spread in his first season at CMU and UC, Kelly oversaw increases in total offense and scoring offense from the previous season at each school, including a huge jump in UC scoring offense (No. 82 to No. 16 nationally). These stats show that he can turn players recruited for another system into quality producers in the spread.
While Kelly plans to run extensively to help the new QB, using arguably the nation’s top WR and TE as a crutch can also ease the scheme into form. His public criticism of the offense’s work rate and struggle to practice at hyper speeds reduced my expectations slightly, but there’s enough perimeter speed to spark the spread. Kelly’s first-year output probably won’t match the yardage of the ’09 Irish. Nonetheless, he’ll push the right buttons to finish with a comparable points-per-game average in the top third nationally in 2010.
3. Three-year starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen has loaded his mom, dad, and free-loading brothers into the family stretch Hummer and taken off for the greener pastures of professional football. Dayne Crist is tasked with stepping into the big, 28 TD, 7:1 TD to INT ratio shoes Jimmy leaves behind. How are you feeling about him taking the reins to Kelly's vaunted spread offense? Do you see there being a significant drop-off with the Great Dayne at the helm or is he going to come out guns a-blazin' a la Brady Quinn in '05?
I have no doubt that DC will eventually prove that Crist is King at Notre Dame. He has a great head on his shoulders and he understands what it means to be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. He recently talked with ESPN’s Bruce Feldman about leaving a positive legacy behind him, and I believe that when his reign is over he will be remembered as a great role model for future leaders of the Fighting Irish to follow.
During the few chances we have gotten to see him play, Crist has already shown us glimpses of greatness. More importantly, he has exhibited the type of toughness and willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team win that the Fighting Irish are going to need from their leader in 2010. He put both of these traits on display in his often overlooked but crucial performance during the 2nd quarter against Purdont in 2009 when he took over for an injured Clausen. Without hesitation, he stepped right up and led the Fighting Irish on two straight touchdown drives to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. Without that heroic effort, Rudy never would have caught his famous game-winning touchdown from Clausen as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
I probably speak for most of the Fighting Irish Faithful when I say that I felt like I got kicked in the stomach when I watched his knee buckle on the turf of the Alamodome. He has shown nothing but resolute optimism since then, however, and I am more than excited to watch him become our leader. Beyond his athleticism and his familiarity with a spread offense which he ran in high school, I think the qualities that make him a good person and a good leader will stand out the most as the main reasons #10 will once again become the best selling jersey at the bookstore.
4. When a new coach takes over there tend to be a couple of players that haven't seen any significant playing time (or at least haven't made an impact) that unexpectedly emerge as major contributors (see: Samardzija, Jeff in '05). There are plenty of candidates on the offensive side of the ball, but you're only allowed to pick one horse in this derby. Who's it going to be?
I like the horse analogy, because my pick for 2010 Breakout Player of the Year definitely runs with the stride of a stallion. I have a good feeling that lanky 6’3” WR #81 Johnny Goodman will become a fan favorite in the near future. Coupled with his freakish athletic ability, all of the receiving threats lining up around him in Kelly’s spread offense will give him plenty of chances to make big plays.
Goody took advantage of the few opportunities he had to shine during his sophomore season, gaining 104 yards on just 6 catches. You might remember the first touchdown catch of his college career, which he hauled in from Dayne Crist in the Alamodome. Ironically, it was his first touchdown catch and Crist’s first touchdown pass since the duo connected on the very same field in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
What you might not know about Goody is that he was actually called upon to do quite a bit last year. He showed his willingness to help the team in any way possible not only as a WR but on special teams and even as a QB from the wild-cat formation. The talented product of Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne, Indiana, did it all in high school as well, winning awards as a WR before switching to QB as a senior to lead one of the best teams in the state. In fact, he barely left the field during his senior season as he proved to be a skilled punt returner, kick returner, and defensive back as well.
Last season, Dayne Crist told the South Bend Tribune that Goody could out-throw every quarterback on the 2009 Notre Dame roster (including both Crist and Clausen). He now enters the 2010 season focused on refining his athletic abilities and becoming a big-time threat at WR. Look for him to take advantage of any and every opportunity he gets. Before long, the #10 to #81 connection might just become as familiar as the #10 to #83 connection was a few years ago.
5. It's preseason which means it's appropriate for all college football fans to bathe in Kool-Aid and allow themselves to dream of invading Glendale, Arizona this January en route to claiming a national championship. Tears of joy will be shed, flights will be missed, and days--if not weeks--of "sick" leave from work will be utilized. I want that more than that weird, fat lady in Napoleon Dynamite wanted that model ship. What needs to happen this season on the offensive side of the ball for this dream to become reality?
As Brian Kelley said in his interview this weekend, we really need to hope that “the new QB has a break out year.” Dayne-O needs to light it up and everyone needs to be on the same page as him. As we saw in the spring game, our new fast-pace style of play really allows our offense to get a lot of plays off quickly. That means keeping the defense on their heels and unprepared for what’s coming at them, with our quick, speedy wide receivers getting open on short pass plays. That will open the field up for Armando and Cierre to have game-breaking, explosive runs that Cincinnati’s opponents were quite familiar with last season as UC averaged 4.99 yards per carry.
The deep pass won’t be used as often as it was under Weis, but that might make it more effective. After a series of 5-15 yard pass plays, defensive backs won't be prepared for Mike Floyd or TJ Jones to take off and burn past them toward the end zone, allowing Dayne to float one right into their hands. And when everyone’s covered, Dayne needs to be able to tuck it and run for a few yards… no gain is not an option in this offense, and as Connecticut knows: Brian Kelly will put up over 700 yards on you. I am looking for speed guys like Goodman and Toma to come in under the radar and make some catches in the open field and take it to the house.
For the first time I have been watching another team's highlights (Cincinnati’s) to get amped for this season, and I can totally see our guys flourishing in this offense. If we can avoid three and outs and red zone stalls, there's no reason we can't reach Glendale for the title game. Let’s go now Irish!
6. ***BONUS*** The arrival of college football means the arrival of perhaps the greatest American pastime: Tailgating. The assumption is that you're going to be heading to at least one game in the Bend this year which means you'll have at least one opportunity to tailgate your face off. What home games are you planning on attending, where do you normally tailgate when you're out for a game, what's your typical tailgate like (we talking a great spread and a selection of imported beverages or a pack of Bubba burgers and about 20 30-racks of Natty?), and are you inviting your loyal readers?
I am definitely on the offensive during my tailgating. I will be at every home and away game with the grill going, the bar fully stacked, and completely decked out in green. I tailgate wherever I get a spot in the football lot (normally by the row of port-a-johns across from Gate C) and we have chili dogs, sandwiches, wings, Chick-fil-A bites and whatever else I’m in the mood to cook up… I’m going to give breakfast a shot this year. Bloody Marys are a must, along with Molson and Moosehead. Irish Creed readers are always welcome as long as they are prepared to be greeted with a shot. We will tweet our location.
Jul 26, 2010
IC: Mr. Kelley, congratulations on your induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. How did you enjoy the weekend and the events set up for you and your fellow honorees?
BK: The weekend was fantastic the people from the HOF were great and the events they set up were fun. They did a great job keeping the families busy also.
IC: Did you know Tim Brown before the weekend? If so, what is your opinion on him as a representative of Notre Dame?
BK: I did not know Tim prior to this weekend. Tim was a class act and I don't think there could be anybody better than him to represent ND.
IC: How was Tim Brown's reception at the Hall of Fame?
BK: Playing for ND and the HOF being in South Bend he was the hit of the town but at no time did he try make himself more visible then the other HOFamers.
IC: You won a Division 2 national championship as a junior at Cal Lutheran. What do you believe led to your team's success on the field?
BK: I believe what led us to the national champs were the guys we had on our team especially our seniors. They where good leaders and were extremely dedicated to the game. They had worked together for 4 years to get to the national championship game and a few of us juniors help them achieve that goal.
IC: According to a Sports Illustrated article in April, ND's Brian Kelly 'still refers to himself as a Division II coach.' With your own background as a D-II star, how do you think Kelly's 13 years in Division II will serve him in his new role?
BK: It doesn't matter what level you are coaching at you gain valuable experience. I think one thing that will help him is being able to adjust to situations quicker on the field. When you coach at a small college this is something you do quite a bit because you don't have the personnel sitting on the bench as you do at a major college.
IC: Do you have any knowledge of the ND team? If so, what does that other Brian Kelly need to do to get back on the National Championship radar?
BK: I don't have a lot of knowledge of the ND team but like any other major college you have to be able to recruit good players. Then you have to have those players believe in you and your system. Coach Kelly has that ability because he has done it his whole coaching career.
IC: Do you have any predictions for break out players or guys to keep our eyes on in the future?
BK: I really don't know the players at ND but you should be hoping the new QB has a break out year.
I want to thank Brian Kelley again for sitting down with Irish Creed to talk about his Hall of Fame experience. We encourage all of our readers to check back for more exclusive interviews throughout the season. Go Irish!
Jul 23, 2010
October 6, 2012, Soldier Field
October 8, 2016, Notre Dame Stadium
November 25, 2017, Sun Life Stadium
Many Notre Dame freshmen and sophomores weren't alive in 1990, the last time we played "The U." Based on my observations as a student the past few years, current ND kids recall two things about the legendary series:
1. The Catholics vs. Convicts nickname and shirt
2. Rocket Ismail's involvement and recent discussion of the games
While the '88 pre-game fight and even Holtz's "Save Jimmy Johnson for me!" line are remembered, too, the continuity of student section shirt unity and Rocket's on-campus presence make these two factors stand out. Today's students will remember Rocket's fire at pep rallies, and his recollection of the '88 Miami game is also a current favorite:
Notre Dame's players and students—especially of the future—have a great series on the horizon. Something for the future, yes, but also a responsibility to uphold our 15-7-1 series lead.
Two other sidebars about the games: The 2012 date, which continues ND's history at Soldier Field, means a heavy October '12 for the Irish, including the reportedly unsigned but likely game at Oklahoma.
The 2017 date at Miami is Thanksgiving Saturday in an odd year, the biannual weekend when ND typically plays at Stanford. The Miami '17 game represents another strong sign that Notre Dame is moving away from the Stanford series, which is already scheduled to end after the 2011 season.
While the oddly scheduled Miami dates do not constitute a replacement for Stanford, the home-road-neutral trifecta with a name program is a huge coup for Swarbrick and other administrators who control football scheduling. ND's ability to place the neutral game in Chicago is a favorable bonus to this already-sweet deal.
|ESPN.com July 23, 2010|
Jul 22, 2010
A recent recon mission for Irish Creed brought me to the south central LA campus of Cal Southern in order to check in on our long time rivals and see what I could dig up in the aftermath of recent NCAA sanctions.
It’s common knowledge by now that Cal Southern was hit hard by sanctions resulting from the “lack of institutional control” exhibited by their athletic department, specifically regarding illegal benefits taken by athletes Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. These sanctions went beyond the punishments placed upon the football team. They led to the eventual firing of running backs coach Todd McNair, athletic director Mike Garrett, and they also forced head coach Pete Carroll to jump ship just before everything came crashing down. Several players have already taken advantage of the "get out of jail free cards" issued to them by the NCAA by transferring to play for other programs. Others are expected to follow in their wake. Most importantly, it seems as though a once prideful legacy will forever be sullied in the eyes of honest men.
The longstanding tradition of excellence at Cal Southern has recently become overshadowed by the circus surrounding their athletic department. It was clearly getting out of control with constant celebrity appearances at games and practices and the overall promotion of a Hollywood image encouraging student athletes to focus more on living lavishly than on being either students or athletes. Those in charge could only turn a blind eye for so long, and when the level of absurdity peaked with Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo something had to give.
Jul 17, 2010
We would also like to give special thanks to the top five states that have supported Irish Creed the most so far: California, Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. Finally, a hearty "Go raibh maith agat!" goes out to our first two Irish readers in Dublin and Wexford. All of you have truly reminded us that Notre Dame is a nation that knows no boundaries.
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Thank you all once again, and GO IRISH!
Jul 16, 2010
Soldier Field is very special to the Notre Dame Football program because it was there in 1927 and 1928 that the Fighting Irish played 2 contests to fund-raise for their new football stadium. Knute Rockne called the 1927 match up the greatest game that he had ever seen, with the Irish edging out the USC Trojans 7-6. It is estimated that 120,000 people were in attendance, however, there were no official records (The 1929 Notre Dame USC showdown at Soldier Field, which the Irish won 13-12 is the largest recorded crowd in College football history with 112,912 in attendance).
The 1928 battle between the two great schools who wear blue and gold again drew an estimated crowd of 120,000 people, and Notre Dame again barely beat their opponent with a score of 7-0. Perhaps the switch to green motivated Her Loyal Sons, as noted in the Scholastic Football Review:
"Mr. K. K. Rockne may, or may not, be a psychologist. But, he did array his Fighting Irish in bright green jerseys for their battle with the United States Naval Academy. Mr. Rockne evidently surmised that garbing a band of native and adopted Irish in their native color is somewhat akin to showing a bull the Russian flag.''
There have been many great Notre Dame games in Soldier Field, and the future is sure to hold more. The Fighting Irish are set to return to the Chicago stadium to play the Miami Hurricanes in 2012.
Jul 15, 2010
A Decade Gone By at Notre Dame
A decade ago yesterday, Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White named Mike Brey as the 17th head coach of the Fighting Irish Men’s Basketball Team. In his tenure, Brey has been the peer of five football coaches, two athletic directors, two University Presidents, and has the 5th highest winning percentage in the Big East during that time period. Brey has over 200 wins with Notre Dame.
Brey has had a successful career with the Fighting Irish
From 2006-2008 the Fighting Irish were undefeated at home in front of the Leprechaun Legion. This was the first time that a Big East team made it two consecutive seasons without losing a conference game on their home court; Brey won back to back Big East Coach of the Year honors for this accomplishment. Unfortunately, the Irish got upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and the second round in 2008, and we have not returned to the Sweet Sixteen since 2003. Getting upset in this year’s first round after a late season surge was a real down moment for the Notre Dame Basketball program, adding to the trend of successful regular season squads under Brey that fizzle during the post season. Notre Dame’s tendency to “live-or-die” by the 3 coupled with a notoriously soft defense makes the Irish an easy upset target as smart coaches know how to hit the Irish hard and early. Although Brey showed some upside with the use of the “burn” offense that sparked Notre Dame’s late-season run, he failed to change his strategy against an Old Dominion squad that Notre Dame needed to come out attacking from the opening tip. These trends need to be addressed immediately as the Irish are fielding their best squad since Troy Murphy captained the team.
Goals heading into the next decade
The Irish need to make themselves a perennial Big East top 5, finishing in the top 3 at least once every three years (as the team cycles and becomes dominated by upper classmen again). We also need to make it to the Sweet-16 every 3 years as well. FINISHING is the biggest goal for Mike Brey over the next decade.
This is one of Brey’s strongest recruiting classes at Notre Dame and he is really getting after it for next year’s class as well. Having a good recruiting class every year is something Brey must do to ensure that the Fighting Irish can remain competitive year in and year out.
Channeling his inner Mike Krzyzewski
Prior to his five-year stint at Delaware and coming to Notre Dame, Mike Brey was an assistant at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski. The Duke Blue Devils were very similar to the Irish before Krzyzewski arrived in 1980. They had a previous coaching regime that would consistently get the team into the tournament, but they could never bring home the hardware. And although it doesn’t seem like Brey has laid the tracks for a powerhouse like Krzyzewski, it did take Krzyzewski 11 years at Duke before he won his first title (with Mike Brey on the sideline)… Who knows, this decade could have unforeseen surprises for Fighting Irish fans.
Like Brian Kelly, Notre Dame was Mike Brey’s dream job and everything else just a stepping stone until there. His goal was to turn Notre Dame around like Krzyzewski did with Duke, recruiting the smartest players with the best personalities, and turning them into outstanding ball players. Brey was familiar with the academic standards a coach faces at Notre Dame, as they were very similar when he arrived at Duke. But he was confident he could establish a “national recruiting network (like he) developed at Duke… here at Notre Dame.” Although Notre Dame hasn’t had consistent recruiting, Mike Brey seems to know this as he has really hit the ground running these past two seasons. For Notre Dame to have perennial success and for Brey to get another contract extension, getting top notch players in and developing them every year is a must.
Mike Brey as a Notre Dame man
Coaching qualifications aside, Mike Brey is the ideal “face” of a Notre Dame program. Coach is always e-mailing the student body, asking them for their support at upcoming basketball games, and thanking them afterwards win or lose. When tendomer, myself, and other students camped out for basketball games it was almost a given that Brey would come out with an order of pizza pies to hold us over and help us stay nourished/energized to cheer on the Irish. He can be frequently seen in the dining hall or around campus, talking to students and actually engaging in conversation outside of basketball. During preseason dorm talks, Brey always precedes a student’s question by asking them their name, home town, and major. If a detached onlooker were to see this they would think he was a professor, not the head basketball coach! There isn’t a high-profile coach in the country more reachable, and he is truly an asset to the university. Let’s hope that he can continue to bring in strong recruiting classes like this past one, and lead the Irish to the NCAA tournament year after year like he did upon his arrival a decade ago.
Jul 14, 2010
Jul 12, 2010
Other factors, such as game site and turnover margin, were unreliable predictors of success. In three losses, Cincinnati split those categories: home, away, neutral once each; won, lost, and drew the turnover margin once each. Aerial strength carried the Bearcats through most games against ranked teams, but out-throwing WVU in ‘07 and VT in ‘08 mattered little. The culprit? Rush defense. Not coincidentally, three of the four largest rushing allowances resulted in UC losses.
On the positive side, Cincinnati held five ranked teams under 100 yards on the ground and, not surprisingly, won each time.
In six games against teams that finished the final AP Top 25, UC went 3-3 and allowed an average 207.2 rushing yards. Due to this poor defensive performance, Cincinnati only once out-rushed the opponent in this 6-game subset (WVU, 2009). The two times UC triumphed despite the rushing margin, it needed a +2 turnover margin on one occasion and 256 Mardy Gilyard kick return yards on the other.
These statistics are relevant because they evoke similarities to ND's previous coaching staff. Weis-led ND teams never lost when out-rushing the opponent (20-0). Under BK, UC lost once when out-rushing the opponent (Louisville, 2007). However, for Weis, the problem was generally both poor rush offense and poor rush defense. The weakness for Kelly, on the other hand, is mostly with rush defense only.
To be clear, this comparison does not predict Kelly’s failure at Notre Dame. In fact, Kelly’s rush defense, with inferior talent, averaged 35.4 yards better than Notre Dame against five common opponents over the past three seasons. Nonetheless, Kelly’s Irish teams will need to do better stopping top offenses in the vein of ’07 WVU and ’08 Oklahoma to achieve ND’s national championship aspirations.
Jul 10, 2010
Jul 8, 2010
Jul 7, 2010
Aoki posted a 114-104-1 record as the head coach of the Eagles, and has a career record of 201-248-1. Although these numbers seem low when looking to find leadership for a team that has struggled since the departure of all-star coach Paul Mainieri, Aoki has an excellent track record and has earned a lot of respect in the college baseball world. He led the BC program that has no emphasis and poor baseball facilities to the NCAA tournament in 2009; this was the Eagles’ first NCAA regional appearance in 42 years.
Prior to coaching at Boston College, Aoki took over a struggling Columbia Lions baseball program that hadn’t had a 20-win season since 1987. From 2001-2003, Aoki’s final 3 seasons as the Lions’ skipper, Columbia posted three straight 20-plus win records.
Aoki started off his baseball career as a player for the Davidson Wildcats, setting up behind the plate, at 3rd, and at 2nd during his four-year career. Aoki is in the top ten for career batting average and slugging average for the Wildcats, as well as having top-five single-season records in home runs and doubles.
Despite having a similar record to Schrage’s, Aoki coached a team in a far more competitive conference than the Big East (ACC) as well as inheriting much less. BC has terrible baseball facilities and did not have the same caliber of players that Mainieri left Schrage with at ND.
Mike Belfiore, a pitcher for the South Bend Silverhawks, touted Aoki as a good player developer, stating "He'll always point out things that you need to work on. He always wants you to be better."
Although less proven than our football coach, Aoki could be a Brian Kelly-like hire doing “more with less” until he can get his recruits to South Bend. Here’s to hoping that Aoki can transition well from BC to Notre Dame like a famous football coach did long ago.
Jul 6, 2010
But I forgot that Luke was Notre Dame. One of the nicest guys I had ever seen around campus, always working hard and wanting to win for the Irish. He was the most underrated All American of all time and will be remembered as a Notre Dame legend, despite not ending on the highest note.
In his first NBA summer league game, Luke Harangody was wet from behind the arc as if he was back at Freedom Hall in 2008, the site of his first collegiate three-pointers. Gody posted a respectable 23 points and 4 rebounds including 4 of 6 on threes, earning himself the number 2 spot on the NBA rookie ladder.
In his second game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Luke struggled from the field but made all 6 of his free throw attempts and added a team-high 12 boards to give himself his first double-double with the Celtics, albeit in summer league.
Was Luke’s three point percentage in the first game a fluke or will Gody be able to solidify himself as a shooter in the NBA?
Analysis so far: Luke looked a lot like he did at the end of the season on Tuesday night, missing a handful of open shots including four contested layups. He needs to show his strength in finishing those attempts. Despite his attempt at re-imaging himself as a shooter in the NBA, Luke still has his unique shooting form that Notre Dame fans have grown to know well. If he can continue to perform as he did in his first game, fans and commentators will respect his unorthodox style; if not, he is sure to encounter a lot of criticism.
Luke has shown a lot of highs and lows, from good hustle and defense, to poor boxing out and allowing an alley-oop in his face. Then again, against the Sixers he was going against 6-10 Marreese Speights, who has averaged over 16 minutes per game in his first two years in the NBA.
It will be interesting to see how Luke will emerge in the coming weeks and if he will make the regular season roster come summer’s end. Check back with Irish Creed for future Gody updates as we track his summer league play for you. We wish him the best of luck as he plays for another one of Erin’s teams, even if it happens to be in Satan’s city.
Jul 4, 2010
Today is also the 75th anniversary of Frank Leahy's wedding. So keep him in your thoughts, and remember the glory days of national championships soon to be restored. Happy iNDependence Day!
Jul 1, 2010
How long will it take for Kelly's prophecy to become reality? Our latest poll asked "How many games will Notre Dame Football win in 2010?" Here are the results:
Thanks to everyone who voted. You can find our predictions for the 2010 season below. Feel free to post your own predictions in the comments section, and check out our new poll at the bottom of the page.
While a former Leprechaun may be expected to predict a perfect season every year, I am going to have to temper the enthusiasm of my co-authors a bit with what I deem to be a realistic and cautiously optimistic prediction for the 2010 Fighting Irish. I have no doubt that Crist will emerge as a tremendous leader, but he has a lot to prove as he enters the season with little experience. The arsenal of highly talented weapons at his disposal should help, and I am expecting big things from the likes of Floyd, Rudolph, Allen, and Riddick. I'm looking for the combination of redshirt freshman Cierre Wood and true freshman Tai-ler Jones to provide an extra spark to the offense as well. Defensively, I am banking on a vastly improved defensive line with Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore wreaking havoc on opposing backfields. Our secondary is still suspect due to little depth at safety, but I can feel a breakout year coming from Dan McCarthy as he steps in for his older brother.
Most importantly, the Fighting Irish will have a new leader in Coach Kelly who will make them believe and instill them with a new sense of drive. If the 2010 team can take Kelly's "Irish Creed" to heart, they will do well.
All that being said, first 6 games on our schedule present us with a gauntlet that even the most elite team would have difficulty coming out of unscathed. I am predicting a 3-3 start for the Fighting Irish, who will then go on a tear and finish the regular season at 8-4 before extending the bowl winning streak to 2.
ND’s front-loaded schedule makes 2010 a challenge, but this team’s talent—as measured by not just recruiting evaluations but preseason All-American and related watch lists—exceeds that of any group this staff has previously coached. The personnel upgrade far outweighs the tougher schedule, especially in a year when ND’s second-best opponent on paper, Pitt, is a team that Kelly defeated twice in three years at UC. Three of BK’s six Cincinnati losses came against ranked opponents. Kelly won ten in his first season with UC, and he’ll do it again at Notre Dame.
As Kelly said on 97.1 FM in Columbus this morning, “Without a doubt the strength of our football team will be the depth.” Kelly has more talent on this roster than he probably has had on all of his previous teams combined, and a lot of bodies to compete for starting spots. Kelly and Longo create an environment in which every player knows he has a shot to break through the depth charts. There are no guaranteed starters, no players who are more important than the team as a whole, and that will lead to the hungriest, hardest-working starting 11 on both sides of the ball.
Despite having one of the toughest, front-loaded schedules in college football, this team is due to pull it off. These players are extremely familiar with their competition, having beaten or barely lost to eight of the teams on the schedule just last season. While these teams might also have improved over the off season, so have we, and in ways they have not (the addition of the Brian Kelly’s intangibles/conditioning/mental toughness... not just skill development).
Our players have already bought into Kelly’s ‘team first’ program and are thirsty for a championship. They have a quarterback whose strength is his leadership skills, and a defense that has silently been maturing and getting ready for their outbreak season. This talented group of Irishmen has underperformed for too long, and the fans, players, and coaches will not tolerate another season of not playing to their full potential.
A touchdown loss in the national championship game will cap Brian Kelly’s inaugural season and show the underclassmen that they are ready to take it home next season.
Kelly is a natural born-competitor and he will stop at nothing to prove himself. He knows that “you've got to win right away in college football. There are no three- or five-year plans anymore." Willingham and Weis went 10-3 and 9-3 in their first Irish seasons, respectively. You can be certain that Kelly will outperform his predecessors.
Here’s to hoping that 13% of you were right, and the Fighting Irish prove all three of us wrong by bringing home the hardware in 2010.