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Sep 30, 2010


A couple Leprechaun-themed points of interest before our writers predict how Saturday's Holy War will turn out:

Brian Kelly has replaced the "Wildcat" formation run by Armando Allen with what he calls the "Leprechaun" formation.  After making Allen and the Leprechaun mascot stand back to back at the pep rally, he pronounced #5 as the tallest Leprechaun at Notre Dame.

Boston-based crime thriller "The Town" recently hit theatres just in time for Kelly's Boston homecoming.  As a good omen for this weekend's matchup, a Fighting Irish Leprechaun tattoo plays an important part in the film.

Now to our score predictions:

ND: 34
BC: 31

ND: 28
BC: 21

ND: 24
BC: 21

ND: 13    Yanks:  13
BC: 24    Sox:  4

ND: 16
BC: 13

ND: 36    Sox:  9
BC: 16    Yanks: 6

Former BC Cheerleader and ND Leprechaun square off
 to battle in front of Touchdown Jesus

The Holy War: ND v. BC

Irish Creed would like to welcome a new member to our team. With experience as an accomplished writer and photographer during her time as a student at Notre Dame, Lauren Cook offers professional quality material and a unique perspective for our readers. Be on the lookout for her upcoming posts written under the name IrishGirl10. You can find Lauren's Bio and first post below:

Bio for IrishGirl10:  Native of Hudson, Wisconsin; Notre Dame Class of 2010; Political Science Major; Former Executive Photo Editor, Photographer, and Writer for Notre Dame’s Scholastic Magazine; Aspiring sportswriter and sportscaster

The Newest Member of Irish Creed:
Lauren Cook (IrishGirl10)

The Holy War: ND v. BC

It often seems that nearly every game played by Notre Dame constitutes a rivalry: Michigan and Michigan State - relatively legitimate claims, Purdue – only from the Boilermaker perspective, and USC – well, it doesn’t get more intense than that. When it comes to our Holy War series against Boston College, however, the nature of the rivalry beast changes.

For the religiously inclined, it becomes a battle between the only two Catholic universities competing in NCAA Division I-A Football. For the brainy student bodies, it becomes a matter of Back-Up College and Notre Dream School (self included). For the glory-hounds, it’s all about possession of the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl (once Head Coach at both universities) as well as the Ireland Trophy (created in 1994 by the ND student body – supposedly as a signal of goodwill and ‘friendly’ rivalry). But where these populations merge with the rest of society, via their intense, overzealous fandom is when things really start to get heated. Before we go into that, however, let’s take a closer look at the Holy War series over time:

            Relative to other great college football series, the Holy War is still in its adolescence. The Irish first met the Eagles in September of 1975 at Foxboro Stadium, where they emerged victorious with a final score of 17-3. Notre Dame would go on to win the next three games of the series in the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis (19-18), South Bend 1987 (32-25), and South Bend 1992 (54-7). From 1993-1994, the tables turned, granting the Eagles a road victory in South Bend (41-39) and a win for the hometown crowd in Chestnut Hill (30-11). Throughout the next four years, Notre Dame rallied and responded with four consecutive wins: South Bend 1995 (20-10), Chestnut Hill 1996 (48-21), South Bend 1997 (52-20), and Chestnut Hill (31-26). In 1999, Boston College was able to just squeeze by with a 31-29 win in South Bend. The next year, the Irish reclaimed their dignity at home with a 28-16 win. From 2001-2004, and following a two-year break, 2007-2008, Boston College made a run for series dominance with 6 consecutive wins evenly divided between Alumni and Notre Dame Stadiums. Thankfully, just in time for my senior year, the Irish broke a 9-9 tie in the series record with a 20-16 home victory. Currently, Notre Dame leads the rivalry with a highly tenuous 10-9 record. They also lead in overall points, 486 to the Eagle’s 394.

That brings us to 2010 and this Saturday’s ESPN primetime game in Chestnut Hill. Both teams are desperate to prove themselves to a doubting public and they’re ready to do whatever it takes to leave with the win. In the case of Notre Dame, after defeating Purdue in their first game under new head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish have consecutively fallen to Michigan, Michigan State, and Stanford (ranked 24, 19, 9 respectively by AP as of week 5), leaving them with an extremely disappointing record of 1-3. On the other hand you have Boston College, who, despite beginning the season with victories over unranked teams Kent State and Weber State, fell scoreless in response to Virginia Tech (also unranked) last week, leaving them 2-1 overall. For the players, coaches, and the fans, this Saturday signifies a huge turning point in this year’s season as well as the rivalry, but also the future of two teams. As, both are experiencing the growing pains that accompany staff changes, volatile depth charts, injuries, and young players.

In a press conference this past Tuesday, Coach Kelly addressed concerns over minor changes to the special teams depth chart (tweaks attributed to the failure of players to fulfill his staff’s ‘higher expectations’ for ‘dynamic’ kick returns), in addition to the continued development of an impressive, but inconsistent Dayne Crist, to which Kelly responded: “How do you get consistent? You gain confidence. When he’s confident now, he’s really, really good. He loses a little bit of confidence at times, that’s where we’re working.” Referring to the Eagle’s defensive capabilities, Kelly commented on the challenges that players Herzlich, Kuechly, and Pierre Louis represent with their strong abilities against the rush. In an interview this past Wednesday, Dayne Crist responded to concerns about B.C.’s defense by stressing his plan “to be prepared for everything and be patient as an offense in general and just go and play our game and play aggressively.

As for the defensive side of Notre Dame’s performance against Stanford, Kelly strongly praised inside linebackers Manti Te’o (who tallied a team-leading 21 tackles) and Carlo Calabrese. Kelly emphasized “the difference between playing hard and playing with that will, that tenacity, that attitude of I'm going to just lay it on the line,” which, besides tackles, is Te’o’s main contribution to the team. With the uncertainty surrounding the Eagle’s starting quarterback for this weekend, the defense – though preparing for multiple quarterback options – has remained sharply focused on simply doing all they can to secure the win. In a Wednesday press conference with Manti Te’o, senior safety Harrison Smith discussed the low moods and silent locker rooms that have followed the past three losses, likening game outcomes to “life and death” situations and that losing “feels like the worst thing in the world.” Te’o agreed, saying “[losing] is the closest thing to dying.”

Although this Saturday’s battle is only one of many in this Holy War, its victory is more than capable of breathing life back into this struggling Irish team. Here’s one fan that believes it will.


Frank Leahy coached at BC before returning to his Alma Mater
 where he coached his "lads" to 4 National Championships

Sep 29, 2010

IBG: Backing into Backup College

Thanks to Domer Law for writing the questions for this week's Irish Blogger Gathering.

1. After 3 straight losses, there appear to be two camps of fans: A. The sky is falling. Coach Kelly is not a good coach, not a good fit, probably won't ever win a game and should be fired today. B. Coach Kelly is still totally awesome, and you had to expect some bumps and bruises as he builds the team - remember Holtz's first year? Which camp do you fall into, and why?

tendomer: I'm closer to B than A, given Kelly's track record and the QB depth chart that cost us a game and handcuffed our starter in the other two losses. BK acknowledged Tuesday that Dayne must be a threat to run for ND's running attack to function, perhaps foreshadowing a more complete spread sooner rather than later.

2. With the current state of the program, put yourself in a recruit's shoes. If you had offers from all 12 schools on our schedule and Notre Dame, which would you pick right now and why? Who would your top 3 be?

tendomer: Even when trying to maintain objectivity, I'd pick ND by a long shot for its football tradition, demonstrated abilities of its head coach at developing players and winning championships, graduation rate, value of the degree, strength of the network, ability to fill its stadium through thick and thin, television exposure, and, if the scenario made me a defensive back or outside linebacker, early playing time. The biggest competition wouldn't be from another team on the schedule but from Alabama, which as of now has a better chance of winning national championships and producing NFL players than any other school.

3. What's the trajectory of this season? Is this going to spiral downward into a 2007-esque kind of year, or will the team rally and start winning some game against quality opponents?

tendomer: The upward trend will begin Saturday night in Boston, and we'll remember the Stanford game as the low point of Kelly's ND career. Even with a couple more losses by the end of the year, it won't get near 2007 in terms of loss total and blowouts. At a minimum, ND knows it has the season's easiest games yet to play, although BK's second ND victory won't have to wait until Western Michigan.

4. Give me your top 5 reasons why you'd rather go to Notre Dame than Backup College.


5. Our Irish Studies department is ranked #1 nationally. In true Backup College fashion, theirs is #2.
4. Would you rather be Michael or Fredo Corleone? That's what I thought...
3. I heart parietals.
2. There's only room for one real Catholic school in the FBS.
1. We are ND... and they're not.

5. I'm depressed after our third straight loss. Do your best to cheer me up and convince me that I should still be excited about this weekend's game.

TheNDleprechaun: Nothing cheers me up when I'm down like beating up my little brother. ND gets a chance to do that on Saturday, and we get to watch.

6. If you could ask Coach Kelly any one question, what would it be?

TheNDleprechaun: As an Irish Catholic from Boston, what will a win for your Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the only other Catholic school in D1-A football (which also happens to be located in Boston) mean to you?

God Bless The Jacksons

Having just recently learned of Sarah Jackson's passing, Irish Creed would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Jackson family.  Mrs. Jackson was a loyal supporter of the Fighting Irish basketball team led by her son Tory, the second-youngest of her 14 children.  No player worked harder or showed more heart on the court than Tory, and no fans showed more loving support than the Jackson family.  Mrs. Jackson served as a tremendous source of inspiration for Tory, who was able to translate the lessons he learned from his mother into success on the court and in life.  She will be remembered and missed by many.  To a great Notre Dame family, may God bless.

Tory Jackson led by example during his time at Notre Dame,
supported by his loving family and mother Sarah.

Sep 28, 2010

Film Review: DaVaris Daniels

Chicagoland athlete and fresh commit DaVaris Daniels is a do-it-all high schooler who will almost surely play receiver at ND.

According to Scout.com, he’s 6-2 with a 41-inch vertical. While his junior film doesn’t fully showcase that vertical, he looks all of 6-2 and possibly larger. These measurables are Daniels’ greatest strengths, and they allowed him to pick up yards as a QB receiving shotgun snaps in a run-first spread. He’s a long strider with similar speed but purer running form than Michael Floyd. Daniels showed smooth cuts for his size on a punt return 4:04 into his junior tape:

Daniels’ most glaring weaknesses result from not being an every-down WR and from playing relatively weak competition. Extrapolating from highlights how the team’s offense works in a game, the scheme doesn’t ask him to block as a WR because when he’s in as a WR, they’re throwing and probably to him. Fortunately, Daniels’ strong frame gives him the potential to overcome this weakness in college. His inability to protect the football is also a concern. Daniels holds the ball far away from his body, and on the last-minute, game-winning score featured in the first three minutes of the film, he was fortunate his unnecessary fumble stayed in the endzone for him to fall on it.

I don’t think anybody can be called a possession receiver in Kelly’s offense, but he fits this scheme similar to slightly bigger but less athletic Armon Binns of Cincinnati. Daniels’ frame also at least opens the door for him to play defense, but I expect Kelly to use him solely as an outside receiver. While he isn’t polished now because he’s not an every-down receiver, rarely leaving the field for Vernon Hills might keep Daniels in good enough shape to handle the Kelly work volume right away. Even so, Daniels will need time getting fully acquainted with the receiver position before Kelly is comfortable playing him.

Sep 27, 2010

Big Picture After 1-3: Growing Pains

In his post game press conference after our Week 4 loss to Stanford, Coach Kelly emphasized moving forward and continuing development.  He assured us that his players have taken ownership of this team and that everyone wants to be remembered as part of the process that will bring Notre Dame Football “back to where it needs to be.”

Kelly and his lads are working
to bring toughness back to the Fighting Irish

After 4 weeks that included 2 heartbreaking losses followed by 4 hours of frustration inside ND Stadium two days ago, it seems as though we are still a team without an identity.  The most recent chapter of the 2010 campaign saw us get outplayed by a clearly superior opponent.  There is no question that we are not on the same level as the teams with numbers listed next to their names.  So, where is our season headed?  What does the 1-3 start really mean?  How does it help us see the big picture?

It’s tough to tell.  It’s painful for all of us who want to see these players and coaches find a way to bring glory back to our program and hope back to our campus.  Prior to this season, Coach Kelly claimed that he needed to have a “5 minute plan” rather than a “5 year plan” at Notre Dame because he is expected to win right away.   His language provided a great upstart motivational soundbyte at the time, but as I look back on it now, I disagree with the “5 minute plan” metaphor.  Building a winning program takes longer than 5 minutes… I’m not saying it has to take 5 years (and I hope it doesn’t since I will only be a student for 2 more seasons after this one) but it is simply irrational for us to expect immediate success in the wake of sweeping changes.  It will take some time to instill the culture, the discipline, and the overall toughness that Kelly wants to bring back to Notre Dame.  Many changes must take place before we can see ourselves making strides back towards the top of college football, and those changes will take time.

Looking at our first 4 games from this perspective leads me to believe that our rough start can be summed up in two words: “growing pains.”  As Coach Kelly has pointed out, we have already played 4 very physical teams.  In the process, hopefully we have learned what kind of toughness it takes to win week in and week out against quality opponents.  Hopefully we have ultimately taken a step forward by taking three steps back…

It is now clear that the 2010 Fighting Irish will not be remembered as an elite team.  Even so, they still have a chance to be remembered as a team that sparked the revival of Notre Dame Football.  Sure, it will be painful along the way… but since when does anything worthwhile ever come easily?  As our coaches and players get knocked down and kicked in the face, they learn what it will take to pick themselves back up, strap their golden helmets back on, wipe the blood from their mouths, the mud from their faces, bear down, and earn it.  Step by step, this team can begin to realign the words "Fighting Irish" with the images of mental and physical toughness they once inspired.  It has been a painful start to a long process, but I do believe that tremendous changes have begun to take shape.  Dedication, discipline, and steadfast resolve are now the keys to bringing Notre Dame “back to where it needs to be.”

My advice to the Fighting Irish Faithful is this:  Don’t hang your head on Coach Kelly.  As painful as it is, try to be patient.  Try to look at the big picture and take this season for what it is, a starting point.  Try not to lose hope.  Try to keep the faith. It may not be easy, but the pain will make it that much sweeter when we do finally return to glory.  For now, it seems as though it’s going to take slightly longer than 5 minutes.  Here’s to hoping it doesn’t take as long as 5 years.

Sep 26, 2010

Recapping Stanford

Finally winning the turnover battle and getting consistency from Te'o were all for naught against a Stanford team that dominated the Irish on both lines.

ND's ends and outside backers failed to generate any pass rush. By contrast, Harbaugh's three-man rush meant trouble for Crist against 8 dropped defenders. Reminiscent of the '08 BC game, the most troubling part was that ND still couldn't run the ball.

Called runs on two of the first three snaps netted a combined 2 yards (which was average yesterday, sadly), showing a willingness to run but failed execution.

Kelly reflected on Sunday. "I'd like to have a little more balance...We have to evolve a little further in running the football."

The offensive ineptitude reversed its previous progression, but the line of scrimmage most importantly revealed just how far ND has to go in terms of physical and mental toughness. Weakness up front likely led to unsound playcalling (throwing on 3rd and 1) and game mismanagement at the end of the first half. Crist will bounce back, but Stanford highlighted our more pressing problems.

ND rushed 23 times against Stanford and an average of 31.3 times in the previous three games. The YPC average was an even wider difference when comparing Stanford to the other opponents, though. Kelly knows we need to run the ball better. While the defense was previously the overwhelming question mark, implementing the rushing goal has joined it as the major keys to the rest of the season.

Sep 24, 2010


Unable to control himself, "The Tree"
must now pass a breathalyzer test before every game.

Score Predictions:

Fighting Irish: 42
Trees: 31

Fighting Irish: 38
Trees: 42

Fighting Irish: 34
Trees: 31


Sep 22, 2010


Thanks to fellow bloggers One Foot Down for writing this week's IBG questions. Let's give it a try...

1. After suffering through back to back heart breaking losses how have your expectations for this season changed? Has the rough start affected your expectations for the Brian Kelly era?

TheNDleprechaun: Not to pat myself on the back too vigorously, but the "realistically optimistic" preseason prediction that I wrote on June 1 seems to be pretty close to what is actually going on this season. Take a look:
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.
With the exception of McCarthy who has been hurt by nagging injuries and Floyd who has been plagued by nagging fumbleitis, the players I predicted to step up this year have shown signs of doing so during the first 3 weeks. To answer the question, I maintain my expectation that our rough start will leave us at a respectable 3-3 with a chance to get on a hot streak afterwards. I still stand behind my prediction of a bowl victory and I am not anywhere close to hitting the panic button when it comes to my expectations for the Kelly era. He will lead us back to glory as long as we are patient enough to let him.

2. Our defense has given up 28 points in both of our last two games. But our defense has also forced a few three and outs and has looked fairly stout out times. So on D, are we Jekyll or Hyde? Or are we just a work in progress?

TheNDleprechaun: The D-Boyz have looked like a steel curtain at times, and a matador's cape at others. "OLE!" They've made several big stops on third downs while our students jangle their keys, but they've also allowed long devastating drives such as the one that cost us the game against the skunkbears (not to mention they made Denard Robinson look like Mike Vick in Madden 2004). I'd like to say we're a work in progress, but I honestly don't think we have all the pieces we need to come up with an acceptable finished product (yet). We simply can't contain outside runs, and our safeties continuously look tired and lost (probably because they are tired and lost). It all comes down to one thing that we painfully lack... speed. I'd put our D-line and interior linebackers up against any team in the nation with confidence, but give me our perimeter defense and I might even lose sleep over Alumni Hall's interhall squad (0-3-1 last year).

3. I've heard that Bill Walsh believed that if he saw a player make one great play, he and his staff could coach that player to consistently make great plays. The Irish offense clearly made some great plays against State. Our Offense also unfortunately disappeared at critical times. Are we just witnessing the process of Kelly and his staff teaching the lads to consistently make great plays?

FightinIrish1313: Against Michigan it seemed like our only successful plays were big, “great” plays to Kyle Rudolph who was wide open down field. Last week the passing offense continued this trend by making Theo look great. It seems that Kelly is working on getting the ball to the guy he really worked on improving in practice during the week, and the one that Dayne was passing to the most. I think that as the weeks go by and Kelly feels more confident in the offense and Dayne proves that he can read through his progressions better the ball will get spread out more, balancing the passing attack, and leaving guys in advantageous one-on-one situations more often. So yes, I believe we are witnessing Kelly and his staff teaching the lads how to make great plays, however, I get the feeling they are doing so one guy at a time.

4. Where would you rank Stanford among the Irish opponents? Would a defeat of the Cardinal be the biggest win of the last six years?

FightinIrish1313: The Cardinal are definitely one of the top three opponents we will be facing this year. Luck is coming off his second 4 passing touchdown performance of the year and also has 2 straight games of over 60 yards rushing; our defense will be tested.

If we pull it off this week will it be considered the biggest win of the past six years? Of that I am not sure. Again, like some of Weis’ “big wins” it’s circumstantial; we have just come off two straight last minute losses and our opponent is coming off of three straight wins, with a tested quarterback and a lot of confidence after defeating us last season and officially ending the Charlie Weis era. It would be a huge win to stop the bleeding of the last two losses, but who knows where Stanford will be ranked if they lose to us and then to the dominant Oregon offense next week. Similar to Michigan during Weis’ first season (where they came in ranked #3, we knocked them off, and they fizzled out) this could be looked at as a non-big win depending on how Stanford’s season plays out, but for now, this is a MUST win game and the biggest game on the schedule for Kelly and the Irish to get their confidence back and to kick ass the rest of the season.

5. While many outsiders and a contingent of fans have cited ND's academic standards as a hindrance to football success, many Irish supporters consider Notre Dame's unique combination of strong academics and big-time football (and faith) as an advantageous niche in the college football world. With stricter admission standards and far-less football notoriety, Harbaugh's Cardinal have burst onto the national recruiting scene to again prove that plenty of really good football players welcome academic challenges as long as they come with a chance to compete at the highest level. Could you foresee sustained excellence by Stanford Football and would you perceive a perennially strong Cardinal program as any kind of a threat to Notre Dame's niche?

tendomer: Stanford can be good at football when it has a good coach. Harbaugh's chippy attitude has been perfect for Stanford, which now expects to win or at least not back down from anybody.

Harbaugh's national recruiting model casts a wider net of offers but is similar to ND's in its aggression and 'best of both worlds' focus on a long-term decision. A 'perennially strong' Stanford would cut into ND's niche in recruiting, but the program isn't there yet. The head-to-head recruiting battles have been ND's so far with a few exceptions, notably Blake Lueders. ND wouldn't really feel ill effects unless Harbaugh stays long term (or it replaces him with another really good coach if he ever leaves for Michigan or the NFL), wins the Pac-10 at least once every 5 years, and Stanford consistently sells out its stadium.

To be clear, the reason Stanford beat ND last year and why it is a threat to do so again has much more to do with the attitude, technique, and discipline that Harbaugh has coached into his players over four years than recruiting, although he has recruited some prep All Americans.

6. Let’s talk statistics. Will they matter this weekend? a. Coming into the game, Stanford has the #3 ranked Scoring Offense nationally (51.67 pts/gm) with the 14th ranked Rushing Offense (242.33 yds/gm). Notre Dame's Scoring Offense ranks 73rd (26.00 pts) with the 99th ranked Rushing Defense (197 yds/gm). Will the Irish be able to contain Stanford's rushing attack?

tendomer: Yes. MSU entered last week with an even stronger ground game, and ND held it under 5 YPC, including the one play (the 56-yarder) that really hurt.

b. Notre Dame's Passing Offense is 8th nationally (318 yds/gm) and Stanford's Passing Efficiency Defense is 3rd nationally (74 yds/gm). Will Stanford be able to contain the Irish passing attack?

tendomer: No. Dayne's improved each game. He'll get his yardage and even touchdowns. Despite how well the OL has protected Dayne, I am more worried in this case about Stanford's pass rush forcing sacks or interceptions.

c. Stanford gave up 170 yds rushing to UCLA and 265 yds rushing to Wake Forest. Notre Dame has averaged 133 yds/gm so far. Do you expect Kelly to utilize the Irish rushing attack more?

tendomer: This isn't an apples-to-apples comparison because the ND average includes subtracted sack and TFL yards and the UCLA (subtract 18) and Wake (subtract 63) totals don't. Kelly will run the ball more than he did against MSU (against whom he claimed he liked the passing matchups) but less than he did against Purdue (where he really relied on Armando to ease in Dayne). Hopefully the ratio will be close to 50%.

d. Stanford is ranked 4th in Red Zone Defense (50%) while the Irish have the 65th ranked Red Zone Offense (82%). Stanford's Red Zone Offense is tied for 1st (100%) in conversions and the Irish Defense's Red Zone conversions allowed is 36th (75%). Will the Irish be able to stop Stanford's RZ conversions and improve theirs? How would you do that?

tendomer: In clutch situations this year, our defense has done well except its final series against Michigan. Although it went to waste, the overtime frame against MSU was probably the best three and out it has forced so far. However, red zone play concerns me against Stanford. Luck's accuracy allows Stanford to pass in the red zone and its power run game is also a staple there. It's a huge area of concern for the Irish. When ND has the ball in the red zone, I'd like to see Kelly run Armando at least on first down before resorting to Rudolph and Floyd.

7. 1-2 is pretty tough to deal with for a football team still trying to find its identity. Meanwhile, Stanford is looking like a well-oiled machine thus far. Do you think this Irish squad can really bounce back from another heart-breaking loss against the Cardinal? What if it's not all that close?

tendomer: I have no doubt that Kelly will have the team ready to bounce back, but I fear Andrew Luck will be a little too much to handle. Jamoris Slaughter's probable return this week will help, especially because it allows Motta to slide back over to nickel. ND will be inspired and desperate for a win, but I'm expecting a close loss in a high-scoring game.

Sep 21, 2010

Weekly Awards: Week 3

In order to prevent the unnecessary pain and suffering that will inevitably result from commemorating last week's game in any way, we have decided to give out only one award this week...


(something beautiful to offset the on-field ugliness of week 3)

Sep 19, 2010

Missed Call Costs ND The Game

Well, that was just about as enjoyable as a stick in the eye...

A lot can be said about our loss to an inferior opponent tonight, but first I would just like to direct your attention to the bottom right corner of this screen shot captured from ABC's broadcast of the game:

(double zeros on the play clock prior to the snap)

Yes, those white numbers set against a red background that read (00) represent the play clock, which had clearly run out prior to the snap.  Had the officials seen this, sparty never would have ran "little giants" and Dantonio never would have had that annoying little smirk on his face when he shook Kelly's hand after the game.  I screamed this apparent fact at the television numerous times... but the Big Ten officials either couldn't hear me or chose to ignore me... I guess that's what I get for watching the game on TV for the first time in over a year instead of actually being in attendance... Oh well... at least I can go to bed proud of the fact that I've never freely chosen to dance around in a foam suit and call myself "sparty."

Sep 17, 2010


(metaphorical representation of what we expect will take place tomorrow)

Score Predictions:

Fighting Irish: 42
Sparty: 20

Fighting Irish: 28
Sparty: 21

Fighting Irish: 24
Sparty: 17

Sep 16, 2010

Film Review: Stephon Tuitt

Monroe, Ga., defensive end and latest ND commit Stephon Tuitt is the complete package: in addition to moonlighting as a right tackle on offense, Tuitt defends the run and the pass about equally well. He is a snug fit as a 5-technique in Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense.

Tuitt compliments fellow 2011 commit Aaron Lynch rather well. Tuitt is shorter (by an inch according to listed numbers, but it looks like a shade more), which showed up in his lack of batting down passes, a staple of Lynch’s repertoire. Lynch is more athletic and has a quicker burst off the line, but Tuitt has just as quick feet and might even be faster once he gets going, as shown in the most physically impressive play from any 2011 ND commit on tape: starting 19 seconds into his film, Tuitt chased down a running back from behind without much of an angle. This play screams ‘what ND has been missing’ and ‘how can a big guy move that fast?’ While both need to focus on lower-body lifting, Tuitt is stronger than Lynch in the upper body, heavier (although Lynch has room to outweigh him, if he doesn’t already), and punishes ball carriers with a bit more authority.

At the same stage, Tuitt looks more ready to hold the point of attack against a college offensive line. Lynch’s specific pass-rushing skill set could give the Floridian a more direct route to immediate playing time, but Tuitt had the physical edge from the fall 2009 tape. One will help another, though, because both are good enough to attract either double teams or help for the offensive tackle from a tight end or back. Expect both to log meaningful minutes as freshmen before starring as a top defensive end duo.

Sep 15, 2010

IBG: Welcome to Spartyville

1) Status check: How deflating was the loss to Michigan? I could argue that Crist's injury makes this loss both easier to swallow and even more maddening for Irish fans.

TheNDleprechaun: Suffering last-minute heartbreak at the hands of the skunkbears for the second straight season was not easy to swallow. I personally found the loss to be excruciatingly deflating due to the way it all went down. We had a chance to win despite losing Crist for the majority of the first half, yet it slipped through our fingers in oh-so-familiar fashion. After wallowing in sorrow for a few days, however, I have managed to pick myself up and look at the opportunities that lie ahead. I just need to keep reminding myself that we nearly beat a formidable foe despite being severely debilitated for much of the game. That realization has started to ease the pain a bit, and I should be back to 100% after a brutal beatdown of that other team inhabiting the wastelands to our north.

2) How critical is this Saturday's game? Walk away 2-1 and the Irish can feel good about taking on a very able Stanford squad at home next weekend. Walk out of East Lansing with a loss..?

tendomer: The prospect of a new coach falling below .500, even after three games, means this game is about as critical as it gets for two unranked opponents. Couple that with the three following games, and it’s a must win. Going into Purdue week, Kelly said he wouldn’t lose the team with a loss. Hopefully he won’t have to find out how he the team would react after two in a row.

3) Why does the rivalry with Michigan State seem to get so little respect?

TheNDleprechaun: Notre Dame v Michigan State could be a highly respected rivalry, but for the childish behavior exhibited by the less-than-classy spartys as of late. Need I even mention the planting of an unworthy flag into our sacred turf, or the jealous taunts of a foam-filled mascot seeking to belittle his counterpart who happens to look much better in green? In all honesty, it doesn’t have to be this way. If the spartys could sit in their big-boy chair for once and handle themselves professionally, this could be a great matchup that Notre Dame fans actually look forward to. Our shared history includes the 1966 “Game of the Century” that saw #1 face off against #2 in one of the most hyped and controversial games of all time. The fact that it ended in a tie left many from both sides wanting more, thus fuelling the heated rivalry even further for many years to come. For those of a more recent generation, the rivalry is defined by the 40th Anniversary of the Game of the Century in 2006. During that game, Notre Dame first refused to wear throwbacks, then refused to submit to a 19 point deficit in the fourth quarter. Terrell Lambert and Brady Quinn became heroes as the rain came down sideways and the Fighting Irish scored 22 straight points to win in triumphant fashion. Celebrations in “Stonehenge Fountain” back on campus lasted deep into the night. Such games could make for a great rivalry, but nevertheless we must maintain the higher road as the spartys continue their recent tradition of poor sportsmanship and we continue to remind them why we are Notre Dame and they aren’t.

4) It's hard to draw too many conclusions from victories over Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic, but what do you expect this Saturday night in Spartan Stadium?

tendomer: I’m expecting Dantonio to call power runs, eat clock, and force the ND offense to make the most of limited possessions. MSU can afford to stay committed to the run game even if ND has a lead, but I expect a healthy Crist to put up enough points for a win.

5) Best case, worst case, most likely: The Irish's record after the first six games.

FightinIrish1313: Best case – obviously 5-1. It would be a great recovery from Saturday’s last minute loss and a sure sign that this is a different team than years past. To quote John Goodman, “We’re in it ta win it. Aint no heads down yo.” Regardless of what the talking heads are saying this is still a BCS caliber team and BK will make damn sure they play like it for the rest of the season.

Worst case – obviously 1-5. The team pulls a Charlie Weis and gives up on themselves, hangs their heads, and don’t play to their talent potential. Brian Kelly quits coaching football as for the first time in his life he can’t diagnose what is wrong with his team. Notre Dame is diseased and never returns to glory. There is a 0% chance of this happening.

Most likely scenario – The Irish will be 4-2 as they cross the halfway point of the season and reach the lighter part of their schedule. A tough loss will come either on the road at Backup College or at home against Stanford or Pitt. All games will be close but the Irish will come out on top all but once as the coaching staff proves that they can make positive halftime adjustments and the team stays conditioned throughout all four quarters.

6) Let's leave Michael Floyd out of this for a second. What Irish player needs to step up and play better football?

FightinIrish1313: I think that Theo Riddick needs to step up the most. While Tai-ler Jones and Kyle Rudolph have been spectacular, Michael Floyd and Theo haven’t made much of an impact yet this season. While still learning his new position, he was switched from running back because Brian Kelly knows he is a play maker and wants him on the field at all times. Theo needs to get open and make some open field moves to really make the Irish attack one of the most dangerous in college football and to allow for even more mis-matched one on ones as the secondary won’t know which offensive weapon to cover the closest.

Pulchritudinous Purcell

So where exactly have I been? Since my last post I have finished up my internship in the OC, driven across the country multiple times crossing through 18 different states (at least once), moved into my apartment in South Bend, started my second major (FTT), and realized that my one goal in life (graduating from Notre Dame) is almost over.

After longboarding home from my Leprechaun Legion meeting this afternoon and feeling excited for the first time since Saturday I figured I would cheer all of our readers up with some basketball talk, since that is definitely what is on all of your minds as we enter the third weekend of September.

Before our meeting I ventured to the hardwood as they were testing our brand new video screen and boy is it something to get excited for. It may be the classiest and nicest video board in the country, and it really got my ideas flowing for a great season.

Some inside tidbits for you all: The Leprechaun Legion will be holding a Student Shirt Design contest for our student shirts, to be unveiled at our first Midnight Madness in recent history. This event will be on the Friday night before the Western Michigan game from 11 pm to 1 am and is open to everyone. I hope you all show up and show the basketball team the support that they deserve to pump up what should be one of our best squads during Brey’s tenure.

I will fill you in more as plans finalize, but for now enjoy the pictures of the video board. I’ll blog about my journey to Michigan State after we pulverize sparty. Go Irish!

Sep 14, 2010

Weekly Awards: Week 2

TheNDleprechaun's picks:

Overall MVP: Kyle Rudolph

Offensive MVP: Kyle Rudolph

Defensive MVP: Manti Te'o

Special Teams MVP: Patrick Coughlin

Breakout Player: Carlo Calabrese

Best Play: Kyle Rudolph's 95 yd TD

tendomer's picks:

Overall MVP: Dayne Crist

Offensive MVP: Armando Allen

Defensive MVP: Kapron Lewis-Moore

Special Teams MVP: David Ruffer

Breakout Player: Carlo Calabrese

Best Play: Kyle Rudolph's 95 yd TD

FightinIrish1313's picks:

Overall MVP: Dayne Crist

Offensive MVP: Armando Allen

Defensive MVP: Coach Diaco

Special Teams MVP: David Ruffer

Breakout Player: Carlo Calabrese

Best Play: Kyle Rudolph's 95 yd TD

While the sting of our defeat in Week 2 is still tough to bear, several players offered glimpses of greatness that Kelly's Fighting Irish will surely build upon as his first season progresses.  In addition, Kyle Rudolph sent the student section into hysteria with his 95 yd TD reception, the second longest in Notre Dame history.  It seemed like the luck of the Irish was destined to shine down at that point as the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow appeared over Notre Dame Stadium, but the Fighting Irish Faithful were forced to live with heartbreak at the hands of our longtime enemy once again.  Alas, an opportunity to vent our frustrations presents itself in Week 3 as we set off to stomp out sparty.

A rainbow attempts to break through the gloom
 hanging over Notre Dame Stadium

Sep 13, 2010

Film Review: The Atkinsons

In addition to sustaining ND's recruiting presence in California, Sunday commitments from twin brothers Josh Atkinson and George Atkinson III provided a bright spot a day after Saturday's painful loss.

Josh is a prep running back and cornerback, and he definitely projects as a corner in college. Josh compensates a lack of elite speed and burst with a smooth backpedal, 6-0 size, and press coverage technique, as shown in his junior highlights. He is comfortable defending WRs man to man with no help. While Josh uses his frame to jam WRs at the line, he wasn't as strong a tackler as I expected. Luckily, ND defensive backs coach Chuck Martin seems to be able teach sound tackling. Fellow commit Jalen Brown is a more ready-made option at this stage, but Josh can also play early, and he gives ND the benefit of sliding Eilar Hardy or Matthias Farley to safety.

While Josh meets a specific skill and dramatic need, George has 'big skill' versatility. In his run-heavy film, George receives hand-offs both as a tailback and a WR in motion. The frequency of end arounds and sweeps clouds George's value as a college RB. Opposing teams in the highlights didn't challenge George to do much other than get to the corner and take off. Given that the style George played in high school will rarely work in college, the tape is more entertaining than evaluative, such as when George breaks 4 tackles at the 1:56 mark:

Nonetheless, credit George for top-shelf speed (10.59 100 meters) and fluidity. He is less polished as a WR than as a back, but that's a product of his high school's basic passing attack. Long arms, a slender 6-2 frame, and ability to get downfield make George an outside receiver instead of a tailback in college. He is a game breaker and a constant threat for YAC chunks. Atkinson's open-field ability will challenge the Wood-Riddick return duo from day one.

Atkinson III is a playmaker more in the mold of Golden Tate than Michael Floyd. Like Tate, this all-around athlete with a high ceiling might take a year learning the system and the position. However, Kelly has been unsatisfied with the WR corps he inherited and has played only 4 true WRs, including Theo Riddick, for 3 spots. Floyd's possible early exit could make George a freshman starter. Although he has neither of TJ Jones' built-in advantages (playing in a high school spread and enrolling early to get acclimated to BK's work volume), George is probably more athletic than Jones. His impact is only a matter of time, and he's a future star in Kelly's offense.

Sep 10, 2010


IRISH CREED Score Predictions:

Fighting Irish: 38
Skunkbears: 16

Fighting Irish: 31
Skunkbears: 28

Fighting Irish: 31
Skunkbears: 24

Coach Kelly addresses a rabid crowd at the rally
 prior to our matchup against the skunkbears

Sep 9, 2010





In a letter to The Observer, The Leprechaun described what will be a unique rally on Friday:

"The band, cheerleaders and fire department will be waiting at main circle by six o’clock where we want the entire student body to congregate for a walk over. The fire department will lead the students down Notre Dame Ave. and into their own reserved section right in front of the stage for the pep rally. The walk over begins at six o’clock Friday night, so get to main circle early."

He then issued a specific request for all Fighting Irish fans entering Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, asking everyone to unite with the student section by wearing KELLY GREEN in support of our new leader:

"Also, in order to unify our stadium against Michigan this weekend all of the Irish fans should wear Kelly Green to the game. The wolverines [skunkbears] (Irish Creed edit) will be thunderstruck when they encounter the angry sea of green facing them as they walk out of our tunnel."

You heard it, straight from the angry green man himself.  It all starts Friday night, as the rally gives us one last chance to give our players an extra charge of energy before game day. Most importantly, a solid wave of green inside the house that Rock built will send a clear message to the skunkbears... 

As Coach Rockne once said, "dressing a band of adopted and native Irish in their native color is akin to showing a bull a Russian flag."

Notre Dame students and football players salute Coach Kelly at the 2010 season opening rally
(Courtesy of Allison Wagner: www.allisonwagnerphotography.com)

Irish Blogger Gathering: Michigan Weak

Much respect to HLS for the questions and especially the sweet title. Let's go!

1) You’ve now seen Notre Dame Football: The Kelly Edition, Volume 1, Episode 1. Was it everything you thought it would be? Were characters missing from this episode that you were expecting to see featured? Did it strike you as a carbon-copy of Kelly’s Cincinnati teams, or is there something discernible between the 2 programs beyond the colors of the uniforms?

tendomer: I expected the offense to be a little more crisp, especially during the first two series, but the team's improved discipline on defense and special teams met my expectations. It certainly wasn't a carbon copy of UC last year, the only Bearcats team I can really reference. But the 58-42 run-pass preference in Crist's first start distinguished Kelly's Irish from even his 2007 team that used an almost perfect balance of 50.7% run.

2) Pick one positive play, offense or defense, by the Irish from last Saturday that you feel serves as a bit of metaphorical foreshadowing for the 2010 Irish. Extra points if you can stretch the metaphor to fit Kelly’s entire tenure at Notre Dame.

tendomer: Armando Allen's 22-yard shifty TD run near the end of the first quarter was a play he'd hoped to make the last three years. He always almost made it past third-level defenders. Now he did. Just as the play indicated improved WR blocking, Armando's glove-like fit in the spread offense is a good harbinger for ND's ability to produce points in the run game.

3) Pick another play, offense or defense, by the Irish from last Saturday again, but this time, make it a negative play. Tell us how that play serves as a bit of metaphorical foreshadowing for the 2010 Irish. And again, bonus points for stretching it over Kelly’s tenure.

tendomer: Dayne Crist's second overthrow of Michael Floyd in the northwest corner of the north endzone is worrisome especially after the first chance minutes before. Credit to Crist for managing the game and erring on the side of the caution on throws like this. However, Crist should know that if he can keep the ball in play, a receiver of Floyd's caliber will come down with it every time, even in double coverage against a young Purdue secondary.

4) You know us, we’re stat geeks. Give us a stat that we should be watching this season that will A) Tell us something enlightening about the 2010 Irish and/or B) Tell us something enlightening about the average Top-5 teams at the end of the 2010 season.

tendomer: The defense's 3.2 YPC quantifies improvement, although bigger tests loom, beginning with Denard Robinson. Diaco's troops must finish the season near this mark to sniff anywhere near the Alabamas of the world, the true 'B.I.A.' defensively.

5) Notre Dame is currently a 4 point favorite in the coming Michigan game. You get 3 points for being at home. The AP poll actually ranks Michigan higher than ND. ND is 1-4-1 in the last 6 games with Michigan in which the Irish were favored and 9 and 6 in the last 15 games in which Michigan was favored. Does any of this worry you? Why or why not?

TheNDleprechaun: I don't usually like going into games as a fan of the team that is favored by a slim margin (maybe that has something to do with being from Buffalo...) Even so, if I was a betting man I would surely take the Irish to cover the spread as 4 point favorites. Past trends are virtually meaningless, especially now that Kelly has taken over and will definitely have his team up for this one. If I remember correctly, the Skunkbears didn't particularily enjoy their last visit to Notre Dame Stadium (6 turnovers in 2008). While I don't think it will be quite as disastrous for them this time around, the green-clad crowd will have the house that Rock built rockin' when the Fightin' Irish run away with this one.

6) Last week, Frank at UHND put the Gathering on the spot with our predictions for the season. After week 1, are there any of those predictions that you’d like to alter? Any upon which you’d double down?

TheNDleprechaun: Well... I predicted a 13-0 National Championship season, and so far I haven't been proven wrong. Again, if I was a betting man I would have to DOUBLE DOWN! C'MON LUCK OF THE IRISH!

7) Describe in no fewer than 30 words why you hate Michigan.

TheNDleprechaun: The Skunkbears should be thought of metaphorically as a bratty kid who teaches younger kids a game only so he can beat them at it over and over. When those younger kids start getting stronger and more confident, they eventually realize they can beat him at his own game. Once this happens, he runs away crying and vows to never play them again... hate is a strong word... but c'mon... no one likes that kid...

It’s Skunkbear season at Notre Dame.

In the second week of our 2010 campaign, our historical rivals enemies, the Skunkbears of Michigan, will venture to Notre Dame Staidum to continue a series that began 123 years ago. While our football program can boast a history of just as many years that includes 838 wins and a .732 winning percentage (#3 and #2 all-time in college football), Michigan is the only program that surpasses ours in both categories (#1 all-time in both). What makes our series against the Skunkbears even more compelling is the fact that we owe them all of our success on the gridiron and almost all of our accomplishments as a University. They brought the game of football to Notre Dame in 1887, thinking nothing at the time of the opportunity they had just presented to our small, independent, working-class Catholic school. Little did they know that our team, the very team they brought into being, would eventually rise to become the most decorated program in the history of college football. Little did they know that football would put us on the map as the nation's preeminent Catholic university.

After exploiting our inexperience during the first eight games they played against us, the Skunkbears slowly recognized that we were beginning to gain strength and grow beyond their control. In true Skunkbear fashion, they accordingly made several attempts to pull the plug on Notre Dame football. They blacklisted us in order to prevent us from joining a conference (thanks for our independence and NBC contract, by the way). They refused to play us, hoping we would soon fade away and they could have their game back.

As Providence would have it, though, events overseas would change the face of the world, America, and college football forever. The Great Famine in Ireland sent millions of Fighting Irishmen to our shores as they sought new opportunities in a new world. For those Irish Catholics who ventured to the Midwest, Notre Dame symbolized the pinnacle of the American Dream.

For countless families fighting to survive and prosper in their new “home,” where signs boldly stating “No Irish Need Apply” frequented storefronts in every city, Our Lady atop the Golden Dome truly was the golden standard. The mentality of these Fighting Irishmen, along with subsequent waves of hard-working immigrants from around the globe, brought a mentality to Notre Dame that would define us as a university. As the Skunkbears sat idly by, unwilling to take up the challenge and face Notre Dame under the excuse of a “boycott,” we used that mentality to fight our way to the top of the college football world.

Once we had proven ourselves as the true kings of college football, the Skunkbears had no choice but to get over their jealousy and renew the series that began so many years before. No love was lost, however, and plenty fierce battles between the two juggernaut programs have been recorded in the annals of sports history.

In the most recent chapter, the Skunkbears narrowly escaped our wrath during a last-second comeback at the Big House. This year, a new chapter will be written...

It is up to us, the coaches, players, students, alumni, and fans, to recognize the significance of the game at hand and do our part to ensure this latest chapter is written properly. We must be prepared to uphold our tradition of excellence, and we must show no mercy to the program that has hated us for so long.

As the Skunkbears step timidly onto the hallowed ground inside Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday, let us remind them that we are the Fighting Irish, and we will protect our house like we did last time they attempted to enter it in 2008.

As fans of the greatest college football team of all time, we can fulfill our duty this week by: wearing GREEN, arriving early, getting LOUD, and teaching the Skunkbears a history lesson they will never forget.

Sep 6, 2010

Weekly Awards: Week 1

Following each Notre Dame football game, Irish Creed will name the recipients of our weekly awards.

Here are our selections for Week 1:

TheNDleprechaun's picks:

Overall MVP:  Armando Allen

Offensive MVP:  Armando Allen

Defensive MVP:  Gary Gray

Speacial Teams MVP:  Bennett Jackson

Breakout Player:  Cierre Wood

Best Play:  Ian Williams' interception

tendomer's picks:

Overall MVP:  Gary Gray

Offensive MVP:  Cierre Wood

Defensive MVP:  Gary Gray

Special Teams MVP:  David Ruffer

Breakout Player:  TJ Jones

Best Play:  Armando Allen's 22-yd TD run

Armando Allen:  Born to Run

Congratulations to Coach Kelly and the Fighting Irish on a hard fought, well-executed victory.

To all Fighting Irish fans who plan on attending next week's rivalry matchup in Notre Dame Stadium:  Wear KELLY GREEN and GET LOUD as we continue to usher in the Kelly Era by letting our new leader know he has the full force of our nation at his back.

Sep 4, 2010


The Band of the Fighting Irish
"Heeeere come the IRISH!"
Saluting our new leader with "Kelly Ks"
Touchdown Irish
Three Generations of Leprechauns

Sep 3, 2010


IRISH CREED Score Predictions:

Fighting Irish: 45 
Purdon't: 21

Fighting Irish: 38  
Purdon't: 10

Fighting Irish: 41  
Purdon't: 17

ESPN's Erin Andrews was all smiles after we beat the boilers in 2009.
She even requested this picture, saying that she's "an Irish girl" at heart.

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(