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Jan 15, 2011

Despite Snow, Kelly's Staff Strikes Recruiting Gold

Despite witnessing the aftermath of a record-setting snowfall that has blanketed much of campus, Florida native and highly touted football prospect Aaron Lynch finally committed to Notre Dame today over Miami and Florida. Lynch will enroll early three days from now, joining fellow incoming defensive end Ishaq Williams in the classroom as the newest members of Kelly's 2011 recruiting class.

Both Lynch and Williams have been highly regarded as two of the top pass rushers in the nation at the high school level, and they will be joining a lineup that brings together several more standout athletes on the defensive side of the ball, including Stephon Tuitt, another defensive end that remains "firmly committed" to the Fighting Irish despite his current visit to Georgia Tech.

Assuming that all 22 members of Kelly's first true recruiting class will remain committed until National Signing Day, the Notre Dame coaching staff will have brilliantly composed an army of reinforcements that could have an immediate impact as they supplement an already surging defense next season.

It has been a long time since the Notre Dame defense struck fear into the hearts of opposing players, but defense just might be the key to Kelly's vision of a hard-nosed football team and his desire to put the "fight" back in the Fighting Irish.

Coupled with the return of Hurricane Floyd, these mid-winter additions to an already powerful defensive front should warm the hearts of all those Fighting Irish fans who are looking forward to a successful 2011 season.

(View Lynch's film review here)

(View Tuitt's film review here)

Jan 6, 2011

Texts from a True Fan

When it comes to being a Notre Dame fan, Irish Creed writer FightingIrish1313 is almost as hopelessly neurotic as he is fiercely loyal. To illustrate this point, I have compiled a barely-edited log of the text messages he sent me during our latest basketball win over the #9 ranked UConn Huskies:
(I’ll let you fill in the blanks for yourself)

Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011

7:05 p.m. – “screwed without scott I want cooley to play a lot atkins and ben not good on same line”

7:08 p.m. – “Totally a foul on ben”

7:10 p.m. – “Got lucky there tim u can dribble bud… that last play too easy”

7:17 p.m. – “Ben always gets those stupid fouls in the back court”

7:20 p.m. – “Ouch tim”

7:34 p.m. – “Stupid take by martin”

7:35 p.m. – “And that’s a foul how?”

7:42 p.m. – “Clearly our ball but ref shudnt be able to change his call haha wtf”

7:50 p.m. – “Tim 1 for 4 ft”

7:51 p.m. – “Taste”

8:09 p.m. – “What are these fouls?!”

8:11 p.m. – “This is insane why can’t brey yell!”

8:20 p.m. – “Sloppy ben”

8:23 p.m. – “Ugh bs”

8:24 p.m. – “Omg we’re ____”

8:44 p.m. – “No foul why?”

9:01 p.m. – “Dude famous brey calls a timeout with 9 seconds left and can’t setup a ____ play and tim gosh ____ didn’t shoot that open 3”

9:02 p.m. – “Put it in the hands of the freakin foul shooters nash shudnt be at top of key”

9:02 p.m. – “Holy santa claus ____”

9:05 p.m. – “That was an insane foul call”

9:07 p.m. – “Omg this is luck”

9:08 p.m. – “Almost threw that ____ out of bounds… need a drink”

Jan 2, 2011

Sun Bowl Awards

The 2010 Fighting Irish celebrate after defeating Miami 33-17
 in the Hyundai Sun Bowl (Louis Nix throws down an upside-down "U")

The Fighting Irish finished off 2010 with a 33-17 win over the Miami Hurricanes in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, completing a four-game winning streak during which they outscored opponents 108-39.  The offense jumped out to an early lead, and the defense completely shut down Miami's passing game en route to a dominating performance.

Top-Ten most valuable influences on the game:

1.  Brian Kelly –  It was evident from the outset that Kelly had his team motivated, focused, and ready to play despite the many distractions that go along with playing in a bowl game.  He obviously took advantage of the 15 bonus practices between the win over U$C and the Sun Bowl, coming up with a crisp game plan that utilized Notre Dame's strengths and took advantage of Miami's weaknesses perfectly.  It all starts at the top, and due to Kelly's coaching the Fighting Irish were worlds apart from a sloppy and flat Miami team who may have treated their trip to El Paso as nothing more than a vacation.  Unfortunately for them, their holiday was cut short with a rude awakening due to the lethal combination of sub-40 degree weather and an opponent that wanted it much more than they did.

2.  Bob Diaco –  Our defensive coordinator took a tremendous amount of heat after an embarrassing defensive performance against Navy followed by a loss to Tulsa.  Since then, he has engineered a total transformation by forming a defense that has been truly lights-out.  The trend began against the high-powered Utah offense, which could not find the endzone in Notre Dame Stadium, and it continued when U$C could not establish a run game on senior night in the Coliseum.  In the Sun Bowl, Miami's ground attack never had a chance to get going and Diaco's defensive scheme tormented the Hurricane quarterbacks from the outset.  For the first time in a while, defense has become a strength at Notre Dame thanks to Diaco.

3.  Tommy Rees – Kelly's choice for the game ball, the now 4-0 signal caller looked like anything but a true freshman against Miami.  He showed poise in the pocket as he methodically and systematically picked apart a defense that ranked #2 in pass efficiency during the regular season.  Not only did he connect on accurate throws all game long, but he easily recognized and exploited the mismatches that his receivers created.  Most importantly, he played within himself while executing Kelly's game plan brilliantly.

4.  Michael Floyd - Nobody was going to stop Mike from playing like Mike in what may turn out to be his last game for the Fighting Irish.  The superstar receiver broke the all-time record for touchdown receptions in the first quarter, going on to finish the game with 6 catches for 109 yards with 2 scores.  He earned the MVP accolades he was awarded at the end of the game by imposing his will on Miami's secondary, just as he did against U$C and throughout his career at Notre Dame.  He will be sorely missed if he does end up heading to the NFL in 2011, but his leadership and many clutch performances will not be forgotten.

5.  Harrison Smith – Harry became the definition of ball-hawk against Miami, flying all over the field on his way to 7 tackles and 3 interceptions.  Every time Miami looked like they might get a drive started while the game was still within reach, he snatched away all hope by coming up with a big play.  More than once, he came out of absolutely nowhere to jump a route and rip the ball away from a receiver.  Not only did he force Harris our of the game after picking him off for the second time, but he added one against Morris as well.  Needless to say, both quarterbacks are probably still having nightmares about #22.

6.  Theo Riddick – The Chronicles of Riddick continued as Theo returned to his true form by making Riddick-ulous plays in various roles within the Fighting Irish offense.  He helped establish the running game by presenting a dangerous threat every time he lined up in the wild-cat (or Leprechaun, as Kelly calls it) formation, and he showed off his natural ability by gaining positive yardage several times even when plays broke down.  Hopefully his Sun Bowl performance was just a glimpse of future greatness as Kelly continues to come up with creative ways to get him the ball.

7.  Robert Hughes – The only downside to Hughes' recent explosion is that it took this long for him to realize his full potential.  The big bruiser ran with authority in the Sun Bowl, leaving bruised and battered Hurricanes in his path.  His power provided the perfect compliment to Cierre Wood's speed and Theo Riddick's moves, and he even showed off some impressive speed when he caught up to his own fumble along the sideline.

8.  The Irish O-line: Zack Martin, Chris Stewart, Braxston Cave, Trevor Robinson, and Taylor Dever - These beasts gave Rees more than enough time to shred Miami's secondary, and they opened up holes for Hughes, Wood, and Riddick early and often against a defense that was ranked #1 in tackles-for-loss during the regular season.  Most importantly, they set the tone early on by smashing the Hurricane defense in the mouth and letting everyone know that the Fighting Irish came to play.

9.  David Ruffer – Can everyone please beg Brian Kelly to give this kid a scholarship?  (Ask him via twitter!)  Even though he had his first miss of the season, he accounted for 12 points, including an impressive 50 yarder that effectively put the game out of reach before halftime.  Notre Dame hasn't had a consistent kicker in years, and Mr. Dependable continued to prove himself worthy of a scholly with this latest performance.

10.  El Paso, Texas – The hometown crowd sent a volley cheer on high when the Fighting Irish took the field, and they continued to provide Notre Dame with the clear home-field advantage throughout the contest.  The 37 degree temperature coupled with a dusting of snow didn’t hurt either.  Even though the Miami quarterbacks probably won’t blame all those interceptions on their ridiculous neck-warmers (shouldn't the Convicts be well accustomed to wearing ski-masks?!) their discomfort was evident.  While almost all of the men from South Bend went sleeveless, the boys from South Beach looked eager to pack their bags and head back to warmer weather (ironically, chants of "Warm up the bus!" could be heard before the first half even ended).

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, :(