Tag Archives: 2014 Notre Dame Football

Chef James Tailgate Special – Florida State Edition

Triple Threat Tailgate Grub

This week I’m tripling up friends. I was down last week, but back with a vengeance this week. I thought, Florida? Lets do Cubano sandwiches. Nope, not practical. Besides, how many people bring what is, essentially, a panini press to a tailgate? Better yet, how many of you even own one. Fact is, it’s an essential part of the process, so I scrubbed it. We’re doing two side dishes this week, and a flat out awesome cookie recipe, that is also simple, and fast. I’ve cooked for quite a few tailgates, and the side dish game at most of them is weak, to say the least. I’m of course, not referring to the Harlow/DTT tailgate that can be found, EASILY, because of its epic proportion, and people, in front of Legends at ND. So here we go……

Three bean casserole.
Baked Three Bean Casserole with Crispy Bacon
INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Kosher salt

2 cups Sweet and Sticky Cola Barbecue Sauce mixed with 1/2 cup water

Two 15 1/2-ounce cans baked beans

One 19-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

One 19-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

6 slices lean bacon

Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, green pepper, onion, ginger and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the diluted Sweet and Sticky Barbecue Sauce and all of the beans and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the beans to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and arrange the bacon strips on top. Bake the beans for 45 minutes or until bubbling and the bacon is crisp. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Cola BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a generous pinch for the garlic

3 Dr. Pepper

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 slightly heaping tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, plus additional for seasoning

1/4 teaspoon old bay

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste.

Stir garlic paste, the 1/4 teaspoon salt, cola, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, chili powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, and allspice together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, stir in the lime juice, and season with black pepper and hot sauce, to taste.
Next up, who doesn’t love cornbead? This is a “kicked up” version, obviously because of the cayenne and chipotle, but you can bring it down by adding less, or none at all. It really doesn’t affect the cooking process. This can be done the night before, and unlike most baked goods, this actually tastes better the next day……
Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for baking dish

1 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ tsp. Cayenne

1 tsp. Dried chipotle powder

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Green onion and paprika for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, cayenne, chipotle powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold together until there are no dry spots (the batter will still be lumpy). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the corn bread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

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Lastly, it’s dessert. Another thing that, at some tailgates is missing. Fact is, some of you consider cocktails and beer the dessert of the tailgate, but I’m going to throw this at you anyway. These cookies are ridiculously easy, and crazy good. White chocolate oatmeal…..

Ingredients

1 cup of butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup of white sugar

1 tbs. Vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

½ tsp. Baking soda

3 cups of fast cooking rolled oats

2 cups of white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350

In a stand mixer, or mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the sugars, butter, and eggs. Add the vanilla, then bring in the dry ingredients. Once it’s thoroughly combined, add the oats and chips a little at a time until they’re thoroughly combined. Use a tablespoon or ice cream scoop to portion out whatever size cookies you like on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes. It’s just that easy.

Enjoy! And of course, Go Irish!!! Beat FSU!!!

The Down the Tunnel Radio Show – Florida State Throw down Edition

-Kevin

The Down the Tunnel Radio show is back as we preview the big game against Florida State this weekend in Tallahassee. Had a great group of callers this week. We will be back on the air on Sunday night to review the outcome of Notre Dame and Florida State.

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Ishaq Williams Will Not Play This Season. Hopes to Return in 2015

– Kevin

Brian Kelly announced today during his press conference that Notre Dame defensive end Ishaq Williams will not play for the Irish this season due to the findings of the academic fraud investigation that has been going on since before the start of the season. This news comes on the same day that Davaris Daniels announced that he too will not play for Notre Dame this season.

Ishaq Williams was a big time recruit when he arrived at Notre Dame but his performance never quite matched the expectations that went with his talent. There was a large amount of excitement for Williams to move back to defensive end in Coach Brian VanGorder’s new defensive scheme for the Irish but fans will have to wait until next season to see if the new scheme would allow Williams to finally live up to the big expectations that he brought to South Bend. It should be no surprise that Williams is planning on returning to Notre Dame next season. Williams wants to play in the NFL however his production has not warranted a realistic goal of being drafted. While he may not play this season having Williams return to Notre Dame next season along with KeiVarae Russell, who also stated he plans to return for next season, has got to have Irish fans excited about a defense that could possibly return 11 starts from this years team that has started 6-0 and played much better than people had anticipated.

The Down the Tunnel Radio Show – North Carolina Review

-Kevin

The Down the Tunnel radio show is back as we talked about Notre Dame’s win over North Carolina, talked about Everett Golson’s continuing turnover problems, and the defensive woes seen against the Tar Heels.

http://t.co/uW8w3zrGVU

Carolina on the Minds of the Irish – A Weekend Preview

-Kevin

Notre Dame looks to remain undefeated this weekend as the welcome the Tar Heels of North Carolina to South Bend Saturday in the second of four games against ACC opponents this season. Fresh off an excited comeback win over Stanford last weekend in the cold and rain, the Irish will look to avoid a letdown against a North Carolina team that has underperformed preseason expectations. North Carolina comes into the matchup with Notre Dame with a 2-3 record and having dropped their last three games by a combined score of 154 to 93 and allowing 70 points to East Carolina University. Meanwhile the Irish are 5-0 and are continuing to exceed the expectations that many people had for the 2014 Notre Dame Football team prior to the season, and that was before five Irish players were suspended for academic fraud. The main task for the Irish this weekend is to make sure they are not looking past this game to next week when Notre Dame travels to play top ranked Florida State in Tallahassee. While North Carolina has not played well this season, they do have weapons on offense and have the ability to score points. As most have come to know from past experiences, opposing teams that come to Notre Dame Stadium tend to play their best games of the season against the Irish and it will be key for Notre Dame to stay focused on the task at hand.

If there was ever a defense that a team would want to play the week before playing the number one team in the nation, North Carolina’s defensive unit would be at the top of the wish list. Simply put, North Carolina’s defense is just flat out bad. The Tar Heels rank 121st in the nation in scoring defense allowing an average of 42 points per game and rank 117th in total defense giving up an average of 505.8 yards per game. Everett Golson and the entire Notre Dame offense has to be salivating at their chance to carve up a defense that really has no strengths to speak of. The Tar Heels are 92nd nationally in rushing defense allowing 186.2 yards per game on the ground and 121st nationally in passing defense allowing 319.6 yards per game through the air. With the Irish offense struggling a bit last week against Stanford (the weather didn’t help either), this is the perfect matchup to get the Irish offense firing on all cylinders before the big game with FSU next weekend. Look for the Irish to turn to the running game early and often in an effort to get a rushing attack going early, something that Notre Dame has had trouble with all season long. The offensive line looked much better in the second half against Stanford last weekend and if they can build off of their success against a tough and physical Stanford front and replicate that this week, not only will the running backs have lanes to run through but Everett Golson will has plenty of time to stand in the pocket and make throws downfield. Notre Dame’s passing offense, which is averaging 276.6 yards per game and is ranked 36th nationally, is the most dangerous part of the Irish offense and I fully expect Golson to have plenty of time to throw and pick apart the Tar Heel defense.

Notre Dame’s defense has really been the surprise of the season so far. While it was know that the unit had a lot of pure talent, it was also seen to be a young an inexperienced unit that would have growing pains throughout the season. After last weeks performance against Stanford, it sure looks like the Notre Dame defense, which ranks 3rd nationally in scoring defense allowing only 12 points per game, has matured much faster than anyone could have expected and has shown to be one of the elite defenses in the country. Cole Luke has really stood out in relieve of suspended All American corner Keivarae Russell and young players like Andrew Trumbetti and Kolin Hill are thriving in Brian VanGorder’s defensive scheme that the players describe as “really fun”. The rejuvenated Irish defense will face their toughest challenge of the season going up against a North Carolina offense that is very capable of scoring points in bunches. The Tar Heels are 33rd nationally in scoring offense averaging 36 points per game and get most of the their offense by means of their passing attack. Quarterback Marquise Williams has show the ability to make big plays in the passing game and he also leads the Tar Heel’s offense in rushing. The outcome of this game is really going to depend on Notre Dame’s ability to contain North Carolina’s passing game. Like Notre Dame, North Carolina has had trouble running the ball this season, averaging 138.6 yards per game putting them 89th nationally. The Irish running defense has been outstanding all season long ranking 9th nationally allowing only 95.8 yards per game. So basically if North Carolina is going to try to run the football, they are going to have a very tough time moving the football against the Irish defense. We have all been waiting to see if the defense will relax a bit after gaining tons of confidence over the first 5 games of the season and if they don’t play their best, North Carolina will be able to throw the ball and put some points on the board. However if the defense comes out with the same intensity it has shown all season long it should be a long day for the Tar Heels.

The question for me this week is not whether Notre Dame will win this week but by how much they will win by. I do not see any excuse for Notre Dame to not score at least 40 points against this abysmal North Carolina defense and anything less than 40 points will be a disappointment in my mind. The bottom line is that Notre Dame has far to many playmakers on offense to score points at will. The North Carolina defense is so bad that I will be a bit disappointed if Notre Dame punts more than one time on Saturday. The main thing I will be watching for this weekend is the intensity level of the defense to see if they may be looking ahead a bit to Florida State. While the players have been saying all the right things, it has got to be difficult to not at least think about it throughout the week with the amount of attention the matchup is already receiving. Notre Dame should take control of this game early on and never look back. The defense plays well again but gives up some points later in the game after the offense has already provided a large lead. Notre Dame 51 North Carolina 20

Other Games Around the Country 

2 Auburn at 3 Mississippi State- After a big win against Texas A&M last weekend Mississippi State hopes to keep the momentum going as they welcome Auburn to town. While beating Texas A&M was a good win for the Bulldogs, the Aggies are not the same Aggies we are used to seeing. Their big win over South Carolina looks less impressive by the day and they were very close to losing to an unranked Arkansas team. The party ends this weekend in Starkville. Auburn 34 Mississippi State 24

3 Ole Miss at 14 Texas A&M- Speaking of Texas A&M, the Aggies will look to rebound this weekend after getting beat down by Mississippi State last week. Texas A&M has the ability to score bunches of points in a hurry and Ole Miss may still be riding a bit high after beating Alabama. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is always due to have a bad game or two and this weekend will be one of them. Texas A&M 31 Ole Miss 27

9 TCU at 5 Baylor- I rode with TCU last week against Oklahoma and it paid off. This week TCU travels to take on Baylor who has an outstanding offense yet again this season. However Baylor hasn’t played any team that is even close to respectable this season and TCU will be their first test of the season. Baylor’s offense didn’t look as good as it has been against a bad Texas team last week which doesn’t bode well going against a much much better TCU squad. TCU 28 Baylor 24

KeiVarae Russell out for 2014 but Plans to Return Next Season

-Kevin

russell

Multiple media outlets are reporting that suspended Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell was notified yesterday by the Honor Committee and informed his teammates that he will not be allowed to play for the Irish during the 2014 football season. Russell however also stated that he plans to return to Notre Dame to play for the Irish next season. This news comes after rapid speculation that all five of the Irish players that have been under investigation for academic fraud would not play for Notre Dame this season and their fates with the university still unclear.

While Russell has always made it very clear that he wanted to play in the NFL, I am not surprised that he plans to return to Notre Dame next season. Russell has the skills and the athletic ability to be a very good player in the NFL however with him not playing for an entire football season, it was very likely that his draft stock would have fallen from a possible first round pick to a mid to later round pick. Notre Dame was already looking at the possibility of returning 10 starters on defense for next season and if Russell does indeed return to Notre Dame that would make 11 returning starters for next years defensive squad.

UPDATED:

Keivarae Russell posted on his Instagram account that he will not play this season but will return for 2015.

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The Down The Tunnel Radio Show – North Carolina Edition

-Kevin

The Down the Tunnel radio show is back. This week we discussed the ongoing academic investigation, look back at the Irish’s comeback win against Stanford, and look ahead to North Carolina. We were also joined by Douglas Farmer from Blue and Gold Illustrated.

http://tobtr.com/s/6986267

Player Interviews – North Carolina Week

-Kevin

Elijah Shumate, Cole Luke, Chris Brown, Isaac Rochell, Cam McDaniel, and Romeo Okwara talked to the media today as they prepare for North Carolina.

Elijah Shumate

Cole Luke

Chris Brown

Isaac Rochell

Romeo Okwara

Cam McDaniel

A Look at the Series History with North Carolina

-Kevin

As Notre Dame continues to prepare for their matchup with the North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend, now is as good a time as any to look into some of the history between the Irish and the Tar Heels. Notre Dame leads the series with North Carolina 16-2 and Notre Dame’s .889 winning percentage against the Tar Heels is the third best in Notre Dame football history only behind Wabash and Illinois. Notre Dame first met North Carolina in Yankee Stadium on November 12th, 1949 and the top ranked Irish won 42-6 en route to the National Championship. The Irish won the first ten meetings over the Tar Heels before North Carolina finally defeated Notre Dame 12-7 in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina comes to South Bend with a tough task ahead and history is not on their side. The Tar Heels are 0-11 when playing in Notre Dame Stadium and have only been able to defeat the Irish on two occasions, 1960 and 2008, both of which took place in Chapel Hill.  North Carolina is also 0-11 against Notre Dame when the Irish are the higher ranked team which is the case yet again this weekend. Notre Dame’s defense has risen to the challenge against North Carolina throughout the series, holding the Tar Heels to single digits in 9 of the 18 meetings including three shutouts. The Irish offense has also played well against North Carolina throughout the series history. Over their 18 meetings Notre Dame has outscored North Carolina by an average of 26.2 to 11.2 points. With North Carolina’s defense being one of the worst in the country this season it is safe to assume that this trend will continue.

Notre Dame and North Carolina also have some more recent connections that go beyond their series history. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and was originally committed to North Carolina before he switched his commitment to Notre Dame. On the flip side, North Carolina running back Elijah Hood, who is the second leading rusher behind quarterback Marquise, was originally committed to Notre Dame in last years recruiting class before switching his commitment to the Tar Heels. North Carolina’s Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham earned his bachelors and masters degrees from Notre Dame and UNC sophomore Jon Heck is the son of Andy Heck, who was an All American at Notre Dame and played twelve seasons in the NFL. Notre Dame has had success recruiting in North Carolina in recent years and the Irish currently have  six players on the roster from North Carolina: Ben Council, Mathias Farley, Mark Harrell, Greer Martini, Romeo Okwara, and Kendall Moore (still suspended).

Irish Chop Down the Trees – A Weekend Review

– Kevin

BVG Thumbs up

In a day that was filled heavy rain, cold winds, and sloppy conditions, Notre Dame was able to overcome adversity and swing their axes to chop down the trees of Stanford in the final minute of the game to complete a thrilling 17-14 come from behind win. Even while Everett Golson didn’t play his best (and apparently had the flu according to Coach Kelly), he was still able to complete the game winning pass to Ben Koyack in the corner of the end zone on 4th and 11 with only 1:06 left on the clock to seal the Irish victory. Statistically, the Notre Dame offense dominated Stanford all game long and really should have won this game by more points than they did. Stanford’s defense was viewed as one of the best in the nation, and the Irish offense racked up 370 yards of total offense including 129 yards rushing in horrific weather conditions. However its points and not yards that win football games and Notre Dame had trouble putting up points on the scoreboard only scoring 17 points. For the second week in a row, turnovers were an issue for Everett Golson, fumbling and throwing an interception in the red zone which took away chances at points for the Irish. Throughout most of the game, and even on some of the plays in the final drive, Golson looked a bit out of sync, throwing behind his receivers on multiple occassions and holding on to the ball too long.

The Irish running game still struggled this week against a tough defensive front. While the stat line says that Notre Dame rushed for 129 yards, the running backs only accounted for 69 of those yards while the remainder came from a 33 yard run by Golson and a 26 yard run on a jet sweep by CJ Prosise. Now nobody was anticipating a breakout game for the Irish running attack against Stanford but there are still some issues that need to be addressed as Notre Dame gets into the meat of the schedule. The offensive line is still not being as physical as expected before the season began. While the production has improved since Brian Kelly shuffled around some players along the line after the game against Purdue, they still are struggling at times in run blocking. Greg Bryant has been a player that everyone has been expecting to breakout but in the last few games he has really had trouble running North and South and finished with only 14 yards on 6 carries against Stanford. Tarean Folston was hurt during the game and only finished with 14 yards on 3 carries. That left Cam McDaniel to lead the team with 41 yards on 15 carries. At this point in the season I have no problem saying that Notre Dame’s strength on offense is their passing game. However in order to maintain the success that the Irish have had through the first five games, they will need to improve their running game with games at Florida State and USC still left this season.

While Golson’s game winning pass at the end of the game was the highlight of the game, it was not the main reason why Notre Dame was victorious against Stanford. That honor goes to the defense, which has continued to impress every week after looking to a be a weak point of the team at the beginning of the season. The Irish defense dominated Stanford from the start of the game to the final play holding the Cardinal to 205 TOTAL YARDS. Thats not a typo. Even more impressive is the fact that the defense held a Stanford running attack, which has been the staple of their offense, to only 47 yards rushing. Thats right, 47 yards. Stanford had not been held to that few rushing yards since 2006. The ability of the defense to shut down the run really set up the Irish for success forcing David Shaw to change his stratagy from his normal two tight end sets to more of a spread attack which played right into what Notre Dame wanted to do defensively. With the running game shut down the Cardinal was forced to pass more than they had planned for and the Irish defense responded. Kevin Hogan went 18-36 for 158 yards and two interceptions, both by Cole Luke, who probably played his best game of the season. Brian VanGorder kept Stanford guessing the entire game with his defensive game plan and never allowed the Cardinal to get in any sort of rhythm. Notre Dame’s third down defense impressed again only allowing Stanford to convert 5 of 14 third down attempts. Had it not been for Everett Golson’s fumble deep in the redone in the first quarter, it is safe to assume that the Cardinal may have only scored 7 points. Stanford’s score in the fourth quarter was the only drive that was able to move down the field against the Irish. In a game where Stanford’s defense was supposed to be the elite unit, Notre Dame’s defense out played the Cardinal and made a loud and definitive statement to the rest of the college football world.

Notre Dame won the game sure but they really should have won the game by much more than they did. They left a lot of points on the field and played a pretty sloppy game in the grand scheme of things. And to me thats what makes this win over Stanford even more impressive. The Irish made their fair share of mistakes, had players playing with the flu, and had to deal with awful weather conditions and they were still able to beat a Stanford team that most predicted to come into South Bend and win. Notre Dame still needs to clean up some things on both sides of the ball but their potential for an outstanding season is through the roof. This team’s play has already exceeded what I expected for this season and if they are able to fix some of the issues they still have they will be hard for anyone to beat.