Tag Archives: Brian Van Gorder

Fire the Torpedo’s! Its Time to Sink Navy – A Weekend Preview

-GoIrishGlory

Its finally time to get back to actual football. Since the heart breaking and gut wrenching last second loss to Florida State two weeks ago, Irish fans have been without Notre Dame football and instead had to deal with the incessant talk about polls for a playoff that are still over two months away as well as Justin Brent’s encounter with porn star Lisa Ann over fall break. Enough of all that. Its time to get back to the game played on the field. Notre Dame travels to Maryland this week to take on the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy at FedEx Field. The Irish enter the contest with a 6-1 record and ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff Rankings while Navy brings in a 4-4 record and a two game winning streak. Notre Dame will look to put the loss to Florida State in the rear view mirror and turn their focus to the remaining five games on the schedule as they try remain in the playoff picture. The Irish are by far the better team in this matchup with Navy, but as we all know the Naval Academy has played very well against Notre Dame in the last few years and the triple option attack used by Navy is tough for any defense.

When Brian Kelly first arrived at Notre Dame, everyone was excited about the offense that he would bring with him to South Bend after his success at Cincinnati. However in his first couple seasons, the offense did not live up to the expectations for a variety of reasons, most importantly the quarterback position. This season the offense is FINALLY playing to level we all expected. After looking very impressive during the first half of the season, the offense looked like it had put it all together against Florida State and the task now is to maintain that level of play. The Irish should be able to continue to build on their continued success on offense this week with Everett Golson at the helm going against a Navy defense that has struggled this season giving up 27.6 points per game ranking them 75th in the nation in scoring defense. Navy also ranks 75th nationally in rushing defense, giving up 170.9 yards per game on the ground which should allow for the Irish’s newly minted “feature back”, Tarean Folston, to continue to shine. Since Notre Dame went to Folston as the feature back the Irish are averaging 186.5 yards on the ground per game which is 25 yards more than their season average of 162.4. The Irish should be able to continue to have success on the ground this week.

folston

Navy’s passing defense is not much better than their mediocre at best rushing defense. The Midshipmen are giving up 242.9 yards through the air per game and they have not played an offense with a passing attack anywhere near as dynamic as they will see against the Irish on Saturday night. The Irish are averaging 285.1 passing yards per game ranking 29th nationally. Everett Golson played arguable the best game of his career against Florida State and he should have a field day throwing to wide open receivers all game long. Will Fuller speed is going to be very difficult for Navy to slow down, and Corey Robinson is quickly becoming a huge part of the Irish offense. Expect both to have great games as the Navy secondary will be unable to slow them down.

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The biggest challenge for this game is for the Irish defense as they go up against the dreaded triple option attack that we have all grown to despise. Navy is bringing the nation’s leading rushing attack into this matchup averaging over 350 yards per game on the ground. However the Midshipmen rushing game will face their toughest test against the Irish, which is only allowing 102.7 yards per game ranking 12th nationally in rushing defense. The Irish front seven has continued to improve all season long with stellar performances by Jarron Jones, Issac Rochell, and Andrew Trumbeti along the defensive line and Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith in the linebacking corps. While Navy’s rushing stats look impressive on paper, it is important to point out that at least one reason why their yards per game is so high is because running the ball is the only thing the Navy offense does. The Midshipmen rank second to last in passying offense averaging only 91.6 yards per game. The Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds is really just another running back in their offensive attack and anytime that the Irish can force him to throw is a win for the defense. It will be interesting to see Brian VanGorder’s game plan against the option as he has admitted to not having face the option for years. Notre Dame is bigger, stronger, and faster than Navy and as long as the Irish defenders maintain their assignments, they should be able to slow down the triple option and force a few turnovers.

This is probably one of the worst Navy teams that Notre Dame will have faced during Brian Kelly’s tenure, including their 2012 team that lost 50-10 to Notre Dame in Ireland. Keenan Reynolds is a very good player however they are missing the talent at fullback and tailback that they have had in the past. Teams like Air Force have been able to hold Navy to 21 points this season, so their is no doubt in my mind that the Irish defense will be able to stop the triple option. Notre Dame needs to start blowing out the remaining teams on the schedule this season in order to stay in the playoff discussion and that starts this weekend. Irish fire the torpedo’s and sink Navy. Notre Dame 49 Navy 17 

Burning ship

Other Games Around the Country

3 Auburn at 4 Ole Miss- This game is a playoff eliminator. Both teams enter the contest with a loss and I highly doubt that a two loss team will be making the playoff. Ole Miss is strangely ranked 4th in the playoff rankings after losing to a mediocre LSU team last week and it looks as if the Rebels were exposed in Death Valley. While they may have a very good defense, their offense is not that good. Auburn is an overall better team with a better coach. The dream in Oxford ends this weekend. Auburn 28 Ole Miss 21

7 TCU at 20 West Virginia- TCU completely embarrasses a really bad Texas Tech team last week dropping 82 points on the Red Raiders. The Horned Frogs have looked very impressive all season minus the 4th quarter against Baylor. West Virginia however has also played very well as of late with the Clint Tricket to Kevin White connection. TCU has looked really bad on defense at times this season and playing in Morgantown is no easy task. For the second time this season, it will be couch burning time for the Mountaineers. West Virginia 45 TCU 41

Worried about the Irish defense? NOT SO FAST!

-Sgt Shamrock

Even before the recent investigation into possible academic dishonestly that led to four Irish players being removed from team activities, the major concern of Irish fans headed into the 2014 was on the defensive side of the ball. With the losses of Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo, and Bennett Jackson to the NFL draft and Carlo Calebrese, Dan Fox, and Kona Schwenke graduating, Notre Dame is only returning five starters from last years team. And due to the academic investigation KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams future for the season is in doubt and Brian Kelly announced today at his weekly press conference that all of the “suspended” players would be missing the Rice game as the investigation continues. So that leaves the Notre Dame defense with just THREW returning starters in Jaylon Smith, Sheldon Day, and Austin Collinsworth. That is enough to make Irish fans everywhere have very large doubts in just how the defense will perform this season. While it is very easy based on all the losses  on the defensive side of the ball to worry about the defense, all hope is not loss. Recently there was another team that faced this very same dilemma. What team is that you ask? Well its none other than the 2009 Cincinnati Bearcats coached by Brian Kelly.

In 2008 Brian Kelly led the Cincinnati Bearcats to an 11-3 overall record, a Big East Championship, and an Orange Bowl appearance that ultimately concluded in a 20-7 loss to Virginia Tech. A BCS bowl for Cincinnati got the Bearcats and Brian Kelly national recognition that was the start of a long series of events that led to Kelly being hired by Notre Dame in 2010. However headed into the 2009 season, there was doubt across the nation whether Brian Kelly and Cincinnati could replicate the success from 2008. The Bearcats defense lost Big East sack leader Connor Barwin, All American defensive tackle Terrill Bryd, Mike Mickens, DeAngelo Smith, and Brandon Underwood to the NFL draft. They also lost five other defensive starters from 2008 due to graduation. That left ONE returning starter on defense. Cincinnati was introducing a new defensive scheme brought in by new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. And to make matters worse, the Bearcats were forced to start a former quarterback at linebacker. Does the name Demetrius Jones sound familiar? Well it should. He started the first game of the 2007 season at quarterback for Notre Dame. After Charlie Weis handed Jimmy Clausen the reigns following the season opener, Jones didn’t want to stick around and transferred to Cincinnati. After sitting out for a season, Brian Kelly than moved Jones to linebacker for the 2009 season.

Now all of that sounds pretty doom and gloom for the prospects of the 2009 season for Cincinnati right? Well I have always been a pretty good proponent of the “Numbers don’t lie” line of thinking so lets compare the defensive stats from the 2008 Bearcats team to the 2009 team. In 2008 the Cincinnati defense allowed an average of 206.9 yards through the air, 115 yards per game on the ground, and an average of 321.9 yards of total offense per game. The following season the 2009 squad, that only had one returning starter from 2008, allowed an average of 230.2 yards through the air per game, 143.8 yards per game on the ground, and 374 yards of total offense per game. So basically the 2009 Cincinnati defense gave up roughly 25 more yards per game through the air, 30 more yards per game on the ground, and roughly 55 more yards of total offense per game. However looking at yards allowed is only one piece of the pie. Another really important stat to look at is sacks. In 2008 Cincinnati’s defense had 40 sacks as a team. In 2009 Cincinnati’s defense had 35 sacks. I don’t know about you but if a Notre Dame team only returned one starter on defense and only gave up slightly more offensive yards per game the following season and only had five less sacks than I would be pretty damn thrilled.

This years Notre Dame defense has a lot in common with Brian Kelly’s 2009 Cincinnati defense that should give everyone a little bit of hope that the defense may not be as big of an issue as you might think. Both the 2009 Cincinnati team and this years Notre Dame team lost big time defenders to the NFL draft and both teams also are returning very few starters from the previous season. Also both the 2009 Bearcats and this years Irish team are under the first year of a new defensive coordinator (Bob Diaco for Cincinnati and Brian VanGorder for Notre Dame) that brings a new scheme.

While there are a ton of similarities between the two teams there is one key difference that can not be overstated. Notre Dame has hands down better defensive players on the roster than Cincinnati had on its 2009 roster. Notre Dame recruits better and attracts better athletes on defense. Notre Dame is also returning two bona fide stars in Jaylon Smith and Sheldon Day (it would be three but as well all know Russell’s status is up in the air), something that Cincinnati did not have in 2009.

All those stats and information tell a good bit of the story but there is one key piece that I left for last. That is WINS! And in 2009 Cincinnati had a whole lot of them. Twelve wins to be exact. Cincinnati finished the regular season 12-0 before losing to Florida in the Sugar Bowl 51-24.

So basically my whole point here is this. If Brian Kelly could lead Cincinnati to an undefeated regular season in 2009 while only returning ONE starter on defense, than there is no reason to think that Brian Kelly can do something very similar with this years Notre Dame defense that only returns two starters but has WAY MORE talent on the entire defense than Cincinnati did. Now am I saying that we should expect Kelly to lead Notre Dame to an undefeated season like he did in 2009 at Cincinnati? No of course not. As much as we would all love that it is probably not going to happen. The schedule that Notre Dame is playing this season is much more difficult than what Cincinnati played in 2009 and thinking that the Irish should win every game is just not smart. But what I am saying is that before you start pulling your hair out over the thought of a young and inexperienced defense, it still has the potential to be a very good defense. Brian Kelly said himself that this defense is, “Both the most inexperienced as well as the most athletic defense” he had ever coached. Brian Kelly has shown that he can work magic with a young group of players and I don’t think its crazy to think he can do it again.

DTT Reviews ND Insider’s Season Preview Magazine

-Sgt Shamrock

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So by now I would assume that most of you have read at least one of the many season previews out there as the beginning of the 2014 Notre Dame Football season draws close. While I really hope you all check out our Fall Camp Primer, which you can find it HERE, there are plenty of other very good season previews out there. The amount of quality Notre Dame websites and blogs is truly amazing and really gives fans a vast amount of Notre Dame coverage. I recently was able to read ND Insider’s 2014 Season Preview Magazine powered by The South Bend Tribune and I was very pleased with the product. It was very well put together and was packed full of content. 

The magazine immediately catches your eyes once you see Jaylon Smith and Everett Golson, two of the premier star players on the Irish roster, on the cover. Once you flip past a few advertisements and the table of contents you find the season predictions from Eric Hansen, Al Lesar, Tyler James, and Bob Wieneke. Not only were the regular season records predicted by the South Bend Tribune Crew, but also things like “Hottest Tangent Topic- Field Turf, Mustaches, or Publix Crab Legs?” and what game is the yearly “Trap game”. The responses are pretty funny and should play well to all the ND interwebs folks who have plenty of laughs about the typical hot sports topics.

Following the predictions, the magazine transitions to the feature articles. The first Irish player was Everett Golson. Now from when Golson was dismissed from school in the spring of 2013 to his return to to the team and preparation for the upcoming season there have been countless articles and features written about Golson and his time away from Notre Dame. However I can say without a doubt that this article written by Eric Hansen is by far the best I have read. Not only does the article contain a great account of Golsons time in San Diego with quarterback guru George Whitfield, but also the events surrounding Golson immediately following his dismissal. Hansen also sheds light just how involved Notre Dame was in the decision of Golson to train with Whitfield and how the university had the possibility to nix the entire idea. During the time that Golson was away from Notre Dame, message board posters on multiple sites would always ask site mods if there was any update on how or what Golson was doing. Now those same posters can read this fantastic piece by Hansen and know what Golson was doing during the entire time away from the University.

Immediately after Hansen’s piece on Golson, Bob Wieneke follows it up with another very well written piece on Jaylon Smith, the star sophomore linebacker. Not only does it give great insight on Smith as a football player but it also gives insight on Jaylon Smith as a player off the field. Wieneke really sheds light on the switch from outside linebacker, where Smith played his freshman season under Bob Diaco, to inside linebacker this season under new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. The piece does a great job shedding light on Smiths work during the off-season training at AWP Sports Performance and his preparation for his much anticipated sophomore season in a new scheme.

Eric Hansen finishes off the feature article section with two well written and very informative articles on new defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder and Brian Kelly and how he is approaching his fifth season with a new perspective along with bits of advise from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Also you can find out what Brian Kelly does and does not like about the recruiting process and what coaching decision he would change from his first 4 seasons at Notre Dame.

Following the feature articles, the magazine goes into an in depth analysis of each position on the Irish roster including position battles, depth chart, and players to watch in each group. Its a great section to read as this years team is missing a lot of big names that Irish fans have been accustomed to seeing the past few years. I really enjoyed the Linebacker Analysis section and how it described Brian Van Gorders history with linebackers, how he uses them in his scheme, and the experience from the NFL that he brings to South Bend.

With a new football season always comes a new batch of players and for those who dont follow recruiting very closely throughout the year it can be difficult to learn all the new names and faces. Dont worry though because ND Insider and the boys at South Bend Tribune have you covered. They put together freshman profiles on each new addition to the Irish roster this season complete with rankings from various recruiting sites, fun facts, when they knew they were going to commit to Notre Dame, and who the hardest school/coach it was to say no too. It really gives the fans a good look into the new batch of the players that will suit up for the Irish this season. The magazine also looks at which incoming freshman have the best chance to excel and look at the “It” factor they bring to campus.

Finally Tyler James, the recruiting writer for the South Bend Tribune, gives fans an inside picture into what happens on campus on official visit weekends on campus complete with an itinerary of events. Not only that but Tyler really paints the picture of just how much planning goes into the big official visit weekends that most fans never see or would never even know would go on behind the scenes. Tyler provides some first hand experiences from current Irish player KeiVarae Russel and what occurred during his official visit to Notre Dame.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading ND Insiders Season Preview Magazine. It provided great insight into this years squad, the expectations, and some of the key players that will ultimately decide the success of this years team. The magazine did an outstanding job of not only focusing on the overall season preview but also the in depth analysis of the position groups, the new coaching additions as well as a good look into the world of recruiting for Notre Dame Football.

I really recommend that you purchase the ND Insiders Season Preview Magazine. You will not regret the decision. If you do want to get your own copy you can order either a printed copy or an iPad version at the South Bend Tribune website. The printed version is $12.95, which includes shipping, and the iPad version can be downloaded from the App Store. I really hope you guys will consider purchasing this outstanding preview. Its more than worth it.

You can purchase the printed version at https://www2.southbendtribune.com/ndannual/index.php

You can purchase the iPad version at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/notre-dame-football-preview/id890206389?mt=8

Notre Dame Fall Camp Primer

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-Sgt Shamrock

Fall camp starts next week. Damn it felt good to type that. After an off season filled with fans arguing over the tradition of grass, complaining about the size of an Under Armour logo on team travel bags, and the always pleasant and completely idiotic comments on the Notre Dame Football Facebook page, it is time for some actual football. I have always likened the start of fall camp every year to Opening Day in baseball. Each year on Opening Day, every teams fan base starts the long baseball season filled with excitement, hope, and optimism that this was their year to make the playoffs and win the World Series. Well except for the Cubs, who are eliminated from playoff contention as soon as the season starts. Sorry Cubs fans I had to.

The same feelings felt on Opening day by baseball fans are felt by Irish fans everywhere as Fall Camp of the 2014 season gets ready to begin at Culver Academy next week. There is an abundance of story lines headed into camp this year and how these story lines play out will most likely determine whether the 2014 campaign will be full of promise and success or disappointment and defeat. Will Everett Golson return better than when he left? How will Brian Van Gorder’s defensive scheme work at Notre Dame? Who will step up on defense now that Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt have left for the NFL? Ill do my best to answer those questions along with many many more. First up. The Offense

Offense

As we enter year five with Brian Kelly as the head coach I think it is safe to say that the offensive output over the last few years hasn’t been what everyone expected when Kelly came over from Cincinnati. Now there are a couple factors that have not helped matters. Having your starting quarterback from a team that made it to the National Championship game get suspended for a season due to “academic dishonesty” is definitely not going to help the offense improve. And having a quarterback that seemingly had cement in his shoes that also had the ability to fumble the football without even being touched REALLY doesnt help (Yes I still have not and probably will never forget or get over the game against Michigan in 2011). Previous years offenses have been different than the offense we will probably see this season and to be honest its a very good thing. Most of the previous seasons the offense had one “go to guy” such as Michael Floyd or Tyler Eiffert and the rest were role player types like Robby Toma. Last year TJ Jones was the main go to guy but we finally started seeing the ball being distributed to more and more receivers who while may not be as experienced as previous seasons receivers, are equally or even more talented than previous years. This goes for the running back corps as well. Lots and lots of talent.

Position Battles:

Quarterback- Im going to come right out and say this. Regardless what Brian Kelly says about Malik Zaire being able to compete for the starting job, Everett Golson will be the starting quarterback for the entire 2014 football season. While Malik Zaire is a very good quarterback, Everett Golson is just the flat out better quarterback. After spending the his time away from Notre Dame with George Witfield, Golson should be better than ever and I expect a big season out of him.

Wide Receiver- Its time to see if Davaris Daniels can finally have a season of consistent production. He has all the physical tools to be a star receiver however consistency has always been his major issue. The remainder of the receiving corps is very young but very talented. Daniels, Brown, Robinson, Fuller, and incoming freshman Justin Brent have loads of potential and talent.

Running Back- The duo of Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston has me more excited than just about any other position group on the team this season. Bryant and Folston are the clear 1A and 1B and they will carry the majority of the load. Cam McDaniel will still get his carries however if Bryant and Folston play to the level that I believe they will, his carries will drop off significantly from last season. With all of the Irish running backs running behind a strong and steady offensive line, the potential for a big season for the Irish running attack is there

 

Tight End- Ben Koyack will be the number one tight end. He showed flashes of brilliance last season playing behind Troy Niklas and there are already many NFL Draft analysts that believe Koyack could be one of the first tight ends taken in the 2015 draft. While Koyack will be the starting tight end, keep an eye out for Durham Smythe. He will contribute early and often this season as Brian Kelly loves to use a two Tight end set.

Offensive Line- Losing a starter like Zach Martin is never easy to replace but if any team can do it its Notre Dame. The recruiting of offensive lineman has been outstanding the last few years and Ronnie Stanley, Steve Elmer, John Montelus, and Hunter Bivin will all get playing time this season along with Connor Hanratty and Matt Hegarty.

Defense

Its a whole new year for the Irish defense and its going to look a whole lot different than it has the past few years. Its time to see life after the Nix and Tuitt combo on the defensive line. The last few seasons the front seven of the Irish defense has been the anchor of the defense while the back end has been a weak point (Gary Gray, Bennett Jackson). However it seems like that will all be changing this year. The front seven has transformed from the rock of the defense to a bunch of question marks. Sheldon Day will be the marque player on the defensive line while Jarron Jones and incoming Freshman Jay Hayes. The linebacking corps is very suspect except for superstar Jaylon Smith, who was moved to inside linebacker this off season. Meanwhile the defensive backfield looks to be very solid. Kavairee Russell is a bona fide stud who will be in the running for the Thorpe award this season. Cole Luke, and 5th year transfer from Florida Cody Riggs will all be difference makers on the edges while Max Redfield, Austin Collinsworth and Elijah Shumate look to be solid in the back end. All of this with a new defensive coordinator who brings a completely new defensive scheme to South Bend that calls for alot of aggression and placing corners on an Island.

Position Battles:

Defensive Line- The bottom line here is that almost every scholarship player on the defensive line will play due to very thin depth. Recruiting along the defensive line has hit a few bumps in the road over the last few years and the depth on the roster shows it. Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones are the marquee players within the group however with Ishaq Williams being moved into a defensive end position within Van Gorders new 4-3 scheme he also has the potential to FINALLY play to his potential.

Linebackers- The only non question mark here is Jaylon Smith who everyone by now knows is a superstar. Beyond that are a lot of questions. It is still unclear if Jarrett Grace will be ready to go week one due to injury and the depth on the roster is thin. Michael Deeb should get a few looks this season and by all accounts he is a hard hitter. Of the entire team, the linebacker position is my biggest concern this season. Jaylon Smith cant cover the entire field himself.

Secondary- Russell has his spot at corner locked up as his is by far the best corner on the team as well as one of the best corners in the nation. Beyond that Mathias Farley, Cody Riggs, and Cole Luke will be fighting for the other corner position however depending on the package on the field they may all be on the field at the same time. Austin Collinsworth and Max Redfield seem to be the favorites at the two safety positions while Elijah Shumate still is fighting to stay on the field.

Fall camp starts next week. Down the Tunnel will have all the Fall camp coverage so stay tuned for updates as the the 2014 season gets underway. Get excited everyone. Football is back.       

Will Mahone Arrested on Multiple Charges

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-Sgt Shamrock

It seems as if the yearly off season tradition of losing a player will continue this year. According to reports, Notre Dame running back/wide receiver Will Mahone was arrested on Sunday in Mahoning County, Ohio on multiple charges that include assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, vandalism, and disorderly conduct. News of a Irish football player having “off the field” trouble began circulating earlier today and now we know who that player is.

Mahone was a member of the 2012 recruiting class but has been limited with injuries and has not seen much playing time. Last season, the Irish coaching staff moved Mahone from running back to wide receiver to see if he could contribute elsewhere with a logjam of talent at the running back position however that never was able to pan out. The University of Notre Dame has yet to comment on the incident and the ramifications Mahone will face, however it seems that his football career at Notre Dame may be in jeopardy.

The arrest record can be found here: http://pii.mahoningcountyoh.gov/(S(0pzeta55ymm5c355mtx4xd55))/Booking.aspx

 

Taking a Look at the Spring Game

-Sgt Shamrock

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Its finally here. The 2014 football season begins this Saturday with the 85th Annual Blue Gold game. Its that time of year where the fan base is actually optimistic for a change. Well at least most of the fan base. There are always those outliers who always want to complain about something or another. But I digress. Saturday will be our first glimpse at the 2014 version of the Irish football squad. Now while the spring game is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage and we as fans are not going to see to much of anything in terms of scheme and the playbook, it is a good opportunity to see how some of the individual players have progressed through spring practice and to get an idea of who might be ready to contribute on the field this fall. And almost even more importantly, it will give anyone who is coming to town to watch the game a chance to come by the first ever Down the Tunnel Tailgate with our partners at Indiana Whiskey. So along with meeting good people and enjoying some great whiskey, here are some things to watch for on Saturday.

What to Watch For:

Receiving corps- With Davaris Daniels suspended for the spring and TJ Jones and Troy Niklas headed to the NFL, the Irish receiving corps is going to look very different this spring than what we have grown accustomed to over the last couple years. While some of the young receivers did get playing time last season, Tommy Rees was the one throwing them the ball. In fact only one receiver who is on the roster for the spring game has actually caught a pass from Everett Golson; Chris Brown. While the amount of talent in the receiving corps is not argued, it will be interesting to see how the connection between Golson and receivers like Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, and Justin Brent will look after being away from the team for over a year.

Everett Golson- Speaking of Golson, this will be the first opportunity for Irish fans to see him on the field since he was dismissed from the university last spring. During his time away, Golson worked with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield and so far the reports out of practice paint Golson as a “Bigger, stronger, and faster” version than before. Yes it is just the spring game, but this will give everyone an opportunity to see how Golson has improved in his year away from the program.

The defensive line- After losing Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, and Kona Schwenke to the NFL the defensive line is a bit too thin for my liking. Sheldon Day, who has shown flashes of brilliance so far in his career, is going to have to be the leader in the group and we all expect Ishaq Williams, who was moved to defensive end from OLB this spring, to finally start living up the hype he received when he signed with Notre Dame. Now the defensive line we see Saturday will most likely not include everyone who will receive playing time next season, as incoming freshman like Jay Hayes will almost certainly be among the rotation if not only due to the lack of depth at the positions. Don’t expect to see any new wrinkles in the new defensive scheme that Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder has brought with him to South Bend just yet. Coaches don’t normally do anything but run a plain base defense in a spring game. But it will be nice to see the individual players along the D-line and be able to see who has stepped up to fill in some large voids

It’s good to finally have football back, if only for a short while. The Spring game is always a fun event that helps bring excitement to a new season of Notre Dame football. So if you are in town to attend the game, enjoy the great experience and make sure to stop by the Down the Tunnel tailgate. Indiana Whiskey will be there along with a lot of other delicious beverages, tasty foods, and good people. I have the final details and information for everyone tomorrow so stay tuned. Its going to be a fun weekend. If you are watching from home, just kick back have a drink and enjoy the first glimpse of 2014 Notre Dame Football.  

 

Stephon Tuitt to enter the 2014 NFL Draft

– Sgt Shamrock

 
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Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated is reporting that Notre Dame’s star defensive end Stephon Tuitt will forego his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. It was reported last month that Tuitt received a second round grade from the  NFL advisory board but most believe he will be a first round draft pick along with fellow defensive lineman Louis Nix. Tuitt, who was a first team All American in 2012, finishes his career at Notre Dame with 20 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss as well as an interception returned for a touchdown against Navy last season.
 
With Tuitt gone, it will be interesting to see what the Irish defense looks like next season when they open the season against Rice. The Irish have been recruiting the defensive side of the ball very well however star defensive lineman are hard to come by and with Eddie Vanderdoes leaving Notre Dame at the alter post signing day last season, the Irish are a bit thin on the defensive line. Sheldon Day has shown he can play very well but next season will be his first season playing without Nix and Tuitt next to him. While the defensive line may not have the star power it has had the last few seasons, the future of the defense is still very bright. Jaylon Smith was one of the best freshman in the country this season and he will only get better. While Irish fans have gotten used to the defensive line being the strength of the defense, I really feel that that strength will begin to shift to the secondary next season. Notre Dame has recruited some very good defensive backs in the past few years and Irish fans should be very excited to see them on the field.
With Brian Van Gorder as the new defensive coordinator, I am very excited to see how he is able to use the young talented players on the defensive side of the ball that we were able to get a glimpse of this season. Obviously it would be nice if Tuitt returned, however the defense is still full of talent and I have a feeling we will see it on the field next fall.