Tag Archives: Jay Hayes

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.       

The Under Armour Era has Begun

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-Sgt Shamrock

The wait is finally over. Notre Dame’s partnership with Under Armour official began at midnight when the doors opened to the Leep Varsity Shop in Purcell Pavilion and hundreds of Irish fans, including myself, swarmed in to get the first look at all the new gear that can really be summed up in about 2 words. COMPLETELY AWESOME. But seriously as soon as I stepped through the doors and got a look at all the brand new gear I instantly saw a difference from the old Adidas apparel. One of the major issues I had always had with Adidas was that most of their apparel was pretty bland and boring. That is not the case with the new Under Armour gear. Our new friends at Under Armour did an absolutely fantastic job creating some really good and new Irish gear that should have tons of fans very excited. The best thing that I noticed was that while a lot of the new designs and patterns looked very good, nothing went overboard on the flashiness. 

In addition to large amounts of fans that came to the unveiling event, that included a prize wheel (which awarded me a pretty sweet free t-shirt) raffles for other Irish prizes, and a DJ that of course made sure to play Crazy Train, there were also a pretty good amount of Irish Football players that showed up to check out the new digs. Among those present were Andrew Trumbetti, Jay Hayes and Romeo Okwara. A side note but Okwara looks HUGE. He really put on some muscle this offseason. Complete beast. Lets hope it translates to the field this fall. From what I could tell the players seemed to really like the gear enough so where some even bought some for themselves.  

Now I know one of the looming questions from fans mostly involve the release of the jerseys as well as the Shamrock Series uniforms. I spoke with one of the Bookstore employees and an Under Armour rep and they informed me that both the normal game jerseys as well as the Shamrock Series uniforms will be simultaneously reveled on August 16th just a few weeks prior to the start of the season. Also while there was a large amount of apparel available last night, there is still a large amount of items that will continue to be released from now until Football Season. Another big question from fans was obviously going to be around the price of all the new gear. Yes it is expensive but to be honest it didn’t seem that much more expensive than it has always been. The free t-shirt I won was priced at 30 dollars while the fitted hat that I purchased was also 30 dollars. Is it a bit more expensive than before? Maybe but if so its not by much.

I made sure to take as many pictures as I could for everyone so take a look and let us know what you think of the new Under Armour gear. I love it. I think you all will too.

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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.