Tag Archives: Michigan

It’s Time to Stop Playing Navy

-Kevin

Its time to take Navy off the schedule. There I said it. I have felt this way for a couple years now but after seeing the release of the first college football playoff rankings earlier tonight it finally sealed the deal for me. Before you start crying a foul, yes I know all about the history between Notre Dame and Navy. Yes I know that Navy made Notre Dame a training ground during World War Two and provided enough money to keep the university afloat. I know all about it. Its reiterated every single year when we play the Naval Academy. Ill always have a great deal of respect for the Naval Academy and what they did for Notre Dame to help it stay open in a time when many thought the school would close. But that was over 70 years ago. I know Notre Dame “owed” Navy for all their help but that debt has been paid back and than some.

Here is the thing. There is absolutely nothing gained by playing Navy anymore for Notre Dame nothing. Its actually a lose-lose situation for the Irish. As we saw tonight in the first college football playoff rankings, the selection committee was not kidding around about strength of schedule being a huge factor in who gets selected into the playoff and having Navy on the schedule is doing the Irish no favors. If Notre Dame wins, it means nothing for the season as everyone expects Notre Dame to beat Navy easily each and every season. If Notre Dame loses, its a crippling blow and in the new college football playoff system it would almost always knock Notre Dame out of the playoff picture immediately.

Now every season there are teams that are supposed to be good teams that end up not panning out which never does favors for Notre Dame. So far this season Stanford and North Carolina would easily fit the bill. Prior to the season every pundit in the country had Notre Dame’s schedule as one of the toughest in the nation. Now it looks to be the exact opposite with the Irish sitting at 6-1 but having zero wins over a top 25 win. But you can’t really blame Notre Dame for that as how other teams do is completely out of their control. Its part of college football. Perceived good teams turn out to be bad and teams that were viewed as awful turn out to be really good. However there is a huge difference between teams like Stanford, Michigan, and North Carolina and a team like Navy. The Stanford’s, Michigan’s, and North Carolina’s may have their down years or not live up to expectations that people had for them in the preseason but they normally end up bouncing back and being good teams. Take Stanford for instance. They have been very good the past few years and this season and while they have taken a step back this year, they will undoubtedly rebound in the next year or two and contend in the PAC-12. Teams like Navy however are never good and are not expected to ever be good. Sure they will pull an upset now and again or finish a season with more wins that predicted but in football terms, nobody ever views Navy as a “quality win”.

I completely understand the need to not play an entire schedule of top 25 teams. Its just not feasible or sensible to have your team run through the gauntlet. I understand the need to have “lesser teams” on the schedule. Every team does it. Its part of football. But in the new world of the College Football Playoff strength of schedule is a huge factor and there is going to be a new trend of teams adding tougher opponents in lieu of the normal “cupcakes”. Notre Dame has been known as one of those teams who doesn’t schedule FCS schools and rarely plays a full on “cupcake” team but Navy is about as close as you can get. Add in the factor of Navy’s style of play and the large amounts of injuries that it causes for their opponents defenses and there is absolutely no upside to playing Navy in the modern college football world. I’ll always be grateful for what the Naval Academy did to keep Notre Dame afloat. However whatever Notre Dame owed Navy for that gratitude has been paid back two fold. Its time to move on.

You can follow me on twitter @GoIrishGlory

Grading Out the First Three Weeks

-Sgt Shamrock

The first quarter of the season is complete and with this week being the first bye week of the season, now would be as good a time as ever to look back at the first three games of the season to see just where the Irish stand. Record wise nobody is complaining with the Irish being 3-0 with wins over Rice, Michigan, and Purdue and the outlook of the entire season looking much brighter than it did a few weeks ago. Even with the academic investigation not complete and dragging into the season, the Irish have been able to plug and play players to fill in the holes and have so far done a pretty good job of it. Lets take a look at some interesting statistics from the first three weeks and also give out grades for each position group for the first quarter of the season

Stats and Notes:

  • Notre Dame has scored at least 30 points in their first three games of the season, the first time that has happened since Brian Kelly arrived at Notre Dame
  • Through three games Notre Dame is converting 47% of its third downs while holding their opponents to a 37% conversion rate.
  • Notre Dame has been in the red zone fourteen times so far this season. The Irish are 14/14 in those trips in scoring with ten touchdowns and four field goals.
  • The Irish have intercepted six passes by through three games. Those six interceptions were intercepted by six different players
  • Notre Dame has scored 13 touchdowns in their first three games while only allowing opponents into the end zone four times.
  • Notre Dame has won each of its first three games by at least 16 points. The last time an Irish team did that was in 1987
  • Notre Dame ranks 4th nationally in scoring defense allowing only 10.3 points per game.

Quarterback 

There is really not a more impressive way for Everett Golson to start of the season. After sitting out the entire 2013 season, Golson has quickly put himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation. After the first three games, Golson is 62 of 96 passing for 780 yards, seven touchdowns and ZERO interceptions or fumbles. Notre Dame ranks 51st nationally in Passing offense averaging 260 yards per game. Even with a receiving corps full of new faces, Golson has had pretty good chemistry with his receivers and has looked very crisp and comfortable in the pocket. Irish fans can only hope that Golson keeps up this performance because if he plays at this level, the wins will keep piling up. Grade: A

Running backs

The running game has been a bit underwhelming in the first quarter of the season. After a strong performance against Rice, Notre Dame had two lackluster performances running the football against Michigan and Purdue. The Irish are currently ranked 70th nationally averaging a very average 158 yards per game. Greg Bryant leads the team in rushing with 119 yards while Tarean Folston is a close second with 110 yards. Those types of numbers are what we were hoping these guys to have in one game, not three games. With the amount of talent in the Irish backfield it is vital to get the running game going in order to keep defenses off balance to open up the passing game for Everett Golson. Grade: C

Receiving Corps

With Davaris Daniels still being held out as the academic investigation continues, Will Fuller has been the breakout star in the Irish receiving corps early on this season. While he has had some drops early on, he leads the team with 19 receptions for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He has really shown the speed that we all expected. Amir Carlise and CJ Prosice have been very effective in the slot and are adding even more speedy weapons to Golson’s arsenal. Torii Hunter will return to the lineup next week against Syracuse to make his Notre Dame debut which should add another weapon to the offense. Chris Brown has been disappointing thus far, being very inconsistent and really not playing to the level that many thought he would. There have been some miscues in terms of communication with the receivers in terms of routes and play calls as well as a couple drops. That is going to need to get cleaned up quickly. Grade: B-

Offensive Line

If there was one part of the offense that has not looked impressive through the first three weeks it would be the offensive line. There have been some major issues in both run and pass blocking that are real concerns for the Irish. The offensive line along with not really opening running lanes to allow the running game going, they have also given up six sacks in the first three games. At times the offensive line has had real trouble maintaining blocks in the passing game, especially against Purdue. Brian Kelly said following the win over Purdue that he was going to talk to the coaching staff about possibly moving some players to different positions along the line. After the first three games performance that is a pretty good idea. Grade: C-

Defensive Line

So far this season the defensive line has really been Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They looked not bad against Rice, played a fantastic game against Michigan, but then look to take a step back after a fairly lackluster performance against Purdue. The line had a hard time getting any pressure on the Purdue quarterback this past weekend and that is not a good sign with much tougher opponents looming on the schedule. Sheldon Day however has played very well so far this season and is really looking like he is turning into a dominant force on defense. Jarron Jones has also shown some flashes of brilliance which is a reason for some optimism. We saw that the defensive line can play very well in Brian VanGorders scheme in the Michigan game. Now we have to see if they can get back to that level and stay there. Grade: B-

Linebackers

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. Jaylon Smith is a beast and is without a doubt the best player on defense. Other than Jaylon Smith the linebackers have had a pretty season so far. Joe Schmidt is playing far better than people expected him too and he looks nothing like a former walk on. VanGorder has shown he is not afraid to mix up the blitz packages and bring linebackers from all areas of the field to get pressure on the quarterback. While we have not seen much of Ben Council, expect that to change once Stanford comes to town in a few weeks as Brian Kelly will bring him in to help against the physical offense of the Cardinal. Jared Grace is still out with an injury however he is getting closer and closer to playing time. He will not play against Syracuse but I don’t think its out of the realm of possibly he could return for Stanford. The group hasn’t been super flashy early on but they have not made many mistakes either. Oh yea and Jaylon Smith is a beast. Grade: B+

Secondary 

In my opinion even without KeiVarae Russell playing right now, the secondary is the strength of the Irish defense at this point in the season and I believe it will stay that way all year long. The Irish have already intercepted six passes through three games and the entire unit is really thriving in VanGorder’s scheme. Mathias Farley, a player that after a lackluster performance last year, has really thrived and is playing his best football in his new nickel corner position. Both Cole Luke and Cody Riggs are doing more than enough in coverage at the corner positions. Redfield and Shumate have played really well at the safety positions and Austin Collinsworth should return to the lineup soon after missing the first three games with a strained MCL. The only issue with the secondary that worries me going forward is depth. Going on the assumption that Russell will not return this season (I dont know that is the case I am just assuming) and Nikki Barrati being out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, Notre Dame can not afford any more injuries. Grade A-

Special Teams

In years past this is normally where I would be talking about how the special teams is a mess yet again and trying to figure out what to do due to fix it. However that is not the case this season. Cody Riggs and Greg Bryant has finally provided and successful punt return unit and Amir Carlise has looked good on kickoffs as well. Kyle Brindza is a valuable weapon in all facets of the kicking game especially on kickoffs. Forcing your opponent to start on the 25 without a chance at a return is always good and is a big part of Notre Dame’s success. Grade: A-

Irish Invade Indy. A Weekend Preview

-Sgt Shamrock

shamrock_logo_2014_final
The 11th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish head down to Indianapolis this weekend to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the annual Shamrock Series game. Notre Dame (2-0) is fresh off a complete destruction of Michigan while Purdue (1-1) got blown out last weekend by CENTRAL MICHIGAN AT HOME. That fact alone paints a pretty good picture of how this game should play out this weekend. Now normally this is the type of game that Irish fans have had to worry about in the past. Coming fresh off a huge win and playing a completely inferior opponent the following week has spelled trouble for the Irish in the past and I have already seen a bit of concern from some fans about if the Irish will come out flat Saturday night. Normally I could sort of understand that sentiment. I mean it has been a problem in the past and Notre Dame has lost to teams that they had no business losing too however that will not be the case this season. When Notre Dame originally announced that the Shamrock Series was going to be played in Indianapolis, this early in the season, against PURDUE, I was a bit confused. In the past Notre Dame had traveled to places like Dallas, New York City, and Chicago to play against opponents like Arizona State, Army, and Miami. The locations were places where in areas where Notre Dame usually didn’t play that often and against teams that are not on the schedule as much as maybe some of the normal staples like Navy or Stanford. However now I can completely appreciate the choosing of this game and per usual Jack Swarbrick is a smart smart man. The Irish knew headed into the season that their first big test of the season was against Michigan and that the first bye week of the season was fairly early (Its in week 4 this year). I actually had a chance to talk to Jack Swarbrick last weekend when some of my buddies and I ran into him in the bookstore. He was great and took some time to talk to the three of us. When talking about the Shamrock series he said that the program knew if they good get to the first bye week at 3-0 that the season would start taking shape very nicely. Having the Shamrock Series in week 3 against a team that is just not very good is going to completely get rid of the chance of a letdown game. The players are not only excited to wear the special Shamrock Series uniforms but are also just as excited to play in an NFL stadium. The players will be amped and I really expect them to come out firing on all cylinders from the time the game starts to when the backups are closing out the game.

Offense

Everett Golson has looked fantastic through the first two games of the season. After looking a bit wide eyed in the early stages against Michigan this past weekend, he quickly got a hold of himself and made some fantastic throws and led the Irish to a 31-0 win over the Wolverines. Golson has eight touchdowns to his name thru the first two games of the season but has yet to throw for over 300 yards. If you look at it closer though the yardage can really be attributed to the fact that Notre Dame has had fantastic starting field position in each of the first two games. Regardless, this week he will break that 300 yard mark and I actually think he has a good shot at 400 yards. The Purdue defense is pretty bad ranking 108th in the country in scoring defense allowing an average of 34.5 points per game so far this season. They are also giving up close to 225 yards through the air per game and that was against two very mediocre quarterbacks. Golson is on a completely different level than what Purdue has seen so far and their secondary is going to be in for a LONG day. Speaking of long days the front 7 for Purdue is in for one too. While the Irish didn’t run the ball nearly as effectively against Michigan as they did against Rice, part of that was due to Michigan’s defensive game plan of trying to stop the run and make Golson throw. As dumb as that sounds, that was their plan and the Irish were more than happy to oblige. This week expect the Irish backfield to have a field day against a Purdue run defense that for lack of a better word is..well..BAD. The Boilermakers rank 97th nationally allowing a whopping  187 yards on the ground per game. The Irish should have no problem dominating the line of scrimmage and running the ball at will. I dont think it is farfetched for the Irish to have 300 total rushing yards by games end.

Defense

I could not be more surprised by how the defense has played through the first two games of the season. After losing the big names of Nix, Tuitt, and Shembo to the NFL Draft and Williams and Russell to the ongoing academic fraud investigation, I had very tempered expectations of just how the defense was going to play this season. That defensive unit has gone above and beyond those expectations and the great thing is I think they can keep getting better. Cody Riggs has been a huge addition to the team and Cole Luke has more than just filled in for Russell. After a pretty plain look against Rice, Brian VanGorder unleashed the dogs against Michigan with multiple blitz packages that had the Wolverines guessing the entire game. Expect that to continue. Purdue’s offense is nothing to write home about either ranking 95th nationally and averaging close to 350 yards per game. And those games were against Western and Central Michigan. Thats not good. Add on the fact that Purdue still doesn’t even know who is going to start at quarterback saturday and its pretty safe to say the Purdue offense has some major issues. Something that I noticed when looking back at the defenses performance through the first two games of the season really caught me by surprise. Through the first two games, Notre Dame has played EIGHT freshman on defense and have committed only ONE penalty. With the amount of young players on the field, that is just insane to think they have only been called for one penalty. The younger players while inexperienced, have a ton of speed and are really out performing my initial expectations. Not only does that bode well for this season but it makes the future look very bright for the Irish defense.

Prediction 

Notre Dame opened up as a 30 point favorite and I believe the line has dropped to 28. Both of those are too low and if you are a betting man put your money on the Irish. Notre Dame is a flat out better team in every aspect and its not even close. I fully expect the Irish to have close to 600 total yards of offense and the defense should have another stellar performance. Notre Dame rolls over Purdue and heads into the bye week at 3-0 and a possible top 10 ranking. Notre Dame 51 Purdue 6

Other Games around the country

This weekend has a bunch of dud games and not very many good match ups but here a couple of the not so bad, bad games.

Tennessee at 4 Oklahoma- While I don’t think Oklahoma is as good as everyone is giving them credit for, they are going to be too much for Tennessee. Butch Jones is taking the Vols in the right direction and will have them back in contention in the SEC but not this year. Oklahoma 35 Tennessee 17

6 Georgia at 24 South Carolina- Georgia looks like a bonafide SEC title contender and playoff team hopeful led by Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. Gurley is a beast and by far the best running back in the nation. I have no idea how South Carolina is even still ranked at this point after getting flat out embarrassed by Texas A&M but that ranking will be gone soon enough. Georgia 31 South Carolina 20

12 UCLA at Texas (Arlington Stadium)- UCLA received a bunch of preseason hype as a playoff contender for some reason but through the first two weeks of the season they look far then impressive. However they are taking on a Texas team this weekend that is practically in shambles. The Longhorns are missing their starting quarterback as well as countless other players. UCLA 41 Texas 14

Stat Sandwich: Notre Dame/scUM Team Breakdown

Notre Dame: 37 – Michigan: 0. Those are the only numbers you really need to know. I thought about making my entire post just that because when you set up the scenario where you may never give up a point to your rival opponent again, what else is there to do? And don’t you dare tell me I got the score wrong. I’ve seen plenty of pictures that confirmed that score. What’s that saying? Numbers never lie? That may be true, but there’s an equally true saying that was in play on Saturday: B1G referees suck. And it’s for that reason that some in the business will insist the final score was 31-0.

When you find yourself in a situation where the numbers disagree, it can help to re-imagine them in a different way. I’ve already taken it upon myself to petition the NCAA official record books to reconcile this discrepancy in a reasonable manner. I’ve asked them to change the final score to: Brian VanGorder Double Fist Pumps – Eternal Sadness. Until that goes official (I’m optimistic it’ll be sometime next week because we all know how efficient the NCAA is in its decision-making process, right UNC and Miami?), let’s dig into this week’s Stat Sandwich.

Like last week, I’ll start off by presenting some of the baseline, team wide statistics. As an added wrinkle, and until enough games have passed to develop more season long trends and analysis, I’m presenting this week’s stats alongside last week’s for comparison purposes. The last column is a general point of reference for whether week-over-week a particular category saw improvement or regression. Of course, this is all relative. So, for instance, I noted that “just” 31 points was a fall off from last week’s 48 (aren’t you glad you’ve read this far to learn 31 is in fact less than 48?), and therefore it’s noted as worse. Don’t take that too seriously. How about you pretend to look at the table, and then jump below for the areas that I was actually interested in.

Rice:

Michigan:

Better/Worse:

Points:

48

31

Worse

Plays:

72

75

Better

Points per Play:

.67

.41

Worse

Passing Attempts:

22

34

N/A

Rushing Attempts:

42

31

N/A

Penalties:

2

3

Worse

FG Attempts:

3

1

N/A

Punts:

3

6

Worse

Total Yards:

576

280

Worse

Rushing Yards:

281

54

Worse

Passing Yards:

295

226

Worse

Yards per Play:*

8.72

4.24

WORSE

Yards per Point:

12

9.03

BETTER

Penalty Yards:

10

20

Worse

Turnovers:

0

0

Same

Field Goals:

2/3. Makes: 29, 36 yards. Misses: 39 yards

1/1, Makes: 43

Better %

Punts: 39 yards (fair catch), 50 yards (touchback), 55 yards (touchback). 47 yards (fair catch), 41 yards (fair catch), 40 yards (fair catch), 39 yards (fair catch), 40 yards (fair catch), 23 yards (out of bounds) No touchbacks. Pinned Michigan inside 10 yard line twice. One shank.
Punt Average:

48

38

Worse

Net Punt Average:

35

38

BETTER

1st Downs:

23

20

Worse

3rd Down Converts:

6/13 for 46%

7/15 for 47%

Better

Red Zone Atts:

6

4

Worse

Red Zone TDs:

4

3

N/A

Red Zone FG’s:

2

1

N/A

RZ Score %:

100%

100%

Same

RZ TD %:

67%

75%

Better

* YPP = (Total Yards )/(Total plays – (Punts + FG Att + Def. Penalties))

Points per play: Last week I introduced some folks to the points per play metric which is a rough guide to explosiveness. Notre Dame’s week one performance versus Rice resulted in 0.67 points per play which in 2013 would have ranked second behind only Florida State. Given the total points, 48, and the explosive touchdowns (Fuller’s 75 yard TD comes to mind), you can get a general impression as to how the two work with one another. This week then it’s not at all surprising that points per play dropped off. Notre Dame’s longest rush of the game was Malik Zaire’s 14 yard scramble at the end of the game on 3rd and 16. Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, and Cam McDaniel all had poor rushing performances. If you’re into that equality of life thing though, this was your game. Bryant, Folston, and McDaniel all received either 8 or 9 carries. They each had a long run of (just) 6 yards. Consider that last game each of the three had at least one rush of 17 yards, and you can quickly start to understand why points per play diminished.

The passing game, while effective, also lacked the firework plays that get the ladies excited like staring at a certain picture of one Cam McDaniel. The 24-yard touchdown pass to William Fuller in the second quarter was a thing of beauty…it was also the longest offensive play of the game and one of just 4 offensive plays all game that netted more than 15 yards. There are other measures to consider as well, but suffice it to say, this week’s team was more efficient than explosive.

Yards per point: While the offense was less explosive and less efficient in terms of yards per play, the team was quite efficient (nearly unreasonably so) in converting yards to points. The four touchdown drives for Notre Dame were drives of 56, 61, 71, and 80 yards. On the 7 drives the Irish had which did not result in a touchdown the longest drive netted just 19 yards. There were no in between distance drives leading to a remarkably strong yards per point. As stated last week, yards per point is not necessarily predictive in that the correlation from week to week is not terribly strong, but in describing how a team can be outgained in total yards but still absolutely dominate a game, this is a big reason why.

Notre Dame Offensive Play Breakdown by Quarter:

First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
# Plays:

17

25 15

18

Runs:

8

9 6

8

Passes:

6

15 7

6

Penalties:

2 (Defensive)

0 1

0

Punts/FG Att:

1

1 1

4

Touchdowns:

1

2 1

0

Rushing Yards:

20

26 10

-2

Passing Yards:

40

129 46

11

Rush:Pass Ratio*

1.33

0.6 0.86

1.33

Rush Yds/Car.

2.5

2.89 1.67

-0.25

  • Michigan Rush:Pass Ratio = 0.91; Rice Rush:Pass Ratio = 1.91; 2013 Rush-Pass Ratio = 1.02. A Ratio of >1 means the team rushed more than it passed. < 1 means the opposite. A ratio of exactly 1 means the team ran the same number of rushing plays as passing plays.

Most of the scoring occurred in the first half, and that’s where the yards were found as well. The running game never really got going and was abandoned during the middle part of the game. The Irish had just 8 yards rushing in the second half, and the fourth quarter in particular was troubling with -2 yards on 8 carries. Versus Rice, Notre Dame put their foot down in the fourth quarter by running the ball 13 times compared to just 1 pass while averaging nearly 10 yards a carry. No repeat versus Michigan.

It’s worth noting that the Irish frequently used an offset back shotgun formation as opposed to the pistol formation which was effective last week. From my perspective, Notre Dame used read option runs early to gauge how the Michigan defense planned to deal with Golson. Michigan made a concerted effort to keep a contain man on Golson. As such, plays which may have been drawn up as read option turned almost exclusively into offset handoffs. The offensive line lacked any sort of real push to free up these slow developing runs. It also led to increased use of the play action pass. Versus Rice, Golson attempted 4 play actions passes all game. Versus Michigan, Golson attempted 6…in the first half. The offense abandoned the play action in the second half, except for one lone play, but when your defense forces 4 turnovers in one half, the need for consistent offense is alleviated.

Notre Dame Performance by Down: 

1st Down:

2nd Down:

3rd Down:

# Plays

28**

23

15

Run:

15

11

4

Pass:

11

11

11

Penalty:

2 (Defensive)^

1^^

0

Avg. to go for 1st:

9.46

7.57

5.33

Change from previous game average yards to go:

-0.54 yards

+1.30

-0.59

Efficiency %:*

39%

43%

47%

Efficiency +/- previous game:

-14%

+4%

+1%

Eff. 3 > 5yds to go

N/A

N/A

17% (1/6)

Eff. 3 <= 5 yds to go

N/A

N/A

67% (6/9)

* the folks at http://www.FootballOutsiders.com use a play efficiency metric to decide whether a play was efficient or not. It’s easy to think about in the context of third downs: Did the play result in 100% of the required yardage to get a first down/score? For first down, the metric is 50% of required yardage. Second down is 70% of required yardage. These are my calculations based on their formula.

** Excluded kneel down at end of game.

*** Notre Dame was 1/1 on 4th Down conversions.

^ Both defensive penalties were pass interference calls resulting in a first down.

^^ All 3 false start infractions for the offense have occurred on second down.

Down Analysis: The most noticeable difference from Rice to Michigan was the efficiency on first down. Versus Rice, over half of all first down plays gained at least 50% of the necessary yardage to get a first down. That dipped by 14% and led to longer second downs. The Irish had well over a yard more to go on average on second down this week than last. Despite the extra yardage they were slightly improved on second down performance. Over one game this really only means an extra play or two went well. Speaking of oddities….The Irish had one penalty on the offensive line in the game called on Steve Elmer. This also came on second down meaning through the first two games, all of the offensive line penalties have occurred on second down. Weird. Not relevant.

Offensive Player Usage

The chart below shows how many snaps each offensive player was in the game for (regardless of whether they touched the ball on a given play). There were a total of 67 non-special teams snaps. Additionally, in this game, I excluded the end of the game victory snap. The percentages will not necessarily add up to 100% for each position since multiple tight ends or receivers were used on the same play. This information is derived from my personal observation and re-watch of the game. My confidence level is about 98% for this game.

Player: QB Use % RB Use % TE Use % WR

Use %

Most

Golson 96 Folston 36 Koyack 94 Fuller

96

Zaire

4 McDaniel 36 Smythe 7 Prosise

52

Bryant

28 Luatua 1 Robinson

51

Brown

49

Carlisle

45

Holmes

4

The number one take away from player usage was that Will Fuller continues to never come off the field. This game saw more pre-set packages. Notably, Corey Robinson and Amir Carlisle tended to be in on the same plays while Chris Brown and C.J. Prosise served as the other unit. There were a handful of plays where Prosise played with Robinson instead of Carlisle, but that’s about it in terms of mix and match. Robinson and Carlisle were in for the first series along with Folston. I don’t take this to mean those players are the “ones” as much as whatever grouping of plays Brian Kelly wanted to use just involved them.

I’m not separating out package usage this week because there was virtually none. Notre Dame near exclusively used 11 personnel. Tyler Luatua made his cameo once again in the first half in an H-Back set up, but it was for just one play on a third and short. There were only two plays that used an “empty back” set that I’ll discuss below. While I’d like to see some more mix and match in terms of types of packages, the impression I’m getting is Kelly is comfortable with the multiple roles both Koyack and the backs can fill in terms of set-up. While I haven’t been tracking it, Koyack’s getting a good amount of use set up wide in a similar capacity to how each of Rudolph, Eifert, and Niklas were used. While perhaps not quite as dynamic as those guys, I have nothing but kind things to say about Koyack at the present.

Passing Targets:

Player:

Thrown To:

Receptions: Yards:

TD’s:

Will Fuller

12

9 89

1

Amir Carlisle

7

7 61

2

Ben Koyack

4

2 14

0

Chris Brown

4

1* 5

0

C.J. Prosise

3

1 18

0

Cam McDaniel

2

2 17

0

Corey Robinson

2

1** 22

0

Thrown Away

2

N/A N/A

N/A

* Brown drew a pass interference call for a first down. His effective plays was 2/4, or 50%.

** Robinson drew a pass interference call for a first down. His effective plays was 2/2, or 100%.

My favorite stat of the week involves Amir Carlisle. Despite seeing the field less than any receiver not named Corey Holmes, Amir Carlisle was second on the team in targets with 7, and even better, each target resulted in a reception. While Carlisle was the poster boy of efficiency, C.J. Prosise had another bad drop making it two in two weeks. I would expect to see a greater usage rate for Carlisle this coming week given the diverging performances of the two primary slot receivers.

Will Fuller is quickly turning into the most intriguing player on the field for me. His speed, feet, and skill in releasing off the line is evident. Michigan’s corners were clearly intimidated by that speed allowing Fuller to effectively use slant routes and convert an important fourth down conversion in the second quarter. Fuller’s day could have been even better were it not for some less exciting hands. He bobbled an opportunity in the early going that resulted in a reception but went for a minimal gain. Had the catch been clean, he might still be running given the blocking that was set up in front of him. I’m not sure who Fuller reminds me of at the present. He’s bigger than a pure speed guy which makes him so unique, and his agility was on display on the 24 yard touchdown reception. Fuller served as the field side wide receiver on almost every play while the taller Robinson and Brown took the boundary side.

Speaking of Brown on the boundary side, as noted above, the Irish ran two plays from an “empty back” set. Both had Cam McDaniel lined up as a receiver. Both times, the 4 other receiver targets lined up on the field side in an effort to set up a one-on-one isolation for Brown on the boundary, and both plays involved pre-snap decisions by Golson that the look was there to go to Brown. The first resulted in a pass interference call against Michigan. The second occurred in Michigan’s red zone on the play Golson got called for intentional grounding. Golson was locked into Brown from the outset (as Mike Mayock noted during the broadcast), however, the route was slow developing, and the Michigan defense in the compressed field was able to provide safety help over the top which disrupted the play.

Drive Efficiency:

Team:

Drives:

Avg. Start Pos. Net Yards: Poss. Net Yards:

Net Yard %

Notre Dame

11

Own 36 317 703

45%

Michigan

12

Own 23 275 927

30%

One unusual aspect to the game was that Michigan had 289 yards of total offense while Notre Dame had 280 yards of total offense. Forgetting about the 4 turnovers and the 2 missed field goals for a moment, the chart above explains why the total offensive yard numbers are misleading. Despite fewer total offensive yards, the Irish offense was actually the more effective and efficient throughout the night. First off, Michigan had 9 more total yards with one more full possession. Additionally, once penalty adjustments are included, you can see that Notre Dame move forward more than Michigan by a total of 317-275 net yards.

The Irish also frequently worked with a shorter field and were better at getting those yards. Possible net yards takes the starting position for each drive and calculates the number of yards the team could get if it scored a touchdown. Net yard percentage is therefore a gauge of how absolutely efficient an offense was in getting every yard it could have. Notre Dame was 50% more efficient at claiming available yards than Michigan.

Let me give you one more number:

2 – As in at least 2 first downs on a given drive. On Saturday, Notre Dame had 4 drives during which they claimed at least 2 first downs on a given drive. The Irish converted all 4 of these drives for touchdowns. Basically, if the offense started moving, they were not stopped.

Obviously, Michigan did not do that. In fact, their longest drive of the game was their first one: An 11 play, 47 yard drive that ended in a missed field goal.

And so, we finally make it to my final number: 2006. As in the year 2006 (thank you @andrewwinn for catching my mistake when I cited 2007 originally. Follow him, please.) That was the last time Notre Dame started the season 2-0 without committing a turnover. I won’t speak about what happened in the third game with our rival. Suffice it to say, I’m not as concerned for a similar let down against Purdue this coming week.

Let me know your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams for this article on Twitter @IrishMoonJ. If there’s something you want to see, I’m but 140 characters away.

-Go Irish!

– Moons

Irish Slaughter the Skunkbears. A Weekend Review

-Sgt Shamrock 

What. A. Game. To be honest I’m still pinching myself to make sure that its all real. Notre Dame absolutely embarrassed Michigan last night in prime time in front of the entire country the final scheduled meeting of the rivalry. Anytime you beat a rival its a good feeling but when you beat a rival as bad as Notre Dame beat Michigan it makes that feeling even better. The Skunkbears were completely outmatched and out coached from start to finish Saturday night. Everett Golson cemented his position on the Heisman watch list with another stellar performance, throwing for 226 yards and three touchdowns and the young Irish receiving corps once again showcased their speed against the Skunkbear defense. The offense only gained 280 total yards however having really good field position to start most of their drives can be a pretty large factor in those numbers. I guess the Skunkbears thought they were playing against the 2012 version of Golson for some reason because their defensive game plan seemed more focused in stopping the run instead of getting pressure on the quarterback. Notre Dame gladly accepted this and focused their offensive attack on the passing attack that shredded the Skunkbear defense. The Irish only rushed for 54 yards but it didn’t matter one bit and I wouldn’t be too worried about the lack of a running game. The Irish have three very good backs and they were really just playing what the defense gave them. It obviously worked.

With as good as Golson and the offense looked, the defense looked even better. Of course they pitched a shutout against a hated rival which is always awesome but they also only gave up 289 total yards and only allowed Devin Gardner to throw for 189 yards. The Irish defense was all over Gardner the entire game making him uncomfortable in the pocket and forcing four turnovers. Brian VanGorder’s new defensive scheme worked magic against the Skunkbears as they were never able to truly get anything going. And just as awesome as how well the defense played, was Brian VanGorder’s reaction to how awesome the defense played. It was truly epic. 

 BVG

 

After a game against Rice where the defensive line got very little pressure on the quarterback, the Irish defense turned up the heat putting constant pressure on Gardner making him look like a deer in the headlights. The defensive line looked fantastic and was really the key to the disruption of the Skunkbear offense and the secondary was just as vital keeping a lid on Devin Funchess and not allowing any deep passes down the field. It was just an outstanding effort all around for the entire defensive unit. 

Key Observations:

  • First and foremost I have to give a huge shout out to every single fan that was at the game. The atmosphere was ELECTRIC. Myself and everyone around us stood for the entire game. When the entire stadium started chanting “Hey-Hey-Hey Goodbye” I got chills. It was awesome. Bravo fans. Bravo.
  • I don’t know if its the move to the nickel position or if its the new scheme but Mathias Farley has had himself a spectacular start to the season. He was flying all over the field and making big plays. Last season fans remember him for some blown coverages and missed tackles but he has really found a spot in this defense. 
  • There still is not a “go-to guy” in the back field and to be honest I don’t think there will be and thats ok. Each of the last two weeks the carries have been spread out pretty evenly between the three running backs. Each of the backs has a strength and I don’t see it being a problem.
  • How big was the addition of Cody Riggs in the offseason? He has been outstanding in secondary thus far this season in his coverage. Not only that but he has been very valuable in special teams as well. He had his first interception of the season last night when he beautifully jumped a route. With the recent academic investigation and the fate of KeiVarae Russell unknown, having Riggs on the roster is huge.
  • Ill probably be saying this every week this season but Jaylon Smith is a BEAST. He is so fast and was making plays all over the place Saturday night. He finished the night with 10 tackles but his contribution was much larger with the amount of plays he influenced. Brian Kelly moving him to the inside this season is looking more and more like a genius idea each week.
  • The defensive line played their asses off. Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day were in the backfield all night long and never allowed Devin Gardner to get in any sort of rhythm. Freshman Daniel Cage looked very impressive in his first game of major action after getting a few snaps against Rice. Kolin Hill did make his Notre Dame debut and he did not disappoint. He really reminds me of a Prince Shembo type player.
  • This was the second game where the Irish played crisp and clean football. Notre Dame committed zero turnovers for the second straight week and only committed three penalties for the entire game. That kind of discipline makes it much easier to win football games. 
  • Welcome to the show Amir Carlise. After having an undefined role last season as he tried to find a role in the offense, he is coming into his own as a slot receiver. I cant wait to continue to watch him grow and develop. Having a dangerous slot receiver makes an offense so much more difficult to defend. 

One Last time. A Michigan Preview

-Sgt Shamrock

Even with as much as its been talked about leading up to this game, its still hard to believe that this weekend’s matchup between Notre Dame and Michigan will be the last one for the foreseeable future. Notre Dame has played Michigan almost every single year that I have been alive to watch Irish football and while they are not our BIGGEST rival (that is Southern Cal and if you don’t think so you may want your head examined) I always views them as a big rival and a big time game. But here we are, the last game in the series upon us and per usual it is a big game for both teams. Fresh off their demolishment of Rice last Saturday, the Irish welcome the hated Michigan Wolverines (who I will refer to as Skunkbears from here on out) into Notre Dame Stadium for a early season, marquee matchup that will shape the outcome of the entire season for the Irish. While Brian Kelly has been very successful at Notre Dame since his arrival in 2010, he is only 1-3 against Michigan with his only win coming in the 2012 season. This is the last crack at the Skunkbears for Brian Kelly and while he may not publicly come out and say it, you can tell my his body language and rhetoric this week that beating Michigan in the final meeting is very important to him and the Notre Dame Football program.

The Skunkbears come into this game fresh off their own season opening thrashing of Appalachian State. Devin Gardner looked pretty good passing the ball and their running attack was gaining yards by the handful. But lets be honest. It was Appalachian State, a program that is in its first year in FBS and has nowhere near the amount of talent of the 2007 squad that pulled off the historic upset that we all remember so clearly. Bottom line is that Appalachian State is not a very good team and is going to really struggle this season to win three or four games. Now I can hear Notre Dame and for that matter Michigan fans screaming, “But Notre Dame played Rice! Its the same thing as playing Appalachian State!”. My response is this. NO ITS NOT. It really isn’t anything alike. The only thing similar between the two teams was that they were both supposed to get blown out in their first game of the season (which they did). Other than that they could not be more different. Rice was the Conference USA Champion last season and while they did lost a lot of starters, they still had talented players on the roster and will be in the mix to repeat in Conference USA this year. Appalachian State on the other hand is a brand new FBS program that will be lucky to win a few games this year. But hey don’t tell Skunkbear fans that. They are convinced that they will beat Notre Dame this weekend handily. Let them think that. It will just make all the Skunkbear tears taste that much sweeter this weekend. The bottom line is that Notre Dame has superior talent at the key positions and, baring a complete collapse, should win this game. 

Offense:

Everett Golson looked fantastic last week in his return to the field for the Irish. Actually the entire offense looked fantastic last week as it was clicking on all cylinders. While the Skunkbears defense will be a more formidable unit than the one that the Irish faced last week against Rice, I don’t think it is anything to be scared about either. Over the last few years the Skunkbear defense has been nothing to write home about and that could spell trouble to Brady Hoke this season. Golson will be one of the best quarterbacks that the Skunkbear defense will face all season. As we all saw last weekend, the receiving corps is loaded down with speed. Hot, nasty speed. It was glorious to watch. However part of the reason why the Irish receivers were able to get down the field so quickly was due to Rice’s odd game plan of playing off of the Irish wideouts. I fully believe that the Skunkbears will not make this mistake and play tight and physical on the line of scrimmage. A huge key to this game is going to be if the Irish receivers can break the press coverage. If they can its going to be a long day for the Skunkbear defense as there are so many weapons in the Irish passing attack. The Irish running game also had a big game last week and all three backs played well. However Greg Bryant really stood out to me as a type of back that is truly a game changer. I expect him to get a few more touches this week and I fully expect him to take advantage of them. Bottom line about the offense is that if they continue to play clean and mistake free football like they did last week, than they should be able to drop a lot of points on the Skunkbear defense. 

Defense:

While there were a few instances of miscommunication in the secondary last week, the defense as a whole played really well in their first game in a completely new defensive scheme. Add in the fact that the unit was missing some key defensive starters due to the ongoing academic investigation (Russell and Williams) and another to injury (Austin Collinsworth) only makes the effort even more impressive. Brian Kelly’s game plan was not to really to rush the passer but to keep him in the pocket and to make him throw. The defensive line played pretty well and were able to get some pressure throughout the game. However this week the defensive line is going to really need to step up and take advantage of a Skunkbear offensive line that is full of new faces and that also is missing some depth. Devin Gardner has never played well or made good decisions with the football when he is under pressure and I don’t see that changing in this game or even this entire season. He is an average quarterback at best who really only has one true offensive weapon to throw to, Devin Funchess. Its going to be up to the secondary to contain Funchess Saturday. Looking back at last week, the Skunkbears seemed to really like the “just toss it up to Funchess” strategy in the passing game. The key is for the front seven to put pressure on Gardner and force him to make bad throws. Its really hard to judge the Skunkbear rushing attack because of just how bad the defensive line was that they played against last week. They were literally pushing back the defensive line 5-10 yards on almost every play. However the Skunkbears will not have the same fortune this week against an Irish D-line that while young, is very talented and showed some promise last week.

Prediction:

Notre Dame is favored in this game and they should be. They have the better quarterback, better receiving corps, and more talented backfield. The Irish also have the best defender between both teams in Jaylon Smith. In the past the game with the Skunkbears has always had funny bounces and the Irish have been unlucky. That will not be the case this season. Notre Dame is flat out more talented than the Skunkbears and it will show on the field on Saturday night. Notre Dame 34 Skunkbears 21

Other Games This Weekend:

7 Michigan State at 3 Oregon- A lot of people think that Sparty has a good shot in this game since they play a similar brand of football that Stanford plays and Stanford has had success against Oregon in recent years. However I am not one of those people. Oregon is dangerous on offense and the Michigan State defense lost some key players from last years team. Michigan State is going to need to score points and they wont score nearly enough. Oregon 38 Michigan State 17

14 USC at 13 Stanford- Speaking of Stanford, they continue to play the brand of football that they have become known for in the last decade. They take on a USC team that beat up on Fresno State last week. While it may have looked pretty on TV the Trojans are up for a much tougher challenge as Stanford is going to be way more physical on both sides of the ball. The lack of depth will end up being the killer for USC Stanford 31 USC 24

Michigan Week Press Conference Recap

-Sgt Shamrock

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Its Michigan week and Brian Kelly met with the media today at the Gug to give his final thoughts on the victory over Rice before diving into this weekends big time showdown with the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium. Of course we all know that press conferences are notorious for being full of coach speak so we will do our best to sift through it and provide all the pertinent updates as the Irish prepare to take on the Wolverines.

Key Points:

  • Brian Kelly kicked off the press conference with a bang by channeling his inner Rodney Dangerfield, wearing a sport jacket that was SNAZZY 
  • Kelly mentioned the great starting field position for ND against Rice as a huge factor in the success of the offense
  • Kelly really gave a lot of praise to the special teams unit. Stated they put in great effort and that if the special teams unit can continuously provide that type of production the team is going to be in a very good position to win football games
  • Gardner and Funchess are a one-two combo that provide a touch matchup for anyone. Kelly also brought up that Gardner has had great success against Notre Dame in the past.
  • Kelly stated that he had no updates on the “Irish Five” and their status as of today but did say that the situation could change rapidly should he receive updates. Should he get information mid-week that some/all the players were able to return to the team he wouldn’t rule them out for the weekend.
  • In regards to the communication with the safeties (or lack thereof) Kelly said that VanGorder was very vocal with the safeties. He than proceeded to say “I was in the quarterback meeting room and I could hear them ‘communicating’ VERY well during film study.”
  • Having the all-time winning percentage is important to Brian Kelly as it shows the elite nature of the program and helps on the recruiting trail, however it does nothing to help this years team
  • Torii Hunter has made great progress in his recovery and will be participating in some individual drills this week. Depending on how it goes he could be available next week for Purdue
  • Jared Grace has made significant progress but is still not 100 percent and is still a few weeks away. Kelly is confident he will be able to help the team this season.
  • Corey Robinson’s hand held up well following a minor surgery. The hand was a little sore after catching a laser of a pass from Golson but overall it held up really well. 
  • Kelly points to the new playing surface as a contributing factor in the success of the special teams
  • The plan now is to continue using both Greg Bryant and Cody Riggs on punt returns. Kelly pointed out that Riggs is too valuable to lose and wants to make sure he doesn’t get hurt.
  • James Onwualu was the special teams player of the week for the Rice game
  • Kelly pointed out that while its not good that the series with Michigan is ending, that the silver lining is having the ability to play top notch programs like Georgia and Texas

Stay tuned to Down the Tunnel for all your Michigan week coverage. 

Irish blow past Rice. A Weekend Review

-Sgt Shamrock 

Notre Dame kicked off the 2014 season off with a 48-17 bludgeoning of the Rice Owls at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday afternoon. From start to finish the Irish were in complete control of the game and even while Rice was able to tie the game in the first quarter there was never really a doubt that the Irish would cruise to an easy and impressive victory. The offense looked very crisp with Golson back under center and even though the receiving corps came into the game with little to no experience, they preformed very well (minus a few drops). The three headed monster known as the Notre Dame backfield preformed very well with a solid performance from Bryant, Folston, and McDaniel as they amassed over 280 yards on the ground against the Rice defense. However as good as the offense looked, nothing looking better than Everett Golson. Golson accounted for five touchdowns himself including three scores on the ground and finished the day with 295 passing yards and 41 rushing yards. Even more impressive than the stats for Golson was the throws he was making. His throw to CJ Prosise near the end of the second quarter, that was a sure touchdown had Prosise not dropped it, was an absolutely beautiful pass and the following pass to Prosice that was caught for a touchdown was equally as impressive. Its evident that Golson’s time with George Whitfield was very well spent.

The defense also played well in the season opener. Jaylon Smith again showed just how good of a player he is and can continue to be. He was flying all over the field and making plays. Joe Schmidt led the team in tackles and looked very impressive against the run. While there was a lot of concern regarding the defensive line headed into the season, the unit preformed very well. Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day were able to put pressure on the quarterback and were stout in run defense. The defense gave up a total of 367 total yards however a large portion of that occurred once all the starters had left the field when the game was already won. Their performance in the first half was very encouraging and while there were some missed assignments early on, they rebounded and there is no reason to think that they wont continue to improve as the season progresses (And hopefully they get some players back at some point as well).

Other Observations:

  • It was great to finally be excited about the special teams unit. Amir Carlise, Cody Riggs, and Greg Bryant all had very good returns and were able to set up the offense the entire game. Its much easier to score when you start at the 40 yard line instead of the 20. A great change from the “Fair Catch Approach”
  • Notre Dame only had two penalties the entire game for a total of 10 yards. Thats impressive in any game but even more impressive in a season opener, since teams sometimes come out a bit rusty in a game situation. I can’t remember the last time Notre Dame played that clean of a game and I really hope to see that trend continue throughout the season.
  • Both Cole Luke and Cody Riggs looked very impressive yesterday. They had their receivers locked down for most of the game and looked great in coverage as well as run defense. While KeiVarae Russell is still the best corner on the roster (and one of the best in the nation) should he not be allowed to return to the team, I am very confident that Riggs and Luke can more than handle their own in the secondary.
  • Speaking of the whole Russell and academic probe deal, did you notice which starter remained on the field when the second team defense came into the game in the fourth quarter? I did and found it very interesting given the entire academic suspension ordeal. Cole Luke was the only starter that stayed on the field with the second team. Now why would Brian Kelly keep that particular starter in the game when the Irish were up by so many points? It really makes me think that the staff is at least very optimistic they will be getting Russell back at some point in the future. Cole Luke was originally the backup for Russell and should Russell return, Luke will return to that spot on the depth chart. Just something that really caught my eye.
  • The field turf looks absolutely amazing and I couldn’t be happier how it turned out. It does however make the temperature a lot higher than normal with the rubber that is included in the playing surface. It will be interesting to see if that effects any of the players in future home games in terms of conditioning and hydration.
  • Of all three of the running backs, Greg Bryant is clearly the most talented in my opinion. He carried the ball eight times for 71 yards and one touchdown which is impressive by itself. But even more impressive was his 8.9 yards per carry statistic and that is with his longest run of the game being 17 yards. He was clearly the most impressive of the three backs Saturday and it will be interesting to see if he begins to get more carries from the staff. 

It is now officially Michigan week so make sure you stay with us here at Down the Tunnel for all your Irish coverage in preparation for the showdown with the Skunkbears on Saturday night. 

  

Journalism Really Has Hit a New Low

– Sgt. Shamrock

Notre Dame gets clicks. We all know that. And so do journalists who write stories on Notre Dame. People either love Notre Dame or they hate them. There are not really too many in-between the two sides, at least that I have encountered, and the sports journalism community knows and takes advantage of this. Unfortunately the majority of the time these journalists focus more on bashing Notre Dame in their pieces than actually presenting facts.

By now everyone has been made very aware of the ALLEGED academic fraud that has out Notre Dame in the news in the past week or so. I say “alleged” because nobody has been punished for any sort of wrong doing or kicked out of school. The players in question, Keivare Russel, Ishaq Williams, Kendal Moore, and Davaris Daniels, are being withheld from football activities while the investigation is completed. But hey don’t try telling the sports media that. Writers like Pat Forde, Stewart Mandel and Bruce Feldman (who blocked me on twitter yesterday after I told him he was reporting false information) have taken the full opportunity to trash Notre Dame through their respective media platforms even if it means reporting false information and then refusing to change it when Notre Dame blatantly refutes what they claim. I’ve read all of their articles and to say they have a huge hate boner for Notre Dame would be a massive understatement. I’m not going to post the links to the articles on here because I don’t want to give them clicks but I am sure if you are into pouring acid on your eyes you can go find them on google.

All of this should really come as no surprise to anyone though. This same thing happened last year with the whole Manti Te’o fake girlfriend story that Deadspin decided to report because they were “80% sure”. Hell even an alumnus of the university who many of you know as “The Alum” sold out just to make a name for himself by providing information that also turned out to be false. We have been accustomed to this sort of thing over the past few years as the Notre Dame Football program has been slowly on rise again since Brian Kelly arrived in South Bend. Its part of being a Notre Dame fan. We live with it. But its one thing to write false information. It’s another to try to find said “information” on a message board of a Rival of the Irish. And that’s exactly what I found.

Meet USA Today Reporter Josh Peter. Have you heard of him before? Probably not. I hadn’t either before I googled him to find some of his work. Most of his work lately has been about the whole Donald Sterling thing so I guess he wanted to try to make his mark by joining in on the bashing of ND. But he decided to take it a step further. This actual professional reporter decided to go and post on MGoBlog, a pretty well-known skunk bear website, asking Michigan fans if they had any dirt on Brian Kelly. Don’t believe me? Don’t worry. I took a screen shot of the post.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.20.23 PM

Now the thread originally began in 2008 when the initiating poster was asking the board if anyone had any information about “Rumors” of character issues or lacking concern for academics. As to be expected but a little surprising coming from Michigan fans, none of them were able to find anything to substantiate the “rumors” and many of the posters who replied to the thread actually showed respect for BK, but of course this was before he was hired by Notre Dame so I’m sure they have all changed their tune. The thread had been left for dead since 2008 until Mr. Peter stumbled upon it and decided that trying to get information on a college football head coach from a rival’s fan base was a good idea. After reading this I was pretty irked. Yes I know journalists have to get their information from somewhere, but I mean come on. Are you REALLY going to try to find dirt on a Notre Dame football coach from Michigan fans? REALLY?!? This is the exact reason why people are really starting to hate journalists.

Now I wanted to tell myself that this couldn’t actually be a real USA Today reporter. I really had a hard time believing that a professional reporter for a media organization with as much esteem as USA Today would actually do this. So I decided to send him an email claiming I had some “information” he may be interested in to figure out if he was actually legit AND to screw with him for a bit.

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At first I received no response for almost a day and figured it was just some internet troll that found some reporters info on the web. However right when I was about to give up I received an email from him saying he was interested and to contact him.

I was at a crossroad at this point. I could just let the whole thing go or I could have some fun with it and see how much this guy would take the bait. For those of you that know me this was an easy decision. At this point I had some help from some twitter followers on what exactly to tell this guy. I obviously was going to tell him false information that is in no way at all true but I also wanted it to seem a bit believable in order to see how long he would think it was legit. So after some twitter input and a couple laughs I sent him this.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.43.14 PM

Now keep in mind. As far as this guy knows, I am a Michigan fan since I received his contact information from a Michigan blog. Also to be noted is that my email account logo is the Down the Tunnel logo WHICH CONTAINS SHAMROCKS IN IT. I also asked if I would receive any compensation for my information. You would think that those two bits of info would be enough to tip this guy off that something wasn’t right. Well apparently not. Because he got back to me fairly quickly stating he was very interested in what I had to say. We exchanged a few more quick emails in which I kept asking him if my identity would remain anonymous. He finally replied with this

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.55.51 PM

I couldn’t stop laughing. The guy really wanted to talk on the phone! I decided to let him sit for a couple of days. I initially said I could talk the following day but then didn’t get back to him until yesterday. At first I didn’t think I was going to actually call but I couldn’t resist. I had some questions I wanted to ask him and I wanted to further confirm that this guy was actually a USA Today reporter because while I was pretty damn sure he was from our email conversations, I wanted to be 100 percent sure.

So I called this guy up this morning. First things first was that he was indeed a legit reporter. First goal completed. During the conversation I asked him what brought him to MGoBlog in which he responded that he that he found it searching Google for “Brian Kelly” and “Academic Fraud”. I than asked him how many responses he received from his post. This is where all of you Irish fans can start giving yourself a round of applause. I’m proud of you. He told me that he had received many responses from Irish fans and many of them were vulgar in nature. Even more hilarious was that he was dumbfounded on how Notre Dame fans could have found his post on a Michigan blog. At this point I almost lost it on the phone and thought I was going to bust out laughing and the jig would be up. Apparently someone doesn’t know how the internet works.

This is about as far as the conversation went. I told him I had another call and to give me a minute and I hung up. The last thing I wanted to do was bust out laughing while on the phone with him. I also didn’t want to feed this guy any more bogus and completely idiotic comments because it seemed like he may have actually bought it and as funny as that would have been if he would have actually written something (I actually laughed out loud multiple times just thinking about it), I remembered how many dumb idiots out there believe pretty much all the hate that is written about Notre Dame by others.

I’m still a bit lost for words as to what this guy was thinking and how he thought that getting get dirt on Notre Dame from a Michigan blog would be a good idea. Saying that anything he would have gotten would have been unbelievably biased is understating it. But obviously he either didn’t know or didn’t care. Either way not the smartest move on his part. Hopefully he will find out he was duped because I honestly don’t think he knows yet since he emailed me back while I was writing this that the connection on our call was lost and to call him back when I could. All I can do it laugh and picture his face once he knows it was all a joke

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I just wonder what the media will do next?

Mike Denbrock to be the new Irish Offensive Coordinator

Image

-Sgt Shamrock

Notre Dame has filled its open offensive coordinator position by promoting Mike Denbrock multiple media outlets are reporting. Since the departure of Chuck Martin, who took the head coaching job at Miami of Ohio, there has been a lot of speculation of how Brian Kelly would handle the filling of the offensive coordinator position. Many thought he would promote from within, while others took the large amount of time it took to hire a coordinator as a sign he may be looking to bring someone in from the outside. Earlier this week reports surfaced that there were four candidates for the position. Mike Denbrock, Jeff Quinn, Don Patterson, and Al Borges (yes that Al Borges, this is not a joke) were all reportedly set to interview for the open position yesterday.

For most, including myself, Mike Denbrock was the safe choice as the favorite as the position and from the list of the reported candidates it should some as no surprise that he was chosen. It was thought Brian Kelly would promote from within his current staff on the offensive side of the ball after bringing in Brian VanGorder from the New York Jets to fill the vacant defensive coordinator position. Jeff Quinn would have also been a very good hire as he and Brian Kelly have a lot of history of success while working together at Grand Valley State. However it was very unlikely that Quinn would leave his head coaching position at Buffalo to take a coordinator position especially after Quinn had the opportunity to join the Irish staff when Brian Kelly first took the job at Notre Dame but instead pursued his career elsewhere. Don Patterson, who is the current quarterback coach for Buffalo, has a good reputation of coaching and recruiting however it seemed unlikely that he would be the choice. Al Borges is…… well……. Al Borges and he was the most unlikely candidates if only for the reason that Irish fans across the country would be coming at Kelly with pitchforks calling for his head if he hired Borges who was recently fired by Michigan.

While Denbrock is going to be the offensive coordinator by name, Brian Kelly announced on the Bill King show earlier this morning that he would be calling the plays for the 2014 season (which is a really good idea by the way) so as we all suspected the offense is still Brian Kelly’s baby and it would have been with whoever Kelly hired. Kelly did mention however that he was still going to hire a quarterback coach to help with the development and maturation of the Irish quarterback corps of Golson, Zaire, Keizer (incoming freshman). It is still very possible that Brian Kelly hires either Patterson or Borges to fill this spot on the coaching staff. The decision on who Kelly chooses should come by next week at the latest so we should not have to wait very long to see what route he takes.