Tag Archives: tommy rees

Irish close out 2013 with a win. A Bowl game review

– Sgt Shamrock

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While 2013 has been a season full of ups and downs, the Irish were able to finish off the year off on a high note, defeating Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl 29-16 on Saturday night. While the score was not as lopsided any many Irish fans had expected, myself included, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt. Notre Dame dominated the flow of the game against a Rutgers team who came into the game with a defense that should have had the Irish coaching staff licking their chops. The score of the game was closer that it should have been, but that’s the only aspect of the game that was close. The Irish offense racked up 494 yards of total offense against Rutgers including 319 yards through the air in Tommy Rees’ last start as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback.

The Irish defense played well day long only allowing 236 total yards to the Rutgers offense and also forced 4 turnovers. Other than Bennett Jackson getting burned deep a few times, the secondary put out one of their best performances of the season. Russell was outstanding in coverage all afternoon, making multiple pass breakups in the redzone. Max Redfield made his first career start and while his name was not called much, that should be considered a good thing for a first time starter. He did not allow any big plays and played his position very well which should excite Irish fans for the future. The secondary was not the only element of the defense that had a big afternoon. The Irish defensive line was able to get pressure even without Louis Nix which was a key factor to the defense forcing turnovers.

Of all of the good things that I saw on Saturday, the running game really impressed me. Going up against a top 5 rushing defense, the Irish were able to amass 175 yards on the ground. Tarean Folston got the start in the Irish backfield and again showed off some insane jump cuts in the open field. Its no mystery that Irish fans everywhere are excited about him leading the backfield for years to come. Folston finished the game with 73 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown while Cam McDaniel who also carried the ball 17 times ran for 80 yards in another impressive outing for the Texas native. While the running backs earned the yards, it would not have been possible if not for the outstanding play of the offensive line, and in particular senior Zach Martin. Martin, who was the first offensive lineman to win an MVP award for a bowl game since 1959, dominated the line of scrimmage all game long and impressed NFL draft scouts in the process.

The 2013 season is over and now we look to the offseason. Irish fans eagerly await to hear if Stephon Tuitt will return for his senior season, or if he will enter the 2014 NFL draft. Brian Kelly also is going to be making some hires to replace Bob Diaco and Chuck Martin, who both left the program to take head coaching jobs at UConn and Miami of Ohio. While Brian Van Gorder has already been hired as the defensive coordinator, the offensive coordinator position is still needed to be filled. The offseason always seems to cause drama for the Irish, but hopefully this season that will not be the case.

We will have much more here at Down the Tunnel with all of the upcoming offseason news, signing day, and preparation for spring football. Stay tuned.

Irish slide by Rutgers in the Big Apple. A Knee Jerk Reaction

– Sgt Shamrock

Notre Dame defeated Rutgers 29-16 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The Irish didn’t play their best by far but were still able to come out with the victory. Tommy Rees finished his Notre Dame career with 319 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions even though he threw into double coverage multiple times during the game. The Irish rushed for 175 yards lead by Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston, as Notre Dame ran a primarily a two back system with George Atkinson suspended for texted at a team dinner (Yes he was really suspended for that. Brian Kelly is not messing around). The Irish defense played pretty well only allowing one touchdown and stopping the Scarlet Knights in the redzone on multiple occasions. Even without Louis Nix in the middle of the defensive line, the Irish were able to put pressure on Rutgers forcing bad passes and multiple turnovers.

The Irish finished the season at 9-4 and move into the offseason with Everett Golson back at Notre Dame. The Irish are going to be hiring a new offensive and defensive coordinator in the coming weeks, and we will all be awaiting Stephon Tuitt’s decision on whether or not to return to Notre Dame for his senior season, or declare for the NFL draft. Check back into Down the Tunnel for an in depth recap of the bowl victory, and upcoming news for Notre Dame football.  

Irish win one for the Seniors. A weekend in review

– Sgt Shamrock

Notre Dame vs. Brigham Young

In what was one of the coldest games to ever be played in the Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish were able to play with a spark and pulled out a 23-13 win over the BYU Cougars to improve their record to 8-3. While the snow was falling and the temperatures were dropping, the Irish played the type of football that Brian Kelly said they should be playing every single week. And I agree. It was one of the few times this season that the Irish played well in all aspects of the game. Well maybe not the special teams but lets just forget about that. The defense made big plays when they needed too and the Irish offense moved the ball effectively and did their job of keeping BYU off the field and limiting their scoring chances.

The Irish defense set the tone early against the Cougars and really stood out to me during the entire game. BYU was coming into this game as one of the hottest offenses in the country, yet the Irish defense only allowed one touchdown and 13 total points. Dan Fox led the team with 9 tackles and the Irish front seven played inspired, even with out the big man Louis Nix who is out for the remainder of the season. What really impressed me with the defense however, is how they responded following a horrible loss to Pitt. Following the loss, a lot of people, including me, were concerned how the team would respond after their goal of a BCS Bowl game appearance was dashed. The defense played one of their worst games of the season against Pitt and I honestly did not know how they would respond. The defense responded by having one of its best performances of the season.

BYU came into the game against the Irish as one of the toughest defenses in the country led by superstar Kyle Van-Noy, but on Saturday afternoon the Irish offense amassed almost 500 yards of total offense including over 200 yards on the ground. As I stated in my preview for the game, the Irish needed to establish a steady and effective running game to open up the passing game and provide balance to the offense. Notre Dame did just that. On their first offensive series, ran multiple running plays in a row before Tommy Rees went play action and hit Davaris Daniels deep for a touchdown. The running game was effective throughout the entire game thanks to the tough running from Cam McDaniel and some ridiculously shifty moves from Tarean Folston, who continues to get me excited about his potential. Folston is clearly the most athletic running back on the Irish roster and his ability to make defenders miss is something Irish fans have been waiting to see out of the backfield. On multiple occasions in the stadium you could hear the excitement and awe in the moves that Folston was able to make to shake Cougar defenders.

As Saturday was Senior Day, I was really happy to see many of the seniors play very well in their final home game. Tommy Rees finished his career in Notre Dame Stadium the way he deserved. Being one of the most polarizing figures for Notre Dame football in recent memory, Rees was able to win his final game at home. While he did throw yet another awful red zone touchdown, Rees played an otherwise good game. Rees made multiple nice throws to TJ Jones, and minus the interception, made good decisions through out the game. Jones finished the game with 95 yards receiving and Dan Fox and Carlo Calbrese played very well making multiple key tackles and keeping the BYU offense in check. Austin Collinsworth was able to haul in an interception on the final play of the first half and Zack Martin helped anchor an offensive line that allowed zero sacks, and opened running lanes that led to over 200 yards on the ground.

Overall it was one of the most complete games the Irish has played all season. While the offense did leave some points on the field, they still played a very good game and the defense stepped up and took over allowing the Irish to pull out the victory. With the win, Notre Dame clinched a fourth straight eight win season under Brian Kelly with the chance this year to win 10 games. With the losses this team had on defense due to the NFL draft and injury this year, and playing with a backup quarterback due to Everett Golson being suspended from school, Id have to say the Irish did more than people expected of them. Even so its easy to look at the losses to Michigan and Pitt and wonder how much better it could have been if the Irish had been able to pull out those victories. One final game remains before the bowl season begins as the Irish travel to Stanford this Saturday.

Other Observations

– The field conditions were again abysmal and embarrassing. I really think the turf led the game in tackles and Im surprised more players were not injured as we say against Navy. I even heard some of the older crowd, who normally are reluctant to call for change, calling for field turf. Its time Notre Dame. Make this happen. If I were you I would start installing it Monday morning.

– Lost in the spotlight of Senior Day, Jarron Jones played an outstanding game filling in for Louis Nix making multiple tackles around the line of scrimmage and also blocked a field goal late in the game that helped preserve the Irish victory. While many, including myself, are concerned about depth on the defensive line its nice to see Jarron Jones start coming into his own.

Oh you silly Pollsters

Notre Dame gets back into the AP Top 25 this week placing 25th. Yet again its another week its another instance of a team that Notre Dame beat ranked ahead of the Irish. USC has the same amount of losses as the Irish and yet are ranked two spots ahead of the Irish at 23rd. Sure that makes sense. USC lost to Washington State, Arizona State (another team Notre Dame beat) and of course Notre Dame.

Louisiana-Lafayette is ranked 21st this week in the AP. Wait what? Yes this is not a typo. I really have no idea what the pollsters are thinking here. The Cajuns have not beaten a single ranked team this year and have two losses. They play in the Sun Belt. Plain and simple this is not a top 25 team.

Arizona State is ranked 13th this week while Oregon is ranked twelve. This needs to be switched. The Sun Devils are going to the Pac 12 title game and the Ducks are not. That alone should place ASU over Oregon.

Three loss LSU is ranked 15th this week. Why I have no idea. They are ranked ahead of an undefeated Northern Illinois and Fresno State. I don’t care if you play in the SEC or not, three losses are three losses and that does not make you worthy of a top 15 ranking.

What is Texas A&M still doing ranked? They got blown out by LSU this weekend and now have three losses. The Aggies have not beaten a ranked team all season long.

Heisman Rannkings

1. Jameis Winston (Barring an arrest)

2. Jordan Lynch

3. Derek Carr

4. Kadeem Carey

Irish down the Cougars. Knee Jerk Reaction

– Sgt Shamrock

Notre Dame defeated the BYU Cougars 23-13 on a bitterly cold and windy Saturday afternoon. The Irish rushing attack finally got going amassing 235 yards on the ground. Cam McDaniel led the team with 117 yards and Tarean Folston added 78 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line played a very strong game opening running lanes and protecting Tommy Rees. Rees, in his final game at Notre Dame Stadium, threw for 235 yards, one touchdown, and one ugly interception. Even in the cold and windy weather, the Irish offense looked very much in sync at times and did their best to keep the Cougars off the field. The BYU defense was one of the better units the Irish have faced this season, and the offense handled their scheme very very well.

The Irish defense stood strong against a BYU offense that had been firing on all cylinders coming into South Bend. The front 7 played one of their best games of the season, getting a lot of pressure on Tysom Hill, even with the absence of Louis Nix. While the defense did allow over 200 yards on the ground, they only allowed BYU to score one touchdown. The defense also made a key stop late in the game when BYU had a first and goal following a horrific showing of tackling by Matthias Fairley that allowed BYU to break off a huge run. The Irish did a great job forcing field goals for BYU instead of giving up touchdowns. The secondary only allowed 168 passing yards and really made the BYU offense one dimensional.

With the win the Irish ensured they would finish with at least 8 wins in each of Brian Kelly’s four seasons at Notre Dame.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for a complete recap of this game and the other big games around the country.

A rough path. The Tale of Tommy Rees

 
– Sgt Shamrock
 
Turnover Tommy, Touchdown Tommy, The Closer, and Reesus. All different names for Notre Dame senior quarterback Tommy Rees, who will be playing his final game at Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday against BYU. Rees could very well be one of the most polarizing figures in the history of Notre Dame football and while there have been their fair share of former Irish players who have caused jubilation and heartache over the years for Irish fans nationwide, it can be safe to say Tommy Rees is near the top of the list. From making game winning throws, to throwing horrific interceptions at the worst possible times, Tommy Rees’s career at Notre Dame has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. As his career at Notre Dame comes to an end, its time to look back at one of the most interesting, nerve racking, and polarizing careers of any player to play at Notre Dame.
 
Coming out of high school, Tommy Rees was a 3 star recruit who held offers from Tennessee, Stanford, Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Central Michigan. Not what you would call a very strong offer list. Fellow Irish quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who was in the same recruiting class as Rees, was rated a 4 star recruit with a much more solid offer sheet. Rees committed to the Irish while Charlie Weis was still the head coach and remained committed once Brian Kelly took over for Weis in 2010. Brian Kelly keeping Rees in the class was a surprise to some, as he was more of a pro style quarterback, and Kelly was bringing the high octane spread offense with him from Cincinnati to South Bend. However keeping Rees in his first recruiting class turned out to be one of the smartest decisions he could have made.
 
In his freshman year Rees was not expected to play. Dayne Crist, who was a 5 star quarterback recruit and had years of experience under his belt, firmly held the starting job for the Irish and clearly had the better physical attributes. It was only after Crist suffered a season ending knee injury against Tulsa, was Rees thrown into action. Rees didn’t play all that bad however the game ended on a Rees interception and an Irish loss. The rest of the season, however went pretty well for Rees. After the loss to Tulsa, Rees and the Irish went on to win the remainder of their games to include wins at USC and against Miami in the Sun Bowl. It was a strong finish to the first year of the Brian Kelly and it showed hope for the future of the Irish program. Rees played well to end the season, and because of it, the first of many quarterback controversies was born.
 
Going into the 2011 season the main offseason storyline was who was going to play quarterback for the Irish. While Rees played well to end the 2010 season, he still was responsible for his fair share of turnovers. Throughout fall camp everyone was waiting for who Brian Kelly was going to name his starting quarterback for the 2011 campaign. Kelly finally made the decision that most thought he was going to make and named Dayne Crist the starter for the season opener against South Florida. The decision only lasted for one half. Crist started the 2011 season just about as bad as you could imagine for Notre Dame and by halftime the majority of the stadium was chanting for Tommy Rees to be inserted into the game. And I was one of them. I was also in favor or Crist getting the nod to start the game. But after how the game began for the Irish, it was time for a change. Insert Tommy Rees. However it just wasn’t enough and thanks to five total turnovers by the Irish, South Florida won the game spoiling what was supposed to be a special season for Notre Dame.
 
Following the loss to South Florida, Brian Kelly kept Rees as the starter headed into the game under the lights at Michigan. Its a game we all hope to forget. I will have to say in all my years of watching Notre Dame football, that it was one of the worst losses I have ever witnessed. Thanks to 5 more Notre Dame turnovers, Michigan made an almost impossible comeback to put the Irish at 0-2. Quickly Rees became the new scapegoat for Irish fans everywhere and the term Turnover Tommy started circulating everywhere. And the misery continued all season. It was almost as if everything that could go wrong for the Irish, did go wrong. Rees just kept turning over the football and the Irish, who had hopes at a BCS bowl to start the season, where relegated to the Champs Sports Bowl to play against Florida State. For a while the Irish were playing well against the Seminoles and it looked as if they might pull out a victory to end the season on a high note. That was until the Rees again caught the turnover bug and the Irish ended up losing yet another close game, ending a frustrating and disappointing season for the Irish.
 
The majority of Notre Dame fans had had enough with Tommy Rees following the 2011 season. I will be the first to admit that I was one of them. I was tired of all the turnovers and the frustration that came with them. I was ready for a new quarterback. Everett Golson, who redshirted his freshman year at Notre Dame, was the fan favorite to take over the starting job. Still Brian Kelly would not name a starting quarterback following the 2012 spring game, and allowed the quarterback competition to continue into summer workouts and fall camp. That all came to a screeching halt when Rees was arrested following a college party and trying to run from the police. Rees famously was tackled by a cab driver, starting numerous jokes about Rees’s mobility. Not going to lie a lot of them were really funny. Following his brush in with the law, Brian Kelly suspended Rees for the season opener and seemingly answering every prayer of Irish fans everywhere. Notre Dame was going to have a new quarterback. With Tommy Rees out of the competition, Golson won the starting job and fans thought that we would never see Rees on the field again. They could not have been more wrong.
 
After playing well to start the 2012 season against Navy, Golson looked to be what fans had been waiting for. A mobile, athletic quarterback with outstanding arm strength that would fit into the offense system that Brian Kelly wanted to run. However late in the game the following week against Purdue, the Irish were in a close one. Late in the game Golson scrambled and took a hit that forced him to leave the game. In comes Tommy Rees to a loud and thunderous roar of boo’s from the Notre Dame faithful. Just imagine how Rees must have felt running onto the field when the entire stadium was booing the fact that he was forced into the game. It would be hard for anyone to focus and play after hearing that. But not Rees. Rees led the Irish down the field capped off by a key throw on 4th down that lead to the game winning field goal. While Irish fans were happy the game was won, mostly nobody wanted to see Rees at quarterback over Golson, and were happy to see Golson play well the following week as the Irish picked up a win on the road at Michigan State. Again it looked as if Rees’s playing time was done at Notre Dame. Than came the Michigan game.
 
As I sat in the stands that September night as the Irish took on Michigan, you could feel the excitement in the stadium. The Irish were 3-0 and fans were starting to believe we could be in store for a special season. When Tommy Rees was inserted into the game to take over for a struggling Golson, all that energy seemed to leave the stadium in a heartbeat. And yet against all odds Tommy Rees did it again for the Irish, leading the only touchdown drive for the Irish and completing a key pass to Tyler Eifert to ice the game and bring the Irish another victory. Rees quickly became known as “The Closer” as he seemingly would come of the bench in relief and bring home the victory. Rees was again called upon to start for an injured Golson against Stanford and BYU and in both instances Rees delivered. Rees had become an invaluable asset to the Irish and without him, its safe to say that the trip to the National Championship would have never happened.
 
And that brings us to this year. Nobody thought that Tommy would start another game following the 2012 season. Everett Golson had a firm grasp on the starting job, and former 5 star recruit Gunner Kiel seemed to be the favorite to take over the back up job. The only future that Rees seemingly had left at Notre Dame was to sit the bench. But thanks to Kiel transferring, and Golson being suspended for an academic issue, Tommy Rees again was thrown into the starting job for Notre Dame. So far this year Tommy Rees has had his ups and downs and has again drawn criticism from fans everywhere including me. But when Rees was knocked out of the game against USC this year, the true value of Tommy Rees really started to show. Andrew Hendrix came into the game with the Irish leading 14-10. Andrew Hendrix did not complete one pass and the offense came to a screeching halt. It really made people realize just how valuable Rees has been to the Irish.
 
While I am sure that many fans will be glad to see Tommy Rees move on from Notre Dame, I myself am going to miss the kid. I have been very critical of Rees during his career and I am not afraid to say that. Rees has deserved more than his fair share of criticism. But what I love about Tommy Rees is that no matter what the kid never gives up. He never let his head get down and always gave his all for Notre Dame. He overcame so much during his time at Notre Dame and embodies the Notre Dame spirit. Now on senior day, Tommy Rees gets a chance to run out onto the field for the last time and finish his Irish legacy on a high note. And I am glad I will be there to see it and cheer on Tommy and the Irish in the final home game of the season. So while you may not be the biggest Tommy Rees fan, take a moment to look back on Rees’s career, and thank him because without Rees, many of the success that have taken place over the last 4 seasons would have never happened. The future looks bright for the Irish and a large portion of that can be credited to Tommy Rees. Thanks Tommy for all you have done for Notre Dame.
 

Irish sink Navy late. A weekend in review

 

It felt a lot like 2010 yesterday at Notre Dame stadium. Navy sailed into town to play a game that most believed wouldn’t be close. The Irish were coming off a 45-10 win over Air Force and seemed to have figured out how to defend the option. Tommy Rees was playing possibly his best football of his Irish career and the defense had seemed to have found its swagger after some early season struggles. The Irish just seemed to have started to put everything together just in time for November, when playing your best football is key. Notre Dame was primed for another blowout victory as they continued to play for a BCS berth at the end of the season. Instead what they got was an unexpected shootout with the Midshipmen, a slew of injuries, and a lot of questions as to exactly how Navy was able to almost pull off a win in South Bend.

Navy came to play. Notre Dame’s defense didn’t. That’s really the only reason I can think of how Navy was able to run up and down the field seemingly at will. The Midshipmen rushed for 331 yards and converted 10 of 16 third down attempts against the Irish defense who, even though playing Air Force’s option attack last week, looked like they have never seen the option before. Navy was averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The key to defending the option is to play assignment football and make tackles. The Irish did neither for a good portion of the game, looking confused and making it very easy for Navy to move the ball down the field. Even when Notre Dame was able to put Navy in third and long and knock their offense off schedule, the Midshipmen still seemed to convert every third down attempt they faced. Everything seemed to be going perfect for the Navy offense. Even their passing game, which only attempted nine passes all game, was working for the Mids going for 88 yards including a 34 yard touchdown pass from Keanan Reynolds to Matt Aiken which gave Navy a 34-31 lead with 8:55 left to go in the 4th quarter. Navy was clicking, but in the end it was not enough.

Notre Dame’s offense was the reason the Irish won this unexpected shootout. While the Irish defense could not keep Navy off the scoreboard, the Irish offense kept pace which heavily utilized the running game which was a site for sore eyes. Notre Dame racked up 506 total yards on offense which included 264 yards on the ground. Tarean Folston stole the show Saturday, having a breakout performance running for 140 yards on 18 carries and the game winning touchdown. Folston showed why he was such a valuable recruit for the Irish, showing off his speed, power, and field vision. Multiple times he made moves on defenders that were just silly. Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson split time as the number two back each receiving 7 carries and running for 72 and 54 yards respectively. Moving forward you would have to think Folston will be the number one back for the Irish. His play deserves it. Tommy Rees threw for two touchdowns and 264 yards but also threw two interceptions, which helped Navy keep the game close. Tommy’s first interception could be blamed partially on the horrific field conditions. Tommy was targeting TJ Jones, who looked open on the play, when he slipped on the grass allowing a Navy defender to intercept the pass. The second interception however was all on Tommy as he overthrew a deep ball to Davaris Daniels. Daniels could have fought for the ball but the pass was bad.

After being embarrassed all game long by the Navy rushing attack, the defense finally came up with the stop it needed. Navy faced a 4th down inside Notre Dame territory with a minute and a half left in the game down four. Jaylon Smith showed off his amazing speed running across the field to make the tackle to stop Navy short and put the game on ice for the Irish. The defense played bad all game but when the game was on the line, they stepped up and avoided an embarrassing upset loss. Notre Dame moves to 7-2 on the season and still control their own destiny in their chase for a BCS Bowl berth.

This game showed me a lot of things that need to be addressed both on and off the field. First things first. I know its already been talked about but Notre Dame needs field turf and they need it now. The condition of the field is a complete embarrassment and the fact that it has gotten this bad could warrant someone getting fired. Notre Dame is one of the most prestigious college football teams in the country and yet we seem to be ok with playing on a playing surface that is worse than some high school programs. This needs to be fixed. Having a field in that bad of condition is dangerous and puts all the player on the field at greater risk for injury. I have heard from many people, including my father, that they prefer the natural grass because it slows down our opponents. What an awful reason to keep natural grass. Do these people not realize that this would also mean that it limited the speed of the Irish players as well? Brian Kelly has done an outstanding job bringing more speed to both sides of the ball. Its time to realize Notre Dame has speed and instead of trying to limit other teams speed at Notre Dame, the Irish need to utilize their speed.

The second thing might not be a popular sentiment with a lot of Notre Dame fans but for me it has to be said and should be addressed in the offseason. Bob Diaco needs to go. What happened against Navy is a complete embarrassment. This same Navy team only scored seven points against Duke and Western Kentucky. There is no excuse as to how the defense can allow 34 points and over 300 yards rushing. Notre Dame should never be in close games with a team like that. Ever. I’m tired of the conservative play calling. I’m tired of the defense under achieving with the amount of talent and skill it possesses. I’m tired of continuing to allow inferior teams to hang around because the defense cant get off the field. Last year was great but Diaco has been here for four years now and even last year there were games that the defense just didn’t step up. There is no consistency. Last week the Irish faced an option attack on the road and only gave up 10 points, yet this week at home they faced an almost identical option attack and gave up 34 points. There is no excuse for this. Its time to move on.

This weeks polls

Notre Dame finally cracks the AP poll and comes in 24th. The Irish remain 25th in the coaches poll.

Oh look Arizona State is ranked ahead of Notre Dame yet again in the AP poll. This makes no sense. Notre Dame beat ASU on a neutral field head to head and hold the exact same record. Michigan State moves up to 18 in the AP poll ahead of Notre Dame but with the Spartans only having one loss compared to the Irish’s two, this is no surprise.

More SEC garbage in this weeks polls. The AP has two loss Texas A&M and two loss LSU ahead of one loss Oklahoma. Uh what? Again it makes no sense. LSU has yet to beat anyone of merit and Texas A&M’s best win is Vanderbilt? Having these teams ahead of the Sooners is a complete joke.

How the hell is Miami still in the top 15? Miami is still overrated even after being embarrassed by Florida State and exposed as a pretender instead of a contender. Other than the loss to FSU, Miami has yet to play a team of any merit. No guys Florida is not a quality win. Just because they are in the SEC does not mean anything. They are awful. Miami doesn’t belong in the top 15 and is a borderline top 20 team especially with Duke Johnson now out for the season.

Get Texas Tech out of the polls. They have lost their last two games, which were the only two games they have played against quality opponents. This team cant stop the run and are not a top 25 team. They have not beaten anyone worth while.

Observations from around the country

It was a pretty dull weekend of games with not many good matchups but here goes:

Florida State is really good but Miami was very over rated. I am not doubting that FSU is one of the best teams in the country or that they can contend for the National Championship. I’m just not ready to claim the win over Miami as a huge win. Miami was ranked way to high to start with. Second Florida State was the first half decent team that Miami had played. No Florida is not a half decent team. They are awful. Florida State is defiantly one of the top teams in the country this year but their weak schedule could come back to haunt them. What’s even worse for FSU is they will probably play this same Miami team in the ACC Championship in a few weeks and the result will probably be even worse for Miami.

That Michigan State win earlier this season is starting to look pretty good now isn’t it? Michigan State dismantled Michigan this weekend using their elite defense to smother the Shunkbear offense. Michigan State moved to 8-1 on the season with their lone loss being to the Irish and look to be headed to the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State.

Texas Tech is doing exactly what I expected. The Red Raiders benefited from a ridiculously easy schedule to get to 7-0 but have now lost two straight games to ranked opponents last week to Oklahoma and this week to Oklahoma State. They have fallen out of the Big 12 race and don’t be surprised to see them lost one or even two more games this season.

My Heisman rankings

1. Marcus Mariotta

2. Jameis Winston

3. Johnny Field Goal

4. Derek Carr

5. Bryce Petty

Irish avoid shipwreck. A quick recap

Notre Dame defeated Navy 38-34 at Notre Dame stadium in a game that should never have been that close. Tommy Rees threw for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The Irish defense, which played like it has never seen the option before, allowed Navy to do practically whatever it wanted on offense. Only on 4th down with less than a minute and a half to go did the Irish defense finally make a play, when Jaylon Smith made an outstanding play to preserve the Irish victory.

It appears Brian Kelly has seen the light with the running back situation. Tarean Folston, who out on a clinic enroute to 140 yards on the ground and a touchdown, split most of the carries with Cam McDaniel allowing the Irish rushing attack to run wild. George Atkinson scored the first touchdown of the game, but it was Folston and McDaniel who stole the show.

Jaylon Smith continues to shine and show why he was such an important recruit for the Irish. The defense as a whole however played awful and had arguably their worst game of the season. Irish escape with a win and move to 7-2 on the season. Pittsburg is up next. A more in depth recap of this game and others around the country will be up tomorrow.

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Familiar Foe sails to town. A Navy Preview

The first football weekend of November is upon us, and with it brings a visit from longtime rivals from the Naval Academy. The Notre Dame vs. Navy matchup, which began in 1927, is the longest uninterrupted rivalry game in the country. This will be the 87th consecutive meeting between these two schools in what has been as lopsided a matchup as they come. Notre Dame leads the overall series 71-12-1 and held the longest winning streak over an opponent at 43 games before the 2007 overtime loss. Brian Kelly has lost to Navy once in his short career, the 2010 disaster that all of us would like to forget. However since that loss Brian Kelly and his staff seemed to have altered the game plan and  figured out the option attack and have not lost since winning the remaining matchups to date by a large margin. Notre Dame is coming into this matchup off of a shellacking of Air Force last week in Colorado Springs 45-10. All aspects of the Irish team played well last week  and its safe to expect the same against the Midshipmen

Last week I really thought the Irish were going to take advantage of the weak Air Force rushing defense to establish the running game, something the Irish really need to improve on if they want to make a run at the BCS. I did think that Tommy Rees would have a good game but I did not expect him to throw 5 touchdowns and play a practically flawless football. I have been very critical of Rees in the past and very outspoken about his limitations, but he is playing the best football of his career right now and its happening at the best time of the year as we head into November. Coming into the weekend Tommy Rees has throw for 20 TD’s only 6 interceptions and 1944 passing yards, which is 25th in all of FBS schools. However his greatest improvements are the intangibles. His pocket presence, his ball placement, and decision making have all improved vastly and are a key factor to his success. What may be the biggest improvement to me though, is his ability to distribute the ball evenly to different receivers. Last season and in 2011, Tommy Rees had the tendency to lock into his favorite targets of Michael Floyd and Tyler Eifert. This season Rees has been throwing to all of his receivers which makes the passing attack that much more lethal.

Unlike Air Force however, Navy had a pretty good passing defense giving up only 204.4 passing yards per game which ranks 21st nationally. The rushing defense is a different story. Navy is giving up 187.9 yards per game ranking 89th in all FBS schools which provides yet another chance for the Irish to get their running game going against a poor rushing defense. The Irish need to find the running game this week to get some much needed improvement before playing the stout defense of BYU and Stanford later in the season. A healthy dose of Cam “Blue Steel” McDaniel and Tarean Folston would be the ideal situation, since George Atkinson III and Amir Carlise have not been getting the job done.

The Irish defense has an almost identical matchup as they did a week ago. Its the staple of triple options teams. They run the ball very well and cant pass to save their life. This week is no different. Navy ranks near the bottom of the barrel in passing offense at 120th nationally averaging only 103.9 yards through the air per game. The strength of the Navy academy has been and continues to be their triple option rushing attack. The Midshipmen are averaging 292.1 yards on the ground putting them as the 10th best rushing attack in the nation. The Irish defense looks to face a bit more or a physical running attack than they did against Air Force but I expect more of the same and should have no problems stopping Navy from scoring.

Overall I expect Notre Dame to dominate this game as they should. Good teams do not lose to teams like this and good teams don’t even let teams like this hang around. Expect this game to be over by half time with Tommy Rees playing well again at home and the rushing attack to add some much needed balance before heading into a tough stretch to end the season. Navy will come out fired up like they always do, but Notre Dame is just a flat out better team in all aspects of the game.

Players to watch

Offense- Will Fuller caught is first touchdown pass of his young career last week against Air Force, showing off some serious speed as well. With the offense air attack getting hot at the right time of the season, I really see Fuller starting to get a bigger role. Im looking forward to seeing some of that speed this weekend.

Defense- Kavaire Russell played outstanding last week sealing the edge and making some key tackles. Facing another triple option team this week should be another chance for Russell to show his versatility on defense. After an outstanding rookie season last year, Russell seemed to have some sophomore struggles early in the season but over the last few weeks he has started playing at the level we expect from him

Prediction

Notre Dame 49 Navy 13

Other games around the country

7 Miami at 3 Florida State- This may be the most lopsided top 10 matchup of the season. Miami, in my opinion, is one of the most over rated teams in the country and its going to show this weekend. Miami has played one of the weakest schedules of any of the top 20 teams in the country and have needed two straight 4th quarter comebacks to avoid the upset. Florida State is one of the hottest teams in the country and is oozing with NFL talent. Florida State is going to embarrass Miami this weekend. Florida State 41 Miami 17

21 Michigan at 22 Michigan State- Michigan State boasts one of the toughest defenses in the country this year. Michigan has had its struggles after beating the Irish earlier in the season. Michigan is going to have a tough time with that defense of the Spartans and Devin Gardner will probably continue to be a turnover machine. Michigan State 24 Michigan 21

18 Oklahoma State at 15 Texas Tech- Texas Tech has benefited from playing a very week schedule and finally lost when they played a good team in Oklahoma. Both Oklahoma State and Texas Tech rely on their offense to win but the Cowboys will bring a few more bullets to this shootout.  Oklahoma State 45 Texas Tech 41

Irish future stars shine. A week 9 recap.

After sobering up from yesterday’s drunk fest and finally getting some sleep after college football kept me awake until around 3 am, I was finally able to really delve into the 45-10 win for the Irish over the Air Force Falcons. There were a lot of good things to take away from the win but one really stood out to me and should have caught everyone’s attention. The Irish freshman playmakers are really good. Both Corey Robinson and Will Fuller scored their first career touchdowns and did so in an impressive fashion. Corey Robinson opened up the scoring for the Irish, hauling in a 35 yard pass from Tommy Rees that I’m sure made everyone cringe. I sure as hell know I did. Tommy boy threw the ball off of his back foot and screamed interception until the Little Admiral grabbed it out of the air to tie the game. Will Fuller scored on a beautifully thrown pass by Tommy Rees. Fuller ran a strait seem route and flat out burned his defender, showing some serious speed that we have all been waiting to see. Notre Dame Air Force Football

Notre Dame Air Force Football

Fuller and Robinson were not the only freshman to show some skill yesterday. Steve Elmer, who was making his first career start, played very well along an offensive line that only gave 1 sack and gave Tommy Rees all sorts of time to slice and dice the thin Falcons secondary. Jaylon Smith played like a beast. This is nothing new for Irish fans who have been watching him play this season. The speed he has for a linebacker is just remarkable and he is starting to make his presence felt more and more each week. He should have had his first career touchdown yesterday if not for the officials blowing the whistle way to early on an Air Force fumble. Both Cole Luke and Devin Butler got some serious playing time in the Irish secondary. Tarean Folston didn’t get as many carries as I thought he would early in the game, but I was very pleased to see Brian Kelly give him a ton of snaps with the first team offense before more of the backups came into close out the game. He showed some serious vision and speed that we all heard about during his recruitment.

Notre Dame Air Force Football

What does this all mean? Yes they played well and the Irish won the game. That’s looking at in the short term. What has me very very excited is that this Irish team will continue to get better every year. Brian Kelly is one hell of a recruiter and he knows what kind of talent he wants. Tim Calhoun, the Air Force head coach, said something interesting yesterday in his post game press conference. He said that this may been the best receiving corps that Notre Dame has ever had. While I don’t know if its the best receiving corps EVER, I do agree its the best we have seen in a long while and they have the chance to be the best ever. And most of the receiving corps is still very young. The future for the Irish offense and the team overall is very bright and everyone should be very excited about what it means for the future of Notre Dame football.

This weeks polls

I have had about enough with these polls and the voters and coaches. It aggravates me so much. Notre Dame finally cracked the coaches poll this week checking in at 25 but the writers didn’t see it that way leaving the Irish on the outside looking in. That’s already bad enough put when look at the two team that checked in at 24 and 25 you will want to punch something. Michigan State and Arizona State. Yes both of those teams were beaten by the Irish. It makes no sense. Especially Arizona state who has the exact same record as Notre Dame.

Raise your hand if your not surprised about this one. An SEC team who loses doesn’t fall nearly as far as they should. Missouri who lost to number 21 South Carolina at home yesterday after blowing at 17 point fourth quarter lead fell from number 5 to number 10. How that team stays in the top 10 is beyond me but hey they are in the SEC so I guess its ok. Oh and that South Carolina team that just beat them? Ranked 14th. Yea that makes sense.

I’m not surprised that Texas A&M is ranked 12th even with two loses. Should they be ranked 12th? Absolutely not. Their defense is awful and the only good teams they have played have beaten them. But they have Johnny Field Goal and the media’s love affair with the SEC so that explains that.

What in the world is UCLA still doing in the top 20? They have now lost two games in a row and just got flat out embarrassed by the Oregon Ducks. Their best win this season? At Utah. They are just not that good.

Miami is one of the most over rated teams in America this season. Yes they are 7-0. They have played NOBODY. The best team they have played is Florida and they are awful. Not only that, but Miami has now almost lost to two straight unranked teams. But don’t worry folks they wont be up there at 7 for very long. They have the pleasure of getting waxed on national TV this weekend by Florida State. Its going to be murder.

Other observations

Stanford is beatable. They really are. Yes their defense is very good as always but the offense is not as dangerous as it has been in the past especially through the air. Their dangerous tight ends have moved onto the NFL and Kevin Hogan has looked mediocre to say the least. It will be a tough game for the Irish but a win is not out of the question.

Don’t worry about Fresno State and Northern Illinois busting the BCS. Both of these teams will lose. Fresno State got lucky last night and will find a lose on their remaining schedule. I really believe Northern Illinois will end up losing to Ball State. Mark it down

Heisman Watch

1. Jameis Winston

2. Marcus Mariotta

3. Bryce Petty

4. Johnny Field Goal

Notre Dame 45 Air Force 10. Instant reaction

Notre Dame v MichiganTommy Rees went 17 for 22 for 284 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 45-10 win over Air Force in Colorado Springs. Tommy Rees threw 5 touchdown passes to 5 different Irish receivers, the first time that has happened in Irish history. Two of those touchdown passes were completed to true freshman Will Fuller and Little Admiral Corey Robinson. The Notre Dame defense which looked a bit confused to start the game, settled down quickly and played the triple option as good as you could play it, only giving up 10 points and giving up 339 yards to the Falcons offense.

The Irish offense went over the 400 yard mark for the 5th time this season racking up 466 yards against a Falcons defense that looked lost the entire game. Chris Brown, Will Fuller, and Corey Robinson all caught their first career touchdown passes and TJ Jones and Ben Koyack added the other two scores. Cam “Blue Steel” McDaniel lead the Irish in rushing with 61 yards. Tarean Folston got a lot of carries in the second half once the game was in hand. He showed some brilliant moves and ran for 47 yards. Andrew Hendrix FINALLY completed a pass with a 45 yard bomb to Will Fuller and ran for a TD to close out the game.

The defense stepped up to the plate after a shaky start and forced two turnovers and shut down the Air Force triple offense attack. Jaylon Smith played outstanding against the option and should have had a touchdown on an Air Force fumble but the officials jumped the gun calling the play dead. Sheldon Day tweeked his ankle again and we will await for from Brian Kelly on his injury and his availability for next week.526c602346c23.image

The Irish play another triple option team in Navy next week in South Bend. Check back tomorrow for a more in depth recap of this game and others around the country once I sober up a bit.