Tag Archives: UConn

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.

Brian Van Gorder Hired as the new Notre Dame DC

-Sgt Shamrock

 

Notre Dame didn’t waste anytime after defeating Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl to hire a new defensive coordinator. Multiple media outlets are reporting that Brian Van Gorder will be the new defensive coordinator for the Irish, taking over for Bob Diaco who left to become the head coach at UConn. Van Gorder is coming to Notre Dame after serving as the linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Rex Ryan this past season. Van Gorder has a history with Brian Kelly, working with him at Central Michigan as defensive coordinator.

Before coaching for the New York Jets this season in the NFL, Van Gorder has had multiple coaching stops in his career. In 2003 he won the Broyles award as the defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia. Van Gorder’s defense finished the season in 2003 ranked 3rd nationally in scoring defense, 4th in total defense, and 6th nationally in passing defense. Following his stint at UGA, Van Gorder took a head coaching job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He only lasted one season in Jacksonville before leaving to take the head coaching position at Georgia Southern. Following one season with Georgia Southern, Van Gorder took the defensive coordinator position with the Atlanta Falcons from 2008 until 2012 when he took the defensive coordinator position with Auburn University.

This is definitely an interesting hire by the Irish. While most thought the Irish would hire from within, I always thought Brian Kelly would at least take a look outside the program. The hiring of Van Gorder points to a possible move from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. It does make sense as Louis Nix in enroute to the NFL and the Irish are left without a clear cut nose tackle, which is needed to successfully run a 3-4 defense. Of all the candidates that were out there in the rumor mill, Van Gorder’s name was not mentioned by many. It will be interesting to see the future of the Irish defense with the new hire and if it will bring a change of philosophy to South Bend.

 

A Trip to the Big Apple. Pinstripe Bowl Preview

-Sgt Shamrock

Christmas is around the corner and while we are all preparing for presents, holiday dinners, and eggnog, the Notre Dame Football team is in New York City making their final preparations to take on Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. The Irish and the Scarlet Knights will face off in iconic Yankee Stadium on Saturday in the Big Apple. The Irish enter the contest with an 8-4 record while the Scarlet Knights finished their season at 6-6. Both teams have lost key members of their coaching staff in the weeks leading up to the matchup. Bob Diaco and Chuck Martin left the Irish to take head coaching positions at UConn and Miami of Ohio, while Rutgers head coach fired defensive coordinator Dave Cohen, as well as the quarterbacks coach, and the offensive line coach. While playing in the Pinstripe Bowl was not what the Irish had planned at the start of the season, they still have a chance to finish the season with 9 wins and carry momentum into the 2014 season.

Rutgers offense has had trouble running the ball as season long and relies on the passing game to score points. The Scarlet Knights are averaging 242 yards through the air ranking 52nd nationally, while the running game is averaging a measly 133 yards per game ranking 98th nationally. The offensive line for Rutgers has been a weak link all season long. Not only is the rushing game one of the worst in the country, but the Scarlet Knights have also given up 31 sacks this season which ranks them 98th nationally in sacks allowed. Even with Louis Nix unable to play due to injury, the Irish defensive line led by Stephon Tuitt should be able to have a field day with the Rutgers offensive line. With Rutgers struggling to run the football, expect the Scarlet Knights to pass and pass often allowing the strong Irish defensive line to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback. The strength of the Irish defense is stopping the pass, as they rank in the top 20 nationally. The matchup between the Irish secondary and the Scarlet Knights passing game could very well be the key this game.

While the Irish offense has struggled at times this year with execution and consistency, they should be able to move the ball and put points on the board against a very shaky Rutgers defense. The Scarlet Knights are allowing close to 30 points per game ranking them as one of the worst scoring defenses in the nation. To make matters worst for Rutgers, their passing defense is flat out atrocious allowing 310 yards per game. Only Troy, Idaho, and Cal are worst at defending the pass in the nation this season. Tommy Rees and the receiving corps should be able to throw the ball at will against this awful passing defense. Rutgers game plan is to try and shut down TJ Jones, so look for Davaris Daniels, Will Fuller, and Corey Robinson to make an impact on this game. The Irish are going to need to pass the ball effectively to win this game, since the Rutgers rushing defense is one of the best in the nation. The Scarlet Knights are ranked 4th nationally in rushing defense allowing only 94 yards on the ground per game. Only Michigan State, Louisville, and Stanford are better at stopping the run this season. Notre Dame has had trouble rushing the ball against quality rushing defenses this season but they are going to need to find some production to keep the Rutgers defense honest.   

Notre Dame is a heavy favorite in this game and they should be. Rutgers is not a very good football team and this year has been a rough one already costing three assistant coaches their jobs, and head coach Kyle Flood is on the hot seat. The Irish have the advantage in almost every key matchup in this game and I fully expect the Irish to come to play in this game. While the season has not gone the way they had hoped, they still have the ability to win 9 games this season following a slue of injuries and without Everett Golson, who has recently been readmitted and will be ready to go for next season. This is the last game for the Notre Dame seniors, who as a group have been the foundation for the improvement in the program over the last 4-5 years. Playing in New York City is always exciting for college kids and you can tell by the reaction of many of the players they are ready to play in this game. While 2013 has been an awful year for Notre Dame Athletics, Irish fans should be able to finish this snake bitten year off with a smile. Notre Dame should win this game and it shouldn’t be close.

Players to Watch

Offense- While Rutgers is going to do everything they can to slow down TJ Jones, Davaris Daniels is due for a breakout game. After some early success to start the season, Daniels has since been inconstant and not producing at the level a lot of fans had hoped for. Look for Tommy Rees to find Daniels running through the Rutgers secondary as they try to double team TJ Jones.

Defense- With Louis Nix officially gone for the NFL we now get to see if Jarron Jones cant carry to load at Nose Tackle. Jones has played well late in this season and now we get a glimpse at what is most likely the future at the nose next season. The Rutgers offensive line has struggled this season so I am excited to see how Jones handles the opportunity.

Prediction

Notre Dame 38 Rutgers 17

From all of us at Down the Tunnel, we wish you a Merry Christmas. Go Irish