Discussion in 'Thread Archive' started by The Dude, Jan 25, 2012.
This Year ... Our House
Off-Season News - Garcia Returns for Senior Season
Senior Defensive Tackle Chris Garcia decided to return to school for his senior year, much to the joy of Irish fans everywhere. Garcia was an absolute monster in 2015, ringing up 15 sacks on the season. In his first three seasons, he managed to break the all-time sack record at Notre Dame, a record recently help by 350 pound man-child Louis Nix, who graduated last year. Garcia will come back to school and attempt to set a record that may just stand forever, or at least until another phemon comes along. Garcia will anchor the Irish defense for one more season ... hopefully, it will be a championship season.
Notre Dame Season Preview - Offense
Crowder went off for 170 yds and two scores in the Sugar Bowl win over UConn *click image for vid*
The casual fan might expect the Irish offense to be a bit down this year - senior quarterback Zac Smith departed, as did top rusher Chris Hill, and both top wideouts, including 10 TD man Garret Crowder (pictured above).
But things are not as bleak as they seem ...
The Irish have a stable of skill position players who have been patiently waiting their turn, and now that their turn has come, they plan to wipe away old memories, and perhaps break old records.
Leading the new-look Irish offense will be the stable of running backs, led by these two:
Riley saw significant time last year as a short yardage and red zone grinder, but now he's the feature back in the Irish offense. At 5-10 and 224 lbs, Riley is a load to bring down. He hits the hole quickly, is surprisingly shifty, and can flat out run people over. Look for opposing defenses to buckle late in games after trying to tackle him for four quarters.
Perhaps the perfect compliment to a beefy power back is one who's lightning quick and catches the ball well. This is exactly what Aaron Huggins can do. He's fast, elusive, and catches the ball well enough to be a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
Together, these two will give opposing defenses all they can handle and more.
Not to be outdone, the Irish wide receivers look to make themselves equally as dangerous:
McBride and carter are easily the two best wideouts you've never heard of. While McBride was one of the top kick and punt returners last season, he was perhaps a bit underutilized as a pass catcher. That should change this year, as he has shown both the skill and speed worthy of his pre-season All-American status.
Lining up in the second spot is Justin Carter, a technically skilled receiver the likes of which Notre Dame hasn't seen since the Tim Brown days of old. Between McBride running past defenders, and Carter shaking them out of their shoes, this should be a big year for the Irish passing game. Unless ...
First year starter Robert Payne is the key to it all. If he hits receivers on time and takes care of the ball, it should be a big year for Notre Dame. But if he's shaky, or plays under his abilities, things could get difficult in a hurry. Payne has only thrown a handful of passes under game pressure, so we'll all just have to wait and see what happens.
If Payne struggles early, look for junior Matt Lee to become a larger part of the offense. The guy simply never drops a ball, and that's a nice target to have, especially when things get hot. Whether Lee is a first option, or a third ... that's up to the new quarterback and how quickly he gets accustomed to being the top dog.
The Irish will succeed if:
Soph QB Robert Payne takes care of the ball
The O-Line holds up at the edges (both tackles are new, and rated 81 & 82. G/C are all in the 90s)
They avoid injuries (Skill players are great, but not deep)
Notre Dame Season Preview - Defense
While the offense may put on a good show this year, Irish fans everywhere know that championships are won on defense, and the Irish have a reputation to uphold. While Notre Dame graduated a number of players from last year's top 10 defense, the key components are back, and better than ever.
Leading the defense will be senior captain and preseason All-American Chris Garcia. A fourth year starter, Garcia began his career during a forgettable 8-5 season that saw Notre Dame relegated to the Liberty Bowl. Since then, Garcia has seen two straight Sugar Bowls, won both, and he has broken the all-time career sack record at Notre Dame. It's safe to say that as he progressed, he brought the defense with him. Last season, Notre Dame finished the year as the top rushing defense in the nation, due in large part to the unblockable tackle from Jeffersonville, Kentucky. This year, Garcia wants nothing less than a BCS title and All-American honors. Anything else is a disappointment.
Backing up Garcia, and leading the linebacking corps will be senior linebacker Michael "Lights Out" Purcell. After losing last season to injury, Purcell has came back fast, healthy, and mean. Purcell might be the hardest hitter in the game today, and with his speed and size, he's as dangerous as any defensive player in the country. Miss a block on this guy, and your running back is leaving on a stretcher.
While the Irish are young at the corners, the safety tandem of Kellen Flynn and Eric Ward is one of the best in the nation. Flynn is an outstanding athlete with a great head for the game, and Ward is a ball hawk with the best cover skills on the team. Together, they will erase mistakes and turn touchdowns into interceptions.
This year's defense is much improved on paper. Man for man, they have more talent than last year's squad, though whether or not they can match last season's performance ... that remains to be seen. If they do, though, the Irish will challenge for a National Championship. If ...
The Irish may have been sending a message with this blowout win, and that message is: don't blitz. Don't press.
Syracuse blitzed, pressed, and did so early and often. The result - Irish receivers running free all day. Sophomore Qb and first year starter Robert Payne must have thought he was back in high school, because he bombed away for a whopping 381 yards and 5 scores. Now, he tossed two picks as well (both of which were discussed at length on the sidelines) but I think the question about whether or not the new kid can make the throws is answered. He certainly can.
Payne threw outs, drags, slants, deep comebacks, and even launched a 59 yard bomb to pre-season All-American Dave McBride, who caught a total of 8 balls for 141 yards and three scores on the day.
Tight End David Lee was not to be outdone, snagging everything that came near him on his way to 8 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Gabe Riley managed 101 yards and a score on 18 carries, but didn't touch the ball as much as he is likely to in weeks to come. "We're a running team," Coach said in response to post-game inquiries about his gameplan, "but sometimes you gotta take what they give ya. Today, they really wanted to see Rob throw the ball, so we obliged."
When asked about the 5 TD performance, Payne simply said "That's my job. See the open guy - hit the open guy. Today I just had lots of open guys."
Next week, the Irish travel to rival Purdue. The Boiler coaching staff, and especially the Defensive Coordinator have a busy week ahead of them.
Notre Dame Rolls Through West Lafayette 48-14McBride Brilliant Again: Catches 9 for 180 Yards and 3 TDs
Senior David McBride takes his last catch of the day 80 yards for a score
The game went back and forth early; after the Irish forced an opening drive punt, Purdue and Notre Dame traded touchdowns twice, and it looked as if the game would go into the locker room tied at 14. But a turnover in their own end left Purdue in a bad spot, and the Irish cashed in for a field goal as the clock expired, and went into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.
The Irish got the ball to start the second half, scored again, and then never looked back, finishing the game with 34 unanswered points and a 48-14 win that looked like it would be much tougher to earn than it was.
Justin Carter made this nifty one-handed grab for a big first down early in the 2nd quarter.
Dave McBride was the story again, hauling in nine balls for 180 yards and three scores. The season has only just begun, but McBride is looking nearly unstoppable, with 320 yards and an amazing 6 touchdowns on the season, a season that is only two weeks old. If things keep going this way, McBride could possibly be Notre Dame's second Belitnikoff award winner, and the first since Golden Tate brought the award to South Bend in 2009. Who knows - maybe he could be the first non-tailback Heisman favorite in the last half-dozen years. Barring injury, he looks like a contender for either, or both awards. But the season is still young, and big performances in big games, like the upcoming game against Michigan in South Bend, will go a long way towards telling us if McBride and the Irish are for real.
McBride goes up and over for his second score of the day
Redemption in South Bend - Notre Dame 24, Michigan 7Irish Win Thanks to Two Defensive Scores
The day couldn't have started worse for Notre Dame. A young QB throws a pick deep in his own end on the first drive of the game, and the Wolverines quickly put up the game's first touchdown. But the kid settled, and while the multiple blitz packages confused him at times, Robert Payne managed to make a big play - he hit HB Andre Huggins out of the backfield on a third and medium, Huggins made a guy miss, and then took it 77 yards for the score. Notre Dame added a late FG to make the game 10-7 Irish at the half.
And then it happened ...
Purcell took this Ryan Gay pass back for six
Senior OLB Michael Purcell got his hands on a ball, held on, and then edged down the sideline for a pick-6 on the first drive of the second half. 17-7 Notre Dame. On the very next drive, with the Wolverines behind the chains on third down, and deep in their own end, senior DE Brad Collins read the third down screen play, jumped up, grabbed it, and landed in the endzone for another score. With a 24-7 lead, the Irish spent the rest of the game dropping zone and running clock. Michigan got close enough to get a 1st and goal, but the Irish held on four straight plays and took over on downs.
It was a struggle, as they all are. This year, though, it appears the Luck O' the Irish made an appearance in South Bend.
The Irish did pretty much everything anyone could expect of them this weekend. The played a ranked team, beat a ranked team, shut out a ranked team, and won the game convincingly on all fronts. It was the kind of game that visiting recruit would surely enjoy, but, even though several did just that, not a single player signed on the dotted line this week.
Among the players in the stands were two highly sought after recruits, DE Mchael Sullivan and G Joe Ratliff. Both looked like sure commits coming in, yet neither pulled the trigger, meaning the Irish still have zero recruits for next year's class, even though they seemingly just became one of the most prestigious football schools in the nation after winning consecutive Sugar Bowls and pulling top ten classes for the past three seasons.
So why are all the recruits shying away? When will Notre Dame get back on track and start raking in the top talent? The Irish hope to answer these questions this week and next, as they travel to Texas to face the Longhorns before returning home for their yearly rivalry game with Navy, a game that should see a half dozen or more Irish recruits in the stands. If the Irish don't sign anyone by then, they may have to go all SEC and start buying guys.
Many sports writers claimed before this game that Notre Dame's #7 national ranking was a bit too high. While the Irish have won consecutive BCS games, they graduated 19 players from last year's 11-1 squad, including both corners and every skill position starter on offense. So far, Notre Dame's youth had not been exposed, and after a huge win over Michigan two weeks ago, folks were beginning to believe. But all of that unraveled when the Irish went to Austin to play the Texas Longhorns this weekend. Coach Dude summed up the loss:
Well, what can I say? Texas outmanned us at every spot. We couldn't cover anyone one-on-one, couldn't get anyone blocked, and each of our guys lined up against someone bigger, stronger, and faster. We hung in for a while, but you just can't turn the ball over on the road, especially against a team as good as the Longhorns.
Look for the Irish to take a significant step back in the polls after this loss. As good as the Longhorns are, they were still an 0-2 unranked team, so it'll go down as a bad loss, even though anyone who knows anything about football knows better.
The Irish played as if they weren't thinking about their opponents, the Midshipmen from Navy, but rather, as if they were trying to exact some measure of revenge for their rather embarrassing defeat in Austin last week. First, senior Dave McBride took the opening kick back 92 yards for a score. Then, on Navy's first play from scrimmage, senior Eric Ward intercepted a pass from Navy QB Jon Garret. And on the following play, McBride got behind the defense for his second TD in under 30 seconds of play, going 51 yards for his tenth receiving TD of the season. And it only got worse from there.
Senior HB Gabe Riley added two scores, one on the ground and one on a check down pass near the goal line. Junior TE Matt Lee scored twice, and the defense sacked Navy QBs nine times on the day and gave up only 81 yards of total offense to the Midshipmen. It was a dominating effort on all fronts, though it is unlikely that it will make up for the poor performance last week. When asked about it, Coach Dude said:
All we can do is go out and play our best. We have plenty of big games on the schedule, and if we perform well, we should at least be in the discussion at season's end. But that's looking too far ahead. We got BC coming in, and they have a history of giving us fits. We gotta go win that one, and then maybe we can look down the road a bit.
Several prominent recruits were in the stands for this game, but there's no word yet about signings, if there were any. Stay tuned ... we expect big news in the near future.
Looks like the Irish are going to have to earn back some respect in the eyes of the national media. After consecutive wins in rivalry games against Navy and Boston College, Notre Dame actually dropped a spot (from #13 to #14) in both the media and coaches' polls. The Golden Domers are taking it all in stride though, choosing not to comment, and referring all questions about the polls to their coach, who simply said:
Look, we're going to play a lot of good teams before the year is out. We're going to GTech this week, we have Miami coming in, Pitt will be here in a few weeks, and then there's the trip to Pasadena. We've got our work cut out for us, but if we manage wins, no one can say we haven't been tested. Right now, I'm just thinking about Atlanta and the Ramblin' Wreck. The rest will take care of itself.
While the national press might be mistreating the Irish, some major recruiting prospects haven't seemed to notice. The Irish signed five top recruits in week seven, including a couple of five star defensive linemen who look downright scary. Check out the latest recruiting news for details.
Heisman Watch - Dave McBride
It's been quite some time since a wide receiver has been on the short list for the Heisman trophy, but this year, senior wideout Dave McBride of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is making a solid case that the award should make a return visit to South Bend. Currently, McBride is on pace to catch almost 1400 yards worth of passes and as many as 25 receiving touchdowns - a number only three shy of the NCAA single season record set by Troy Edwards in 1998. Add in the two kickoff returns for touchdowns, and his explosiveness returning both kicks and punts, and McBride, should he keep up the torrid pace, will certainly get an invite to the award ceremony, and should he have a few more Heisman-esque catches like the one above, he could walk out with the trophy.
Here's what his coach had to say about his chances:
Well, I think he's certainly got a shot - not too many guys can do what he's done this year, and we've built the offense to feature him, which is both good for his numbers and simply smart football on our part. It'll probably come down to the final few weeks of the season. We have a front-loaded schedule, and we won't see a bye week until week 12, and we play our last game in week 13. That means a number of schools and their star players will be playing late while we're sitting - and voters often give too much weight to whatever they saw most recently. If he's healthy, he'll have his chance to get the numbers, and we're pretty confident that he'll make the plays. The rest will be up to the voters, but I like his chances.
So far, the only knock on McBride is that his numbers have been down in the bigger games. This is to be expected, but he practically disappeared in the Michigan game, and his only other sub-100 yard receiving performance was in Notre Dame's loss at Texas, though he did break away for a big TD catch in that one. If he performs well against Miami, Pitt, and most importantly, in the USC game on the road, the criticism should go away. Time will tell.
That is an awesome picture
It was an even better catch. I thought for sure it was out of bounds. I would have saved the replay, but so often any vid means the whole thing doesn't upload, so I've been sticking to pics, which seem to succeed most of the time.
The one a few posts above was actually called out of bounds, but I saved the pic before it was overturned, so it looks like he made the play. It was just too sweet not to save.
The Irish didn't take an offensive snap until the second quarter, yet they led 21-10 all the same. After a long opening ended in a GTech field goal, Notre Dame's all-everything wideout Dave McBride took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a score, and the Irish led 7-3. The next two drives ended with GTech fumbles, each of which was taken back for a score, the first snatched up by speedster free safety Kellen Flynn, and the next lumbered home by defensive end Jerry Brown. The Yellow Jackets managed a quick score right at the end of the quarter, and then it was finally time to let the Irish offense on the field.
The offense centered around McBride again this week, with a significant contribution by tight end Matt Lee. Tech seemed very aware of McBride, and for most of the day, he could only manage shorter catches under the coverage. But, as great players are known to do, McBride found a gap, exposed a weakness in the defensive game plan, and broke yet another big play, this one going 76 yards for a score on the first snap of the third quarter. Coach Dude moved Mcbride to the inside receiver spot in a twins formation, where he could isolate a linebacker in coverage - quarterback Robert Payne zipped the ball to the flat, and McBride did the rest, beating everyone down the sidelines for his second score of the day.
The Irish defense gave up big yards in the running game, but once Tech trailed enough to force them to rely on the passing game, Notre Dame locked down on the outside and sent the Irish sack machine after the Tech QB. It was just too much for Tech to come back from, and they gave up more turnovers, which the Irish turned into points. Big win for the Irish. Next week, it's time for the renewal of an old rivalry as Notre Dame and Miami will once again play the "Catholics versus Convicts" game in South Bend.
This kid is on pace for nearly 24 sacks... Yikes.
I know. I try to get him out of the game late. For some reason, when I play cover 2 man, and he starts trying to go 4 verts, I sack the Qb like three times in a row. If I'm up a couple scores, the last minute is a sack fest.
Thing is, I rarely blitz. I usually play a FS, and I tend to play up. I think I catch the QB in the deep throw animation while he's trying to go over my head, which he tries a lot. Seems like the CPU either hits a short route or takes a sack. Any time he reads deep, he gets mangled. But most of the time it's while i'm in cover 2 man or cover 1, and I never control the guy.
The Irish journeyed into Mormon country to play the BYU Cougars this Saturday, and they left with a well earned 38-7 victory. Notre Dame put this one away right before halftime, scoring big pass plays twice in the last two minutes of the second quarter. After hitting Justin Carter for a 53 yard TD to make the score 24-7 Notre Dame, and getting the ball back on a pretty defensive interception, Qb Robert Payne tossed a hail mary down the sidelines as the clock expired. The defender tipped the ball, but freshman WR Brian Lyles tipped it again, then secured it and took it in for a huge score, effectively putting the game out of reach for BYU. Notre Dame played conservatively in the second half, added a third quarter TD run from HB Gabe Riley, who busted a 50 yarder in the first quarter for another, and let the Domer D do what it does - which is play smart and crunch quarterbacks. Notre Dame plays rival Pitt in South Bend next week, before finishing up against the USC Trojans in Pasadena in their final game of the season.
Irish win 42-14 - Make Case for BCS Relevance:but also draw fire in the process
McBride scored twice, but paid dearly for this one, and missed the next series
The Irish made no friends this week in South Bend as they ran the score up against their hated rival, the Pitt Panthers. Some reporters, and even a few Irish fans, didn't like the late passing that led to a late touchdown and an unneeded 42-7 lead. Coach Dude was asked about it after the game:
I didn't want that last one. We usually don't do that sort of thing. But Pitt stacked the line and used our sportsmanship to take some big shots at our guys running the ball up the middle, and frankly, Rob (QB Robert Payne) got a little ticked, checked the play at the line, and went deep to a kid who hasn't seen the ball much this year. He spent the rest of the game sitting next to the Gatorade, but I can't exactly say he was completely out of line. We're not going to get a conference title game. We're close enough to get a BCS title shot if we win out, but we're going to have to win impressively. 35 points against Pitt is a good day. 42 removes all doubt, so, even though I'd take it back if I could, I'm not as mad about it as you guys seem to be.
Still, coach expects to take a little heat from his colleagues, and it may just be deserved.
Fowler made his case for the top job next year, catching this 53 yard bomb from Payne.
The Irish put their stamp on another outstanding regular season, going 11-1 for the second year in a row, and ensuring a return to the BCS. But will it be a title shot? Will the "Luck of the Irish" clear the path for a chance at a national championship? From the looks of things, the Irish need a little help, especially from the team they just defeated, but the path is there. The Irish season is over, but they'll be watching closely, and perhaps cheering for teams they're not accustomed to cheering for.
It was a game of mistakes and big plays. Both USC and Notre Dame scored defensive touchdowns, each on long pick-6 plays, and both schools were strong in the running game, with USC's speedy Daylen Parks and Notre Dame's beefy Gabe Riley giving the defenses fits - Parks running around them, and Riley running over them. The game turned on a huge TD pass from Notre Dame's O'Brien candidate Robert Payne to their Heisman candidate, the lightning fast WR Dave McBride. The two linked up for a 50 yard beauty of a touchdown after both recognized single coverage on the outside and hooked up on a fly route for six. The game turned again as USC's Heisman candidate, Daylen Parks both caught passes and ran the length of the field for a game-tying score late in the third quarter. In the fourth, Notre Dame would manage to lock the Trojans down - first scoring on a pick-6 by Thorpe Award dark horse Steve Jones, and then getting another INT late, thanks to senior strong safety Eric Ward. After making a couple of first downs on the ground, the Irish were able to run out the clock and seal the win.
As always, it was an entertaining, hard fought game on both sides. Next year, we do it in South Bend. Can't wait.
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