One of the Other Games

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                                                                                       Matt Cashore

10.19.14

Craig Chval ‘15

Growing up a Notre Dame fan, you’d think the Fighting Irish never lost a game before I was born in 1992.

My entire life I’ve heard about the legendary games of Irish lore, as if living gods in the shape of 20-year-olds came to South Bend a few Saturdays a year to ensure the defeat of the less angelic followers of Jimmy Johnson and Bear Bryant.

With some of the stats I read this week, it’s easy to believe. Before last night, Notre Dame was 9-0-1 all-time in games that involved two 6-0 or better teams.

It was only over time that I learned about those other games – the ones Notre Dame fans never want to talk about. They almost always seem to involve USC – Craig Fertig’s non-fumble in ’64, the lost national championship in ’70, the “Anthony Davis” game in ’72, the 55 unanswered points two years later. But there’s also ’90 Colorado, ‘89 Miami, and, if you want to go really far back, Carnegie Tech in 1926.

Winning a championship is hard. Lou Holtz had an unbelievably great stretch from 1988-1993. He went 64-9-1 over those six seasons while compiling an absurd 17-4-1 record against top 10 teams. And he only won two one national championship.

Unless you have Knute Rockne or Frank Leahy – No. 1 and No. 2 in all-time winning percentage – heartbreaking losses are going to occur more often than legendary wins.

But what’s hard to remember right now – while I’m still actively restraining myself from punching a hole in the wall – is that the heartbreaking losses come with the territory of being a good team. Yeah, I remember losing to Pittsburgh in 2009 or Boston College in 2003, but does anyone honestly care anymore?

There are annoying losses that ruin your week, and then there are bone-crushing, heartrending losses that still haunt your dreams five or 10 or 20 years later. John Huarte said in 2012 that he still hasn’t gotten over that loss to USC 50 years ago.

I will never be happy with the outcome of last night’s game. I will never forget the feeling of victory suddenly evaporate with one throw of an ACC official’s flag.

But I can honestly say that in my 15 or so years of being a Notre Dame fan that I have never been more optimistic about the future of this program. The Irish still have a shot to make the playoff year, but people have already pointed out the possibilities for next season. This team is ridiculously young, and these players will learn from their heartbreak.

My graduating class will have seen the best football at Notre Dame since the class of 1997. I love this team and the players’ enthusiasm and effort. Usually when Notre Dame loses, I’m angry with someone who either made a bad play call or gave a lousy effort or did something inadvisable. I have no such complaints today. I could not be prouder of this team.

In 1964 a sophomore defensive lineman by the name of Alan Page hit USC QB Craig Fertig and knocked the ball loose, but the officials controversially decided it was an incomplete pass. Two years later, Page led one of the best defenses in history to a national championship.

It’s hard to feel anything besides abject depression today, and I still haven’t experienced my legendary “Game of the Century” win. But with the way Notre Dame played yesterday, that day might not be too far down the road. 

Irish Blogger Gathering - Tomahawk Chop

10.16.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

Each week during the football season, a collection of the self-proclaimed greatest Notre Dame football bloggers get together to answer questions that others posed to one another. In addition to myself, a member of ND Nation, Her Loyal Sons, UHND.com and the Subway Domer take part in this glorious exercise.

Before you take a look at my answers below - head over to the other blogs to see how they answered them as well.

(Link will become live once posted)

ND Nation
Her Loyal Sons
UHND.com
Subway Domer

So let’s get going!

Slow and error-prone starts have plagued the Irish this season (save for an opening TD drive against Purdue). If you’re Brian Kelly, what would you try to do to prevent such a start against Florida State? (Her Loyal Sons)

@NDSportsBlogger: “Well, I’d score. But honestly, the slow start has to do more with turnovers rather than not moving the ball. I honestly expect to see Coach Kelly try to get a “big chunk” play early on to settle the squad down. If the Irish are tied with FSU after the first quarter, I consider that a good start for Notre Dame.

All in all, it will depend on how he feels his squad is performing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put the ball in quarterback Everett Golson’s hands early to allow him to make some decisions on whether to run or throw on a run/pass option or whether to hand it off or pull it for himself on a read option run.”

Life is a music video. Provide 3 short song lyrics that best describe the upcoming game against FSU and include the video that it accompanies. (Subway Domer)

@NDSportsBlogger: Gosh …

SONG ONE: "We are ND, We are Notre Dame…"

SONG TWO: "Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play, And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off”

SONG THREE: It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.” - performed by Louis Nix III

What, if anything, does this game say about the season for both teams?  Is it make-or-break, or will the loser still have a chance? (ND Nation)

@NDSportsBlogger: “This game is quite important for both teams because it allows each of them to have their own destiny in their hands throughout the rest of the season.

A loss does not knock either team out, in my honest opinion, if Notre Dame loses they have a ton of games left that can help bolster their stock among the playoff committee. The Irish still have to travel to Arizona State and USC and have home games against Louisville and Northwestern. AND you can’t forget about those darn Midshipmen.

Nonetheless, the loser has a chance, but I wouldn’t bet that winning out after losing this weekend guarantees them a spot. Therefore, “just win baby.”

With all of the talk of Jameis Winston’s eligibility being called into question after being linked to the same autograph dealer as Todd Gurley, what is your take on Winston with regards to this weekend? Are you hoping he is ineligible to help Notre Dame’s chances or are you hoping he plays so that if Notre Dame were to win there wouldn’t be any way for the media to downplay it? (UHND.com)

@NDSportsBlogger: “Notre Dame will play the team on the field. That is honestly what I am worried about. Who cares about the naysayers and those who may try to disparage a win … a win is a win. That’s all I’m going to say about that …”

#NDLaxFallBall Takes On Culver

10.16.14

Katie DePaolo ‘16 (@NDBlogKD)

For most college athletics teams, training camps are a dreaded part of the offseason.  Training camp in the minds of most athletes is synonymous with running, conditioning and working out all day long.  But this isn’t always the case for the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team.  Their coaching staff, led by head coach Kevin Corrigan, has consistently found ways to organize off-season training camps that aren’t just used to improve skills and foster talent but also to help strengthen the relationships between the student-athletes.  Previous trips have sent the team to Italy in June and California in March, but this past month, the team took a day trip closer to home when training camp landed them at the Culver Academies in Culver, Ind.

The team’s coaches understand that to perform better on the field, the team must first learn to trust each other off the field, and trips like this away from campus help the players bond as both teammates and friends.  Senior midfielder and defenseman Hank Williams said, “It’s always nice to spend some time with the guys participating in activities other than lacrosse. Coach Corrigan likes to organize these events to help build a greater sense of community, leadership and brotherhood within our team.”

At Culver, the team was encouraged to test their athleticism with obstacles like a rock wall, the vertical playground, a zip line and the pamper pole.  Williams said even though some members of the team, including himself and teammates Trevor Brosco and Conor Doyle, had a bit more experience with obstacles like these, not everyone on the team was as comfortable.  “Usually we spend most of our time playing lacrosse, which is a place most of us tend to be pretty comfortable,” Williams said, “but on weekends like this, many of our players are forced to step outside their comfort zone and participate in some pretty wild activities. It’s always awesome to see your buddies overcome their fear of heights and take a leap off the pamper pole.”

But having fun on the obstacles course wasn’t the only reason the men’s lacrosse team found the trip to Culver to be fulfilling.  Junior midfielder Kyle Trolley, a 2012 graduate of the Culver Academies, was just happy to be back at the place he once called home.  “The last time I was on the field there was during my senior year of high school, so to be back two years later with a completely new team felt a little weird,” Trolley said, “but it was fun to be the de facto tour guide for my team and to try and explain what made Culver such a special place for me.”

With a team of as many players and varying personalities as the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team, there are bound to be dozens of different takeaways from training camps like the one at Culver Academies this past month. Yet, there is one thing they can all agree on: this isn’t your typical off-season training camp.  “I think trips like this are a nice way to shake up the routine of the fall.  Having fun as a team away from campus, and especially away from the field, is very important,” Trolley said, “The on the field part of things is a lot better when you’re playing with fifty of your best friends.”

 

To see more photos of the team’s trip, check out their Twitter and Facebook pages.

21 Years in the Making

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10.15.14

Craig Chval ‘15

On Saturday Notre Dame will be involved in its first regular-season top-five matchup since 1996. That is not wholly surprising, seeing as the Irish have only played 10 games as a top-five team since that season (one in 2002, three in 2006 and six in 2012).

It’s probably the biggest game involving Notre Dame since 1993. Most of the current players had not yet been born.

But the historical significance of this game, as well as its parallels with that other contest 21 years ago, have unfortunately been overshadowed this week. People can’t seem to stop talking about a certain Heisman Trophy winner and whether or not he should play.

If you thought Miami fans whined about Cleveland Gary’s fumble, that would be nothing compared to this. Imagine that game if Steve Walsh was suspended, or ’93 Florida State without Charlie Ward.

Would people still remember those games the same way? Would they brag, “I was there on 10/15/88”? Would they tell their kids about how they were in the south end zone when Pat Terrell batted down the pass from backup Craig Erickson?

I was not yet a year old in 1993. My chance for a legendary win was shot down on this date nine years ago. My entire life I’ve been waiting for an ’88 Miami or a ’93 Florida State.

These chances don’t come around too often – it’s been 18 years since the last top-five game. But Notre Dame has a rich history of winning such games with an astounding record of 14-7-3.

Those 14 wins have come over 10 seasons. Notre Dame finished in the top six in each of those 10 seasons, winning a national championship in four of them and finishing second in three more.

Every great season has a statement win, from Oklahoma in 2012 to Iowa Pre-Flight in 1943. This would certainly fit the bill.

So bring your best, Florida State.

Irish In The NFL - Week Six

10.14.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

Week six in the NFL is complete after a Monday Night Football battle between San Francisco and . In all, 40 former Notre Dame football student-athletes (37 of which ended their college career with the Irish) are currently employed as players in the NFL.

Check out how they did in week six …

Arizona Cardinals
Defeated the Washington Redskins, 30-20

John Carlson - TE - Four catches, 14 yards receiving
Michael Floyd - WR - Four catches, 47 yards receiving, one touchdown


Robert Hughes - RB - One catch, seven yards receiving
Troy Niklas - TE - Saw game action

Atlanta Falcons
Lost to the Chicago Bears, 27-13

Prince Shembo - LB - Saw game action
Zeke Motta - S - Injured Reserved

Baltimore Ravens
Defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-17

Kapron Lewis-Moore - DL - Injured Reserve

Carolina Panthers
Tied the Cincinnati Bengals, 37-37

J.J. Jansen - LS - Saw game action

Chicago Bears
Defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 27-13

Jimmy Clausen - QB - 1-1 passing for 9 yards

Cincinnati Bengals
Tied the Carolina Panthers, 37-37

Tyler Eifert - TE - Injured Reserve

Cleveland Browns
Defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-10

Braxston Cave - OL - Practice Squad

Dallas Cowboys
Defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 30-23

Zach Martin - OG - Started along the offensive line

Denver Broncos
Defeated the N.Y. Jets, 31-17

David Bruton - S - Team Captain - One tackle

Detroit Lions
Defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 17-3

Theo Riddick - RB - Three carries, six yards rushing, five catches, 75 yards receiving, one touchdown


Golden Tate - WR - Seven catches, 44 yards receiving
T.J. Jones - WR - Injured Reserve
Joseph Fauria - TE - Transfered to Maryland - Did not see game action

Houston Texans
Lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 33-28

Louis Nix III - DT - Inactive

Indianapolis Colts
Defeated the Houston Texans, 33-28

Sergio Brown - S - Four tackles

Jacksonville Jaguars
Lost to the Tennessee Titans, 16-14

Sam Young - OT - Saw game action

Kansas City Chiefs
BYE WEEK

Anthony Fasano - TE - 
Ryan Harris - OT - 

Minnesota Vikings
Lost to the Detroit Lions, 17-3

Robert Blanton - S - Eight tackles
Kyle Rudolph - TE - Did not see game action
Harrison Smith - S - Four tackles
John Sullivan - C - Started along the offensive line

New England Patriots
Defeated the Buffalo Bills, 37-22

Jonas Gray - RB - Practice Squad
Darius Fleming - LB - Practice Squad
Kona Schwenke - DL - Practice Squad

New York Giants
Lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-0

Bennett Jackson - CB - Practice Squad

New York Jets
Lost to the Denver Broncos, 31-17

Darrin Walls - DB - Four tackles
Shaq Evans - WR - Transferred To UCLA - Injured Reserve

Oakland Raiders
Lost to the San Diego Chargers, 31-28

Justin Tuck - DE - Three tackles
George Atkinson III - RB - Practice Squad

Pittsburgh Steelers
Lost to the Cleveland Browns, 31-10

Stephon Tuitt - DE - One tackle

San Diego Chargers
Defeated the Oakland Raiders, 31-28

Manti Te’o - LB - Injured Reserve
Chris Watt - OG - Saw game action
Trevor Robinson - OG - Did not see game action

San Francisco 49ers
Defeated the St. Louis Rams, 31-17

Ian Williams - NT - Six tackles
Aaron Lynch - DL - Transferred To USF - One tackle

In Our Own Words - UNC Week

10.12.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

Saturday night’s high-scoring affair between the Irish and the Tar Heels was a back and forth contest that sets up a top-5 showdown between Notre Dame and Florida State on October 18th. Instead of looking at the game in story form, let’s take a look at the top-10 social media posts from before, during and after the 50-43 Notre Dame win.

Enjoy.

10: TAKING A SELFIE WITH THE ADMIRAL

9: TWO-TIME NASCAR TRUCK CHAMPION TODD BODINE VISITS

8: JULIUS JONES AND GLENN EARL RETURN TO CAMPUS

7: MINNESOTA-DULUTH HOCKEY’S TRIP OF A LIFETIME

6: NEW KICKS FOR KELLY CARES

5: NOT TOO SHABBY…

4: EQUIPMENT STAFF GRANTS A WISH

3: BOOMSTICK COMES TO FIRST ND GAME

2: NOTRE DAME OUR MOTHER

1: COACH BREY PRESENTS DICKIE V WITH GIFT

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What a surprise as Mike Brey presented me with an ND jersey with ‘97 the year I received my honorary degree from Notre Dame. #NDPRIDE

View on Instagram

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

                                                                                          Getty Images

10.12.14

Craig Chval ‘15

For almost any aspect of yesterday’s game, you can find something either great or awful.

The offense scored 50 points on 519 yards but had three turnovers. The defense contained Elijah Hood to 1.6 yards a carry but gave up 36 points and 510 yards of its own. Kyle Bridza played fantastic all day, Jarron Jones blocked a PAT, and North Carolina had -13 punt return yards. But the Irish averaged 11.4 yards on kick returns.

As much as Brian Kelly talks about how hard it is to win any given game in college football, you can tell he and the players were disappointed in the performance.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether an ugly game is an off week or a magnifier of lingering issues – most of the time it’s probably both. Yesterday we saw some things that we’ve seen previously (turnovers), but some of the issues might have been more indicative of the trap game. 

After playing lights out the last five games, the defense suddenly struggled, especially containing Marquise Williams and with overall tackling. The Irish have been covering mobile quarterbacks and tackling well all season, so I like to think those issues won’t crop up next week.

We also saw a resurgence in the run game, with Tarean Folston gaining 98 yards on 18 carries for two scores. Is that a sign of an improvement or merely North Carolina’s abysmal defense (124th in scoring defense out of 125 teams)? 

The good news is that every team outside of Mississippi looks flawed at this point, and Florida State is no exception. The Seminoles should have lost to Clemson (albeit without Jameis Winston) and needed a comeback over NC State. 

And it’s not just Florida State – other teams in the top 10 have shown cracks. Baylor gave up 58 to TCU and needed 24 unanswered to beat them. Alabama’s offense is struggling, and Michigan State lost by 19 to Oregon, who lost to Arizona.

The Seminoles are certainly beatable and don’t have their 2013 aura of invincibility. The fall of Notre Dame’s once-terrifying schedule means the Irish have a good shot at all their remaining games, but they also have a smaller margin for error. A loss to FSU likely knocks them out of playoff contention.

Especially with a new system that will try to differentiate one-loss teams, style points matter in college football. An 11-1 Notre Dame would have a case but would certainly not be automatic. How the Irish performed in games against teams under .500 will be looked at closely.

But the true meaning of yesterday’s game will come with more data points: either it’s one more win on the way to a great season, like BYU and Pittsburgh in 2012, or it’s a harbinger of potential problems for a future loss – perhaps like Navy last year.

While the Irish are still undefeated, I’ll assume it’s the former. No matter how ugly the wins, a 12-0 Notre Dame team will get a shot in a national semifinal. And they’re already halfway there. 

Revisiting Trap Games

                                                                           Matt Cashore

10.10.14

Craig Chval ‘15

Talking to Notre Dame fans, you’d think the Irish were traveling to Tallahassee this week to take on top-ranked Florida State.

Unfortunately, that matchup will have to wait until after the North Carolina game tomorrow. It’s a classic trap game: The Tar Heels are an underachieving but talented team. The Irish are coming off a big win last week and trying to not look ahead to another huge matchup the following game.

That got me thinking – how often has Notre Dame had a game like this, and how well have they done? Surprisingly, there haven’t been too times when a ranked Irish team played an unranked opponent in between two ranked foes. If you limit it to three-week periods (meaning no byes to separate the games), there have been 20 since the advent of the AP Poll in 1936.

If you only include scenarios in which Notre Dame won the first game (as the Irish did against Stanford), there are 13 such instances. Notre Dame is 10-3 in those trap games and an excellent 8-3-2 in games after trap games. Still following me?

Over the last 30 years, the trap games have always been within one score, but Notre Dame is 3-1 in those games. It will be tempting to look ahead to Florida State, but it could prove fatal. Based on what’s happened in the past, Saturday’s game might be closer than you think.

Here’s a brief overview of the last five of Notre Dame’s trap games.

2012: BYU 14 – No. 5 Notre Dame 17

Previous game: No. 17 Stanford 13 – No. 7 Notre Dame 20 (OT)

Following game: No. 5 Notre Dame 30 – No. 8 Oklahoma 13

Final record/rank: 12-1, No. 4

Wow, there are some striking similarities between this game and the upcoming one. Both featured a tight home win over Stanford and a top-10 road opponent. And of course both teams were undefeated.

If you don’t remember this BYU game, you might not be alone. It was not among the most thrilling contests of 2012, although Notre Dame did score the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

This was the game Everett Golson did not play due to an injury, and Tommy Rees led the Irish to their seventh straight win.

2002: Purdue 17 – No. 23 Notre Dame 24

Previous game: Notre Dame 22 – No. 21 Maryland 0 (at Giants Stadium)

Following game: No. 7 Michigan 23 – No. 20 Notre Dame 25

Final record/rank: 10-3, No. 19

Notre Dame’s unexpected 8-0 start in 2002 began in the Meadowlands with a 22-0 thrashing of Maryland. The Irish almost faced a letdown the following week against Purdue, but scored three defensive touchdowns to eke out the 24-17 win.

The big game was the third week, when the Irish scored their first offensive touchdowns of the season en route to a 25-23 home victory over seventh-ranked Michigan. 

1995: No. 17 Notre Dame 28 – Army 27 (at Giants Stadium)

Previous game: No. 23 Notre Dame 29 – No. 15 Washington 21

Following game: No. 5 USC 10 – No. 17 Notre Dame 38

Final record/rank: 9-3, No. 11

All the games so far have been close, but this takes the cake. Coming off a road win over Washington, the Irish were very, very nearly on the receiving end of a huge upset by Army. The 1-2-1 Black Knights scored a touchdown in the last minute to make the score 28-27.

Rather than go for the tie, they elected to go for two, and somehow Ivory Covington stopped tight end Ron Leshinski from crossing the goal line on the conversion.

You might think the Irish were a mediocre team after that performance, but the following week they crushed No. 5 USC 38-10. The Trojans were no slouches, finishing 9-2-1 with a Rose Bowl win. The game was the bookend of a 12-0-1 run by Notre Dame in the famed series.

 

1987: No. 7 Notre Dame 20 – Penn State 21

Previous game: No. 10 Alabama 6 – No. 7 Notre Dame 37

Following game: No. 10 Notre Dame 0 – No. 2 Miami 24

Final record/rank: 8-4, No. 17

The Irish felt Army’s pain in 1987, when they failed a two-point conversation attempt to beat Penn State. Notre Dame was 8-1, but the loss marked the first of three in a row, dropping them to 8-4 after a Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M. Of course, the Irish would go on to win their next 23 games.

But in ’87 those three losses disappointingly came after a 37-6 thumping of No. 10 Alabama. The Irish outgained the Crimson Tide 465-185 in a victory that avenged the previous year’s 28-10 defeat.

Unfortunately, the offense would have to wait until ’88 to be that explosive again, losing the final two games by a combined score of 59-10.

1978: Tennessee 14 – No. 14 Notre Dame 31

Previous game: No. 15 Notre Dame 27 – No. 11 Navy 7 (at Cleveland)

Following game: No. 10 Notre Dame 38 – No. 20 Georgia Tech 21

Final record/rank: 9-3, No. 7

Although this game didn’t have the close scores of the other four, the Irish did have a slow start in the game and were losing 7-6 at halftime. However, Notre Dame outscored Tennessee 25-7 in the second half, sealing the game with a fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown.

The other two games in the trio weren’t very close either. The Irish were ranked lower than Navy, but built up a 24-0 halftime lead over the Midshipmen. They followed the Tennessee win with another 17-point victory over Georgia Tech.

The Rest

1976: Miami 27 – No. 13 Notre Dame 40

Previous game: No. 10 Alabama 18 – No. 18 Notre Dame 21

Following game: No. 13 Notre Dame 13 – No. 3 USC 17

Final record/rank: 9-3, No. 12

1974: Air Force 0 – No. 5 Notre Dame 38

Previous game: No. 17 Pittsburgh 10 – No. 5 Notre Dame 14

Following game: No. 5 Notre Dame 24 – No. 6 USC 55

Final record/rank: 10-2, No. 6

1973: Navy 7 – No. 5 Notre 44

Previous game: No. 6 USC 14 – No. 8 Notre Dame 23

Following game: No. 5 Notre Dame 31 – No. 20 Pittsburgh 31

Final record/rank: 11-0, No. 1

1969: No. 15 Notre Dame 45 – Army 0 (at Yankee Stadium)

Previous game: No. 14 Michigan State 14 – Notre Dame 28

Following game: No. 3 USC 14 – No. 11 Notre Dame 14

Final record/rank: 8-2-1, No. 5

1958: No. 14 Notre Dame 26 – Pittsburgh 29

Previous game: Notre Dame 40 – No. 15 Navy 20 (at Baltimore)

Following game: No. 11 North Carolina 24 – Notre Dame 34

Final record/rank: 6-4, No. 17

1952: Pittsburgh 22 – No. 8 Notre Dame 19

Previous game: No. 19 Notre Dame 14 – No. 5 Texas 3

Following game: Notre Dame 26 – No. 9 Purdue 14

Final record/rank: 7-2-1, No. 3

1946: No. 2 Notre Dame 28 – Navy 0 (at Baltimore)

Previous game: No. 2 Notre Dame 41 – No. 17 Iowa 6

Following game: No. 2 Notre Dame 0 – No. 1 Army 0 (at Yankee Stadium)

Final record/rank: 8-0-1, No. 1

1942: No. 4 Notre Dame 9 – Navy 0 (at Cleveland)

Previous game: No. 8 Notre Dame 21 – No. 5 Illinois 14

Following game: No. 4 Notre Dame 13 – No. 19 Army 0 (at Yankee Stadium)

Final record/rank: 7-2-2, No. 6

Irish Blogger Gathering - It’s Haiku Time For Heels

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10.9.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

Each week during the football season, a collection of the self-proclaimed greatest Notre Dame football bloggers get together to answer questions that others posed to one another. In addition to myself, a member of ND Nation, Her Loyal Sons, UHND.com and the Subway Domer take part in this glorious exercise.

Before you take a look at my answers below - head over to the other blogs to see how they answered them as well.

(Link will become live once posted)

ND Nation
Her Loyal Sons
UHND.com
Subway Domer

So let’s get going!

No shortage of commentary about the inclement weather last Saturday.  Not counting that game, what’s the worst weather in which you’ve ever watched a Notre Dame football game live? (ND Nation)

@NDSportsBlogger: The weather during the Stanford game was a bit crazy if you ask me. Personally, the weather at the 2013 BYU game was the worst weather I have ever been a part of. It was cold, windy, did I mention it was cold?

Growing up there were two games that come to mind. First, the 1995 Navy game (I think it was 1995) due to the cold weather. My dad loves to tell this story, it was the first game I ever went to (and the only one in the old stadium) and my favorite candy has always been Skittles. It was so cold that I couldn’t even bite the Skittles I had bought from the concession stand.

The other game I remember that had some bad weather was I believe the 1999 USC game. It wasn’t that cold I believe but at a point in the game, the sky opened up and rain just poured. Quite possibly the “funnest” (yes, I said funnest) experience I have ever had attending a football game here at Notre Dame.

This is the second week in a row which Golson has had some struggles with protecting the ball both in the air and on the ground. As he is arguably the heart of the ND offense, are you worried about the struggles? Do you think he’ll be fine? Or is your temperature somewhere else on the scale? (Her Loyal Sons)

@NDSportsBlogger: I’m not worried about his struggles at all. The Syracuse game was rough, I’ll give you that. However, if you take the Stanford game as the lone sample, you would toss it out as an outlier due to the weather. Additionally, he completed 20-43 passes and made things happen when the Irish needed it most. My temperature is 98.6*, right where it should be.

Hello poets. Hello wannabe hipsters- here is your chance to step up to the mic at your favorite coffee house and let your creativity shine. I need 2 haikus from you. One about last weeks incredible victory, and one about this weeks game against North Carolina. I’ll sit down and listen [grabs cup of ridiculously weird coffee blend]. (Subway Domer)

@NDSportsBlogger:

MY STANFORD HAIKU:
Stanford Loses Ben
Ev Tosses To The Corner
Koyack Catches It

MY UNC HAIKU:
Tar Heels Come To Town
Stand Between Irish and Noles
No Mercy ND

It’s now been two games since the OL was completely reshuffled. One game was a against a blitz happy team and another was against the #1 ranked defense in the country.  So far the results have been mixed with OK pass protection but not stellar run blocking.  Have these two games given the new look line great experience and we’ll see the benefits moving forward or have the two challenging experiences not given them the time to settle into their new roles and do you think the line will get better than what we’ve seen? (UHND.com)

@NDSportsBlogger: Let’s start here - the offensive line is moving in the right direction in terms of production. The 120-some odd rushing years the Irish picked up last week on the stout Stanford defense was a good sign, but Coach Kelly will tell you I’m sure that they still have an opportunity to get much better along the offensive front. This week will be interesting as the Tar Heels defensive is peppered with athletic down linemen and quick linebackers. Expect the Heels to throw a ton of different looks at the offensive line of the Irish, but I expect the Irish to once again make steps to become a solid group as they have in year’s past.

New Uniform, Same Tradition

Anna Gonzalez ‘16 (@NDBlogGonzo)

10.7.2014

Tradition.

This word can practically encapsulate The University of Notre Dame as a whole. However, as students graduate and generations change, traditions are tweaked. Since Under Armour was announced as the new outfitter of Notre Dame Athletics in early 2014, they have worked tirelessly with the equipment staff at Notre Dame to balance tradition and a “new age” look. The Notre Dame hockey sweaters have stayed the same for over 20 years now, so when time came to design the new jersey, Dave Gilbert, the Notre Dame Hockey equipment manager, wanted to find unique ways to keep tradition, but also find new ways to include new design aspects to the uniform.

Under Armour understood the desire amongst the Notre Dame Hockey staff to keep their two-decade tradition, and they obliged. One of the main things UA did was come up with a blue sleeve. According to Gilbert, the blue sleeve on the Irish sweater is “pretty iconic,” therefore you will see a very similar uniform from distance.

As we have come to figure out with Under Armour, attention to detail is in every facet of what they do.

So what has changed?

First, the new jerseys have laces at the collar. “It’s the ‘in’ thing right now,” said Gilbert. “It adds a little something to it.” The special jerseys that have been worn in the past have had laces on the collar, but the normal blues and whites have not had laces for the duration of the jersey’s run as the home sweater.

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Kevin Lind (‘12) wears the Reebok-produced jersey during the 2013-14 season.

Second, the striping changed. One thing Under Armour has been doing in all the new uniforms they’ve made for Notre Dame is to add some details to the striping. Gilbert said it’s their 500-50-5 rule, which means you see one thing at 500 feet away. Then, at 50 feet, more detail appears, but finally at five feet, the intricacies of the jerseys are all evident. The detail in the striping is Under Armour’s particular branding for Notre Dame, as reported by Gilbert. He said that Under Armour tried to reflect the ceiling of the basilica and an aerial view of the sidewalks on campus through the details. The other change in the striping is the number of stripes. The uniform has gone from multi-striping to single stripes, but when it came to team picture day, “I really like it. I think it looks really sharp,” Gilbert said.

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An up-close comparison between the striping. The Reebok jersey is on the left. The new Under Armour jersey is on the right.

Gilbert also says he likes the new shade of gold. There’s not too much of a difference between the two, but (as you can see in the picture) the Under Armour gold is just a little bit closer to the gold paint in the helmets. “It’s just got a little more powerful gold on it,” Gilbert stated. “I think it’s going to be great with the helmets.”

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What is Gilbert’s favorite part of the uniform you wonder? “The crest…. We haven’t changed that crest in 21 years. We kind of do things similar to football in that we have usually one weekend where we can do our Shamrock Series, otherwise our blues and our whites stay pretty traditional.”

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The crest on the front of the jersey has undergone no changes in the last two decades. The only difference between this year’s and last is the color of the gold thread used in the twill work.

My favorite part of the jersey is on the shoulder: the Notre Dame seal. “The seal is really awesome,” Gilbert agreed. In his mind, it allows the jersey to reflect the Five Pillars of Notre Dame Athletics, as stated by Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. Excellence, Education, Faith, Community and Tradition are all demonstrated in the jersey in some way. The excellence of the program is shown through the crest on the front and the names on the back; the tradition of the program, through the 21-year history of the sweater (and the implementation of the gold helmet in 2005); community, through the uniformity amongst the team and the fans that wear the jersey as well. Education and Faith are specific to the seal as it reminds not only the players, but all who look at them, that they are students before athletes; that they attend a school that is founded upon excellence upheld by the tradition of strong faith-based community. 

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Personally, I love the Notre Dame whites and blues as they stand and find both an appreciation for and fascination in the new details that Under Armour added this year. After all, we do like our tradition around here.

Irish In The NFL - Week Five

10.7.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

Week five in the NFL is complete after a Monday Night Football thriller between the Seattle and Washington. In all, 40 former Notre Dame football student-athletes (37 of which ended their college career with the Irish) are currently employed as players in the NFL.

Check out how they did in week four …

Arizona Cardinals
Lost to the Denver Broncos, 41-20

John Carlson - TE - Two catches, 19 yards receiving
Michael Floyd - WR - One catch, nine yards receiving
Robert Hughes - RB - One rush, zero yards rushing
Troy Niklas - TE - Saw game action

Atlanta Falcons
Lost to the N.Y. Giants, 30-20

Prince Shembo - LB - 14 tackles
Zeke Motta - S - Injured Reserved

Baltimore Ravens
Lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 20-13

Kapron Lewis-Moore - DL - Injured Reserve

Carolina Panthers
Defeated the Chicago Bears, 31-24 

J.J. Jansen - LS - Saw game action

Chicago Bears
Lost to the Carolina Panthers, 31-24

Jimmy Clausen - QB - 1-1 passing for 9 yards

Cincinnati Bengals
Lost to the New England Patriots, 43-17

Tyler Eifert - TE - Injured Reserve
Trevor Robinson - OG - Practice Squad - (signed with San Diego on Tuesday)

Dallas Cowboys
Defeated the Houston Texans, 20-17

Zach Martin - OG - Started along the offensive line

Denver Broncos
Defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 41-20

David Bruton - S - Team Captain - Saw game action

Detroit Lions
Lost to the Buffalo Bills, 17-14

Theo Riddick - RB - Did not see action
Golden Tate - WR - Seven catches, 134 yards receiving, one touchdown

T.J. Jones - WR - Injured Reserve
Joseph Fauria - TE - Transfered to Maryland - Did not see game action

Houston Texans
Lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 20-17

Louis Nix III - DT - Inactive

Indianapolis Colts
Defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 20-13

Sergio Brown - S - Three tackles

Jacksonville Jaguars
Lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-9

Sam Young - OT - Saw game action

Kansas City Chiefs
Lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 22-17

Anthony Fasano - TE - Four catches, 32 yards receiving
Ryan Harris - OT - Saw game action

Minnesota Vikings
Lost to the Green Bay Packers, 42-10

Robert Blanton - S - Eight tackles
Kyle Rudolph - TE - Did not see game action
Harrison Smith - S - Six tackles and an interception
John Sullivan - C - Started along the offensive line

New England Patriots
Defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 43-17

Jonas Gray - RB - Practice Squad
Darius Fleming - LB - Practice Squad
Kona Schwenke - DL - Practice Squad

New York Giants
Defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 30-20

Bennett Jackson - CB - Practice Squad

New York Jets
Lost to the San Diego Chargers, 31-0

Darrin Walls - DB - Two tackles
Shaq Evans - WR - Transferred To UCLA - Injured Reserve

Oakland Raiders
BYE WEEK

Justin Tuck - DE
George Atkinson III - RB - Practice Squad

Pittsburgh Steelers
Defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 17-9

Stephon Tuitt - DE - Saw game action

San Diego Chargers
Defeated the N.Y. Jets, 31-0

Manti Te’o - LB - Injured Reserve
Chris Watt - OG - Saw game action

San Francisco 49ers
Defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 22-17

Ian Williams - NT - One tackle
Aaron Lynch - DL - Transferred To USF - One tackle

Washington Redskins
Lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 27-17

Braxston Cave - OL - Practice Squad

Chargers Sign Another Irish Alum

(photo via Bengals.com)

10.7.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

After spending the first five weeks of the NFL season on the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals, Notre Dame alum Trevor Robinson has been signed to the 53-man roster of the San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers were in need of offensive line help after placing their fourth player from that position group on injured reserve this season.

In signing with San Diego, Robinson joins fellow Notre Dame alums Manti Te’o (currently on IR) and Chris Watt. If all goes as planned, Robinson and Watt have the opportunity to line up next to one another along the offensive front for the Chargers.

After spending time on the 53-man roster for a majority of his first two years in the NFL, Robinson has seen time on the Bengals practice squad this season. In his first season (2012) in Cincinnati, he played in 13 games, starting seven. Last year (2013), his output was cut short due to multiple injuries and Robinson saw the field in six games.

While at Notre Dame, Robinson was a starter in 40 of the 48 games he appeared in. In his last 37 games, he opened the game at offensive guard for the Irish. At the time of the feat, he was just the fifth freshman to start on Notre Dame’s offensive line since 1972. Robinson was the veteran leader of the offensive line in 2011 that allowed Notre Dame to gain 4.8 yards per carry and allow only 17 sacks on 473 pass attempts.

Playing with Confidence

                                                 David Guralnick / Detroit News

10.6.14

Craig Chval ‘15

I noticed an unusual feeling after Everett Golson hit Ben Koyack in the back of the end zone on Saturday. I knew we were going to win.

As someone who said, “There’s too much time left” immediately after a last-minute touchdown against Michigan in 2011, it was strange territory. After all, we scored with two minutes left against USC in 2005 and had a 95-yard touchdown pass in the closing minutes against Michigan in 2010.

But somehow none of those losses flashed before my eyes. Somehow there was no doubt in my mind they would pull this out. Somehow the confident swagger of the defense infected my cynical mind. 

When the referee threw the final flag signifying the intentional grounding to end the game, I could officially celebrate, but the biggest cheers came on Koyack’s touchdown.

On that final play, Notre Dame initially sent seven men after quarterback Kevin Hogan, allowing Elijah Shumate to chase after him and get credit for the sack. It was the type of blitz that Brian VanGorder has loved to call in big situations, to huge results for the Irish.

His defenders thrive on that confidence.

“That was just our best play by Coach VanGorder, our defensive coordinator,” Shumate said. “Our reaction as a team is like, ‘Oh, we’ve got a coach who fears nobody. We’ve got players who are going to go hard.’

“We really don’t practice plays like that, but on a play like that, Coach is so confident in our coverage that he’s like, ‘All right, we might as well send the house.’”

Shumate made the game-clinching play on the blitz, but he was nearly on the receiving end of a heartbreaking ending. On the first play after Koyack’s touchdown, Hogan overthrew Michael Rector for a potential game-winning score.

“It was kind of eye-opening, like, ‘Wow. Thank God,’” Shumate said. “We got a break and now we’ve got to play for the next play.”

And four plays later, Shumate dragged Hogan down while the Stanford quarterback threw to nobody to avoid the sack. Due to the penalty, the clock ran out, and the junior safety got credit for the sack.

That four-play turnaround was emblematic of Shumate’s improvement over the course of the season. Since Brian Kelly called out the safety corps following the Rice game, Shumate has led a staunch unit in the secondary and is third on the team in tackles with 27.

“We’ve just been working hard, working on talking to each other and communicating before each play, being on the same page,” he said. “We’re just clicking. Everybody is on the same page, and with Joe Schmidt as well.”

After Shumate’s sack, the Irish are of course sitting 5-0 for the second time in three years. They face an underachieving but talented North Carolina team before traveling to Florida State. It’s a classic trap game between an emotional win and a huge upcoming opponent.

“Every game is a big game, and we’re just working hard out there, competing to the best of our abilities to go out there and beat North Carolina,” Shumate said. “We’re really excited, but we can’t get too excited because we’ve still got a long season. We’re happy to be here, of course, but we’ve got to work a lot harder.”

STANFORD - AFTER HOURS PODCAST

10.6.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

After the Fighting Irish football squad defeated the Stanford Cardinal in dramatic fashion on Saturday night inside Notre Dame Stadium, 17-14, we decided to step in the studio for an “After Hours” podcast once we got back to the office.

Tim O’Connor (@OakND1) joined me as always in the studio for our podcast and we were joined by Mendoza College of Business graduate turned CPA turned comedian (no, seriously) John Garrett (@JohnGComedy) and FIDM producer Nate Steele (@Nate_the_Steele).

Take about 25 minutes to listen to our “After Hours - Stanford Week” podcast below.

Enjoy!

My Perspective - Koyack’s Grab

10.6.14

Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger)

As quarterback Everett Golson and the Irish trailed the Stanford Cardinal by four, facing 4th and 10 from the 22 yard line with just over a minute to go in the contest, I flipped on my phone to capture what would end up being Notre Dame’s final offensive play of the game.

What happened next was possibly the greatest moment I have ever seen live and I just so happened to be positioned in the perfect place along the sideline.

Take a look…

As Irish tight end Ben Koyack hauled in the pass, I took a step back due to the muscle memory from all the times the play comes at you along the sidelines. I will never forgive myself for not capturing the catch when it happened!

Want to see how the play turned out in slo motion? Our Fighting Irish Digital Media crew and WatchND has your back!

Boom.