Don't need no credit card to ride this train...but maybe to buy the game
Just work past the rage and you'll see my true thoughts of this game
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Wow. What a tough way to get to 2-2. Kudos to both defenses in this game. It was a vicious chess match between both teams. We saw some improvements in this game from some players, a few surprises and Notre Dame's turnover woes continue. Tommy Rees struggled but came through at the end. Let dive into this game and review what happened.
The first quarter was back and forth defensive stands. Pitt ran good coverages and forced Rees to throw away from Michael Floyd. They mixed in some blitzes and forced Rees to fumble leading to a Panther field goal. Pitt up 0-3. Aside from that, both teams somewhat struggled moving the ball at the beginning of the game. ND's front seven, once again, shut down the run and forced Sunseri to throw the ball. Though Sunseri was accurate, he and the Pitt offense didn't go anywhere. ND defended the big play and converged nicely on plays underneath. 1st quarter ends, Panthers 0-3.
|ND's defense played strong|
The opening of the second quarter started with a play that I have not seen the Irish do in a LONG TIME. Jonas Gray took a handoff on a sweep and took it 79 yards for a touchdown. Irish up 7-3. I can't even remember the last time ND had a RUN that went that far. Gray is a big back and showed he had speed. With the assistance of a Michael Floyd block, outran the defense for the score. Pitt then responded with a drive leading into the redzone. The Irish defense held firm and held them to a field goal. Irish 7-6. Notre Dame began driving down field, until Rees threw a pass late that turned into another interception. So chalk that up to 2 turnovers(luckily, no more threw out the game). ND up at halftime 7-6. At this point, Rees has looked confused. But he is a young QB and you can tell he was starting to pull it together.
|Jonas Gray had a great 79-yd TD run|
The Third quarter was a lot like the first. Both defenses refusing to let up. About half way through the third quarter, Pitt starts to drive again. Sunseri is on target and get into the redzone. Sunseri throws the ball into the endzone and scores. The Irish D played their worst on this drive. The coverage was not tight enough and the Pitt wide receivers made them pay. The Panthers attempt a 2 point conversion, with a weird formation and get stopped short of the endzone. Pitt up 12-7. The defenses for both teams continue to hold tough until the fourth quarter.
|Sunseri threw a TD in the 3rd Quarter|
The final quarter and the same story. Defenses not letting up. Both teams punt, and then the Irish get the ball. On this drive, Rees shined and proved why he is the starting QB. He led a drive in which he was 8 for 8, ending it with a touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert AND a 2 point conversion to Eifert. Irish up 15-12 with about 6 minutes left in the game. Pitt tries to come back and ND holds them back. The Irish defense forced some sacks on Sunseri, including one that left the Panthers at 4th and 25. Sunseri fades back, throws and the pass is broken up by Carlo Calabrese. Irish win.
|Tyler Eifert with the game winning 2-pt conversion|
This was a nail bitter. The Irish defense played tough, getting at least 4 sacks(2 by Darius Fleming). The corners played better, BUT STILL, they left some Pitt wide receivers open. But the front seven did their job. And how about the ND running game? Wood was 6 yards shy of another 100 yard game and Jonas Gray had 89 yards on 3 carries, including the touchdown. Two ND running backs almost had over 100 yards rushing. Now, the passing game lacked. But Tommy Rees is learning. One thing that kind of bugged me was Coach Brian Kelly's play calls. Rees threw the ball 41 times. I would have liked to see them run the ball more, considering that it has been doing VERY well all year. An ugly win, but a win nonetheless, on the road. Next week we are at Purdue for another night game. Until then,
GO IRISH! GO!
|Notre Dame with the W, that's two, baby!|
Friday, September 23, 2011
This week is Pittsburgh. Notre Dame goes on the road again for the next two weeks. We finally got our first victory last week and I'm confident that we can continue this momentum against Pitt. Pitt is a team that holds wins over Buffalo and Maine(and they only beat Maine by 6 points). Their loss is to a rebuilding Iowa team in a comeback. Lets look at ND @ Pitt.
Game Day: September 24th, 2011
Kickoff: 12:00pm EST
|Tommy Rees and Cierre Wood should play well in this match up|
ND's offense is on an upward trend after the MSU game. Fewer turnovers(still too many) but more balance of run and pass. The Irish will have to continue this balance against Pitt's multiple defense. Also, a bigger game from Michael Floyd should be implemented. A no brainer, I know, but he was relatively more quiet last week than in the first two games. Expect the ND offense to run more draws and screens than usual since the Pitt D likes to attack fast. Also, Tommy Rees may have a big game this week. Pitt gave up 21 points in the 4th quarter to Iowa, all TD passes. If the Pitt secondary comes in weak, look forward to seeing them picked apart. Cierre Wood will need to get plenty of touches and get good gains if the ND passing attack spreads the defense out. ND still needs to limit their turnovers, so that is still a big worry. We will find out if they have a grip on it this Saturday.
Pitt is lead by QB Tino Sunseri. Now, I really don't think he's a good QB. I'm not saying this to hate on him, but I felt the same when he started last year. I just don't think he makes good decisions when it comes to high pressure situations. It feels he either throws a bad pass, gets intercepted or takes a sack. Right now, he has more picks than TD passes and has been sacked 12 times. The O-Line for Pitt is going to have to be ready when ND's front seven come try to bust through. Look for Pitt to hand the ball off to RB Ray Graham. He's pretty quick and will need to carry the ball more than usual. When Sunseri needs to pass, he needs to sophomore WR Devin Street. Street had 138 yards receiving last week and looks to be a promising WR for the future.
Prince Shembo will be back in the ND defense this week. So that's good. ND had a great game stopping the ball last week. I still think that the secondary looks rough. There was still a couple of plays against MSU, receivers went uncovered. But the Irish D pulled it together when the opposition was in the redzone. Expect the defense to pressure Sunseri into making mistakes with a variety of blitzes. The front seven is going to need to get to the QB. Also, they need a repeat performance of stopping the run. Going up against Ray Graham will not be easy. They will also need to cover Devin Street. RJ Blanton stepped up last week and had a great game but the Irish need their corners to step up every game, not just one of them. We still haven't seen each player in the secondary play their best, all at the same time. I predict the ND defense to contain the run and force the pass. If the corners don't step up though, expect some frustrations throughout the game. Also, Freshman Aaron Lynch had a great game against MSU. Expect him to ride the same momentum and continue to improve against the Panthers.
Pitt runs a Multiple defense. They will switch personnel and packages to try and confuse the QB. They will try to make a young Tommy Rees struggle by running a variety of different coverages and blitzes. This defense likes to attack fast and get in your face. Senior Brandon Lindsey, that has been playing linebacker so far, is being moved back to the defensive line in hopes to get more pressure on the QB. Why? Well, the Pitt secondary gave up 399 yards in the air last week and 3 TD passes in the 4th quarter. Lindsey will need to play his best to help his team's defense to succeed. Now, Pitt has done well against the run, but their opponents thus far, Buffalo, Maine and Iowa, aren't that good. This will be their first real test of the year. That secondary will need to bear down or it will be a long day for the Panthers D.
Everything seems to be good after Week 3. A KR for a touchdown, Ruffer made his FG and Ben Turk starting kicking some quality points. This needs to continue to evolve and be consistent. Especially, once again, with Ben Turk. He needs to start booming it in games and not just in practice. Coach Brian Kelly said that John Goodman, Theo Riddick and Robby Toma are the players he wants returning the ball on kicks. Now, George Atkinson had a TD last week, but he also had a fumble and ALMOST fumbled on his TD. Expect some better things from the ND KR crew. But I want to see some improvement on PR. Every kick has been a fair catch and I'm clutching the couch praying that no one fumbles the catch. Hopefully we'll see some longer returns and maybe another TD.
Pitt's kicking game isn't all that great. Pitt's kicker, Kevin Harper, has missed 3 field goals and an extra point this year. He can't struggle against Notre Dame, especially if they are in a situation where they need points. Pitt Coach Todd Graham has been impressed with his Special Teams. Pitt actually isn't that bad in returns or in coverage. Expect them to not have spectacular success, but to fair well. It will actually be really fun to watch the Pitt coverage/return teams against Notre Dame's.
Overview & Prediction
Pitt coach Todd Graham is the same coach that came into Notre Dame stadium with Tulsa and beat the Irish. Expect this game to be personal. Unfortunately for Pitt, they didn't beat ND last year and they are the team the Irish will take their hurt memory out on. I think Rees will take a big step as a QB in this game facing the Panthers' multiple defense. He will play well. I see Notre Dame running many draw plays and screens to expose the fast attacking Pitt defense. I think Sunseri will look ok, but start to make mistakes when the ND front seven start crashing into the Pitt offense line harder and faster as the game progresses. But the final factor to weigh the game will come in the turnover department. Will ND have its turnover problems fixed? Well, we went from 5 to 5 to 3. Lets shoot for ZERO. I would also like to point out that I love the ND/Pitt rivalry. ND wins on the road, 35-14.
GO IRISH! BEAT PANTHERS!
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
FINALLY. A victory. I had a good feeling we were going to win this game when I watched the ND videos Thursday night. Brian Kelly said no one has beaten the Irish, we've only beaten ourselves. Today, ND beat Michigan State. The Irish had a better defensive performance this week. They held the Spartans to 29 yards rushing and 13 points. MUCH better than last week. ND had a weird game offensively. Not much throwing and a lot running. Tommy Rees only had 161 yards passing. And Special Teams made a huge impact today as well. Lets go through the game.
Notre Dame's opening drive was as commanding as their drive against UM. A good combination of run/pass led the Irish down the field. Then Cierre Wood ran in from 22 yards out to put the Irish up 7-0. Looks good so far. After a couple of defensive stops by both teams, MSU gets on the board with a 40 yard Field Goal. 7-3. But what happened next was something I KNEW needed to happen for the Notre Dame special teams. True freshman George Atkinson III takes the ensuing kickoff(after MSU scored the FG) and returns it 89 yards for the score. I knew there was going to be a big return in this game. Michigan State kicker Kevin Muma kicked a short kick and ND capitalized. ND up 14-3 after the first quarter.
|Atkinson celebrates his KR for TD with Jonas Gray|
Now, Notre Dame still had its blunders in the 1st quarter. Rees got sacked and fumbled then he threw an interception. So ND had 2 turnovers at the beginning of the game. At this point, after the last two games, you become numb to it. I am just so used to seeing ND turn the ball over that it doesn't even charge a response. I hate this feeling. ND STILL needs to work on protecting the ball. Of course, I still know Tommy Rees is the guy I want at QB, he just needs some more work and he is still developing. I also liked how Notre Dame commanded the first quarter with the run game. Switching between Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray worked really well. I hope to see this run effectively all season.
In the 2nd quarter, MSU wasn't ready to lay down. A good drive with some nice play action passes lead to Kirk Cousins connecting with tight end Dion Sims for a 6 yard score. 14-10. More back and forth defensive stands from both teams. Then late in the first half, Notre Dame gets in the redzone and Wood takes it in for a 6 yard touchdown run, making it his second of the game. ND increases their lead 21-10. But the Spartans won't go away. They drive down the field again towards the end of the second quarter. The Irish stop them inside the 10 and MSU lines up for a Field Goal. Then, a FAKE! But before you can even relive the horror of the OT loss in 2010, Irish D lineman, Ethan Johnson, disrupts the fake and MSU turns the ball over on downs. At halftime, ND still up 21-10.
|Cierre Wood had another good game|
The second half of the game was ND closing it, but they wasn't as easy as you would think. The defense opens the 3rd quarter forcing MSU to a three and out. ND gets down the field and Tommy Rees connects to T.J. Jones for a 26 yard touchdown. 28-10. Now, you would think this is a time to feel comfortable. But last week at this point, ND was up 24-7 on UM and we all know how that ended. The remainder of the 3rd quarter was pretty quiet offensively. Both defenses forced punts and ND still had the lead going into the final quarter.
|Though BJ Cunningham had a great game, Blanton and ND defense hold|
MSU gets Field Goal in the beginning of the 4th quarter, ND 28-13. ND stutters on a drive and punt. MSU stutters on a drive and punt. Then ND one more time, stutter and punt. The defenses are playing tough at the end of the game. Then MSU had a promising drive, but is shoots themselves in the foot with multiple holding penalties. The backed up yardage becomes too much and they have to punt...and PR John Goodman muffs the punt. -SIGH!- MSU gets the ball back. A few plays later, MSU is inside the ten. Kirk Cousins steps back to pass, throws the ball, and RJ Blanton gets an interception and returns it 82 yards to the Irish 12 yard line. -PHEW!- Notre Dame puts up 3 and eventually wins it, 31-13.
|RJ Blanton seals the victory with his 4th Quarter INT|
It's about damn time. It's funny that ND's first win comes to a ranked team. I felt Tommy Rees played a little poor in the first half but bounced back in the second half, playing smarter football. Wood may not have had as many yards that he had in other games previously, but he punched it in for two scores. Michael Floyd was actually pretty quiet in this game but got about 80 yards receiving. One thing, which is Floyd's most under worked skill, was his run blocking. He has always been good at blocking for the running game and had some really good ones in this game(one the helped Wood get his second TD). The defense clamped down and played better but there were still some blown or poor coverage. It was better than last week but still needs some improvement. The running game was good and the end result is what mattered. And according to the ESPN ticker I just glanced at, this is ND's first double digit win over MSU since 1993(ND 36 MSU 14). We're at 1-2 now and I think this victory will boost this team to lead to more victories. Next up is a road game at Pitt. Very winnable(Pitt doesn't look too good). But until then,
Friday, September 16, 2011
This week is Michigan State. We all remember what happened last year. The fake FG. Or as I like to remember it, THE DELAY OF GAME THAT WAS NEVER CALLED. MSU visits Notre Dame Stadium ranked 15th in the country and 2-0. While the disgruntled and embarrassed Irish come in at 0-2. Lets jump into the preview and hope I don't turn the ball over five times doing it.
Game Day: September 17th, 2011
Kickoff: 3:30pm EST
|Cierre Wood and Michael Floyd will continue to play great|
-sigh- 10 turnovers in 2 games. Lets just forget about the players that will perform well(ex: Michael Floyd, Cierre Wood, etc.) and just take a look at this stat. Coach Kelly has been telling his team that the most important stat is the turnover/take away statistic. This team needs to hold on to the ball and not throw interceptions. No more screw ups. This is not what this Notre Dame team is. But what do we expect from this offense on Saturday? Michael Floyd gets 100+ yards receiving for the third game in a row. Cierre Wood gets 100+ yards rushing for the third week in a row. This offense is really good, IF, they don't shoot themselves in the foot. Tommy Reese is the guy, and I am totally confident that he will do a good job. 1,000 yards of total offense in the last two weeks for the Irish offense and I see them taking it to the MSU defense. This, though, will be a tougher defense that ND will have played so far this year. But on the flip end, this will be a tougher offense that MSU as played so far. If ND takes care of the ball, expect the same numbers that we have seen from them all year.
|Kirk Cousins, MSU's 18 year starter(feels that way)|
So, for what feels like the 18th year in a row, Kirk Cousins will lead the MSU offense. Seriously, it feels like we've played against him FOREVER. He's pretty good out of play action, but has always shown signs to be prone to make mistakes(interceptions mostly). But he will be more experienced and will probably play very well. But the strength for the Spartans is the run game. In comes a good one-two punch in junior Edwin Baker and sophomore Le'Veon Bell. They will be a handful for the Irish D. Expect them to have plenty of carries mixed with play action. And when MSU goes to play action, they will throw to Senior B.J. Cunningham. A good wide receiver that can catch the ball when you need him to. MSU's offensive line will come at the Irish full force and try to get ND to come in and then throw the ball. This offense can score points and can manage a game very well.
|Hopefully Gary Gray won't be behind receivers this week|
ND is coming off a really bad game. The secondary did not execute at all. Gary Gray is one of those players that had a rough game against Michigan along with the other corners. They need to stick to their guys and just stay on them. No more chasing receivers or having their back turned on almost every pass. Just play ball. The ND defense will face a different offense this game. The first two games were versus dual threat quarterbacks. Now they face a more direct offense. MSU plays more of a pro style focusing on the run and play action. ND won't have to worry about stopping a running QB. But they face two good running backs and offensive line that will punish you. The Irish will need to play disciplined football and just make tackles. Tackle the runners and stay disciplined enough to not get burned by the play action. Te'o needs to rebound from an undisciplined performance last week. Stay in your lanes and make tackles. And HOPEFULLY we may see some blitzes this weekend too. That would be nice. The Irish D needs to shrug off last week and get back to the defense that they feel that they are.
|Jerel Worthy beasting|
Last week, the MSU defense gave up 48 yards on offense and one first down. Now, that was against Florida Atlantic. The Spartans defense this year is going to be a little behind their squad from last year. They lost some players from last year and this Saturday will be their first big test. They have a lot of new starters this year at the defensive line and at linebacker. But MSU has always played well against ND. Jerel Worthy, junior DT, is going to be a force to be reckoned with and will need to play his best. But beside from that, his supporting cast seems little weak just because they don't have enough experience. I see MSU's D rusty in this game and slightly exposed. But they won't be a pushover.
I just want to say something real quick about Ben Turk. He needs to start kicking the ball consistently. His punts have been awful and it is really surprising to me. I want to see good kicks from him this weekend. Aside from that, John Goodman took over Punt Returns last week. Nothing too big, but he didn't fumble the ball. David Ruffer made a FG last week so I think he will be good for the rest of the season. The Punt and Kick coverage looks solid, still. ND is having good Special Team plays on covering kicks. I still want to see better blocking on returns. They don't need to rain touchdowns every game but a good return here and there would be nice to see. So expect good coverage and a MSU's return game getting clamped down.
MSU's kickoffs are looking a little wimpy. Kicker Kevin Muma seems to have some difficulty getting kicks all the way down field. In a game like this, MSU can't afford to give up field position. If ND can get their return game going, it could spell catastrophe for the Spartans. Coach Mark Dantonio pointed out that he wants more out of his special teams to avoid disadvantages. Some people are high on RS Freshman RB, Nick Hill, that they expect to be big in the return game for MSU. I think MSU struggles on special teams and ND has a good opportunity to get themselves in better situations. MSU may give up a KR or PR for a TD one game day.
Overview & Prediction
ND games are actually becoming easy to predict. If the Irish don't turn the ball over, then they will beat MSU. If the same mistakes repeat, then they will lose. I'm not going to give a two sided prediction like last week. This is what I honestly think. Notre Dame will win this game. Why? They are at home. MSU is in the perfect set up to be beat. ND has proven that they can pull out near 500 yards of offense. And some kind of fire has to be lit under the asses of the ND players. If there is going to be a time to turn it around, this is the game. At home versus one of your rivals that are ranked. Call it wishful thinking, call it typical Notre Dame arrogance, but this Irish football team is better than what they have shown thus far. I'm not saying they're a dominate team, I'm not saying they are the best team. They are just better than what they have shown and this is their prime chance to prove it. I mean, the only variable we're talking about is turning the ball over, which is too unpredictable. You can have Tommy Rees throw a pick on 1st down in cover three(which is a controllable mistake that you can coach your QB on) or you can have a fluke where the ball just slips out of his hands. Look at last week for Michigan. ND stopped a RB on third and goal but he fumbled, Dernard Robinson picked it up and walked in for a score. Weird and uncontrollable things just happen in football games. If Notre Dame loses a game in where they don't beat themselves, then I would be more likely to pick against them. ND 35 – 21. Deal with it.
GO IRISH! BEAT SPARTANS!
|ND @ MSU(2010): Think I forgot? Zero seconds, mother fuckers.|
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
So I guess the team we saw last week was the Notre Dame team of 2011. A team that turns the ball over in the red zone and, apparently, DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY DEEP ZONE ON DEFENSE WITH 30 SECONDS LEFT IN THE FUCKING GAME. This was another embarrassing performance by the Irish. To go up 24-7 and then just give up and lose. Absolutely lousy and totally confidence destroying. Here's how it went.
Notre Dame's first two offense drives and defensive performances were stellar. The defense opens up by forcing UM to a three and out. Then the offense marches down the field and scores on a Tommy Rees touchdown to Theo Riddick. The defense comes back forcing ANOTHER three and out. ND marches down AGAIN and Cierre Wood sticks in for the score. 14-0 ND in the first quarter. So, I'm feeling pretty good at this point. The Irish showed the dominance that they are to supposed to every time they have the ball. But then the turnovers set it. Rees throws a “greedy” pick to UM in the red zone. Then the Wolverines throw deep and score. The ND secondary in this game was just awful. They were always chasing UM receivers or just flat out not covering them at all. They were too paranoid about Dernard Robinson to cover. ND closes the first half with a FG, and we are up 17-7 at halftime.
|Rees had another good performace|
Into the second half, ND has a fumble by Cierre Wood. But quickly recover on their next drive with a TD pass to TJ Jones. So, 24-7 now. I am ecstatic. Despite the mistakes, we are dominating. Then the implosion sets in. Michigan drives to the goal line. So on third down, they run up the middle. The UM fullback is stuffed but fumbles. Backwards. It bounces right to Robinson WHO PICKS IT UP AND WALKS IN FOR THE SCORE. Now, this was just one of those freak lucky plays but for FUCK'S SAKE, was it frustrating. ND then putters out on their next drive. And that's fine, but it is just the way they did. It is third down and short. EVERY, SINGLE, TIME, ND was in 3rd and short, Rees would line up under center and the offense would run the ball up the middle. It didn't work all night, AND THEY STILL KEPT DOING IT. Everyone and their grandma knew what the play would be, why would Michigan think any differently. REALLY bad play calling. UM drives AGAIN, because the ND secondary is straight garbage running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Now it is 24-21. At this point, I knew ND was going to lose. They just collapsed after a huge lead because of bad play calling, poor defense and turnovers.
|Michigan gaining some much needed momentum thanks to the ND Secondary\|
So after ND runs the ball up the middle for the umpteenth time on 3rd and short and get stuffed, UM drives down the field and score again. ND is now down 28-24. Completely ridiculous and 100% unbelievable. But Tommy Rees shows us why he's the start on ND's final offensive possession and leads the Irish down the field to a score(pass to Riddick for TD). With 30 seconds left, the Irish are up 31-28. The kickoff leads to a touchback, so UM has to drive 80 yards in half a minute. First down is an incomplete pass. 23 seconds left. And then, the shit Irish secondary FAIL to cover a WR, and Michigan gets a monster gain on second down with a roughing the passer penalty tacked on to it. UM is in ND territory with 8 seconds left. What comes next? UM throws the fade for the game winning TD. And that's all she wrote.
|Roy Roundtree catching the game winning TD|
ND gave this game away for the same reasons last week. Turnovers, penalties and bad play calls in crucial situations. Brian Kelly said earlier in the week that ND needs to learn not to lose. Well, they obviously didn't learn it Saturday night. I mean, up 24-7 and they blow it. My anger levels reached a peek familiar with the Charlie Weis era. And no, no. I don't think ND needs a new coach. I just think they need better and faster athletes in the defensive secondary. But those turnovers are KILLER. Take the turnovers in the first two games away, and ND is 2-0 with both wins having monster margin of victory. But they are 0-2 with 9 turnovers combined in both games. Now, lets also point out that Michigan didn't look good either. They played as horribly as we did. They also had turnovers, penalties and a QB that has proven that he CAN NOT throw the ball. These were just two mediocre teams playing an exciting game.
|Michigan celebrating their W|
Now, what positive aspects can I pull from this embarrassment of a game? Well, Michael Floyd had a great game, but that is to be expected. So lets focus on two players. First, Tommy Rees played well. I'm pretty sure he is the guy to lead this team for the rest of his time at Notre Dame. I mean, you get the trust that you can put the ball in hands and he score every time. Proof of this was ND's final TD in last night's game. Thank god, Rees is only sophomore and I'm pretty sure we will have him for his Junior and Senior seasons. Next, Cierre Wood. Another 100+ yard rushing game. Out of everything the Coach Kelly has said, the one thing he nailed on the head was the play of Cierre Wood. He was outstanding again this week and I can't wait to see what he does for the rest of this season. ND still has a long way to go but I am sure that Brian Kelly is the coach to bring this team back. Next week is at home versus Michigan State and I don't see a victory. ND's theme this year seem to be turning the ball over so I have to assume that is what they will do in every game. If ND does not turn the ball over, then we will win. We will have to wait until this upcoming Saturday to see if the Irish can play mistake free football.
Until then, GO IRISH, GO!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
On Saturday, Notre Dame goes to Ann Arbor to play the first night game at Michigan Stadium. Both teams will be dawned in “Retro” jerseys to mark a game named, “Under the Lights Game.” It is one of the oldest and best rivalries in all of college football. Lets jump in and see what we have to look forward to Saturday night.
|ND and UM will wear throwback jerseys on game day|
Game Day: September 10th, 2011
Kickoff: 6:00PM EST
|Tommy Rees will start Saturday versus UM|
So after the mistake ridden performance from last week, what can we expect this week from the Irish? Well, Tommy Rees will start against UM. I think this is a good decision. Dayne Crist may be a better QB in terms of arm strength, speed and experience, but Tommy is accurate and a better decision maker. Crist has proven that he is uncomfortable playing football for Notre Dame. I am hoping to see another good performance from Cierre Wood. He played very well last week and I think he repeat this week. Michael Floyd will, respectively, be a concern for UM. I think he will be fine. If ND DOES NOT make the same mistakes(turnovers, penalties, dropped balls, LOOKING AT THE QB TO CATCH THE DAMN BALL), then this offense can be lethal. I expect more of a focus of running the ball and a good pass selection to give Tommy Rees a chance to move down the field. So, hopefully the offense hits the reset button and we will see the complete ND offense that we can look forward to for the rest of the season.
Denard Robinson. Ugh. I hate to admit, really I do, but he is a talented player. Accurate passer and a dangerous rusher. Don't expect Brady Hoke to hold him down even though UM runs a pro style offense now. We didn't really get to see the full extent of the Wolverine offense last week against Western Michigan. But they did put up 190 total yards rushing with little effort. Look forward to seeing the actual UM offense come to life against the Irish. If Robinson can avoid pass rushes(which he tends to do) and makes good decisions, he can be unstoppable. Also, keep an eye open for Sophomore Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint. He had 80 yards rushing on 11 carries and 2 touchdowns(one for 44 yards). He will get his share of carries this Saturday. Expect UM to come out swinging on their first possession to try to knock the wind out of the Irish early.
The ND defense might be the anchor for the team this year. They did a great job last week picking up the offense's mistakes. The outside linebackers are going to have their hands full trying to defend Robinson. Also, the corners need to stay sharp and disciplined so they don't get confused if Robinson looks to run but then pass. A big thing the defense needs to do is get a better performance from their defensive line. Now, last week we couldn't see too much of their capabilities due to USF's quick passes and screens. But UM runs a pro style so we will get to see how the defense can stop the run and get to the QB. Getting to Robinson and forcing him to make mistakes is key. The Irish need to take it to him for 4 quarters and never let up. I think a few good hits can get into the young QB's head and force some errors. Manti Te'o needs to stuff the run and sack the QB. He needs to make his presence felt early, and remind everyone who is at the end. ND needs him to have a big game. Also, look for Prince Shembo to have a good game as well. He played very well last week and it will be interesting to see how he plays on the road in a hostile environment.
Based off of their game against Western Michigan, the UM secondary looks little weak. They gave up 183 yards passing(119 to one receiver) last week. They will face a better set of wide receivers that will be faster and better. They will need to play better this week with Michael Floyd coming to town. UM also needs to do better defending on third and fourth down. WMU was 6/11 on 3rd downs and 1/1 of 4th downs against the Wolverines. But what UM has going for their defense is the ability to force turnovers. Lase week, they had a 94-yd pick 6 by Brandon Herron AND Herron had a 28-yd scoop and score. That's a hell of a day for Brandon Herron and you can expect the rest of the defense is coached just as well. Now with Rees starting for ND, UM has a good opportunity to get to the young QB fast and hard. They will need to disrupt the passing game and definitely be ready for Cierre Wood.
I hope Brian Kelly took Theo Riddick AND David Ruffer and got them fucking prepared. A muffed punt from a player that was supposed to be the X-factor for the Irish last week and a missed field goal from Mr. Automatic. They better have taken Riddick and had his LEARN TO RECEIVE A PUNT. My best hopes for the ND special teams is that they got all their mistakes out of the way in the first game. This is a part of the team that ND really needs to get going so they can be a factor. As for Ruffer, JUST MAKE THE DAMN FIELD GOALS.
The Wolverines' kickoff coverage wasn't all that great in their game last week. Brady Hoke has spent extra time working on it in this week's practice. Hoke pointed out that two of their players ran in to each other trying to avoid blockers when covering a kickoff. UM can not afford to let Theo Riddick(if he plays the way he was advertised) run free and put their defense in bad positions. If they can't improve, then expect them to give up valuable field position. And this is ND, not WMU. Expect ND to capitalize on this if it happens.
Overview & Prediction
Ugh. This is hard. I want to go ND thinking that last week was a mulligan and we get to see the real Irish this week. But they played so bad, that I'm not sure. Denard Robinson is going to be a handful and Tommy Rees on the road in primetime makes me a little nervous. Though, I was at the Colosseum when he led the Irish to beat USC. On the road. In primetime. It's too iffy. So, since I'm praying that ND shows their true colors in this game(if last week wasn't their true colors) I'm still feeling positive. But they did lose last week and the coaching appeared week and they were not prepared. So, I will be going for ND, but to not appear 100% bias, I will make two predictions. If it turns out that ND is the team we saw last week, then UM wins 30-10. If ND plays the way they should, then ND wins 24-23. But I am really fearing that my UM prediction will be correct. But it is ND and UM going head to head. We will get another classic in the series? We will find out this Saturday.
GO IRISH! BEAT WOLVERINES!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Wow. Talk about earning a defeat. I waited ALL OFF SEASON for this? Talk about a LOUSY and POOR game. If you ever wanted to see ND play bad, this was the game. 5 turnovers. Numerous penalties. Dropped passes. Missed Field Goal. It was EMBARRASING. Lets review:
First half. Notre Dame opens the game driving hard. Cierre Wood is tearing up the USF defense right out of the gates. ND drives inside the Bulls' five. Jonas Gray takes the handoff. Fumble. USF returns it 96 yards for a touchdown. After the PAT, Bulls up 7-0 after an amazing start by the Irish. Ok, lets regroup, just a good play. Next drive, ND stutters and memories of last years woes are shown. Until halftime, USF 3 field goals. ND's defense was playing pretty well, bailing the team out of situations the offense left them. What situations? How about, Dayne Crist throwing an interception in the redzone? Or Dayne Crist overthrowing Michael Floyd, killing a drive? Or Dayne Crist taking a sack? Or how about Theo Riddick dropping passes? Or Theo Riddick muffing a punt and USF recovering? This was a sloppy display and just gut wrenching to watch. ND goes into halftime down 16-0.
|Crist taking the sack|
For the first half, the only positives for the Irish were two things. The defense keeping it together and Cierre Wood. He played great and I will get more into his performance as this review continues. But the most disappointing, frustrating and remote control throwing thing in the first half was the GOD AWFUL PLAY BY DAYNE CRIST. He played like he played last year. WEAK. This guy CAN NOT handle the pressure of being a Notre Dame QB. His passes were off, mistakes in the redzone, holding on to the ball too long, NOT THROWING TO MICHAEL FLOYD; just really bad. Also, Theo Riddick's mind must have been in La La land for this game. Dropped passes and a muffed punt. In fact, he almost dropped EVERY punt he received. And the penalties?! For FUCK'S SAKE! Harrison Smith had two face mask penalties IN A ROW! Not a good start AT ALL.
But then a really bizarre event happened. A storm moved through South Bend forcing a delay. Everyone had to leave the stadium. The delay was TWO SUSPENSFUL HOURS LONG. It felt longer. Especially being down at the half. It was really weird. It's was like, “Gee. What else can go wrong?” So NBC went back and forth between the announcers and the NBC studios. Then they started to air the ND/Utah game from 2010. After the long wait, play resumed.
|Notre Dame Stadium getting hit by rain|
The second half started with the Irish defense forcing a 3 and out. They were fired up. And a big surprise happened. Tommy Rees came in to start. THANK YOU. Crist earned his seat on the bench this game. So the Irish come out red hot. Oh, and what does Rees do on this drive? THROW TO #3. The Irish command their way down the field inside the 5. Rees takes the snap, throws to TJ Jones...it bounces off him and it is intercepted. WHAT THE FUCK?! Upon viewing the replay, Jones didn't even face the FUCKING QB when running his route and had the unsuspecting pass doink off him like he was a god damn clown. Once again, EMBARRASING! So the defense makes ANOTHER stand. Then Rees drives down the field again and throws a TD pass to Floyd scoring ND's first points. The defense makes ANOTHER stand. I'm thinking at this point, “Here we go. No more fucking around.” The Irish drive is cut short but they are in Field Goal range. On comes David Ruffer. He made all his regular season kicks last – and he fucking misses the FG. -FACEPALM-
Then the predictable happens. The Irish defense, after playing so well, let USF score their only offensive TD. Now, I thought this would seal but there was almost a whole quarter of football left at this point. ND drives, gets inside the 5, and Cierre Wood takes it in for the score. Now, Cierre Wood played OUTSTANDING in this game. Over 100 yards rushing and about 80 some yards receiving. A tremendous performance and he looks much improved from last year. My question is, why were they not feeding the rock to Wood the whole game? He was abusing the USF defense. So, ND goes for two and Rees throws too far for Floyd to bring it down. 23-13 at this point. ND makes another stop after USF takes a good chunk of time off the clock. The Irish get the punt at the 9. Then, on second down, ANOTHER WEATHER DELAY. Wow. More waiting. Just utter chaos and disorder.
So NBC moved the game to Versus. About 45 minutes later the game restarts. It has been 6 hours since kick off. Rees starts the drive...and throws an interception. At this point, I was laughing. Things were so crazy and ridiculous in this game that it brought me to the point of amusement. Everything that could go bad, did go bad. So, the Irish get the ball back with about 2 minutes, drive down the field and score. 23-20 now. With 21 seconds left, the Irish kick an onside kick, and USF recovers the ball for the victory. That onside kick was ONE MICHAEL FLOYD JUMP AWAY, from being recovered, but I'm not going to get into that. Floyd had a great game and with the way everything else went, I don't want to pick on him.
|USF with the W|
USF played great. BJ Daniels, in my opinion, wasn't as good as expected, but he took care of the ball and made no mistakes. A good performance by him. The USF defense was ok at best, but had good speed to capitalize on ND's mistakes and played smart football. Like I said in my preview, it's not that surprising that USF won. They are a good team. The surprising thing in this game was the poor play from Notre Dame. I really hope Skip Holtz enjoys this win. In fact, it softens the blow for me. I hate it when my team loses(what fan doesn't?) but losing it to a great coach that I respect and the son of an ND legend is bittersweet(more bitter than sweet but you get the idea). Also, the weather delays kind of helped too. During the second one, I already half accepted the loss so when they came back and played, I didn't really have any anger left...because I have to save it for the Michigan game, lol.
I'm going to close on something positive. Three points. One, Tommy Rees played very well in a rough situation, so at least we know who our starting QB is. Two, Cierre Wood was great. I look forward to watching him play this year. And three, the Notre Dame defense was still pretty good. I think some adjustments need to be made on when they actually put players in(referring to Aaron Lynch, a freshmen, being in the game when USF was in the redzone in the 4th quarter. Yeah, not the best idea).
So now it is on to Michigan next Saturday. A loss sucks but that's the way it goes.
GO IRISH, GO!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
This Saturday, Notre Dame will host the University of South Florida in their opening game of the 2011 season. I am totally psyched! So starting at Week 1 and all the way till the end of the season, I will be previewing all the Notre Dame football games as well as posting game reviews after each game. It is also a good thing to note, I'm a huge ND(duh!) and know WAY more about the Irish then any other team. So I'm going to do the best I can reviewing the opposition.
Game Day: September 3rd, 2011
Kickoff: 3:30 PM EST
|Michael Floyd, WR, #3|
ND returns 9 starters on offense, including star WR Michael Floyd. Floyd is on pace to break all the ND records for receiving(receptions, yards, TD catches, etc). Dayne Crist was named the starter not too long ago. He will lead the Irish at QB in game one. Crist played 9 games last year before getting injured. According to Coach Brian Kelly, Crist is much improved in his mental toughness and footwork. One thing I want to see this year is if has bettered his ability to read the field. He seemed to have difficulties last year if the plays were not run perfectly. But he's got a huge arm and good escapability. The Offensive Line looks solid as well as the Tight Ends. Probably the biggest concern for the ND Offense is the RB position. Not starter Cierre Wood, but for the lack of depth. But with a good WR corp and an experienced O-Line, I think ND will be able to be much improved from last year and be able to run the ball more effectively. I think ND's offense needs to come out swinging. Get the Spread going and then mix in some draw plays and play action and take it too them.
|B.J. Daniels, QB, #7|
The big story with USF is QB B.J. Daniels. He is a dual threat Quarterback that has plenty of game experience. Mixed with great vision and impressive quickness, Daniels poses a difficult challenge for any defense. Now, apart from B.J. Daniels, no one else really jumps out on this offense. I do know that the USF coaching staff is impressed by WR Sterling Griffin, but that's about it. But it is an offense coached under Skip Holtz so do not count them out. What they need is a huge game from their QB. Last year, USF was ranked 101 in Passing Yards. Not good. They need to throw the ball and their O-Line needs to keep the pressure off of Daniels.
|Manti Te'o, ILB, #5|
This front seven looks GREAT. They have a lot of depth on the Defensive Line led by Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore. Along with some younger talent in Lewis Nix(who has been greatly talked about during the offseason), Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt that should sub frequently, will help the ND defense stuff the fun. The Line Backers look to be the heart of the defense. You have Manti Te'o, that led the ND defense in tackles last year, accompanied by senior Darius Fleming(a GREAT rush threat), Dan Fox, and also some great young talent in Prince Shembo and freshman Ishaq Williams. Trust me, it looks loaded. But the weakness seems to be in secondary(as usual, womp womp). Not with the starters, just the lack of depth. Experienced corners, Gary Gray(who, in my opinion, was extremely improved last year) and RJ Blanton, return to start at CB. Team Captain and senior Harrison Smith is accompanied by Jamoris Slaughter at the Free Safety and Strong Safety positions. The rest of the depth is pretty light, especially at corner. In order ND's D to succeed, they HAVE TO GET TO THE QUARTERBACK. But with a defense that some are calling “the best they have seen in a decade,” I think they can show how intense and ready they are to play.
|Quenton Washington, CB, #2|
Defense is where USF shines. Though they did lose their top DL to the recent NFL draft, they have a great player named Cory Grissom that plans to be USF's lethal pass rusher. USF also has some good linebackers: Sam Barrington and Devekeyan Lattimore are promising hopefuls for the USF defense. I think the USF front 7 looks solid. For their secondary, Quenton Washington leads a pretty talented group of corners. It will be a trial to move the ball against this defense. USF will need to pressure the QB and force mistakes in order to have an impact. Their Defense ranked 22nd in points allowed last season(ND finished 23rd) and will keep up their great defensive game. If they can lock down #3 on Saturday, then they can increase their chances for success. But that is a huge task.
|Theo Riddick, WR/KR, #6|
Lets be honest. ND's kick/punt return coverage was AWFUL last year. Too many fair catches and 2 or 3 yard returns on punts. There were also too many times our kick returns barely broke the 20 yard line. Coach Kelly's answer is Theo Riddick. A junior, Riddick is expected to step up big in a lot of places for the Irish. The return game particularly. ND needs better blocking on returns. If Riddick can find a seam, then he is gone. As for their coverage defending the return, it was superb last year. Good tackling and fast hustle. As for the kickers, this is probably the most solidified and less stressed part of the team. They have David Ruffer(who completed every FG he attempted in the regular season last year), Nick Tausch, who is just as good as Ruffer, and Kyle Brindza, and excellent Punter.
USF's return game and coverage was roughly the same as ND's. They did do a little bit better in returning kick offs but were also solid defending the return. They are fast on coverage and converge on the returner very well. It is a well coached group. The big ST story is who they will start as Punter. They have a talented redshirt freshman Chris Veron but apparently the race is tight and we probably won't find out until the game this Saturday on who will punt. USF and ND seem pretty even on Special Teams going into this game.
Overview & Prediction
This will not be an easy game for the Irish. I think USF defense is stout and will cause problems. I also think B.J. Daniels is a good QB(though I would like to see him throw more touchdowns than interceptions this year). But I feel the Irish have the advantage, especially on defense. USF needs someone to step into their WR role. I think a more experienced ND defense can capitalize on that. If ND can contain Daniels, then all should be well. On the offensive side of the ball, I want to see ND's run game EXPLODE. I want to see how much they have improved, if any. I have confidence that they can throw the ball, I would just like to see a threatening run game to keep the USF defense on their heels. Overall, I think it will be an exciting game to watch but ND will pull out the victory, 28-14. Now, I say a two touchdown win but let me explain. I see this game being 21-14 going into the fourth quarter and ND getting a TD late in the game to seal it. But always keep in mind, ND's expectations are always so high. If USF does pull an upset, I will be mildly surprised. USF is a good team and Skip Holtz is a good coach. It is not ridiculous for them to think this is a winnable game for them, based on their talent and Notre Dame's history.
But until the end of the game Saturday:
GO IRISH! BEAT BULLS!