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WASHINGTON What a strange first five minutes it was. The game was essentially played on one end of the court. Notre Dame never seemed to have the ball. Georgetown kept grabbing offensive rebound after offensive rebound.
Life on the Big East road wasns basketball team made it look its last time out.
Brian Kelly has more staff vacancies than he expected publicly. And the Notre Dame coach might be turning to a former Bears assistant to fill one.
2012 Recruiting Profiles -
2013 Recruiting Profiles -
Notre Dame may face its toughest schedule in years next season. Can the Irish improve their record against such a gauntlet?
From Other Boards:
What are they doing at Bama to make monsters?
What are they doing that 100 plus other schools aren't. Good Lawd they're some big MOFO's. With the exception of the punter/kicker and 1 of the wide-outs, every dang player on their roster is busting at the arms, chest and thighs.
I know that Tuit, Nix and some others are monsters, but Bama had a whole team of very big muscular guys.
Thats what oversigning will do for you.
ESPN actually did a piece on both schools S&C coaches and it was pretty good, those guys are great motivators in the weight room. The reason for the piece is because the guys from LSU was the S&C coach at the BAMA guys HS when he was there.
What the hell is going on? How can they tell a player That he can't transfer to Notre Dame?
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Prater said Tuesday he is highly considering Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin as possible destinations after recently deciding to transfer from USC.
Best and worst from Notre Dame's bowl
Here are the highs and lows from the Irish's 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State:
Best play: Michael Floyd's 100th and final catch of the season — and of his college career — featured an impressive juggling act, as Floyd tipped the ball to himself five times before hauling in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Rees, the Irish's only offensive score of the game. The game captain suffered an upper-body injury during the third-quarter catch and did not play the rest of the way.
Worst play: Rees' pass for John Goodman was picked off in the end zone by Terrence Brooks with less than three minutes left in the game, erasing the Irish's true last chance. Brooks doubled the post; Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said afterward that Rees was supposed to hit the dig route if the safety doubled the post. "Attention to detail, the little things, obviously it hurt us in that situation," Kelly said.
Biggest reason for optimism: Notre Dame recorded five sacks, held the Seminoles to 1.4 yards per rush and came up with a defensive touchdown. The front seven, particularly freshman Aaron Lynch, showed plenty of promise and will be a force for the Irish moving forward.
Biggest reason for pessimism: Thirteen games later, Notre Dame is without a quarterback. Rees and Andrew Hendrix combined to throw three picks against FSU — including two in the end zone — and will battle it out with Everett Golson in the spring and summer for a job that is there for the taking.
Biggest surprise: Floyd returned the game's first punt 41 yards. Not bad, considering Notre Dame averaged a nation-worst 0.3 yards per punt return during the regular season. Yes, the Irish had 3 net punt return yards entering their bowl game. Floyd had nearly 14 times that on one return.
Top Notre Dame moments from 2011
Another 8-5 season left a lot to be desired for Notre Dame fans. Nonetheless, there were plenty of memorable moments from the Irish's 2011 campaign.
1. Jonas Gray's remarkable stretch. Coach Brian Kelly said he had never seen it all click for a senior the way he had with Gray. The running back rushed for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns, including at least one in eight consecutive games. Unfortunately, he tore an ACL against Boston College, ending his college career. But when on the field, Gray was the feel-good story of 2011.
2. Manti Te'o announces return. This might have come off the field, but the likely first-round pick couldn't help but blurt out his announcement to return to school for one more year Dec. 11, while at the Lott IMPACT Trophy ceremony. The junior linebacker is the team's best all-around player and exemplifies all that's right about the game, on and off the field.
3. Aaron Lynch's sack and forced fumble vs. MSU. One week after not playing at Michigan, the freshman end announced his arrival to college football, turning the game around with a big hit on Kirk Cousins in what went on to be the Irish's first victory, and their most impressive one. Lynch had a standout freshman campaign and will be a star for the Irish moving forward. Robert Blanton's game-sealing interception deserves some recognition as well.
4. Michael Floyd's TD vs. FSU. A ridiculous five bobbles. Two defenders absorbed. An upper-body injury suffered that kept him out of the rest of the game. Still, the senior held on for his 100th catch of the season, and final one of his career, as Floyd hauled in Notre Dame's only offensive touchdown in the Champs Sports Bowl.
5. Andrew Hendrix's run vs. Air Force. Late in the fourth quarter of a rout, the sophomore quarterback burst up the middle for 78 yards, his legs giving out two yards shy of the end zone. Hendrix turned plenty of heads in his first college game, and he will fight it out with two others this offseason for the starting quarterback job with two others.
Mitch Compiles Miles
Connor Mitch has made the rounds with his father over the last several months.
After camping at 13 colleges this summer, including Notre Dame, Florida, Georgia, Clemson, North Carolina and North Carolina State, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound junior quarterback from Raleigh, N.C., (Wakefield High School) hit up a pair of national combines last week.
After turning heads at the Under Armour Underclassmen Combine in Orlando, Mitch and his father headed to San Antonio for the Army All-American Underclassmen Combine.
“I think he enjoys this,” Mitch laughed of the miles his father has put in with him.
Still, the 2013 quarterback prospect is grateful.
“It’s exciting,” Mitch said of attending the combines. “You can see the competition and see where you stand against other players that are at your level at your same position. It’s just good to go out there and compete.”
Mitch, who has early offers from North Carolina, North Carolina State and East Carolina, believes the events give him the opportunity to prove what he can do.
“I don’t want to be cocky, but I hope I show I’m better than others,” he said. “I work hard and I hope it shows.”
Mitch impressed Irish Sports Daily’s Bryan Driskell at the Under Armour event.
“I thought I did pretty good down there,” said Mitch. “I was getting rid of the ball pretty quickly and on the money. Maybe it wasn’t the hardest, but it was getting there in the perfect spot. I was pretty pleased with how I did down there.”
Mitch also felt he performed well in South Bend this summer.
“I thought I did pretty good,” he said. “It was pretty nice out there, except it was kind of dreary, a little rainy.”
Mitch hasn’t heard from the Irish since the camp, but would be receptive to considering them.
“I’ve always loved Notre Dame, just the tradition there,” he said.
Mitch, who threw for 3,900 yards and 51 touchdowns as a junior, has the three in-state offers and believes he’s closing in on some more.
“I’m pretty close with Maryland and I’m going down to Alabama on Jan. 20th for their Junior Day,” he said. “Hopefully that ends well. I guess Auburn and Florida State too.”
A stable coaching staff is something Mitch will surely be looking for in a college.
“If the coach is going to be there by the time I graduate,” he said of the key factors in his recruitment. “Hopefully he’s not a one-and-done or getting out of there. I just want a coach that’s going to stay there and be there for a couple years.
“I’m not worried about location. I’ll go wherever I have to go to play and wherever I feel like I fit in.”
Mitch isn’t too concerned about offensive systems, “Anything other than under-the-center option, I’m good with,” he laughed.
With signing day for the 2012 class now less than a month away, Mitch is excited to have his class be the focus.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Now the full focus is on their class and it’s kind of hard as a junior and being in the second row there just waiting. We’re getting a little attention, but not full attention. It’ll be good.”
2013 CB Shines At Army Combine
Kendall Fuller returned to the Army All-American Underclassmen Combine for the second straight year this past weekend.
“It’s pretty fun just to come out here and see what other athletes are out here, see the other competition,” Fuller said. “It’s definitely fun.”
Fuller, who was one of the combine's standouts, will be back in Texas for a third straight year in 2013, but not to participate in any combine.
The 5-foot-11, 181-pound junior cornerback from Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) was one of 12 juniors announced as early U.S. Army All-American Bowl participants.
Fuller is clearly one of the nation’s top junior prospects and is already closing in on 20 offers from schools like Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Virginia Tech among others.
The Notre Dame offer was Fuller’s 10th when it came in August and it made an impact on him.
“I actually think it’s a big offer because Notre Dame is a good school,” he said. “It’s a big school with a big legacy of great academics. It’s definitely a school anybody would want to go to.”
Fuller has stayed in touch with Notre Dame assistant Kerry Cooks since receiving the offer.
“I’m talking to Coach Cooks,” said Fuller. “He just says little things like, ‘Good luck during your game,’ ‘Happy New Year.’”
Cooks is trying to convince Fuller to take a trip to South Bend, which is something the junior cornerback would like to do.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think the last time I talked to him, he was talking about getting up to their Junior Day.”
When Fuller returns to the field next season for Good Counsel, he’ll see a change, especially on offense where five-star 2012 prospect Stefon Diggs will no longer be lining up at the opposite wide receiver position.
“I think I’m going to be that main guy, but we’ve got other players that are going to step up,” Fuller said. “Andre Levrone, he’s in my grade. He has great talent and good size. I think he’s going to step up and we have a 2014 receiver named CJ Carroll, who is definitely going to be pretty good.”
Still, Fuller is looking forward to becoming a player who takes over games as a senior.
“I want to be more aggressive next year,” he said. “I think last year when you go into games, you try to not make too many mistakes, just try to do your own job. This year, I’ve got to be that guy I guess and come up with a lot of big plays.”
2012: Players that Must Emerge - Offense
Notre Dame’s offense certainly underachieved in 2011 based on its preseason expectations. Moving forward the Irish offense must improve and become the unit it is capable of being. There is talent and potential at Notre Dame on the offensive side of the ball and it is time for that potential to become production.
As the Irish transition into the 2012 season there are some strong foundations to build upon. Notre Dame’s line and run game showed good progress in 2011, something that must continue. Kelly’s offense was better at converting third-downs and moving the chains, something that must continue. The young talent on the offense is impressive, assuming the Class of 2012 commitments end up signing with Irish in February.
There is also much improvement that needs to be made and a number of key questions that must be answered. Notre Dame will continue to evolve offensively as Kelly and his staff tries to get the offense working the way they want. There are plenty of questions surrounding the program and a number of players need to take their game to a new level next season.
Notre Dame needs a number of young players, and hopefully a couple of veterans, to step into key roles next season. If that happens the Irish offense should be able to take steps forward as a unit.
PLAYERS THAT MUST STEP UP/EMERGE
1. EVERETT GOLSON/ANDREW HENDRIX, QUARTERBACK
Tommy Rees is certainly not going to go down without a fight and will do everything he can to improve his game and remain the starting quarterback. Odds are the comment, “He’s 12-4 as a starter,” will be repeated on several occasions during the spring and fall. It remains to be seen whether or not Kelly will actually open up the quarterback competition this spring. He will say all the right things but there is really no way of telling if the competition will be truly open until a starting quarterback is named.
The reality is Notre Dame needs a playmaker at quarterback and Tommy Rees is not a playmaker. If Notre Dame is going to have a playmaker at quarterback either Everett Golson or Andrew Hendrix has to step up and win the starting role this spring.
Hendrix got some much needed experience this season, experience he needed if he is going to compete for the starting position. He has all the tools to eventually develop into a standout quarterback at Notre Dame. Hendrix has a powerful right arm and if he develops to the point where he earns the job teams will have to respect his ability to power the ball all over the field. His arm strength would force teams to back off or risk getting burned for big plays. Hendrix has the speed, vision, and elusiveness to punish teams with his legs as well.
Golson wowed Notre Dame fans with a strong spring game performance. He impressed with his ability to make plays with his arm and legs. Do not be fooled by his lack of size. Golson has a cannon for an arm and throws a gorgeous ball. He was built for the spread offense thanks to his ability to throw from the pocket, throw on the run, and his ability to scramble around and buy time. Golson is also a dangerous runner and would be a weapon in the run game for the Irish, but he is a pass-first quarterback. Golson will always be a durability risk due to his lack of size but he has filled out nicely during his first year on campus.
Golson is the more natural quarterback and Hendrix has all the tools to be very good. Neither player lacks the physical ability to star in the Notre Dame offense. What remains to be seen is whether or not either player will be able to handle all the intricacies that come with running the Notre Dame offense. Can they set the protections, make the proper presnap reads, the proper post-snap reads, and can they value the football among many other responsibilities?
It will be up to Chuck Martin and Brian Kelly to get those two players in position to run the Irish offense this spring. Notre Dame needs one of them, or both, to step up and take the reins of the offense.
2. TJ JONES, WIDE RECEIVER
There is no doubt that TJ Jones will be a starter for Notre Dame. He earned a starting position his first semester on campus and has yet to give it up. Jones has been a solid player for Notre Dame, catching 61 passes for 672 yards and six touchdowns during his first two years on campus. The sophomore has shown flashes during his career but those moments have been few and far between.
He has been hindered by the fact the Irish quarterbacks just do not look for him enough, but Jones also hinders himself. Jones has not been a consistent player for Notre Dame within games and during the course of a season. He has yet to have a true breakout game. In fact, his highest yardage total came in his second career game. His best game of the 2011 season was the first. Each season he has faded down the stretch, catching just one pass in the final three games of his freshman season and just two passes for nine yards in the final two games of his sophomore season.
Jones is an emotional player and that has been his biggest downfall as a player. He allows the ups and downs of the game get him out of sync. I like the fact that Jones wants the football and I have no problem with him letting his quarterback know about it. He is a talented player who wants to be a playmaker, so he should want the football. I do have a problem with the fact he lets everyone in the stadium know he is unhappy with his quarterback.
I doubt he would be very happy if Dayne Crist showed him up for dropping a touchdown pass in the season’s first game or if Michael Floyd got on him in the middle of the field for missing a key block on a screen play.
Even worse is the fact Jones allows that emotion to effect his play. When he gets upset about not getting the football or about a mistake he might have made it is obvious that he carries it into the next play. This gets him in a funk and takes him out of his game. Jones also has trouble focusing if he isn’t getting the football early in the game. Emotion is a good thing but Jones has to learn to channel into positive production.
Notre Dame needs him to get stronger, become more consistent, become more mentally focused, and to become the player I believe he can be. With Floyd gone someone will have to emerge as the leader of the wide receivers. Jones is the one wide receiver that has the combination of experience and talent needed to become that leader. He also possesses the talent to become a playmaker for the Irish.
If Jones can take his game to another level and become a more consistent player it will be much easier for Notre Dame to overcome the loss of Floyd. It will also take the pressure off his quarterback and the other young wide receivers.
3. CHRISTIAN LOMBARD, OFFENSIVE LINE
Senior right guard Trevor Robinson and right tackle Taylor Dever were solid players for Notre Dame over the last two seasons. Neither player was a star but both showed up to work every week and gave a quality performance. Robinson started 40 games for the Irish so his experience will be impossible to replace. Dever started just two years but when he was on he gave the Irish a physical blocker to run behind.
Sophomore Christian Lombard will replace one of those two players, although which one has yet to be determined. Lombard spent the past season backing up the tackles but his best position might be at guard. He is a tough and physical player that should be able to make a smooth transition as a run blocker. It will be his ability in pass protection that remains a question mark.
Notre Dame will have an opportunity to be a strong running team next season if the offensive line can overcome the losses of Robinson and Dever. That means Lombard is going to be a very important part of the Notre Dame offense next season. He gained valuable experience this season on special teams and in some solid minutes as a backup lineman. If he can make a smooth transition into the starting lineup that would mean Notre Dame would have just one young player to break in.
A productive season from Lombard would allow give the Notre Dame line a chance to be even better than it was in 2011.
4. DAVARIS DANIELS, WIDE RECEIVER
Class of 2012 recruit Deontay Greenberry is the player that is getting all the attention from many Irish fans but it is current freshman DaVaris Daniels that has the best chance to emerge as the replacement for Floyd. The fact he didn’t play as a freshman has caused some to assume that he is not the elite prospect many hoped he would be. Whether or not Daniels becomes an elite player remains to be seen, but make no mistake about it, Daniels has the talent to be a standout for Notre Dame.
Wide receiver coach Tony Alford raves about Daniels talent and potential. The question is how long will it take for that potential to become production? Daniels is a smooth and explosive athlete but he came to Notre Dame lacking the strength and experience to be an every down wide receiver as a freshman. At Vernon Hills he spent more time at quarterback than he did at wide receiver. The Notre Dame offense requires a bit more precision and Daniels had to learn how to do the “little things” well.
We do not know if Daniels has learned those “little things” enough to allow him to compete for playing time next fall. One thing is for certain, Notre Dame needs Daniels to be ready. Kelly and Martin have to find ways to get young players who aren’t necessarily ready to the point where they are, well, ready. Daniels is one of those players, as is classmate George Atkinson.
Daniels has the talent to be a playmaker for Notre Dame. He has good speed, excellent leaping ability, top notch ball skills, and the ability to make plays after the catch. The freshman is the perfect fit for the spread offense. Notre Dame needs him to emerge sooner rather than later. There is no reason he cannot develop into an every down player next fall.
It will be up to the Notre Dame coaches to get him to that point mentally and fundamentally. If they do their jobs well Daniels could emerge as the difference maker Notre Dame needs at the position.
5. GEORGE ATKINSON, RUNNING BACK/ATHLETE
Notre Dame has to find a way to get Atkinson on the football field. He has the size, strength, and speed to be a dynamic playmaker for the Irish. Even if Atkinson isn’t ready to be an every down back or doesn’t have the ball skills to be an every down receiver he has to get on the field. He showed against Michigan State and USC what he can do if he gets a step in space. He is an explosive player with the ball in his hands.
Notre Dame does not currently have that kind of speed, power, and explosiveness on offense. Kelly and Martin have to figure out ways to get him on the field and get the ball in his hands. It does not matter if he is in the two-deep at running back or if he switches to wide receiver, he just needs to be on the field. One of the benefits of the spread offense is there are easy ways to get playmakers the football. Atkinson is a playmaker and the Irish coaches have to figure out ways to get him the football.
There is no excuse not to get Atkinson at least five touches a game on offense. If he can bring the same kind of playmaking ability to the offense that he brought to the special teams the Irish offense will have the big-time playmaker it desperately needs.
6. BEN KOYACK, TIGHT END
Freshman tight end Ben Koyack could be a player that holds one of the keys to the 2012 season. Koyack came to Notre Dame as arguably the top tight end in the Class of 2011. He was known more for his ability to catch the football than he was his blocking ability. He has the speed, athleticism, size, and ball skills to become an outstanding pass catcher down the road as he gets more comfortable in the offense.
As a freshman Koyack was primarily a blocker, something teams will expect of him next fall as well. When Notre Dame went to its two tight end sets in 2011 it was a heavy run formation. On the plays Notre Dame did pass Koyack usually stayed in to block or was a decoy. If he can become a legitimate threat out of those sets it gives Notre Dame an excellent run-pass formation that allows it to run its power game, its play-action passes, and all of its vertical and horizontal pass concepts.
Having Koyack as a legitimate pass catcher allows the Irish to attack with four legitimate deep threats. Teams that load the box run the risk of getting burned with the pass game. Teams that attempt to play the pass will find themselves outnumbered in the box against the run. This would give the Irish a power formation that keeps teams off balance and gives the Irish the ability to attack in a completely unique style than the more traditional spread sets.
Read 'Notre Dame Players Snub NFL to Stay with Irish: A Fan’s Take' on Yahoo!. The Notre Dame football season may have ended on a down note, with an 18-14 loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl and a second consecutive 8-5 finish under head coach Brian Kelly. But the program has had some positive developments in the weeks since.
Rumors are swirling out of Knoxville that Brian Kelly is close to hiring Tennessee offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. (In fact, here's a report that says it's a done deal.
Did you know that Coach Brian Kelly made 156 offers to players in the Class of 2012? We all know the names Armstead, Garnett, etc, but there's a whole list of Irish recruits who ...
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