Posts Tagged ‘Michael Floyd’

ND NSD Liveblog

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I can’t say I’ll be at my computer all day long (it is Ash Wednesday, after all), but at least through these early morning hours I’ll be posting NSD-related news as it breaks. Stay tuned …

10:20am PST: … and so the liveblog endeth. Congrats to Weis & Co. on an amazing class, and to all the recruits for signing up with an amazing program. Let’s get this train back on the rails!

Check back in this afternoon for Milton Knox’s decision - last I heard, he wants to go to ND but his dad won’t let him …

9:17am PST: In an interview on Rivals Radio this morning, Dayne Crist apparently said that he’s going to enroll at ND in mid-June. I guess that means he’ll be around for summer practice, which is GREAT … [EDIT: Err, not quite. See Grant's helpful comment.]

9:14am PST: Via GoshenGipper:

During his presser CW just mentioned that there are still a few guys out there that are uncommitted so there might be a few surprises, but that he wasn’t counting on it and he wanted to focus his presser on the 23 that have already signed.

Sheesh. A FEW?! Hold on to your hats, folks …

8:54am PST: Word is there is still some uncertainty about what the heck Omar Hunter is going to do with himself. I hope Urbie is having as miserable a time as we all were a month or so ago. Stay tuned …

8:39am PST: Via the Scout liveblog once again, this is the kind of thing that just has to make you smile:

11:28 am EST: Joe Adams just pulled a stunner, spurning USC, where he was a longtime commit, to sign with homestate Arkansas. — Brandon Huffman

There has been a simply unbelievable number of recruits today who’ve sent their LOIs to schools other than the ones they committed to. The fact that ND has managed to avoid this really speaks to the character of their recruits, and to the terrific job the coaches have done of making them feel a part of the team from Day One.

7:53am PST: Steve Filer is in as well. So that’s all for now in the LOI department, pending Milton Knox’s announcement this evening. My kid is up, though, so I’m off to make some breakfast. Get back to work, folks - I’ll be back soon.

7:52am PST: NDNation is reporting that Dayne Crist has faxed in his letter.

7:47am PST: This is worth passing along, for anyone who hasn’t seen it or didn’t notice this particular story. It’s Charlie Weis talking about what recruiting was like this year:

“The biggest highlight for me, personally, is the great player from a distant place that decided to go to another school. Obviously, I can’t say his name. As much as it hurt, I called him and wished him the very best. It turns out the Mom was in our corner, and the next night he called back and asked, ‘You still got that scholarship?’ When I said ‘Yes I do,’ he responded, ‘Well, I came to my senses. I am coming to Notre Dame.’ That was a great feeling that we had handled things the right way.”

It certainly seems like he’s referring to Kapron Lewis-Moore, though at the time he couldn’t mention him by name. Great story …

7:45am PST: Hello out there. Not yet eight in the morning, and already over 1,100 pageloads today. Sheesh.

7:39am PST: From Scout’s Bob Lichtenfels, commenting on the commitment of Kapron Lewis-Moore:

… the race for No. 1 in the Scout.com recruiting rankings narrows.

Ahh yes, the famed MRNC. Standings here and here, btw.

7:35am PST: Damn:

10:27 am EST: Apparently there was a lot of truth to DT Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) wavering on his Florida commitment. Hunter heard some rumors late yesterday that DL Coach Greg Mattison might be leaving for the Ravens and wavered. Whether Mattison leaves or not is not known at this time (or it could be a bad rumor that got to Hunter) but it did cause a moment of pause for Omar. Hunter just signed with the Gators. — Jamie Newberg

7:33am PST: LOIs are in from Anthony McDonald and Joseph Fauria. Crist and Filer are the only ones left, by my accounting.

7:17am PST: Hafis Williams and Ethan Johnson, done and done.

7:05am PST: Take this FWIW (from the Scout.com live blog):

9:53 am EST: I am hearing some rumblings that five-star D-tackle Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) may not sign with Florida. Could it be Georgia? Don’t know just yet and I’m trying to track this one down. This could be devastating to the Gators. — Jamie Newberg

One can only dream.

6:50am PST: Expect letters from Steve Filer and Hafis Williams in the next ten minutes or so … that will take care of the non-PSTers.

6:47am PST: In more karma-related news, Florida has lost yet another verbal commitment, as Ramon Buchanon has sent an LOI into Miami (where he had “committed” before he “committed” to Florida). Methinks this is what happens when you keep telling kids who are committed to other programs that verbal commitments aren’t binding … word gets around, you know?

6:38am PST: According to Scout, the idea of being Omar Hunter’s back-up plan was part of what turned Mike Martin off to ND. Never mind that Michigan recruited Hunter as well, of course, and may not have given Martin as much attention if Hunter had committed (or “committed”, as the case may be) to them. Goes to show you the consequences of insincere - or at least less-than-solid - verbal commitments, though … this wouldn’t have been a problem if Omar had just told ND he wasn’t sure in the first place.

6:33am PST: Lewis-Moore’s letter is in, per Rivals.

6:32am PST: In other news, Josh Jenkins snubbed Florida State and Ohio State to stay local and play for West Virginia, and Florida commit Ricky Barnum jumped ship to go play for Michigan. Poetic justice, much? Suck it, Urbie.

6:30am PST: Jonas Gray, check.

6:17am PST: Apparently bad weather in the Midwest might delay the Chicago- and Detroit-area guys …

6:14am PST: Fleming is in …

6:12am PST: We’re still waiting on: Hafis Williams, Jonas Gray, Ethan Johnson, Dayne Crist, Anthony McDonald, Darius Fleming, Steve Filer, and Joseph Fauria. With the exception of Williams, all those guys are in the Central or Pacific time zones, though …

6:09am PST: I’ll well aware that I’m one of those “dorks”, thank you very much.

6:06am PST: Per GoshenGipper, Kapron Lewis-Moore apparently kept himself entertained over the weekend by reading message boards and watching everyone try to figure out who the “secret commit” was. LOL … what a bunch of dorks.

6:01am PST: … and Braxston Cave makes fourteen.

5:57am PST: Lane Clelland, too …

5:55am PST: Kyle Rudolph, David Posluszny, and Dan McCarthy are safely in the fold now … that’s twelve so far, not counting Lewis-Moore.

5:51am PST: Michael Floyd’s letter is in …

5:41am PST: More here on the supposed “mystery” recruit, for all you insatiable rumor-sharks out there.

5:30am PST: Apparently BGI is reporting that Kapron Lewis-Moore will be sending his LOI in shortly. They’re also indicating that he’s the “mystery” recruit whom all the whispers had been about … we’ll see, I guess. If it is him, though, then thanks for ruining Christmas, Tom Lemming!

5:15am PST: Rivals is also reporting that Omar Hunter has faxed his LOI in to the world’s biggest douche Urban Meyer the world’s biggest douche.

5:14am PST: According to Rivals, the following LOIs have all been sent in:

  • Robert Blanton
  • Sean Cwynar
  • Mike Golic Jr.
  • Brandon Newman
  • Trevor Robinson
  • Jamoris Slaughter
  • Deion Walker

4:57am PST: Apparently it has been confirmed that Deion Walker will honor his verbal commitment and enroll at ND in 2008. Whew. He will be on Rivals Radio in about a half an hour.

4:54am PST: A quick update of the morning’s big stories:

  • Apparently Deion Walker is going to be on Rivals Radio in a few minutes “announcing” whether he’s decided to stay at ND or switch his verbal to ND or PSU. Ugh.
  • Mike Golic Jr. signed his LOI on the Mike and Mike Show about a half-hour ago.
  • Milton Knox will announce his decision at 7pm EST; I’m not sure when the official word will be in on Kapron Lewis-Moore.
  • No word yet on the mystery recruit who supposedly offered a super-secret commitment to ND in the last few days … stay tuned.

The Irish by the Numbers, Part I: 2007’s Offensive Breakdown

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

With the new year in full swing and school starting up again (welcome, Trevor and Sean!), it’s time to start looking back at 2007 and ahead to ‘08. Oh, that and wasting time thinking about ND football when we really should be writing our dissertations. So with that in mind, the Irish Roundup is proud to bring you “The Irish by the Numbers,” a multi-part series where we break down what happened last year and consider what’s to come.

First up, a great break-down that IE poster Jonathan (”Fishin’ Irish,” for the in-crowd) put together of the offensive numbers from the 2007 season. It was supposed to get up over break, but better late than never. I’ll be back later this week with a breakdown of some of 2007’s numbers on defense.

The Irish by the Numbers, Part I: 2007’s Offensive Breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the team’s offensive stats by class from the 2007. By “seniors” I mean to include both fifth- and fourth-year guys, since none of 2007’s fourth-year seniors on offense will return for a fifth year anyhow.

Rushing*

Freshmen: 140 Carries, 646 Yards, 4.6 YPC, 6 TD’s**
Sophomores: 128 Carries, 469 Yards, 3.8 YPC, 0 TDS
Juniors: (i.e. Asaph Schwapp): 12 Carries, 14 Yards, 1.2 YPC
Seniors: 37 Carries, 93 Yards, 2.5 YPC, 5 TD’s

Passing***

Freshmen: 139 Completions, 246 Attempts, 6 INT’s, 56.5%, 1264 Yards, 7 TD’s, 103.85 QB rating****
Juniors: 77 Completions, 140 Attempts, 3 INT’s, 55.0%, 736 Yards, 5 TD’s, 106.66 QB rating

Receiving

Freshmen: 66 Receptions, 636 Yards, 9.6 YPR, 6 TD’s
Sophomores: 64 Receptions, 616 Yards, 9.6 YPR, 1 TD
Juniors: 32 Receptions, 258 Yards, 8.1 YPR, 2 TD’s
Seniors: 55 Receptions, 494 Yards, 8.9 YPR, 3 TD’s

Things seem to be looking up, huh? I’m sure I made a math error in there (I did a lot of it in my head), but you get the idea. Freshmen led EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY here in terms of production. That’s simply amazing. The more you look into this, the better this gets:

  • I’m willing to bet that all five of Travis Thomas’s touchdowns occurred when we were in the “goal line” formation. I feel pretty confident when I say that losing him here won’t hurt us, as either James Aldridge or Robert Hughes should be able to pick up improve upon where Thomas left off in that department.
  • The passing game should only improve next year now that Jimmy Clausen has had time to get his feet wet. A deeper, more talented, and more experienced offensive line should help, and the only starter graduating from the line is center John Sullivan. (However, some may see him leaving as a good thing …)
  • The only loss worthy of note in the receiving section is John Carlson. He’ll be tough to replace, but Will Yeatman, Mike Ragone, and incoming freshmen Kyle Rudolph and Joseph Fauria look to fill his place. Also, look for to-be-freshmen wideouts Mike Floyd and John Goodman to make an impact on next year’s depth chart, if not on the gridiron itself.

Obviously, there are lots of uncertainties that need to sort themselves out, and these young players have to become a lot more consistent if the Irish are going to return to ‘05-’06 form. But there’s reason for hope, anyway …

[NOTES:

* I'm factoring out sack yardage here, as well as leaving out Demetrius Jones's numbers, since he left the team mid-season.

** Here's where there's some wiggle room in the stats. JC's two rushing TD's are included here, but his attempts and yards were not. I didn't want to include sacks, as I thought it would detract from the main idea, and I wasn't about to dig through game play-by-plays to find his actual attempts/yardage sans the sacks.

*** Once again, Jones's numbers are factored out.

**** Clausen's Passer Rating. Armando Allen's passing stats were not included in the class QB rating.]

Deion Walker is Irish!!

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Wide receiver Deion Walker of Christchurch, Virginia announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame during the Under Armour All-American Bowl this Saturday afternoon. Walker had long been rumored to be a silent verbal or at least a strong Irish lean, and this weekend’s announcement made it all public:

The value of Notre Dame’s academics is excellent, and I have developed a strong relationship with Charlie Weis. He is just a cool guy and really put in a lot of effort calling and recruiting me personally.

Walker is rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals, who rank him as the #5 wide receiver and #35 player overall. Scout.com gives him five stars, the #40 overall ranking, and the #7 ranking among wide receiver prospects, and ESPN lists him #34 overall and #8 among wide receivers. He is regarded as a dynamic athlete, but will need to work on adding some strength before he is ready to play at the college level. He joins Mike Floyd and John Goodman as the third wide receiver and 22nd player overall in Notre Dame’s top-ranked recruiting class.

Welcome to the Notre Dame family, Deion!

Goodman’s great

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Let’s all give out a big shout to 2008 Irish WR commit John Goodman, who joins Sean Cwynar, Michael Floyd, and Dan McCarthy as the fourth Irish recruit to win Player of the Year honors in his home state:

Goodman is The News-Sentinel’s PrepSports Football Player of the Year because his numbers are almost unbelievable. As Bishop Dwenger’s quarterback, the senior completed 95 of 175 passes for 1,697 yards and 16 touchdowns, with only two interceptions.

Goodman was also the Saints’ punter and a starting defensive back and the team’s heart and soul, leading them to the Summit Athletic Conference title, a No. 1 ranking all season in Class 4A and a semistate berth.

He rushed for 535 yards on 98 attempts — including sacks — caught seven passes for 199 yards, and returned eight kickoffs for 191 yards and 22 punts for 309 yards. He also averaged 35.3 yards per punt, grabbed two interceptions and made 28 tackles.

He averaged 17.9 yards per completion and 9.5 per attempt. His combined total was 28 touchdowns.

“There’s only one thing he didn’t do,” Bishop Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf said. “He was not on our kickoff team, and if we’d have gone another week, he’d have done that, too, because at that point it doesn’t make any difference and there’s no reason to hold him back. He would have done a tremendous job.”

Svarczkopf charted Goodman’s numbers for his three-year career, including the first two as a wide receiver. Besides earning first-team all-SAC honors twice as a receiver and this year as a quarterback, Goodman gained 5,600 yards in 480 touches, good for 11.8 yards per touch.

Goodman threw only two interceptions all season, one in the first half of the first game against Concordia Lutheran, and the other in his last throw in the Saints’ last game against Lowell.

In between, he threw 170 straight passes without a pick, a remarkable number for someone who played receiver the previous two seasons. He’ll return to receiver next year when he starts his college career at Notre Dame.

And there’s more to the player than his mind-blowing numbers:

“The best thing is that he’s someone whom everyone on the team admires and respects,” Svarczkopf said. “He elevated the play of everyone on the team. That’s what you want in your player of the year. He brought everybody else’s play to another level.”

Svarczkopf said his favorite memory of Goodman will be how after making a big play, the quarterback would charge off the field, laughing and grinning from ear to ear, because he was having so much fun.

“As a versatile player, you have to be like that,” Goodman said. “You have to be the type of player that executes in all those situations and the type of player who shows other people what to do, shows them how to do it and be the type of player that kids look up to. They fed off me, and as a leader I tried to show them what to do.”

Congratulations, John! Here’s to seeing a good deal of this on the field over the next few years:

(HT: Carms.)

Friday Night Lights roundup for the weekend of 11/23

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Here’s the Roundup’s weekly overview of how the players currently committed to Notre Dame’s 2008 recruiting class fared in their high school games this past weekend:

  • Michael Floyd had three catches for 85 yards but was kept out of the end zone, and his Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) team fell to Eden Prairie, 50-21, in the class 5-A state championship game. Cretin-Derham ends the season at 13-1.
  • Jonas Gray had 34 carries for 144 yards, but was largely contained overall - he had only 36 yards on 20 carries in the first half, and was tackled for a loss seven times - as his Detroit Country Day (Mich.) team fell to Marine City, 21-7, in the Div-IV state championship game. The Yellowjackets finish the season with an 11-3 record.
  • Dan McCarthy was on the sidelines once again with a neck injury suffered a couple of weeks ago, but his Cardinal Mooney (Ohio) team still managed to make it to their fourth straight state championship game, defeating Pleasant by a final score of 28-0. The 14-0 Cardinals will play 13-1 Coldwater for the state title.
  • Omar Hunter (pictured here) and his Buford (Ga.) team moved to 13-0 with a 41-0 blowout of Darlington in the second round of the state playoffs. Next up for the top-ranked Wolves is second-ranked Charlton County (11-0).
  • Jamoris Slaughter’s Tucker (Ga.) team is now 12-0, after a 56-10 shellacking of Northwest Whitfield in their second-round game. The Tigers’ next playoff opponent is 9-3 Bainbridge.
  • Joseph Fauria had touchdown catches of 23 and 40 yards and played great defense to boot as his Crespi (Calif.) team pulled off a shocking, 48-26 rout of Mater Dei in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Pac-5 playoffs. There’s more on the game, and on the play of Fauria and 2009 QB recruit Matt Barkley in particular, here. Next up for the 10-2 Celts is 9-2 Servite.
  • Ethan Johnson watched from the sidelines as his Lincoln (Ore.) team ended their season at 6-6 with a 28-21 loss to West Salem in the state 6A quarterfinals.
  • Despite a disappointing three-loss regular season and an early exit from the state playoffs, Darius Fleming and his St. Rita’s (Ill.) team still have something to cheer about, as they beat Morgan Park, 31-7, to claim their first Prep Bowl title since 1997. The Mustangs end the year at 10-4.
  • Hafis Williams’s Elizabeth (N.J.) team ends their year at 6-4 after a 39-24 victory over Scotch Plains in their regular-season finale. Their loss to Hunterdon Central in the previous week was actually a playoff game, so that ends their season.
  • And finally, Mike Golic Jr.’s Northwest Catholic (Conn.) team earned themselves a a Class S playoff berth, with a 36-12 victory over Plainville that moved them to 8-2 on the year.

Best of luck to Golic, Fauria, Slaughter, and Hunter, and to McCarthy’s Mooney squad, in their remaining games!

Sweet Eighteen

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Happy 18th birthday to 2008 WR commit Michael Floyd, who just this morning was announced as Minnesota’s 2007 high school football player of the year by the Pioneer Press, for the second straight season:

The only thing missing is the Class AAAAA state championship. Eden Prairie quashed that opportunity for Floyd with a 50-21 victory over the Raiders in Friday night’s title game at the Metrodome.

The disappointing end to Floyd’s prep football career won’t damage his stature as one of the best high school receivers in Minnesota history. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior drew comparisons the past couple of seasons to former Holy Angels star Larry Fitzgerald Jr., now in his fourth NFL season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Floyd, who has committed to Notre Dame, finished the season ranked No. 81 among the nation’s top 100 seniors by Rivals.com, a leading national scouting service for high school football. Rivals.com ranks Floyd at No. 13 among receivers nationally.

Despite double-team coverage and a variety of defenses geared to stop him, Floyd had 56 catches for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns to help Cretin-Derham Hall finish with a 13-1 record. He averaged 21.6 yards a catch and ran for three touchdowns.

Floyd is the first two-time winner of the award in over a decade, but he hasn’t let the hype that comes with being a hotshot athlete go to his head:

[Cretin-Derham coach Mike] Scanlan said the Golden Domers will be getting a receiver with the physical skill set comparable to that of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin - a big, strong, workhorse with exceptional hands.

“He lifts weight like he’s a lineman,” Scanlan said. “Most skill guys, they don’t like the weight room. But he understands that if he is going to play at the next level, he can’t rely on his natural ability alone.”

The difference between Irvin and Floyd, who was unavailable to comment for this story due to a meeting with Notre Dame officials, is the ego. Floyd hasn’t let all the attention, and there has been an awful lot of it, change him, his mother said.

“Michael really is more embarrassed by all the attention,” [Floyd's mother Theresa] Romero said. “I think people think it’s difficult for him to be level-headed. It’s really not. He tells me that he’s a man now. I tell him, ‘I don’t see any paycheck here yet. So you’re still my son.’”

The Pioneer Press article also contains this tidbit:

The national signing date for high school football players to make formal commitments to colleges isn’t until Feb. 6. That’s plenty of time for Floyd to re-think his plan to attend Notre Dame in the fall of 2008, but no chance.

“I won’t be changing my mind,” he said.

Exactly what we want to hear.

Congratulations, Michael. And Irish fans, if you haven’t read the profile that I excerpted right after Floyd’s commitment, now’s a good time to do just that.

You stay classy, Palo Alto.

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Crooked refs. Awful field conditions. An obnoxious stadium announcer. A dreadful marching band whose absurd antics amuse no one but themselves and their similarly drunk friends. A beautiful new facility gone to waste as one of America’s most esteemed universities presents a gameday experience matched only by the ineptitude of their football program. That’s right - another day, another dollar, another road trip to Stanford.

A few thoughts about the trip in general: as I said, the new Stanford stadium really is very nice. We had endzone seats in the upper tier, but the view was great - and right up above us there was a big grassy area where kids could play, and so my son really managed to enjoy himself. That’s why it’s such a shame that the other elements of gameday at Stanford are so embarrassingly horrible: at least when you used to go, you sat on splintered wooden benches in a dumpy stadium, so the rest of what was going on around you didn’t seem so bad.

And it was awful. The parking crew exercised no control over tailgaters taking up spaces the width of four cars to spread out their folding chairs, and the only way they managed to determine whether a lot was full was by directing a line of cars into it, having them drive around for ten minutes, and seeing whether they came out the other side. The pre-game “festivities” featured a mediocre cover band playing bad rock-and-roll, and then deciding to abandon their break so that they could drown out ND’s alumni marching band. The stadium announcer showed himself to be as classless as he was annoying when he twice referred to Jimmy Clausen as “Casey,” and also pretended to get him mixed up with Tom Zbikowski at one point. And the band - oh, the band. I understand that they’re having fun, but the stupid halftime shows really do nothing at all for the fans. No wonder the stadium was half-empty. Honestly, we felt embarrassed for Stanford University at any number of different junctures on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of which, there was a football game as well:

  • Jimmy Clausen played very well - he completed 19 20 of his 32 passes for 196 225 yards and a touchdown. He also made some really nice moves to get away from would-be tacklers, though on some occasions he ran out of bounds for lost yardage instead of throwing the ball away. His downfield throws were a bit uneven, and the one play on which he was intercepted was a really bad decision. Altogether, though, it was a solid day for a true freshman quarterback who showed some nice improvement over the course of the year - now it’s time for him to hit the weight room, practice those deep routes, and soak up the rest of the playbook.
  • Duval Kamara - six receptions for 93 yards - had a really nice day catching the ball. It’s clear that he’s a tremendous talent, and there’s little doubt that he’ll be the #1 receiver on the team next year: the challenge is figuring out who else is going to catch it. George West was as invisible on Saturday as he has been for most of the season, Robby Parris saw the field sparingly, and David Grimes showed why he’s best suited to be a third option rather than a featured guy. Hopefully Will Yeatman and Mike Ragone have got the stuff to help replace John Carlson next year; I’d also look to see Michael Floyd see the field early and often, much as Kamara did this year.
  • Robert Hughes - 18 carries for 136 yards - had a spectacular game, as he became the first Notre Dame freshman to pass the century mark twice in a season since Autry Denson did it in back-to-back games in 1995. He could use a bit more speed, though, as both of his long carries really should have gone for scores. Armando Allen started off well, as he picked up 18 yards on his first three carries, but after that he started going backwards, and while the banged-up James Aldridge did manage to get into the game, he didn’t end up touching the ball. Asaph Schwapp had another dreadful day, as he gained only four yards on his three carries, fumbled the ball once, and did a less-than-stellar job of blocking. I really have trouble seeing why Charlie Weis bothers putting him on the field. Kudos to Travis Thomas, who made the most of what was (thankfully!) his last stand as a goalline back by punching his one carry into the end zone from a yard out, and to Junior Jabbie, who’s shaping up into a great situational back for third-down passing situations.
  • Once again, we saw a lot of Chris Stewart on the offensive line, as he pretty much switched off series-by-series with Paul Duncan at right tackle. And once again, the play along the offensive line, and in pass protection in particular, was pretty terrible: Clausen was sacked on five occasions and pressured pretty heavily on many others, and while the running game was effective, the Irish running backs netted only 3.15 yards per carry if we factor out Hughes’s two huge runs.
  • The defense played quite well, and in particular they did a much better job at containing the outside run than they had in weeks past. Ian Williams had six tackles in his second start at the nose guard position, and made a strong case for some heavy playing time or even a starting role next year. Darrin Walls got turned around on one or two plays but had a great game overall, Brian Smith played a nice game on the outside, and David Bruton was his usual athletic self. But missed tackles were still a significant problem, as was fatigue - Stanford possessed the ball for over 21 minutes in the second half, and you could see the Irish defenders tiring out.

At the end of the day, a win is a win, no matter how bad the opponent (and the venue). The Irish came out strong, played with emotion, and rebounded nicely from the things that set them back. But many of those back-setting things - in particular the three fumbles and the five sacks - were exactly the sorts of problems that have killed this squad all year long. A team that puts the ball on the carpet, and allows its opponents to do the same to their quarterback, with that kind of frequency is not a team that’s going to win many games. Maybe experience will cure all - but only time will tell.

Obviously there’s a lot to think about as we head from the season of our discontent to what will hopefully be the the looooongest offseason - 285 days to go! - the Fighting Irish will have to endure for quite some time. I’ll have plenty of “bigger picture”-type of thoughts in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, here’s to West Virginia and Mizzou in the MNC game!

Friday Night Lights roundup for the weekend of 11/16

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Sorry to be so slow once again in getting this up. Here’s your weekly rundown of how Notre Dame’s currently committed players fared in their high school football games last week:

  • With quarterback Dan McCarthy sitting on the sidelines after suffering a neck injury the previous week, Cardinal Mooney (Ohio) still managed to end two-time defending state D-III champion Steubenville’s 42-game win streak, as they built a 28-0 halftime lead and held on to win, 35-20. Mooney is now 13-0 on the year heading into this week’s semi-state game.
  • John Goodman had a tough day but did throw a 23-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for a 7-0 lead, but Lowell came back with ten points in the last seven minutes to beat his Bishop Dwenger (Ind.) team 10-7, ending the Saints’ playoff run in the state semifinals. Dwenger finishes the season at 13-1.
  • Michael Floyd had five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown - including four receptions on the opening drive - as his Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) team moved to 13-0 with a 56-14 romp over Brainerd that moved them into the class 5A final for only the sixth time in their history.
  • Despite being bothered by a leg injury, Jonas Gray had 29 carries for 304 yards and four touchdowns - including fourth-quarter TD runs of 30 and 61 yards - as his Detroit Country Day (Mich.) team defeated top-ranked Zeeland West, 37-30, in a wild game that came down to a 52-yard hook-and-ladder play that went for a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining. Gray and the 11-2 Yellowjackets will face Marine City in the state finals.
  • Omar Hunter’s Buford (Ga.) team moved their record to a spotless 11-0 with a 56-7 blowout of Washington-Wilkes in the first round of the AA state playoffs.
  • Jamoris Slaughter’s Tucker (Ga.) team is also 11-0, after a 24-0 shutout of Clarke Central in their first-round AAAA game.
  • Robert Blanton had his fourth blocked kick and his sixth interception of the season, but it wasn’t enough, as his Butler (N.C.) team saw their season come to a disappointing end, falling to Charlotte Independence, 20-7, in the second round of the state playoffs. Butler finishes the season at 10-3.
  • Steve Filer’s Mount Carmel (Ill.) team also saw its dreams of a state title fade away, as they were upset by Glenbard North, 28-21. The Caravan’s final record is 12-1.
  • Sean Cwynar had a third-quarter extra point attempt - yes, you read that right - blocked, and his Marian Central (Ill.) team fell to Morris, 10-9, in the state semifinals. The Hurricanes finish the year at 10-3.
  • Joseph Fauria’s Crespi (Calif.) team defeated Millikan, 26-14, in the first round of the Pac-5 playoffs. Next up for the 9-2 Celts is Mater Dei.
  • Dayne Crist ended up being unable to play because of a concussion suffered in the previous week’s game against Crespi, and his and Anthony McDonald’s Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (Calif.) team couldn’t overcome his absence, as they fell to Newport Harbor, 7-3, in the first round of the Pac-5 playoffs. The Knights finish the season at 8-3.
  • Ethan Johnson’s Lincoln (Ore.) team moved to 6-5 on the year with a 19-7 playoff win over David Douglas. Next up for Lincoln is West Salem.
  • Darius Fleming and the 9-4 St. Rita’s (Ill.) defense shut down Loyola in a 28-0 win that moved the Mustangs to the Prep Bowl finals.

Hafis Williams and Mike Golic were off this week, and Braxston Cave, Brandon Newman, Lane Clelland, David Posluszny, and Kyle Rudolph are all done with their respective seasons.

“Here we go again …”

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

A phantom personal foul after a long completion just outside the goal line. A missed field goal. An inefficient drive following a defensive stand, and then a late hit in punt coverage that gets flagged for 15 yards. These are the kinds of plays that have killed the Irish offense all year long, and for a while on Saturday they did the same.

Mistakes breed mistakes like rabbits in the Spring: a false start on fourth-and-two, a beautiful pass on fourth-and-17 that goes through the receiver’s hands, and suddenly you’re staring at 0-0 halftime score against one of the worst teams in college football.

And then, the momentum changes: the defense forces turnovers on consecutive drives, and each of them is turned quickly into seven points. It’s 14-0 at the half. You’ve got things back under control.

THAT’S the storyline that matters from Saturday’s game. Not the 400 yards of total offense, not the three touchdown passes by Jimmy Clausen, not even the explosive emergence of Robert Hughes or the always-gratifying Senior Day win. For once, this team showed a bit of resiliency: they didn’t let themselves get overwhelmed when things went badly. And say what you will about the quality of their opponent, but a 28-7 win (which could very well have been more like 42-0 if not for mental mistakes and bad calls) is a 28-7 win. Suddenly the future looks a lot brighter.

A few numbers to take away from the game:

  • Hughes (17 carries for 110 net yards, and a reception for another 13) obviously earned that game ball, though Armando Allen (nine rushes for 43 yards, and two receptions for 17) and James Aldridge (eight carries for 28 yards, plus a catch for another seven) had solid days as well. One of the biggest challenges facing Charlie Weis (or whoever is calling the plays) in 2008 will be finding a way to get enough carries for each of his three horsemen, together with throwing enough balls in the direction of Duval Kamara, George West, Robby Parris, and Golden Tate, not to mention David Grimes, Will Yeatman, Mike Ragone, and Michael Floyd. The talent is there; I imagine they’ll enjoy letting the spotlight fall where it may.
  • Clausen’s numbers (16-of-32 for 194 yards and three touchdowns) don’t speak to how well he played, especially given that at least four or five catchable balls were dropped. He also showed some good presence in the pocket, and did a good job of avoiding pressure, picking up 25 yards on his six scrambles.
  • The offensive line continued to show some signs of improvement, though pass protection was still a bit spotty at times. It was especially nice to see the screen game start to click.
  • Joe Brockington, David Bruton, Trevor Laws, and Darrin Walls each had a half-dozen tackles, and the defense on a whole played very well. This was the first time this year we saw freshmen Kerry Neal and Brian Smith both starting at the outside linebacker position, and they had quiet but solid days with three tackles a piece. Freshman Ian Williams getting his first start at the nose guard position, also played well, picking up three tackles and generally doing a good job of clogging up the middle.
  • The Irish possessed the ball for over 35 minutes, the first time all year they’ve really managed to control the clock - their previous high had been 32:02 against UCLA.

Finally, a few areas where a good deal of work is still needed:

  •  I’ve already mentioned the troubles in pass protection, as well as the dropped balls by the wide receivers. Clausen’s never going to be able to win those seven Heismans if his teammates don’t help him out.
  • While the Irish pass defense was largely sound, giving up only 138 total passing yards, there were still some blown coverages, and Duke could have picked up some more yardage if open receivers hadn’t been missed.
  • J.J. Jansen’s long-snapping was iffy once again, though Eric Maust made a remarkable play to bail him out and get the punt away under pressure.
  • Notre Dame continues to lack any semblance of consistency in the kicking game, as Brandon Walker missed his lone field goal attempt, from 30 yards out. It may have had something to do with the weather, but those are the kind of kicks you’ve got to make. It will be a shame if the Irish continue to cripple themselves by having to go for broke on fourth down instead of putting points on the board the cheap way.
  • Lastly, penalties were a problem once again: the Irish were whistled eleven times for 103 yards, after committing only nine penalties in their previous three games combined.

All in all, a solid day against an undermanned opponent. There should be plenty more of those in the future as this team continues to develop.

Friday Night Lights roundup for the weekend of 11/9

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Here’s your weekly rundown of how Notre Dame’s currently committed players fared in their high school football games this past weekend:

  • Dan McCarthy, who earlier this week was named his district’s Offensive Player of the Year, led his Cardinal Mooney (Ohio) to their twelfth straight win to start the year, a 21-17 victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary. Mooney will face Steubenville in the regional final on Saturday.
  • John Goodman had touchdown runs of 43 and 19 yards and threw for three more scores - including a 75-yard bomb - as his Bishop Dwenger (Ind.) team extended their undefeated season with a 42-14 blowout of Jay County in a regional semifinal game. Next up for the 13-0 Saints is a trip to Lowell for the semistate.
  • Dayne Crist left the game with a concussion after being hit hard and fumbling the ball on a quarterback keeper, and Joseph Fauria caught an 18-yard touchdown pass just one play later, as Fauria’s Crespi (Calif.) team cruised to a 23-3 victory over Crist and Anthony McDonald’s Notre Dame squad.
  • Braxston Cave and his Penn (Ind.) squad saw their undefeated season and dreams of a state title come to an end with a 21-20 loss to Merrillville in the regional final.
  • Michael Floyd had a relatively quiet day with four catches for 44 yards, but he did score a touchdown as his Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) team survived a scare and defeated Lakeville North, 26-18, in the class 5A quarterfinals. Up next for Cretin-Derham is 13-1 Brainerd.
  • Jonas Gray rushed 26 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and his Detroit Country Day (Mich.) squad moved to 10-2 with a 24-6 victory over Milan in a regional playoff game. Next up for the Yellowjackets is undefeated and top-ranked Zeeland West in the state semifinals.
  • Omar Hunter’s Buford (Ga.) defense (recently profiled here) pitched their third straight shutout, ending their regular season at 10-0 with a 21-0 victory over Lovett. Buford QB Twoey Hosch left the game with an injured foot, and while x-rays revealed no fracture, he remains questionable for next Friday’s game against Washington-Wilkes.
  • Jamoris Slaughter’s Tucker (Ga.) team finished up a 10-0 regular season in which they allowed more than eight points only once with a 38-8 victory over Cedar Grove. The Tigers will face Clarke Central in their first-round playoff game.
  • Robert Blanton’s Butler (N.C.) team moved to 10-2 with a 49-6 spanking of Lumberton in the first round of the playoffs. Next up for the Bulldogs is archrival Charlotte Independence, whom they upset in dramatic fashion the week before.
  • Steve Filer’s Mt. Carmel (Ill.) team moved to 12-0 with a 21-14 victory over Maine South in a class 8A quarterfinal game. Up next for the Caravan is 8-4 Glenbard North.
  • Darius Fleming’s St. Rita’s (Ill.) squad rebounded from a tough loss last week with a 35-18 victory over Fenwick in the first round of the Prep Bowl playoffs.
  • Sean Cwynar’s Marian Central (Ill.) team had a dramatic, come-from-behind 34-27 victory over Nazareth in their class 5A quarterfinal matchup. Next up for the seventh-seeded Hurricanes is fifth-seeded Morris.
  • Brandon Newman’s Pleasure Ridge Park (Ky.) team nearly upset 10-1 Manual, but they were stopped on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime and lost, 21-20, in the first round of the class 6A playoffs. PRP finishes the year at 4-7.
  • Hafis Williams’s Elizabeth (N.J.) team fell to 5-4 with a 20-0 loss to Hunterdon Central.
  • Ethan Johnson’s Lincoln (Ore.) team cruised to a 55-28 playoff victory over Roseburg that was propelled by a 42-point explosion in the second half. The Cardinals are now 5-5, and will meet David Douglas in their second-round game.
  • Lane Clelland’s McDonogh (Md.) team finished their regular season with a 21-14 loss to Gilman that dropped their record to 6-4.
  • Mike Golic Jr.’s Northwest Catholic (Conn.) team moved to 7-2 on the year with a 28-0 shutout win over East Catholic.

That’s it for this week, as David Posluszny’s and Kyle Rudolph’s teams are finished with their seasons.