Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 12:23 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Notre Dame only has one game left in the regular season against Stanford and a bowl game to play, but it's lost a big part of its offense for those final two contests. While there has been no official injury determined from an MRI as of yet, Brian Kelly confirmed on Sunday that running back Jonas Gray had likely played his last game with the Fighting Irish.
"It's pretty apparent he has a significant knee injury," said Kelly in a teleconference on Sunday, going on to say that MRI results will "probably confirm" what the training staff suspects.
Gray suffered the knee injury against Boston College on Saturday, and was seen in tears on the sideline. NBC's sideline reporter Alex Flanagan said that the team believed it was a torn MCL.
It's not only a big blow to the Irish, but it's a sad chapter to end Gray's career at Notre Dame as well. Gray was finally having the year the Irish expected from him in his final season at the school, rushing for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, so to have that come to an end on his Senior Day is a cruel twist of fate.
As for what Notre Dame will do moving forward, the good news is that Notre Dame also has Cierre Wood, who has rushed for 1,001 yards and 9 touchdowns this season. Wood began the season as the team's starting running back and will step back into that role. Behind Wood the Irish have freshmen George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel, though Brian Kelly did not rule out the possibility of Theo Riddick moving from wide receiver to running back to finish the season.
Riddick missed the Boston College game, but came to Notre Dame as a running back before being moved to wide receiver.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 8:18 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 8:19 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
NOTRE DAME WON. The Irish reached the eight win mark for the second straight year, but struggled to do so in a 16-14 victory over Boston College on Senior Day. Michael Floyd capped off his impressive career at Notre Dame Stadium with a 10 catch, 92 yard performance on a bittersweet day for the senior class. Running back Jonas Gray picked up 61 yards on 11 carries, including Notre Dame's only touchdown, before suffering an apparent knee injury in the third quarter. Early reports suggest the injury could be a torn ACL, which would likely end his career with the Irish.
HOW NOTRE DAME WON: Boston College's defense and special teams helped the Eagles dominate the field position battle, and despite the strong numbers Notre Dame was only able to find the end zone on Jonas Gray's 26 yard run in the early minutes of the game. The Irish got a strong showing from their own defense, holding Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig to only 18 completions in 44 attempts. Gray's injury was a setback for the team, but Cierre Wood carried the load with strong second half running to keep the Irish in control of the game.
WHEN NOTRE DAME WON: Notre Dame forced Boston College to turn the ball over on downs with a 16-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But the inability to milk the clock kept the Eagles in the game, and Chase Rettig put together a seven play, 72 yard touchdown drive to cut Notre Dame's lead to two points. With less than two minutes on the clock, Boston College's onside kick attempt failed. Boston College had the opportunity to attempt a last second miracle, but the hook and ladder attempt failed as well.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WON: The Irish avoided an embarrassing home upset on Senior Day, one that would have likely knocked them from the polls and significantly hurt their bowl options. The Champs Sports Bowl is reportedly interested in replacing their Big East slot with Notre Dame, but they might have thought differently after a loss to the 3-8 Eagles.
WHAT BOSTON COLLEGE LOST: The experts had the Eagles pegged as a 20+ point underdog, so in some ways Boston College fans have to be happy with the team's refusal to quit. But it was also the fourth one-score on the season, something that speaks to the Eagles' struggle to create the big play offensively. The defense has been strong, particularly in the second half of the season, but once again the inability to produce points keeps Boston College from being able to turn that play into victories.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Jonas Gray extended his streak to eight games with a touchdown thanks to the 25 yard scoring run in the first half. But the senior's career was likely ended in the third quarter after suffering an apparent knee injury. NBC's cameras caught Gray on the sideline in tears, surrounded by his teammates. Our thoughts go out to running back and we hope he makes a full recovery, but his absence is a blow to the Irish as they look to next week's visit to Stanford.
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Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: Take care of the ball. It's that simple with the Fighting Irish. After committing ten turnovers in their first two games and starting the season 0-2, the Irish were finally able to limit the turnovers over the next four weeks and, not surprisingly, went 4-0 in that span. Then the turnover bug returned against USC on Saturday night and lo and behold Notre Dame's winning streak came to an end. There's no question that the Irish have more talent on both sides of the ball than Navy, so as long as it doesn't turn the ball over repeatedly, then there's no reason Notre Dame shouldn't win this game.
NAVY WILL WIN IF: Navy doesn't have a complicated formula for success against anybody, and it's a formula that involves controlling the time of possession and wearing down opponents with its option attack. Air Force proved earlier this season that an option attack can find success against Notre Dame, as it rushed for 363 yards and scored 2 of the 3 rushing touchdowns that the Irish defense has allowed this season. So Navy will have to have similar success in order to keep the Irish offense on the sideline, because the problem for Navy this season has been a defense that's allowing 30.3 points per game. I'm not sure Navy can stop the Irish offense, so its best bet will be to keep it off the field.
X-FACTOR: Cierre Wood. During Notre Dame's loss to USC last weekend, I felt one of the biggest reasons the Irish lost was because it abandoned its ground game too early. There's no way that Cierre Wood should only carry the ball 5 times in a game, and Brian Kelly needs to establish a rushing attack early against Navy and keep going to it for 60 minutes. Yes, Notre Dame will have success throwing the ball on Saturday, but when this team becomes one-dimensional on offense, that's when it runs into trouble.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 7:30 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
NOTRE DAME WON. For the first time since a 57-7 victory over Stanford in 2003, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame eclipsed 50 points in a game as the Golden Domers had a rather easy time with Air Force on Saturday afternoon. The Notre Dame offense scored 6 touchdowns on its 6 possessions in the first half, with six different players scoring the touchdowns. Tommy Rees finished the day with 261 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the Notre Dame offense played it's second consecutive game without committing a turnover.
WHY NOTRE DAME WON. Let's all just be happy that the Air Force has jets at its disposal when it's defending the country, because if it were solely up to the Falcons football defense, we'd be pretty vulnerable right now. Yes, Notre Dame's offense looked extremely efficient in this game, totalling 560 yards, but the Air Force defense didn't exactly do much to stop it either.
WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. When Cierre Wood's 8-yard touchdown run gave the Irish 5 touchdowns in its first five drives and expanded the Notre Dame lead to 35-9 it was pretty evident that Air Force wasn't going to be able to get back into this one.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. A lot of confidence on offense heading into the annual showdown with rival USC. The Notre Dame offense had been able to put yards on the board all year, but over the last two weeks, not only has Notre Dame picked up yards but it's also scored 97 points and hasn't turned the ball over a single time.
WHAT AIR FORCE LOST. A chance to be one of the many teams that has come into South Bend and upset the Irish the last few seasons. It's not a conference game, so this loss doesn't hurt Air Force in the Mountain West, but this still would have been a nice win for the Falcons.
THAT WAS CRAZY. Notre Dame rushed for 266 yards against Air Force on Saturday, but it's leading rusher was backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix. Yes, the sophomore saw his first action in a Notre Dame uniform on a few plays in the first three quarters, and he took over for Tommy Rees late. He ended the game with 111 yards rushing on 6 carries, including a 78-yard gain that set up Notre Dame's final touchdown of the day.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
NOTRE DAME WON. Notre Dame finally looked like the team it was hoping to be this year, and all it took was a date against Purdue to do so. This game was never really in doubt as the Irish scored a touchdown within the first 30 seconds of the opening kickoff, and finished the night with 549 yards of total offense. The majority of that damage came on the ground, as well, with Cierre Wood rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown while Jonas Gray rushed for 93 yards and a score of his own. Tommy Rees threw for 3 touchdowns and Michael Floyd returned to form with 12 receptions for 137 yards.
HOW NOTRE DAME WON. To put it simply, Notre Dame just has a lot more talent on its roster than Purdue does, and unlike the first four games of the Irish season, the Domers didn't hurt themselves with turnovers. That's right, for the first time this season, Notre Dame played a full 60 minutes without turning the ball over. And it was also the best that the Irish have looked all season. Coincidence? I don't think so.
WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. This one was over early. Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush's first pass of the evening was picked off after he tried to force a bad throw into coverage, and two plays later Tommy Rees was connecting with Michael Floyd on a 35-yard touchdown. It was only 24 seconds into the game, but after those first three plays, you already had the feeling that Notre Dame wasn't going to have a lot of trouble on Saturday night.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. It's always nice for Notre Dame to beat an in-state rival, but really this is a game that the Irish should have won. Of course, considering the trouble that the Irish had in their first four games, coming out and dominating a team that it should dominate is a good sign. Outside of games with USC and Stanford, Notre Dame is through the toughest part of its schedule this year, and a 9-win campaign isn't completely out of the question.
WHAT PURDUE LOST. Purdue fans seemed to take exception to Brian Kelly's comments that this game was Purdue's "Super Bowl" earlier in the week, and I hope those Purdue fans were right, because if this was Purdue's Super Bowl, then there's a lot to worry about in West Lafayette this season. Purdue is now 2-2 on the year, and looking at the rest of its schedule and the way this team has played, it's hard to see the Boilermakers getting much more than 4 wins this season.
THAT WAS CRAZY. I repeat, Notre Dame played a full game without turning the ball over.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Remember a couple of years ago, when Mark Ingram flashed the Alabama logo printed on his gloves after scoring a touchdown, and it was kind of cool but also kind of scary, because you could see a future where basically every touchdown celebration in the country became a de facto Nike commercial? And then the officials at last year's Ohio State-Michigan game seemed to put the kibosh on it by calling the glove-logo display as an unsportsmanlike penalty, which -- ridiculous a decision as that might be -- maybe could accidentally end up doing something for the greater college football good?
Yeah, nevermind any of that "kibosh" talk. More and more teams have spent this offseason signing up for the branded gloves, potential for penalties or not. Just this week Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood debuted the Irish's version on Twitter:
And the official Nebraska equipment staff put two different glove styles on their Twitter feed, including this model dedicated to the Huskers' traditional "blackshirt" defense:
(Note that both teams are outfitted by Adidas.) On the one hand, we can appreciate that this remains a very, very cool idea. On the other, college football is one of the few sports where uniform gimmickry has, generally, been kept to a minimum; if gloves like these wind up being the first step down a slippery slope that ends with Penn State wearing metal lion claws on their shoulders (a la Oregon's emo wings), this is not going to be trend we'll remember fondly at all.
But what there's no debating is that these gloves are now officially a trend ... and given that it's here to stay, let's hope the officials can keep the flags in their pockets if they're put to use when the game is on the line.
Posted on: March 24, 2011 1:48 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Notre Dame, which started spring practice on Wednesday.
Spring Practice Question: Can Notre Dame finally establish a running game?
When it comes to the way that Notre Dame finished its 2010 season, there are a lot of positives to talk about. Four straight victories against teams like Utah, USC and Miami that came as a bit of a surprise considering the Irish did it without starting quarterback Dayne Crist and starting tailback Armando Allen.
Instead the team was led by backup quarterback Tommy Rees, and a defense that played better than any unit the folks in South Bend have seen in quite a while.
So, it's no surprise that going in to the spring, the questions most people seem to be asking about Notre Dame have to do with the quarterback competition and the defense. Does Tommy Rees have a chance to keep the starting job? Will someone else emerge to replace both Rees and Crist? Can this defense maintain its late-season play, and can Manti Te'o get even better?
All are good questions to ask, and will definitely have a large impact on where Notre Dame goes in Brian Kelly's second season. Still, these aren't questions that can really be answered this spring. For the second year in a row, Dayne Crist is coming off of knee surgery and will be limited in the spring. Te'o is coming off of knee surgery as well, and won't be at full-speed either. So while we may see hints of things to come in those two areas, the answers will not come until later this summer.
One area that not many people are talking about, and also played a huge role in the late season turnaround that will definitely have a huge impact on the Irish in 2011 as well, is the running back position.
Since Charlie Weis replaced Tyrone Willingham in 2005, the running game that Notre Dame was once built upon has disappeared. The team hasn't had a featured tailback that could produce or be counted on since. Armando Allen had the talent, but through his first three seasons the results were inconsistent, and he was marred by injuries.
After having his senior season end early due to an injury, Allen is no longer in South Bend, though it turns out that Allen's absence may have been a blessing in disguise. With both Allen and Dayne Crist out, Brian Kelly placed a greater emphasis on the running game over the last month of the season.
The best friend that both a quarterback and a defense can have is a good running game. It takes pressure off of the quarterback, and time off of the clock, which allows a defense to rest on the sidelines.
The majority of the work replacing Allen went to Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes. Wood ran for at least 80 yards in four consecutive games, while Hughes played a large role in Notre Dame's victory over USC. Of course, like Allen, Hughes is gone. That leaves Cierre Wood as the team's top option, and this spring the Irish hope to find out whether he's ready to carry the load full-time.
The team feels he can, but Wood still has a bit to learn. While it's hard to deny the talent and explosiveness that Wood holds, he did show a tendency to dance a bit with the ball during his first season. There's no doubt that two words will be drilled into Wood's brain this spring: "north" and "south." If Wood can learn to hit the hole instead of dancing around and trying to run away from everybody, he definitely has the speed to break some huge runs for the Irish this season.
Wood won't be alone, however, as Notre Dame has other backs behind him on the depth chart. Jonas Gray is a senior that hasn't had much of a chance to prove himself during his first three years, but the Irish would like to see the 230-pound running back take on the role that Robert Hughes had last season, and be a short-yardage back. There's also Cameron Roberson, who redshirted in 2010, but has a lot of the qualities that Kelly and company are looking for.
He has the size to run between the tackles, and though he doesn't have great speed, he is a north-south runner. If Wood and Gray fail to meet expectations, Roberson could see himself climb up the depth chart.
Then there's Theo Riddick. Riddick came to Notre Dame as a running back before being moved to wide receiver. He could be the best running back that the Irish have on the roster, and Brian Kelly has hinted about moving him back to the position in 2011.
Which back will emerge as the team's starter, nobody knows yet. What we do know is that Brian Kelly saw how important having an effective ground game could be for his team at the end of last season, and that he'll look to keep it going in 2011.
It'll be up to one of these players, or maybe all of them, to see that it does. After all, it could be the difference between another lackluster season in South Bend, or waking up those echoes they talk so much about.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 7:09 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 7:11 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Notre Dame never breaks a sweat during 33-17 win over Miami in El Paso
Offense: Tommy Rees probably isn't the best quarterback on scholarship at Notre Dame, but he's proven that sometimes there's more to the quarterback position than talent. The Irish improved to 4-0 on the season when Rees starts, though even Rees would tell you it's a lot easier to play quarterback when you have a talented wide receiver like Michael Floyd at your disposal.
Floyd says he hasn't made a decision as to whether or not he'll return for his senior season, but there are likely some NFL scouts drooling after his Sun Bowl MVP performance on Friday. Floyd finished the game with 6 receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Still, as nice as Floyd was for the Irish, the real key to their success was the running game, which racked up over 200 yards behind Cierre Wood, Robert Hughes and Theo Riddick. If it weren't for the Irish offense slowing down a bit in the second half -- which is understandable considering the game was already over at halftime -- I'd be giving them a higher grade than this. Grade: B+
Defense: The Notre Dame defense had flown a bit under the radar this season, and came into the Sun Bowl allowing only one touchdown in the last 12 quarters of play. That one touchdown was by USC, and it was a four-play three-yard drive following a turnover. The Irish stretched that streak to 15 quarters before Miami found its way into the end zone, and forced four turnovers on the day with safety Harrison Smith intercepting three passes by himself.
Miami finished the game with over 400 yards and 17 points of offense, but just about all of those came when the game was well out of reach late. Grade: A
Coaching: Brian Kelly didn't come to South Bend with the same fanfare that Charlie Weis and Ty Willingham did, but it's starting to look as though he may finally be the head coach that restores the winning tradition of Notre Dame. The Irish attacked Miami's defense early and built a big enough lead that it was able to coast through the second half, and Bob Diaco's defense stuffed Miami's running game and forced Jacory Harris to throw. And when you force Jacory Harris to throw, it's but a matter of time before the turnovers happen. Grade: A
Offense: It was really a tale of two quarterbacks for Miami. Jacory Harris came into the game looking to redeem himself and just made things worse. Here's what you need to know about Harris' day: he completed seven passes. Only four of them were completed to Miami receivers, the other three ended up in the hands of Notre Dame.
Stephen Morris came on, and though he threw an interception of his own, Miami's offense looked a lot better while he was in the game. Morris threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, and even though a lot came in garbage time, the fact he didn't quit says a lot about him. Had he played the entire game, the outcome may have been a bit different. Grade: D
Defense: I can't blame Miami's defense for this one, as Jacory Harris didn't put them in a very good position in the first half. Hard as it may be to believe given the outcome of the game, I was actually impressed with Miami's defense in this game for the final three quarters. Even though the outcome of the game was never really in doubt, Miami's defense never stopped playing, and kept holding Notre Dame to field goals. Marcus Fortson, in particular, was impressive in the second half, frequently disrupting life in the Notre Dame backfield.
All that being said, however, Miami's defense never made a play to bail out its offense either. Grade:C+
Coaching: I do not envy the task that Jeff Stoutland had going into this game. A lame duck coach filling in for the recently fired Randy Shannon, and in charge of a team that seemed to lose interest in the 2010 season over a month ago. My only qualm with anything he did was starting Harris over Morris at quarterback, but given the fact that Morris sprained his ankle in practice, I can't even blame him for that. Grade: Incomplete
If you were tuning into this game hoping to see a classic like the meetings between these teams in the late 80s, then you were no doubt disappointed. Still, the game was a microcosm of the directions these once mighty programs seem to be going. Each team has plenty of work left to do, but Notre Dame seems to have already taken the first step back to respectability, while Miami needs to build a foundation first. Grade: D