Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog Just a few guys loving the same woman and talking Notre Dame Football. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 The Irish Twins bring you Her Loyal Podcast, a Her Loyal Sons production, covering Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football. Her Loyal Sons no Her Loyal Sons ndtex@herloyalsons.com ndtex@herloyalsons.com (Her Loyal Sons) Hosted by The Irish Twins Her Loyal Sons, Notre Dame Football, ND Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish Her Loyal Sons https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/podcasts.herloyalsons.com/images/Irish+Twins+Logo+Full.jpg http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog Friday Roundup: The “Changes” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/18/friday-roundup-changes-edition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-roundup-changes-edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/18/friday-roundup-changes-edition/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:00:27 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24518 This past week has seen quite a bit of change for Notre Dame. Of course, HLS being primarily a football site, I’m sure the change that most readily comes to mind is the upcoming switch to field turf at Notre Dame Stadium. The attention given to this little announcement, and the debates/angst/celebration that have followed, […]

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This past week has seen quite a bit of change for Notre Dame. Of course, HLS being primarily a football site, I’m sure the change that most readily comes to mind is the upcoming switch to field turf at Notre Dame Stadium.

The attention given to this little announcement, and the debates/angst/celebration that have followed, pale in comparison to what I would consider far bigger announcements made by ND this week. On the football side, a “Football Ambassador” group has been announced. This paid position, open to both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students, is more or less a response to the area of the recruiting arms-race that has spawned recruiting hostess groups. On the academic side, Notre Dame has bid farewell to the swim test and all other PE requirements for first year students. I actually feel bad for the next incoming class on that one. I got to call Latin dance, working out, and racquetball actual ND course work.

The later two announcements caused minor ripples in comparison to the nuclear response that occurred when Swarbrick announced the fake grass. Even the University’s attention to the field turf announcement is world’s different than the other two. Swarbrick had an on-field interview during Blue/Gold, had a separate interview with Jack Nolan, and ND of course had the usual press release…and that’s really just the start. The other two announcements? Just a simple post on the web.

I find it rather hilarious, personally. How ND approaches the Football Ambassador program I think is a fascinating debate (does ND treat it like another Student Manager program or go full SEC?) and the First Year program changes are a pretty big change from what most of us have known as a rather unique part of the Notre Dame experience. Yet, the focus is on fake grass.

And sure, we’ve played on it here a little bit at HLS. It basically took over the #HLSRecap for Blue/Gold and I even used the news to have a little fun with a sponsored post. Despite that though, the changes that we’ve placed focus on this past week have been things that have occurred on the field rather than the field itself.

Change itself is a part of natural progression of anything. If you don’t change, you will fall behind. The trick though is to pick the battles of what’s worrying about and what isn’t. ND could play on gold field turf for all I care. I might not be a huge fan of the change, but I won’t be burning my diploma or withholding donations because the playing surface simply isn’t that important. Now, say ND’s new Football Ambassador program strives to be a pure hostess program, I might have a bit more of an issue. That would be an actual departure from the way ND usually operates and what they proclaim their mission to be.

But fake grass? Hardly worth the internet ink.

The Roundup

Looks like Florida State and the Tallahassee PD could use some changes of their own. Like, probably actually trying to investigate rape accusations instead of doing next to nothing.

The NCAA made some changes of their own. One was a rule change that brings us one step closer to not being able to hit a QB and allowing schools to provide unlimited food to their athletes. Time for the food recruiting arms-race to begin.

Only Nick Saban would want to blow it all up after two losses. I mean, I get striving for perfection, but I think he’s inching ever closer to insanity.

And now your moment of Nix… Brought to you by Bo Pelini…let’s get a little bit of background first. There exists a Twitter account, @FauxPelini, which might just have the best avatar of all time. Well, the real Pelini is well aware of this and has even interacted with the account in the past. However, Bo decided to escalate the joke to amazing levels during Nebraska’s spring game by leading his team out with his cat and going full @FauxPelini:

Well. Freakin’. Done.

The Booze

In honor of the last few times that anyone will be able to mow the lawn in the House That Rock Build, I give you Fancy Lawnmower by St. Arnold Brewing Company.

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It’s All a Matter of Perspective http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/17/blue-gold-2014-perspective/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blue-gold-2014-perspective http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/17/blue-gold-2014-perspective/#respond Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24511 Attempting to analyze Notre Dame’s spring game every year is an interesting exercise. While there is certainly a good amount of information that can be mined from the Blue/Gold game, conclusions tend to lie in the perspective that you start with. One person can rave about great QB play and another can be worried about […]

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Attempting to analyze Notre Dame’s spring game every year is an interesting exercise. While there is certainly a good amount of information that can be mined from the Blue/Gold game, conclusions tend to lie in the perspective that you start with.

One person can rave about great QB play and another can be worried about a terrible secondary. One person’s great pass rush could be another person’s astute observation of terrible offensive line play.

Or, as a wise philosopher once said, these conclusions are all true, from a certain point of view.

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I myself had a couple of different perspectives in my two viewings of the Blue/Gold game.

During the first one, I was practically dying during my bachelor party. So my focus was mostly on the fish and chips that were in front of me and their healing powers. Under this haze, I saw what I thought was superb play from Malik Zaire and some rather rusty play from Everett Golson. To me, it was absolutely clear that Zaire won the day and Golson needed to get back on track during fall camp to secure his job.

During my second viewing, I saw a much different story. Some of Zaire’s big plays should have been sacks; however, with a no-contact rule on the QB, this was often ignored. Golson benefited from this as well, especially during his one rushing touchdown, which, in my opinion should have been blown dead on the one.

In fact, the first half was the offense’s show with Golson and Zaire taking center change. Color analyst, Mike Mayock made, what I thought was a rather good point during this offensive explosion: it is a lot easier to step into the pass rush when you know you won’t be hit. From that perspective, yes, the QB play is indeed impressive, but what happens after Golson or Zaire get planted on the turf continuously and the threat of another big hit is on the way?

The second half seemed to suggest a rather radical shift as well as the defense suddenly began tallying stops with ease and the dueling QBs started to falter. Toward the end of the game, Brain Kelly’s sideline interview shed a bit of light on this switch. He mentioned that at the beginning of the game, he told defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, to back off a bit. The implication was that Kelly wanted his QBs to have some space to show him what they had under more vanilla looks, but in the second half, Kelly wanted to see how they would perform under tougher conditions.

The box score alone appears to back this assumption up:

Team 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final
Blue (Offense) 42 15 2 4 63
Gold (Defense) 3 12 28 15 58

Granted, the second half was played under a running clock, making a first half/second half comparison directly is a little disingenuous. However, it still appears that Kelly let VanGorder loose even in the second quarter as the offensive production took a sharp decline. In that quarter, Zaire had four scoring plays to Golson’s one (although it should be noted, one of Zaire’s scoring plays was a long bomb that definitely should’ve been a sack) as opposed to six and three respectively (which included Golson’s TD run that should have also been blown dead) in the first quarter.

In the second half, the defense recorded their only official sacks, pass breakup, and three & outs. The offense in that half had only one scoring play from a QB (Zaire) and the other two came thanks to the legs of Greg Bryant.

So what does this all mean? What perspective should we take here? Should we even bother drawing any conclusions?

Personally, I believe we should assume that the first quarter was Kelly allowing the offense to show what they had. Consider this, perhaps, the offense taking on an inferior team. In this case, the offense excelled with Zaire seemingly making the biggest splash and Golson showing a bit of rust.

In the second quarter and beyond, Kelly challenged his young offense and they struggled. Zaire still had the stronger showing in this period, but what should also be noted is that Greg Bryant made a major impact during this period and had the longest gain of the day (51 yards). While the QB play may have taken a step back, the offense still showed that it has a strong running game to carry it; in fact, the running game is a large reason why the Gold squad only forced one three & out (before the third string came on the field in the last minutes of the game).

Based on the above, I think it’s safe to conclude that Golson, while he has quite a bit of rust that he still needs to work out, is probably not in danger of losing his job. If anything, I agree completely with Steve’s post from yesterday that Zaire’s emergence as a legitimate QB threat will push Golson. Further, should Golson end up knocked out of a game, Zaire should be able to step right in.

Basically, you remember that whole thing of “wow, Kelly seems to run a good offense with any QB at the helm” before he was at ND? Yeah, it’s here now. It’s amazing what he can do when he doesn’t have to basically create two different offenses for two completely different QB skillsets.

So what about the defense? Well, it’s abundantly clear to me that if they stay in a vanilla scheme, a talented and fast offense can light them up, especially in the secondary. This defense will likely rely heavily strong front seven play to both stop the run and create loads of pressure on the QB. Of course, that’s easier said than done. While they had success in this scrimmage going strong on blitzes and pressure, remember that Diaco tried something similar against Michigan with disastrous results. Perhaps though that is a result of Diaco going outside his comfort zone and VanGorder has a better grip on how to properly scheme such an attack.

Overall, we can conclude that this team has a lot of talent. They are still quite young and will have quite a bit of work to do against this brutal schedule, but they will be a force to be reckoned with–from any point of view.

 

 

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BREAKING: Field Turf Installation Claims Another ND Tradition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/16/notre-dame-fantasy-camp-soldier-field/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-fantasy-camp-soldier-field http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/16/notre-dame-fantasy-camp-soldier-field/#respond Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:39:47 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24497 I suppose it was only a matter of time before Notre Dame’s war on natural grass started claiming additional traditions. For years, Notre Dame has held a Fantasy Camp on campus, culminating with every camper donning the blue & gold and fulfilling their ND dream by running out of the tunnel and playing in a […]

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I suppose it was only a matter of time before Notre Dame’s war on natural grass started claiming additional traditions.

For years, Notre Dame has held a Fantasy Camp on campus, culminating with every camper donning the blue & gold and fulfilling their ND dream by running out of the tunnel and playing in a game in the House That Rock Built on the Grass That Rock Grew™.

However, the folks at the ND Fantasy Camp, whom have been running a campaign with us for a little over a month, delivered some shocking news to me. As the field turf installation will run over the summer, the usual Fantasy Camp game simply cannot be held at Notre Dame Stadium.

Instead, campers will be forced to deal with playing this game at Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears.

I am not sure how these campers are going to manage fulfilling any NFL dreams along with collegiate ones, but I hope they manage. It sounds like the fantasy camp folks are trying to blunt the pain by announcing that some guys named Ricky Waters and Brady Quinn will be there as well.

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Alright, time to get serious now and kill the obvious jokes/trolling to give our sponsor some serious props.

I can only imagine the mad scramble that these folks had to go through once they got the turf installation timeline. Serious kudos to their entire staff for pulling this off. I am now even more jealous of all the campers that will take part in the camp this year and I’m not even a Bears fan.

They could have just as easily said “well, I guess we will just have to have the game at Cartier this year.” Instead, they managed to find a way to up the unique experience even more and truly give this year’s camp a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.

More importantly, there is still time to register for the camp and get this once-in-a-lifetime feeling for yourself! If this latest announcement just made this bucket-list event a can’t miss experience this year, head on over and register via our banner or through this link. I’ve been told that registration will close after Easter, so get on this before time runs out!

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Notre Dame Football Switches from Grass to Turf: A Twitter Summary http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/16/notre-dame-football-updates-playing-surface-twitter-summary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-football-updates-playing-surface-twitter-summary http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/16/notre-dame-football-updates-playing-surface-twitter-summary/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:30:44 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24494 On Saturday, Notre Dame Football completed its spring football practice sessions with the 85th Blue-Gold Game, but the real (non?) story was Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick's announcement. Here's a small collection of the real-time fan reaction & commentary.

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On Saturday, Notre Dame Football completed its spring football practice sessions with the 85th Blue-Gold Game, but the off-field (on-field?) story was Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick’s announcement. Here’s a small collection of the real-time fan reaction & commentary.


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A Welcome QB Competition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/16/welcome-qb-competition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=welcome-qb-competition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/16/welcome-qb-competition/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:53:45 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24500 The return of Everett Golson and the emergence of Malik Zaire doesn’t constitute a QB controversy.  Quite the opposite. It brings greater confidence in the quarterback position. Last weekend’s annual Blue-Gold Game showcased the considerable talents of Notre Dame’s top two quarterbacks, Everett Golson and Malik Zaire. Instead of crabbing about a supposed quarterback controversy […]

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The return of Everett Golson and the emergence of Malik Zaire doesn’t constitute a QB controversy.  Quite the opposite. It brings greater confidence in the quarterback position.

Last weekend’s annual Blue-Gold Game showcased the considerable talents of Notre Dame’s top two quarterbacks, Everett Golson and Malik Zaire. Instead of crabbing about a supposed quarterback controversy the Irish faithful should be extremely pleased. For the first time in his tenure, Brian Kelly has a QB “controversy” of his own intentional creation, one which pits two very similar, highly dynamic quarterbacks against each other for the starting position. The Golson/Zaire competition is qualitatively different from the previous four seasons and the program is better for it by far.

Kelly’s tenure has been marked by QB units comprised of players possessing highly disparate skill sets: Crist, Rees, Hendrix, Golson, heck throw in Kiel, too. Each of these guys brought an idiosyncratic blend of strengths and weaknesses to the table making ranking the QB position, while never easy, fraught with even more difficulty.

Coaches must base decisions about playing time on the various strengths of each player. That much is obvious and is a fairly straightforward (though not a simple) process. Each player will be stronger on some criteria (accuracy, arm strength, decision making, mobility, etc.) and weaker on others . But when you have a position group where the mix of strengths and weaknesses is so utterly dissimilar– as has been the case at ND the past four seasons– your prior philosophical commitments about how best to optimize across categories (i.e. how much weight you assign the various criteria) in making your decision becomes that much more important.  

Golson and Zaire’s similar skill sets significantly reduce the complexity of the decision by turning variables into constants that drop out of the analysis. Consider the following (admittedly) gross oversimplification looking at numbers 5 and 8:  mobility/escapability- Check, check; Arm Strength- Check, check; Capability running option- Check, check, “Gripping laces”- Check, check.

In the language of decision theory this reduces the “criterion space” for evaluation and consequently increases the confidence level in the decision.  When you don’t have to make uncertain decisions on how to optimize across competing criteria, e.g., when it’s not a question of “explosive upside” versus “steady game management” (or however you want to frame the QB controversies of the past four seasons) you’re that far ahead of the game.  It’s sort of a more formal way of stressing the importance of having guys who “fit your system.”

How? It brings simplicity and repetition to valuable practice time increasing competence and cohesion of the entire offense.  It means no major adjustments to the offense if a QB goes down (apart from Golson being right-handed, and Zaire being a lefty) or subsequent major adjustments to the gameplan since the install stays basically the same. Etc. etc.

In the Golson versus Zaire competition, it doesn’t really matter who comes out ahead in the coaches’ minds. That will sort itself out. But I for one have far more confidence that when  a decision is ultimately reached whatever it is likely represents the true optimal choice for the program.  

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Examining The Offense: Takeaways from the 2014 Blue-Gold Game http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/15/examining-offense-takeaways-2014-blue-gold-game/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=examining-offense-takeaways-2014-blue-gold-game http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/15/examining-offense-takeaways-2014-blue-gold-game/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:00:56 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24490 The 85th Annual Blue-Gold game had everything Irish fans could have hoped for: a new The Shirt, balmy temperatures, and solid, though not spectacular, QB-play from Messrs. Golson and Zaire. It was a scrimmage that gave us glimmers of excitement to come, as Greg Bryant, Corey Robinson, and Amir Carlisle combined with the competing signal-callers […]

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notre_dame_stadium_to_get_artificial_turf_m12The 85th Annual Blue-Gold game had everything Irish fans could have hoped for: a new The Shirt, balmy temperatures, and solid, though not spectacular, QB-play from Messrs. Golson and Zaire. It was a scrimmage that gave us glimmers of excitement to come, as Greg Bryant, Corey Robinson, and Amir Carlisle combined with the competing signal-callers in a hyper-choreographed ballet that did much to chase away memories of “Tommy, No!” offenses from seasons past. It was also a scrimmage in which we saw, for the first time, a new O-line take its first steps on the long road to cohesion.

I emphasize the phrase “long road,” because Harry Hiestand’s charges have a lot of coming-together to do between now and Rice. With likely starters Nick Martin and Christian Lombard notably absent due to injury and a game format that had offensive linemen on the field at all times, the O-line never quite gelled. That said, they had their moments.

The biggest of all their moments came with about 8:45 left in the 4th Quarter, when Malik Zaire handed off to Greg Bryant, who exploited a huge hole opened up by Colin McGovern (6’4.5″ – 313) and Mike McGlinchey (6’8″ – 300) at the start of a fifty-plus “big chunk” run. McGlinchey, a probable starter at right tackle, has the athleticism to line up at end and has me seriously excited for August. He could present an intriguing option for Coach Kelly’s offense, if only to confound opposing defensive coordinators in the red zone. In the main, I thought the O-line did a good, but not great, job of creating and holding a pocket for the quarterback throughout the game.

There were moments, though, when Coach BVG’s troops looked, overall, more comfortable and confident than did their counterparts on offense, and they would have put some serious licks on Golson and Zaire had they been allowed to do some actual hitting. While VanGorder played his scheme-cards very close to his chest, the O-line missed a couple of obvious assignments. For what it’s worth, the “official” sack total from Saturday’s game saw Romeo Okwara net three, while Trumbetti, Hounshell, Rochell, and Matuska eached picked up one.

Additional woes came in the form of awful snapping thanks to center Mark Harrell (6’4″ – 300) who flubbed at least two exchanges. Given that Nick Martin has the center spot all but locked down come August, I am not going to let Harrell’s display take on any more significance that it warrants.

In the end, Saturday’s performance by the offensive line was, in all likelihood, artificially depressed, or depressing, given the personnel situation and demands of the game itself. Coach Hiestand has talked about the line’s lack of “chemistry” given the squad’s youth, its loss of once-in-a-generation leadership, and the aforementioned injuries to key players.

Given his past performance and demonstrated record of success, there should be plenty of time between now and Rice for Coach Hiestand and the O-line to work out the necessary equations.

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Notre Dame Basketball vs. Connecticut: A Twitter Summary http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/14/notre-dame-basketball-vs-connecticut-twitter-summary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-basketball-vs-connecticut-twitter-summary http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/14/notre-dame-basketball-vs-connecticut-twitter-summary/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:53:57 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24485 On Tuesday, an undefeated Notre Dame women's basketball team faced off against the undefeated Connecticut Huskies in the championship game. Here's a collection of some of the real-time fan reaction and commentary.

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On Tuesday, an undefeated Notre Dame women’s basketball team faced off against the undefeated Connecticut Huskies in the championship game. Here’s a collection of some of the real-time fan reaction and commentary.


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Notre Dame Football: Blue and Gold Game Thoughts and Reactions http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/12/notre-dame-football-blue-gold-rxns/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-football-blue-gold-rxns http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/12/notre-dame-football-blue-gold-rxns/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 19:48:50 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24479 Saturday was the 85th Notre Dame spring game and as we all freaked out from the big news of field turf installation, a minor football scrimmage broke out behind the angelic view of Jack Swarbrick. Here are many of my thoughts and reactions to what I saw and heard during the annual retail football event: […]

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Saturday was the 85th Notre Dame spring game and as we all freaked out from the big news of field turf installation, a minor football scrimmage broke out behind the angelic view of Jack Swarbrick. Here are many of my thoughts and reactions to what I saw and heard during the annual retail football event:

Tradition Is Dead

Alex Flannigan was able to make the biggest announcement regarding Notre Dame football since Jimmy Clausen visited the College Football Hall of Fame: Notre Dame Stadium will receive a face lift. Jack Swarbrick explains:

We had a strong predisposition to stay with a natural grass field, however…we have been unable to produce an acceptable playing surface. – Synthetic turf will assist our game preparation because our team will be able to play and practice on the same surface. We will also be able to utilize the Notre Dame Stadium field for practices on home football Fridays and other occasions, whereas that is currently unrealistic. Additionally, this change allows us to eliminate the risk to players posed by the asphalt perimeter that has to be maintained around our current field.

This means two things: message boards everywhere have officially exploded and imploded, creating a supernova with a black hole, and Notre Dame will continue to climb into the modern era of sports.

This is obviously the right move, no matter how much you like “tradition” or whatever word you use to justify a completely unnecessary obsession with the 1940s. Young athletes want it. Younger fans want it. The coaches want it. It’s just better. It’s easier and cheaper to maintain and it’s safer. There’s just no reason to keep the grass anymore. Sorry, Gramps.

Also, if you watched/attended the game, you know exactly how awful and trashed the field looked today. I’m sure this is no accident as it would be the perfect backdrop to Swarbrick’s sideline interview, but let’s not pretend like that wasn’t how it looked four months ago. Because it did. It was hideous.

Everett Golson Is Back…

…and rusty.

As I watched the first few plays that Golson participated in, I couldn’t help but bite my tongue as his touch was off and decisions were slow. After an entire first half, though, I just can’t keep forgiving it. He looked pressed. He was getting “sacked”. He was falling down on simple roll outs. He was missing targets (the Amir Carlisle incompletion into the end zone is just inexcusable).

I know he’s only been back for a month and needs to build chemistry with an essentially brand new offensive roster, but I need to see more from him as a starter. I need poise and 100% accuracy on easy outlet passes. I need to see better pocket presence. I need to see him teaching the younger guys around him instead of just walking off the field.

I’m not going to pretend like he was supposed to look like a Heisman candidate but…

…Malik Zaire Did

I’m going to go ahead and say that either we’re in for one hell of a quarterback controversy leading into the fall or Brian Kelly is pulling one hell of a troll job on Notre Dame fans, because Zaire looked goooooooood. He looked comfortable in the pocket and on roll outs. He put the ball where it is supposed to be for the receivers to make plays. He talked CJ Prosise through a route (then a few plays later throw a long touchdown to Prosise).

Now this was almost bound to happen. He’s playing mostly against the number two guys and under WAY less pressure. But there’s always that eye test, and Zaire most definitely out-scored Golson on that one.

Quarterback Predictions

It’s still going to be Everett Golson to lead this team. Golson had that “It” factor we all look for back in 2012 and I guarantee it’s not gone. The difference is, I believe Zaire will be constantly pushing Golson to stay on the top of his game which is very important at the college level. It could be the difference late in the season when other teams have improved and have plenty of film on the Irish.

I think we’ll also see more late-game substitutions with Zaire needing game play. It won’t just be scrub time late in the fourth quarter. Brian Kelly has said before he only wants one starter on the team…but I think that means we’ll still get those “packages” that he liked to use even back at Cincinnati.

Hole-y or Holy Defense?

New defensive coordinator Brain VanGorder surely has only installed a small portion of his entire playbook and even that portion isn’t going to go onto national television. This game was about two things: Golson and Zair. Kelly made no allusions otherwise. No blitzing, no stunts. It was designed to be straight up pocket practice for the quarterbacks.

That said, I loved the way linemen were still getting into the backfield. They were forcing the quarterbacks to move and forcing them into coverage sacks. Run defense for the most part looked good, until Greg Bryant took over a bit in the second half. The linebackers left a bit to be desired, but again they were playing a lot of vanilla football. What did impress me was the way the corners and safeties were hanging with faster and mostly bigger receivers. For the most part, the projected starters were putting themselves in good positions to make plays.

We likely won’t know much about this defense until the final depth chart comes out and the final whistle blows against Rice, but for a spring game focused on the quarterback play, I’m at the very least satiated by what I saw today.

Running Back Stable

I used stable on purpose as we’ve got some serious horses behind the quarterback. I think this is the deepest, most complete running back depth chart since Lou Holtz had several three-headed monster backfields. Cam McDaniel seemed to struggle against the top defense and never really had big holes through which to run.

The true highlights came from the younger guys. The first half seemed to belong to Tarean Folston. Kelly miraculously added in a screen package this offseason, which will be great to show off Folston’s hands and feet. Getting him into immediate open field situations will go a long way to spreading the field and forcing the defense to play back. Greg Bryant is back with a vengeance after falling into the doghouse last season. Showing both his power and his moves, Bryant even seems to have improved his receiving ability.

Long story short, there was noticeable improvement in the biggest backfield weakness last season: caught balls. We know the speed and power that all three backs possess, but a huge separation between top teams and Notre Dame last year came from passes behind the line of scrimmage. It is absolutely imperative that this gap be, at the very least, narrowed in order to reach the next level of national competition.

Other Notes

  • Corey Robinson is big..and he learned how to play receiver. That’s dangerous for opposing teams.
  • Jaylon Smith is still a bad, bad man.
  • Receiving success will depend on tight ends and slot receivers. Amir Carlisle is a work in progress and we will definitely need to see improvement from Ben Koyack.
  • Quarterback coach Matt LaFleur will be to ND female fans what VanGorder’s mustache is the males.
  • Kyle Brindza is going to drive you insane all season.
  • Chris Brown’s focus is the only thing holding him back from a huge season.
  • Under Armour and Notre Dame are going to make boat loads of cash on people like you and me.

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Fashion Review: “The Shirt” http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/12/fashion-friday-shirt/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fashion-friday-shirt http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/12/fashion-friday-shirt/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 15:37:07 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24471 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of “The Shirt”, a project that began in 1990 as a fundraiser for various student clubs and activities. Each year, fans anticipate the unveiling of “The Shirt” and it continues to be a popular mainstay in Notre Dame football game day apparel, serving as the student section outfit of choice […]

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2014 marks the 25th anniversary of “The Shirt”, a project that began in 1990 as a fundraiser for various student clubs and activities. Each year, fans anticipate the unveiling of “The Shirt” and it continues to be a popular mainstay in Notre Dame football game day apparel, serving as the student section outfit of choice and symbol of unity and support. “The Shirt” has morphed and evolved over 25 years taking on different designs, new vendors, and most controversially, different colors. So what does this year’s shirt look like and what are my thoughts? Read no further! (Well, actually do because my thoughts are below the pictures)

DRUM ROLL*

2014shirt_front 2014shirt_back

Photo Credit: theshirt.nd.edu

Color: The first thing I noticed, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone, was the color. Is that light blue? Dark blue? Grey!? It’s a little difficult to tell. The color seems a little different in every picture. However, I have officially named the color of this year’s “The Shirt” “Blue Grey October Sky” (take that Crayola!) and maybe that’s what the design team was going for? Maybe? Either way, while I don’t see “The Shirt” sticking to one color anytime soon, I wouldn’t pick this one. 

Design, Front: The front of the “The Shirt” features the words, “Then. Now. Forever”, perched atop the stadium. In fashion, a key rule is that less is more and I think these 3 words succinctly sum up 25 years of the “The Shirt” and 125 years of Notre Dame football. The phrase unifies the past with the present and looks hopefully toward the future. Molly approved.

Design, Back: The design on the back of “The Shirt” features the words “We Are” emblazoned in the sky, which looms above an image of the football field. The team can be seen spilling forth from the North tunnel as the band waits on either side and countless fans cheer from the stands. The “ND” logo on the field subtly finishes the “We Are” chant which began at the top of the design. Again, I think the design does a great job tying in past, present, and future. In years past, a single player or two may have been featured on “The Shirt”, but the decision to include a timeless scene that celebrates some of the most traditional aspects of Notre Dame was an excellent choice for the 25th year of the project.

Overall thoughts: All in all, I am a big fan of this year’s “The Shirt”. The color, while slightly ambiguous, facilitates the overall design and seems like it will go with several different colors (yes, this is how my mind works). I love the simplicity of the phrase on the front, and the subtle details that make me notice something different on the back each time I look. Bottom line: I’ll be buying this and rocking it with a black bandage skirt or a pair of skinny jeans.

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Friday Roundup: The “RIP, Tex” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/11/friday-roundup-rip-tex-edition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-roundup-rip-tex-edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/04/11/friday-roundup-rip-tex-edition/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:00:17 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=24462 Here’s a recipe for disaster: have your NOLA bachelor party the weekend after you come back from a trip to Vegas. Oh, sure, it was a work trip to Vegas; however, since I learned how to run a much smoother trade show, I actually got to hang out with my coworkers and they are just […]

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Friday RoundupHere’s a recipe for disaster: have your NOLA bachelor party the weekend after you come back from a trip to Vegas.

Oh, sure, it was a work trip to Vegas; however, since I learned how to run a much smoother trade show, I actually got to hang out with my coworkers and they are just as much a bunch of gambling/drunk degenerates as I am. The most painful of these nights was spurred by one of my bosses leading the way to terrible decisions.

Needless to say, I had a blast.

Now, by the time you read this, I will be boozing in NOLA with practically no recovery time. I never claimed to be smart, but here I am ready to absolutely destroy myself as my groomsmen happily lead me down the path to a liver transplant.

To put it mildly, if I don’t die/pass out on Bourbon Street/get stabbed/thrown in jail, I will consider the weekend a smashing success. Yes, I’m all about tripping over low bars.

My imminent demise aside, if this is my last Roundup, I’m going out with a bang because we have loads of links for you this week. So let’s get to the stuff you actually care about.

The Roundup

I hear Athens is great in the fall. Georgia that is. Please let this happen.

Happy trails, Digger. The former Notre Dame coach will be leaving the Worldwide Leader.

It doesn’t look like Nix is missing that Pinstripe Bowl PS4. He might be missing the joy of a sandwich, but not the next-gen entertainment.

Looks like a “Where Are They Now?” waiting to happen. Christ Stewart is winning awards at the ND Law School.

One of our sponsors is up for a Webby. Do us a favor and give the ND alumni-run Bouqs a vote.

The 21st century version of the “big one that got away.“ The save button is a very, very important feature.

I think this guy is lucky this is the worst that happened to him. Flying rival colors in your dorm room? That’s either serious cajones or insanity.

Speaking of dumb Kentucky fan decisions… Not only was this tattoo a stupid idea, but apparently the guy is more than willing to keep it.

I’ve always known ref rage is a real thing. Seeing it so scientifically quantified though is a thing of beauty.

Looks like UCONN won three titles. This little flub is beyond hilarious.

Hope you had fun a prom, bro. Because I think Chizik is going to kill you.

Law & Order: Missouri. Star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has found himself suspended indefinitely after being being involved with an assault.

Brent Musburger must be beside himself. AJ McCarron and his bride to be, Katherine Webb, are about to be reality stars.

New recruiting tactic: winking at mom. Coach GQ has found himself quite a nice recruiting advantage.

Michigan’s spring game is in the book. Things in Ann Arbor are going…well, not so great.

And now your moment of Nix… Yes, we have a Roundup that features Big Lou and he didn’t make his namesake. That honor goes to the ND and Florida State baseball teams for their rain delay antics.

The Booze

As much as I’m loathe to admit it, I’m sure, at some point, a Liquid Cocaine shot is happening. This shot is now a long running joke between my best man and I because, in our younger years, when this was consumed either willingly or unknowingly (he gave me a shot and said it was Jager on my 22nd birthday), bad things happened. Granted, “bad things” is better translated to “stupid, embarrassing shit” that we did when the inevitable blackout happened. It probably didn’t help that these shots also happened after we had already been drinking as well.

Everyone’s favorite moment of me on this shot: a picture of me being bottle fed beer while I’m flipping off the camera. No, I am not posting that picture here.

I’m still hopeful that I can avoid this, but I am resigned to my fate if it does. If you want to know why I fear this, I suggest finding a safe location, taking this shot first, and trying this out for yourself. You have been warned:

Mix 1 part Jager, 1 part 151, and 1 part Goldschlager (or Rumple Minze) over ice. Pour into shot glass. Kiss your ass goodbye.

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