Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog A Notre Dame Football Blog Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:40:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Want to Win Tickets to Michigan and Stanford? http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/30/want-win-tickets-michigan-stanford/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=want-win-tickets-michigan-stanford http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/30/want-win-tickets-michigan-stanford/#respond Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:40:06 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25472 Miss out tickets to watch Notre Dame take on Michigan and/or Stanford in the alumni lottery/public sale/seeing how much tickets are in the secondary market and saying “NOPE”? Well, the Notre Dame Monogram Club might just have a solution for you. The club is sponsoring two raffles, open to the public, to win tickets for each […]

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Via the Daily Domer and Matt Cashore.

Via the Daily Domer and Matt Cashore.

Miss out tickets to watch Notre Dame take on Michigan and/or Stanford in the alumni lottery/public sale/seeing how much tickets are in the secondary market and saying “NOPE”?

Well, the Notre Dame Monogram Club might just have a solution for you. The club is sponsoring two raffles, open to the public, to win tickets for each game, plus a nice package of accommodations to go along with it. For a $100 entry, you have a chance to win the following:

  • Two tickets to either the Michigan or Stanford games (depending on the raffle you enter/win)
  • Two pregame field passes
  • Accommodations at the Varsity Clubs of America in Mishawaka (and I’ve stayed there before–it’s awesome) for Friday and Saturday night
  • Two tickets to the Friday football luncheon
  • Two tickets to the Friday night reception in the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge located in Notre Dame Stadium (includes locker room tour)
  • One on-campus parking pass for the game
  • Two tickets to the athletic department’s VIP pre-game hospitality village
  • Gift bag of ND swag

That’s one hell of a package that includes some exclusive events that are only typically reserved for Monogram members, football alumni, or special guests of the university. So if you missed out on tickets, it could just be a blessing in disguise to cash in on this package.

Winners will be selected August 18 for the Michigan raffle and September 15 for the Stanford raffle.

There are only 500 tickets available in each raffle, so be sure to head over to the Monogram Club’s website and get your ticket today!

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Defensive Backs http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/29/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-defensive-backs-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-defensive-backs-2 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/29/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-defensive-backs-2/#respond Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:00:38 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25454 If the defensive line and wide receiver position groups raised questions, Notre Dame’s secondary is a group full of answers. From Max Redfield at safety to fifth-year arriviste Cody Riggs, the Irish will enjoy a very solid, if inexperienced, two-deep. What new Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder does with the pieces will be an added wrinkle […]

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If the defensive line and wide receiver position groups raised questions, Notre Dame’s secondary is a group full of answers. From Max Redfield at safety to fifth-year arriviste Cody Riggs, the Irish will enjoy a very solid, if inexperienced, two-deep. What new Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder does with the pieces will be an added wrinkle that has opposing offensive coordinators head-scratching at this point. If past is prologue or history repeats itself, Irish fans should expect a very aggressive secondary that emphasizes denying or dispossessing the opponent of the football at every turn, rather than protecting against the big gain.

IRISH PLAYER TO WATCH: KeiVarae Russell, Junior, CB, 5’11″, 190 lbs.

credit: subwaydomer.com

credit: subwaydomer.com

The most experienced returning player with twenty-six starts under his belt and his name on the Nagurski and Bednarik watch lists, KeiVarae Russell has the speed and size to handle most anyone he’ll face this season. A Freshman All-American in 2012, Russell had strong performances in 2012 as a true freshman. Alabama exposed him, and the rest of the defense, showing him in much need of work against elite talent. In 2013, he broke up three passes in the win over MSU and added three more plus an interception in the Pinstripe Bowl. If Russell performs up to, much less exceeds, expectations this season, he would easily be able to make the jump to the NFL. Notre Dame will rely on him and Riggs’ SEC-experience in the opening games to solidify what could turn out to be a marquee defensive unit nationally.

ENEMY PLAYER TO WATCH: Su’a Cravens, USC, Sophomore, SS, 6’1″, 215 lbs.

credit: usctrojans.com

credit: usctrojans.com

Remember the inexperience and questions for the Irish at wide receiver? Well, they get to blood themselves and figure it all out against a bevy of very talented corners and safeties, none of whom has the demonstrated performance and long-term potential of Troy’s freakish former freshman, Su’a Cravens. Like his Irish counterpart, Cravens saw action in all thirteen games in his first season and put up gaudy numbers: four interceptions, one pass broken up, and 53 tackles, 39 of which were solo. Awash in post-season accolades, it is little wonder his name appears on the Thorpe, Bednarik, and Nagurski Award watch lists.

I chose Cravens over FSU’s P.J. Williams, and Stanford’s Jordan Richards and Alex Carter because of his size and youth. I’ll concede that Carter’s 8 passes defensed last season is a jaw-dropping stat, but four of those came at the expense of Notre Dame and Sparty, neither of whom brought vaunted passing attacks in 2013. Cravens notched an interception and a pass breakup against Arizona State, both of which KeiVarae failed to do two weeks later.

Here’s a video in which you get to watch Stanford lose. Stomach the fact that you have to watch USC win.

ENEMY PLAYER TO WATCH: Nelson Agholor, Junior, WR, 6′ 1″, 190 lbs.

 

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Dear Brady Hoke, Notre Dame and Michigan Is Not a “National” Rivalry http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/28/dear-brady-hoke-notre-dame-michigan-national-rivalry/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dear-brady-hoke-notre-dame-michigan-national-rivalry http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/28/dear-brady-hoke-notre-dame-michigan-national-rivalry/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:39:15 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25450 The last time Brady Hoke spoke about Notre Dame, he was pandering to Michigan alumni by calling the Irish “chicken” for cancelling the series with Michigan. At today’s B1G media days, Hoke has transitioned from attempts at humor to just being flat-out factually wrong: #Michigan HC Brady Hoke says last #NotreDame game will be an […]

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The last time Brady Hoke spoke about Notre Dame, he was pandering to Michigan alumni by calling the Irish “chicken” for cancelling the series with Michigan. At today’s B1G media days, Hoke has transitioned from attempts at humor to just being flat-out factually wrong:

My reaction:

First off, let’s place the whole “is Michigan really a rival?” debate to the side for a minute. Simply put, regardless of our stance here at HLS, there are plenty of people that still view this as a rivalry. It’s debated because there are some solid points on both sides.

Notre Dame/Michigan being a “national” rivalry is not one of them.

The game itself is the very definition of a regional rivalry. The Game between Ohio State and Michigan is also a regional rivalry as is the Iron Bowl, a regional tilt between two Alabama schools.

Now is there national interest in those games? You bet. ND/Michigan will be no exception this year as this will be the last dance between the two for quite a while just as the last tilt between 6-4 Texas and 6-5 Texas A&M was in 2011.

In the end, only Longhorn and Aggie fans really cared about the end result. Everyone else tuning in simply could throw out snark in one direction or the other should they wish. The same will be true for both the Irish and the Wolverines.

National attention does not a national rivalry make. So what is a national rivalry? Try Notre Dame and Southern Cal. Those are two schools have quite a bit more distance between them than the “nation” of Indiana and Michigan. As a bonus, the two have played each other far more often (85 meetings compared to 41).

But go ahead and keep thinking that this game will really matter in the future to anyone else besides ND and Michigan fans, Hoke. Keep that fresh in your mind as you’re forced to play divisional foes Maryland and Rutgers annually while the Irish are playing true national games of importance against Texas and Georgia. You can thank Delany for your scheduling handcuffs then, not ND.

Now for the second erroneous point: that the series is over. No it isn’t. It’s just over for now.

I’m sure by the time that ND and Michigan face off again, you won’t be there Hoke. Hell, I’m not even sure David Brandon will be there at this rate. That doesn’t mean this series is over.

More than any other rivalry series, ND and Michigan have by far seen the most breaks that I can think of off the top of my head (most of them by Michigan’s choice, but hey, minor details). The series has always managed to come back. It will come back again when your conference commissioner starts to realize handcuffing all B1G schools with a nine game watered-down conference schedule is a terrible idea as the lack of flexibility kills your out-of-conference scheduling (your fellow B1G schools, Michigan State and Purdue are having similar issues with that and future scheduling with ND by the way).

This game isn’t dead. It’s just another break.

Go back to taking “chicken”-style pot-shots at ND, Hoke. We can take it. It’s a hell of a lot more fun to hear (and respond) to those than factually false statements.

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Notre Dame 2014 Opponent Preview: Navy http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/28/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-navy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-navy http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/28/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-navy/#respond Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25402 After facing what will by far be the toughest part of their schedule, Notre Dame will get a well deserved bye week before they face off against the triple option attack of Navy. Navy is one of those games on paper that the Irish should always win. A well-run triple option attack, however, can negate a […]

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After facing what will by far be the toughest part of their schedule, Notre Dame will get a well deserved bye week before they face off against the triple option attack of Navy.

Navy is one of those games on paper that the Irish should always win. A well-run triple option attack, however, can negate a clear size, strength, and speed advantage if a defense isn’t ready to handle it. If a defense fails to stop drives, all of a sudden the offense finds themselves not just trailing, but pressing to overcome all the time that has been chewed up on the clock.

This year’s iteration of Navy looks to be one of those teams that can cause those kind of problems.

Previous Opponent Previews:

Vitals

Coach Ken Niumatalolo (7th year, 49-30)
Conference Independent
Record vs. ND 12-74-1
2013 Record 9-4
2013 Bowl Armed Forces Bowl vs Middle Tennessee State
(W, 24-6)
2013 S.O.S (Sagarin) 81
2013 F/+ Rank 58

Offense

Returning Starters 8 (1 QB, 1 FB, 1 RB, 0 WR, 0 TE, 5 OL)
Returning OL Starts 85
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 325.4 (2)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 85.9 (122)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 411.3 (61)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 33.5 (35)
2013 Offense F/+ Rank 32

The building blocks of last year’s option offense all return. Navy’s offensive line returns all of their starters. QB Keenan Reynolds returns to take the helm of the offense as does FB Noah Copeland and RB Geoffrey Whiteside. While technically not a returning starter, FB Chris Swain also returns who was the teams second leading rusher behind Reynolds (1524 yards) with 424 yards.

In short, the entire 2013 offense is basically back and that offense can move the ball against practically anyone. Navy faced off against 4 BCS teams last season (ND, Indiana, Duke, and Pitt) and gained at least 300 total yards and 200 rushing yards, including a 419 yard performance against the Irish (331 rushing yards).

Their worst performance was against Western Kentucky of all teams. In that game, their rushing attack went nowhere, gaining only 86 rushing yards and 162 yards total.

Their offense was nothing to dismiss in 2013 and should only get better in 2014.

Defense

Returning Starters 7 (2 DL, 2 LB, 3 DB)
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 178.8 (79)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 215.9 (37)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 394.8 (57)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 24.4 (T-40)
2013 Defense F/+ Rank 97

And here’s the huge weak spot.

Navy’s defense is simply terrible. The only sub-300 yard performance this unit put together was against fellow service academy and triple option team, Army. Against teams not focused on a clock-bleeding offense, the defense was much worse, especially against BCS competition where they gave up an average of 440 yards.

But hard-nosed defense is not what Navy relies on. For them, their best defense is a good offense. If the defense can bend and not break, that’s a win for Navy. They will be more than happy to trade a clock-bleeding TD drive for an opposing FG.

What to Expect

As I implied in the previous section, it’s always better to think about Navy games in terms of winning and losing drives. Any drive that doesn’t result in a TD should be considered a loss. It’s simply a waste of time considering how Navy can bleed the clock and that goes for both teams.

For Navy, they chew far too much time off the clock to only come away with three points. For the Irish, who will have less time to work with than what they’re used to, it’s simply a waste.

To push this concept further, the Irish goal on defense will be to force Navy “off schedule” and into passing downs. Navy will m0ve the ball, that’s simply unavoidable. The goal will be to limit their runs to less than 3 yards per rush. If they can do that, all of a sudden, Navy will find themselves in third and long and well out of their comfort zone.

While the narrative will certainly be focused on Brian VanGorder’s first game as ND defensive coordinator against Navy, especially considering how much Bob Diaco struggled in his first season, the Irish can create a good defense with a good offense much like Navy does. Should Navy find themselves trailing by two possessions or more, they will find themselves forced to push the pace and throw in more passes than they would prefer.

In short, any way the Irish can knock Navy off their gameplan is how they will walk away with a win and I fully expect them to do so.

Study Your Enemy

Here are the Navy blogs you should keep an eye out on:

Looking for Tickets?

Get Great Tickets at Ticket Monster!

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Friday Roundup: The “Changes” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/25/friday-roundup-changes-edition-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-roundup-changes-edition-2 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/25/friday-roundup-changes-edition-2/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:02:03 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25443 This past week, Notre Dame football and its fans witnessed one of the most visible changes that the program has seen. But the new artificial surface is only the tip of the iceberg of the changes that Notre Dame has seen recently. Earlier this month, Notre Dame officially became an Under Armour school. The Bookstore […]

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This past week, Notre Dame football and its fans witnessed one of the most visible changes that the program has seen. But the new artificial surface is only the tip of the iceberg of the changes that Notre Dame has seen recently.

Earlier this month, Notre Dame officially became an Under Armour school. The Bookstore channeled Black Friday with a midnight event as soon as the calendar flipped to July and demand hit a level that forced the cancellation of many online orders as inventory flew off the shelves.

Prior to that, and even prior to the news of the FieldTurf installation, Jack Swarbrick announced major changes to Notre Dame Stadium in the form of the Crossroads project. Prior to that, Notre Dame saw assistant coaches leave for head coaching gigs. And even prior to that, ND became a scheduling partner with the ACC.

Change is constant in college football. ND has been no stranger to this even outside the Brian Kelly era. Charlie Weis pushed for Notre Dame to allow early admits to level the recruiting playing field for the Irish. The now iconic “Play Like a Champion Today” sign was a Lou Holtz installation. Notre Dame decided to go back to playing in bowl games during the Ara Parseghian era.

But the lines in the endzone will still point to the Dome. The Dome will still be gilded in gold. The original guts of the House that Rock Built will still be in place.

And oh yeah, the only thing that will still really matter in 2014 will be the same thing that mattered in 1888: wins and losses.

The Roundup

Even ND’s band saw some major changes, but they aren’t the only ones. Ohio State’s band director got canned.

Important off-season announcement: don’t be a terrible person and get married in the fall. Ever.

I see Texas is channeling a bit of my dyslexia. Not trying to throw rocks in my glass house of grammar failure, but I don’t have a whole department of people responsible for making sure this doesn’t happen.

Any inappropriate response to “Roll Tide” will be met with violence. “Good luck with that” is on the inappropriate response list.

And now, your moment of Nix… We have a montage of hilarious moments with coaches. First, enjoy Kliff Kingsbury morphing into Charlie Weis.

Weis hung out with Nelly:

And Mike Leach was doing Mike Leach things:

The Booze

You know what I haven’t suggested in a long time on here? Margaritas.

It’s hot as hell right now and my usual beer and bourbon favorites aren’t so great in 100+ degree weather. So I’m going back to my Mexican roots this weekend. You can’t go wrong here as tequila always leads to fantastic decisions.

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First Look at the Notre Dame Midfield Logo http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/24/first-look-notre-dame-midfield-logo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=first-look-notre-dame-midfield-logo http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/24/first-look-notre-dame-midfield-logo/#respond Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:27:44 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25432 The Notre Dame football twitter account has been on full #TurfWatch alert. I can’t help but being reminded of a certain other popular “watch”: Anyways, the vigil of the wonderful folks over at Fighting Irish Digital Media has paid off as we have our first look at the interlocking Notre Dame monogram at midfield: We […]

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The Notre Dame football twitter account has been on full #TurfWatch alert. I can’t help but being reminded of a certain other popular “watch”:

Anyways, the vigil of the wonderful folks over at Fighting Irish Digital Media has paid off as we have our first look at the interlocking Notre Dame monogram at midfield:

I must say, the monogram looks great in the morning light in ND Stadium. It looks a touch crooked right now, but that’s either my eyes playing tricks on me or the logo isn’t fully set yet (as the endzone strips and other markings aren’t on the field at all right now too).

Oh, and that nice green turf looks pretty nice too. I’m definitely excited for the first full shot of the entire field, sidelines and all, when it’s finally complete.

37 more days, folks.

EDIT: Looks like my eyes were playing tricks on me as Leigh Torbin just tweeted out another photo:

Nice photography work by the way, Leigh! Make that Christianne Harder’s handy work on the photo (which appeared first on the ND Football account, which, if you weren’t aware, she runs). #TurfWatch comes fast and furious and the news stops for no one and I really need to do a better job of seeing “RT” in a tweet and not just looking at the pretty pictures.

EDIT #2: Here’s the first panoramic shot of the field, courtesy of Tim “Oak” O’Connor of FIDM which also comes with a confirmation that the midfield logo isn’t sewn in:

EDIT #3: And now we have a bird’s eye view of the stadium. Just a few more touches and it will be complete.

 

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Will Mahone Sentenced to 10 Days in Jail, Felonies Dropped http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/24/will-mahone-sentenced-10-days-jail-felonies-dropped/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=will-mahone-sentenced-10-days-jail-felonies-dropped http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/24/will-mahone-sentenced-10-days-jail-felonies-dropped/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:35:36 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25430 The Will Mahone saga is nearing its conclusion. After his arrest, Mahone was initially charged with three felonies. Two of those three felonies were dropped but with one felony still looming, Notre Dame dismissed the sophomore WR. Mahone’s lawyer stated at the time that he’d like to return to Notre Dame, but the school informed him that he […]

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The Will Mahone saga is nearing its conclusion.

After his arrest, Mahone was initially charged with three felonies. Two of those three felonies were dropped but with one felony still looming, Notre Dame dismissed the sophomore WR. Mahone’s lawyer stated at the time that he’d like to return to Notre Dame, but the school informed him that he would not be able to as long as the felonies were still pending.

According to Vindy.com, Mahone reached what appears to be a plea agreement:

Mahone, 20 of White Beech Lane, pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, assault and aggravated menacing. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and received two days credit from the time he was arrested initially and when he posted bond. After his jail sentence, he will be on a on probation for a year.

The most important thing to note is that Mahone didn’t plead to any felony charges. It appears that those charges have been dropped as a result of this plea.

Now cleared of all felony charges, Mahone could reapply for admission to Notre Dame if he chooses. Even if he does, there is no guarantee that Notre Dame will readmit him and Brian Kelly’s indefinite suspension could still be in play.

Either way, with admittance for the fall semester set and fall camp just around the corner, Mahone will likely miss the 2014 season. More important for him though is getting his life back together and on track. Hopefully the conclusion of this case will be the first step in him being able to do so.

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Notre Dame 2014 Opponent Preview: Florida State http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/23/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-florida-state/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-florida-state http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/23/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-florida-state/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:59:47 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25400 For our next Notre Dame football opponent preview, we arrive at the big one: defending national champions, Florida State. Unlike most of the previews that I’ve written thus far, this is a team that I saw in person last year and on the biggest possible stage no less. Make no mistake, this team certainly lived […]

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For our next Notre Dame football opponent preview, we arrive at the big one: defending national champions, Florida State. Unlike most of the previews that I’ve written thus far, this is a team that I saw in person last year and on the biggest possible stage no less.

Make no mistake, this team certainly lived up to the hype and will easily be the toughest test the Irish face in the 2014 season. We may all have chuckled when returning Heisman winner, Jameis Winston, stole some crabs from Publix this offseason, but this game will be no laughing matter.

Previous Opponent Previews:

Vitals

Coach Jimbo Fisher (5th year, 45-10)
Conference ACC
Record vs. ND 5-2
2013 Record 14-0 (8-0)
2013 Bowl BCS National Championship vs Auburn
(W, 34-31)
2013 S.O.S (Sagarin) 62
2013 F/+ Rank 1

Offense

Returning Starters 7 (1 QB, 0 RB, 1 WR, 1 TE, 4 OL)
Returning OL Starts 114
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 203.1 (28)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 315.9 (14)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 519.1 (6)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 51.6 (2)
2013 Offense F/+ Rank 3

If you want to create a nightmare scenario for the Irish, the Florida State offense is it.

The Seminoles return not just a Heisman winning quarterback that is just a redshirt sophomore, but also senior WR, Rashad Greene, who has been the Seminoles leading receiver the past three years. Greene is also 1,133 yards shy of becoming Florida State’s all-time career leading receiver. His odds of doing that aren’t bad this season either as he had 1,128 yards and will likely have an improved Winston throwing him the ball.

With all due respect to Bayou’s opinion that Southern Cal’s Nelson Agholor will be the opposing WR to watch out for this season, there is no receiver I fear more in 2014 than Greene and it isn’t even close.

As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, FSU returns backup running back, Karlos Williams, who had 748 yards, 8.0 yards/carry, and 11 TDs. The line blocking for him returns four starters and the entire line is comprised of seniors.

There simply isn’t a more complete offensive unit that Notre Dame will face all season. Period.

Defense

Returning Starters 6 (2 DL, 1 LB, 3 DB)
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 124.8 (18)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 156.6 (1)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 281.4 (3)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 12.1 (1)
2013 Defense F/+ Rank 1

With all the offensive hype that Florida State will have in 2014, forgetting about their defense would be a grave mistake as this unit is arguably even better than their offense.

Last year, their defensive line was one of the best in the country and will likely be so again anchored by DE Mario Edwards who had for 3.5 sacks and 9.5 TFL last season.

However, their best unit is by far their secondary that features a very familiar name for Irish fans: Ronald Darby. This unit not only helped form the nation’s best passing defense last season, leading to a nation leading 26 INTs (5 of which were returned for TDs), but they also combined for 8.5 sacks last season and 22.5 TFL.

The secondary did lose Lamarcus Joyner this season who was by far their best DB in 2013, but he was the only starter that the unit lost. Don’t expect much regression here save for possibly the absurd amount of INTs they had in 2013.

What to Expect

If the BCS Championship loss to Alabama was a sign of how much growth Notre Dame still needed to become one of the elite in college football, Florida State will be the checkup of how far the Irish have come in two years.

The truly scary part though is that the Seminoles could likely be a better team than last year. One of the lasting memories I took with me from the BCS Championship game against Auburn was how Jameis Winston finally looked like a deer in the headlights when he faced a defense that could actually hit him. However, in the second half, Winston bounced back and simply tore the Auburn defense to shreds, despite the fact they were still getting pressure on him.

Winston’s hype is well deserved and the only thing that could derail his career at this point is if his issues off the field catch up to him. And no, I’m not talking about the more light-hearted crab stealing incident, but something much more serious. While I do understand Winston was never charged, I simply can’t write this preview and in good conscience pretend the rape allegations never existed, especially considering that the story reached critical mass as the Seminoles closed in on their title. That story will forever be a part of their 2013 narrative, just as the Lizzy Seeberg tragedy will forever be attached to the 2012 Irish (and I do not wish to equate the two, however, I can’t fail recognize the glass house I stand in).

Frankly, if the only issue I can find for this Florida State squad is off the field, that spells major trouble for the Irish on it.

Despite the fact that I think the 2014 Notre Dame squad could very well be more talented than the 2012 squad that faced Alabama, the result could very well be the same. Expect the Irish to be at least a double-digit road underdog in this game, just as practically every other FSU opponent will be.

Study Your Enemy

My picks for Florida State Blogs to follow:

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Wide Receiver http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/22/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-wide-receiver-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-wide-receiver-2 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/22/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-wide-receiver-2/#respond Tue, 22 Jul 2014 07:00:03 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25421 This is one of those posts where past is prologue. Or something. It’s also demonstrative of the frustrations that come from following recruiting. I say this because this episode of Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy features a player, USC’s Nelson Agholor, who once set ND-fan’s heart aflutter. And, looking back on it, it would be phenomenal […]

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This is one of those posts where past is prologue. Or something. It’s also demonstrative of the frustrations that come from following recruiting. I say this because this episode of Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy features a player, USC’s Nelson Agholor, who once set ND-fan’s heart aflutter. And, looking back on it, it would be phenomenal to have him alongside DaVaris Daniels. Think of this column, then, as an exercise in “What Could Have Been.”

IRISH PLAYER TO WATCH: DaVaris Daniels, Senior, WR, 6′ 1.5″, 203 lbs.

Via AP

Via AP

Senior DaVaris Daniels went from being one of Notre Dame’s brightest stars to one of its prodigal sons when academics derailed his Spring season. Readmitted to the University, Daniels is the most talented and experienced of Notre Dame’s receivers. As a sophomore, he caught six passes for 115 yards in the National Championship against Alabama. The next season, 2013, Daniels nabbed 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns. The next-highest yards by a returning player were 209 by Chris Brown. Given the youth and inexperience behind him, Daniels is the key to the Notre Dame’s ability to strike quickly down the field.

Daniels is capable of shredding secondaries, as his two one-hundred yard performances, one against BYU and a gaudy 167 yards against Purdue, will attest and as you can see for yourself below:

ENEMY PLAYER TO WATCH: Nelson Agholor, Junior, WR, 6′ 1″, 190 lbs.

Nelson Agholor. I know it was you. You broke my heart. No, I am not channeling my inner Michael Corleone or setting up a long-winded BC-is-Fredo thing.  Nope. What I am doing is longingly thinking back to 2012 when Agholor picked Troy over Notre Dame. Ah, what could have been.

Heading into the 2014 campaign, Agholor is the lone Trojan on the Walter Camp watch list and is a preseason favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top wide receiver.  In 2013, over fourteen games as a starter, Agholor caught 56 passes for 918 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned eighteen punts for 343 yards and two touchdowns, both against Cal, and ten kickoff returns for 175 yards. Agholor was the country’s second-best punt returner and the best in the PAC-12.

Last year against the Irish, Agholor had a fairly workman-like 89 yards receiving, but returned four punts for one hundred yards, total. This year, his performance against Coach VanGorder’s new-look defense could very well spell the difference between a triumphant finish to Notre Dame’s regular season or a shattering end to Notre Dame’s recent streak.

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Notre Dame 2014 Opponent Preview: North Carolina http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/21/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-north-carolina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-north-carolina http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/21/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-north-carolina/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:15:06 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25397 Our next Notre Dame football opponent preview brings us to yet another ACC opponent, North Carolina. You might think of them as a basketball school, but I promise you, this is a football team on the rise and one that might just give the Irish more trouble than you think. Previous Opponent Previews: Rice Michigan […]

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Our next Notre Dame football opponent preview brings us to yet another ACC opponent, North Carolina. You might think of them as a basketball school, but I promise you, this is a football team on the rise and one that might just give the Irish more trouble than you think.

Previous Opponent Previews:

Vitals

Coach Larry Fedora (3rd year, 15-10)
Conference ACC
Record vs. ND 2-16
2013 Record 7-6 (4-4)
2013 Bowl Belk Bowl vs Cincinnati
(W, 39-17)
2013 S.O.S (Sagarin) 61
2013 F/+ Rank 38

Offense

Returning Starters 8 (1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 3 OL)
Returning OL Starts 43
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 148.3 (84)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 277.4 (28)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 425.7 (49)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 32.7 (43)
2013 Offense F/+ Rank 35

Those eight returning starters should immediately jump off the page. Those starters include a returning QB, Marquise Williams, that threw only 26 less passes than the QB whose job he took. Williams though, also managed to be the teams top rusher. The #2 rusher, TJ Logan, also returns, along with four of five of the Tarheel’s top receivers, excluding only Eric Ebron who left for the NFL.

That’s a lot of fire-power coming back, coupled with a young offensive line, three of whom are returning starters, that should only get better this season.

Under Larry Fedora, the offense jumped from sub-400 yard per game seasons (tracking back to 2007)  to years of 486 and 426 yards. Now that they’ve found a true dual-threat that fits the system, this progress should only improve.

Defense

Returning Starters 7 (1 DL, 4 LB, 2 DB)
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 182.5 (82)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 220.7 (50)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 403.2 (64)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 24.5 (43)
2013 Defense F/+ Rank 49

The Tarheel defense, on the other hand, isn’t seeing the same gains. However, five of the seven returning starters are experienced seniors and the defensive line has now been restocked with two redshirt freshman, Dajaun Drennon and Greg Webb, that will look to make an impact.

If there is a year that this unit can turn around, this is the year.

What to Expect

This has all the makings of a trap game.

After coming off Stanford and with Florida State looming just around the corner, the Irish could possibly look past North Carolina. Regardless of what coaches and athletes say about taking everything one week at a time, it is simply human nature to start eyeing the defending national champs the week after what should be a very hard fought game against one of the top teams in the nation.

Make no mistake, North Carolina is a team on the rise. Looking past the Tarheels would be a grave mistake that will cost the Irish.

There is a reason many people are touting the Irish schedule as one of the toughest schedules in the nation. There are very few breaks in this slate and the combination of Stanford, North Carolina, and Flordia State will be simply brutal.

Expect the Irish to have a bit of  hangover after Stanford no mater what the result. This has all the makings of a close game in which the Irish will be thankful to leave South Bend with a victory.

Study Your Enemy

Read up on the Tar Heels here:

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