Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog A Notre Dame Football Blog Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:00:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Friday Roundup: The “#SmokeBevo” Episode http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/04/friday-roundup-the-smokebevo-episode/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/04/friday-roundup-the-smokebevo-episode/#respond Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30693 We finally made it, y’all, the college football season is here! To celebrate, I only briefly cover some headlines in the final offseason episode of CFB Law & Order so I can get to actual college football. There is a brief rundown of the games from last night, including taking some joy in Michigan pain. […]

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Friday RoundupWe finally made it, y’all, the college football season is here!

To celebrate, I only briefly cover some headlines in the final offseason episode of CFB Law & Order so I can get to actual college football. There is a brief rundown of the games from last night, including taking some joy in Michigan pain.

To help preview ND/Texas, I brought on Mike Roach from HornSports.com. Hear his thoughts on Texas and just what they are bringing into South Bend and how he sees them matching up against the Irish.

The picks against the spread continues with a new weekly guest, @NDEddieMac. This is either going to make us look like geniuses or idiots, but either way, it should be fun.

The Roundup

In this episode:

The Booze

Since we are playing the T-Sips, we are going with a Texas Tea. It’s your classic Long Island Ice Tea with an added part of blanco tequila as a twist.

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How I Met Your Alma Mater: A Letter to my Son http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/04/how-i-met-your-alma-mater-a-letter-to-my-son/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/04/how-i-met-your-alma-mater-a-letter-to-my-son/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30687 Son (or as I commonly refer to you on the Internet, #BabyTex–yes, you have a hashtag), The last time I channeled a How I Met Your Mother bit three years ago, I wrote it as if I were talking to my future hypothetical children. A lot has changed since January of 2013. Firstly, the ending of […]

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Baby Tex ND Irish Blessing

Son (or as I commonly refer to you on the Internet, #BabyTex–yes, you have a hashtag),

The last time I channeled a How I Met Your Mother bit three years ago, I wrote it as if I were talking to my future hypothetical children. A lot has changed since January of 2013. Firstly, the ending of that piece couldn’t have been more wrong. To quote Deadspin later in that same month, I got that thing 80% correct.

Anyways, a lot of more important things have changed since that time. Namely, your mother and I got married and welcomed you into the world. Needless to say, you changed my life forever this past June. I’ve found that being a dad is the hardest and most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done.

The daily routine has changed drastically. My sleep could hardly even be called a pattern or a cycle–that implies some semblance of regularity. Free time and how I wish to spend it has changed monumentally as well. Instead of picking up a video game controller, I am picking you up instead.

To put it another way: there was life before you and there is life after you.

On Saturday, September 5, 2015, you are going to have a similar line drawn in your life: a life before Notre Dame football and the life after being exposed to it.

Granted, your three month-old brain will not retain a single memory from the day’s events. If you are still awake by halftime, I will be shocked. Despite that, I am fully prepared and ridiculously excited to expose you to this crazy thing that is Notre Dame football.

You’ve already had some small doses of college football.  In fact, this was you last week when college football kicked off with an FCS matchup between North Dakota State and Montana:

But let me tell you, that was…well…child’s play in comparison to how insane things will be around the house when Notre Dame is on TV. Actually, let’s be real here, I’m going to be the one losing my damn mind.

You see, I love college football, son. Baseball is probably the only other sport that gets close for me. However, when it comes to Notre Dame football, I have the absolute craziest emotional attachment to it. Because of this, you are going to be wearing any kind of ND branded onesies that I can get my hands on. If someone pointed me towards blue and gold diapers, I would probably buy them for football Saturdays. During a baby shower, the attendees were writing funny messages on your diapers.

I wrote on two. Michigan on one. Southern Cal on another.

The madness doesn’t just end on Saturdays either, kid. I’m editor-in-chief of a Notre Dame website. I write about this crazy little game constantly. You will soon learn that I suck at spelling and wonder why anyone ever trusted me with such a role or why people read me at all. So of course, I doubled down and started a podcast after somehow landing a radio gig that lasted a few months.

All of this sounds like a lot of fun, right? Well, eventually Notre Dame is going to lose in the most heart-wrenching fashion possible and I’m just going to look miserable after it happens. You will then wonder why I even bother with this madness. I promise that I will do my best to not wander into bad Notre Dame daddy territory. I can’t promise that you won’t, at some point, think that I am flat out insane.

But with all that being said, I am unbelievably excited to share this part of my life with you. I’m hoping that it will creating some bonding moments for us. Above all else, I’m hoping that in this crazy journey that I’m about to drag you on, you’ll be able to realize the following:

1) The Emotional Attachment Has Little to Do with Football

I love Notre Dame. I love it because I’ve made life-long friends and had some of the best times that I both can and can’t remember. Well over 90% of these great times happened when Notre Dame was off the football field.

When football happens, there’s an electricity around campus because every home game at Notre Dame is like a homecoming game. This isn’t just limited to ND alumni, it goes for subway alumni too. Talk to any fan about where their love of Notre Dame came from and football will likely be a part of the story, but inevitably so are friends and family. You will find that the later has a much bigger impact on the story than the former.

Notre Dame fandom, and really most college football fandom, I believe is either passed down from family or a bug that you catch after you spend some time on campus. For me, I didn’t have family that passed down rabid Irish fandom, so I was a part of the later group. I always loved sports and was happy to dive in head-first into the history and tradition of Notre Dame football. But it was the time I spent with friends on campus that made my love for the game stick in the fashion that it has.

I could tell you a lot of great gameday stories, but I could tell you even more about the times I spent before and after, in between, and in the offseason.

So when I see those gold helmets on TV or in person, all of that emotional attachment swells up to the surface. Combine that with my natural love of sports and it creates one hell of an emotional drug. In fact, those memories are why you will always hear me refer to Notre Dame far more often as “we” than the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers who will more often get the “they” treatment.

I’m hoping we can create some of those memories together and I can brainwash you a tad. I always loved the “I went to my first ND game with my dad…” story and I want nothing more than for you to have such a story for yourself.

2) All That Being Said, You Don’t Have to Go to Notre Dame

Look, I love the place, but you may get the warm and fuzzy feelings elsewhere. Or, you may love ND just as much as I do and not get in. Whatever the case may be, don’t let my zeal for Notre Dame make you think that you have a single path to walk and stay on to make me proud.

Further, don’t ever think for a second that your ND fandom requires a ND degree. Subway alumni are awesome. I’ve met plenty at tailgates, at our local ND Alumni club (yes, degrees aren’t required for that either), and through blogging on the internet. In fact, our staff at HLS has a near even split between subway alumni and ND alumni. It’s one of the things that makes our fanbase something special.

Hell, I’ll even go as far to say that my love of ND football doesn’t need to transfer to you. Sure, I may wonder where I went wrong, but you have to blaze your own path, not mine.

That being said, if you go to Michigan or Southern Cal, I will disown your ass. No, I’m not joking.

3) There Are Things More Important Than ND Football Wins & Losses

Yeah, that sounds super hypocritical for a guy that spends a ton of free time obsessively writing, podcasting, watching, and reading about ND and college football, but it’s the truth. Lose that perspective and you are just going to be a miserable person.

It’s cool to be mad or sad about a loss, but you can’t let it ruin your whole day or night. Back in 2011, your mom got a taste of the “I care too much about ND football” experience when Michigan beat ND in a game damn near everyone was sure the Irish had locked up. We didn’t talk much on the ride home that night, and really, it probably took until the morning until I wasn’t completely miserable to be around.

More recently in 2014, the FSU loss ripped my damn heart out. Your mom knew the routine. She headed off to watch TV in another room as I had a couple extra bourbons along with a call into ND Fan Radio and a call from the Subway Domer. After I hung up with him, I honestly wasn’t even slightly upset. You see, your mom was pregnant with you, but we hadn’t announced it yet. So even though I was drunk and angry about the result, I had something incredible going on in my life that was so much bigger than a football game.

I hope to lead by example here. Like I said earlier, I don’t want to be bad Notre Dame daddy and sequestered away from the family to watch a game. I want to be “hey, I’m spending time with my kid so this loss isn’t the worst thing in the world and I’ll just vent on a blog post or podcast after some good family time” daddy.

4) College Football Is the Most Perfect Imperfect Sport

While emotions are certainly the driver of college football, the true beauty of the sport lies in the imperfections that surround it.

The game is played by young men of wildly varying talent levels. Even the best of the best in college football still haven’t reached their full potential yet and they will inevitably screw up–sometimes in spectacular fashion. Even the system for determining the champion every season is far from perfect.

Unlike the NFL, college football is far from the game being played at the highest level and it is so far from perfect. You shouldn’t want it any other way.

These imperfections lead to some of the craziest results imaginable. An unstoppable force can find themselves beaten by one guy playing out of his mind or the victims of one of their own playing the worst game of their college career. This makes every Saturday a crazy roller coaster–well, more like a roller coaster in total darkness. You never know what to expect.

That’s the magic of college football, son. And I can’t wait to kick off this crazy, stupid, amazing journey with you this weekend.

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Coach http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/04/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-coach-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/04/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-coach-2015/#respond Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30680 As kickoff for Notre Dame football approaches, we close out our annual Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy series. In this final installment, we look at the position of head coach. The Irish: Brian Kelly Of course, Kelly gets this by default. Opinions on Kelly are as varied as the Notre Dame fanbase. Regardless of where […]

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As kickoff for Notre Dame football approaches, we close out our annual Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy series. In this final installment, we look at the position of head coach.

via @WatchND

via @WatchND

The Irish: Brian Kelly

Of course, Kelly gets this by default. Opinions on Kelly are as varied as the Notre Dame fanbase. Regardless of where you may lie on the Kelly love/hate spectrum, the fact is that he is the longest tenured coach at Notre Dame since Lou Holtz. Further, Kelly has never finished .500 or worse, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by a ND coach since Dan Devine (and, to Lou’s credit, his only sub-.500 season was his first).

While Kelly’s three 8-5 seasons won’t generate loads of excitement, it’s flat out mind-blowing that it’s taken multiple decades for the Irish to find any kind of consistent success in any form. Since Lou, every Irish coach prior to Kelly had multiple disaster seasons. Multiple.

Further consider that Kelly has done this without having the luxury of seeing the same QB start for him two years in a row. That simply shouldn’t happen in this era of college football.

Feel free to say I’m lowering the bar of success, but when looking out on the landscape of college football, I am certainly more than happy to take what Brian Kelly has given Notre Dame these past five years. I’ve seen some of the alternatives out there and it ain’t pretty (/awaits the “just hire Meyer/Saban/Stoops/Gruden/other big name that’ll never come to ND” retort).

That being said, even with Malik Zaire coming in as, more or less, a brand new starter, 8-5 certainly isn’t good enough with the squad that Kelly is fielding. Baring another absurd rash of injuries that plagued the later half of 2014, this is by far the most talented and the deepest team that Kelly has ever fielded. And by the way, I am able to say that despite some hits to the roster from season ending injuries and a suspension/transfer.

While I can’t speak for everyone that has been a fan of Kelly, the number one reason that I have been on his side is what he was doing at a program level. While 2012’s undefeated campaign was one to remember, Alabama proved that the Irish still had a massive talent disparity to compete with the top tier of college football. After the crushing loss, Kelly spoke as if he realized he had to continue to rebuild the program. It almost seemed like an absurd excuse for getting your ass handed to you.

But fast-forward three seasons later and it’s clear that the 2015 squad is far more talented and far more experienced than that magical 2012 squad. That doesn’t make a 12-0 a certainty, but double-digit wins is practically an expectation for this squad within the fanbase as nationally. It is rare that Notre Dame receives that kind of preseason hype and it appears, for a change, that it is actually based in reality.

This season, far more than 2012, will define his legacy as head coach of Notre Dame. 2012 can be considered a flash in the pan, but 2015 is the realization of Kelly’s vision of the program. The roster is completely his and the depth of talent that he preached in 2012 has been achieved.

The pieces are all there. Now it’s time to see what he does with it.

The Enemy: Paul Johnson

I’ll be honest, I really wanted to find a way to shoe-horn Steve Sarkisian in here. Not because I believe he’s the best coach that we will face this season (which should be obvious based on the header above), but because I want to make all kinds of jokes.

However, a combination of making crap up to make Sark look better than I believe he actually is, plus a lack of material that could easily be score-boarded by the absolute disaster that ended the 2014 regular season, I thought better of it. Any attempt at that would become a rambling, slurring mess full of profanity that would just be embarrassing prose.

So I am rolling with Paul Johnson, head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

If you are a regular reader here at HLS and/or follow my ramblings on Twitter (bless you for dealing with that madness), you know that I love the triple option. The offense so simple, but incredibly effective when run well. However, defenses have long since figured out how to effectively stop it. So the offensive gurus of today are trying to perfect a different kind of option, the packaged play, because defenses haven’t yet gotten wise on how to completely shut it down when run correctly.

But Paul Johnson? Hell no, he’s going to run the triple option down your throat because screw you that’s why. Seriously, Paul Johnson believes in the triple option offense so much that he has a beef with current Irish coach Brian VanGorder for scrapping the offense at Georgia Southern:

“VanGorder had made some comments that he didn’t think too highly of the offense, and Paul called me up and said, ‘I need to talk to (athletics director) Sam (Baker) and get Georgia Southern on the schedule,'” Inman said. “I said, ‘Why do you want to play us?’ And he said, ‘Because I want to beat the hell out of Brian VanGorder.'”

Y’all, I can’t help but love that. He is pissed at another human for not being a fan of his offensive scheme. The WWE couldn’t even imagine that kind of an angle.

Johnson is on his own personal mission to prove the triple option can still work and he’s been succeeding. Last year, Georgia Tech, finished as the runner-ups in the ACC after giving Florida State all they could handle in the ACC Championship. Before that, he closed the regular season with wins against Clemson and Georgia, the later of which was on the road. After the near miss at the ACC title game, the Bees steamrolled Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

That recent success isn’t the sole reason why Georgia Tech is one of my most feared opponents on this year’s schedule. It isn’t even the fact that he managed to snap Navy’s losing streak to the Irish back in 2007. It’s not just because he runs the triple option with legitimate monsters and not undersized Midshipmen.

No, it’s because Johnson knows the triple option better than any human on the planet. Not only that, he finds way to still throw in some innovative wrinkles into what many feel is an obsolete system. Most teams run the triple option to try and level the playing field when facing superior talent and size. Johnson is doing it because he believes he can beat any team with it.

And with a .628 winning percentage at Georgia Tech (2nd all time at Tech and the most successful coach since…George O’Leary), he’s proving it.

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Opponent Watch: 8-Clap Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/03/opponent-watch-8-clap-edition/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/03/opponent-watch-8-clap-edition/#respond Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:21:08 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30662 Welcome back, college football. Each week in this space, we examine two things: Notre Dame’s strength of schedule (beginning next week), and who upcoming Irish opponents are facing. For those of who want to scout future opponents, I’ll give you my recommendation for who to watch when you’re not watching Notre Dame Football. Who To Watch Virginia at […]

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Welcome back, college football. Each week in this space, we examine two things: Notre Dame’s strength of schedule (beginning next week), and who upcoming Irish opponents are facing. For those of who want to scout future opponents, I’ll give you my recommendation for who to watch when you’re not watching Notre Dame Football.

Who To Watch

Virginia at UCLA (Sat 3:30pm ET Fox)

Virginia's Scott Stadium (photo: virginiasports.com)

Virginia’s [Great] Scott Stadium
(photo: virginiasports.com)

Saturday primetime is a very long time to wait for ND Football. That’ll be on NBC, but ESPN will be broadcasting Sportscenter from in front of Touchdown Jesus (presumably) on Saturday, and CBS (who owns Showtime) will be compiling a weekly show during the season. We’re doing ourselves a disservice by not scheduling a 13th game (end sarcasm).

Back to the topic at hand: the Virginia Cavaliers ride westward to Pasadena to open their 2015 season with a duel against UCLA. According to many national polls, the home team is brewing talent at a similar level to Notre Dame, and will bear the responsibility of breaking in a new quarterback and a new coordinator. If you want to get the thrust of what ND will need to parry next week, you couldn’t do much better than to sabre this strong week one matchup.

Upcoming Opponents

  • Wake Forest vs Elon (Thu 7:00pm ET ESPN3)
  • Georgia Tech vs Alcorn State (Thu 7:30pm ET ESPN3)
  • Clemson vs Wofford (Fri 12:30pm ET ESPN3)
  • Navy vs Colgate (Sat 12:00pm ET CBS Sports Network)
  • Stanford at Northwestern (Sat 12:00pm ET ESPN)
  • Boston College vs Maine (Sat 1:00pm ET ESPN3)
  • Pittsburgh vs Youngstown State (Sat 1:00pm ET ESPN3)
  • Temple vs Penn State (Sat 3:30pm ET ESPN)
  • Southern Cal vs Arkansas State (Sat 11:00pm ET Pac-12 Network)

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Kicker/Punter http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/02/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-kickerpunter/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/02/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-kickerpunter/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30670 Well, we’ve reached the penultimate installment of “Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy” for 2015. It’s been fun keeping everyone on their toes with these pieces. While it can be difficult to always put our best foot forward, it’s a remarkable feet just to get these out. As I sat down to write this, I got […]

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Well, we’ve reached the penultimate installment of “Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy” for 2015. It’s been fun keeping everyone on their toes with these pieces. While it can be difficult to always put our best foot forward, it’s a remarkable feet just to get these out. As I sat down to write this, I got some advice from Irish Elvis:

Moons you need a good hook to draw readers in, then maintain your story arc and you’ll net a good story…if you keep it to 3 good points

I think he’s onto something here. If my placement is even slightly off, things could drift and get away from me in a hurry, so let’s jump right in to talking about kickers and punters:

The Irish: For Notre Dame to get a leg up on the competition in 2015, they’ll have to replace kicker/punter Kyle Brindza who was lost to graduation. The horror of graduating players. Despite a rough senior season which saw Brindza convert just 58% of his field goal attempts, he still ended his career as Notre Dame’s all-time leading kicker. Brindza also finished the season 3rd nationally in touchbacks in 2014 and had a punt average of 41.4 yards. He was a one stop shop for all your kicking needs.

Enter…

Justin Yooooooooooooooooon.

HLS has spent a great deal of time discussing Yoon this offseason. Perhaps kickers are the staff’s Achilles heel, or perhaps we’re geniuses (only time will tell). Andrewwinn toed the line for Yoon naming him Notre Dame’s 9th best player in his countdown of this year’s team. It’s obvious all the other writers who contributed to Keith Arnold’s countdown had cold feet about Yoon. I also set out my expectations for Justin Yoon and compared him to some other recent highly touted kicking recruits. If we split the uprights with these previous predictions, everyone in Notre Dame land should be happy.

There’s not a lot else to say about a kicker who’s never appeared in a collegiate game. He’s got all the tools. As importantly, he’s got an amazing name for kicking. This is where you Loyal Readers come in. There are many opportunities for some great name puns:

  • Just-inside the uprights
  • Yoon-ever know what’s going to happen when a kicker lines up.

4 years to improve and take advantage of this A+ kicking name. And with #HLSRecap set to return this weekend, you won’t have to wait long to try a few out. In the meantime, here are some highlights of Justin Yoon kicking odd shaped balls:

Punting duties will be handled by another player seeing his first ever game action: Tyler Newsome. Newsome, a sophomore, has two things going for him: 1) He’s from Georgia. I may be biased, but I find Georgians to be remarkably likeable, and they have a decent recent track record at ND (Stephon Tuitt, Darius Walker, TJ Jones to name a few). 2) Please take a look at Newsome’s profile at ND’s official site. The guy’s hair looks like it has some fantastic hang time. Let’s hope his punts follow suit.

The opponent: So…..speaking of amazing names for a kicker, ND will be exposed to some rarefied air of kicking names when they match up with Pitt’s prolific pedi-athlete: CHRIS BLEWITT. This may sound like a name out of a Matt Christopher book or a name made up for an Ashley Madison account, but nope, it’s real, and it’s spectacular. Don’t worry, Chris has already performed his Pitt duties by totally Pitt-ing a game versus Duke last season. If you click on that link, you can see a sampling of what the Internet had awaiting him. Again, Loyal Readers, this is on you…you have MONTHS to prepare for this opportunity. Please don’t (ahem) blow it Blewitt.

The thing you should know about Blewitt is that when his name’s not serving as Internet fodder for the worst of us punsters, he’s actually a pretty good kicker. For his career he’s converted 30/39 attempts with a long of 52. His 98 points tallied last season was 5 points ahead of Brindza’s tally.

As for punter…we’re going to give it to Navy’s Pablo Beltran as he had the best yards per punt average of any opponent kicker ND will see this year. Notre Dame might face 3 or 4 of the best quarterbacks in the nation, but they seem to have successfully tap danced around seeing the nation’s best punters. So who knows, maybe CJ Sanders and Will Fuller (named as the 2-deep at punt returner for Texas) will get a chance to work some Irish magic on the punt returns this year. Leave your snickering for the comments.

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TCB Poll: 2015 Preseason http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/01/tcb-poll-2015-preseason/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/01/tcb-poll-2015-preseason/#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:27:46 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30588 With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, we — the Elvii of college football — have joined together to present our weekly playoff nominations to keep the playoff selection committee honest. We call it the T.C.B. Poll. Playoff Rankings: 2015 Preseason Each week, the T.C.B. Poll is an aggregate of all our […]

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With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, we — the Elvii of college football — have joined together to present our weekly playoff nominations to keep the playoff selection committee honest. We call it the T.C.B. Poll.

TCB Elvis Presley College Football Poll logo

Image courtesy @AuburnElvis

Playoff Rankings: 2015 Preseason

Each week, the T.C.B. Poll is an aggregate of all our inputs. Scroll down to see individual selections and opinions — this is how we’d like to see the College Football Playoff if we had to narrow the field *right now* to determine a national champion. Images courtesy The Helmet Project.

Rank

Team

Record

Weekly Change

1 Ohio State Football Ohio State 0-0
2 Oregon Football Oregon 0-0
3 Auburn Auburn 0-0
4 Texas Christian Football Texas Christian 0-0

Also receiving votes: Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Michigan State.

TCB Committee Member Comments

@TheLSUElvis

The LSU Elvis pre-season poll….just like everyone else’s that will not be the same thing at the end of the year, but why the heck not!

  1. The Ohio State – Until you lose your crown – you remain number 1
  2. Auburn – Speed is King right now and they are fast
  3. TCU – Horned Frogs seem to be in the right conference at the right time to TCB
  4. Alabama – ole Nick Saban…always finds a way to be around at the end of the year.

#GodBlessAndTCB #GeauxTigers

@AuburnElvis

  1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes could lose to Va Tech again, and/ or squeak by every opponent, and still make the cut. A returning champions equals ratings.
  2. Insert SEC Champion, Alaburngeorgiansseestate A&M (sorry, Ole Miss, but get real) [Irish Elvis note: I put you down for Auburn]
  3. Oklahoma – Stoops is due for another post-season embarrassment, and the Committee will do its part to make it happen.
  4. Oregon – I promised myself I wouldn’t look at preseason polls before making my list, so I don’t know what everyone else thinks of the Ducks. But they’re still popular, right?

@HawkeyeElvis

I hate August. It is a long, slow, dreadful month that keeps us all from our true love: College Football.

Our nearly 8-month nightmare is nearly over. Let’s get this party started.

The Hawkeye Elvis Pre-Season Top Four:

  1. THE Ohio State University – How lucky is Iowa this year to not have to play the defending champs. At least until the Big Ten Champio……hahahahahahahahaha…. Sorry, I couldn’t restrain my laughter. Thank God we don’t play them. I think URBZ is in seek and destroy mode.
  2. Alabama? – Sure, let’s go with Darth Saban here. He will be driven all season by the hatred created by losing to Ohio State last year. Hate can fuel lots of things for long periods of time.
  3. Oregon – Lost their Heisman Trophy Quarterback? No problem. They just came up with uniforms that glow in the damn dark. If that doesn’t get you in the Playoffs I don’t know what will.
  4. Michigan State – As the Big Ten Conference’s lone (as far as we know) Elvis representative, I might be showing just a smidge of conference nepotism here. Plus I can either move Sparty up, or drop him completely after they play the Ducks on September 12th. Either way, right now I see the Big 12 stepping on themselves in their quest to find their “One True Champion”.

@IrishElvis

  1. Ohio State – In my book, defending champ keeps the top spot until they lose
  2. TCU – I’m not sure there are too many defenses constructed to keep this offense from scoring gobs of points
  3. UGA – I’m taking a different tack here — I’m presuming that the SEC West will either regress to the mean this year and/or take turns beating one another, leaving Georgia with an easier road to Atlanta in the Eastern Division…and I’ve just committed myself to a Schottenheimer in the playoffs. Please send help.
  4. Oregon – Really wanted to put Southern Cal here, but too many questions (and that was before the Sark nonsense). Oregon has unproven offensive weapons but the easier Pac-12 division.

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Linebacker http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/01/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-linebacker-3/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/09/01/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-linebacker-3/#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2015 08:00:08 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30633 This installment of Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy takes a look at a player and position group about which the Irish have a lot to be excited in 2015. There is probably no more dynamic position in all of defensive football, as linebackers are called upon to do all things. They’ve developed into punishingly strong, fast […]

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This installment of Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy takes a look at a player and position group about which the Irish have a lot to be excited in 2015. There is probably no more dynamic position in all of defensive football, as linebackers are called upon to do all things. They’ve developed into punishingly strong, fast players who are able to drop into pass protection on one play and de-helmet the quarterback on the next.

For Notre Dame, its linebacking corps is full of proven talent and promise. Captains Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith anchor a deep group that sees the return of Jarrett Grace to pre-injury form. James Onwualu is going to start, leaving Jarrett Grace, Nick Coleman, and Greer Martini as the backups. Nyles Morgan should see time as well, giving the Irish its deepest squad in years.

Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

The Irish: Without question, Jaylon Smith, 6’2.5″ and 240, is the best player the Irish have and among the country’s top linebackers overall. A player whose physical abilities and game-savvy challenge the writer to come up with ever-more hyperbolic descriptions of his brilliance, Smith’s name can be found on the watch lists for the Lombardi Award, the  Butkus Award, the Nagurski Award, the Bednarik Award, and, well, you get the idea.

Smith finished last season as Notre Dame’s defensive player of the year and a second team All-American.  Watching him play, it was too easy to forget that he was just a sophomore as he started all thirteen games and dominated in almost every situation. He lead the team in tackles, solo tackles, assisted tackles, and charm. His tackle-tally is second only to Manti Te’o for sophomores. If he comes back for his senior season, I’d be amazed; most pundits have Smith as the top linebacker prospect eligible for the 2016 draft.

The Enemy:  Su’a Cravens, 6’1″, 225 pounds, is the kind of athlete who makes defensive coordinators salivate and keeps offensive coordinators awake at night. Cravens was a five-star safety who has transitioned to linebacker and has the moves and speed to return punts. Of all of his traits, it is Cravens’ quickness that separates him from the pack and allows him to close and tackle in space better than most. A junior, Cravens is making waves in Troy with a new leadership voice. By the time the Trojans face the Irish, he should have developed into a California dream and Irish nightmare.

Cravens is on the Bednarik, Butkus, Walter Camp, and Lombardi Award watch lists. He finished last season with sixty-eight total tackles, five sacks, nine passes broken up, and three interceptions.

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#CostumeGameDay Playlist-Week 1 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/08/31/costumegameday-playlist-week-1/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/08/31/costumegameday-playlist-week-1/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:00:55 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30636 Each week, a playlist will be posted to tease the #CostumeGameDay outfit. The songs will be loosely related to what I will be wearing on Game Day Saturday and hopefully get you through the week. Just like Notre Dame’s upcoming season, my 2015 season costume debut is going to be sweet! Sure, we have suffered […]

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Each week, a playlist will be posted to tease the #CostumeGameDay outfit. The songs will be loosely related to what I will be wearing on Game Day Saturday and hopefully get you through the week.

Just like Notre Dame’s upcoming season, my 2015 season costume debut is going to be sweet! Sure, we have suffered a couple of injuries here and there along with some changes on the roster, but I do believe that the team will persevere. Just like Brian Kelly said, “Culture Beats Scheme”.

Check out the #CostumeGameDay rules and the delicious playlist below, it’s so scrumptious you might want a second serving.

#CostumeGameDay Contest Rules:

You have an opportunity to win a #CostumeGameDay prize each week. There are two ways (yes two ways!) that you can have your name entered into a random drawing. Double the chances means double the fun!

  1. Retweet my #CostumeGameDay photo on Twitter (@Mrstruj) prior to the end of the game.
  2. Leave your Twitter handle name in the comments section on the Her Loyal Sons #CostumeGameDay post prior to the end of the game.

So, let’s get to Week 1’s Playlist:

Candy Shop – 50 Cent ft. Olivia
“Cause I ain’t never put it down like this before”

Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard
“I’m hot, sticky sweet from my head down to my feet”

Sugar Rush – AKB48
“Would you care for something sweet?”

Candy – Robbie Williams
“She thinks she’s made of candy”

Sugar, Sugar – The Archies
“Pour your sweetness over me”

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – Four Tops
“Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch”

California Gurls – Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
“Sun-kissed skin so hot, we’ll melt your popsicle”

 

Bonus Song:

That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
“They call me ‘hell’
They call me ‘Stacey’
They call me ‘her’
They call me ‘Jane’
That’s not my name”

 

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The HLS 2015 NDFB Season Primer http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/08/31/the-hls-2015-ndfb-season-primer/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/08/31/the-hls-2015-ndfb-season-primer/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30641 Welcome back Loyal Sons and Daughters to HLS Video Day with ya boi SupermanTDJesus! I have three words to kick things off for you guys: IT’S GAME WEEK! Finally, after a long, seemingly eternal, and thankfully less-eventuful-than-usual summer/offseason, NDFB is back in preparations for live games! Notre Dame’s Week 1 matchup against the husk that remains […]

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Joe HappyWelcome back Loyal Sons and Daughters to HLS Video Day with ya boi SupermanTDJesus! I have three words to kick things off for you guys: IT’S GAME WEEK!

Finally, after a long, seemingly eternal, and thankfully less-eventuful-than-usual summer/offseason, NDFB is back in preparations for live games! Notre Dame’s Week 1 matchup against the husk that remains of what once was the Texas Longhorns is this Saturday, and it’s about damn time we got this 2015 season rolling!

Today, I must admit, we have prepared quite the treat for you. After the overwhelming success of the #BelieveInZaire campaign and the amazing response we got, we decided to kick things up a notch and put together a real, true Notre Dame Hype Video that puts all others to shame. The 2015 Edition of the HLS NDFB Season Primer is here to get ya TURNT!

I hope you’re all wearing belts, cuz this one is about to get you jumpin straight outta your pants!

GO IRISH!

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Defensive Line http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/08/31/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-defensive-line-3/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/08/31/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-defensive-line-3/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:00:44 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=30631 One of the key reasons the Irish were comprehensively bested by Alabama in the 2012 title game was the superiority of the Crimson Tide’s defensive line. A strong defensive line takes the line of scrimmage away from the offense, disrupting the timing of the running game and taking away the holes through which the backs […]

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One of the key reasons the Irish were comprehensively bested by Alabama in the 2012 title game was the superiority of the Crimson Tide’s defensive line. A strong defensive line takes the line of scrimmage away from the offense, disrupting the timing of the running game and taking away the holes through which the backs are meant to run. A dominant one collapses pockets and generates batted balls, tackles-for-loss, and quarterback sacks. They demoralize an inferior offensive line and ultimately keep the opposing quarterback looking over his shoulder and begging for better protection.

For the 2015 Fighting Irish, the defensive line is a position group that could have been one of the greatest of all time if commitments were carried through, talent had been lived up to, and injuries and academics not nipped and nicked. Eddie Vanderdoes bolted for UCLA. Jarrion Jones was done in by a knee. Ishaq Williams saw his last chance to live up to his outlandish potential scuppered by the NCAA. What was once a position of considerable strength is, six days from the season, one of semi-uncertainty.

Junior Defensive Tackle, Sheldon Day (Photo: Andrew Lamping)

Junior Defensive Tackle, Sheldon Day (Photo: Andrew Lamping)

The Irish: While I am probably most interested in and intrigued by the promise offered by Jerry Tillery, Sheldon Day, a 2015 Bronko Nagurski Award watch listee, is the best player on the Irish line. One of five team captains, and one of only twenty two-time captains in Notre Dame history, the 6’2″, 291 pound senior, is a force along the line and in the locker room. In 2014, he registered forty tackles and was second on the team in hurries and tackles for loss. Day played in every game his freshman year, 2012, and picked up three tackles against Alabama. As a sophomore, he lost two games to injury, but turned in notable performances against BYU, Stanford, Rutgers, and Pitt.

Day’s best performances in 2014 came against Rice, Michigan, Navy, Florida State, and Arizona State. Against Northwestern, though, he suffered a knee injury that saw him side-lined until the Music City Bowl. There, Day notched two tackles and a fumble recovery as the Irish defeated the LSU Tigers in a clash of FBS foes.

The Enemy: While Clemson loses a lot along the line heading into 2015, Shaq Lawson, a 6’3″, 275 pound junior, is a returning force and may be the best individual opponent the Irish will face all season. Lawson is a Bednarik Award watch listee with tremendous speed and strength. Though he only started one game in 2014, Lawson converted his opportunities, as evidenced by his performances against North Carolina and Georgia: four tackles and one sack for a safety in twenty-one snaps, four tackles and two pressures in thirty-three snaps, respectively. Overall, he finished with forty-four tackles, eleven tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, and a forced-fumble. In Clemson’s bowl game, the Russell Athletic Bowl against Oklahoma, Lawson blocked an extra point, caused a fumble, and recorded four tackles in only nineteen snaps. In short, Lawson was a critical cog in a terrific unit on the country’s best defense last year.

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