Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog A Notre Dame Football Blog Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:11:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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/#respond 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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Friday Roundup: The “Rejected Notre Dame FieldTurf Proposal” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/18/friday-roundup-rejected-notre-dame-fieldturf-proposal-edition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-roundup-rejected-notre-dame-fieldturf-proposal-edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/18/friday-roundup-rejected-notre-dame-fieldturf-proposal-edition/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25388 Earlier this week, Notre Dame unveiled their new FieldTurf design that will debut this season. Jack Swarbrick made some waves by announcing there would be a midfield logo and shamrock kickoff markers, elements of design that have never been seen in Notre Dame Stadium. But if you think that announcement caused an uproar, you should […]

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Earlier this week, Notre Dame unveiled their new FieldTurf design that will debut this season. Jack Swarbrick made some waves by announcing there would be a midfield logo and shamrock kickoff markers, elements of design that have never been seen in Notre Dame Stadium.

But if you think that announcement caused an uproar, you should see one of the design finalists that was rejected in favor of what was announced this week. That design was…well, it was certainly different:

Notre Dame FieldTurf Parody

And yes, Notre Dame was very close to going with this option. I was able to speak to Swarbrick, or at least someone that I believe might be Swarbrick, and he emailed me the press release that was to accompany this announcement.

The press release and justifications for the field might just be more shocking than the design itself. Let’s just FJM our way through this:

I’m pleased to talk about the new concept field at Notre Dame. After years of listening to people complain about FieldTurf and jumbotrons, we have decided to take an aggressive expansion and renovation posture that is sure to, well, probably piss of most of the fan base. Those guys are never happy.

Well, that’s certainly an aggressive way to handle the situation. I mean, I get frustrated with all the hair-pulling over something as silly as a field and am always happy to troll those folks.

This, however, is basically a declaration of war.

First, I could not be more proud of our association with Under Armour. Their dedication to excellence matches our own, and it is entirely appropriate to place their logo prominently on the field. This will start what I hope is a long tradition of highlighting our corporate sponsors’ logos and making the field look more cluttered than Dale Earnhardt’s race car.

Well so much for that promise.

And I tell you what, he wasn’t joking about prominent placement of the Under Armour logos. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kickoff marker that large before.

I guess the benefit to this is that Adidas must be really pissed, but I think we’re a bit overzealous in the whole “Protect the House” thing.

Second, you’ll also notice the dog at midfield.  I was really excited to put Eddie from the hit NBC sitcom “Frasier” on there. It’s part of my continuing campaign to have NBC bring back the show. Someone also pointed out that it’s a nod to the days of Clashmore Mike, and I guess that’s kind of neat too.

When I first saw this design, I figured the inclusion of Clashmore Mike was a nice nod to Notre Dame’s history and traditions.

It was also the only thing on the field that could at least use that kind of logic.

However, I’m shocked that Swarbrick really didn’t recognize it. A campaign for Frasier?! Really?!

Hey, Jack, why don’t you use your NBC powers for good and get Community back on the air forever? That show deserves prime-time exposure and not streaming relegation.

Third, it’s no secret that I’ve embraced social media to the fullest extent. Not only does it promote our brand to a younger audience, it’s also a great way to meet girls. That’s why you’ll now see hashtags in our end zones in hopes of getting Notre Dame….what’s that term again?  “Trending.” Yes, trending on Saturdays.

Jack either didn’t notice FIGTHING or is just sitting back, smiling, and watching people explode over a dyslexic typo once again.

I suppose we’re just going to ignore the Comic Sans font too? Did Dan Gilbert consult on this design?

I mean, I appreciate the social media efforts. FIDM is awesome, WatchND is one of the best things ever, and it’s great to see ND reach out to Twitter and Facebook even if it results in a big, heaping dish of stupid.

I love Twitter myself, but holy crap the last thing I ever wanted to see was a hashtag on the field.

Go home, Jack, you’re drunk.

Finally, in response to everyone who asked for FieldTurf–have we got a surprise for you. We took it one step further and installed gold colored turf.  I don’t know how this is going to look on television and frankly I don’t care. People naturally assume I drew inspiration from the Dome, or perhaps our helmets. I actually came up with this idea while eating an entire box of Cheez-Its during a recent trip to Colorado.

Nevermind, you’re high–actually, come to think of it, just what kind of “Irish grass” are you putting by the mums this season?

Perhaps the Colorado trip explains how this design got so out of control. I’m glad cooler/sober heads prevailed in this matter. I could only imagine how hard the FieldTurf folks would struggle actually making the field look gold considering how we’ve been trying to get our pants to look gold on TV for quite a while now.

This entire concept is proof that no matter how bad you think something is, it can always get much, much worse.

The Roundup

Michigan men take their Michigan football seriously. Even during fake games.

So, you mean backing up the Brink’s truck doesn’t guarantee you a coach? Perhaps we can finally put that talking point to rest with this revelation regarding Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his flirtation with Texas (Saban, of course, is denying everything).

Teams struggling with attendance are looking to MLS for answers. I wonder if “lower the ticket prices and stop playing terrible teams” is a part of the advice they got.

And now your moment of Nix… Les Miles being Les Miles and talking about soccer of all things

The Booze

It’s going to be a rainy weekend here in Dallas. I was trying to think of a rain themed cocktail for the weekend and I couldn’t get (blurry) memories of Purple Rains from the ‘Backer off my mind. So what the hell, I’m going with it.

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in 1.5 oz gin and fill with cranberry juice. Add in a splash of blue curacao, sour mix, and soda water. Add in more blue curacao until you get the purple color desired.

For a true ‘Backer-like experience, spill a little on yourself and your friends and/or add in more gin than needed with Toto cranked up as high as possible.

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Notre Dame 2014 Opponent Preview: Stanford http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/17/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-stanford/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-stanford http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/17/notre-dame-2014-opponent-preview-stanford/#respond Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25380 Up this week in our Notre Dame football opponent previews is Stanford. I promise that I have made no phantom whistle jokes or any snide remarks about David Shaw. …that will come later. Previous Opponent Previews: Rice Michigan Purdue Syracuse Vitals Offense Spoiler alert: Stanford loves running the damn ball. This year will be rather […]

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Up this week in our Notre Dame football opponent previews is Stanford. I promise that I have made no phantom whistle jokes or any snide remarks about David Shaw.

…that will come later.

Previous Opponent Previews:

Vitals

Coach David Shaw (4th year, 34-7)
Conference Pac-12
Record vs. ND 10-18
2013 Record 11-3 (7-2)
2013 Bowl Rose Bowl vs Michigan State
(L, 20-24)
2013 S.O.S (Sagarin) 1
2013 F/+ Rank 3

Offense

Returning Starters 5 (1 QB, 0 RB, 3 WR, 0 TE, 1 OL)
Returning OL Starts 15
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 207.4 (22)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 197.9 (92)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 405.4 (69)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 32.3 (45)
2013 Offense F/+ Rank 18

Spoiler alert: Stanford loves running the damn ball.

This year will be rather interesting as Stanford lost all their starting running backs, including Tyler Gaffney who rushed for 1,750 yards, and only return one starting lineman, LT Andrus Peat.

The Cardinal does, however, have this kid named Barry Sanders that has showed some sparks on limited carries and special teams.

And yes, his father is exactly who you think he is.

The line also isn’t in as bad of shape as the returning starts situation makes it appear. Stanford is incredibly deep and should be able to gel together by the time they visit South Bend in October.

Starting QB Kevin Hogan returns, along with his receiving corps. While Standford isn’t known for their passing prowess, they are incredibly efficient, as Hogan notched a completion rate of 61%.

The Stanford machine will likely see a bit of regression this year. I seriously doubt it will be major though unless either Sanders doesn’t quite live up to expectations or Stanford’s young and talented offensive line doesn’t quite gel as expected.

Defense

Returning Starters 7 (2 DL, 2 LB, 3 DB)
2013 Rushing Yards/Game (Rank) 89.4 (3)
2013 Passing Yards/Game (Rank) 253.8 (96)
2013 Total Yards/Game (Rank) 367.2 (33)
2013 Points/Game (Rank) 19(10)
2013 Defense F/+ Rank 2

An offensive philosophy of time-bleeding, smash-mouth football only really works if you have the stout defense to back it up. Make no mistake, Stanford has it.

They also are returning practically everything that made it that way too.

For the Cardinal, everything starts up front as their rushing defense is superb. They were one of the few teams that managed to slow down Oregon’s hyper-speed running game who only managed to gain 62 rushing yards against them.

Notre Dame experienced quite a bit of trouble last year against their defensive unit too, gaining only 64 rushing yards and 199 passing yards en route to a 27-20 loss.

For Stanford to have any shot at yet another Rose Bowl this will be the unit that will have to anchor them

What to Expect

Expect Brian Kelly to throw many different looks to spread Stanford out. While the D-line of Stanford will be incredibly strong, but the LB corps took some serious losses and one returning starter fills the “Cat” or rushing role in the 3-4.

That means Kelly will attack the edges. With Golson back, this will allow ND to employ read options that, when run properly, should take one lineman out of the play immediately. That will allow the offense to attack the less talented and inexperienced edges of the defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Brian VanGorder will likely be facing his toughest test to date. Much like the Syracuse game the week prior, the Irish must stop the run in order to have success.

If they fail, the Irish will find themselves a chewed-up clock in which to work with. That will likely force ND to deviate from the game plan and be forced to find explosive plays through the air and the last thing ND needs is this D-line coming after Golson with their ears pinned back.

I expect this to be one of the biggest tests for the Irish and should be one of the better games to watch of the season.

Study Your Enemy

Here are the corners of the internet in which you can read about the trees:

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Notre Dame Stadium Will Have Interlocking ND Monogram at Midfield http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/16/field-turf-midfield-nd-logo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=field-turf-midfield-nd-logo http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/16/field-turf-midfield-nd-logo/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:23:51 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25365 Today, Notre Dame announced details on the FieldTurf that will be installed in the House that Rock Built. One of the biggest questions, whether or not the design of the field would see changes with the new surface has been answered. That answer is yes with the most notable change coming in the form of a […]

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A full 100-yard view of the new Notre Dame FieldTurf design. Photo credit: UND.com

A full 100-yard view of the new Notre Dame FieldTurf design. Photo credit: UND.com

Today, Notre Dame announced details on the FieldTurf that will be installed in the House that Rock Built. One of the biggest questions, whether or not the design of the field would see changes with the new surface has been answered. That answer is yes with the most notable change coming in the form of a midfield interlocking ND monogram logo and a lesser (and surprise, in my opinion) change to add shamrocks at the 35-yard line to mark kickoff locations:

“The interlocking ND is the most recognized symbol of our University and its athletics programs, and we wanted to communicate that to our fans and all those viewing our home games on NBC,” said Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick.

“The integration of the shamrocks allows us to achieve consistency across all of our new or recently renovated facilities where both the interlocking ND and a shamrock have a presence on the playing surface.”

Endzone logos, however, are out. Notre Dame will stick with the familiar diagonal lines in both endzones. There will be 18 total lines, 9 in each endzone, pointed towards the Dome and Basilica at a uniform 42 degree angle. Those numbers are not a coincidence, but a nod to Notre Dame history as the numbers represent the year 1842, the founding year of Notre Dame.

In the end, it’s a mix of something old and something new. Notre Dame has been toeing a delicate line between preserving older traditions while trying to create something new, giving future and current students and student-athletes something to call their own.

This change sound give everyone something to love; however, I’m sure the change will also give something for many to hate. Personally, I would’ve preferred that ND keep the new turf a carbon-copy of the the grass field that we have grown accustomed to. That being said, I’m not going to be upset with the new additions, even though it will take some getting used to.

The way I see it, the endzone diagonal lines in Notre Dame Stadium have become iconic, even though ND has had various endzone designs in the past (especially during the Dan Devin era). The lack of additional designs at midfield and the kickoff markers don’t really fall into that category. I’ve always had issues with the logic that the lack of something equates to a tradition that requires it to remain that way.

I’m happy Jack Swarbrick and company are able to recognize what is an isn’t important in such design decisions. I think this is the best that they could have possibly done to please both the hardcore traditionalist and the fans that want as much change as possible.

You can’t please everyone, however, the process and care involved in even the most minor decisions (and make no mistake, a midfield logo is incredibly minor) should make everyone happy.

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So Things Look a Bit Different Around Here http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/16/things-look-bit-different-around/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=things-look-bit-different-around http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/16/things-look-bit-different-around/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:23:07 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25354 As promised, I’ve working on some changes to the HLS this offseason. We’ve been long, long overdue for some upgrades, but to do so, I needed to upgrade our theme and clean up quite a bit of the coding. I’ve done so and, of course, anything that I touch goes straight to hell no matter how […]

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As promised, I’ve working on some changes to the HLS this offseason. We’ve been long, long overdue for some upgrades, but to do so, I needed to upgrade our theme and clean up quite a bit of the coding.

I’ve done so and, of course, anything that I touch goes straight to hell no matter how much I test things out. I’ve been able to iron most of the details out tonight, but don’t be surprised if you see a few design elements off here and there.

However, we’ve been able to take advantage of a new background design thanks to Philly Kelly. And I must say, it is quite a nice improvement over the plan blue that we’ve had for the past couple of years.

Another big benefit is that the responsiveness of HLS has gotten a lot better. The look of the site is much improved on mobile devices. Based on the tests I’ve done so far, all videos and photos are now scaling properly 100% of the time no matter what device or window size you are using to browse HLS. Well…save for our logo was is still being cut off on smaller mobile devices.

I will keep tweaking the design within the next few weeks as we ramp up to the season. By the time we kick off HLS will be looking better than ever.

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Rudy Explains the College Football Playoff http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/14/rudy-explains-college-football-playoff/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rudy-explains-college-football-playoff http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/14/rudy-explains-college-football-playoff/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:56:43 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25343 This has been a rather busy morning for the powers-that-be of the new College Football Playoff. First, all college teams can put their crystal football dreams to rest. That trophy is no more and has been replaced by the following: A new era, a new trophy. pic.twitter.com/anXBuxO7uV — CFB Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) July 14, 2014 Now, that […]

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This has been a rather busy morning for the powers-that-be of the new College Football Playoff.

First, all college teams can put their crystal football dreams to rest. That trophy is no more and has been replaced by the following:

Now, that trophy has been met with all kinds of reactions ranging from positive to vulgar female anatomy comparisons; however, the bigger reveal had to be Sean Astin reprising his role as Rudy and outlining a dream bigger than playing for Notre Dame:

A highlight for me is the historical inaccuracy of Rudy referencing the BCS computer polls which weren’t in existence during his day (nor really was the idea of wide-spread access to them). In his day, actual human beings did decide the National Champion via their polls so perhaps the idea of using humans instead of computers isn’t as ground-breaking as he believes it is.

Whatever–forget the semantics this video is hilarious.

Also, in before people start complaining that Notre Dame is already receiving unfair ESPN bias by appearing in the first CFB commercial while conveniently ignoring that they are the company that now owns the SEC Network along with the Longhorn Network.

EDIT: Leigh Torbin, assistant PR for ND athletics, has a bit of clarification on the crystal football trophy:

Good to know the crystal will still be around!

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Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy: Running Back http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/14/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-running-back-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-running-back-2 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/14/know-thyself-know-thy-enemy-running-back-2/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 07:00:17 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25341 The running game is the magic elixir for all that ails a football program. With strong-legged ball carriers who are fleet-of-foot, sure-of-hand, who run north and south and downhill, an offense is guaranteed a cloud of dust and four yards. Running the ball strips the game to its pure essence and credits the strong, the […]

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The running game is the magic elixir for all that ails a football program. With strong-legged ball carriers who are fleet-of-foot, sure-of-hand, who run north and south and downhill, an offense is guaranteed a cloud of dust and four yards. Running the ball strips the game to its pure essence and credits the strong, the smart, the well-rehearsed.

While football, and the running game in particular, is by no means as simple as that, a solid running attack is a necessary element to any offense, if only to keep a defense honest. For Notre Dame, the coming season is one where Coach Kelly needs to move from credible to solid, if the Irish are to compete with Florida State and USC.

IRISH PLAYER TO WATCH: Cam McDaniel, RB, Senior, 5’10″, 207 lbs.

Senior Cam McDaniel became, literally, the face of Notre Dame last season. This season, he will be one of three faces in a running attack that may just be building to the solidity offensive coordinators crave. Alongside sophomores Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant, McDaniel will need to improve upon a 2013 campaign that saw him carry 152 times for 704 yards.

Clearly, Folston and Bryant are the faces of the future. Bryant, a powerful, punishing back, Folston, a more fluid, elegant runner, deadly in space. If both young men develop the way they can, and Bryant’s 51 yard carry in the Blue Gold game was but a teaser of his potential, I would not be surprised at all if McDaniel’s carries decline as we head into late October, given the upside to both Folston and Bryant. Still, if the Irish want to be more 2012 than 2013, they will need the consistency and experience that McDaniel brings, at least to get them through the first quarter of a very tough schedule.

ENEMY PLAYER TO WATCH: DJ Foster, RB, Arizona State, 5’11″, 200+ lbs.

D.J. Foster is a dual threat who can kill you with his hands, as readily as with his feet. Named to both the Paul Hornung and Maxwell Award watch lists, Foster put up 523 yards on 93 rushing attempts last season and 653 yards on 63 catches for four touchdowns. Against the Irish, he caught nine passes, a career high, for 71 yards. Last season, D.J. split his time in the backfield with Marion Grice, who was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers, so you can expect to see his numbers rise, if only due to the fact that he’ll be seeing more of the ball.

Foster appears to be bulking up a little, as his weight is being reported between 208 and 205 pounds. This should allow him to absorb more punishment, if anything, as he assumes the role of number one running back on the Sun Devil roster.

As the game of football evolves and coordinators seek an advantage, sure-handed backs will figure more and more prominently. Their ability to get open in space plays havoc with the primary defenders and keeps at least one back watching the line and not the streaking receivers now behind him. D.J. Foster will be one of most singularly threatening players the Irish need to neutralize in 2014.

(Author’s note: thanks for pointing out my Pinstripe Bowl error.)

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Friday Roundup: The “I Hope This Is a Sacrifice for ND Football” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/11/friday-roundup-hope-sacrifice-nd-football-edition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-roundup-hope-sacrifice-nd-football-edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/07/11/friday-roundup-hope-sacrifice-nd-football-edition/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=25333 Those that follow me on Twitter during the offseason quickly become aware of two other major interests in my life outside of football: the WWE and the Texas Rangers. The former is a guilty pleasure that I probably care way too much about (as evidence by the fact I like writing many, many words about […]

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Friday RoundupThose that follow me on Twitter during the offseason quickly become aware of two other major interests in my life outside of football: the WWE and the Texas Rangers. The former is a guilty pleasure that I probably care way too much about (as evidence by the fact I like writing many, many words about it) and the other has always been a part of my life.

Think of all those stories you hear about Notre Dame fans growing up and knowing nothing but the love of Our Lady’s University and a closet full of blue and gold. That’s me and Rangers baseball.

People my age have fuzzy, fond memories of the final years of the Lou Holtz era. I had the end of Nolan Ryan’s career. You’d often find me out in the backyard trying to pitch my own no-hitter and become his successor.

I’ve been a Rangers fan for nearly three decades. My ND fandom/obsession is only just now starting it’s second. What I’ve witnessed as a fan of both has been remarkably similar.

If history starts for both teams when I became a fan (late 80′s for Rangers, 2003 for ND), both would be filled with absolutely terrible results with the occasional glimmer of hope. The two Weis BCS bowl appearances were the 1996, 1998, and 1999 AL West Division Championships. The postseason games of those years might as well have been a mirror of each other as the Rangers only managed one win against the Yankees in all three divisional series. The hope of victory went right out the window once the games commenced.

I’m not sure I have a Notre Dame comparison for the 2010 and 2011 World Series appearance. In 2010, Rangers fans were simply happy to be there. Sure it sucked that the Giants handed us our lunch, but we got to see the Rangers in the World Series before we died–something none of us thought possible. 2011, and in particular game 6, is the lowest of the absolute lows of my sports fandom that has no comparison.

Not even the ass-kicking the Irish received at the hands of Alabama in the BCS Championship could compare. Oh, sure, it was terrible and definitely ranks quite high on the “ow my balls” terrible sports moments in my life; however, there was no doubt what the result of that disaster was going to be mid-way through the first half (and probably sooner to be honest). The Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series.

Twice.

I held a bottle of champagne in my hand when Nelson Cruz managed to turn a routine fly ball into a David Freese triple. To be more accurate, I was practically uncorking the thing once I saw the ball go off the bat. I went from pacing anxiously around the living room to falling to my knees in despair once the ball sailed past Cruz’s glove.

Despair gave way to hope when Josh Hamilton blasted a two-run homerun in the top of the 10th. The Cardinals were again on the ropes and managed to scrap a run together. I still felt confident though, surely they wouldn’t tie it again. Again, down to their last strike, future Ranger Lance Berkman did just that. An inning later, Freese sent a Mark Lowe pitch sailing over the wall to win the game.

That’s devastation you can’t put into words. My wife tried to console me, as a lifelong Cubs fan, she knew heartbreak, but her comparison of the Steve Bartman game six to this just wasn’t even close.

And to any Cubs fan reading this getting pissed, yeah, I know that game sucked and the Cubs have been terrible for longer than the Rangers entire existence. However, after Moises Alou threw his fit in front of one his own fans, the Cubs were still up 3-0 and at best there would have only been two outs (and this is in the NLCS by the way). Prior walked Luis Castillo, the man that hit the foul ball. Alex Gonzalez managed to screw up a double play ball that should have ended the inning (seriously, how do Cubs fans not give him the Bartman or even Buckner treatment?). The Cubs still had a two run lead at that point until Derek Lee chased Mark Prior out of the game with a game-tying double then the floodgates opened.

That entire inning was just a gigantic collapse. The Rangers managed to bounce back from their horrible moment of outfield play only to watch a championship slip away once again.

All this is a very long way of fast-forwarding to 2014 and the current situation the Rangers find themselves in now. Slated as playoff contender, it looked like this squad a decent chance to try a make another run at things. If you remember, in a previous Roundup, things weren’t going so well. The injury situation hasn’t gotten much better as the Rangers seem to be going through players like toilet paper at this point.

A team that once had the best record in the American League, still leads the league in shutouts, and has the AL batting leader (Adrian Beltre) now has the worst record in baseball. Just as I thought the Rangers found rock bottom Wednesday night when the Astros completed a sweep against ace Yu Darvish, the Rangers game right back and got demolished by the Angels 15-6. 13 of those runs were scored in three innings and all given up by starter Colby Lewis–a new Rangers record in futility.

Ron Washington lit up the team last night in a 30-minute closed door furry in response. I fired up Hell’s Kitchen from the DVR instead of watching another disaster.

I’ve never witnessed a team get so ravished by injuries. I’ve never seen a team sink so low, so hard, so fast. I’ve never seen a group of “fans” react so illogically to it as well, Notre Dame fans included. For this group of idiots, the blame for this lies squarely at the feet of GM John Daniels who “forced out” figurehead Nolan Ryan from the front office.

They know this is true because their gut tells them so and a retired local sports writer loves pushing that narrative every chance he gets.

All I can hope is that this snake-bitten season is one gigantic sacrifice for 2014 ND football glory. Between the disaster on the field and dealing with terrible fans, I’ve hit rock bottom myself in baseball fandom. This was a lot easier to take when the Rangers just flat-out sucked to begin with.

The offseason can’t end soon enough.

The Roundup

Here’s a football reason for why this offseason needs to end. Johnny Football-watch has reached critical mass.

Jesus, take the wheel. Or the scooter equivalent.

Add Southern Cal to the list of teams tinkering with their uniform. It’s a small change, but a change nonetheless.

ND has a new sideline reporter. The 411 you are looking for is here.

As we’ve mentioned before, Ricky Watters is back in school. ESPN’s Matt Fortuna has done a great piece on Ricky’s mission to complete his degree.

And now your moment of Nix… Mark Richt has lost control of the Star Wars universe and it has invaded his campus. No, seriously, one of his players made a Star Wars tribute and he makes a cameo and does nothing (h/t: WithLeather):

The Booze

When sports disaster strikes, there is only one choice. Bourbon. Lots of bourbon.

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