Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog A Notre Dame Football Blog Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:07:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Friday Roundup: The “Year in Review and Taking a Week Off” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/19/friday-roundup-year-review-taking-week-off-edition/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/19/friday-roundup-year-review-taking-week-off-edition/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:07:15 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27471 Well, Loyal Readers, 2014 has almost come to a close and with that in mind, it was time for me to get our financials in order so I could pay our staff, make charity donations, and start 2015 planning. Before we get to that though, one order of business: HLS will be taking the week […]

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Friday RoundupWell, Loyal Readers, 2014 has almost come to a close and with that in mind, it was time for me to get our financials in order so I could pay our staff, make charity donations, and start 2015 planning. Before we get to that though, one order of business: HLS will be taking the week off and will return to you again after Christmas. Simply put, we could all use a break and I want all of us to enjoy Christmas with our friends and families (and you should too!).

On the money end, I’ve always been amazed at the generosity of our staff so we can donate to charity. In 2012, we set a high on this mark by donating $200 to Kelly Cares. This year, we had a total of $450 to donate to charity. Since we had so much, I have split the donation into $225 for both Kelly Cares and Savin’ Aven.

This all happens because of your visits to the site and your purchases from our affiliates using HLS links: Amazon, Bouqs, Prime Sport, and Ticket Monster. Simply put, this doesn’t happen without each and every one of you.

2014 has been a roller coaster not just with Notre Dame football, but for most of the staff. Practically every single one of us had some form of craziness or major shakeups in our personal and professional lives outside the site. Yet, we managed to not just hold it all together to keep cranking out content, but also launch our YouTube and Podcasting channels.

I’m definitely excited to keep the momentum going into 2015. And on that note, I’m happy to announce that we are adding Moons (@IrishMoonJ) to the HLS staff starting in 2015. Moons is a fellow Sorin Otter who taught me many wonders while at ND such as Beer Pong, Forties at Four, and the art of the Shotgun. You have likely seen his work linked in various Roundups and/or have heard him on ND Fan Radio. He’s got a great analytical mind and will be a fantastic addition to our staff. Prepare for more sports math!

Again, a big, hearty thanks to the entire staff and you, the Loyal Reader for a great 2014. Let’s do one more Roundup of links and then we’ll see you after Christmas!

The Roundup

Loads of Harbaugh to Michigan scuttlebutt. However, I think this is the best of all takes on the situation.

Bowl games are important. After all, free food for all of us is on the line:

Marcus Mariotta secured the Heisman. This of course means a special appearance in doing the top ten on Letterman. I particularly enjoyed the scorching burn of the Giants and Jets.

Filed under “not shocking”: The Big XII is considering a championship game.

Finally, an in-depth look on figuring out just who ESPN hates. Spoiler alert: the answer is everyone.

Bo Pelini is burning all the bridges. Pelini went on a 30 minute rant in front of his team after he got fired (NSFW language on the audio, but it is AMAZING).

And now your moment of Nix… we’re going a little more sentimental this time.

The Booze

‘Tis the season for Shiner Cheer, y’all.

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How Will Brian Kelly Pull off a Two QB Offense? http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/17/will-brian-kelly-pull-off-two-qb-offense/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/17/will-brian-kelly-pull-off-two-qb-offense/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27458 As we mentioned yesterday, Brian Kelly announced that the Notre Dame offense would play both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire in the Music City Bowl against LSU. Yes, the dreaded two QB system is here and Kelly didn’t completely rule out using it next year either. I’m not overly keen on the idea. The whole […]

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As we mentioned yesterday, Brian Kelly announced that the Notre Dame offense would play both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire in the Music City Bowl against LSU. Yes, the dreaded two QB system is here and Kelly didn’t completely rule out using it next year either.

I’m not overly keen on the idea. The whole “if you have two QBs, you don’t have one” has rung true more often than not. Despite that mantra, there are still examples of teams that have pulled it off with varying degrees of success.

In my mind, there are four ways this could go down. Let’s take a look at each one and examples of success, if any, such a method has provided.

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 9.12.04 PMZone Bluff 7

1) Alternation

Whether it is switching off every series or even every quarter, this is one of the more obvious ways to get two QBs playing time. However, I honestly can’t think of a single team that managed to pull this off with any success. This is what you do in a spring game or against a weak opponent at the start of the season to see which QB will eventually take the role.

The issue with alternating in this method is that no QB can really establish their own rhythm or really their place on the offense. If you succeed, congrats, have a seat on the bench. If you fail, head to the bench and stew on it for a series.

If Kelly goes this direction against LSU, in my opinion, he is 100% planning for 2015 and not really trying to win the football game. I just can’t see this working.

2) The Role Player

We’ve heard it before: the passing QB and the running QB. Many teams have actually run this kind of system and some have had loads of success, most notably Florida who won a national title in 2006 with a two-QB system of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.

The running QB tends to have a totally separate package just for them. What can make this method especially deadly is that this running QB, unlike a wildcat RB, is still a passing threat. The moment a defense sells out for the run, there goes a pass (or jump pass) sailing (or floating) over their heads for a TD.

This is the method that I personally think Kelly is most likely to use. Zaire is clearly the better runner and his passing game, especially anything requiring touch, still needs a lot of work. On the other hand, Golson’s arm has been mostly money all season long; however, his running has been beyond suspect and still doesn’t have a handle on the zone read option.

3) The Relief Pitcher

While I doubt Kelly dips into this pool in the bowl game, this method is certainly in his bag of tricks and used it liberally in the 2012 undefeated regular season.

This is slightly different from having a role player as it is a true sub, but unlike alternating, Kelly made this sub depending on the game situation. More often than not, when Tommy Rees came in for Everett Golson, it was to close out a game, whether it was the two-minute drill against Purdue or practically the entire game against Michigan. Pitt was a notable exception here as Kelly required Golson to come back in and give the Irish the needed spark with his ability to extend plays to lead that comeback effort.

However, the 2012 situation was so unique. There was a clear physical talent difference between Golson and Rees with experience, pose, and pre-snap reads being the major benefits to having Tommy in. Because of that, I don’t think we will even see this in 2015 should Kelly stick with two QBs. Golson and Zaire are far more similar in skillset and Golson, to this point, hasn’t shown that he has made that classic upperclassman step in his decision-making and pre-snap reads.

4) The Crazy: Two QBs on the Field at Once

Before you think I’m out of my mind, this has been done before. Moreover, it actually worked and nearly helped major underdog, University of Louisiana-Monroe, upset Baylor in 2012 and actually upset a then top-ten Arkansas team that same year.

Now, ULM’s “Funroe” offense is a stroke of mad genius, but it works so well not just because of the two QBs on the field, but the kind of QBs on the field. As SBNation explains:

The secret to such a system is dexterity. Browning throws left-handed, Wells right-handed. Both quarterbacks run only to their throwing sides. And ULM head coach Todd Berry said that while both players appear to be making calls, the snap and read responsibilities are determined by which hash the ball is on; the left-handed QB snaps on the left hash, the righty on the right. For maximum effectiveness in personnel groupings as well as clarity for quick substitutions, all of ULM’s quarterbacks are trained at running back and wide receiver.

So in order to run this straight-up defense coordinator nightmare, you need both a right-handed and a left-handed QB. And guess what Notre Dame just happens to have on their roster?

Will this actually happen? Probably not. However, if BK just wants to go absolutely crazy and use a month of practice to pull out all the crazy stops, tossing this package in the game would be the most entertaining thing ever. Think of the talent that ULM was running this with. Now sub in ND’s roster.

Even LSU’s superb passing defense would have fits.

This is my new dream. I want to see this. I don’t care how gimmicky it is because I will enjoy every second of it, even if it blows up in the Irish’s face.

We just need a name for this–Double Domer? Double Barrel Shotgun? The Ultimate BK Troll? Let’s get weird.

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RECORDING: Friday Roundup (Dec. 12, 2014) http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/16/recording-friday-roundup-dec-12-2014/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/16/recording-friday-roundup-dec-12-2014/#respond Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:45:26 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27455 In this episode: SMU finally wins a game and ends it in the most hilarious way possible Conference championship weekend recap Controversy in the final college football playoff rankings Notre Dame’s Music City Bowl bid Discussion on whether or not ND deserves the bowl bid A look at the end of UAB’s football program As […]

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In this episode:

  • SMU finally wins a game and ends it in the most hilarious way possible
  • Conference championship weekend recap
  • Controversy in the final college football playoff rankings
  • Notre Dame’s Music City Bowl bid
  • Discussion on whether or not ND deserves the bowl bid
  • A look at the end of UAB’s football program

As always, a big thanks to everyone that tunes in and gives these recordings a listen. Be sure to tune in this Friday at 6pm CT on KVCE 1160 AM or stream via their website.


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Coach Speak: Post-Practice Pressers from Kelly and Miles http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/16/coach-speak-post-practice-pressers-kelly-miles/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/16/coach-speak-post-practice-pressers-kelly-miles/#respond Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:00:35 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27447 Monday marked the end of Notre Dame’s third, and LSU’s first, post-season practice in anticipation of their upcoming clash in the Music City Bowl on December 30th. Louisiana State University’s Head Coach Les Miles and Notre Dame’s Head Coach Brian Kelly each addressed the media to give the lay of the land. Coincidentally, both coaches […]

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Music City Bowl LogoMonday marked the end of Notre Dame’s third, and LSU’s first, post-season practice in anticipation of their upcoming clash in the Music City Bowl on December 30th. Louisiana State University’s Head Coach Les Miles and Notre Dame’s Head Coach Brian Kelly each addressed the media to give the lay of the land. Coincidentally, both coaches gave over the first half of their pressers to off-topic issues. In this post, I’ll give you both the highlights and the links to each.

BRIAN KELLY: The biggest news to come out of today’s press conference is the decision to play both quarterbacks, Everett Golson and Malik Zaire, in the bowl game. Coach has seen “a real focus and attention to some specific things that will make them better quarterbacks” and stated that each has “benefited from the last three practices and film time.” As an aside, if you belong to Camp “Only Go Bowling When You DESERVE It,” listen to Coach’s words, for he gives at least three specific examples of players who have used the extra practice time to improve their game. Golson has “handled [the competition] great,” according to Coach, while Mike McGlinchey, fresh on the heels of ousting Christian Lombard at Right Offensive Tackle, has made that position “very competitive.” Freshman Greg Bryant has also distinguished himself in practice, demonstrating “a good sense of what we are trying to accomplish.” On the injury front, Coach is hopeful to have Sheldon Day, Max Redfield, and Jay Hayes ready to play. Eilar Hardy, who graduates at the end of the semester, will be eligible and will play. On the NFL front, Kelly has a good sense of the four players’ (Stanley, Day, Golson, Martin) draft status given his communications with NFL coaches and GM’s. Stanley is the only one of the group who, if he leaves early, will not leave with a degree.

Equally noteworthy, Paqui Kelly was on hand at the start of the presser to announce the Kelly Cares foundation’s donation of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, who will use the money to support its Food 4 Kids Fun Packs Program. The donation was made on behalf of ND’s coaching staff, who give their time to the Kelly Cares Football 101 program, which you can learn more about, here.

LES MILES: The Mad Hatter began his press conference with no audio or video recording because, well, he’s mad. Actually, he spoke into the void to address the “Miles to Michigan” situation. Suffice it to say that Les is not going anywhere. The cynic in me says he’ll still go, but I do think that he feels a genuine attachment to his players, an emotion that comes across clearly in today’s remarks. Today was “LSU versus LSU.” The Tigers practiced at a fast tempo and will continue to do so in their next practice. In their third, they will start practicing for Notre Dame. I’ll leave it to you if Les was making an SEC-speed dig there. Injury-wise, the Tigers are expecting to have Kenny Hilliard back for the Music City Bowl. That’s bad news for Notre Dame. Their center, Elliott Porter, however, will not.

HLS NEWS: This last Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, and we here at HLS were extra joyful, as our own Molly Moran successfully completed her nursing school program last week. That joy, though, was tempered by the news that our own Lisa Kelly lost her grandmother on Sunday. Our prayers of condolence and peace are with her and family at this time.

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Austin Collinsworth’s Career at Notre Dame Officially Over http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/15/austin-collinsworths-career-notre-dame-officially/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/15/austin-collinsworths-career-notre-dame-officially/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 09:01:11 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27441 Late Sunday night, the South Bend Tribune, posted news that most Notre Dame football fans all but expected by now: Austin Collinsworth’s ND career is over. After being listed as “doubtful” by Brian Kelly during his post-bowl selection presser, the SBT confirmed that Collinsworth had surgery on his shoulder this past Friday before the football […]

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Late Sunday night, the South Bend Tribune, posted news that most Notre Dame football fans all but expected by now: Austin Collinsworth’s ND career is over. After being listed as “doubtful” by Brian Kelly during his post-bowl selection presser, the SBT confirmed that Collinsworth had surgery on his shoulder this past Friday before the football banquet.

Collinsworth suffered all kinds of injuries throughout the 2014 season and reading how banged up he was while trying to play against Southern Cal was borderline frightening as was his overall attitude that he was just waiting for something terrible to happen:

By the time the USC game rolled around, 100 percent was a pipe dream.

“Literally like I got hit by a car,” was how Collinsworth described feeling entering the Nov. 29 game against USC in Los Angeles. “My knee hurt, my back hurt, my upper back and my neck hurt, my shoulder hurt.

“It was like, which one’s going to go? I kinda had that feeling like something’s probably going to go here, just which one’s it going to be. It ended up being the shoulder.”

I know playing at less than 100% in football is common, but this sounds like 50% with an overwhelming feeling of season-ending injury dread. One thing is certain, and that’s that you can’t question the toughness that Collinsworth had this season in trying to fight through his body falling apart.

With Collinsworth now permanently scratched, this likely leads to a safety pairing of Matthias Farley Elijah Shumate* and Max Redfield, assuming of course Max is healthy for the bowl game. I’ve felt that pairing has been the most talented combination all season. Even though Collinsworth is out, at least that part of the secondary won’t be taking too large of a hit and honestly, the secondary will be the least of the Irish’s worries at they face a terrible LSU passing offense ranked 114th in the nation.

*Note to self: Beginning a post at 2 AM is a terrible idea. My bad on the mixup.

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RECORDING: Friday Roundup – Episode 05 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/11/recording-friday-roundup-episode-05/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/11/recording-friday-roundup-episode-05/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 16:00:32 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27431 I had a bit of a delay in getting audio from my last show, but it is finally up on our Podbean site and should be hitting the iTunes feed soon. A big thanks to everyone that has tuned in, especially those out of the area that have been streaming the show. The streaming especially […]

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Friday RoundupI had a bit of a delay in getting audio from my last show, but it is finally up on our Podbean site and should be hitting the iTunes feed soon.

A big thanks to everyone that has tuned in, especially those out of the area that have been streaming the show. The streaming especially has been a nice surprise to the folks at KVCE as they are getting visitors from outside the DFW area, which they are simply thrilled about. So, seriously, huge thanks as I don’t get to keep doing this without that support.

In this episode, I talk a bit about rivalry/hate week, go on what proved to be a rather prophetic rant about the Big XII, talk about ND things (booze recommended), and preview conference championship weekend which includes me hyping up the Pac 12 championship game which was a simply fantastic idea… #FireTex


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Jack Swarbrick Speaks Out on Paying Student Athletes http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/11/jack-swarbrick-speaks-paying-student-athletes/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/11/jack-swarbrick-speaks-paying-student-athletes/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:11:28 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27428 Yesterday, Jack Swarbrick had an interview with CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon after an IMG Sports Network panel and it is most definitely worth your time to read. In it, he supports of paying student-athletes for use of their image and likeness. Now, before this causes a freak-out moment in thinking that Swarbrick is about to lead college athletics […]

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Notre Dame athletic director, Jack Swarbrick

Notre Dame athletic director, Jack Swarbrick

Yesterday, Jack Swarbrick had an interview with CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon after an IMG Sports Network panel and it is most definitely worth your time to read. In it, he supports of paying student-athletes for use of their image and likeness. Now, before this causes a freak-out moment in thinking that Swarbrick is about to lead college athletics into a downward spiral, it is important to note that he isn’t suggesting student athletes should become similar to minor league players, but rather putting them on the same level playing field as their fellow students.

“You’ve got to stay grounded in this analogy to other students,” Swarbrick told CBSSports.com. “There are students on campus making a lot of money because they’ve launched a business. A classic example: Students are making great money in some internship, and I’m telling my football players they can’t leave for the summer. Where’s the equity there?”

But only Swarbrick cut through the usual rhetoric. Swarbrick’s point: College sports brought this on itself with rules that differentiate athletes from the general student body, such as not allowing athletes to make money off their own name.

“If we could get ourselves more grounded in the notion we wouldn’t have these problems,” Swarbrick said during a panel. “If we’re going to do something different than for the normal student, the bar for doing that ought to be really high. If we had that in place, we never would have had a limitation on the cost of attendance because a merit scholar doesn’t have that limitation. We did that for athletic reasons.”

“But if our standard had been what’s the rule for other students, capturing name, image and likeness outside team activity, the musician at school doesn’t have that limitation. I’m not sure why the student-athlete should, either. I don’t find it inconsistent at all to say we need to get ourselves grounded back in that. I think it would contribute to reducing so many of the problems we have which really spring from this situation we created when we say they’re not going to be the same as other students.”

Swarbrick is absolutely correct. Many of the bylaws are more concerned with attempts to create a level playing field on the field rather than ensuring athletes retrain their amateur status.

Full cost of attendance, as an example isn’t in place for student-athletes due to an idea that some schools can’t afford to do so as easily as others or even at all. Therefore, schools that can afford to do so, would have an unfair recruiting advantage. In using this logic, however, student athletes are indeed being held to a different standard than a non-athlete. A student on merit scholarship can potentially receive a full cost of attendance, but if they turn down a school that doesn’t offer it, no one cries foul there.

To give a different, non-financial example, I am not allowed to publicly comment on any potential student athlete during the recruiting cycle until they either enroll early or sign their letter of intent on signing day. The fear is that boosters, which I qualify as, could use such public comments as a means to recruit and entice players to go, or stay away from, a certain school. However, I can talk about any other “regular” high school student that isn’t involved in any form of athletic recruiting if I wish.

Again, there is a line drawn between student athletes and students. Some of those lines, like my last example, are ridiculously blurry as well as seemingly almost every bylaw has exceptions and “gotchas” that are too numerous to fully explain here. Again though, it is important to note that these rules only pertain to those wishing to play sports for their school.

Swarbrick is getting to the heart of something that I wrote in the offseason. My main argument behind that piece was that the focus has shifted away from the actual education of the student-athlete. As soon as the focus shifts away from remembering that all of these athletes are indeed students, all kinds of problems emerge. Paying them simply for playing a sport is equivalent to trying to fix a major structural problem with duct tape. The divide between student and student-athlete grows, education is further deemphasized in the process, and the problems plaguing college athletics are never fixed.

Swarbrick is getting to the heart of this very problem, but in a much different way and in a different, post-O’Bannon world. Swarbrick isn’t suggesting the duct tape solution, he is actually looking to solve the problem and from a Notre Dame mentality, it makes all kinds of sense.

The University prides itself on having their student-athletes living in dorms until their senior year. They are a part of the fabric of the student body who aren’t secluded in a fancy, athletes-only dorm. They aren’t steered towards academic paths solely in place to keep them eligible. Sure, being a student-athlete does allow for some benefits many students do not have access to, but the same could be said for any student on a merit scholarship or a student that applies for, and gets accepted, into certain programs that student athletes don’t have the benefit of free time to do (like studying abroad).

That isn’t the current climate of college sports. Swarbrick sums it up best at the end of the article:

“It shocks me today when I’m at an athletic event and I hear students boo a fellow student. That never happened a decade ago. They view it like they’re not our classmate. That’s what we’ve got to get away from. If we’re just going to be minor league sports, we should leave that to minor league sports.”

That perfectly sums up the situation. The athletes aren’t seen as classmates or future fellow alumni, but rather people expected to do a job on the field. The further ingrained this mindset becomes, the further college athletics will deteriorate.

The final thing I want to point out is how Swarbrick proposes to solve this issue of paying for image and likeness:

Swarbrick said college sports could manage a group-licensing approach for athletes to be paid immediately, not through deferred payments as the O’Bannon ruling states.

“You need a commercial validation of it,” Swarbrick said. “It can’t be us, it can’t be Joe Fan who’s going to say I’ll pay you $50,000 for an autograph as long as you go to my school. You’ve got to avoid all of that. But you could have a group-licensing approach and said, OK, this group licensee can do a deal with EA Sports for student-athlete image and likeness, and we’ll go to EA Sports and negotiate it for all of the student-athletes. Here’s what it’s worth if you wear the jersey in the EA Sports video and here’s what it’s worth if you don’t. You get a market read on it and you distribute it based on the way all group licenses work.”

Swarbrick said he believes there’s a misperception that college athletes have a lot of unrealized value. Most players possess value because of the university jersey they wear, but a market test would allow those figures to be determined, Swarbrick said.

Again, this isn’t the “just pay them” and be done with it solution. This is a very level-headed, rational explanation of the issue and a valid solution to solve it. Further, Swarbrick makes two very clear distinctions that many “pay for play” proponents leave out.

Firstly, boosters and fans can’t be allowed to have carte blanche to start putting athletes on a payroll. That’s a Pandora’s box that needs to remain closed or college sports will indeed just become a sort of minor league or semi-pro system.

Second, Swarbrick rightly states that a lot of the value these student athletes hold is due to the school they represent. The larger and more well-known the program, the greater their potential value. Think of it this way: a Notre Dame diploma speaks volumes in the professional world and holds some serious weight when compared to many other institutions. The same logic works with athletes.

For a football example, look no further than Joe Flacco. Flacco’s college years came at the University of Delaware, a school in the FCS. He was drafted into the NFL largely unknown by even some of the most rabid college football fans. As best, they became aware of his name due to reporting leading up to draft day. After his 2012 Super Bowl MVP, Flacco signed, what was at the time, a record high contract for an NFL QB.

Flacco wasn’t some kind of late-bloomer. This is a guy selected 18th overall in the NFL draft. Johnny Manziel was selected 22nd overall, four slots later, and he’s been exhibit A in many arguments for the worth of college athletes. However, if “Johnny Football” doesn’t wear the maroon of the Aggies and doesn’t get to do battle with SEC powerhouse Alabama for a Heisman moment, and be a part of a team good enough to win that game, his potential market value plummets. There wasn’t a soul concerned about highest drafted Blue Hen off all time who now has a full line of “is he elite?!” memes.

Overall, I’m happy that it is Jack Swarbrick breaking the ranks of the usual AD rhetoric here. If there is anyone that I would actually trust to navigate these tricky waters and not destroy college sports in the process, it’s Savvy Jack.

Do you think he plans it all out, or just makes it up as he goes along?

Credit to @IDtheMike (aka MQ)

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HLS TV (Episode 14): Nashville Special http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/09/hls-tv-episode-14-nashville-special/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/09/hls-tv-episode-14-nashville-special/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:00:25 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27424 Molly and I decided to do a quick episode after Notre Dame’s bowl matchup became official. We talked a bit about Brian Kelly’s reaction, a too-soon preview of LSU, and what the playoff committee’s decisions on the first playoff in college football mean for ND. The video and audio are below. Enjoy! Download this episode […]

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Molly and I decided to do a quick episode after Notre Dame’s bowl matchup became official. We talked a bit about Brian Kelly’s reaction, a too-soon preview of LSU, and what the playoff committee’s decisions on the first playoff in college football mean for ND.

The video and audio are below. Enjoy!


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Tempo for Tigers: Comparing the Pace of the Irish Offense http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/08/tempo-tigers-comparing-pace-irish-offense/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/08/tempo-tigers-comparing-pace-irish-offense/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 08:00:49 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27418 When Brian Kelly assumed the mantle of coaching the Fighting Irish, there was an expectation that he would bring the crazy insane, up-tempo offense that put his Bearcats in that year’s Sugar Bowl against Florida. “Up-tempo” can mean a couple of things. Think “number of plays per game,” or “time between plays,” or “caravan of […]

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Music City Bowl LogoWhen Brian Kelly assumed the mantle of coaching the Fighting Irish, there was an expectation that he would bring the crazy insane, up-tempo offense that put his Bearcats in that year’s Sugar Bowl against Florida. “Up-tempo” can mean a couple of things. Think “number of plays per game,” or “time between plays,” or “caravan of fat people charging into an all-you-can-eat casino buffet.” For the purposes of this piece, I’m going to look at the number of plays per game the Irish have managed under Brian Kelly to see if we’re going “up-tempo,” or down-the-tubes.

Brian Kelly left Cincinnati for Notre Dame at the end of the 2009 regular season, famously letting his former charges fend for themselves against and get boat-raced by Tim Tebow’s Florida Gators, 51-24. In the twelve games before the 2010 Sugar Bowl, Kelly’s Bearcats ran 765 plays, for a per game average of 63.75. The season high plays-per-game came against Southeast Missouri State, a game in which Kelly’s offense ran seventy-seven plays. For what it’s worth, without Kelly, the Bearcats ran 68 plays against Florida.

With five regular season’s under his belt, we have enough data to show that, frankly, circumstances be damned, Kelly has turned his offense up a notch since his Cincinnati days. See for yourself:

YEAR PLAYS GAMES
2014 870 12
2013 869 13
2012 894 13
2011 906 13
2010 895 13

Looking at the numbers, 2013 stands out as a drop in productivity, and one easily-explained by Golson’s absence. With him back in 2014, Kelly called a torrid 870 plays through twelve games, an average of 72.5 plays per game. This season’s high number came against Florida State, when the Irish managed 87 plays. The season’s nadir came against Louisville, when the Irish only called 53 plays. Sixty-four seems to be Notre Dame’s wheel-house this season, as they hit that number in three games: Rice, Navy, and Southern California. The Irish managed eighty or more plays three times, too: Syracuse (80), North Carolina (81), Florida State (87), and Northwestern (80). Games in the seventies happened three times: Purdue (78), Stanford (75), Arizona State (79).

There’s no correlation, that I can find, between number-of-plays and wins or losses. I figured our number would be down against Navy, given their unique offensive brand of ball-control and ankle-breaking, but the shuffling of the offensive line happened as the number of plays increased significantly from Michigan (65) to Purdue (78).

LSU HelmetSince we learned who our Music City Bowl Opponent will be, I thought it might be interesting to compare Notre Dame’s tempo to that of LSU’s foes. This is how it looks:

OPPONENT PLAYS GAMES AVG. PLAYS PLAYS VERSUS LSU
Wisconsin 889 13 68.38 63
Sam Houston State 1067 14 76 64
ULM 892 12 74.3 48
Miss State 917 12 76.42 73
New Mexico State 921 12 76.75 70
Auburn 873 12 70.25 74
Kentucky 849 12 70.75 63
Florida 770 11 70 57
Mississippi 840 12 70 68
Alabama 948 13 72.92 75
Arkansas 843 12 70.25 65
Texas A&M 852 12 71 48

LSU’s defense, about which a lot of ink is going to spilled between today and 2:00 p.m. New Orleans time on December 30, keeps opposing offenses below their average number of plays. While the Irish could get lucky and score quickly, the Tiger defense is too good, and the Irish offense has been frankly too inconsistent, for that to be a realistic hope for victory. Considering the shape of the offense, the questions at quarterback, and the issues on defense, this should be the game where Coach Kelly runs the damn ball early and often, to keep the tempo high and LSU off the field and out of the end zone.

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Notre Dame to Play LSU in Music City Bowl http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/07/notre-dame-play-lsu-music-city-bowl/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2014/12/07/notre-dame-play-lsu-music-city-bowl/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 00:35:19 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=27414 Notre Dame will have a chance to ease the pain of the 2014 season and perhaps remove some of the sting from the 2007 Sugar Bowl as the lottery odds were in the Music City Bowl’s favor. The Irish and LSU Tigers will face off in Nashville on Tuesday, December 30 at 3:00pm ET on […]

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Music City Bowl LogoNotre Dame will have a chance to ease the pain of the 2014 season and perhaps remove some of the sting from the 2007 Sugar Bowl as the lottery odds were in the Music City Bowl’s favor. The Irish and LSU Tigers will face off in Nashville on Tuesday, December 30 at 3:00pm ET on ESPN.

Before I get too far into my thoughts on the game, as well as some comments from Brian Kelly, I am happy to announce that we are able to be an affiliate with Prime Sports, from whom you can purchase primary market tickets for the Bowl game. So, if you are thinking about buying some tickets, feel free to use that link to secure your seats and support HLS at the same time. If you are interested in testing out the secondary market, you can check out our other partner, Ticket Monster.

Now, with that business done, time for the business of the game.

I, for one, am very excited about the draw. We get an SEC match against a team that has some issues of their own. The Tiger defense is quite stout, but their offense…well, it’s had it’s own set of issues this season. They have the potential to give the Irish defense fits, but they also have the potential to fall flat on their face. And then you have the Mad Hatter himself, Les Miles, who is always good for doing some of the craziest things that you will ever see on a football field.

In short, I think this has the potential to be quite fun and I’m going to enjoy diving into this matchup going forward. It’s certainly a better matchup than some of the other SEC potentials like Georgia and Auburn for instance.

As for the Irish, Brian Kelly delivered some good news today in regards to the injury riddled defense:

That’s certainly the best news that we’ve heard in quite some time. However, there is some bad, but expected news in regards to Austin Collinsworth:

Kelly didn’t want to blame the injuries for all the Irish woes. He also didn’t absolve himself and the rest of the coaches for the recent poor performance of the Irish either:

As far as who will be taking snaps for the Irish, that is still to be determined.

Even if the job isn’t “wide open”, I am happy that Everett Golson doesn’t get the full vote of confidence. Having Malik Zaire pushing him for the job has loads of upside. Either Zaire wins it outright for the bowl game or Everett gets pushed into fixing the issues that have plagued him all season.

Either way, the tone for the bowl practices are set. It’s time for Notre Dame to right the ship and correct the issues that have caused the 2014 season to spiral out of control. I know no ND fan is happy with where the Irish stand right now and Kelly appears to reflect that similar sentiment.

While the bowl game certainly has the potential for another disappointing loss, the other side of the coin is that Kelly is able to rally the troops this month and get the Irish back on track with all kinds of momentum into 2015. I can think of no better way than defeating someone from the SEC West.

Geaux Irish. Beat Tigers.

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