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CFN Take: Notre Dame Shocked By NW In OT

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 15, 2014


2014 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Head Coach: Brian Kelly

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2014 Schedule
Record: 7-3

Aug. 30 Rice W 48-17
Sep. 6 Michigan W 31-0
Sep. 13 Purdue (in Ind) W 30-14
Sep. 20 OPEN DATE
Sep. 27 Syracuse (in NJ) W 31-15
Oct. 4 Stanford W 17-14
Oct. 11 North Carolina W 50-43
Oct. 18 at Florida State L 31-27
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 Navy (in Land) W 49-39
Nov. 8 at Arizona St L 55-31
Nov. 15 Northwestern L 43-40 OT
Nov. 22 Louisville
Nov. 29 at USC
Nov. 15 Northwestern 43, Notre Dame 40 OT
And You Care Because … Jack Mitchell forced overtime with a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play, and then won it for Northwestern by hitting a 41-yarder after Notre Dame’s Kyle Brindza missed a 42-yard attempt. In a sloppy, wild game, the Wildcats scored 14 unanswered points on two Mitchell field goals and a Trevor Siemian six-yard touchdown run, along with a two-point conversion to offset yet another mistake-filled day from Everett Golson and the Irish. Golson ran for a 61-yard touchdown, and threw three touchdown passes to William Fuller from 23, 23 and 11 yards out, but the last scoring play was Notre Dame’s last.
What Else? Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 21-of-40 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran ten times for 78 yards and a score. WR William Fuller caught nine passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns
- Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian completed 30-of-48 passes for 284 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
- Northwestern RB Justin Jackson ran 23 times for 149 yards and a score
- Turnovers: Notre Dame 4 – Northwestern 4
Game Rating: A-

Nov. 8 at Arizona State 55, Notre Dame 31
And You Care Because … Five takeaways helped Arizona State get up early and survive a late rally. The Sun Devils roared to a 34-3 lead with Taylor Kelly throwing two touchdown passes including a 13-yarder to Jaelen Strong and a 43-yard play to Cameron Smith, and the defense got into the act with Damarious Randall returning an interception 59 yards for a score. It was all Notre Dame for most of the second half with Everett Golson throwing two touchdown passes and Cam McDaniel running for two one-yard scores as part of a 28-point run, but after a 25-yard Amir Carlisle catch to pull the Irish within three, ASU answered with a five-play scoring drive finishing off with Demario Richard’s second touchdown of the day. Notre Dame’s last gasp was thwarted by a Lloyd Carrington pick six, and Kelly finished it off with a two-yard scoring run.
What Else? Turnovers: Notre Dame 5 – Arizona State 1
- Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 22-of-41 passes for 446 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 17-of-28 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 21 times for 120 yards
Game Rating: A

Nov. 1 Notre Dame 49, at Navy 39
And You Care Because … Notre Dame got all it could handle from the Navy running game, but everything seemed to be fine with a 28-7 lead helped by a 78-yard C.J. Prosise touchdown catch and a five-yard run from Everett Golson. And then Navy too control, taking the lead 31-28 on 24 straight points with Demond Brown, Austin Grebe and Chris Swain all running for touchdowns. But the Irish got their groove back as Golson ran for his second score of the game and Tarean Folston ran for a 25-yard touchdown. Navy wouldn’t go away as Swain took a pass 12 yards for a touchdown, and the two-point conversion made I t a three point game, but the Irish got a good late drive with Golston running for his third touchdown.
What Else? Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 18-of-25 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns with a pick, and ran nine times for 33 yards and three touchdowns
- Navy RB Noah Copeland ran 16 times for 138 yards
- Notre Dame RB Tarean Folston ran 20 times for 149 yards and a score
- Rushing: Navy 336 yards and three scores – Notre Dame 218 yards and four scores.
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 18 at Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27
And You Care Because … In a classic, Florida State hung on for dear life as Notre Dame’s last gasp throw into the end zone was intercepted, but not before Everett Golson converted a 4th-and-18 on the final drive and later appeared to have won the game on a short touchdown pass that got called back on a controversial penalty. The Irish led until late, getting two Golson touchdown passes to Corey Robinson, but Florida State always had an answer and never got more than one score down. Jameis Winston threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Travis Rudolph in the first quarter, but he didn’t heat up until the second half, finding Rashad Green on a ten-yard scoring pass in the third, and marching the Seminoles 75 yards in ten plays, finishing up with Karlos Williams’ second short scoring run for what would turn out to be the game-winner. Notre Dame had two final chances, stalling on the first one and pinning FSU deep, and just missing on the second as an apparent Golson touchdown pass to Robinson was called back for pass interference as two Irish receivers picked off their men so Robinson could get open. With one final chance on 4th-and-goal with 13 seconds left, Golson was intercepted by Jacob Pugh in the end zone.
What Else? Florida State QB Jameis Winston completed 23-of-31 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns with an interception
- Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 31-of-52 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions, and ran 11 times for 33 yards
- Notre Dame WR Corey Robinson caught eight passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns
- Total yards: Notre Dame 470 – Florida State 323
Game Rating: A

Oct. 11 at Notre Dame 50, North Carolina 43
And You Care Because … Both teams kept turning the ball over and committing penalties, but Notre Dame was able to overcome its problems with three Everett Golson touchdown passes and a terrific day from Tarean Folston, who ran for two fourth quarter touchdowns in the comeback victory. North Carolina didn’t stop pressing, with Marquise Williams running for a score and throwing two touchdown passes including an 18-yarder to Mack Hollins to pull within seven in the final minute, but Notre Dame recovered the onside kick. Golson threw an interception for a score in the first half for a 14-0 North Carolina lead, but he came right back on the ensuing drive with a 13-yard scoring pass to William Fuller to spark a 21-point scoring run. The two teams traded shots the rest of the way until Folston’s fourth quarter scoring runs from nine and six yards out.
What Else? Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 21-of-38 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns with a pick six, and he ran 12 times for 71 yards
- North Carolina QB Marquise Williams completed 24-of-41 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and led the team with 132 yards and a score on 18 carries
- Penalties: Notre Dame 10 for 76 yards – North Carolina 9 for 94 yards
- Turnovers: Notre Dame 3 – North Carolina 2
Game Rating: B

Oct. 4 at Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14
And You Care Because … With just over a minute to play and down 14-10, Notre Dame was facing a 4th-and-11 on the Stanford 23. Everett Golson scrambled and found Ben Koyack deep in the end zone for the touchdown, and the D held on for the win. Stanford’s offense struggle, but it managed a ten-yard Kevin Hogan touchdown run in the first and took the lead with just over three minutes to play on an 11-yard run from Remound Wright. The Irish tied it at seven with a Chris Brown 17-yard touchdown catch, and took the lead midway through the fourth on a 45-yard Kyle Brindza field goal. Stanford answered, but Golson did the Cardinal one better.
What Else? Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith made 14 tackles with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss
- Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 20-of-43 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran seven times for 34 yards
- Stanford QB Kevin Hogan completed 18-of-36 passes for 158 yards and two interceptions, and he ran for a score
- Total yards: Notre Dame 370 – Stanford 205
Game Rating: A-

Sept. 27 Notre Dame 31, Syracuse 15 in NJ
And You Care Because … Everett Golson hit Will Fuller on touchdown passes from 23 and 72 yards out, and found Corey Robinson on an eight-yard touchdown pass on the way to a 21-3 lead. He also found Torrii Hunter Jr. on a 13-yard scoring play as he completed a record 25 straight passes, but he was picked off for a touchdown late by SU’s Durrell Eskridge. Syracuse’s offense could only manage a seven-yard Terrell Hunt touchdown run and a 38-yard Cole Murphy field goal.
What Else? Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 32-of-39 passes for 362 yards and four scores with two picks wiht a fumble, and he ran ten times for 21 yards.
- Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt completed 22-of-38 passes for 294 yards with a pick, and ran seven times for 26 yards and a score
- Penalties: Syracuse 10 for 85 yards – Notre Dame 8 for 80 yards
- Notre Dame WR Will Fuller caught six passes for 119 yards and two scores
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 13 Notre Dame 30, Purdue 14 in Indianapolis
And You Care Because … Notre Dame sputtered early, but Everett Golson saved the day with a 15-yard touchdown run late in the first half and a 15-yard scoring play to Corey Robinson as part of a run of 20 unanswered points. Purdue took a 14-10 lead on the second of two Danny Etling touchdown passes, but the banged up Irish defense held the Boilermakers off the scoreboard over the final 33 minutes.
What Else? Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 25-of-40 passes for 259 yards, and ran 14 times for 56 yards and a score.
- Purdue QB Danny Etling completed 27-of-40 passes for 234 yards and two scores with two picks.
- Notre Dame RB Amir Carlisle suffered an injured knee, and defensive backs Cole Luke (neck) and Nicky Baratti (shoulder) were hurt.
- Notre Dame DE Romeo Okwara led the team with 11 tackles with a half a sack and a forced fumble.
Game Rating: C+

Sept. 6 at Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0
And You Care Because … Everett Golson threw three touchdown passes with two to Amir Carlisle, and the Irish D was swarming, in a dominant performance in the final game – for now – in the rivalry. Cam McDaniel added a one-yard scoring run and Kyle Brindza came up with a 43-yard field goal in the blowout.
What Else? Michigan outgained Notre Dame 289 yards to 280, but four turnovers and mistake after mistake turned deadly. The Wolverine offensive front that was so great against Appalachian State didn’t generate any sort of a push.
- Everett Golson’s Heisman push is in full swing, completing 23-of-34 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns, but he was held to -14 rushing yards.
- The Michigan defensive front was terrific. Notre Dame’s ground game was held to 54 yards with Jake Ryan registering 11 tackles and the team coming up with eight tackles for loss. The O was another story with Devin Gardner completing 19-of-32 passes for 189 yards with three picks, but Devin Funchess caught nine passes for 107 yards.
- Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith was fantastic making ten tackles with a tackle for loss, while safety Elijah Shumate made ten stops with a pick.
Game Rating: D+

Aug. 30 at Notre Dame 48, Rice 17
And You Care Because … Everett Golson played like a quarterback who spent a year waiting to show what he could do, running for three touchdowns and coming up with two big plays in the blowout. Golson connected with William Fuller for a 75-yard score and hooked up with C.J. Prosise from 53 yards away to help the Irish pull away after Zach Wright tied the game for Rice at seven late in the first quarter. Down 41-10, the Owls didn’t get back on the board until the final five minutes.
What Else? Obviously, Notre Dame was able to compartmentalize. Everett Golson was outstanding, making plays all over the field completing 14-of-22 passes for 295 yards and two scores and running 12 times for 41 yards and three scores. It took about a quarter, but the Irish did just about everything right.
- Who’s going to step up at receiver for the Irish? William Fuller caught four passes for 85 yards and a score, but Golson spread around the wealth with seven different players catching passes.
- Rice ran into a buzzsaw defensively, but QB Driphus Jackson did what he could with a team-leading 61 yards on 11 carries while completing 13-of-24 passes for 163 yards and a score with a pick. He didn’t get much help.
- The Irish defensive interior held up well, but can it handle a suddenly-improved Michigan ground game? It didn’t allow the Rice backs to get loose in any way – the longest run by a back was seven yards.
Game Rating: C-

2014 Preview 

With all of the massive changes being proposed in the big-money, high-stakes world of college athletics, no one is poised to take advantage of what might be coming better than Notre Dame.

It’s not that hard – if you have a lot of money, however this all plays out, you’re going to be more than just okay.

However, considering what appears to be happening, that means the program has to try to figure out exactly what it wants to do when it comes to finding creative and legal ways of - to be crude - giving players money. Going forward, more than ever, whoever has the gold will rule the college football world, and if done right, the Irish could and should turn this movement in their favor.

But this is Notre Dame, and that means it has to balance several things at once. The team has to be great, the money has to keep rolling in, and it all has to be done in the spirit of what being Notre Dame is supposed to be – whether the reality of the ideal is phony or not. All of that requires bringing in the best players possible and winning lots and lots of games.

As magical and wonderful as the 2012 season might have been, the BCS championship loss to Alabama only exposed just how far Notre Dame had to go to really and truly be among the elite of the college football elite. That’s not taking away anything that happened two years ago – there’s no such thing as a cheap 12-0 regular season record with that schedule – but the Irish simply didn’t have the talent to hang around with a rested and motivated Crimson Tide team. Going forward, will Notre Dame simply be able to New York Yankee it up and buy any top recruit it wants to in order to be as good as that Alabama team or 2013 Florida State? It won't be that easy, but there's a good chance that Notre Dame will be able to create its own rules on how this works.

All the garbage and all the silliness surrounding the idea of what you can and cannot give players to play college athletics is changing, and while unionization probably isn’t as close as some would like to believe, the big conference commissioners are taking care of that themselves. With the Power Five conferences – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – all looking to impolitely push out the NCAA, they’re changing the way things are done, and that means more money and more flexibility on how the business side of major college athletics is handled. To put it bluntly, the SEC wants to figure out how it can play players, and everyone else is looking to keep up without being too obscene. Potentially, no one can do that better than Notre Dame.

Texas rules the roost in terms of generating football revenue, but according to a study from Indiana University finance professor Ryan Brewer, Notre Dame football – which generates about $100 million a year – is valued at over $800 million in terms of the business side of all things revolving around the program. So as you start to hear more and more about things like “cost of attendance” and other buzzwords and phrases that simply mean the schools are going to find a way to give players money, Notre Dame will never have a problem keeping up as the biz dev landscape changes.

So what is Notre Dame’s next move? What can it do, considering its unique place in the world, to start to amass the talent and actually be as good as Florida State, Alabama and other top programs, while not sacrificing what being Notre Dame is supposed to be about?

The football program is sort of in the ACC - the two sides are friends with benefits. The ACC becomes more stable – remember, the conference was on the verge of being raided for its top programs a few years ago – and gets to bask in the light and ratings of Notre Dame. Notre Dame gets bowl tie-ins and a nice base of teams to play, but without having to be seen as just another program like it would next to Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, Texas in the Big 12 or Alabama in the SEC.

Brian Kelly is sort of saying all the right things about wanting to be the Notre Dame head coach forever, but he dipped his toes into the NFL coaching waters by talking with the Philadelphia Eagles a few years ago, and turning 53 this year, his window might be closing soon if he really does dream of working in the NFL at some point.

Both of those things – the ACC and Kelly’s tenure – all tie in to where Notre Dame football is going next. No, it’s not crazy to suggest that Texas really could have thrown $100 million at Nick Saban – Notre Dame can pay its head coach whatever it wants to. Yes, being attached to the ACC will help the Irish be a part of the bowl and playoff process, and in the end, that’ll bring in even more money.

Oh yeah, and along the way, the 2014 Fighting Irish are going to actually play college football, and they’ll be really, really good at it.

There are a few concerns on the defensive front, and the linebacking corps might be just okay, but the secondary is deep, the offensive line is fine, and the skill positions are better than at any time in the Kelly era. Throw in a schedule that’s nowhere near as difficult as most are going to make it out to be – outside of the road trip to Florida State, the Irish have an honest shot in every other game – and the potential is there for a second wonderful ride in the last three years.

The Irish don’t have to be perfect – 11-1 probably gets it done when it comes to getting into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

And then the football program will make more money.


What to watch for on offense: There’s absolutely no reason that this offense can’t come up with a ton of big plays and start showing off far more firepower. No team with a running back trio of Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant and Cam McDaniel – along with a running quarterback like Everett Golson – should average 151 rushing yards per game and come up with just 12 touchdowns like last year’s ground attack generated. There were plenty of big moments for the passing game with Tommy Rees pushing the ball around, but the consistency wasn’t there when it came go putting points on the board. By far, this should be the most talented and deepest offense yet under Kelly’s watch, and it should hit 30 points a game without breathing hard after hitting the mark just five times last year.

What to watch for on defense: Can the line get into the backfield? Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt were among the star defensive linemen who carried the defense over the last few years, and while Nix was a Coke machine last season who sat in the middle of the line before getting hurt, Tuitt and linebacker Prince Shembo were the ones who made things happen in the backfield. Of the 21 sacks generated last season, Tuitt and Shembo came up with 13 and no one else had more than one. There’s talent and potential up front, but former star recruit Ishaq Williams is part of the academic issues and investigations - the team needed him to finally start playing up to his billing on the outside. It would've been nice if the excellent tackle tandem of Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day could've stumbled into a quarterback here and there, but Day is part of the investigation, too.

The team will be far better if … the running game rolls for 150 yards or more. In the Brian Kelly era, Notre Dame is 22-3 when hitting the 150-yard mark, losing to Oklahoma last season despite ripping off 220 yards and losing to Michigan in 2010 and 2011. Of the 12 other losses under Kelly, the Irish offense ran for 100 yards just four times. Everett Golson might not be Johnny Manziel when it comes to taking off, but he’ll give the offense positive rushing yards, and there are more than enough backs to work into a rotation and put up huge numbers on a regular basis. Two years ago, the Irish controlled games by running for 150 yards or more nine times – winning them all. Getting to 200 yards shouldn’t be much of a problem.

The schedule: On one level, the slate is a killer facing ten teams that went bowling last year, one team (Northwestern) that didn’t go bowling but will this year, one national champion (Florida State), one Conference USA champion (Rice), one Pac-12 champion (Stanford), and one Pac-12 runner-up (Arizona State). However, if taken on a game-by-game basis, it might not be quite so bad. There’s no Michigan State to deal with, and Rice, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, Navy, Northwestern and Louisville have to be must wins for a team shooting for a big season. Stanford and North Carolina will be tough, but those two are at home. Forget about Florida State, but the Arizona State and USC games are winnable.

Unfortunately, the two off weeks come before two of the easier games – before Syracuse and Navy – but the real problem could be the lack of true home games. Notre Dame always dominates a neutral site, but it won’t play in South Bend from October 18th until November 15th, dealing with Navy in Landover. With the Purdue game in Indianapolis, and the Syracuse game in East Rutherford, there isn’t a home game for a month early in the season, either.


Best offensive player: Junior QB Everett Golson. It's going to be hard not having around star receiver DeVaris Daniels, but Golson could have the magic to make up for it. How rusty will he be? Will he get away with the chances he took throughout the dream season two years ago? He's the leader of a talented offense, and he needs to keep the mistakes to a minimum and has to take the offense to another level.

Best defensive player: Sophomore LB Jalen Smith. How were the Irish supposed to get over the loss of Manti Te’o and improve the linebacking corps? In came Smith, and he proved to be everything the team needed right away. One of the nation’s top outside linebacker recruits, the Fort Wayne native showed why finishing third on the team with 67 stops while making plays all over the field. He looked the part from the start, and now he’s the new leader and star for a defense that might not be back to its 2012 level, but should be better. Watch for him to become more of a factor in the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore NT Jarron Jones. Ishaq Williams was going to be the key part, but that changed. The 2010 Gatorade New York Player of the Year was supposed to be a dominant hybrid for the Irish defense, but he was suspended pending an investigation into academic issues. Jones now has to become a key part of the line that needs help in the interior. Williams was needed to become a factor on the outside, but it's Jones he'll need to be the main man in the interior.

The season will be a success if … the Irish go to the Orange Bowl. Here’s the deal. Notre Dame doesn’t have any direct tie-in with any bowl, but it’s eligible for any ACC bowl tie-in as long as its record is within one game of the team eligible for the slot. The Irish will have the offensive pop and should be solid defensively given a little time, but there’s not enough there to beat Florida State in Tallahassee and run the table against everyone else with road games against Arizona State and USC along with home games against Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Northwestern and Louisville to deal with. Even so, 10-2 would almost certainly warrant Orange Bowl consideration, assuming the ACC champion is in the College Football Playoff.

Key game: Sept. 6 vs. Michigan. There’s a long, long way to go with a lot of dangerous games left, and it’s way too early in the season to come up with a loss. However, with Rice, Purdue, Syracuse in the early part of the campaign, 4-0 is more than likely before dealing with Stanford with a win over Michigan. The Wolverines have won four of the last five meetings, with the one Notre Dame win coming in the great 2012 season. It’s in South Bend, and any hope of this being anything like two years ago, the Irish have to win.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Fumbles: Opponents 12 (lost 4) – Notre Dame 7 (lost 4)
- Kickoff Return Average: Opponents 25.7 yards per try – Notre Dame 23.8 yards per try
- Sacks: Notre Dame 21 for 148 yards – Opponents 8 for 63 yards

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2014 Notre Dame Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


 

 

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