Five things we learned: Notre Dame vs. Michigan


I’m still stunned at what just happened and the end of the game is one of the more confusing, frustrating, and inexplicable endings to a football game Notre Dame fans have seen since the 2005 Notre Dame-USC game.

Let’s find some semblance of balance and figure out the five things that we learned:

1) Notre Dame needs to figure out how to stop the run.

The run defense for the Irish let them down. 191 yards rushing, including 107 from Brandon Minor and 70 from quarterback Tate Forcier. Jon Tenuta’s pressure defense couldn’t figure out a way to stop the Wolverines running game, and in the end, while the running game isn’t what we’ll remember, the five yards a carry that Michigan averaged is one of the biggest reasons why Michigan won.

2) Penalites will beat you.

Notre Dame couldn’t defeat the little yellow flag that ruined their afternoon. Countless big plays got called back on penalties, and while I can’t say that I agree with many of the calls that the refs made, Notre Dame needs to eliminate the self-induced mistakes if they want to be a championship team.

(The overturned touchdown call on Armando Allen’s screen pass touchdown will need to be explained to me tomorrow, because I’m done trying to figure it out today.)

3) Michael Floyd is an All-American.

I officially launched the Michael Floyd for Heisman campaign sometime during the second quarter, and the only thing that could slow Floyd down was the hard surfaced track surrounding the field at the Big House. Floyd’s 139 yards could have been more, and Michigan’s secondary had no answer for anything Floyd did. In the end, it’s a loss, but there’s no question that Floyd is one of the most explosive players in college football.

4) Tate Forcier is special.

As much as it pains Notre Dame fans to admit it, Tate Forcier is a special player. Forcier’s ability to create time in the pocket, to run with the football, and to handle the pressure that comes with big game situations is something that Michigan fans will immediately embrace. While Jimmy Clausen’s numbers might be more impressive than Forcier’s, the touchdown run and final drive down the field will be all that people remember when they think of this game in the years to come.

5) The vultures will start swirling.

We will now figure out what this Notre Dame team is all about. Vultures will swirl around Charlie Weis, and the uncomfortable questions will now start to be asked. Notre Dame will kick themselves for this loss, and Weis will be at the center of attention, especially for his decision to throw the ball twice when the Irish could have run the clock down with a running game that was incredibly effective. In the end, Notre Dame lost a game where they outplayed their opponent. That never looks good for a head coach. 

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.