Rosters set for the Blue-Gold Game

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Notre Dame released the rosters for tomorrow’s Blue-Gold Game, with both squads featuring a number of starters.

The Blue team features Michael Floyd, Armando Allen, Kyle Rudolph, Dayne Crist on offense and Gary Gray, Jamoris Slaughter, Anthony McDonald, Brian Smith, and Ethan Johnson on defense.

The Gold team will feature Nate Montana, Shaq Evans, Duval Kamara, and Robert Hughes on offense, while the defense will have Darren Walls, Manti Te’o, Robert Blanton, Darius Fleming, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Ian Williams.

There are a number of players that’ll see time on both rosters.

For the complete rosters, see below:

BLUE TEAM
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class* Hometown/High
School
3 Floyd, Michael WR 6-3 220 Jr. St. Paul, MN/Cretin-Derham
Hall
4 Gray, Gary CB 5-11 190 Sr. Columbia, SC/Richland
Northeast
5 Allen, Armando TB 5-10 201 Sr. Opa Locka,
FL/Hialeah-Miami Lakes
7 Jones, TJ WR 5-11 185 Fr.
Gainesville, GA/Gainesville
9 Rudolph, Kyle TE 6-6 265 Jr.
Cincinnati, OH/Elder
10 Crist, Dayne QB 6-4 235 Jr. Canoga
Park, CA/Notre Dame
17 Motta, Zeke S 6-2 210 So. Vero Beach,
FL/Vero Beach
17 Mulvey, M. QB 6-2 191 Jr. Del Mar,
CA/LaJolla
19 Toma, Roby WR 5-9 175 So. Laie, HI/Punahou
20
Wood, Cierre TB 6-0 210 So. Oxnard, CA/Santa Clara
21 Gallup
Jr., Barry WR 5-11 185 Sr. Wellesley, MA/Belmont Hill
23 Wood, Lo
CB 5-10 175 Fr. Apopka, FL/Apopka
26 Slaughter, J. S
6-0 195 Jr. Stone Mountain, GA/Tucker
27 Banks, E.J. CB 5-11
180 So. Pittsburgh, PA/Montour
29 Coughlin, P. TB 6-0 195 Sr.
Oak Lawn, IL/Brother Rice
30 Paskorz, Steve ILB 6-1 245 Sr. Allison
Park, PA/Hampton
30 Redshaw, James CB 5-9 175 Sr. North Huntingdon,
PA/Norwin
33 Salvi, Chris+ S 5-10 180 Jr. Lake Forest,
IL/Carmel Catholic
35 Turk, Ben P 5-11 196 So. Davie, FL/St.
Thomas Aquinas
36 Posluszny, David ILB 6-0 225 Jr. Aliquippa,
PA/Hopewell
39 Sheehan, Ryan+ CB 5-10 177 Sr. Purcellville,
VA/Loudown Valley
40 Smith, Thomas+ S 6-1 215 Sr. Manchester, CT/East
Catholic
48 Fox, Dan OLB 6-3 230 So. Rocky River, OH/St.
Ignatius
48 Ruffer, David+ K 6-1 176 Sr. Oakton, VA/Gonzaga
51
Wenger, Dan C 6-4 297 Sr. Coral Springs, FL/Saint Thomas Aquinas
54
McDonald, A. ILB 6-2 230 Jr. Burbank, CA/Notre Dame
56 Neal, Kerry
OLB 6-2 244 Sr. Bunn, NC/Bunn
57 Golic Jr., Mike C 6-3 283 Jr.
West Hartford, CT/Northwest Catholic
58 Smith, Brian OLB 6-3
234 Sr. Overland Park, KS/Saint Thomas Aquinas
60 Cowart, Jordan LS
6-2 215 So. Plantation, FL/St. Thomas Aquinas
62 Flavin, Bill+
OC/LS 6-3 260 Sr. Darien, IL/Benet Academy
63 Botsford, Steve+ DE
6-2 220 Sr. Arlington Heights, IL/St. Viator
71 Mahoney, D.
OT 6-7 289 Jr. Baltimore, MD/Boys Latin High School
75 Dever, Taylor
OT 6-5 301 Sr. Nevada City, CA/Nevada Union
77 Romine, Matt
OT 6-5 298 Sr. Tulsa, OK/Union
78 Robinson, Trevor OG 6-5 300 Jr.
Elkhorn, NE/Elkhorn
80 Eifert, Tyler TE 6-6 240 So. Fort
Wayne, IN/Bishop Dwenger
81 Goodman, John WR 6-3 205 Jr. Fort Wayne,
IN/Bishop Dwenger
86 Burger, Bobby+ FB/TE 6-2 245 Sr. Cincinnati,
OH/LaSalle
90 Johnson, Ethan DE 6-4 280 Jr. Portland, OR/Lincoln
91
Nwankwo, Emeka DE 6-4 280 Sr. N. Miami Beach, FL/Chaminade-Madonna Prep
92
Stockton, Tyler NG 6-0 290 So. Linwood, NJ/Hun School
98 Cwynar,
Sean DE 6-4 281 Jr. McHenry, IL/Marian Central Catholic

GOLD TEAM
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class* Hometown/High
School
1 Walker, Deion WR 6-3 195 Jr. Christchurch, VA/Christchurch
2
Walls, Darrin CB 6-0 185 Sr. Pittsburgh, PA/Woodland Hills
5
Te’o, Manti ILB 6-2 250 So. Laie, HI/Punahou
6 Boyd, Spencer
CB 5-10 175 Fr. Cape Coral, FL/Cape Coral
11 Evans, Shaquelle WR 6-1
205 So. Inglewood, CA/Inglewood
12 Blanton, Robert CB 6-1 190 Jr.
Matthews, NC/Butler
13 Rees, Tommy QB 6-2 200 Fr. Lake Forest,
IL/Lake Forest
14 Walker, Brandon K 6-3 210 Sr. Findlay, OH/Findlay
15
Castello, Brian+ QB 6-2 210 Sr. Pittsburgh, PA/Chartiers Valley
15
McCarthy, Dan S 6-2 205 Jr. Youngstown, OH/Cardinal Mooney
16
Montana, Nate+ QB 6-4 215 Jr. Concord, CA/De La Salle
18 Kamara,
Duval WR 6-4 220 Sr. Jersey City, NJ/Hoboken
22 Smith, Harrison S 6-2
212 Sr. Knoxville, TN/Knoxville Catholic
24 Badger, Chris S 6-0 195
Fr. Provo, UT/Timpview
25 Gray, Jonas TB 5-10 225 Jr.
Pontiac, MI/Detroit Country Day
27 Herlihy, Derry+ TB 6-0 198 Sr.
Houston, TX/St. John’s
29 Garcia, Michael+ S 6-2 195 Sr. Colorado
Springs, CO/St. Mary’s
32 Riddick, Theo WR 5-11 190 So. Manville,
NJ/Immaculata
33 Hughes, Robert TB/FB 5-11 245 Sr. Chicago,
IL/Hubbard
35 Plaska, Andrew+ CB 5-11 185 Jr. Zeeland, MI/Zeeland
West
36 Kramer, Pat+ P 5-11 160 Jr. Akron, OH/Archbishop Hoban
38
Gurries, C.+ WR 5-10 186 Sr. Reno, NV/Bishop Manoque
40
Tausch, Nick K 6-0 190 So. Plano, TX/Jesuit
42 Franco, Dan+
WR 5-10 188 Sr. Granger, IN/Clay
42 Lezynski, Nick+ CB 5-9 180 Sr.
Newton, PA/Notre Dame High School
44 Calabrese, Carlo ILB 6-1 245 So.
Verona, NJ/Verona
45 Fleming, Darius OLB 6-2 245 Jr. Chicago, IL/St.
Rita
46 Filer, Steve OLB 6-3 235 Jr. Chicago, IL/Mount
Carmel
50 Kavanagh, Ryan+ LS 6-3 200 Jr. West Chester, PA/Salesianum
(Del.)
50 Oxley, Sean ILB 6-2 227 Jr. Avon Lake, OH/Avon
Lake
52 Cave, Braxston C 6-3 309 Jr. Mishawaka, IN/Penn
59
Stewart, Chris OG 6-5 344 Sr. Spring, TX/Klein
61 Quintana, M
DE 6-0 232 Sr. Berwyn, IL/St. Joseph
62 Skubis, C. DE 6-2
232 Sr. Clarence, NY/Clarence
65 Wray, Evan+ ILB 6-0 215 Sr.
Kettering, OH/Kettering Fairmont
66 Watt, Chris OG 6-3 313
So. Glen Ellyn, IL/Glenbard West
70 Martin, Zack OT 6-4 280
So. Indianapolis, IN/Bishop Chatard
73 Clelland, Lane OT 6-5 290 Jr.
Owings Mills, MD/McDonogh School
76 Nuss, Andrew OG 6-5 303 Sr.
Ashburn, VA/Stone Bridge
79 Williams, Hafis NG 6-1 290 Jr. Elizabeth,
NJ/Elizabeth
83 Ragone, Mike TE 6-4 250 Sr. Cherry Hill, NJ/Camden
Catholic
88 Golic, Jake TE 6-4 230 So. West Hartford,
CT/Northwest Catholic
89 Lewis-Moore, K DE 6-4 275 Jr. Weatherford,
TX/Weatherford
95 Williams, Ian NG 6-2 301 Sr. Altamonte
Springs, FL/Lyman
99 Newman, B NG 6-0 297 Jr. Louisville,
KY/Pleasure Ridge Park
 

Kelly goes back to basics with defense

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reacts in the first half of the game against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Notre Dame Stadium on September 10, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Brian Kelly met with the media on Tuesday, revealing a few details about the defensive changes he plans to implement. And while he kept any specific schematic or personnel tweaks to himself, his comments helped clarify why he made the decision to relieve Brian VanGorder of his duties Sunday morning.

At the second inflection point of his tenure in South Bend, Kelly is once again betting on himself. We saw him do this to great success after he made the unconventional decision to name Chuck Martin his offensive coordinator after the 2011 season—betting on his protege instead of Ed Warinner, who then left to go to Ohio State after being passed up.

That’s not to say this move has the ceiling of Kelly’s last great pivot—an undefeated regular season that ended with a date in the national title game. You could just as easily argue it’s a survival play.

So perhaps that’s why Kelly was less interested in defining what Greg Hudson’s new job title means, and more resolute on clarifying that this defense will operate the way the head coach sees fit.

“He’s going to adapt to what I want to run. His style is going to be Coach Kelly’s style,” Kelly explained.

“I’ll worry about the implementation, the scheme. I’ll take care of that for him right now. As he gets more comfortable with what we have and what our system is about, then he will be much more involved in what we do.

“But right now, we’ll write the music and he’ll be the lead singer. I don’t know if that’s a great analogy, if that makes any sense. He’s going to be out front, but he just got here. In terms of assuming this role, he’s learning everything as well.”

For those worried that the Irish head coach was shirking responsibility for his team’s 1-3 start, Kelly certainly is acting like a coach who is doing the opposite. He’s doubling down, and in doing so, acknowledging some of the fatal flaws that became exposed each and every game Brian VanGorder continued to coach.

The head coach will simplify game plans, asking his young team to do less but do it better. The staff will learn from the opening night debacle in Texas, a game plan that stressed scheme over personnel, a decision that was largely emblematic of how VanGorder handled his time in South Bend.

“We can’t defend everything. We can’t defend everything, but we have to be sound,” Kelly said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Kelly’s other major move will be developing a better rotation. After seven recruiting cycles, the roster has a deeper talent pool than VanGorder was willing to access. And for all the talk of sub-packages and defensive specialization, Kelly sounded like a coach who knew he needed to take things back to the basics.

“I can’t have 15 different personnel packages. We’ve got a couple personal packages. That’s it,” Kelly said. “There can’t be cross-training into three different personnel packages. We’ve streamlined that to the point where the guys are going to know by hopefully Thursday exactly where they fit in each group.”

With just days to prepare a defense that’s already at rock bottom, implementing any gigantic scheme change was always out of the question. But in looking for a new identity, Kelly also acknowledged some of the breaking points that forced him to make the change.

 

Even in transition, Babers expects Notre Dame’s best

SYRACUSE, NY - SEPTEMBER 02: Amba Etta-Tawo #7 of the Syracuse Orange pulls in a touchdown reception as Cortney Mimms #26 of the Colgate Raiders defends during the first quarter on September 2, 2016 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame’s defense is starting fresh with Greg Hudson, at least temporarily, at the helm. But Syracuse head coach Dino Babers doesn’t expect the instability to lead to a weakened opponent.

In fact, he thinks it’ll have the opposite effect.

“What normally happens in those situations is just like in a cowboy movies you circle the wagons and you find out who wants to fight and who doesn’t want to fight,” Babers said Monday. “So we’re going to get an angry mama bear that’s been wounded, that’s going to be fighting and clawing and coming out with all they have, and really wish they wouldn’t had done anything and wish they would have won the game last week.”

But the Irish didn’t win against Duke. And Brian Kelly’s decision to remove Brian VanGorder of his duties after just four games leads Notre Dame’s young defense into some uncharted territory.

Because the Irish will have to find a way to slow down a Syracuse offense that might not have as good of personnel as Texas, but is better at running the up-tempo, spread attack that the Longhorns installed this offseason. And Babers comes from the same Art Briles coaching tree that Sterlin Gilbert.

So Notre Dame will need to find a way to tackle receivers in space. And they’ll need to find a way to get an offense off the field that’s run more plays than every team in college football but three.

While Kelly promised both personnel and scheme changes, what can be done in a week remains to be seen. But with the Irish offense going up against a defense that’s actually worse statistically in every major category than Notre Dame’s, finding any success on the defensive side of the ball will be key.

The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Duke

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 24:  Anthony Nash #83 of the Duke Blue Devils runs for a touchdown during the second half of a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 24, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Sunday’s move was emphatic. Brian VanGorder’s departure confirms that a 1-3 record is unacceptable. And the demise of this team was as swift as the departure of a colleague Brian Kelly has known for the bulk of his 25-plus year coaching career.

But that’s the job. And the move likely wasn’t easy for a head coach who saw himself as close to tenured as any man this side of Lou Holtz had been, and is now clearly in uncharted territory.

“I’m under review, as well,” Kelly acknowledged on Sunday afternoon. “We’re all in this together: All the players, coaches, everybody. So players’ jobs are on the line. Every job is being evaluated as the players. All coaches’ jobs are on the line as well.”

With Greg Hudson now directing the defense, and Syracuse having run more offensive plays than every program but three, the challenge this weekend is stark. So let’s move forward ourselves and finish off the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Dexter WilliamsBrian Kelly gave him credit, so let’s start there. Williams ran hard, looked explosive and flashed on special teams.

It’s time for Williams to get some more reps, even if it means taking away from Josh Adams’ leading load as well as Tarean Folston‘s.

 

Donte Vaughn. Notre Dame’s freshman cornerback wasn’t perfect—he got beat inside a few times on slant routes that everybody in the building saw coming. But he came up big and made a play, something Notre Dame’s defensive backs haven’t done since Shaun Crawford went down for the season.

His length and cover skills should be put to the test again next weekend when Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo looks to replicate his monster 270-yard performance against UConn. The focus will be on Cole Luke, Vaughn, Julian Love and Nick Coleman.

 

Kevin Stepherson. The freshman only caught three balls, but all of them were big gainers,  including his beautiful 44-yard touchdown catch. With Torii Hunter unable to push the lid off opponents, Stepherson might be a better fit for the X moving forward, assuming he continues to learn the playbook and run precise routes.

 

The Weather. Looked like a heckuva day in South Bend, at least from a weather perspective.

 

THE BAD

The tackling. That was one of the worst tackling performances I can remember. Especially against a team that was anemic on offense heading into the weekend. Name a defender and you’ll recall a missed tackle.

Drue Tranquill held on to a few early, then had some ugly whiffs. Cole Luke, a guy Brian Kelly called the team’s smartest football player last week, sure looked lost a few times, too. And with hopes that Devin Studstill is the answer at free safety, Studstill did his best to make us wonder about that, too. He took some horrific routes to footballs, a difficult day at the office for a young kid who needs to learn quickly.

When your senior captain outside linebacker is getting run over by a quarterback for a first down and you’re thinking, “at least he made the tackle,” the bar has been lowered pretty significantly. But another week of “thudding” at practice might be needed—even with heavy installation coming soon.

 

The special teams. A missed field goal proved costly. So did some horrific tackling and coverage on the kickoff return that let Duke back into the game. And for the fourth time this season, Tyler Newsome flubbed his first kick of the game. (All but asking for the nickname Mulligan to emerge.)

Scott Booker has a ton of kids on his run teams. But they’ve got to get some consistency out there if they want CJ Sanders to help turn this into a positive, not another unit to hide.

 

The pass rush. Yes, the drought is over, with Nyles Morgan getting the first sack of the season for the Irish. But man—this team has a gigantic hole on it and finding any type of pass rush is critical.

Sure, Duke’s quick passing game took advantage of the Irish’s leaky secondary and didn’t let Notre Dame get to the quarterback. But at this point, every snap you’re giving Andrew Trumbetti over a kid who can get to the quarterback—Jay Hayes, Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem, or anyone—feels lost.

 

The coaching. Kelly raised more than a few eyebrows when he said the following, when asked about an evaluation of his defensive coaching and game plan.

“That’s probably the one area that I feel better about today. We did what I wanted today in terms of coaching. And coaching had nothing to do with the outcome today,” Kelly said.

That was likely a time-buyer until a long night of thinking, because morning brought clarity for the head man.

 

THE UGLY

The State of the Program. With the game tied 28-28 heading into the fourth quarter, one team was jumping around like they’d won the lotto. The other was all but biting their fingernails, kicking dirty and looking lethargic.

If anything set off Kelly postgame—even more so than the defense his troops were displaying—it was the lack of effort.

“There’s no passion for it. It looks like it’s hard to play. Like we’re pulling teeth,” Kelly said. “You’re playing football for Notre Dame. It looks like it’s work. Last I checked they were getting a scholarship to play this game.

“There’s no fun, there’s no enjoyment, there’s no energy. We got to look for the guys that want to have fun and play this game with passion and energy and that’s where we got to go.”

In Kelly’s first few seasons in South Bend, he was criticized for having his team celebrate victories, even the ugly ones. But somewhere this program lost track of the ultimate goal and that likely falls on the head coach to fix that problem as soon as possible.

 

Firing a staffer. Notre Dame’s head coach likely saw what many of us saw as well. But a decision like that from the cheap-seats is one thing, a decision from inside the program is another.

Follow Notre Dame long enough, and you’ll tire of thinking about the carousel that’s come and gone—Davie, O’Leary, Willingham, Weis, armies of loyal assistants who have spent years working to climb the summit. And for most, life after Notre Dame isn’t the same.

Sure, there’s Urban Meyer, Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong. But there are a few dozen others who have come to a program with noble ambitions—willing to do it right and win on and off the field—but they fail too often on Saturdays.

So as ND Nation almost united in celebration of the move, it’s worth a quick word to a fanbase that always fashions itself as possessing proper etiquette.

Few come to your office and celebrate the worst day of your professional career. Less dig into your family’s Twitter account, hoping to break a story or confirm news they celebrate jubilantly. Sure, some of that comes with the territory. And certainly VanGorder was well compensated for his time in South Bend.

But ultimately, this Sunday hopefully provided some perspective. Baseball lost one of its brightest young stars. Golf lost one of its icons. And many many more things of consequence took place—inside the sporting world and out.

But when it comes to VanGorder, a quick reminder of something that has nothing to do with sports. A man has lost his job. A family will uproot once again. And the dynamics on the current football team—where Montgomery VanGorder still plays an important role—won’t ever be the same.

“I will tell you this: Brian is as fine a defensive coach as there is out there. He knows the game. He loves Notre Dame,” Kelly said on Sunday. “He wanted to succeed as much as anybody here, but it wasn’t working.”

There should be no harm in that.

VanGorder out as defensive coordinator

05 September 2015:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder stands with his players in action during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Texas Longhorns at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
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Brian VanGorder has been fired. Notre Dame’s third-year defensive coordinator was relieved of his duties after just four games.

Brian Kelly made the move official Sunday morning, less than an hour before his weekly Sunday teleconference. He’s replaced VanGorder with defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who joined the Irish staff in June and spent the last three seasons as defensive coordinator at Purdue, a position he also held at East Carolina and Minnesota. The rest of the defensive staff remains unchanged.

“Obviously, this is a difficult day for our coaching staff, but I’m excited and honored about the opportunity that Coach Kelly has afforded me,” Hudson said in the team’s statement. “We’ve got to improve on defense, without a doubt, and I’m confident that we will. We have great student-athletes and a tremendous defensive coaching staff. I can’t wait to get started with our group.”

The VanGorder era ends with the Irish ranked 101st in scoring defense, 96th in rushing defense and 87th in pass defense. The Irish are dead last in sacks, the last FBS team to get one when Nyles Morgan finally got the team’s first sack against Duke.

Hired after Bob Diaco left Notre Dame for the head job at UConn, VanGorder brought with him an NFL system and a multiple, attacking scheme. But after injuries derailed his first season, it was a defense best known for its maddening inconsistency, with even last season’s talented outfit plagued by the big play and mistakes.

As late as Saturday night Kelly pledged allegiance to his defensive coordinator, calling the staff’s game plan the least of his concerns after the 38-35 loss.

“We did what I wanted today in terms of coaching. And coaching had nothing to do with the outcome today. I was pleased from that perspective,” Kelly said.