Ben Turk

2011 in 100 words… Ben Turk

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The ninth of twelve previews analyzing a dozen players essential to the Irish making a BCS run next season. For more, check the previews of Braxston Cave, Sean Cwynar, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, Theo Riddick, Steve Filer, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Tyler Eifert.

Player Overview:

Turk was brought into South Bend as the blue-chip answer to Notre Dame’s punting woes. When he wasn’t out bench-pressing everybody in his recruiting class, he was launching punts into orbit. Midway through his freshman season he took over the starting punting job and since then… Well, he’s been okay.

Turk’s career average in 19 games is a shade over 38 yards a kick. We could say he’s done a good job of holding returns to a minimum or pinning offenses inside their own twenty yard line, but when you’re kicking the ball that short you usually limit your opponents chance to return punts.

With rocket-legged Kyle Brindza coming to campus and competing at both kicker and punter, Turk’s officially been put on notice that the results special teams coach Mike Elston sees during practice need to translate to the games.

2010 Season:

Turk started every game last season for the Irish, but only had four games where he averaged over 40 yards a kick. He got off the occasional rocket, but also had his fair share of low rolling kicks, putting the Irish defense in some tough places and struggling to flip the field.

The high-water mark for Turk’s 2010 season was his outing against Pittsburgh, where he averaged 46.6 yards on five punts, with three of them being downed inside the Panthers’ twenty.

“We flipped the field position today,” Kelly said after the 23-17 victory. “Ben Turk was outstanding punting the football. They’re dangerous, one of the best ST teams we’ll see this year was Pittsburgh.”

Turk had a season-long 56 yard kick against Tulsa and six punts that went over 50 yards.

100 word preview for Ben Turk in 2011:

One way to help the Irish be a better football team is to get a good season out of punter Ben Turk, something the Irish haven’t gotten in Turk’s two years in South Bend. Practice field exploits haven’t translated into game day results, and Turk’s 2010 was up-and-down, with the strong-legged punter struggling to get hang time and distance on his kicks. Turk has the leg and the ability needed, but with newcomer Kyle Brindza on campus, he’ll need to get in the swing of things quickly, or his grasp on the starting job will quickly come to an end.

Importance in 2011:

The Irish were 101st in punting last season, and they’ll need to get a better year out of someone — Turk or not — to be an efficient football team.

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.