Irish Blogger Gathering: Live from Dublin


Another football season is finally upon us. And that means another year of the Irish Blogger Gathering, my attempt at trying to be social in the wonderful world of the Irish blogosphere. Our fearless leader, the Subway Domer, has tweaked the format and tried to add some energy to the proceedings. And since most readers here know I’m pretty slow to catch onto things, I’m fairly certain I haven’t quite grasped the new concept but here goes:

The IBG membership is the following:

The Subway Domer
Her Loyal Sons
Inside the Irish
Strong and True

Every week, we’ll trade off asking and answering three questions from each other. There’s a whole bunch of talk about round robin formats and after that it gets pretty sketchy. But I do know that Josh Flynt, the resident blogger for UND.com’s football blog, asked me some good questions and I’m going to answer them. On the blog. (I think. Or maybe it was his blog. After a long day of driving across the Irish countryside, I’m a little woozy.)

(FIVE MINUTES LATER: Turns out my answers are going to be at UND.com’s Strong and True website… Stay tuned.)

Here are Subway Domer’s answers to my questions:

This is the time of year where everyone tries to call their shot. Instead of picking a win total, name three things that Notre Dame has to do this season for it to be considered a success.

As we all know, success is defined very differently- especially within the Notre Dame fanbase. As far as my opinions on the matter for this season are concerned, I have three of them swimming in my head very clearly:

1. Beat Michigan. This is a team that Notre Dame has given away wins to since 2009. After ND’s 2008 win against the Skunkbears, the Irish basically said, “Here ya go UM, we don’y need this win in September- you take it.” Beating teams that Notre Dame SHOULD beat has been a problem ND has had for quite a while.

2. Quarterback Development. Perhaps I can even throw that under the hood of “Player development.” I don’t expect ND to win a MNC or even go to a BCS game. I do expect them to continue to mold themselves for those runs. It begins with developing and maintaining a QB that everyone is behind. Easier said than done at ND, but very doable.

3. Win your bowl game. Notre Dame is in a weird place as far as what bowl it can go to this season. It doesn’t matter. Wherever it is and whoever it is against- IT MUST BE WON.

If you had to put money on it, who would you bet is the team’s starting quarterback on the following dates:

* Sept 22 vs. Michigan
* Oct 27 vs. Oklahoma
* Nov 24 vs. USC
* Opening Day 2013

Quarterbacks don’t seem to last very long under Kelly at ANY school. Just ask Joe Montana. Seriously though, if Golson stays healthy, I expect him to start this year and next year.

Name one offensive player and one defensive player that people aren’t talking much about that you think will break loose in 2012? Any other shots you feel like calling before the year begins?

This is rough considering Irish fans seem to “touch em all” when chatting, but here we go…

OFFENSE: Christian Lombard. I think people expect him to be good, but I expect him to be on the same level as Zack Martin. Not a sexy pick (offensive line) but one that I think is absolutely for sure.
DEFENSE: Prince Shembo. People are enamored with Ishaq Williams, and for good reason as he has a ton of potential, but Shembo goes back to the position that made him a name on the Irish defense and won the starting job.
  • ND wins 9
  • I’m just not sold on DaVaris Daniels
  • BYU will be easier than we think.
  • Wake Forest will be tougher than we think.
  • By week 6, the Wood suspension will have been a blessing in disguise.
  • Beer, beer, gin, beer, gin. Repeat.

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

@NDFootball Twitter

DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend



Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.


Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

Tom Loy, Irish 247

Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.