Nov 19, 2012, 11:54 AM EDT
Perhaps Irish fans shouldn’t be too heartbroken about losing out on Anthony Barr. Once a highly touted prep prospect looking at Notre Dame, the son of former Irish great Tony Brooks seemed destined to follow his dad’s footsteps, but decided to play closer to home, committing to Rick Neuheisel and UCLA, where he spent his first two seasons as a jack-of-all-trades offensive player for the Bruins.
But on Saturday afternoon, Barr, now a first-year star linebacker with 12 sacks and 18 TFLs, made a mighty impact on the Irish season when his nasty blindside sack of Matt Barkley sent USC’s senior quarterback hard into the ground, with Barkley suffering a shoulder sprain that will keep him on the sidelines for this weekend’s battle for the jeweled shillelagh.
“He has an AC sprain and will be out this week,” Lane Kiffin confirmed Sunday. “It’s very unfortunate for his career, you know, now that two times in a row Notre Dame has come into the Coliseum — he’s gone to South Bend twice and won — and now twice he won’t be able to play them at home. I feel very bad for him and his family. Obviously this is not the way that anybody pictured the team’s season going, or his season going.”
In 2010, another Barkley injured forced former five-star prospect Mitch Mustain into action, and Harrison Smith intercepted a late Mustain throw to ice the Irish’s 20-16 victory. (After an assist from former Trojan WR Ronald Johnson.) Now it’ll be another former five-star prospect, redshirt freshman Max Wittek, who will get the call for the reeling Trojans, now 7-4 and unranked after starting the season as the No. 1 team in the country.
“Max will start. We have great confidence in Max,” Kiffin said. “I thought he did well yesterday in a very difficult situation — three-and-a-half hours of standing around and in the rain — and to go into that game isn’t easy to do. I thought he did a good job.”
Wittek has only seen spot duty this season, mopping up in blow-out victories against Hawaii and Colorado before coming in late against UCLA. On Saturday, Wittek was three of three passing for 40 yards, and he’s completed 8 of his 9 throws on the year.
Still, Barkley’s injury is a huge break for the Irish, where the stars have been aligning above South Bend for a berth in the national championship game. In Barkley’s two starts against the Irish he’s killed them, throwing for 380 yards and two touchdowns on just 19 completions in 2009 as a true freshman, before completing 24 of 35 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns last year in the Trojan’s 31-17 victory.
In a senior season where Barkley decided to come back to cement his legend and potentially win a Heisman Trophy and a national championship, it’s been a nightmarish season for the Trojans’ captain, with his completion percentage down almost six points from his junior season and his 15 interceptions more than he threw as a true freshman.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:59 PM EDT
As Notre Dame and Navy meet for the 88th straight time, we reach a familiar time of year and a particularly scary Saturday for the Irish. As ghosts and goblins prepare to roam the streets in search of trick or treat, the Irish coaching staff receives its annual scare in the form of a triple-option offense and a football team with nothing to lose.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
With a little over 48 hours until Notre Dame and Navy play, the final pieces of installation around going in before the chess match between two coaching staffs take place. For the Irish, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder gets his first chance at stopping the triple-option in over a decade.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
Drop your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT
For a man that’s had more success against Notre Dame than any of his predecessors over the past two generations, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo certainly doesn’t think he’s figured out the Irish. In fact, for his Midshipmen team to win, Niumatalolo acknowledges that it takes more than just his team playing near-perfect football. He needs Notre Dame’s help as well.
Oct 29, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
With last night’s announcement had all eyes on the first announcement of the College Football Playoff rankings, the immediate concern is Navy. While we can spend the next five weeks worrying about the view from 30,000 feet, credit Brian Kelly for understanding that the Midshipmen present the most clear and present danger.
Oct 28, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday evening. And Notre Dame has some work to do. The selection committee’s first ballot has the Irish slotted in at 10th in the country, a middle-of-the-pack one-loss team according to the 12-person voting panel.
Oct 28, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
With a week off between Florida State and Navy, Brian Kelly and his coaching staff had an extra week of preparation for Ken Niumatalolo’s triple-option attack. Allowing his team to leave campus during the university’s fall break, Kelly afforded his players a chance to recharge their batteries after being on campus since June.
Oct 27, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
Among the many reasons Charlie Weis lost his dream job coaching Notre Dame was the Irish’s stumbles in November. Even with a guaranteed 10-year contract, Jack Swarbrick couldn’t watch Notre Dame melt down in November for another year, with Weis’ final two seasons ending with Notre Dame going 1-9 after Halloween. That’s a scary movie franchise that needed killing, no matter the expense.
Oct 25, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
Before we have an Irish-free Saturday, let’s get to some questions. For those of you wondering what you should do on a day usually committed to football, the world is your oyster. Or you could watch some of Notre Dame’s opponents do battle.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT
When Brian VanGorder’s name surfaced as Notre Dame looked for a new defensive coordinator, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of buzz behind the hire. While VanGorder fit many of the criteria that went along with a Brian Kelly hire, the big-picture reaction wasn’t one of universal support.
Oct 23, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
There is no football game this weekend. For a Notre Dame football team that just played three-straight tight games, that’s a good thing. (For Irish fans, it’s a victory as well. Go buy a pumpkin and get outside in the fall weather.) As promised, let’s look back at the first eight weeks of the season. Notre Dame sits at 6-1, with a place in the College Football Playoff still very much in play.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT
For the second time in a week, Notre Dame’s recruiting class landed a playmaking linebacker. During a press conference streamed live on ESPN.com, Florida’s Tevon Coney pledged his commitment to the Irish, picking Notre Dame over finalists Miami and Florida.
Oct 23, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT
With Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement in place with the ACC, Jack Swarbrick and the Irish athletic department can find some certainty in their future slates. That certainty was announced Tuesday, with dates for five ACC games in place through 2019 and matchups set through 2025.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
After eight weeks, the forecast for the first College Football Playoff is coming into focus. After falling to Florida State last weekend, the Irish lost pole position. But as a one-loss team now likely competing for one of the final spots in the four-team event, Notre Dame remains one of the top dark horse candidates.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
At this point, it doesn’t matter that the ACC has reversed course, deciding that the pass interference penalty was on C.J. Prosise after all. And that they’ve acknowledged that the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty they missed for P.J. Williams removing his helmet should’ve set up Notre Dame with a 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line.
We’re moving on. (I promise.)
Oct 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Usually, Brian Kelly gives his team 24 hours to celebrate a win or get over a loss. That rule was likely tested — and you couldn’t blame him if it was slightly relaxed — after Saturday night’s 31-27 loss.
“We need to give our kids a break. They’ve been going since June,” Kelly said on Sunday. “Our first bye week we kept them here to stay on top of their academics. We’re going to give them a little time off. But we’ll come back recharged, ready to go.”
Oct 19, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT
Upon second inspection, Brian Kelly hasn’t gained any clarity on the offensive pass interference call that took a game-winning touchdown off the board. While the head coach has moved on, with the Irish getting some much-needed time off during fall break, Kelly’s opinion on the play — now that he’s realized the penalty was on Will Fuller, not C.J. Prosise — is even more muddled.
Oct 19, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT
With 13 seconds left, Corey Robinson caught the 4th-down pass from Everett Golson and walked into the end zone, all but uncovered. And for a moment, it looked like Notre Dame pulled off a win for the ages.
Oct 18, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
It’s finally here. Not just the biggest game of the year, but the ultimate test for this Notre Dame football team. Entering Doak Campbell Stadium against the defending national champs and Heisman Trophy winner, we’ll see if the Irish have what it takes to upset the Seminoles.