Skip to content

Weekend Notes: Dial, Pac-12 refs, and Russell’s journey

Dec 14, 2012, 4:24 PM EDT

Notre Dame at USC AP

We’re still 24 long days away from Notre Dame’s date with Alabama in the national title game. While following the daily rumblings on the recruiting trail or coaching carousel has been enjoyable, it’s time to get to the holidays so we can make the calendar move a little bit quicker.

Starting next week, we’re going to look back at the regular season, and take a 30,000 foot view of what we learned from each of the 12 Irish victories. While it’s easy to get swept up in national title game mania, the evolution of this football team is fascinating to look back on.

But before that, here are a few stories that caught my eye:

***

File this one under “Shocker!” — Alabama’s Quinton Dial won’t be suspended for his violent hit against Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. If you need a refresher, Dial, a 6-foot-6, 304-pound defensive tackle, threw an absolutely vicious block on Murray after an interception, launching himself (and his helmet) into the helmet of the Georgia quarterback, who didn’t see the hit coming.

SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said that Dial’s hit should have been ruled a penalty after the SEC Championship game. He also said that conference commissioner Mike Slive would review whether Dial should be suspended for the flagrant hit, something the SEC has tried to crack down on.

“By rule, you can’t hit a defenseless player above the shoulders,” Shaw told the Birmingham News. “What the determination needs to be is was this a defenseless player and was contact initiated above the shoulders? When we go through video review of it, that’s what we’ll have to determine. And then you as you break it down, did he lead with the head or lead with the shoulder? From game action, it was a personal foul regardless of how we break it down frame by frame.”

Shaw was candid in the case of Dial’s hit.

“We missed the call,” Shaw said, who also talked about the decision-making process on a suspension.

“As you’ve noticed, Commissioner has been vigilant on this and he did it (suspend players) when warranted and didn’t when it wasn’t,” Shaw told the Birmingham News. “I’m not sure the upcoming opponent is ever a condition in the decision. I think it’s more based on the facts in the play.”

As hard as it is not to chuckle when reading that statement, Yahoo! Sports’ Dr. Saturday blog took a look at two hits that led to one-game suspensions. You be the judge if you think the upcoming opponent and the enormity of the game factored into the decision.

***

It was announced that the Pac-12 will supply the officials for the BCS Championship game. On average, Pac-12 officials have thrown more flags than any conference in the country this season.

This from the Press-Register:

Officials from the six automatic-qualifying conferences work BCS bowls on a rotation. The Big 12 officiated last year’s BCS Championship Game so it won’t work any of the five BCS bowls this season. Officials get recommended by their conference coordinator to work bowl games and can’t be assigned to any game involving a team from the conference they represent.

Because of the SEC’s seven-year streak in the national championship game, SEC officials have not worked the title game since USC-Oklahoma in the 2004 season. The SEC will officiate the next championship game not involving the SEC.

Irish fans harbor some resentment against Pac-12 officials way back to David Grimes (non) catch of the century, but they’ve also been the beneficiary of some 50/50 calls, like the contested goalline stand against Stanford.

Alabama is one of the best teams in the country with just 3.85 penalties per game. Notre Dame averages 5.67 a game.

***

Notre Dame has finally take the gag off freshman KeiVarae Russell, and the early returns are as expected. The rookie cornerback, who arrived in South Bend expecting to enter the running back depth chart, immediately propelled himself into the conversation for best quote of 2013, as the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc detailed.

Russell, who got beat for a touchdown pass in the season’s opening game against Navy, but played fearlessly against the dynamic duo of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, grew as much as anybody this season, playing a crucial role in the untested Irish secondary.

More from the Trib:

Russell’s journey began rather ignominiously when he was beaten badly for a touchdown during the Irish’s first game of the ultimately undefeated campaign. The deke to the outside and then deep slant across the middle of the field from Navy receiver Shawn Lynch had left Russell chasing and finally flailing both arms while hitting the turf as Lynch caught the ball cruising into the end zone for a 25-yard scoring strike Sept. 1 in Dublin.

The moments that followed helped shape Russell’s — and the Irish’s — storybook season.

“I was hurting,” Russell recalled. “Bennett (Jackson) came to me and started laughing, saying, ‘Man, pick your head up. We have more football to play.’ Then coach (Kerry) Cooks and Manti Te’o came up to me laughing and said, ‘You have a long season, let’s go. Don’t worry about that one play.’ After that, throughout the season whenever I’d make a mistake or miss a tackle, I’d say, ‘Let’s go, forget it; next play.'”

The sequence began a rapid maturation process for the 19-year-old who not many months earlier was roaming high school football fields in Everett, Wash.

“I wasn’t a freshman after the first game,” Russell said. “I had to grow up real quick. I learned that you can’t use excuses of being a freshman. Once you get to college football, age is nothing. When I first got here I was making excuses during camp. I was like, ‘OK, this is my first year’ but I grew out of that real soon. They offered me a scholarship for a reason. I was one of the best in the country so I had to show why.”

Confidence like that helps build a team. While many Irish fans were worried about inserting a converted running back into a starting corner, Brian Kelly made mention to Russell’s uncanny ability to just perform, and the freshman rewarded his head coach with a tremendous season.

Latest Posts
  1. Must Watch: Feherty with Lou Holtz

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT

    feherty with lou holtz- Season # 2013

    Sure it may be corporate synergy, but as a fan of good television and both gentlemen, consider this a Public Service Announcement to set your DVRs.

  2. For Notre Dame, battle with Michigan filled with familiarity

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:56 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    There will be no secrets between Notre Dame and Michigan Saturday night. Entering the fourth matchup between these two coaching staffs, even a game featuring three new coordinators won’t likely bring any true surprises.

  3. Hoke, Mattison prepare for Irish

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Brady Hoke Brady Hoke

    Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator talk about beginning preparations for playing Notre Dame.

  4. Eilers joins Irish coaching staff to help fill McCarthy’s void

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:58 AM EDT

    Notre Dame archives Notre Dame archives

    Former Irish and NFL football player Pat Eilers has joined the Irish coaching staff. The member of the 1988 national championship team has been named a defensive quality control assistant for the coaching staff.

  5. The good, bad and ugly: Notre Dame vs. Rice

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Upon second viewing, quarterback Everett Golson’s 2014 debut is just as impressive. The senior quarterback, playing his first game in 600 days, didn’t seem to miss a beat, leading Notre Dame with five total touchdowns on the way to a 48-17 victory over Rice.

  6. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 48, Rice 17

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    The last stormy, humid season opener at Notre Dame Stadium found an infamous place in the Irish record books. Saturday afternoon’s 48-17 drubbing of Rice will be remembered in a much better light.

  7. Live Blog — Notre Dame vs. Rice

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Cam McDaniel Cam McDaniel

    The live blog is back for another season of Notre Dame football. While most of your favorite writers are watching the game and taking notes, I’m here chatting it up with a few thousand of my closest friends. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  8. NDonNBC previews the season

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Oklahoma v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Before we get to the action on the field, the NDonNBC crew spent some time on campus and produced a few cool features to help kickoff the season.

  9. Watch Notre Dame vs. Rice anywhere

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:43 AM EDT

    LE_WEB_BANNER_40px_RGB_POS

    Consider this a public service announcement for all of those unable to get in front of a TV this afternoon. If you’re stuck at work or on the road over Labor Day weekend, we’ve got you covered to watch the game.

  10. Irish A-to-Z: Malik Zaire

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    Malik Zaire

    Putting up a better fight for the starting quarterback job than anyone expected, sophomore Malik Zaire reminded many Irish fans that he’s more than just an afterthought in the program. Irish A-to-Z concludes with a look at Notre Dame’s backup quarterback.

  11. Irish A-to-Z: Jhonny Williams

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Jhonny Williams Signing Day

    Arriving late on the scene during the recruiting cycle, Notre Dame looks like they found a good one in freshman Jhonny Williams. Irish A-to-Z takes a look at the local defensive end, who shows early promise as a pass rusher.

  12. Mailbag: Opening Weekend

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    Happy Labor Day weekend, everybody. Here’s hoping you’re spending the holiday with friends, family… and some long-awaited college football. Before we get to the game tomorrow, let’s clean out our first regular season mailbag.

  13. Pregame Six Pack: At long last, the season begins

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:34 AM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    That took long enough, didn’t it? After far too long, football is back. With a preseason camp that the Irish survived mostly healthy, the biggest hits came off the field. As an academic investigation claimed its fifth player Thursday, let’s run through the Pregame Six Pack to get you ready for Saturday’s kickoff.

  14. Irish A-to-Z: Ishaq Williams

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    The look of Notre Dame’s defensive line changed drastically when senior Ishaq Williams was suspended indefinitely for his role in the academic dishonesty case now pending at the university level. Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the one-time five-star recruit.

  15. Academic investigation removes Eilar Hardy from practice

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports

    It appears that Notre Dame’s internal investigation surrounding academic dishonesty charges is nearing a close. But before it gets there, one additional player will be held out of practice and from competition this Saturday.

  16. Meet Kathryn Tappen: NDonNBC’s new sideline reporter

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    kathryn-tappen

    Busy prepping for her debut as NBC’s sideline reporter for Notre Dame football, NBC Sports Group’s Kathryn Tappen was nice enough to catch up with me before the season begins.

  17. Irish A-to-Z: Nic Weishar

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

    Nic Weishar

    With Notre Dame on a roll at tight end, freshman Nic Weishar enters “Tight End U” trying to make a name for himself. Irish A-to-Z looks at the Chicagoland tight end.

  18. Irish A-to-Z: Nick Watkins

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:34 PM EDT

    Nick Watkins

    As most hard-core recruiting fans notice Brian VanGorder’s willingness to break the mold when it comes to recruiting, freshman cornerback Nick Watkins looks the part of a perfect prototype. Irish A-to-Z continues with a look at the newest blue-chipper in the secondary.

  19. Kelly: Resolution on academic suspensions coming soon

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    DaVaris Daniels, Ricardo Allen AP

    Brian Kelly appeared on the Dan Patrick show this morning and shed some light on the academic investigation that’s holding out DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams.

  20. Irish A-to-Z: Justin Utupo

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

    Utupo AP

    Entering his fifth year in Notre Dame’s football program, grad student Justin Utupo is still looking to find a role in the Irish defense. Irish A-to-Z continues with the reserve defensive lineman.