Purdue v Notre Dame

Irish A-to-Z: Scott Daly

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Anonymous long-snappers are the best kind of long snappers. And for the better part of two seasons, Scott Daly was exactly that.

But when Notre Dame’s field goal battery started to go up in smoke, Daly’s role in the machine started to get a second look, definitely not the ideal for a guy who makes a living making no major mistakes.

After a rocky 2014, the Irish hope to have stabilized their battery with the move of DeShone Kizer to holder. But with rookie kicker Justin Yoon about the take over the placekicking duties and second-year punter Tyler Newsome getting his first experience, the special teams won’t lack interest.

Let’s take a closer look at the guy who starts the process.

 

SCOTT DALY
6’1.5″, 250 lbs.
Senior, No. 61, LS

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Daly received multiple scholarship offers before choosing Notre Dame, telling you pretty much all you need to know about a roster position that is often handled by walk-ons or cross-training offensive linemen.

Daly was national long snapper of the year according to Chris Rubio and 247 had him ranked second. He chose the Irish over Northwestern and a handful of other schools that offered scholarships.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2011): Did not see action. Redshirted.

Sophomore Season (2012): Played in all 13 games, snapping for field goals and punts. Made two special teams tackles as well.

Junior Season: Played in all 13 games, snapping for punts, field goals and extra points.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

There was no skating under the radar in 2014, though we’ll get to why we don’t think the issue was Daly’s.

The only time you’ll notice Daly is when he’s not doing his job. So for Daly’s sake, here’s hoping he’s a guy that skates below the radar for the next three seasons. It may be redundant, but making sure your scholarship long snapper can serve as your long snapper in every phase is important.

That wasn’t always the case with Cowart, who lost some snaps as a junior when he served only as a short-snapper, and also suffered a self-inflicted hand injury that cost him four games. It takes a unique guy to make it as a specialist in major college or NFL football. You’d be hard-pressed to say you have an idea what Daly’s ceiling is. But the stability the Irish have now feels like a long way from Notre Dame’s coaches pulling Johnny Crowther out of the dorm leagues to snap.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Daly has proven himself worthy of a scholarship, especially if he spends four seasons snapping cleanly. And the fact Notre Dame’s recruiting machine includes a long-snapper in the 2016 class, they still clearly believe in Daly.

But outside of that, it’s too hard to predict if Daly will be one of the lucky few niche players who turn snapping into a long NFL career.

(Other than that, we’re talking about a long snapper. This is outside of my area of expertise, minus “good snap, bad snap,” though serving as a part-time holder in high school makes it sound like I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.)

 

CRYSTAL BALL

It’s worth noting that on Daly’s official UND.com profile, they take great pains to point out that Daly “executed quality snaps on all 52 of his point after attempts, 24 field goal attempts and 51 punts.” (Doing the math, that’s every snap.)

It’s hard to interpret that in any way other than, “NOT HIS FAULT.”

Daly will need to continue that consistency, especially when every other piece of the special teams puzzle will be a new one. So while there’ll likely be a few rocky periods to 2015, expect the battery not to be the problem.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB

OL Parker Boudreaux commits to Notre Dame

Rivals
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Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class added a big commitment from Florida offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux today. One of the country’s top interior linemen chose Notre Dame in a online video done in collaboration with Bleacher Report.

Boudreaux, out of Bishop Moore high school in Orlando, chose Notre Dame over Clemson, Oklahoma, and Florida. He had offers from programs like Alabama, Auburn, Miami and Ohio State — and in the B/R video claimed the most offers in the nation for an offensive lineman.

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Boudreaux already looks the part of a college football player. And after choosing to pull a school bus in his commitment video, it’s pretty clear he takes lifting weights seriously (along with mugging for the camera).

Feelings about the hype video aside, it’s a big catch for the Irish. Harry Hiestand has added another outstanding offensive lineman to the fold, reloading an interior that’ll lose Nick Martin after 2015 and Steve Elmer after 2016.

Boudreaux is Notre Dame’s 11th commitment, a move that came quickly after Boudreaux and his family visited South Bend. He joins Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer up front.

 

Irish A-to-Z: Shaun Crawford

Cleveland Plain Dealer
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Great football players come in all shapes and sizes. Incoming freshman Shaun Crawford will likely prove that. The diminutive cornerback comes to South Bend looking to make a big impact.

But for as impressive as Crawford looks to be coming in, at one time the a 5-foot-9 cover man didn’t seem destined for Notre Dame. He didn’t fit into Bob Diaco’s plans when he was still coordinating the Irish defense. But Brian VanGorder’s takeover led to an immediate offer to Crawford. And an early Michigan commitment didn’t last through the summer before Crawford flipped to the Irish.

A versatile playmaker who could also have an impact on special teams, let’s take a look at the Ohio native.

 

SHAUN CRAWFORD
5’9″, 170 lbs.
Freshman, No. 14, DB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Under Armour All-American. Four-star prospect. No. 84 overall player by Rivals. Ohio State champion. First-team All-State. Offers from Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Miami and several others.

Crawford’s another “grow 2.5 inches and he’s a five-star” prospect. He actually got pretty close to that ranking at 5-foot-9.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

As we try and get into the heads of Notre Dame’s evolving recruiting priorities, something Brian Kelly said months ago gives you an idea as to why this staff coveted Crawford the way that they did. Kelly mentioned the importance of slot cornerbacks and in his growing friendship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Kelly talked about the importance of not just lock-down cover men, but corners who can defend inside receivers. That’s pretty much Crawford to a tee, so much so that I think he might be playing from Day One in the slot against Texas.

From there, Crawford’s career likely grows once KeiVarae Russell departs. There’s just too much talent for him not to see the field as a freshman, and I think he’s one of the true impact players in a recruiting class that’s going to end up being a very, very good one.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Greg Bryant’s reported four-game suspension likely opens a door for Crawford to get a shot at returning punts for the Irish in addition to battling for snaps in nickel and dime coverage packages.

Crawford’s instincts are part of what makes him such a dynamic football player. While physically there’s not much he’s going to be able to do about getting matched up with a 6-4 receiver, Crawford could also be part of the solution at safety, especially if something goes wrong with Plan A and Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate.

Throwing too much on the shoulders of a freshman defensive back is never wise. But it would be smart to give Crawford a specific assignment—like the Irish did with Elijah Shumate during the 2012 title run—and let him go to work.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB

 

 

 

 

Offseason Q&A: Clemson

South Carolina v Clemson
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When you look at Notre Dame’s 2015 schedule, it’s hard to skip past the Irish’s trip to Clemson. Returning to Death Valley for the first time since Joe Montana led a comeback victory in 1977, Brian Kelly’s squad will take on Dabo Swinney’s impressive team, the makings of a football game with College Football Playoff implications.

There’s a rising star at quarterback, but a new offensive brain trust. A year after putting together the finest statistical defense in the country, there’s a renovation taking place there as well.

To get us up to speed on the offseason comings and goings of the Tigers is Shakin the Southland‘s Brian Lewis.

Hope you enjoy.

 

 

Perhaps one best parts of the move into the ACC was the chance to play a program like Clemson. This will only be the third time the two programs have played, with Joe Montana pulling out a comeback victory in Death Valley during their 1977 national title season and the Tigers winning in South Bend two years later.

What should Notre Dame expect from the home crowd in early October? Is this game a special one on the schedule for Clemson fans as well?

While it isn’t an ACC game, this is easily one of the biggest games on Clemson’s schedule this year. Though there isn’t a lot of history between both schools, Clemson fans always enjoy playing the bigger names in college football, and this will be an excellent opportunity for a statement win. As for the crowd, Clemson fans will definitely be up for this one. Even if the Tigers are not undefeated they will be excited to get a victory against what could be a top 10 team by that point. If things fall right this will hopefully be a night game adding a special intensity to it like the Clemson – UGA game in 2013.

 

On paper, there seem to be two gigantic departures from the Clemson program. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris and… basically the majority of the nation’s top statistical defense.

Let’s start with Morris. Will the Clemson offense look any different? And how will a two-headed co-coordinator approach work in replacing a guy many think is one of the top minds in college football?

The assumption right now is the Clemson offense is going to be pretty similar under Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott. Both continued Morris’ HUNH offense in our Russell Athletic Bowl victory over Oklahoma, and spring practice indicates they will keep that HUNH approach as well. The one area I’m going to be interested in seeing is playcalling.

While we all love Morris and what he did here, his playcalling could be a little suspect at times. There were several games where Clemson got behind by 7-10 points and Morris stopped running the ball. This led to Tajh Boyd, in previous seasons, to press throws and feel like he had to make plays. Unsurprisingly this led to turnovers and the game falling further out of reach. Despite a lackluster OL I home both coordinators will stick with the running game to keep defenses honest.

 

Not watching a ton of Clemson last year, the stat that sticks out to me about the defense was the fact that six guys from the unit were invited to the NFL Combine. That’s a lot of talent. Brent Venables was pretty candid with SI.com when talking about rebuilding his defense, saying, “It wasn’t odd, it was depressing.”

How big of a step back do you expect this unit to take? And is it more of a reload than a rebuild?

Early on this is definitely going to be a rebuilding year for the defense. Clemson had the #1 ranked defense in the country last year and we lost too much talent. I’m not even sure an Alabama or LSU would be able to reload after what we lost. That said, there is definitely some potential. We have one of the top cornerbacks in college returning in Mackenzie Alexander, and enough pieces in spots to have a solid starting XI.

The problem is going to be depth. Last year on the DL we had 8 guys that would start at most schools, now we are down to a starting 4 that has potential but not a lot of experience. I think the defense gets better as the year goes on, but it might be frustrating for Clemson fans. The 2 early season cupcake games are going to be crucial here to build confidence and ability.

 

Let’s talk about Dabo Swinney. He didn’t get out to the quickest start after taking over the program, but Clemson has won at least 10 games in four straight seasons. He seems like a guy that players love and he certainly has recruited well.

Help Notre Dame fans understand who Swinney is as a coach, and why he’s had the success he’s had at Clemson.

I liken Dabo to the loveable but slightly nuts uncle every family has. He’s a lot of fun to be around despite some of the odd things he does. Dabo has done pretty well at Clemson because he is first and foremost a recruiter. Kids want to come play at Clemson and Dabo has done a tremendous job of selling Clemson as well as the family atmosphere around the team.

Coach Swinney is never going to be a big X’s and O’s nut like other coaches, but he’s done a good job of learning from his mistakes and bringing in talented coordinators. Clemson is experiencing its most successful stretch of results since the 1980’s and it is hard to argue with what Dabo’s done. But there are questions about if he can take the next step and deliver a national title to Clemson. If he does that he will easily be considered one of the two best coaches in Clemson history alongside Danny Ford.

 

Deshaun Watson sure seems like a star in the making. A tremendous freshman season seems to have been derailed by injuries, the most serious an ACL tear late in the year.

How is his recovery coming along? And with the supporting cast surrounding him, just how good do you expect him to be in 2015?

Everything points to Deshaun Watson being ready for the start of the season and hopefully the start of Fall Camp. It is not an exaggeration to say that Clemson’s season lives and dies based on the health of Watson. Behind Watson we have Nick Schuessler, originally a walk on, and two freshman in Tucker Israel and Kelly Bryant. Needless to say I’m not exactly excited about what happens if Watson gets hurt.

Around Watson there is a lot of talent at the skill positions. We have a nice group of RBs that while lacking a breakout star should provide some relief in the running game. At wide receiver Clemson is loaded once again with Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. Really almost all of Clemson’s top 6 receivers can play and do some damage to opposing defenses. The real problem comes on the OL. The unit can pass block to a decent level, but the run blocking is atrocious. If our OL can approach competent then this could be a special year for Clemson

As for Watson’s season, if he stays healthy I think he becomes a darkhorse Heisman candidate. He has excellent poise in the pocket and has shown an ability to make some beautiful throws. He is also a threat when he’s running the ball. There will definitely be some times he’ll struggle during the season, but I think he’s going to be fine and emerge as one of the top QBs in the nation. Of course all of this comes with the qualifier of staying healthy. He’s had 3 significant injuries in the past 12 months and durability is definitely a question.

 

News broke last week that Clemson’s starting left tackle Isaiah Battle would be leaving the program and going into the Supplemental Draft. What does that departure do to the offensive line? 

It definitely doesn’t help Clemson. While Battle has never reached the first round potential he showed his freshman year, he was an experienced OL that was at least average in the passing game. With his departure Clemson is likely to start freshman Mitch Hyatt at LT.

Thankfully Hyatt enrolled early and had an excellent spring, but it is always a big ask when you need a freshman to play a critical role on the OL, especially with the injury woes Deshaun Watson has. At this point any injury, suspension, or dismissal along the OL is going to be critical to Clemson.

 

What’s the best case / worst case scenario for Clemson in 2015? Is this a game that you expect the Tigers to win?

I think this year’s Clemson team is not as talented as last year’s team, but could have a better record. Clemson finished last year 9-3 and with how our schedule sets up the team could easily be 10-2. Games against Florida State, South Carolina, and Notre Dame are the big three and we should win at least 1 of those three if not 2. Helping us is the fact that we have Notre Dame and FSU at home this year, same with Georgia Tech who always gives us trouble.

A Thursday night visit to Louisville is also a concern, but Clemson should win that one and FSU-Clemson in Novemeber will likely determine the ACC Atlantic Division Champion once again. Of course if Deshaun Watson gets hurt I’m going to just sit in the corner and cry.

Irish A-to-Z: Te’von Coney

Courtesy of Notre Dame Media Relations
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While Jerry Tillery stole the headlines, fellow classmate Te’von Coney more than held his own this spring. The linebacker may have entered a packed depth chart at linebacker, but he solidified his place as a key cog in the future plans of Notre Dame’s defense.

Coney arrived on campus looking like a readymade player, with the type of athleticism and physique that hardly resembled a kid who should’ve spent the spring in high school. While he’s a few inches shorter than ideal, the future is bright for the Florida native, especially after regulars Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith depart.

Let’s take a closer look at Te’von Coney.

 

TE’VON CONEY
6’0″, 230 lbs.
Freshman, No. 4, LB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

An Under Armour All-American, Coney was a consensus four-star prospect. Coney chose Notre Dame over Florida, Miami, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and dozens more.

Coney was at the top of Notre Dame’s linebacking board and attended the Irish Invasion summer camp. Thanks to Will Muschamp’s demise in Gainesville, it was even easier for Coney to make the tough decision to pack his things and move north, leaving behind the comfort of the Gators to make a go of it in South Bend.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

While it’s mighty difficult to be a “plug-and-play” linebacker in Brian VanGorder’s system, Coney’s closer to that than even Nyles Morgan was. This might be a bold statement, but if Jerry Tillery is the top prospect in the 2015 recruiting class, he’s only ahead of Coney when it comes to upside potential.

Coney has everything you want in a linebacker, especially one playing in the Irish system. Whether he’s a mike or will, he’ll be a playmaker, and after 15 practices with this staff they believe there’s a future standout in Coney.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I’m not sure how Coney makes his impact this season, but I expect him to play. He’ll be a regular on special teams, and will likely fight his way into the rotation, especially if Jaylon Smith plays on the edge of the defense.

There’s an argument for redshirting Coney, saving a year of eligibility and then allowing him to plug in with Nyles Morgan in 2016. But I just think there’s too much talent here to assume Coney will stay in South Bend for five seasons, so might as well make the most out of the talented rookie.

Bold prediction: Blue-chipper Justin Hilliard may have been the linebacker Irish fans thought was the must-have prospect in the class. But when all is said and done, I expect Coney to be the more productive college player.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB