Home / Author Archives: Duranko

Author Archives: Duranko

Notre Dame vs. Texas: A Look at the History

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

When old friend Charley Strong leads his Longhorns onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium, it will be the 11th time Texas and Notre Dame have played. The series had a surprisingly early start as the Irish first played Texas in 1913, winning in Austin 30-7. Knute Rockne was on that Irish team and perhaps got a nice taste of traveling to play. The Irish had drawn first blood. The teams played four more times between then and ’54, with the Irish losing only the ’34 game, 7-6 in South Bend. That game occurred during Notre Dame’s “Dark Ages” the ...

Read More »

2015 Notre Dame Football Pre-Season Defensive Unit Rankings

Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

This rating is easier to make than the offensive ratings, as the unit overflows with both veterans and experienced backups. Except for Jerry Tillery, frosh will play small roles. We will update the ratings after the year’s fourth game, against UMASS. Final Four Level Secondary KeiVarae Russell was outstanding as a starter in 2013 and fully embraced the changes implemented by Brian Van Gorder in installing his new defense in the Spring of 2014.  Russell’s confidence and aggression were about to be unleashed.  Then the academic issue. Russell returned in June 2015 fresh, fit, faster and stronger, albeit with some ...

Read More »

2015 Notre Dame Football Pre-Season Offensive Unit Rankings

Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

Note: While this evaluation is for the 2015 season, previous performance, or lack of it, or incomplete data, is a significant factor. Ratings may change SIGNIFICANTLY after the first four games. Final Four Caliber Offensive Line It took four years, remarkable recruiting and persistent insistence on outstanding practice and playing habits, but Harry Hiestand’s offensive line has arrived.  Let’s get to the punch line: There will not be 5 better offensive lines in America this Fall, and it could be fewer than that. This line has height, mass, agility, and just enough “darkness in their hearts” to excel.  Steve Elmer, ...

Read More »

Instant Maturity: KeiVarae Russell and Avery Sebastian

Keivarae Russell - Notre Dame CB

Two vintage wines recently arrived in South Bend from West Coast vineyards.  Avery Sebastian came in from Berkeley and KeiVarae Russell from Tacoma. Last Spring Brian Van Gorder and Kerry Cooks were moving along counting on KeiVarae Russell as the cornerstone cornerback, and grizzled vet and captain-in-waiting Austin Collinsworth shepherding the young safeties, with Eilar Hardy and Nicky Baratti as Collinsworth’s lieutenants and assisting with the kids.  Russell was rated by Phil Steele as the #7 cornerback in America.  (FWIW, the six listed above him were all drafted in the 2014 NFL draft.) Oops! Van Gorder and Cooks, by the ...

Read More »

Duranko’s Digest: Notre Dame Football’s Spring Forward

Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports

Spring practice is now concluded.  What did we learn? Better than expected: Jerry Tillery at Defensive tackle.  Tillery’s move from “left tackle of the future”  to defensive tackle was an “experiment”  like the Manhattan Project was an “experiment.”   Tillery’s progress eases the burden on some promising young tackles like Cage, Hayes, Matuska, Mokwuah and the three frosh. What is unique about Tillery is that he inspires nearly head-shaking awe from all who observe him.  The recruit who requested and received an audience with  Rev. Theodore Martin Hesburgh, C.S.C. during one of his recruiting trips may have picked up a little ...

Read More »