Home / Author Archives: Scott Janssen

Author Archives: Scott Janssen

Notre Dame Battles through Noise, Distractions to Prepare for Miami

Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It’s probably the understatement of the year, but Notre Dame’s 2016 football season has not gone according to plan.  This fall was one of tremendous promise and expectations after Notre Dame posted double digits in the victory column for only the second time in head coach Brian Kelly’s tenure in South Bend In 2015, and fell just shy of a playoff berth.  Both Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer were named to Heisman Trophy watch lists and NFL experts drooled over a Notre Dame offensive line that continues to churn out high draft picks, with Pro Football Focus even being so ...

Read More »

Notre Dame Football: What We’ve Learned at the Midpoint

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

A bye week serves a useful purpose for college football teams, particularly when it occurs during the halfway point of the season.  In addition to a week of rest and recovery for players, the extra time off allows for a period of self-evaluation of what is and isn’t working for a program.  For Notre Dame, the question is whether one week is long enough to address the ever-expanding list of concerns. This was supposed to be a year where the stars aligned for Notre Dame.  Talent was never a question.  In August Pro Football Focus awarded Notre Dame the distinction ...

Read More »

Notre Dame, Offensive Line Limp into Stanford Week

Photo: Brian Utesch // Icon Sportswire

On Saturday Notre Dame finally began to turn around two units that have hindered them all season: defense and special teams.  Such an achievement was thought to be impossible until an off-season of evaluation and adjustments.  Interim defensive coordinator Greg Hudson’s unit limited an opponent to 3 points and less than 200 yards of total offense, all while holding N.C. State to a 14-percent third-down conversion rate and forcing two turnovers.  Sophomore kicker Justin Yoon, who has struggled this season, even hit a 40-yard line-drive field goal in the face of hurricane-force winds.  Given Notre Dame’s biggest shortcomings finally came ...

Read More »

Notre Dame Special Teams Failures Require Kelly’s Focus


Notre Dame fans have had very little to cheer about this fall, a fact that finally began to change Saturday afternoon against Syracuse in New Jersey.  Notre Dame’s defense surrendered piles of yardage and 33 points, but the defense won big on a very important statistic: third down.  Newly appointed defensive coordinator Greg Hudson held Syracuse’s up-tempo offensive attack to a 20-percent conversion rate on third downs, providing Notre Dame’s offense enough opportunities to put the game away.  While the defense is far from fixed, it was stabilized enough to draw attention to other areas of concern that have plagued ...

Read More »

Is There a Power Struggle at Notre Dame?

Brian Kelly - Notre Dame Head Coach

The statistics are nothing new. Notre Dame’s defense is ranked No. 101 nationally in points surrendered per game (33.5). The defense has allowed over 200 yards rushing per game under Brian VanGorder’s leadership and was the last of all the 128 FBS teams to register a sack, performances so poor it shouldn’t have been shocking when Duke handed Notre Dame its biggest upset in decades. Yet it was hard to feel anything but disbelief as the same Blue Devils team that mustered only 27 points in its first two games piled on nearly 500 yards of total offense and 38 ...

Read More »

Notre Dame Football On Verge of Doing Something it Hasn’t Done in 23 Years

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

It will have been 247 days and approximately 5,928 hours since Notre Dame last took the field by the time the Fighting Irish square off against the Texas Longhorns this upcoming Sunday  (but who’s counting?) in Austin, and there are countless storylines that will occupy Irish fans this week until zero hour.  Will DeShone Kizer or Malik Zaire emerge as the starting quarterback?  Can Notre Dame overcome the loss of Max Redfield at safety?  How will defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder create an effective pass rush, or does Notre Dame simply lack the weaponry to do so?  While relevant, all of ...

Read More »

Notre Dame Football’s 2016 Season Prediction – Part III

Deshone Kizer is 1-0 in his career against USC (Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports_

Two weeks ago Notre Dame’s September opponents were previewed with the Irish earning big victories over Texas and Michigan State, and last week took a look at October’s slate of games, leaving Notre Dame with an undefeated record heading into November for only the second time in the Brian Kelly era.  Can Notre Dame wrap up November with an unblemished record? Notre Dame at Navy (EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL) Head coach Ken Niumatalolo has more than kept Navy’s upward trajectory since taking over for former coach Paul Johnson in 2008.  Niumatalolo has had only one losing season in his seven ...

Read More »

Notre Dame Football’s 2016 Season Prediction – Part II

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last week Notre Dame’s September foes were previewed, resulting in big wins over Texas, Michigan State and Duke, and an uncomfortably tight match with Nevada.  The Irish head into October undefeated for the third year in a row under head coach Brian Kelly with stiff challenges from the likes of Stanford and Miami.  Can Notre Dame exist October with an undefeated record still intact? [Related: Full 2016 Notre Dame Football Schedule] Notre Dame at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ) Syracuse is putting its dreadful 4-8 season from last year behind them and saying hello to new head coach Dino ...

Read More »

Notre Dame Football’s 2016 Season Prediction – Part I


With the 2016 football season a few short weeks away the time has finally come for everyone, whether a fan or writer, to put on record their predictions for the season for future bragging rights.  While injuries can occur – who could have predicted DeShone Kizer would have Notre Dame knocking on the door of a playoff appearance? – and momentum varies throughout the year, a preseason prediction allows you to reflect on your assumptions.  Last year I correctly predicted a 10-2 regular season for Notre Dame but expected the two losses to come at the hands of Georgia Tech ...

Read More »

Nyles Morgan: Notre Dame Football Now or Never ’16

Notre Dame LB Nyles Morgan (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Over the past six weeks UHND has previewed a host of players for its annual “Now or Never” series, from quarterback Malik Zaire, wide receivers Torii Hunter and Corey Holmes, tight end Durham Smythe, running back Tarean Folston and safety Max Redfield.  This week UHND concludes the series with an in-depth look at new starting Mike linebacker, Nyles Morgan. Pedigree Nyles Morgan was a highly coveted 4-star inside linebacker prospect from Crete, Ill., with scholarship offers from the nation’s top programs, including Alabama, Ohio State and USC.  Despite the elite offer list Notre Dame found itself in a battle with ...

Read More »

Max Redfield: Notre Dame Football Now or Never ’16

Max Redfield - Notre Dame S

In the past month UHND’s “Now or Never” series has previewed the offensive side of the ball, from quarterback Malik Zaire, wide receivers Torii Hunter and Corey Holmes, tight end Durham Smythe and running back Tarean Folston.  This week UHND moves to the defensive side of the ball to take a look at the up-and-down career of senior safety Max Redfield. Pedigree Max Redfield was one of the crown jewels of Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting class.  A 5-star prospect from Mission Viejo, Cal., with scholarship offers from the likes of LSU, Nebraska and Oregon, Redfield committed to the USC Trojans ...

Read More »

Tarean Folston: Notre Dame Football Now or Never ’16

Tarean Folston returns from an ACL injury to lead a crowded Notre Dame backfield in 2016. (Photo: Robin Alam // Icon Sportswire)

UHND’s annual “Now or Never” series has explored the offensive futures of quarterback Malik Zaire and wide receivers Torii Hunter and Corey Holmes, as well as tight end Durham Smythe.  This week UHND continues on the offensive side of the ball with senior running back Tarean Folston. Pedigree Tarean Folston was a highly coveted 4-star running back from Cocoa, Fla., possessing scholarship offers from in-state programs Florida and Florida State, and was a major target of the Auburn Tigers before ultimately offering his pledge to Notre Dame in January of 2013.  Folston was a member of Notre Dame’s No. 2 ...

Read More »

Durham Smythe: Notre Dame Football Now or Never ’16

Durham Smythe - Notre Dame TE

UHND’s annual “Now or Never” series has weighed the future of Malik Zaire and laid out a case for wide receivers Torii Hunter and Corey Holmes to have breakout seasons in 2016.  This week UHND will remain on the offensive side of the ball and take a closer look at senior tight end Durham Smythe. Pedigree Durham Smythe was an underrated prospect coming out of high school, only earning a 3-star ranking from outlets such as Rivals.com despite an impressive scholarship offer list that included the likes of Florida, Georgia and Michigan.  The Belton, Tx., native committed to the in-state ...

Read More »

Corey Holmes: Notre Dame Football Now or Never ’16

Corey Holmes emerged in the spring for Notre Dame.  Can he follow that up on the field in 2016?  (Photo:  Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports)

UHND’s annual “Now or Never” series began by forecasting Malik Zaire to finish second in Notre Dame’s quarterback race and predicted a breakout season for Torii Hunter.  This week UHND stays at the wide receiver position by taking a closer look at junior Corey Holmes. Pedigree Corey Holmes was a 4-star wide receiver prospect hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with a strong list of scholarships offers.  The Florida native was coveted by last year’s ACC representative in the national championship game, Clemson, as well as in-state powers Florida and Florida State.  UCLA made a serious push for the talented pass ...

Read More »

Torii Hunter Jr: Notre Dame Football Now or Never ’16

Notre Dame needs Torii Hunter to emerge as a star from a group of gren wide receivers this season.  (Photo: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

After exploring the murky future of quarterback Malik Zaire, UHND continues its annual “Now or Never” series with Torii Hunter Jr., a wide receiver Notre Dame is hopeful will become the next star pass catcher for the Irish. Pedigree The son of retired MLB star Torii Hunter, Hunter Jr. had the bloodlines of a great athlete despite his status as an unheralded 3-star recruit from Prosper, Tex., that failed to crack Rivals.com’s original list of national recruits.   Despite his under-the-radar status Notre Dame recruited the Texas product hard, a move that would play the biggest role in Hunter’s eventual decision ...

Read More »