IBG: Zoom, Zoom, Zoomie Edition

Jaylon Smith - Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell (6) and linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) tackle Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (16) in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

For this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering, Mike from NDNation answered our questions while Aaron from Strong & True provided us questions to answer.

As always, here are this week’s entries:

1. After watching Andrew Hendrix play for almost an entire half against USC and be unable to muster any sort of offense for the Irish, has your view of Tommy Rees changed at all and how important is his availability for this weekend and the rest of the season?

My view of how crucial he is has certainly changed, although I’m reluctant to judge Hendrix based on one appearance since we’ve seen him play at least marginally better in other appearances. My view of how poorly he’s being used by the coaching staff certainly has not, and perhaps has intensified given how bad Hendrix’s throwing was. Given our top two quarterbacks have limitations when trying to put the ball into the air, it seems even more necessary for the coaching staff to create an offensive philosophy for the season that doesn’t depend on throwing the ball. Yet that seems to be what was done in the four months they had to prepare.

2. The Notre Dame defense played dominant football after allowing USC to drive 97 yards on their first drive. Give me one reason to be optimistic that they can continue that level of play the rest of the season and one reason to be cautious that it was just the result of USC’s offensive futility.

The reason I’d give to be optimistic is a combination of the return of Sheldon Day and the steady improvement of Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt seems to be getting stronger every week, and probably was due for a breakout week like this. With Day demanding more attention than his replacements, the probability of continued play quality increases.

The reason I’d give to be pessimistic is this was an SC team that, while talented in the starting ranks, has absolutely no depth. Their offensive performance peaked on the first drive and then slowly withered as players either tired or were lost to injury, whether for a play or a half. They seemed to move the ball well when they had gas in the tank, and other teams will have a much deeper tank.

 3. Brian Kelly has said that Jaylon Smith will be on the field a lot this weekend against an option offense even though the Irish have had success by playing an extra safety or corner in place of the drop backer. Is this a good idea given Smith’s success so far or too much to place on a true freshman?

Notre Dame Reportedly Set to Name John McNulty New TE Coach

I believe Smith has a tougher time playing against the pass than the run. He seems to have excellent instincts where the ball carrier is going and tends to make more plays than he misses on run defense. Given Air Force is much less of a danger when throwing the ball, which would be Smith’s weakness, having him play more in a situation where he can make the best use of his strengths like this weekend seems to be a good plan.

Bonus: Will we see any more of freshman running back Tarean Folston who has been surprisingly silent absent from the Irish gameplan after his long run against Oklahoma?

Bonus: Rumor has it Folston was a little banged up but should be returning in short order. Since ND (as usual) has a significant size advantage on the offensive line versus the Zoomie defense, a game plan emphasizing physical play would seem to me to be right up Folston’s alley, so if he’s ready, I would expect to see him out there.


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  1. Storespook 6 years ago

    I think that a variety of different factors contribute in how to define a coach besides win-loss. I think BK is a good football coach. There are times I wonder if he is the best fit here at ND. I do not think he will win a NC here at ND. That does not mean he won’t win games and maybe develop some sustainability in winning. He has some character issues that make me have some doubts (the time to look for potential new employment at the same time your team is preparing to play in a NC game that had not been there for almost 25 years smacks of lack of commitment). I am not calling for his head nor for him to be replaced because frankly I don’t know who is going to be any significantly better. I am quite disgruntled about the QB situation after 4 years on the job and having the history of developing offenses that are explosive but not here after again 4 years. We lost some players who I believe left ultimately by how Kelly has conducted himself towards them. I could be wrong about a lot of this. Just sharing what I think.

    Play like a champion

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  2. JC 6 years ago

    Well, for the record to be clear, since Burgundy thrives in an ambiguous world! I am not going to mischaracterize ‘Champions!’ Champions don’t come in 2nd place! People love waller and muddify and hide in the shades of gray bs to justify their obvious irrational logic. We continue to have the same ‘CW love the Head Coach at all costs crowd’ here today!
    People are too emotionally attached to coaching staffs who come and go!
    It’s very simple we are paying BK to win a National Championship or bye bye! The alums are paying for a National Championship not the loons who want to marry the head coach forever. Only 22 Div 1 Schools currently brake even or make money! It’s a brand and a business to promote the University whether the holier than thou crowd wants to admit! Commercialization is everywhere on the campus to today, just open your eyes!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago


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    2. C-Dog 6 years ago

      I think we want confidence that the foundation is solid to compete for National Championships. While holding our values. Stanford and Oregon hve those foundations. It takes a steady sustained rise. It took the SEC some time to get respect, but without major ups and downs, the SEC, be it Alabama, Florida, LSU, etc, the SEC has established dominance. The Pac-12 started to become maligned, but quietly improved to be more than just the Cheating Trojans. Now the Pac-12 is very close the the SEC and looks to stay there for a while. Each ascendant program has established steady momentum and continuity.

      Kelly seems to be grinding his teeth and for ever two or three steps forward, that is a step back. MY concern is whether Kelly can establish that continuity and sustain momentum.

      And sadly, yes, the commercialization is everywhere. Including in the middle of the Notre Dame campus.

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  3. fxm 6 years ago

    I know there is no sense is crying over spilled milk, but I just saw Deontay Greenberry score an 83 yard TD and checked his stats on the year. 55 catches, 780 yards, and 7 TDs. Wow.

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    1. SteelFanRob 6 years ago

      So, so many exceptional athletes ND has lost in the last 3-4 years. This team could be loaded on both sides of the ball if we had managed to keep just half of those kids. But so be it. Indeed, no use crying over spilled milk. Hopefully from now on we can keep all the kids we recruit and sign. That’s the only way ND will ever get back to the top. We can’t do it with 2-3 star recruits. No doubt some of those types of kids are needed. But when was the last time a team in college football dominated without a top 25-30 recruiting class year in and year out? I doubt that too many teams can get any kind of traction recruiting exclusively 3 star talent every year. Yes, they might have a brief run. But dominate college football with 2-3 star kids, I doubt anyone can show me such a success story in the last 20 years or so.

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  4. SteelFanRob 6 years ago


    I think that Stanford is ND’s benchmark. And while you make a valid point, I think if we’re honest with ourselves, then we’d admit that Stanford has been much more successful and consistent than ND has over the last 10 years or so. Of course, Stanford is in the same boat ND’s in. Like the Irish, the Cardinal has to actually recruit true student-athletes who can compete at the highest levels inside the classroom and on the fields of play. Not easy. Perhaps one day when a school like Stanford, NW, or ND wins a NC, others will realize that academics and athletics can be mutually beneficial and reinforcing.

    Go Irish!

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    1. fxm 6 years ago

      Rob, I take great comfort in how good Stanford is. Because, in all truth we “should” be able to play a cut above them. They don’t have guys like Tuitt or Nix, or our tradition, or as high of a ranking in their recruiting classes. So, if we are not clearly better than them, I have to believe we are not maximizing our potential as a program. And at the end of the day that is all we can aspire to. Not worth whining about, I know everyone has “the one that got away” but we lost a boat load of talent these last few years (see Greenberry comment below). And I am not anti-BK but you can’t have your team sleep walking to start the year and say “hey, look how much we improve as the year progresses.

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    2. C-Dog 6 years ago

      Well put. That is my point. Look, Alabama has won 3 NCs while Kelly has been coach, so I don’t think using the NC as a stat is valid. And yes, ND got there last year and by record and schedule deserved it. However, I don’t look at that game as one the Irish had any chance of winning, and the events afterward all the way up to the present have one wondering if Kelly can manage the program into stability. While Stanford and Oregon show stability, each through coaching changes, Kelly’s ride had had several bumps. That’s my point.

      To counter, RB, a bit, Put Oregon in last year’s NC game, and I think you have an opponent capable of beating Alabama. And although we beat Stanford, I might have put them in as a fiercer opponent.

      Last year was exciting. But I’m still waiting and wondering if it was a fluke, or whether ND can create a program.

      RB, consider where ND has landed in the polls versus the others at the end of each season.

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    3. C-Dog 6 years ago

      SFR, to your point about academics. I see a revolution sometime in the next 10 years. Too much hard earned money is going into sports, a form of entertainment. I see the SEC and similar minded schools moving to a point where their football teams are not even comprised of students. I see Alabama with a group of club athletes, who may one day use a scholarship to the school, but who will be paid to play and who merely represent the brand. I then see more academic minded schools putting athletes who want to be students on the field. ND will have an advantage as will other highly rated schools.

      I see that within 10 years.

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      1. JC 6 years ago

        The good news C-Dog, ND has won the All Sports/Atheletes National Championship of Graduation for the 7th straight year! At a mere 99% graduation rate!

        Lastly, I wish I could be as optimistic about the next ten years in football as you. I am seriously worried about the head injuries and the billions paid out by the NFL. Unfortunately, trickle down ambulance lawyer economics will be coming to a neighborhood near you soon! If not already! The impact is serious! Many Moms at a high rate ever than before, are not allowing their sons to play football at the pee wee league level, opting for other sports.


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    4. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

      Totally agree SFR, that was basically my point. Anytime BK is given praise it is quickly pointed out that he hasn’t won a NC. You can’t begrudge BK for not winning a NC while simultaneously speak the praises of Stanford and Oregon. It’s either all about NC’s or it isn’t.

      It’s obvious I’m a believer in BK and think he is a terrific coach, his record speaks for itself and he is a proven winner. To tie everything to a NC is fine (which I desperately want to see them win) but they don’t grow on trees and this is a different era in CFB. The odds say he will never win one but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fantastic coach. I think he ultimately will but it is incredibly tough to do.

      At the end of the day, what do I know. Just a simple man watching a game.

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  5. Storespook 6 years ago

    I thought CBS was scheduled to carry this game.

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    1. JC 6 years ago

      3:00 Mountain Time CBS

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      1. JC 6 years ago

        So Stores, do we win by 30 or 60?

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      2. Storespook 6 years ago

        Well I won’t be able to see it since CBS SPORTSCH is not carried where I live. I think we struggle more than what folks realize. TR being more affected and altitude. 30 to 17 ND, JC.

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      3. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        CBS SportsNetwork to be specific. For those of you that think all announcers ahave ND bias, fear not as Aaron Taylor is on the call today.

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      4. JC 6 years ago

        Only a ‘pet’ a mother could love!

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      5. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        AntiKelly (TM) Curmudgeon (TM)

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  6. Woody O'Hardy 6 years ago

    great question!

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  7. JohnDC 6 years ago

    What channel is this game on? Anyone know?

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  8. Woody O'Hardy 6 years ago


    I think this coaching staff is doing a darn good job. Let’s face it, Kelly has had to play this season with his back up QB, Rees.

    I think we are in for a positive surprise for the rest of the year.

    Regarding the game this weekend, I think Jaylon Smith will be a nightmare for AFA. He is so fast, he can shut down their option. Ishaq and Shembo could have monster games too. Would love to see Redfield play. Our speed should dominate their O.

    Next year, when Golson and Zaire are ready to go, we will roll!


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  9. duranko 6 years ago

    Paul Longo. Exhibit A that excellence is taken for granted.

    USC played 53 guys against our Irish last Saturday night.

    14 of those players were too injured to practice on Wednesday this week.

    Folks here have commented on the Schmidt hit and the Russell pop,
    but it was a consistent physical effort.

    Physical toughness and mental toughness feed off each other.

    Its now embedded in our team DNA and that ain’t bad.

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  10. C-Dog 6 years ago

    Guys, again, I’m not calling for Kelly’s head. But to be realistic, he has not righted the ship nearly as quickly as some other coaches out there. Harbaugh effectively resurrected the program that Willingham gutted 10 years before. But Harbaugh’s successor is maintaining it in excellent fashion. Chip Kelly at Oregon and his successor is having a great year. Urban Meyer, everywhere, although Ohio State benefits from being in the BIG MAC.

    Let’s not forget the mess ND has been in. First a slow decline by Bob, ( I have no idea what ND is about ) Davie, then the mortician himeself, Ty Willingham, follow that with ‘Bill Parcells and Bill Belichek got me these rings’, Charlie Weis. ND football was a Disney side show. Kelly has canged that. My only issue is that like Disney’s “Herbie the Luv Bug” He is racing with a VW when we want a Hummer that flattens all in it’s path.

    Kelly has not filled in the gaps and attained the stability that others among his coaching colleagus have. I hope he does so, and unfortunately we won’t know until next year. The one sign that he gets it and can do something about it, is if the Irish beat Stanford and win the bowl game. Otherwise it’ll be just another year of reminiscing about when ND dominated. And all you young guys will get pissed off when we old guys talk about being there for the National Championships. I truly would like the younger alums and fans to have that good feeling.

    From where we sit, we can only watch and hope.

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    1. JC 6 years ago

      Amen C-Dog Amen!!! Who you calling old by the way! Haha!

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    2. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

      Not righted the ship?? They were in the NC game last year. ND won 15 games the 3 years combined before he arrived.

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      1. JC 6 years ago

        Love you 2nd place finishers!

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      2. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        JC – Dog,
        So you are saying that Stanford and Oregon are the standards here. They have the same invisible NC trophies and Heisman’s as ND over the past few years.

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  11. C-Dog 6 years ago

    We need Tebow!! I hear he’s available. So is Favre.

    Just needed to lighten it up a bit.

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    1. JC 6 years ago

      Amen C-Dog,

      However I heard Favre has some concussion issues and memory loss he talked about yesterday so he’s not returning.

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    2. Shazamrock 6 years ago


      Tebow? Farve? Who needs those guy’s when you got “The Most Photogenic football player” in America.

      From what I have read, Cam has made a serious splash with his helmetless run during USC game.

      Couldn’t have picked a better person for the face of the Fighting Irish Football team!

      Now, not only is it “Run Cam Run” But he looks pretty darn good doing it!

      Great story for a great kid!

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      1. Shazamrock 6 years ago

        Correction… the most “Ridiculously Photogenic Football Player”

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      2. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        It is hilarious. Great photo.

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      3. C-Dog 6 years ago

        Wow! Almost makes me wish I were a woman! Ha Ha!

        Seriously, that kid should go into acting as an action hero, or James Bond. He’s definitely got a career in front of a camera regardless of how far he goes on the football field.

        And somewhere in a dark corner, Brent Musberger is looking at a picture of the fiance and working up a lather.

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