Archive for the ‘Darrin Walls’ Category

Floyd, Allen, And Walls Laying it Down

August 9, 2009
Walls looking to be the best @ Rivals Video

Floyd raising the bar @ Rivals Video

Allen looking forward not back @ Rivals Video

Wu Am I? Violent Toilet Thing & Action-Packed Mentalist

May 12, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 5 & 6…

Armando Allen
Running Back
5′ 10″ 195 lbs.
Junior
Opa Locka, Florida
Wu Name: Violent Toilet Thing

When Armando Allen arrived at Notre Dame, the fanbase was in a frenzy over the game-breaking speed that the young Floridian possessed. There was a dying need for speed on both sides of the ball, and Armando seemed like just the right fit for Weis’s offense. Some thought that he would be able to step into the role left behind by Darius Walker and perform even better than Walker because of his crazy quick speed. Things weren’t that smooth. Allen took a while to get back to top form after suffering a broken leg during his Senior year in high school, and some insiders believe that only now, that Armando is 100%. Still, Allen led the team in All-Purpose yards as a freshman, and was second in the same category as a sophomore.

I expect 2009 to be a big, big year for Allen. If the offensive line continually improves under new offensive line coach Frank Verducci, that means bigger holes for Allen. Bigger holes will allow Allen to use that speed that has been bottled up for the past 2 years. Armando’s “vision” is also improving under new running backs coach Tony Alford. This was very evident during the Blue-Gold Game and throughout spring practice. Allen should also get a boost from sharing duty with a bruiser back in Robert Hughes. Did I mention that I expect a big, big year from Allen? It could really be a phenomenal year when you also consider that his pass-catching skills coming out of the backfield really took a leap in 2008. Allen is like that really good lead-off hitter in baseball. He could make the whole thing click.

Darrin Walls
Cornerback
6′ 0″ 190 lbs.
Senior
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Wu Name: Action-Packed Mentalist

In 2006, Darrin Walls arrived on Notre Dame’s campus with high expectations from the fanbase- and for himself. The Fighting Irish were in dire need of coverage corners after several years of being the “whipping boy” for opposing offenses. Walls didn’t make much noise his freshman year, but he gained valuable experience from the games he played in the most. During the first game of his freshman year, Darrin was asked to blanket all-world wide receiver, Calvin Johnson. He did an admirable job too. He only allowed 2 reception and 16 yards to Johnson in the second half. Walls’ sophomore campaign got off to a decent start when he picked off Penn State QB Anthony Morrelli and returned it 71 yards for a TD. After that, the rest of Notre Dame’s opponents didn’t throw the ball Darrin’s way very often. He still had 9 pass break-ups and he was primed for a big season in 2008. Unfortunately for Darrin and ND Nation, Darrin left school for personal reasons for the fall semester of 2008.

Enter 2009. Darrin’s absence created several things for the Irish. First it established some very nice depth at corner with the emergence of Robert Blanton, Raeshon McNeil improving his game, and even allowing Sergio Brown more reps at Nickel. Second, Notre Dame lost 3 games last year after holding double-digit leads (North Carolina, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh). Great players in the secondary make big plays to win those games and thwart off comeback attempts. I have NO DOUBT, that if Walls was playing- ND would have won at least 2 of those 3. Never-the-less, the Irish secondary was a tremendous bight spot and one of the best units on either side of the ball. With the addition of Walls, whom I fully expect to be the lockdown corner that he is, opponents will fear throwing the ball against ND. Walls should have a banner season, but will our opponents throw at him?

Cornerbattle

March 25, 2009

A look at the corners during todays practice

Irish staging cornerback battle @ Rivals Video

Practice Report

Player Interviews… Crist Is A Skinhead

March 21, 2009

The Curious Case of Sergio Brown

March 6, 2009

It’s that time of year. Spring football is right around the corner and the message boards are a buzz with roster movement and depth chart speculation. People can’t help themselves. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and its all we got right now.

I generally try to stay away from printing out any type of depth chart or starter projection-type material. In this era of football, more players are playing due to both sides of the ball using many different formations and packages. So instead of pinpointing 22 guys as “starters”, I have instead pointed to 35-36 players of impact. These are players that will contribute heavily to the team. Sergio Brown is certainly one of those players, but could he be more?

If you ask around the Notre Dame locker room, “Who is the best athlete on the team?” More times than not, Sergio Brown would be the answer, and it has been for the last couple of years.

Last spring, Brown competed against Kyle McCarthy for the strong safety spot that opened up after the departure of 4 year starter Tom Zbikowski. McCarthy won that position battle and it bore fruit after Kyle led the team in tackles in 2008 with 110 and also had 2 interceptions. It was a very solid performance- that also had me yawning. Where were the big plays? Granted, Kyle did make some very big tackles that helped the team. However, it was done so quietly and 10-20 yards past the line of scrimmage, that it looked effortless.

After spring ball, the designated starters at defensive back were pretty much decided. These are the players that fell into the slots:

  • CB- Darrin Walls
  • CB- Terrail Lambert
  • FS- David Bruton
  • SS- Kyle McCarthy
  • Nickel- Raeshon McNeil
  • Dime- Gary Gray

Oh, how things change- and quickly at that. After Walls, the most talented defensive back on the roster, left school for personal reasons it opened up a huge hole. That hole got filled by Raeshon McNeil, but like a submarine taking on water, another hole opened up. The lineup soon looked like this:

  • CB- Raeshon McNeil
  • CB- Terrail Lambert
  • FS- David Bruton
  • SS- Kyle McCarthy
  • Nickel- Sergio Brown
  • Dime- Gary Gray

It didn’t take long for this lineup to get tampered with either. Robert Blanton started kicking down the door from the day he stepped on campus and he soon got a lot of playing time. At first it was Gary Gray rotating in with Lambert and occasionally McNeil. Then, Blanton took over the role that Gray was occupying as the season wore on.

As we roll into spring football for 2009, we see the same type of battles that must take place to decide the participants. With Walls back, and the emergence of Robert Blanton the lineup will definitely be shook up- but is it the right shake up. Enter Sergio Brown.

After playing on special teams in his first two seasons and racking up a colossal 11 tackles, Brown stepped onto the stage in a huge way for the Irish at the Nickel position from game one last year. He was an effective blitzer and terrific in coverage. He showed great athleticism and playmaking ability and in my opinion- he proved himself to be able to contend for the SS spot once again. He deserves it, and keep in mind that this is his last year of eligibility. (That last part sucks balls).

I just feel that Brown brings more to the table than McCarthy. I like Kyle, but I also like safeties that make big plays. I’m not sure if Kyle can do it or can’t do it, but I am sure that Sergio has more of the tools needed to make those big plays.

In today’s game, we see more and more defenses having to move towards using the nickel package as somewhat of a base defense against spread teams. Spread teams are multiplying. So, the nickel is just as important as the SS for the most part. My ideal setup for the defensive backs in a nickel formation looks like this:

  • CB- Darrin Walls
  • CB- Raeshon McNeil
  • FS- Harrison Smith
  • SS- Sergio Brown
  • Nickel- Robert Blanton

We can argue about the Blanton/McNeil battle at a later time. By now, the McCarthy brothers and fan club are ready to tear my ass apart, but we have to be honest with ourselves. You could at least pencil Kyle in as the Dime- but I keep hearing that the staff is very high on Jamoris Slaughter too. Uh, oh…

By now, if you’re still reading this, you are probably wondering if I am moving towards some type of point or closing argument. Perhaps. But I think I have made it clear already. Sergio Brown is an exciting and athletic player and in my opinion- he should be starting at the SS spot. This puts our defensive backfield in better situations to make the big play. McCarthy led the team in tackles last year with 110, so I can understand that some people may be hesitant to accept this fact, but we should. A safety shouldn’t be making that many tackles anyways.

This is the “Curious Case of Sergio Brown,” but in essence it is also the ” Curious Case of the Secondary.” What do we do with what is the most talented defensive backfield the Irish have had in a very long time? In my opinion, we go with the playmakers and let them make plays, and somehow that all revolves around Mr. Brown.

Weis Presser Tidbits

February 13, 2009

Charlie Weis spoke to the media today and laid out some new things for program this year. Here is a short rundown of what was said…

  • Corwin Brown has been promoted to Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach.
  • Jon TAH-NOO-TAH has been promoted to Assistant Head Coach for Defense/ Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach.
  • TAH-NOO-TAH!!! will be calling the defensive plays.
  • Bryant Young was officially announced as the Defensive Graduate Assistant.
  • Romeo Crennel will not be the new Defensive Line Coach.
  • Weis said he should have a decision on the Defensive Line coach soon.
  • Weis is making himself the Offensive Coordinator and will be calling the plays.
  • Weis would not rule out coaching from the press box next year and labeled the situation as “50-50,” but on the lower end.
  • Frank Verducci was officially named Offensive Line Coach and Running Game Coordinator.
  • Tony Alford was officially named Running Backs Coach.
  • Weis mentioned that several players will have to have their tonsils removed (no shit) and may not be ready for Spring Ball, but will be ready for the Summer/Fall.
  • There is no official word from the University on which players will be returning for a 5th year in 2009.
  • Weis mentioned that the 2010 recruiting class should be about 24-25 players to get the team up to the 85 allotted amount of players.
  • Weis is feeling good after surgery on his right knee, and has postponed the surgery to his left knee that was scheduled for this month, “indefinitely.”
  • Darrin Walls is back in school and with the team, and will be ready to go in the Spring.
  • Luke Schmidt’s football career is over because of concussions.
  • Jashaad Gaines is still on a leave of absence from the University due to personal issues. Weis said the “door is open” for a return, but nothing has been decided yet.

I’ll have some commentary on these events in a day or so. I’m still waiting for my wife to give birth to our first child. She (daughter), is already not listening to us and refuses to leave the womb. So… you never know.

UPDATE: Videos from today…

Charlie

Weis makes changes @ Rivals Video

Alford

Alford ready to run @ Rivals Video

Verducci

Verducci: OL problems are correctible @ Rivals Video

Walls And Hord

July 13, 2008

On Friday Notre Dame announced the departure of starting Junior cornerback, Darrin Walls.

Cornerback Darrin Walls will not be enrolled at Notre Dame during the fall
semester for personal reasons and will return home at the end of this summer
school term.“We won’t have Darrin with us this season but I hope to have him
return for the spring semester. Fortunately, cornerback is a position of
strength on our team and this will provide opportunities for increased playing
time for our corners,” Irish head coach Charlie Weis said.

Walls is arguably the best defensive player on an improving Irish pass defense. His 9 pass breakups were the most on the team last year, and Darrin was looking to become that shutdown corner Notre Dame has not had since Shane Walton. The team does have nice depth at corner, but anytime you lose a starter for an entire year, it will greatly effect the level of play by the unit.

The good news is that numerous people close to the Walls family have stated that Darrin will be back at the university in the Spring. This is a situation that closely resembles the Pat Kuntz ordeal from this past spring. Hopefully, Walls can take care of whatever personal issues that exist just as Kuntz has done.

Also on Friday, Notre Dame announced that Senior Wide Receiver D.J. Hord would be transferring from Notre Dame to a NCAA 1-AA (FCS) school to complete his two years of eligibility.

Wide receiver D.J. Hord has decided to leave the Notre Dame football team and
will transfer to a Division I-AA school.”I’d like to thank D.J. for all he has
given to this team in his three years and wish him well in his future
endeavors,” Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis said.

D.J. came to Notre Dame as a very highly touted recruit with pure speed. His freshman year he was on a depth chart that included Rhema McKnight, Maurice Stovall, Matt Shelton, and some guy named Samardzija. During the Spring of his sophomore year he had a devastating achilles heel tear and was unable to try and become the “3rd” WR on the depth chart. He sat out 2006. In 2007 he just was never able fully recover from his injury and logged just 2 catches for 7 yards.

The Unspoken Word

June 30, 2008

I gotta keep these coming as the season rapidly approaches. Two more chambers are opened for the 36 players of impact. This is the toughest position on the defensive side of the ball.

Darrin Walls #2

Cornerback
6’0″ 183 lbs.
Junior
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Wu-Name: Action-Packed Mentalist

Darrin Walls is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Why? We haven’t seen a corner with these type of skills in South Bend for quite some time. He came to Notre Dame as a very highly touted prospect and he has done nothing to change my mind to the contrary. He supplanted a 5th year senior at the starting spot last year and played very well for the Irish as they improved their pass defense by leaps and bounds.

Darrin plays the ball very well and had 9 pass break ups last year and one very big interception against Penn State as he returned it 73 yards for a touchdown and gave Irish fans some glimmer of hope in that game, until the bottom fell out. Look for even more improvement this year from Darrin and a spike in his interception numbers with the type of pressure defense Tenuta/Brown are installing. It would not be a surprise to see Darrin’s name hovering around a lot of All-American lists as the season unwinds.


Terrail Lambert #20

Cornerback
5’11” 195 lbs.
5th Year Senior
Oxnard, California
Wu-Name: Inscrutable Drama-Queen

Irish fans have seen a lot of Lambert over the years. Some moments have been great, and others were down right awful. Who can forget the interception returned for a touchdown capping the amazing comeback in a monsoon versus Michigan State in 2006 and then the miraculous interception moments later in that same game to seal the deal. Of course you can also look back to the game prior against Michigan and the Manningham debacle as well. Through it all, Lambert has maintained his starting role on the Irish defense as a true cover corner.

Lambert has a chance this year to really become a great player and put himself in good draft position as this is his 5th and final year after starting the last two years. Along with his partner Walls, Terrail should greatly benefit from the pressure packages that the Irish defense will show this year. His run stopping ability makes him even more dangerous, as his physical play makes him a better player overall. He will be in on a lot of big plays… let’s just hope they are on the right side of the spectrum. Potentially dominating? Maybe. I’ll go for consistently good.