Archive for the ‘Mike Lurie’ Category

The Game That Changed Football

January 31, 2008

Most Irish fans know about the 1913 meeting between the University of Notre Dame and Army. At the time, Notre Dame was an obscure program located in the Midwest that utilized the forward pass when most other schools had barely heard of it. Army was a program looking for an easy win and the Irish, lead by a young coach by the name of Jesse C. Harper, was the team that could give it to them. Supposedly.

What happened on that November day however was anything but ordinary and would become the start of something very special for the University of Notre Dame. Harper’s team shocked the college football world by utilizing quarterback Gus Dorais’ unique passing talents and the receiving skills of a tight end named Rockne. Army was on their heels and with no prior experience against this type of aerial attack, they folded under the Irish by the score of 35-13.

There’s a new book out by author Frank P. Maggio, entitled Notre Dame and The Game That Changed Football, and you’ll probably find it a little different than some of the other recent Notre Dame related releases. This isn’t a Lou Holtz motivational speech (not that there is EVER anything wrong with one of those) and it’s not a story of Charlie Weis and his ascent into Super Bowl glory. This isn’t a chronicle of events throughout Notre Dame history, although you will be treated to a plethora of historical facts and information that would satiate even the most ardent Irish enthusiast. What this book is is the tale of the very foundation that Notre Dame football was built on.

You will read about the early days of football in South Bend, but you will also be taken on a historical roller coaster that details the very life and times of that era. You’ll learn about team travel in the early 20th century and how the game news and results were communicated via telegraph to the South Bend gymnasium where one of the male students would read the play-by-play aloud to eager fans. You’ll learn of the lasting friendship between Harper and Rockne, but more than anything you will read about the turn of events that created the foundation for the most storied program in college football history.

Author Frank P. Maggio graduated from the university’s School of Law in 1963 and presents this story in a way that only an alumnus of his era can. The introduction is written by legendary college football broadcaster Keith Jackson.

All-American Weekend Roundup

January 6, 2008

If you were among the many thousands of Notre Dame fans around the country monitoring the Army All-American Bowl and the ESPN/Under Armour High School All-American Game, you had to be laughing your ass off at Braxton Cave’s dominance over “arguably the best defensive tackle recruit in the country” on Saturday.

Cave not only won virtually ALL of his battles with Hunter, but his first quarter pancake of the Florida bound nose tackle became one of the highlights of the day for Domers and Subway Domers across the country.

Meanwhile, back in San Antonio, Brandon Newman was stealing the show in the practices leading up to the Army All-American Game.

“Beyond Marcus Forston (Miami), I don’t see another lineman who can compare,” CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming commented to The South Bend Tribune on Newman, a 6-foot-1, 300-pound nose tackle from Louisville poised to sign with Notre Dame.

Suddenly, the word “arguably” seems to be the functional adverb when discussing who is “arguably the best defensive lineman recruit in the country”. Incidentally, Forston looked pretty damn dominant himself on Saturday, so maybe even the use of the term “arguably” is now inappropriate. In my opinion, Hunter probably played himself out of the top three this weekend.

Not that one game a player makes, but as we all know, this was the national stage that would pit college-level player against college-level player and if a young man wants to boost his stock, this was the weekend to do it.

The likes of Tom Lemming don’t really care, despite knowing that this was merely one game, what these recruits did before this weekend, and neither do the “powers that be” who will decide which program lays claim to the top recruiting class in the country. As we all know, that would be Notre Dame as of right now, however there was some speculation that it might change after the defection of Hunter. Somehow, I don’t think that will be the case.

Straight from the “More Great News” Department

The Irish received their 23rd verbal commitment from 6-foot-4, 186 pound WR Deion Walker. Some fans have voiced a preference for “athlete” Gerell Robinson, but I couldn’t have been happier about Notre Dame landing true wide receiver Walker, who will pair with Mike Floyd for one of the most potent freshman receiving duos in 2008.

“He (Weis) is an offensive-minded coach who knows the game and how to get the ball to his wide receivers.” Walker told ESPN “Coach sees me as a receiver who can play in the slot and also split out wide. He said I have the green light to come in and challenge for a starting job.”

Robinson, who had maintained that he would not announce his decision at the All-American game, changed his mind during the course of the week and decided to make his decision official. Many fans felt that Robinson was swayed by the pressure of the 15 Notre Dame recruits surrounding him in San Antonio, but Gerell shocked the recruiting world by choosing Arizona State.

Rivals.com had Deion Walker ranked as the No.35 ranked recruit in their top 100, Gerell Robinson was ranked at No.52.

The best part of Walker choosing Notre Dame? It’s another small recruiting victory over PSU and USC.

Injury Front

Notre Dame came out of All-American Weekend virtually unscathed in the injury department (knocks on wood), however there was a small setback for the recruiting class when four-star Irish corner prospect Jamoris Slaughter tore the meniscus in one of his knees in the practice week leading up to the game.

Slaughter was set to start in the game after a solid week of practice until the injury sidelined him for the game.

“It just kind of happened,” Slaughter told Mike Frank of Scout.com. “I’m just trying to stay off it right now. They took a look at it. It’s just a meniscus. (The recovery time) is pretty quick. I’ve just got to go in and get it scoped and I should be back within a month or so. I was just glad that was all it was.”

Surprise of the Weekend

Who would have thought that Bishop Dwenger sensation John Goodman would haul in the winning touchdown in this weekend’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl?

Michael Floyd didn’t look too shabby either, reeling in four catches for 118 and two touchdowns, but that was somewhat expected. With Dayne Crist tossing him the rock, the tandem teamed up for a glimpse of the future for the Irish. But Goodman was the real story, and a “feel-good” one at that.

“The game itself was one of the highlights of my life, and especially to get that touchdown,” Goodman told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. “It was just awesome altogether.”

And In This Corner…

December 28, 2007

The hot topic for Irish fans over the past two weeks has been Omar Hunter’s last minute decision to continue testing the college waters, or in this case the Florida swampland, and Mike Martin has surfaced as a legitimate back-up plan in the event that Hunter does choose Florida. The debate about who is the better player has begun to rage on most Notre Dame message communities like a wet box of matches, but is there any validity to the discussion? Could Martin be a solution to the last minute snub by Omar? Well here’s my opinion on the subject, which along with $1.25 will get you a cup of coffee at the local donut shop.

Omar Hunter is the #4 ranked prospect on the Rivals list at the interior defensive lineman position, Mike Martin is the #12 ranked player. Both bring something different and unique to the table, but Omar Hunter seems to be a man among boys.

Admittedly, I have nothing to go on for either of these players beyond the highlight film that can be found on the various premium pay sites around the web, which is about all anyone has to go on unless you live in Michigan or Georgia. I don’t live anywhere near those places so like most everyone else I am basing my opinion on the available film.

I took another look at that film yesterday and tried to scrutinize it closely in the hopes of finding something, anything, that would convince me that Mike Martin is a better option than Hunter. It’s not that I have anything against Omar; it’s just that as a Notre Dame loyalist, I have a problem rooting for kids that don’t want to play for this program.

I know, I know, “the kid has every right to choose the school he wants to play for…” I’ve heard it all before, so let me save you the trouble. In fact, anybody who spends any amount of time on Irish message boards has heard it. There is the contingent of fans that bleed blue and gold and think that everything that doesn’t bleed blue and gold sucks, and then there are those crazy libs that believe we should have a certain level of compassion and understanding for everybody, whether they are Irish at heart or not.

Let me just explain something, I am a Notre Dame fan. So while I agree that Omar has the right to choose whatever school he wants, I reserve the right to support only players that attend (or in this case players who will be attending in the future) Notre Dame. You wouldn’t cheer for Hunter during the season if he was donning a Florida Gators uniform would you? Take note, this is not me saying that I hope Omar gets hit by a bus or suffers a career ending injury, I don’t wish harm on the kid… but he is either Irish or he’s not, and if he isn’t then he just fell off my radar as somebody I give a flying turd about. It’s as simple as that.

So there I was, looking for reasons to welcome Mike Martin with open arms as the better of the two, and tell Omar where he can take a flying leap. Unfortunately though, nothing on the film confirmed what I was so desperately seeking. I scrutinized everything that Rivals and Scout (which turns out to be the same basic footage) had to offer for the better part of an hour trying to find some indication that Mike Martin can be as dominant as Omar Hunter and when the dust settled on my keyboard, I had nothing.

Now this isn’t to say that Martin is not a specimen. He is probably the stronger of the two from a pure brute strength perspective. Martin benches 420 lbs. and Hunter benches about the same, but Martin can squat 550 lbs. to Hunter’s 475, and that lower body strength seems to make a difference. Martin also has a swim move that is more technically sound than anything Hunter has to offer. Unfortunately, that is where the comparisons seem to stop.

Hunter is a bull-rush specialist like nothing I have ever seen from a kid his age. His singular determination to destroy the person (or in most cases “persons”) in front of him and get into the backfield is something to behold. To say that Omar is an extremely explosive and virtually unstoppable player would be a vast understatement.

There is also a difference in the type of player that Notre Dame would be getting in these two kids. With Martin, the Irish would probably be getting a player cut from the same mold as Trevor Laws. Like Laws, Martin has a background in wrestling and is a master of leverage. His balance and lower body strength allow him to do some things that Hunter simply could not. However, he’s not a road-grader like Hunter and would probably not be able to fill the 0-technique NT spot like Hunter could. Not that there would be anything wrong with another Trevor Laws type of player, but with the new 3-4 scheme that Corwin Brown implemented last season, there is no doubt that Omar Hunter would be a better fit.

In my estimation, the best indicator of whether something is true or not is if it remains true even after you have something emotionally invested in it not being true. I studied the film of both players wanting desperately for Mike Martin to be the better of the two. And in the end, he just wasn’t. I think Martin would be a terrific fall-back plan in the event that Hunter does go elsewhere, and let’s face it, it looks like that is what’s going to happen at this point. But he’s not a better player than Hunter and at this point in time, he doesn’t appear to be as good a fit for this defensive scheme either.