The Wire

More on the running backs, plus Derrick Hazell’s interpretation of Brian VanGorder’s defense, Everett Golson

Shall we talk about Notre Dame’s running back rotation, since it hasn’t been touched on very often this season?

Notre Dame’s senior running back and captain isn’t showing any signs of warranting waning playing time. The staff trusts Cam McDaniel in all crucial situations. Be it near the goal line or on 3rd down, McDaniel has a good chance of getting the ball.

It’s a subject that’s been beaten like a dead horse already this year. Who will emerge as the go-to running back? Brian Kelly and Tony Alford insist there doesn’t have to be one, and that all three will get carries. College football has transitioned to a two-back or three-back system for most programs, and it’s true that each of Notre Dame’s three running backs bring distinctively different skills to the table.

McDaniel brings leadership, experience, poise, pass-pro, work ethic, and instinctive qualities to the field. Case in point against Michigan, McDaniel finds the out of bounds marker on the sprint draw with less than a minute remaining in the half. Or, when in Notre Dame’s drive that ended in a field goal, he had a terrific move in space to shake the defender and pick up four rather than lose yardage on 2nd down.

Nonetheless, I’d like to think we’ll see more of Bryant and Folston this year, and less of McDaniel, as the season wears on, especially when opposing teams shut down the passing game, and Notre Dame’s in desperate need of some momentum on offense. Bryant especially has the ability to turn nothing into some something, and by something I mean breaking a string of tackles and turning on the burners to go up field for 50 yards.

After two empty drives to open the game vs. Rice for Notre Dame’s offense, Bryant entered the game late in the first quarter and got the offense rolling with runs of 5,7,3, and 5 yards, respectively, in Rice territory. From there, the passing game opened up and Notre Dame reached the end zone.

Yes, Bryant is still learning the offense, still learning the zone read and blocking schemes, but a game is going to reach crunch time this season when Kelly’s forced to choose, and Bryant is too gifted to be standing on the sideline.

Elsewhere

Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote this piece calling for USC athletic director Pat Haden to resign from his position on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee for his actions on Saturday.

Former Notre Dame running back Will Mahone, who transferred to Youngstown State at the beginning of this year tweeted Wednesday:

“I'll be looking to transfer hopefully next semester to play football, I don't know where so don't ask… I'm not walking on at ysu anymore (but) I am in school. Personal reasons why I am not with the team I appreciate the opportunity”

Last week on Notre Dame’s schedule:

Purdue lost to Central Michigan 38-17
Syracuse - Bye
No. 1 Florida State defeated the Citadel 37-12
No. 15 Stanford lost to No. 9 USC 13-10
North Carolina defeated San Diego State 31-27
Navy defeated Temple 31-24
No. 16 Arizona State defeated New Mexico 58-23
Northwestern lost to Northern Illinois 23-15
No. 21 Louisville defeated Murrary State 66-21
No. 9 USC defeated No. 15 Stanford 13-10

Comments from the (other) Head Coach

On Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator and its defense:

HAZELL: “What he does is he likes to put pressure on the offense by showing you a million different looks on third down. I mean, he is going to run the safety out that's a deep third player from the line of scrimmage, playing much like the Steelers do with Polamalu.

So he's going to give you a lot of different looks, and we've got to be able to handle those different situations and stay out of those third-and-longs because that's when they come after you.

“I think we are crazy if we think we can consistently run -- try to out run them. We have to make sure that we do some things to get on them quick, hit them quick. Get the ball in the quarterback’s hands so that we are constantly moving those guys around and not so much trying to out-run this team.”

On Everett Golson:

HAZELL: “Their quarterback is an unbelievable player and he'll be able to create some things on his own. We have to do a good job of containing him and try to get to him as quickly as we can. How well he throws the football. I mean, he really stands in there. He's seeing the field and comes out with great velocity and is very accurate with the football.”

On not allowing Notre Dame to get off to a fast start:

HAZELL: “In both games, if you watch the games and study the film, in both games, it's a pretty tight game. Late in the second quarter. There was 5:46 on the clock against Michigan and -- at half-time it's 21 -- 21-0 against Michigan. It was like 7-0 with 5:46 on the clock. So teams have kind of self-destructed in those last three to five minutes of the game. Rice did the same thing. Turned it over twice right before the half, and Notre Dame scored twice. So we have to avoid that at all costs, because they are going to try to strike.”

On Sheldon Day:

HAZELL: He's a really, really good player. What makes him special is he stays on his feet, he's powerful. He runs down the line of scrimmage. We have a couple things planned for him but he's a really good player and we're going to have to get him blocked.

On Notre Dame’s speed on defense:

HAZELL: They run from sideline to sideline extremely well, and there's some certain things that you can count on that with that we have to be able to do. And you've got to stay out of negative plays against this football team because their makeup is completely different on third down than it is on first and second down. You can't limit them to third and nines and third and 11s, because then they are going to eat you up.

On the Notre Dame – Purdue series taking a hiatus:

HAZELL: This has been such a great series, it really has. It's an in-state rivalry and it's bragging rights for a year and all those things. Obviously there is some disappointment and it's going away and it's unfortunate that we won't see them again until 2020.

Parting shots

Here’s a link to the events surrounding the Shamrock Series this weekend.

I'll be soaking up the fact that tables are turned this weekend, and while the rest of the media will take their turn on 31 South, which features construction and speed traps, I’ll be walking to Lucas Oil.

Have a great rest of the week everyone.


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