Tag Archives: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Navy vs. Notre Dame, 10-27-18: In-game report

Notre Dame and Navy traveled to San Diego to rekindle a rivalry. However, an efficient offense and a fundamentally sound defense allowed the Fighting Irish to make quick work of the Midshipmen, winning 44-22.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report: 

53 Sam Mustipher (6’2 306) Notre Dame OL-Senior 

DraftNasty highlighted Mustipher in our season preview to begin the season and in 2018, the Fighting Irish senior lineman has remained a constant positive for the offense. Mustipher routinely finished blocks against Navy with a little extra force and he isn’t afraid to mix it up with defensive lineman that are his size or bigger. However, what makes Mustipher an NFL-caliber interior lineman is his ability to get to the second level quickly like he did against Navy linebacker Taylor Heflin (6'2 229).  Mustipher was able to move Heflin out of the way with ease, paving the way for the team’s second rushing touchdown of the night.  The Irish rank in the top third in the nation in passing yards, rushing yards and points per game and Mustipher’s expertise along the line is a huge reason why.

12 Ian Book (6’0 203) Notre Dame QB-Junior 

Book has put together a five-game winning streak since he took over as the starting quarterback against Wake Forest.  One of the reasons, head coach Brian Kelly moved on from senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush (6’2, 222) is because Book is more efficient in the passing game.  Wimbush was pulled after tallying four interceptions and one touchdown in his three starts to begin the year.  Since being named the starter, Book has thrown 13 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 76-percent of his passes. Book’s accuracy is on par with some of the best in college football, and his best throws against Navy came on a pair of back-shoulder throws to senior wide receiver Miles Boykin (6’4 228), which both resulted in touchdowns. Book has also rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns.  The California native's mobility to evade the rush and his pinpoint accuracy should be enough continue to carry the Fighting Irish offense.

Notre Dame defense vs. Navy offense

The Midshipmen pride themselves on their triple option offensive attack but against the Irish they couldn’t get anything going. Notre Dame jumped out to a 27-0 advantage in the first half and by that point the Midshipmen were too far behind to make a difference. The Fighting Irish defensive line routinely overpowered Navy’s front five. The defensive line was able to keep senior linebacker Te’von Coney (6’1 240) clean of blockers and allow him to make 14 tackles. As a whole, the defense forced three turnovers and four three-and- outs.  If the Fighting Irish can stick to the assignment football that won them the game against Navy, then they should be able to continue to challenge for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

2018 Preview: USC Trojans

Season outlook

The USC Trojans will try and defend their Pac-12 Championship after losing quarterback Sam Darnold in the first round of the NFL Draft.  USC has three options currently battling it out in camp for the position: freshmen JT Daniels (6'2, 205) and Jack Sears (6'3, 205), as well as sophomore Matt Fink (6'3, 190).   No matter who wins the competition, the quarterback will have a strong running back and defense to depend on.  Sophomore running back Stephen Carr (6'0, 210), who suffered a back injury in 2017, ran for 363 yards in eight games last season and 119 of those came in Week 2 against Stanford.  On defense, the Trojans have a lot of talent at defensive back and linebacker.  Senior safety Marvell Tell and senior linebacker Cameron Smith (6'2, 250) are both All-American talents that should make their way to the NFL after the season.  If the Trojans can get production in the trenches and from their quarterback, look for them to win the Pac-12.

Troy's player to watch

7 Marvell Tell III 6'2 195 FS-senior
Tell III (No. 7 pictured), a former high school wide receiver, has been solid in run support during his time as a Trojan.

Marvell Tell has the sideline-to-sideline range and ability to help in run support that NFL scouts covet.  Tell finished last season with 85 tackles and three interceptions. The senior safety earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2017 and projects as one of the best free safeties in college football.  If Tell can maintain his productivity, he could have a chance to be an early-round selection in next April's NFL Draft

Game of the season

September 8th against Stanford
USC defeated Stanford twice last season and will be tested again during the second week of the season against the Cardinal.  In the Pac-12 championship last season, Stanford lost to the Trojans 31-28. This matchup will pit potentially the two best teams in the Pac-12.  Stanford is one of the favorites to win the North division alongside Washington and USC is the odds-on favorite to win the South division.  Look for David Shaw and the Cardinal to bring their best game to the Coliseum.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

35 Cameron Smith 6’2 245 LB-Senior

Smith was a three-sport athlete at Granite Bay High School (California) in football, baseball and wrestling.

While Smith does some crossing over at times in the box, his instincts make up for it.  He routinely wins with his key-and-diagnose.  There is, however, some stiffness present in his game and he'll have to prove to NFL scouts that he can cover over the course of the next year.  His ability to finish on the ball in zone coverage is an added bonus.  The four-year starter is not a smacker, but he is a sound tackler capable of lining up the defense from snap-to-snap.

Prediction:  10-2 overall

The Trojans will win one more regular season game than they did a year ago.  DraftNasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting two losses for the Trojans: one on the road against Stanford and another at home against Notre Dame.

2018 Season Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Season outlook

Pat Fitzgerald's team has won 27 games over the past three seasons but his Wildcats haven't been able to make an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game.  Once again, division foes Iowa and Wisconsin will field strong teams and offer Northwestern tough competition.  Senior quarterback Clayton Thorson (6'4, 225) has started every game over the last three seasons and is on the watchlist for the Maxwell Award.  The biggest key for Thorson will be how he recovers from a serious injury suffered in the 2017 Music City Bowl.  With the departure of Justin Jackson,  sophomore running back Jeremy Larkin (5'10, 194) will take over the duties of carrying the rock.  On defense, the Wildcats have playmakers at every level.  Senior cornerback Montre Hartage leads the charge on the back end, junior defensive end Joe Gaziano (6'4, 280) sets the edge and sophomore linebacker Paddy Fisher (6'4, 245) mans the second level of the defense.

Troy's player to watch

24 Montre Hartage 6'0 190 CB-Senior
 

Hartage has started 26 straight games at cornerback and has worked himself into somewhat of a shutdown corner. The senior has eight career interceptions and will enter 2018 as the best defensive back on the roster.  The Wildcats return three potential All-Conference players in its front seven, which should alleviate some of the responsibilities on the back end for Hartage. Look for the cornerback to have another strong season, if opposing quarterbacks choose to throw his way. 

Game of the season

October 6th at Michigan State
Northwestern has defeated the Spartans in consecutive years.  Last year's contest was a game to remember,  as the Wildcats bested the Spartans in a triple overtime 39-31 thriller in Evanston.  This year, the Wildcats will have to travel to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that returns a number of starters.  If the Wildcats want to put the Big Ten on notice as a contender in the West division, a win against the Spartans will go a long way.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

32 Nate Hall 6’2 230 LB-Senior

Hall finished 2017 with 79 tackles, six quarterback sacks, 16.5 tackles for losses, two interceptions and six pass break-ups.

Hall throws his body around and reacts quickly versus blockers.  Perhaps more importantly, he can react instinctively versus the passing game.  The weakness for him revolves around his man-to-man coverage skill.  His pursuit angles can be hit-or-miss in pursuit.  With all of that said, his ability to rush the passer and make plays in zone coverage provides a unique combination for the Wildcats.  If he can drop his pad level with more consistency, look for Hall to take the next step as a prospect.

Prediction:  8-4

Northwestern will start the season 4-0 but will stumble across the finish line, according to Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson. The Wildcats will lose on the road against Michigan State and Iowa and at home against Wisconsin and Notre Dame. 

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2018 Season Preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Season outlook

Brian Kelly has won at least 10 games in four of his eight seasons as the head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and 2018 has the chance to be the fifth 10-win campaign.  There are reasons for optimism in South Bend because the  Fighting Irish have playmakers on each level of the defense and a returning 12-game starter at quarterback.  Offensively, junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush (6'1, 228) will resume his position as the top signal-caller for the Fighting Irish.  Last season, Wimbush finished with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.  However, he was sacked 25 times and completed just 48-percent of his passes.  In losses to Georgia, Miami and Stanford, Wimbush combined to throw three touchdowns and four interceptions.  If Wimbush can get in concert with his offensive line and get the ball away sooner, then he -along with his defensive playmakers- have the ability to go far this season.  Defensively, senior linebacker Te'Von Coney and senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (6'7, 304) dominate in the run game and on the back end junior cornerback Julian Love (5'11, 194) is emerging as one of the best defensive backs in the nation.  The talent and coaching experience is there in South Bend for a memorable season.

Troy's player to watch

4 Te'Von Coney 6'1 235 LB-Senior
Coney (No. 4 pictured) registered 17 tackles versus LSU in the 2018 Citrus Bowl.

Coney fits the mold of a sideline-to-sideline inside linebacker and his skills are reminiscent of the Jaguars' Telvin Smith.  Coney also has enough strength to absorb contact with running backs and drive them backwards.  Last year, the senior linebacker finished with 116 tackles, three quarterback sacks and11.5 tackles for losses.  If he can sharpen his skills in pass coverage, he has all the makings to be a potential Day 2 NFL prospect.

Game of the season 

September 1st against Michigan
The season opener will set the tone for the Fighting Irish.  Michigan hasn't played Notre Dame since 2014 and in that game, the Wolverines, lost 31-0. Notre Dame and Michigan both have College Football Playoff aspirations and a week one victory in South Bend would be a big boost to either team.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

53 Sam Mustipher 6'2 306 OC-Senior
Mustipher has been a contributor since 2015 and a starter the last two seasons for an impressive offensive line.  His 'nasty' in sending messages to defensive linemen stands out on film.  He can sink his frame in both pass protection and as a run blocker.  Aside from

Mustipher (No. 53 pictured) will perform as a graduate student in 2018.

getting to his spot on angle blocks, his quickness aids him effectively on combination blocks.  For him to improve his draft stock, Mustipher needs to improve his latch-and-sustain.  His size -while adequate- has gotten him into trouble versus leverage players at the point of attack in short yardage (Phillips, Stanford '17).   Over the course of the last three years, he has rounded himself into much better shape than he was earlier in his career.

Prediction: 11-1

Notre Dame has the potential to run the table like they did during the 2012 season. Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish will finish with its lone loss coming against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, according to DraftNasty's Troy Jefferson.

2018 Preview: Florida State Seminoles

Season outlook

First-year head coach Willie Taggart will look to turn around the Florida Seminoles much like he did for the USF Bulls just two seasons ago.  Last season, Taggart led Oregon to a 7-5 record before leaving the Ducks ahead of the team's bowl game.  Former Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher left behind a team with a talented run game and an elite pass rusher.  Senior center Alec Eberle (6'4, 295) has started 32 consecutive games dating back to the 2015 season and is a candidate for the Rimington Trophy this season after being named second team  All-ACC in 2017.  Eberle will help create running paths for sophomore running back Cam Akers (5'11, 213). Akers rushed for 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns on 194 carries in 2017.
FSU DE Brian Burns (No. 99 pictured) has broken up four passes, forced four fumbles and blocked three kicks over the last two seasons for the Seminoles.
Defensively, junior defensive end Brian Burns (6'5, 235) will be asked to continue to cause havoc off the edge.  The Fort Lauderdale native has totaled 14 sacks and 23 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.  Burns is a bona fide NFL prospect as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 rush outside linebacker.

Troy's player to watch

1 Levonta Taylor 5'10 186 CB-Junior
Florida State is no stranger to producing cover corners.  Jalen Ramsey, Deion Sanders and Xavier Rhodes are just a few of the names.  Junior cornerback Levonta Taylor has the ability to join the ranks of those Pro Bowlers.
Last season, he finished the season with two interceptions and three pass deflections. The relatively low interception totals are a result of quarterbacks refusing to throw his way. This year, Taylor will get to work with former Michigan State secondary coach Harlon Barnett, who has helped mold several defensive backs into NFL talents like Trae Waynes and Darqueze Dennard.  Despite seeing minimal action, DraftNasty's Troy Jefferson is projecting another season of the Virginia Beach native blanketing one side of the field.

Game of the season 

October 6th against Miami
Miami broke their seven-game losing streak in the longstanding rivalry by defeating Florida State, 24-20, in Tallahassee last year. You can expect Taggart's first order of business is for the Seminoles to regain in-state and conference supremacy. It won't be easy as Miami fields one its best teams since 2000.  Florida State's and Miami's October matchup could resemble some of their classic matchups from the 90s.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

90 Demarcus Christmas 6'4 308 DL-Senior

He is one of the toughest interior defensive lineman to latch in the ACC. His tremendous hand-eye coordination is evident when affecting the three-step passing game but just as impressive when it comes to dislodging versus offensive guards.  In a number of ways, he carries some similarities to former Alabama defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson (Detroit Lions).  The big question is whether or not he will become a more disruptive pass rush finisher in 2018.

Prediction: 9-3

Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting a two-win improvement on last season but a second place finish in the ACC's Atlantic Division. Jefferson is predicting road losses to Miami and Notre Dame and a home loss to Clemson.