Saturday, August 26, 2006

Notre Dame Preseason Football Preview - Part III

Part III - Receivers and Tight Ends

For Brady to win the Heisman this year, the receivers are going to have to do their part. And they have the talent to do so. This group is deeper and more talented than last year's receiving corps, and there are a slew of younger players pushing for playing time. Oh, and we have a likely preseason All-American in Jeff Samardzija, as well as a potential All-American in Rhema McKnight.

In the immortal words of Vincent Vega, "it breaks down like this:"

Wide Receivers

Starting Z Receiver
Jeff Samardzija, Senior (2 year starter)

Career accomplishments:
2005 Consensus First-team All-American
Nation's leading returning receiver
One of three finalists for 2005 Biletnikoff Award (given to nation's best receiver)
Holds Notre Dame single-season receiving records in:
Receiving yards (1,249)
Touchdown catches (15)
2006 Heisman trophy candidate

Fun fact:
Under Coach Willingham, Samardzija did not start. His first career start came after Willingham retired, in the Insight Bowl against Oregon State (under interim coach Kent Baer).
Samardzija's career under Willingham, with Brady as QB(2 seasons): 24 rec, 327 yards, 0 TD
Samardzija's career under Weis, with Brady as QB (1 season): 77 rec, 1,249 yards, 15 TDs
What a difference a coach makes.

Starting X Receiver
Rhema McKnight, Senior (RS) (4+ year starter)

Career accomplishments:
Playing in his 5th season at Notre Dame, McKnight was granted a medical redshirt last year after suffering a season ending injury in game 2 against Michigan.
Led the team in receptions and yards in 2003 and 2004.

Fun fact:
If Willingham were coaching, you could pencil in McKnight for 600 yards and 3 TDs, which is what he did both as a freshman and as a sophomore.
However, Weis took a kid with a little over 150 yards per season and no TDs and made him an All-American. What Coach Weis could do with a talent like McKnight is mind boggling.
Fun with numbers: If you increase McKnight's average under Willingham by the same percentage of increase that occurred with Samardzija, McKnight would garner almost 2,500 yards in receiving this season. The NCAA single season record is 2,060 yards.

Preseason Prognostication
Samardzija is one of the hot receivers in the nation this preseason, garnering all kinds of hype, along with speedster Ted Ginn, Jr. at Ohio $tate, reliable Dwayne Jarrett at $outhern Cal, and super-freak Calvin Johnson at Georgia Tech.

But for all the talk that he may be the best receiver in the nation, I'm not convinced that he is the best receiver on his own team.

Samardzija's numbers may slip a little this year, as teams will be double and triple teaming him early on, to try and neutralize the passing offense that is the gasoline in Notre Dame's engine.

Which is why I won't be surprised if Jeff Samardzija is the second leading receiver in his own offense this year. Rhema McKnight was the go-to guy for Brady Quinn his first two years at Notre Dame, and before he was injured against Michigan last year, McKnight was the leading receiver.

At practice, McKnight looks like he is in the best shape he has ever been, and looks like a better athlete than Samardzija (in fact, he looks like he could be the best athlete on the field this year).

All that said, Samardzija has the best hands on the team, and will get his catches. Brady's Heisman campaign might just result in both of these receivers garnering All-American honors, as there isn't a team in the country with a corner tandem that can effectively cover this 1-2 punch.

Other Receivers
Weis says that after his third receiver there is quite a dropoff to the other receivers, but don't be surprised to see everyone on this list get some catches this year. The depth here allows Weis to throw a variety of receiver types at opposing defenses, keeping them off balance.

David Grimes, Sophomore
The third receiver in Weis' pass-happy schemes will be Grimes, who separated himself from the other backups this offseason. He is fast, and as a result will also be serving on kickoff returns for the another year. However, Coach Weis says that it is his understanding of the offense that sets him apart from his other backups. As a result, expect to see a lot of 3 WR sets this year.

Chase Anastacio, Senior
The fourth receiver, Anastacio is a speedster that has largely disappointed to this point in his career. Weis seems impressed by Anastacio this season, and perhaps his improved understanding of the offense will allow him to step it up this year. But I wouldn't hold my breath. Look for Anastacio to make a significant impact on special teams, though. He blocked three punts last year.

George West, Freshman
I understand why this guy excites Coach Weis - with the ball in his hands, he is elusive and a home run threat every time. But, his hands are suspect, and he drops a lot of balls. He will be the 5th receiver in 5-wide sets, but his biggest contribution to the team this year will be on kickoff returns. He gives a legitimate threat in the return game, and I expect him to break several big returns and a couple of TDs this year.

Richard Jackson, Freshman
This kid has a lot of god-given talent, and is my favorite to be the #1 receiver next year. However, he is struggling with picking up the offense this year, and his development into an elite receiver (which he has the potential to be) will depend on his intellectual development. He already has the physical tools.

Barry Gallup, Jr., Freshman
Good all-around receiver, with good speed and very good hands - a complete package. Not a gamebreaker like Samardzija, but will be a dependable receiver if he sees the field. Like Jackson, he seems to be struggling with the complexities of the offense.

Darrin Bragg, Junior
A great athlete that moved from QB to WR last year, Bragg still has a lot of potential. If he can develop his route running skills, he could have a very big impact next year.

Robby Parris, Freshman
Unlike fellow freshman Gallup, Parris can be a gamebreaker, but needs to develop some more consistency to break into some playing time.

D.J. Hord, Sophomore - a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered during weight training in the offseason has ended the season for Hord. Hord was the best contender to push Grimes for the third receiver this year. Next year, Hord will be in the competition for the #1 receiver slot.

Tight Ends

Coach Weis likes both of these tight ends, and although Carlson is listed ahead of Freeman on the depth chart, both will get a bunch of reps, and Weis will use a lot of two tight end sets to beat up on smaller defenses. Therefore, I'm listing them both as starters. There is a significant dropoff to the true freshman, who still need to develop physically and mentally to push for playing time. However, our depth at tight end moving into the future will be superb. In Coach Weis' first two full recruiting seasons, he has recruited the top tight end in the country to Notre Dame (Mike Ragone 2007, Konrad Reuland 2006). Although Willingham lost super-stud TE Greg Olsen to Miami after comitting to ND, with Fasano drafted to the Cowboys in this year's draft, and two quality tight ends starting this year, Notre Dame will be the new Tight End U by the turn of the decade.


John Carlson, Senior
Good athlete (also a basketball player), and a very good pass catcher. Blocks hard, but isn't as physical of a blocker as Freeman. His athleticism and better speed probably got him the nod ahead of Freeman.

Marcus Freeman, Senior (RS)
Experienced and dependable, a great blocker and good receiver. Great understanding of the offense, and can physically impose himself on linebackers.


Konrad Reuland
#1 tight end recruit last year, this kid will be a stud once he develops.

Will Yeatman
Yeatman might have something to say about 2006 #1 tight end recruit Reuland and 2007 #1 tight end recruit Ragone taking over the tight end position; a two-sport athlete (also a high caliber lacrosse player), Yeatman has the athleticism to be an Antonio Gates-esque tight end.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Depth Chart Fun!!!

Coach Weis released the official depth chart for the Georgia Tech game today, and made some brief comments about some of the closer battles.

Here is the breakdown:


Quinn - Heisman trophy candidate - no surprise here.
Sharpley - Sharpley's understanding of the offense gives him an edge in the backup battle, but Coach Weis stated in his press conference that all four quarterbacks are coming to the games. He does not sound as sure of Sharpley's athletic talents.

Walker - Third year starter, and with T. Thomas moving to LB and Aldridge injured, it's no surprise that he wasn't even close to being passed on the depth chart
(T. Thomas) - Despite move to linebacker, Thomas will back up unless he is too tired.
Prince - Will backup Walker when Thomas is winded from starting at linebacker.

Schwapp - Clear #1 Starter
McConnell - If this guy sees anything but mop-up action, I'd be surprised.

Z Receiver
Samardzija - Biletnikoff Award Candidate and Heisman darkhorse, but might be the 2nd best receiver on team
Grimes - made huge strides from last year to this year, and will be the 3rd receiver in 3 WR sets

X Receiver
McKnight - Possibly the best athlete on team, McKnight is poised to have a huge season with all of the attention on Samardzija
Anastasio - Came back from injury to establish himself as the 4th WR due to his experience and exceptional speed
West - This one baffles me. He is amazing with the ball in his hands, but drops too many passes (Note: Weis said he is bringing several other receivers to games as well)

Tight End
Carlson \ Carlon's lead over Freeman is razor thin, and we will see many two tight
Freeman / end sets, as well as a frequent rotation between the two.

Right Tackle
Young - A freshman starting his first game out of the gate at right tackle. This kis is a beast, and if he continues to develop during his career, may be one of the best lineman ever to come out of Notre Dame.
Duncan - He is right on the heels of Young, and may step in several times this year to give Coach Weis a chance to chew out Young for freshman mistakes.

Right Guard
Morton - Lost his father this week, so say some prayers for him and his family. He is one of the rocks on this offensive line.
Mattes - Mattes is actually Coach Weis' #2 guy on the entire line (besides center); Coach says he feels comfortable plugging Mattes in at any position - if Sullivan goes down, Morton would shift to center and Mattes will step in; Mattes also might step in ahead of backups at the other positions.

Sullivan - An excellent leader for this offensive line, Sully's health will be key to the success of the offensive line this season.
(Morton) - If Sullivan goes down, Morton would slide over to fill in, Chervanik is more like a 3rd stringer
Chervanick - unimpressive thus far, but apparently good enough to be in the mix

Left Guard
Santucci - Clear starter
Olsen - Like Chervanik, more of a 3rd stringer, as Mattes would probably step in ahead of him; he would be in if there are multiple injuries.

Left Tackle
Harris - Clear Starter
Turkovich - I'm disappointed that Turkovich wasn't able to step it up this year; another 3rd string guy behind the roving Mattes.


Left Defensive End
Abiamiri - Needs to have a big year; is our biggest pass rush threat. We need him to be not just healthy, but at 100% all year to take some pressure off the linebackers and secondary.
Ryan or J. Brown - Much like on the O-line, if Abiamiri went down he would probably be replaced by Talley or Frome. These two are more like third stringers.

Left Defensive Tackle
Laws - A force on the inside, he will have to stay healthy and driven to keep Leitko from sneaking up on him
Leitko - Securely back in the mix at DT, Leitko will push for playing time this year.

Right Defensive Tackle
Landri - Beast, clear starter.
Kuntz - Needs some work, but wouldn't be a bad option if he's called on. He is basically the fourth guy behind Leitko.

Right Defensive End
Talley - This race at right end is neck and neck. A little surprised that Talley was listed first.
Frome - I expect these two (and so does Coach Weis) to get a similar number of snaps this year.

Sam Linebacker
Vernaglia - These two are similar players, and neither one has really separated themselves. I hope somebody steps up. Still think Crum should be Sam.

Mike Linebacker
Crum - Best linebacker, his talents are being wasted at Mike.
T. Smith - Had hoped that he would have won the starting Mike job as a freshman, freeing Crum to play the Sam. Disappointing.

Will Linebacker
T. Thomas - Great in coverage and contain, not so good against inside runs.
Brockington - Not really an option right now. If Thomas goes down, I'd expect either Vernaglia or M. Thomas to step in ahead of Brockington.

Left Cornerback
Wooden - I love our corners. Wooden has to be good.
Walls - 'Cause if he isn't, Walls is on his heels.

Strong Safety
Zbikowski - Herring won't see the field. Zibby is too tough.
Herring - I hope Herring doesn't see the field too much

Free Safety
Ndukwe - I hope he develops a little more discipline this year. He's got the physical tools.
McCarthy or Bruton - Again, I'm not sold on the depth, but they aren't too bad.

Right Cornerback
Richardson - Again, Richardson needs to stay on top of his game.
Lambert or McNeil - I am amazed that McNeil hasn't earned a starting nod. He looked excellent in practice. I must have missed something. Lambert is no slouch either, and had a pick 6 last year.


Long Snapper
Jansen - amazingly consistent - we don't have to worry too much about bad snaps.
Duncan - good backup, but long snappers don't get injured much.

Punt Returner
Zbikowski - not the fastest returner I've ever seen (but still pretty darn fast), but by far the toughest and most fun to watch.
Grimes - Kid's got some moves, I expect him to spell Zibby fairly often in this role.
West - Kid's got some amazing talent with the ball in his hands. His hands are suspect, though, which is why he's not pushing Zibby right now.

Price - This kid can really boom his punts. He needs a little more work on control.
Renkes - Good leg, but very inconsistent. Needs work on technique. Big dropoff from Price.

Kick Returner
Grimes - Good combination of speed and moves. Nothing too spectacular, though.
West - his suspect hands aren't as much of a problem on kickoffs. I expect to see him break a couple of big runs this year.

Gioa - Leads by a razor thin margin.
Burkhart - Will develop into a better kicker than D.J. was, just needs some time to develop better and more consistent technique.

Renkes - His leg got him the edge here.
Burkhart - Again, Burkhart is in the mix, just needs more time to develop.

Placekick Holder
Samardzija - best hands on the team
Sharpley - the usual role for a backup QB

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Notre Dame Preseason Football Preview - Part VI (yes, I'm jumping around a bit)

Shout out!

Take a couple of minutes and go read my buddy, classmate, and former Notre Dame football player Kevin Carretta's piece on the linebackers over at Blue & Gold: Big Hole to Fill. I spoke with Kevin the other day about his article, and while he was not as family-friendly in his comments to me, I think his article makes some very good points about our safeties and linebackers.

I watched a few more practices than Kevin this year, but I don't have his pedigree and experience in evaluating talent, and I think he makes some excellent points. Especially regarding our safeties.

Although I should be waxing poetic about our amazing wide receivers right now, I thought that in light of Kevin's article, I would take a few minutes and preview the linebackers.

Part VI - Linebackers

Starting Linebackers

Travis Thomas, Senior - Will (weak side) Linebacker
Travis Thomas is a converted running back, who has shifted to linebacker this year to improve the athletic talent at a position that Willingham left paper thin. He is one of the best all-around athletes on the team, and I think that long-term, he will be a very good liinebacker.
I agree with Kevin Carretta's comments about Travis Thomas fighting through blocks. He hasn't shown the ability or strength to take on blockers. However, what I've seen Travis Thomas do several times during practice is run around blocks. Thomas has great speed (Coach calls it recovery speed), and while he may be out of position at times while trying to avoid blocks, his position on the weak side of the formation places him in the best position to be successful by relying on instinct and athleticism rather than technique.

Maurice Crum, Junior - Mike (middle) Linebacker
Maurice Crum is a great athlete. He is fast, he can hit, he has good fundamentals, can cover receivers, and really just generally flies to the ball. Which is why it's a waste to put him at middle linebacker. The middle linebacker is supposed to be the anchor and leader of the defense, and Crum's leadership abilities are not in question. However, he would be better suited to the Sam linebacker position, and he doesn't have the size to be the dominant force needed at the Mike position.

Anthony Vernaglia, Junior - Sam (strong side) Linebacker
Mitchell Thomas, Senior - Sam (strong side) Linebacker
Both of these guys are fairly veteran guys who have the potential to step up and become a big-time playmaker at linebacker. Problem is, neither one has. They both appear to be going through the motions out there in practice. They don't make mistakes, they don't miss tackles or find themselves out of position, so they will be fairly good players to fill in at linebacker. Problem is, to be the strong side linebacker, you have to want to be the man on every play. You have to play with fire and intensity and intimidate opposing running backs. You have to be going full throttle every down, every play. And these guys don't seem to have that fire yet. If either one steps up on gameday and starts playing with some drive and passion, they will probably take over the starting position. Until then, the Sam linebacker will be OK, but not great.

Backups to Watch:
Toryan Smith and Morrice Richardson, Freshmen
Coach Weis got a couple of kids in last year's class that have loads of raw talent, but need to learn the speed and complex systems of the college game to get a shot at playing time. Expect them to make some noise on special teams this year.

My take on the linebackers as a whole:

[Wherein I become long-winded and make many assumptions about the role of linebackers in Coach Minter's defense, which I have no training or other credentials to do, other than thinking I'm smart enough to analyze so complex a scheme from watching a couple of practices and last year's football games. Please, dear god please, don't take anything I say here as the god's honest truth. It simply reflects my understanding of the basic roles of linebackers and how they match up with the our available talent.]

The weak side linebacker's primary responsibility is to take on runs to the weak side, where often the linebacker takes on the running back one-on-one or has to fight through the block of a tight end or fullback. The defensive end has responsibility for containment, taking on the offensive tackle, and trying to get upfield to force the play inside. When containment fails, the will 'backer is supposed to attack the running back and keep him from bouncing outside and getting the corner for a big play. Thomas will excel at this, because his speed and burst will contain all but the fastest running backs, forcing the back to cut back into coverage, where it becomes the mike 'backer and safeties' responsibility to make the tackle.
The weak side linebacker also is responsible for the check-down receiver on most passing plays, usually the running back in the weak-side flats, and almost all screens. Most short passing plays go to the strong side, however, which is the quarterback's front side. At this, Travis Thomas will excel as well. He has great burst, a nose for the ball, and doesn't often miss tackles in the open field, a result of his extensive special teams play.
Where Thomas is going to struggle is on inside run support. When a team runs between the tackles, Thomas is most often going to be dealing with an offensive guard. On inside running plays, Thomas will be largely ineffective. Which is why having Crum in the middle could be a problem.
The Mike linebacker is supposed to be the biggest, strongest, baddest mother f%#$er on the field. He has to be able to cover short crossing routes and slants to receivers and tight ends, while also being the primary tackler on every running play from tackle to tackle. He needs to be able to ignore blockers at will, and impose his will on the offense. Toryan Smith might be able to grow into this role in the future, but I can understand why Coach Weis and Coach Minter don't want a true freshman anchoring the defense.
As Carretta said in his piece, Crum is an excellent outside linebacker. He is going to be a middling inside linebacker. He will struggle fighting through double-team blocks and taking on bigger pound-em type backs. When it is 4th and goal on the 1 yard line, I hope Coach Weis isn't counting on Crum to stop a charging fullback up the gut. He doesn't have the size or toughness for it.
Crum should be playing the Sam (strong side) linebacker, who has to be the most disciplined and athletic player on the defense. That position, manned by both Mitchell Thomas and Anthony Vernaglia, has the responsibility for the majority of the plays an offense runs. Usually, the offense has an extra blocker on the strong side, and the Sam 'backer has to take on blocks, shed them, and then accelerate to the ball carrier. The Sam backer also has responsibility for most of the short passing plays, as well as dual responsibility for the scrambling quarterback and his short receiving options on that side of the field. Which is why Crum should be playing the Sam 'backer, where he can utilize his talents the best.
M. Thomas and Vernaglia are both good linebackers, but it worries me that neither has claimed this position as their own. Carretta is high on Mitchell, and I think that he has the better athletic tools for the position, but he freelances more than I'd like to see. Vernaglia is more disciplined, but not as athletic.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Notre Dame Preseason Football Preview 2006 - Part II

Running Backs

Starting Tailback
Darius Walker, Junior (three year starter)

Career Accomplishments
During high school, broke Hershel Walker's single season touchdown record for the state of Georgia.
Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year his senior season.
Holds the Notre Dame freshman single season rushing record, with 786 yards in 2004.
Eclipsed 1,000 yards in 2005 as a sophomore, and became the first player in Notre Dame history to begin the season with four straight 100+ yard rushing performances.

Fun Fact
Darius Walker is a millionaire. He received a $3 million jury award from a racial profiling incident that occurred outside a movie theater in Lawrenceville, GA while he was in seventh grade. So if you see him rollin in a pimpin' Benz with customized plates around town, it's not illegal kickbacks from boosters that paid for it.

Darius is the clear #1 tailback, with the transfer of Thomas to linebacker and Aldridge recovering from knee surgery. I like Darius a lot, and I think that Darius' vision is possibly the best I've ever seen. However, his physical tools are not the same as such elite backs as Adrian Peterson.
Next year, if Darius stays at Notre Dame, he will have a difficult time staving off the athletic talent that is coming in every year uder Coach Weis. At many positions, the players recruited by Ty his last two years are simply going to drift into depth chart oblivion as Coach Weis brings the talent level back to where it needs to be.
With Darius, that will be an intersting decision for Coach Weis, as he will have an established three-year starter that is more than servicable, is in fact very good, returning. However, Weis will also have some incredible athletic talent chomping at the bit to get in the game. However, that will be a question for next spring.
Right now, I expect Darius to have an excellent season (possibly even one of the best ever for a Notre Dame running back) with all of the opposing defense's attention on containing an explosive pass offense. However, I'm not sure that Darius will ever be the best athlete to play the running back position, although his numbers may make him look like it at the end of his career.

Backup Tailbacks
Munir Prince, Freshman
A speedster freshman from St. Louis, Missouri (DeSmet Jesuit HS), Prince came into the season expected to sit deep on a talented running back depth chart. Howeever, knee surgery on the freshman class' superstar and a position switch of last year's established backup tailback vaulted Prince to the second spot in the dept chart. He has the same personal best in the 100-meter as Reggie Bush did in high school. He needs to work on his juking ability, as he slows down to much when trying to make people miss. However, when he can hit a hole, he has gamebreaking speed.

James Aldridge, Freshman
The five-star super-prospect from right here in Indiana (Merrilville - Crown Point HS), Aldridge was expected to come in and push Darius right away for touches in the backfield. A knee injury and subsequent surgery has delayed Aldridge's development thus far. He looks like the best athlete at the running back position, and clearly has the tools to be a superstar in the future. He doesn't have the speed of Prince, but he has more than enough quickness, and has the hard-hitting ability to break tackles. If he can regain his lateral quickness, he will be the next great Notre Dame running back, and may even supplant Darius from his starting position next year.

Travis Thomas, Junior
Thomas, the incumbent backup to Darius Walker, was moved to linebacker this year to help upgrade the athleticism at that position. Coach Weis has been giving Thomas touches on offense during practice as well, and has stated that he expects Travis to be ready to run on the second offensive play if he needs him. Thomas will be an X factor in this backup battle this year.

The backup battle is not going to be over once the season starts. Prince will start the season at #2, but as Aldridge gets healthy, he will probably push for touches as well. Other players to watch include Junior Jabbie (Junior), the converted cornerback, and bruising freshman Luke Schmidt.

Starting Fullback
Asaph Schwapp, Sophomore (two year starter)

The fullback position doesn't seem to be in doubt, as Coach Weis seems to really like what he gets from Asaph. Coach Weis was quoted as saying that Schwapp "doesn't have an unselfish bone in his body" (yes, I know he misspoke, and meant to say he doesn't have a selfish bone in his body...). Schwapp doesn't care how many touches he gets, he just wants to hit someone every play. It's a pretty good sign when the defense groans when we practice short yardage runs - what Coach calls pound 'em plays. 'Cause the defense knows that they are going to have to take a hit in trying to take down Schwapp. Also, Coach Weis says that, pound for pound, Schwapp is the strongest player on the team. And considering that he weighs 250 pounds, that's a lot of power.

Backup Fullbacks
Ashley McConnell, Senior
McConnell saw some limited time last year as a reserve fullback, and doesn't seem to be much of an option for the Irish this season. If Schwapp goes down, I expect Weis to switch to single back sets with two tight ends for short yardage runs. The starter here is great, but the depth is almost nonexistent.

Luke Schmidt, Freshman
Listed as a tailback right now, this kid is a beast that looks like it won't take long for him to bulk up into a fullback. He is a work in progress, but I am predicting that he will be in the mix in fullback going forward.

Darius Walker will have a breakout season this year. With all of the focus on Brady Quinn's Heisman campaign and Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight being every down deep threats, teams will be playing with lots of defensive backs on the field. While Darius does not have breakaway speed and you won't see a lot of 40+ yard runs, don't be surprised to see Darius with a bunch of 10-15 yard runs, and a couple of 200+ yard games this year. His hands also make him a legitimate threat in the open field as an outlet receiver for Brady, and despite not being as athletically talented as the likes of Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson, I wouldn't be surprised to see Darius have similar numbers as the elite backs this year.

Munir Prince will be an excellent alternative to Darius at running back, as his speed can catch some defenses off guard, as they will be used to chasing Darius, a slower back. I wouldn't be surprised to see some 2-back sets to force the defense to both account for Darius' vision, shiftiness and power, as well as Prince's gamebreaking speed. James Aldridge and Travis Thomas might get some touches as well, just to give defenses another type of runner to deal with. Gameplanning this group of talents will be difficult.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


"Aldridge is running great, but he's running straight great." - Coach Weis

Apparently, Aldridge is going to need some time to shake the rust off and get back to cutting and moving laterally on his repaired knee.

Recent reports about "enbdorsements" by current players is a non-story.

No money changed hands, these so-called spots were only used during the program, and not as promotional materials. This is innocent and will go away with little or no NCAA sanction. However, I wouldn't expect to see any Notre Dame players saying "You're watching Sportz Dogz" anytime soon.

Personal news: I will not be selling the football. The good folks over at were very helpful, and have provided me with several alternative solutions. Keep me in your prayers, though, and I want to thank all of you that expressed interest in the football.