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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the category “Notre Dame Correspondent”

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Week 1

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are just hours away from the season starting, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: Which ACC team is the biggest risk for being an upset victim in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  Pittsburgh Panthers.  Many ACC teams play weak competition in week 1, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, William & Mary, and Florida A&M lined up to face ACC teams. I’ll go with the Pittsburgh Panthers to possibly falling victim an upset to the Villanova Wildcats. Even though they are a FCS team, the Wildcats have talent on the offensive side of the ball and will looking to upset their in-state opponent to send a message in week one.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Hard to say what is and isn’t an upset this early in the season, but we do know that Clemson is in a lot of playoff projections, and this isn’t a gimme with Auburn. This is an SEC team that runs the kind of offense that is tough to prepare for. Sure they had the whole offseason, but the Tigers probably have other things to worry about.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse better be very, very ready for Colgate, an experienced team.  Not a gimme.  I disagree with Villanova only because I think Pitt under Narduzzi is the real deal.  They may not win the Coastal, but this is not the typical mediocre Pitt coaching hire.  So I will go with Tulane over Wake Forest.  Assuming the former Georgia Southern coaches can implement some semblance of what they did before at Tulane, Wake Forest may get itself into a shootout.  If so, could be trouble.

Q2: What are the three things your school’s team must do to win in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With Notre Dame kicking the season off at Texas, the Fighting Irish must take the excitement out of the crowd and score first. If they can build an early lead and have the Longhorns play catch up, they will be in better position to win. The second key to victory is to put pressure on true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele early and often. The third key is to get the ball in the hands of captain Torii Hunter Jr.’s hands, as he will set the stone for the otherwise young receiving corps the Irish have.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): 3 things? I hope it doesn’t take 3 things to beat William and Mary. They beat State in basketball, so I guess it isn’t out of the question, but there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. I’m a big FCS guy, and W&M isn’t North Dakota State. More than 3 things would have to go horribly wrong for this to be a loss.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse is many years past where it could look past an FCS school.  This is just reality.  Villanova should have beaten Syracuse and Colgate may be more primed to pull an upset.  Syracuse will need to avoid turnovers–which give instant life to an opponent.  While most will be concerned about Syracuse looking past Colgate, what is even more important is that Syracuse use its superior athletes–bigger players should push around smaller players, faster players should play faster than slower players–and so on.  Up to the coaches to use the size and speed advantages.  And then, of course, fundamentals…block, tackle, hang on to the ball, avoid penalties…. amazing how often that matters.

Q3: What would have to happen for your school to lose in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): The Fighting Irish would have to come out unfocused and nervous to lose in week one, as a defense with six starters should feast against a true freshman quarterback in his first start.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): There’s no QB1 or QB2 on the depth chart, so both would have to play terrible. Add on some injuries to the running game, and the defense would just have to implode.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): It would not take much, sadly.  If Syracuse is turnover prone or allows a special teams touchdown, it could be game on.  If Syracuse starts slow, Colgate will stay in the game that much longer.  In the end, if you give an FCS team reason for hope, expect them to run with it.  We have seen it far too many times at Syracuse–from Coach P losing to Rutgers/Temple when they were miserably awful… to Doug Marrone allowing Maine to hang in there… to Scott Shafer nearly losing to Villanova.  And, of course, we see it every year during the Big Dance (looking at you, Middle Tennessee State).

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

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Notre Dame Season Preview: Wide Receivers

This year the Notre Dame wide receiving corps will have to step it up due to the loss of their best player last season. Wide receiver Will Fuller left Notre Dame for the NFL after an outstanding junior season in which he recorded 62 receptions, 1,258 yards, and 14 touchdowns in 13 games. Over his three-year career with the Fighting Irish, Fuller was good for 144 receptions, 2,512 yards, and 30 touchdowns over 32 career games. Fuller left Notre Dame with the receiver with the second most career touchdowns (Michael Floyd 37), 5th all-time in receptions, and 4th all-time in receiving yards. The Houston Texans drafted Fuller with the 21st overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

So who will fill in Fuller’s huge shoes? The first man up will be redshirt-junior Torii Hunter Jr. Hunter is a two-sport athlete (baseball, obviously), who caught 28 balls last year for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter was recently named one of the four captains for the Fighting Irish for the 2016 season.

Hunter witnessed leadership as a college athlete from players like Nick Martin, Sheldon Day, and Jaylon Smith, but also from his father. Hunter has said

“I take a lot of the stuff that he done with a lot of ball clubs, and him being an older guy in a lot of younger clubhouses. That’s one of the biggest things I try to stress is keep it fun, joke around but also go out there and get work done. I think that’s one of the biggest things my dad does well is keep it chill, keep it lose and make guys go out there and play.”

Head coach Brian Kelly is counting on Hunter saying,

“He is a veteran on our team, hasn’t played maybe as much but he’s played big roles for us. He’s a guy that I think this year will be counted on to do quite a bit. But again, again, a guy that walks the walk and talks the talk and back it up both on and off the field will be a great mentor to a lot of young receivers.”

Hunter will be leading a young, inexperienced receiving corps that will be highlighted by Miles Boykin. Boykin is a former four-star recruit who redshirted last season. He comes in at 6’3”, 225 pounds with good hands, but according to wide receiver coach Mike Denbrock, Boykin needs be more aggressive.

Another young wide receiver who will make his debut this season is Equanimeous St. Brown, also known ESB. ESB will be the deep threat in the Irish offense given his height (6’5”) and ability to track the ball in the air. Cj Sanders, who has kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns last season, but rarely saw the field in any offensive sets will also likely make an impact this season. Sanders has the speed and playmaking ability to play slot, especially with Hunter and ESB on the outside.

The Notre Dame offense has high expectations. With Hunter returning in a leadership position, Mike McGlinchey holding down the offensive line, and Tearean Folston returning in the backfield, this offense is ready to go, regardless of whom the quarterback is. Hunter is obviously the player to watch in his senior year, but players like Boykin, St. Brown, and Sanders will have the opportunity to be playmakers this season as well.

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Preseason 2016

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are still in the preseason, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: OK, with the football season right around the corner, who are the 5 best teams in the ACC (including Notre Dame) in order?  Which two are playing in the ACC Championship Game?  And who, if anyone, from the ACC will make the playoffs?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  The Clemson Tigers are the best team in the ACC. Following them, is Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and the Miami Hurricanes.  ACC Title Game: FSU vs UNC. Playoffs: FSU

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, Louisville. Clemson and Miami playing in Charlotte.  I think any ACC champ would make the playoff assuming they only have a loss or two

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): 1, Clemson; 2, FSU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Miami; 5. Louisville.  Clemson vs Miami, with Clemson in the playoffs.

Q2: Looking objectively at your team, which team is your team most likely to upset?  And which team is most likely to upset your team?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With an early home game and the Spartans having holes to fill in their starting offensive line, the Irish have a very good chance of beating Michigan State at home in the third week of the season. Since the Fighting Irish’s schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to pull off an upset, Michigan State would be my choice, even if they are close in the rankings.  With only three away games this season, Notre Dame will avoid hostile environments and be less likely to get upset. I will pick the Miami Hurricanes as one team who can upset the Irish this season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is special and will be looking to increase his draft stock with a big win in South Bend.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): That’s easy: FSU. It’s in Raleigh, and for whatever reason, NC State always does well against the Noles at home. I think Syracuse has the best chance to pull an upset, just because it’s on the road. Normally I’d say BC or Wake, but both are at home this year so State SHOULD be ok against these guys.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Most Syracuse fans will say Virginia Tech because it is a home game.  But in Week 2, Louisville will have very little film to scout (and Colgate may not provide a preview of the entire offense), a Syracuse team without depth may be as healthy as it will be for any game all year, Louisville will still be “green” on its own, Syracuse is at home, etc.  I would not bet your kids’ lunch money on an upset, but it is my pick.  As for upsetting Syracuse, it is difficult with so few games to choose from. UConn is likely to be an underdog if Syracuse starts strong, so look for that as a potential loss in the same spirit as the USF win over Syracuse last year.  Sadly.  Frankly, it would be better for the ACC if B.C. or Wake Forest is the answer to this question–but both may be favored.

Q3: Who is one offensive player from your school for fans of other schools to keep an eye on in 2016?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): I know it may be cliché to choose the starting running back, but Tarean Folston is ready to be the star of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Folston was all set to be the starter last season but tore his ACL after three rushing attempts in the season opener. In 2014, Folston had four 100-yard rushing games, including 120 yards and a touchdown at #2 Florida State. Keep an eye out for the senior running back, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): You won’t see Jaylen Samuels on many watch lists, but that’s because he has no position. He can play RB, WR, TE, and anywhere in the backfield. He’s big and fast, a great combination.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): In this Dino Babers system, gotta go with the QB: Eric Dungey.  If he stays healthy and grasps the system, Dungey could put up huge numbers.  But those are some big “ifs” to watch for.  With a fairly decent compliment of skill players (relative to past seasons), we really may see Syracuse play fast and be fast.

Q4: Who is one defensive or special teams player for fans of other schools to take notice of?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Cole Luke will be the leader in the secondary. The senior is coming off a little disappointing season after his breakout sophomore season. Luke only had 6 passes defended last year meanwhile he had 11 in 2014. Watch the 5’11” senior come back to form in his last year with the Fighting Irish.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Nyheim Hines is a guy that’s so fast, he lines up at RB and WR. This speed is what makes him a great option when returning kicks and punts

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): After 7 years of Scott Shafer as defensive coordinator and head coach, and with a very inexperienced and not-so-deep defense, this could be a struggle.  All the more reason that Syracuse will need to score a lot and actually convert turnovers (however many) into points.  With linebacker perhaps the area with most returning depth, and Zaire Franklin the junior that was a captain last year as a sophomore MLB likely to anchor that unit, watch Franklin.

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

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