Tag:Armando Allen
Posted on: March 24, 2011 1:48 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Notre Dame, which started spring practice on Wednesday.

Spring Practice Question: Can Notre Dame finally establish a running game?

When it comes to the way that Notre Dame finished its 2010 season, there are a lot of positives to talk about. Four straight victories against teams like Utah, USC and Miami that came as a bit of a surprise considering the Irish did it without starting quarterback Dayne Crist and starting tailback Armando Allen.

Instead the team was led by backup quarterback Tommy Rees, and a defense that played better than any unit the folks in South Bend have seen in quite a while.

So, it's no surprise that going in to the spring, the questions most people seem to be asking about Notre Dame have to do with the quarterback competition and the defense. Does Tommy Rees have a chance to keep the starting job? Will someone else emerge to replace both Rees and Crist? Can this defense maintain its late-season play, and can Manti Te'o get even better?

All are good questions to ask, and will definitely have a large impact on where Notre Dame goes in Brian Kelly's second season. Still, these aren't questions that can really be answered this spring. For the second year in a row, Dayne Crist is coming off of knee surgery and will be limited in the spring. Te'o is coming off of knee surgery as well, and won't be at full-speed either. So while we may see hints of things to come in those two areas, the answers will not come until later this summer.

One area that not many people are talking about, and also played a huge role in the late season turnaround that will definitely have a huge impact on the Irish in 2011 as well, is the running back position.

Since Charlie Weis replaced Tyrone Willingham in 2005, the running game that Notre Dame was once built upon has disappeared. The team hasn't had a featured tailback that could produce or be counted on since. Armando Allen had the talent, but through his first three seasons the results were inconsistent, and he was marred by injuries.

After having his senior season end early due to an injury, Allen is no longer in South Bend, though it turns out that Allen's absence may have been a blessing in disguise. With both Allen and Dayne Crist out, Brian Kelly placed a greater emphasis on the running game over the last month of the season.

The best friend that both a quarterback and a defense can have is a good running game. It takes pressure off of the quarterback, and time off of the clock, which allows a defense to rest on the sidelines.

The majority of the work replacing Allen went to Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes. Wood ran for at least 80 yards in four consecutive games, while Hughes played a large role in Notre Dame's victory over USC. Of course, like Allen, Hughes is gone. That leaves Cierre Wood as the team's top option, and this spring the Irish hope to find out whether he's ready to carry the load full-time.

The team feels he can, but Wood still has a bit to learn. While it's hard to deny the talent and explosiveness that Wood holds, he did show a tendency to dance a bit with the ball during his first season. There's no doubt that two words will be drilled into Wood's brain this spring: "north" and "south." If Wood can learn to hit the hole instead of dancing around and trying to run away from everybody, he definitely has the speed to break some huge runs for the Irish this season.


More Notre Dame

Wood won't be alone, however, as Notre Dame has other backs behind him on the depth chart. Jonas Gray is a senior that hasn't had much of a chance to prove himself during his first three years, but the Irish would like to see the 230-pound running back take on the role that Robert Hughes had last season, and be a short-yardage back. There's also Cameron Roberson, who redshirted in 2010, but has a lot of the qualities that Kelly and company are looking for.

He has the size to run between the tackles, and though he doesn't have great speed, he is a north-south runner. If Wood and Gray fail to meet expectations, Roberson could see himself climb up the depth chart.

Then there's Theo Riddick. Riddick came to Notre Dame as a running back before being moved to wide receiver. He could be the best running back that the Irish have on the roster, and Brian Kelly has hinted about moving him back to the position in 2011.

Which back will emerge as the team's starter, nobody knows yet. What we do know is that Brian Kelly saw how important having an effective ground game could be for his team at the end of last season, and that he'll look to keep it going in 2011.

It'll be up to one of these players, or maybe all of them, to see that it does. After all, it could be the difference between another lackluster season in South Bend, or waking up those echoes they talk so much about.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:07 pm
 

Dayne Crist has no plans to transfer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist came to South Bend as the heir apparent to Jimmy Clausen, and after Clausen left following his junior season, Crist came into 2010 with the starting job.  Things didn't go all that well for Crist as a starter.  For the second straight season his year came to an early end thanks to a ruptured patellar tendon he suffered during a loss at home to Tulsa.

That's when Tommy Rees, a freshman, took over under center for the Irish and Notre Dame has gone 3-0 since with wins over Utah and USC.  Which has led to a lot of speculation in and around South Bend that Crist was going to transfer rather than come back and compete with Rees for the starting job next season.  Which is news to Crist, because he says he has no plans on going anywhere.

“I don't know where it comes from," Crist told the South Bend Tribune. "There's a ton of negativity anytime you're hurt. People just want to throw you under the rug, and I don't talk to any of those people. So I don't know where I'm supposed to be transferring to.

“They should be informing me, where I'm transferring to. (I'm hearing that) I'm switching positions (too) and quitting football. I don't know which position I'm supposed to switch to. You tell me.

“This is all new information to me, but know I'm confident in my ability, confident in the doctors and the rehab process, confident that I'm going to come out firing when I'm able to come back and they give me clearance on everything.”

If Crist does come back, and it sure sounds like he's going to, Brian Kelly is going to have a tough decision to make next season.  Crist may be older and have more experience than Rees, but it's hard to argue with the results that Rees has had on the field.  Rees did help the Irish take the lead late in the fourth quarter in the Tulsa game before the defense gave up a game-winning touchdown in the final minute, and has won every start since.

Rees has looked like anything but a freshman since becoming the starter, and he's had to do it while the Irish offense was also without its leading rusher in Armando Allen.  If I were to guess at what the situation would be next spring, while I believe there will be a competition, I'd have to think that Rees would start the competition on top with Crist having to play catch up.
Posted on: October 31, 2010 6:22 pm
 

Irish lose starting QB and RB for season

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Saturday Notre Dame not only lost at home to Tulsa , all but destroying any chance the team had to go to a bowl game this season, but it lost its starting quarterback as well.  Dayne Crist had to leave the game in the first half after rupturing the patellar tendon in his left knee -- nearly a year to the day he tore the ACL in his right knee -- ending his season.

Now we learn that Crist isn't the only starter the Irish are going to be missing the rest of this season.  Running back Armando Allen did not play in the Tulsa loss, battling a hip injury, and on Sunday Brian Kelly said that Allen is going to undergo surgery on his hip.  A surgery that will not only end his season, but his college career as well.

"Armando, we're setting up a potential surgery for him," Kelly told the Chicago Tribune . "We dressed him so he could run out of the tunnel one last time, because we were pretty certain he's not going to be able to play again.... He has a right and left torn cartilage in the hip, I think specifically the labrum. Very, very unusual. We treated the first one. If you watched him in the Navy game, he played hard, he played with great passion, but he did not have that second gear he had early in the year. We have not concluded it with 100 percent certainty until the surgery is done, but we believe some of this was a preexisting condition."

Allen had 514 yards and two touchdowns this season, and was on pace for the best season of his career in South Bend.  As it is, that career will come to an end with 2,144 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.

Obviously, at 4-5 with games against USC and Utah remaining on the schedule, getting to six wins this season was going to be very hard for the Irish to do. Now that they'll be without their starting quarterback and running back, it'll be just about impossible.
Posted on: September 4, 2010 5:10 pm
 

Brian Kelly Era in South Bend Off To A Nice Start

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Before Saturday afternoon, Brian Kelly had never set foot inside Notre Dame Stadium for a football game.  Now, thirty minutes into his first game in South Bend, the new Notre Dame head coach has to like what he's seen so far. 

The Irish currently hold a 13-3 lead over the Purdue Boilermakers at halftime thanks to what has been a balanced attack on offense and strong performance from the defense.

Quarterback Dayne Crist -- in his first start -- had a solid effort in the first half, completing 12 of his 16 pass attempts for 126 yards, but the ground game has been the driving force for the Irish.  Armando Allen has 48 yards rushing and a touchdown on only eight carries, while sophomore Cierre Wood has mad the most of his college debut with 43 yards on six carries.

On the other side of the ball, the Notre Dame defense has done a nice job of slowing down Robert Marve and the rest of the Boilermakers offense.  What was a glaring weakness for Notre Dame during the Charlie Weis era looks like it may end up as a strength under Kelly.  The only time the Irish defense had any trouble stopping Purdue was when backup quarterback Rob Henry took over for Marve during the second quarter and picked up 16 yards on three carries to get Purdue inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line.

The Irish were able to hold once Marve returned to take snaps, and forced Purdue to settle for a field goal.

Of course, the second half has been a big problem for Notre Dame the last few years, so the true indicator of which direction this team is heading will be in the third and fourth quarters, and whether or not they can finish what they've started.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com