Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Jonas Gray
Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: The Irish offense will face their toughest test of the year in the Florida State defense in this game. The Seminoles finished the year sixth in the nation in total defense and actually gave up less yards per carry (2.32) than any other defense in the country, including Alabama and LSU. Which isn't good news for a Notre Dame defense that will be without Jonas Gray (791 yards, 12 TDs) in this game. This means that if Notre Dame is going to find success on offense, it will likely come through the air. The Seminoles aren't bad in that area either, as they're 32nd in the nation in defensive pass efficiency. Of course, as has usually been the case with the Irish this season, the most important part of this game will be whether or not they can take care of the ball. Turnovers have killed the Irish throughout the season, and against a defense this good, Tommy Rees and the rest of the Irish offense cannot afford to give the ball away.

FLORIDA STATE WILL WIN IF: Assuming the Florida State defense can do a good job of keeping the Irish offense in check, then there's reason to believe the Seminoles can find enough success on offense to pick up a win here. The Florida State offense hasn't been prolific this season, but against a Notre Dame defense that is good but not great, the opportunities to put points on the board will be there. E.J. Manuel hasn't been great throwing the ball this season, but he's had some solid games and this could be a chance for another one. The Notre Dame defense may be allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete less than 60% of their passes in 2011, but it's also only picked off 8 passes while allowing 21 passing touchdowns on the year. And with Florida State's running game being a bit anemic this season and Notre Dame being pretty solid against the run, the passing game will be the way the Seminoles want to go.

X-FACTOR: Andrew Hendrix. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has already named Tommy Rees his starting quarterback for the bowl game, but that doesn't mean he's going to take all the snaps. Hendrix saw a lot of playing time over the final few weeks of the season, and considering that Kelly seems to feel that Hendrix is his quarterback of the future, I'd expect him to get quite a bit of playing time in this one as well. He brings a new dimension to the Notre Dame offense because unlike Rees, Hendrix can beat you with his legs. So it will be interesting to see how much Hendrix plays and how the Irish utilize him.

You can check out our extensive preview of the Champs Sports Bowl here
Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Stanford vs. Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: One of the most prolific offense in the Pac-12 will be facing a Notre Dame defense that has been stout against the run this season, allowing only 142.6 yards rushing per game and 8 rushing touchdowns on the season. This despite the fact that Notre Dame has faced option teams like Air Force and Navy this season. Of course, the service academies don't have quite the same level of talent that Stanford has on its offense, and they definitely don't have a quarterback like Andrew Luck. In his career against Notre Dame, Luck hasn't had eye-popping numbers, completing 33 of 52 passes for 436 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in two previous games. That being said, Stanford is still 2-0 in both of those games and have done so by rushing for 223 yards per game in those contests. A formula that Stanford would be wise to follow again this Saturday, with some Luck sprinkled in for good measure.

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: This Stanford offense is too powerful to keep off the scoreboard very often, so it may be up to the Irish offense to outscore the Cardinal on the road when it comes down to it. Which is something this Notre Dame offense is capable of as long as it doesn't turn the ball over. As we saw in the Stanford loss against Oregon, this is a defense that can be beaten if you spread it out and try and beat it with speed. Notre Dame doesn't have nearly the same amount of speed on offense that Oregon does, but it can spread the Stanford defense out. Without Jonas Gray the Irish won't be able to try and grind the Cardinal defense down, but it can get the same type of effect utilizing a short passing game, while trying to hit Michael Floyd for a big play once in a while. If the Irish offense can take care of the football and give its defense time to rest on the sideline during this game, then it has a chance to pull off the upset.

X-FACTOR: Notre Dame's front seven. This will be the toughest test that Notre Dame's defense has faced this season, as the Stanford offense is built around its running game, but also has Andrew Luck who can tear your secondary apart. Which means the impetus will be on the defensive line and linebackers to not only stop the run, but to also get pressure on Andrew Luck. If the Cardinal are able to run the ball consistently and therefore give Luck all the time in the world on play-action, then the Irish aren't going to have much of a chance in this contest.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Notre Dame loses Jonas Gray for the season

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame only has one game left in the regular season against Stanford and a bowl game to play, but it's lost a big part of its offense for those final two contests. While there has been no official injury determined from an MRI as of yet, Brian Kelly confirmed on Sunday that running back Jonas Gray had likely played his last game with the Fighting Irish.

"It's pretty apparent he has a significant knee injury," said Kelly in a teleconference on Sunday, going on to say that MRI results will "probably confirm" what the training staff suspects.

Gray suffered the knee injury against Boston College on Saturday, and was seen in tears on the sideline. NBC's sideline reporter Alex Flanagan said that the team believed it was a torn MCL.

It's not only a big blow to the Irish, but it's a sad chapter to end Gray's career at Notre Dame as well. Gray was finally having the year the Irish expected from him in his final season at the school, rushing for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, so to have that come to an end on his Senior Day is a cruel twist of fate.

As for what Notre Dame will do moving forward, the good news is that Notre Dame also has Cierre Wood, who has rushed for 1,001 yards and 9 touchdowns this season. Wood began the season as the team's starting running back and will step back into that role. Behind Wood the Irish have freshmen George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel, though Brian Kelly did not rule out the possibility of Theo Riddick moving from wide receiver to running back to finish the season.

Riddick missed the Boston College game, but came to Notre Dame as a running back before being moved to wide receiver.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 8:18 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 8:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Notre Dame 16, Boston College 14

Posted by Chip Patterson

NOTRE DAME WON. The Irish reached the eight win mark for the second straight year, but struggled to do so in a 16-14 victory over Boston College on Senior Day. Michael Floyd capped off his impressive career at Notre Dame Stadium with a 10 catch, 92 yard performance on a bittersweet day for the senior class. Running back Jonas Gray picked up 61 yards on 11 carries, including Notre Dame's only touchdown, before suffering an apparent knee injury in the third quarter. Early reports suggest the injury could be a torn ACL, which would likely end his career with the Irish.

HOW NOTRE DAME WON: Boston College's defense and special teams helped the Eagles dominate the field position battle, and despite the strong numbers Notre Dame was only able to find the end zone on Jonas Gray's 26 yard run in the early minutes of the game. The Irish got a strong showing from their own defense, holding Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig to only 18 completions in 44 attempts. Gray's injury was a setback for the team, but Cierre Wood carried the load with strong second half running to keep the Irish in control of the game.

WHEN NOTRE DAME WON: Notre Dame forced Boston College to turn the ball over on downs with a 16-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But the inability to milk the clock kept the Eagles in the game, and Chase Rettig put together a seven play, 72 yard touchdown drive to cut Notre Dame's lead to two points. With less than two minutes on the clock, Boston College's onside kick attempt failed. Boston College had the opportunity to attempt a last second miracle, but the hook and ladder attempt failed as well.

WHAT NOTRE DAME WON: The Irish avoided an embarrassing home upset on Senior Day, one that would have likely knocked them from the polls and significantly hurt their bowl options. The Champs Sports Bowl is reportedly interested in replacing their Big East slot with Notre Dame, but they might have thought differently after a loss to the 3-8 Eagles.

WHAT BOSTON COLLEGE LOST: The experts had the Eagles pegged as a 20+ point underdog, so in some ways Boston College fans have to be happy with the team's refusal to quit. But it was also the fourth one-score on the season, something that speaks to the Eagles' struggle to create the big play offensively. The defense has been strong, particularly in the second half of the season, but once again the inability to produce points keeps Boston College from being able to turn that play into victories.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Jonas Gray extended his streak to eight games with a touchdown thanks to the 25 yard scoring run in the first half. But the senior's career was likely ended in the third quarter after suffering an apparent knee injury. NBC's cameras caught Gray on the sideline in tears, surrounded by his teammates. Our thoughts go out to running back and we hope he makes a full recovery, but his absence is a blow to the Irish as they look to next week's visit to Stanford.



Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Notre Dame 38 Purdue 3

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WON. Notre Dame finally looked like the team it was hoping to be this year, and all it took was a date against Purdue to do so. This game was never really in doubt as the Irish scored a touchdown within the first 30 seconds of the opening kickoff, and finished the night with 549 yards of total offense. The majority of that damage came on the ground, as well, with Cierre Wood rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown while Jonas Gray rushed for 93 yards and a score of his own. Tommy Rees threw for 3 touchdowns and Michael Floyd returned to form with 12 receptions for 137 yards.

HOW NOTRE DAME WON. To put it simply, Notre Dame just has a lot more talent on its roster than Purdue does, and unlike the first four games of the Irish season, the Domers didn't hurt themselves with turnovers. That's right, for the first time this season, Notre Dame played a full 60 minutes without turning the ball over. And it was also the best that the Irish have looked all season. Coincidence? I don't think so.

WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. This one was over early. Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush's first pass of the evening was picked off after he tried to force a bad throw into coverage, and two plays later Tommy Rees was connecting with Michael Floyd on a 35-yard touchdown. It was only 24 seconds into the game, but after those first three plays, you already had the feeling that Notre Dame wasn't going to have a lot of trouble on Saturday night.

WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. It's always nice for Notre Dame to beat an in-state rival, but really this is a game that the Irish should have won. Of course, considering the trouble that the Irish had in their first four games, coming out and dominating a team that it should dominate is a good sign. Outside of games with USC and Stanford, Notre Dame is through the toughest part of its schedule this year, and a 9-win campaign isn't completely out of the question.

WHAT PURDUE LOST. Purdue fans seemed to take exception to Brian Kelly's comments that this game was Purdue's "Super Bowl" earlier in the week, and I hope those Purdue fans were right, because if this was Purdue's Super Bowl, then there's a lot to worry about in West Lafayette this season. Purdue is now 2-2 on the year, and looking at the rest of its schedule and the way this team has played, it's hard to see the Boilermakers getting much more than 4 wins this season.

THAT WAS CRAZY. I repeat, Notre Dame played a full game without turning the ball over.
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.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com