Tag:Notre Dame
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Dayne Crist is transferring to Kansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Dayne Crist has once again committed to playing quarterback for Charlie Weis.

The former Notre Dame quarterback who was recruited to South Bend by Weis announced after the regular season that he was transferring from Notre Dame after losing his starting job to Tommy Rees in the season opener against USF. He had been considering both Wisconsin and Kansas, but Crist made his announcement official on Thursday morning using Twitter.



This is good new for Weis and Kansas, as it means the Jayhawks will have a quarterback who is already somewhat familiar with Weis' offense, and it will make the transition easier. Also, since Crist will be graduating this spring, he won't have to sit out a season like most transfers, but instead will be eligible to play right away like Russell Wilson did with Wisconsin this season.

Speaking of Wisconsin, you have to wonder if it's a coincidence that Crist's decision came a few hours after it became official that Pitt had hired Wisconsin's offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to become their new head coach. Crist may have already been leaning toward Kansas before the announcement, but it no doubt had an impact on his decision.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:18 am
 

Butch Jones agrees to extension with Cincinnati

Posted by Chip Patterson

After being linked with many of the higher profile FBS job vacancies this offseason, Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones has decided to firm up his commitment to the Bearcats. Jones and school have agreed to terms on a contract extension that will extend through the 2017 season.

"I think in the next couple of days we'll be able to announce something," Jones said after Monday's bowl practice. "We say we're building the best college football program in America. We have a great thing here. There's a lot of excitement here."

Jones has reportedly been working with athletic director Whit Babcock on a new contract for several weeks. The term sheet has been signed, but the contract still must be approved by the Board of Trustees. The Bearcats are currently preparing to play Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 in Memphis.

Jones helped lead the Bearcats on a five-win turnaround in his second season after a disappointing 4-8 finish in 2010. With their win over Connecticut in the regular season finale, Cincinnati earned a share of their third Big East conference title in four years. Jones' impressive turnaround earned him Big East Coach of the Year honors, as well as some attention from other programs looking for a new coach. The second-year Cincinnati coach was contacted by North Carolina, Illinois, and UCLA regarding their open coaching positions, but Jones never expressed serious interest in any of the opportunities.

"I believe in what we're building," Jones explained. "I think there's so many great things to building a successful football program and not just a successful team. We have great practice facilities now. We're in a conference that we can be extremely competitive in, we have a great fan base. We've got a great place to attract the top-caliber student athletes to."

Before departing for the Notre Dame position, Brian Kelly led the Bearcats to three straight 10+ win seasons from 2007-2009. With a win over Vanderbilt in the bowl game on New Years Eve, Jones will have Cincinnati back at the 10-win mark for the fourth time in five years.

Get all the latest updates on Cincinnati and Vanderbilt at our Liberty Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:52 pm
 

Champs Sports Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Champs Sports Bowl

E.J. Manuel vs. The Notre Dame secondary

E.J. Manuel's first season as a starter for Florida State had its ups and downs. He was injured in the Oklahoma game early this season, and it wasn't a coincidence that the Seminoles lost three games in a row at the same time as Manuel was dealing with his injury. Still, when he's been healthy, Manuel has been solid for the Seminoles.

And Manuel will need to be solid if Florida State is going to beat Notre Dame to finish its season.

There's plenty of reason to believe he will, too. Notre Dame finished 78th in the country with only 20 sacks this season, which is good news for a Florida State offensive line that allowed more sacks than all but 9 FBS schools in 2011 with 35. So provided he gets time to throw, Manuel should find room to work against the Notre Dame secondary.

The Irish are allowing only 201.7 passing yards per game on defense, but it's not a unit that's very prolific at forcing turnovers. In fact, Notre Dame has only intercepted 8 passes this season while allowing 21 touchdowns through the air. Which means that as long as Manuel is patient and doesn't make bad decisions, he's going to find open receivers to throw to.

If he can do that, then there's plenty of reason to believe that Florida State will pick up its ninth win. If not, then the Irish will have the advantage.

For a look at the keys to the game for both schools, click here, and check out the rest of CBSSports.com's coverage at the Champs Sports Bowl Pregame. 
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: December 17, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Report: Jake Heaps to visit Kansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that Charlie Weis is looking for his own quarterback as he takes over the Kansas program. He's already had a visit from former Notre Dame quarterback and Weis recruit Dayne Crist, and now according to JayhawkSlant.com (subscription required), former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps will be making a visit to Lawrence as well.

Heaps announced that he was leaving BYU in early December. He came into the 2011 season as the team's starting quarterback but lost the job to Riley Nelson. Heaps threw for 3,768 yards and 24 touchdowns while at BYU, but it was the 17 interceptions he also threw that helped him find his way to the bench.

Now, just because Crist is considering transferring to Kansas next season, that doesn't mean the school can't bring in both Crist and Heaps if both players want to become Jayhawks. Since Crist has already graduated from Notre Dame, much like Russell Wilson did with Wisconsin this season, he could transfer to Kansas and play right away in 2012. Heaps will have to sit out the 2012 season, so it's not as if he'd lose playing time in Lawrence if Crist transferred as well.

Crist is expected to choose between Wisconsin and Kansas in the next week. As for Heaps, there's no timetable on his decision. 
Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Military Bowl

Postedy by Tom Fornelli

TOLEDO WILL WIN IF: This game is going to be a very interesting matchup. In order for Toledo to come out on top they'll have to continue to do a lot of the things that they did all season, and that means put up a lot of points. Something that the Rockets should be able to do, even without Tim Beckman around. The Air Force defense isn't terrible, but it did give up nearly 28 points a game this season. Which means that Terrance Owens, Austin Dantin and Eric Page should find plenty of opportunity to make plays for the Rockets. Where the problems for Toledo may come is on the defensive side of the ball. The Rockets defense gave up 31 points a game this season and while the run defense was acceptable, it hasn't faced a rushing attack like Air Force. When you haven't faced an option offense it's hard to stop one because you're not quite sure what you're seeing right away. The good news for Toledo is they've had the extra time to prepare for it, but how well the Toledo defense executes on the field will play a big role in this contest.

AIR FORCE WILL WIN IF: The key for Air Force in this game is simple: keep Toledo out of the end zone. While Air Force's defense hasn't been terrible this season, it's also had some pretty bad games. There was a three week stretch against teams like San Diego State, Notre Dame and Boise State in which the Falcons gave up 45.67 points per game. Now, Toledo's offense is different than any of those three teams because it provides more of a running threat at quarterback, but it does have a lot of similar characteristics. So slowing Toledo down will not be easy, but it will be a must if Air Force wants to win. The Falcons should find success on offense running the ball, but not enough to where they can afford to get into a shootout.

X-FACTOR: Eric Page. Simply put, Eric Page is the most exciting player in this game. He's Toledo's biggest threat on offense and he finished the season with 112 catches for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Air Force pass defense hasn't given up a lot of yards this season, but it does allow opposing quarterbacks to complete 61% of their passes, which means Page should find openings on short to intermediate routes and be a favorite target of both Dantin and Owens.

You can read our complete Military Bowl preview here. 
Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 11:24 pm
 

Manti Te'o returning for senior season

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's safe to say that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly found himself with a giant smile on his face Sunday night. Linebacker Manti Te'o made the announcement that he'd be returning to Notre Dame for his senior season instead of leaving to enter the NFL draft.

Te'o was projected to be a first round pick in the draft if he did decide to leave early, but instead made an impromptu announcement about his decision while in Newport Beach, California for an awards ceremony in which he was a nominee. His father confirmed the news to the Chicago Tribune via text message.

Which is very good news for the Notre Dame defense in 2012. The unit finished 34th in the country in yards against per game in 2011, and was 28th in scoring defense, and now its leader will be returning for another year. Te'o led the Irish in tackles (111), tackles for loss (12) and sacks (4.5) during the regular season.

Te'o's return is even more important when considering that the Irish defense will lose 6 starters to graduation this year, including the entire secondary.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Dayne Crist to visit Kansas, consider transfer

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Charlie Weis hire could pay immediate dividends in the transfer market for the Kansas Jayhawks.

According to reports from both the New York Times' Pete Thamel and the Chicago Tribune, former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist will visit Kansas over the weekend to meet with Weis and discuss a possible transfer to join the Jayhawks. Weis originially recruited the former five-star prospect to South Bend and was Crist's coach for the first two years of his career.

Because Crist is set to graduate at the end of this semester, he will be a single-season "free agent" in the style of Russell Wilson and will not be forced to sit out a penalty year for his transfer. Crist could follow in Wilson's shoes in more ways than one, too, as Wisconsin is another strongly rumored destination for his services.

But Kansas also has to be viewed as a serious contender to land the 6'4" pocket passer. Weis and Crist enjoyed a close bond during their shared years in South Bend -- the Tribune recollects that Crist committed to Weis "basically on the spot" when Weis visited his high school -- and Crist is of course already familiar with Weis's system and terminology. It won't hurt that the Jayhawks' incumbent starter, sophomore Jordan Webb, struggled through a 2011 season in which he ranked 69th in the FBS in pass efficiency and left the Jayhakws 101st in passing yardage. 

A reunion with Weis is also far from a done deal, as Crist will likely have no shortage of suitors. But Weis will no doubt do everything he can to bring Crist aboard--slotting a player of Crist's experience and potential under center would make for an overwhelmingly positive start to a coaching tenure already regarded with widespread skepticism.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com