CFT Top 25: No. 15 Notre Dame

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2013 record: 9-4
2013 postseason: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Rutgers (29-16 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 20/No. 24
Head coach: Brian Kelly (90-37 overall; 37-15 in four years at Notre Dame)
Offensive coordinator: Mike Denbrock (first season as OC; 5th year under Kelly at Notre Dame)
2013 offensive rankings: 81st rushing offense (150.92 YPG); 39th passing offense (254.8 YPG); 68th total offense (405.8 YPG); 74th scoring offense (27.2 PPG)
Returning offensive starters: RB Cam McDaniel, WR DaVaris Daniels, OL Ronnie Stanley, OL Nick Martin, OL Christian Lombard
Defensive coordinator: Brian VanGorder (first season at Notre Dame)
2013 defensive rankings: 71st rushing defense (168 YPG); 15th passing defense (198.2 YPG); 31st total defense (366.2 YPG); 27th scoring defense (22.4 PPG)
Returning defensive starters: DT Sheldon Day, LB Jaylon Smith, CB KeiVarae Russell, S Austin Collinsworth
Location: South Bend, Ind.
Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795, FieldTurf)

THE GOOD
Notre Dame’s offense should be much improved with Everett Golson at the helm — he’s the playmaking quarterback Brian Kelly has wanted ever since coming to South Bend from Cincinnati. In 2012, Golson “rode the bus” to the BCS Championship, as Kelly put it, running a relatively basic offense. And in 2011 and 2013, Tommy Rees quarterbacked the Irish to eight and nine — not where Notre Dame wanted to be in either year.

In Year 2 of Golson, even with his 2013 exile from campus, Notre Dame finally looks to have the kind of offense that can win the team big games. Golson has loads of talent around him, from sophomore running backs Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant to wide receivers DaVaris Daniels, Chris Brown and Corey Robinson to tight end Durham Smythe — remember that last name going forward. The offensive line looks solid, too, and there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot holding back the Irish offense outside of a little inexperience heading into the fall.

Notre Dame has a number of stars on defense, too: Linebacker Jaylon Smith is the best player on the team, while defensive tackle Sheldon Day looks primed for a breakout season if he can stay healthy. The Irish secondary is stout, led by junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell, sophomore safety Max Redfield and graduate student/Florida transfer Cody Riggs. It’s a deep unit, too, and one that should play well in Brian VanGorder’s aggressive defensive scheme.

THE BAD
I mean, have you seen Notre Dame’s schedule? Road games at Florida State, Arizona State and USC — all of which come in the second half of the season — are tough as it is, but throw in home games against Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina and Louisville and the Irish have an awfully difficult minefield to navigate this fall.

There’s a chance Notre Dame actually is a better team than it was last year — the Irish finished 26th in F/+ — but wind up with the same 9-4 record…or worse. The toughest stretch comes in early to mid October, when Notre Dame faces Stanford and UNC at home on back-to-back weekends before traveling to Florida State.

Stanford and Florida State certainly are tough, but that North Carolina game has all the makings of a dangerous trap game for the Irish. UNC has a good enough offense to give the Irish defense fits, and if Notre Dame goes into Oct. 11 looking ahead to Florida State the Tarheels could be primed for an upset.

THE UNKNOWN
Notre Dame lost five starters off its front seven from a year ago: Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo, Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox. Sliding in for those guys is a group of inexperienced players who potentially could be good…but also who could potentially struggle to stop a number of the high-powered offenses Notre Dame has to face.

Guys like defensive tackle Jarron Jones and linebacker Joe Schmidt performed well in limited duty a year ago, but will they be able to succeed in larger roles? Can a converted safety (John Turner) and a converted wide receiver (James Onwualu) play Sam linebacker? Will freshmen defensive linemen Daniel Cage, Pete Mokwuah, Jonathan Bonner and Andrew Trumbetti be ready enough to provide much-needed depth up front?

The X-Factor with Notre Dame’s defense is how the unit performs running a defense that’ll take more chances under VanGorder than it did under Bob Diaco. The last few years of stats don’t really apply to Notre Dame’s defensive outlook this fall, given there’s a greater emphasis on forcing turnovers and sacks rather than two-gapping and preventing big plays. We won’t know how this defense really shakes out until it actually takes the field this fall under VanGorder, so that makes it very much an unknown.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: Nov. 29 at USC
Hypothetically, if Notre Dame heads to Los Angeles with one loss (likely to Florida State), a win over USC and an 11-1 season could be enough to get the Irish into the four-team playoff.

That’s the best-case scenario for Notre Dame. But there are plenty of other hypotheticals that involve Notre Dame either salvaging a disappointing season (say, a 7-5/8-4 year) or generating some early hype for 2015 (say, a 10-win year) that involve beating USC. That it’s a rivalry game doesn’t hurt, either.

There are plenty of other games that could’ve fit here: Michigan, Stanford, Florida State and Arizona State. But given it’s the final game of the season and Notre Dame-USC always carries weight, it gets a make-or-break designation.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: Quarterback Everett Golson
Six hundred days will have passed since Golson last played in a competitive game when he takes the field for Notre Dame Aug. 30 against Rice. But that long layoff hasn’t prevented Golson from seeing his name pop up as a Heisman dark horse, and the latest Bovada odds have him at 20/1 to win the trophy.

Golson threw for 2,405 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2012, but expect those numbers — as well as his rushing totals — to go up this fall. It’ll take a big leap for Golson to legitimately get in the Heisman competition, but if Notre Dame has a better season than most are expecting Golson very well could find himself in the discussion.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

JJ Stankevitz is CSNChicago.com’s Notre Dame Insider. Follow him on Twitter @JJStankevitz.

Ryan Day expected to turn down NFL wooing, stay at Ohio State

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It appears Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff at Ohio State will (for now) remain intact after all.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Ryan Day was considering leaving his job as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach to join former OSU assistant and newly-minted NFL head coach Mike Vrabel as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.  A day later, one report has Day eschewing the NFL opportunity and remaining with Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Day just completed his first season with the Buckeyes, serving as both co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  He has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.

Given that OSU will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2018, keeping Day on the staff is a significant win for Meyer’s program.

Mark Dantonio brings Don Treadwell back to Michigan State staff

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Mark Dantonio has turned to an old coaching friend to fill a hole on his Michigan State coaching staff.

The football program announced Monday that Don Treadwell has been hired by the Spartans as the football program’s 10th assistant.  As for his duties, the school’s release states that “Treadwell will assist coaching defensive backs and special teams while also helping as an offensive consultant.”  On top of that, he will hold the newly-created title of freshman head coach, a role that will see the veteran work with “first-year players in their growth and development both on and off the field.”

Treadwell was Dantonio’s offensive coordinator at MSU from 2007-10 after serving in the same capacity for the head coach at Cincinnati from 2004-06.  He also had another stint with the Spartans, as wide receivers coach from 2000-02.  Dantonio was on that staff in 2000 as defensive backs coach.

The two also worked on the same staff together at Youngstown State in the eighties.

“He has a wealth of football knowledge, including head coaching experience, so he really understands the big picture of everything that is going on within the program,” Dantonio said in a statement. “Don was a part of our first Big Ten Championship and double-digit win season in 2010 and was the person in charge during my absence that year. He did an absolutely incredible job leading the program when I was gone.

“As a person, he’s extremely loyal and has a strong sense of integrity and morals. He understands the Spartan values that we have in our program from having been here before and knowing our staff.”

Treadwell left MSU after the 2010 season to take over as the head coach at Miami of Ohio.  He was fired after the fifth game of his third season, compiling an 8-21 record during his time at his alma mater.

The past four seasons, Treadwell was on the staff at Kent State.  He was the running backs coach in 2014 and coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015-17 for the Golden Flashes.

NC State lines up home-and-homes with BYU, USF, La Tech

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NC State has lined up a series of home-and-homes with three future opponents, though, as of this writing, the Pack haven’t talked about any of them.

Their opponents have, though.

First up is South Florida. The Wolfpack and Bulls have inked a 2-game series calling for USF to visit Raleigh on Sept. 2, 2021 and NC State to visit Tampa on Sept. 14, 2024.

“We are excited to add N.C. State, a high-quality program that has played in four straight bowl games, to our football schedule,” USF AD Mark Harlan said in a statement. “Bulls football is sustaining a run of tremendous success and we will continue to seek exciting, top-level opponents to challenge during the non-conference season and bring to Raymond James Stadium.”

The two sides have met three times previously, with NC State holding a 2-1 edge and a win in their last meeting, a 49-17 blowout in 2014 in Tampa.

Next up is Louisiana Tech. NC State will actually play three future games with the Bulldogs, also beginning in 2021. NC State will host Louisiana Tech on Oct. 2, 2021 and Sept. 7, 2024, and visit Ruston, La., on Sept. 6, 2025. The Wolfpack and Bulldogs have played just once previously, a 40-14 NC State win to open the 2013 season.

Finally, NC State has also agreed to a home-and-home with BYU, calling for BYU to visit Raleigh on Nov. 9, 2024, and NC State to return the favor on Aug. 29, 2030.

NC State and BYU have never played previously.

The 2030 game is not the furthest out game on the NC State schedule. As per the Irish’s agreement with the ACC, NC State is slated for a TBD visit to Notre Dame at some point in the year 2037. The freshmen in that game have yet to be born.

Former Florida K Eddy Pineiro granted community service award after breaking up domestic violence incident

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Eddy Pineiro had a good fall on the field, but nothing topped an act of selflessness he displayed during the middle of an October night.

According to a certificate given to him by the Gainesville Police Department, Pineiro and his father, Eddy Pineiro, Sr., were awoken in the wee hours of Oct. 15, 2017, to the sounds of a violent struggle between a man and a woman. Pineiro, Jr., shouted to his father, and the two of them were able to subdue the attacker, allowing the victim to escape.

On October 15th 2017 at 2:21 AM, dispatch advised a male was chasing a female in the area of 1700 SW 37th Street. The investigation concluded that the female was being a victim of dating violence by her boyfriend. She was thrown to the ground, violently punched and choked. Her screams to anyone to help awoke Eddy Pineiro Jr. Eddy looked outside and witnessed the violent crime. Without visitation, he yelled to his father, who was visiting from Miami, and told him he was going to help her. They both ran down three flights of stairs and across the property to intervene. As they were approaching, the female was able to escape the grasp of her attacker and flee. The suspect gave chase and was able to catch her. At the this same time, Eddy Pineiro Jr. caught up and was able to grab the attacker off of the victim. This gave the victim a chance to leave the area without further violence to her. Due to Eddy Pineiro Jr. and Eddy Pineiro Sr.’s selfless acts and extreme bravery, the victim was saved from possible severe injuries or even death. Eddy Pineiro Jr. continued to help with the case and as a result, the suspect is serving jail time for his actions. They are both hereby awarded the Police Service Award.

Pineiro declared for the NFL draft after a junior season in which he drilled 17-of-18 field goals and 24-of-26 extra points. Surely some anonymous scout will turn the fact that Pineiro didn’t have handcuffs to apprehend the attacker himself into a slight against him.