Tyler Eifert

Mackey Award releases 2013 preseason watch list


The annual rite of releasing preseason watch lists continues unabated Tuesday, with a specific skill position on the offensive side of the ball the latest to unveil its players to watch for the 2013 season.

The Mackey Award, named after former Syracuse and Baltimore Colts great John Mackey, released its 37-player-strong preseason watch list earlier today.  The award has been given out annually since 2000 and goes to the top tight end in the country.

Of the 37 players at the position on the initial list, seven apiece are from the Big Ten and Pac-12, the most of any conference.  The SEC and ACC are next with five and four, respectively.

Notre Dame (Ben Koyack, Troy Niklas) and USC (Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer) were the only schools with multiple players.

There were an equal number of juniors and seniors on the list (17), while just three sophomores made the initial.

The 2012 winner of the Mackey Award was Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert.  No semifinalists for last year’s award are included on this year’s list.  Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins was one of the eight semifinalists for the 2012 award, but ran into a bit of off-the-field problems this offseason.

2013 John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List

Mike Golic’s son transferring from Notre Dame to Cincinnati


Tight end Jake Golic (pictured left) never made much of an impact on the field for Notre Dame. That’s understandable considering he sat behind guys like Tyler Eifert and Kyle Rudolph. Now, the son of former Irish and NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic will spend his final year of eligibility somewhere else.

Mike Golic said on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” that his son will transfer to Cincinnati as a grad student and be eligible to play right away. Officially, UC cannot comment on the transfer until he enrolls. The Bearcats are looking to replace the productivity of Travis Kelce, who was taken in the third round of last month’s NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Golic will rejoin former Notre Dame teammate Gunner Kiel at Cincinnati. The quarterback was added to UC’s roster last month.

Post BCS loss, Tyler Eifert declares for the draft


Not long after Notre Dame walked off the field from an embarrassing 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game, tight end Tyler Eifert went ahead and did the expected: declared for the 2013 NFL draft.

“It was tough,” Eifert said. “Taking off that Notre Dame jersey and helmet for the last time was emotional. It’s going to be tough to leave.”

The move was anticipated. Eifert finished the season with 50 receptions for 685 yards and four touchdowns, and is generally considered among the top, if not the top, tight end in this year’s class.

(Hat tip: South Florida Sun-Sentinel) 

What went wrong for Notre Dame in its loss to Alabama?


The only questions Alabama players and coaches will answer following another BCS championship game victory will be 1) who will be going pro (see what we did there? That’s a Nick Saban joke.) and 2) how do they feel about the term “dynasty?”

The questions Notre Dame must answer are more difficult and unwelcome.

Though ranked No. 2 in the country entering tonight’s game, the Tide was a 10-point favorite over the Irish, so the general storylines were more closely geared toward what Brian Kelly‘s program needed to do to win its first national title in over 20 years.

It started up front along the offensive and defensive lines. The trenches. Alabama’s O-line is anchored by All-American center Barrett Jones and has paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the nation while keeping the jersey of its quarterback, A.J. McCarron, clean. McCarron had just three interceptions on the season, a compliment not only to his decision-making, but the time he was given to make those decisions.

Notre Dame’s front seven needed to be able to disrupt Alabama’s run-first game plan without the help of an additional body in the box. Instead, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran for most of the Tide’s 265 yards on the ground. When Notre Dame was able to get penetration up front, missed tackles and bad angles allowed Lacy and Yeldon to use their athleticism to get past the initial rush. For McCarron? He went 20-of-28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t exactly chaos in Alabama’s backfield.

With little pressure up front, Notre Dame’s linebacker unit and secondary got torched in one-on-one matchups with Alabama’s skill players. Linebacker Manti Te’0 wasn’t the only Irish defender getting embarrassed, but considering his postseason accolades and role on the team, he was getting the most negative attention. Tape from the 2012 season shows that Te’o had only two missed tackles all year. He might have had two in one quarter tonight.

It was undisciplined defense all around and Alabama was so balanced and multiple on offense that it didn’t seem fair.

And Notre Dame’s offense hasn’t shown the quick-strike ability consistently to mount a comeback even if the defense stiffened up. The Irish have been flighty on that side of the ball all season as Everett Golson kept developing at quarterback and there were times when Tommy Rees had to step in to keep things going. But when Notre Dame clicked on offense, namely against Oklahoma and Miami, it has the playmakers in Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and TJ Jones to put up a lot of points.

Notre Dame had to have an offensive performance similar to the one it had in October against the Sooners. That didn’t happen either. Alabama’s defense under coordinator Kirby Smart did a nice job of disrupting Golson all night. There was no tempo, no rhythm for Kelly’s team.

Plus, the Irish probably needed either a big mistake from Alabama or an exceptional special teams play — something to swing field position or momentum for a quick and easy score. Not only was Notre Dame not able to take advantage of any mistakes, but it didn’t benefit from early judgement calls from the officials either (the Eifert catch out-of-bounds and Christion Jones muffed punt come to mind). With injuries to Louis Nix and Kapron Lewis-Moore along the D-line, the Irish couldn’t even catch a break on the injury front. Meanwhile, Barrett Jones played the entire game with a Lisfranc injury and never left the field.

That kind of night. Nothing went right for the Irish. Yes, Alabama was clearly the better team, but the Tide was also far more prepared and executed its game plan perfectly.

Now, it’ll be a long eight months as Kelly and his coaching staff look for some answers.

Everything working for Alabama so far


As I feverishly attempt to edit my prediction for the BCS championship game, Alabama is looking to put this game away for good before halftime.

The No. 2 Tide had about as dominating a first quarter as it’s had all season against No. 1 Notre Dame. To put it another way, about the only thing that went the Irish’s way was time running out as Alabama bulldozed its way to within a few feet of the goal line.

Eddie Lacy already has 72 yards and a touchdown. A.J. McCarron has another score — a short completion to Michael Williams. The Tide have been able to what it wants when it wants because of fantastic offensive line play combined with superb play-calling and execution. Everything is working for Alabama. Nothing is working for Notre Dame.

The Tide are even getting some calls to go their way too. Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert had what looked like a sideline catch ruled incomplete and official review upheld the call. Eifert looked like he had the ball, but it wiggled just enough as he pulled it in out-of-bounds that the call wasn’t able to be overturned. On the next play, a Notre Dame punt, Christion Jones bobbled the ball and the Irish recovered. However, Notre Dame was hit with a kick catching interference call that was… interesting.

The good news for Notre Dame? At least it crossed midfield. It’s going to need a lot more than that to get back in this game, though. The Irish looked stunned.

Alabama leads 21-0 in the second.