NCAA Talk

'All hands on deck' for lagging Irish special teams

966433.png

'All hands on deck' for lagging Irish special teams

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's special teams have been iffy at best in 2012, and represent the only area in which Alabama has a clear, significant advantage over the Irish in next week's BCS Championship. But with nothing to lose, coach Brian Kelly isn't going to hold anything back Jan. 7 in an effort to improve his team's kick and punt returning success.

"We're going to put all guys on deck in terms of trying to get the best players on the field, since it's a one-shot deal," Kelly said. "I don't have to worry about the next week or the week after, or them getting too many reps, including S-T."

Freshman Davonte Neal has handled Notre Dame's punt returns, gaining 44 yards on 18 chances, averaging 3.7 yards per game (sixth-worst among FBS teams). Contrast that with Alabama's punt returners, who average 25.8 punt return yards per game (16th-best), and that's a decent advantage for the Tide.

Kickoff returns have been a little better for the Irish, but the team's average of 20.04 yards per kickoff return is good for 85th-best nationally. Alabama's 24.84 yards per return average is 13th nationally, despite a difference of about four yards from Notre Dame.

On punts and field goals, Alabama holds an advantage that's much slighter. The real issue here is Notre Dame's punt and kick returners have rarely been able to do much to improve the team's field position, while Alabama's players in those roles have been able to do just that.

This isn't to say Notre Dame's special teams have been abysmal, though -- there are plenty of teams worse than the Irish in these categories across college football. But Alabama has been better to the point where there's no argument about their advantage, unlike on offense and defense.

Kelly wouldn't reveal which players could see time on returns against Alabama, although Cierre Wood -- who worked with Notre Dame's punt returners during fall camp and averaged 9 carries over his last five games -- would be a likely option.

"We have not been spectacular, but we hadn't stunk the joint up either," Kelly said. "We just need to continue to hold serve in S-T and maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle on a return, or get a block, something to that effect. But our concern is making sure we just take great care of the football and flip the field when we need to flip the field."

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

doug_bruno.jpg
USA TODAY

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

One of the icons of DePaul athletics is sticking around.

Monday, DePaul extended the contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through the 2023-24 season. Bruno just wrapped up his 32nd season as head coach of his alma mater, leading DePaul to its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament.

While the Blue Demons were eliminated in the Round of 32 this March, Bruno has led the program to the Sweet 16 three of the last eight seasons.

“I am so thankful to be working at a great institution like DePaul,” Bruno said in a press release. “I never would have been here without coach Ray Meyer who gave me a basketball scholarship, Frank McGrath and Gene Sullivan who hired me in the 1970s."

Behind Bruno, DePaul went 27-8 in 2017-18, winning its fifth-straight Big East regular-season title. The Blue Demons also won their third Big East Tournament title in five years, defeating rival Marquette 98-63. Bruno also picked up his 700th career victory in February, defeating conference-foe Butler 86-68.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches through all the years,” he said. “My current staff is absolutely one of the best in the country.

"Most important, the reason you succeed is the players. I’ve been blessed to have tremendous student-athletes help build the DePaul women’s basketball legacy.

“I am excited about this contract extension because we still have work to do. As proud as we are of everything we have achieved, our expectation through the length of this extension is to take the Blue Demons to even higher places.”

 

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

4-25_porter_moser_loyola_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

Loyola is rewarding Porter Moser for his basketball team's success this season.

Loyola and Moser have agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. The deal is through the 2025-26 season.

"We are excited to be able to announce a new contract for Porter that will keep him at Loyola a long time," Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. "He is the perfect fit for Loyola and operates his program the right way, with student-athletes who achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom and are also excellent representatives of the institution.

"We are fortunate to work at a university like Loyola, that values and has made a commitment to athletics. It is nice to reward Porter not just for an outstanding season, but also for the job he has done during his time here."

That's a well-deserved extension for a head coach who led the Ramblers to a NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985.

As the 11th seed, Loyola exceeded all expectations, shocking the world with a Final Four appearance. The Ramblers took down No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada, and No. 9 Kansas State before losing to No. 3 Michigan, who would go on to lose to No. 1 Villanova in the championship game.

Loyola finished the regular season with a 28-5 record and a MVC Championship.

In seven seasons, Moser has a 121-111 record with the Ramblers, though three of his last four have been winning seasons.