Notre Dame

Notre Dame pulls away from Syracuse in New Jersey track meet

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Notre Dame pulls away from Syracuse in New Jersey track meet

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — DeShone Kizer flirted with a school record and Notre Dame’s defense came up with a handful of big plays. So at least for this week, the Irish were able to put their disastrous September in the rearview mirror. 

Notre Dame sprinted past Syracuse, 50-33, Saturday afternoon at MetLife Stadium for their second win of the season, which ended a five-game losing streak to Power Five opponents. Kizer threw for 471 yards — 55 short of Joe Thiesmann’s record — and three touchdowns, powering the Irish offense to an average of nearly 10 yards per play. 

Notre Dame and Syracuse combined for 33 points in the first five minutes of the game, with Kizer finding Equanimeous St. Brown for 79- and 67-yard touchdowns on Notre Dame’s first two possessions, which were sandwiched around an eight-play, 75-yard Orange scoring drive (Jarron Jones blocked the PAT, which Cole Luke returned for a two-point score). Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo added a 72-yard touchdown of his own, which was immediately followed by C.J. Sanders dashing 93 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.

Things settled down a bit from there, but Notre Dame wasn’t quite able to put away Syracuse when it had the opportunity. Dexter Williams’ fourth-and-goal try from the one-yard line was stopped short, and Kizer missed a wide-open Kevin Stepherson on Notre Dame’s next possession (he would’ve had a touchdown had he connected on the throw). 

Syracuse converted its fourth-and-goal-from-the-one attempt in the second quarter to draw the Orange within three, but Kizer barged downfield for a 71-second scoring drive to put Notre Dame back up by 10. Led by Nyles Morgan and Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame’s defense dug in during the second quarter — though they were without safety Devin Studstill, who was ejected for targeting late in the first quarter — and Justin Yoon added a 31-yard field goal to put the Irish up by 13. 

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But things came unraveled for Notre Dame late in the second half. Kizer took a sack on third down that knocked Notre Dame out of field goal range, and after Brisly Estime cruised through some poor tackling for a 74-yard return, the Orange scored a late touchdown. Kizer was picked off with about 30 seconds left in the half, but Syracuse missed a 40-yard field goal to end a wild first 30 minutes. The two teams combined for 727 yards of total offense in the first half. 

As it turned out, that moment of panic was quickly washed away early in the second half. 

Notre Dame’s defense dug in, playing decent enough coverage and pressuring Dungey (James Onwualu’s sack-strip of the Orange quarterback was Notre Dame’s first forced fumble of the season). Kizer found Stepherson — who, again, was wide open — for a 46-yard touchdown, and Wililams dazzled with a video game-like cutback for a 59-yard run for a score. That six-point halftime lead quickly ballooned to 20.

For the first time this season, Notre Dame’s defense had a number of players come up with big individual plays. Linebacker Nyles Morgan had a few, including a pass break-up, a sack and a tackle for a loss. Defensive end Isaac Rochell added a tackle for a loss, as did Onwualu (in addition to his sack-strip). Defensive end Jay Hayes made a few plays, and cornerback Donte Vaughn and linebacker Greer Martini broke up passes, too. And Jones’ blocked PAT — his sixth blocked kick of his career and second of the season — meant Notre Dame was in the lead of this game from the first play to the last. 

Syracuse still racked up 33 points, but those individual efforts were a promising sign in the first game of the Greg Hudson era. Dungey’s five-yard touchdown run came with 6:52 remaining in the game and was Syracuse’s first score of the second half (the Orange botched the PAT attempt). 

Yoon tacked on a 39-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give Notre Dame 50 points, its highest total against a Power Five opponent since Oct. 11, 2014 against North Carolina. 

Notre Dame will allow students back on campus for 2020 fall semester

Notre Dame will allow students back on campus for 2020 fall semester

Notre Dame University announced on Monday that it will welcome students back on campus on August 10. That’s two weeks earlier than the fall semester was initially scheduled to begin. In addition, Notre Dame will forgo a fall break in October, and will instead end the semester before Thanksgiving.

In the announcement Notre Dame said they consulted with experts for months to develop their plan to welcome students back onto campus.

The plan to return includes comprehensive COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff. It also includes contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces.

“By far the most complex challenge before us is the return of our students to campus for the resumption of classes in the fall semester,” Notre Dame’s president Rev. John I. Jenkins wrote in a letter to students. “Bringing our students back is in effect assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed. We recognize the challenge, but we believe it is one we can meet.”

Father Jenkins also wrote that the university is currently developing a plan to reopen research labs, studios and libraries in coming weeks.

In case of an outbreak, or if the university is unable to provide adequate testing, Notre Dame faculty have been asked to prepare both in-person and remote curricula for their classes. The remote curricula would also help any student keep up with classwork if they need to be quarantined.

The university is also developing criteria to determine whether or not to offer study abroad programs in the fall. That decision will be announced in June.

Notre Dame sent home all students in mid-March to complete their spring semesters remotely. They also canceled all summer classes, except for a small number of students who needed to complete summer work to prepare for the fall semester.

Is Brian Kelly out at Notre Dame if new QB Brandon Wimbush’s rocket arm doesn’t deliver for Irish in 2017?

Is Brian Kelly out at Notre Dame if new QB Brandon Wimbush’s rocket arm doesn’t deliver for Irish in 2017?

A 4-8 season in 2016 has put Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly firmly on the hot seat as he heads into his eighth season with the Fighting Irish.

In response to a tumultuous season, Kelly made major changes to his staff this past offseason by hiring new coordinators on both sides of the ball.

Mike Elko, who previously led Wake Forest to an FBS Top-40 total defense ranking, was hired by Kelly to be Notre Dame's defensive coordinator, and Chip Long — former offensive coordinator at Memphis — will now be in charge of the Fighting Irish offense.

However, the biggest change and arguably the No. 1 factor in Kelly's long-term future in South Bend, will be the person under center in 2017.

Barring an unforeseen circumstance, junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush — a former Rivals four-star recruit — will lead Notre Dame out of the tunnel in Week 1 vs. Temple.

Wimbush has only thrown five passes during his time at Notre Dame, but showed what kind of talent he has with a 58-yard rushing touchdown as a freshman in 2015.

Wimbush was one of the focal points of a recent Rivals story regarding quarterbacks who will be facing pressure in 2017

Earlier this week, Rivals Recruiting Director Mike Farrell gave his scouting report on the Notre Dame quarterback.


I’m a big fan of Wimbush but that hasn’t always been the case. It’s not that I didn’t like him when I first scouted him before his high school career took off, but what I saw way back when was a kid who had a rocket arm and zero touch. But throughout his high school career he improved every time I saw him, showed much more than just a strong arm and flashed impressive poise for his age.

I’ve seen very limited action when it comes to Wimbush in college as he hasn’t played often and his spring game performance had ups and downs, but I believe in this kid’s ability. He can extend the play, has that great arm and just needs to get comfortable in the Notre Dame offense and make sure he doesn’t try to use that cannon to fit the ball into tight spots. I can see him having some growing pains this season, but as he gets more comfortable and learns to take what the defense gives him while keeping defenses off balance with his athletic ability, I think he’ll finish strong.

Will Wimbush's rocket arm be enough to save Kelly from the hot seat?

That's still to be determined.