Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 63 AUGUST 2017 51 were arrested and charged with mis- demeanor marijuana charges and possession of a handgun. That same night another senior, cornerback Devin Butler, was arrested for battery to a law enforcement officer. Redfield and Butler were ulti- mately suspended and transferred from the program. Notre Dame dropped its season opener, losing to Texas 50-47 in dou- ble overtime. A win over Nevada was followed by two straight devastating losses at home to a Michigan State team that finished the year 3-9 and a Duke squad that went 4-8. The preseason quarterback battle between senior Malik Zaire and junior DeShone Kizer had the Irish faith- ful buzzing about the depth and tal- ent, but the competition was eventu- ally viewed as another reason for the team's ultimate fracture and downfall. Notre Dame finished 4-8 — the fourth time in history it lost at least eight games in a season, joining the 1956, 1960 and 2007 units. BRIAN VANGORDER FIRED AFTER 1-3 START Notre Dame's defense struggled in each of former coordinator Brian VanGorder 's first two seasons. De- spite going 10-3 in 2015, there were calls for VanGorder to be replaced. He was retained for 2016 — but his tenure lasted only four games. After giving up 31.8 points and 454.0 yards per game in the first four contests, three of which were losses, VanGorder was fired by head coach Brian Kelly. It was the first time a Notre Dame as- sistant coach had been fired during the season. With defensive analyst Greg Hudson and linebackers coach Mike Elston sharing coordinator duties after VanGorder's dismissal, Notre Dame's defense allowed a more respectable 19.5 points and 341.3 yards per game. FOURTH QUARTER COLLAPSES Unlike the 2007 season, when Notre Dame was often overmatched during its 3-9 finish, the Irish had plenty of chances to put together a much better record in 2016. In fact, Notre Dame held a fourth quarter lead in five of its eight defeats, and in its loss to North Carolina State the game was tied 3-3 entering the final quarter. In each of the blown fourth quarter losses, Notre Dame had at least one possession to regain the lead. The inability to finish games proved to be the ultimate downfall. The late-game woes were best mani- fested by data from Football Outsid- ers. The 2016 Fighting Irish offense was No. 1 in the country in efficiency and production in the first quarter — and No. 96 (out of 128 teams) in the fourth quarter. STAFF OVERHAUL Following the 2016 season, the football coaching staff went through enormous upheaval to augment the ouster of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Special teams coordinator Scott Booker and defensive line coach Keith Gilmore were not retained, wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock left to become the offensive coordina- tor at Cincinnati and offensive coor- dinator Mike Sanford was named the head coach at Western Kentucky. Di- rector of football strength and condi- tioning Paul Longo was not retained. Notre Dame added six new on-field assistant coaches with offensive coor- dinator/tight ends coach Chip Long, defensive coordinator/safeties coach Mike Elko, special teams coordinator Brian Polian, linebackers/rovers coach Clark Lea, receivers coach Del Alexan- der and quarterbacks coach Tom Rees. Equally important was a new ap- proach to its maligned strength and conditioning program, headed by Matt Balis, who came from the Uni- versity of Connecticut. Notre Dame Finishes 23rd In Learfield Directors' Cup The 2016-17 collegiate year in athletics ended with Notre Dame ranked No. 23 in the Learfield Direc- tors' Cup. A total of 213 different schools tallied points in the competition, with 100 the highest possible score for winning a national title in a team event. Points are rewarded based on how far a team advances in the NCAA Championships. Twenty team sports — 10 for men and 10 for women — can be counted in the final standings. For the 23rd consecutive year, since 1995, Stanford captured the Cup. North Carolina won the first competition in 1994. Notre Dame's 801.00 points were fourth among the 15 ACC schools, behind No. 5 North Carolina (1,154.00), No. 13 Florida State (921.75) and No. 19 Virginia (862.00), with Louisville fifth in the ACC at No. 26 (767.50). The sports year is divided into three seasons. Fall sports end with the College Football Playoff cham- pion, winter concludes with men's and women's gymnastics in late April, and spring is capped with baseball's College World Series. This year, the winter sports carried the freight for the Irish, accounting for 55.4 percent of the school's score. At the conclusion of the fall sports campaign Jan. 12, Notre Dame stood only No. 35 with a score of 155 — down from 275 the previous autumn. The Irish earned 66 points when women's cross country finished No. 11 nationally, 64 points from men's soccer advancing to the Sweet 16, and 25 points for women's soccer moving into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This winter significantly bolstered Notre Dame's standing, from No. 35 to No. 9 with a whopping 444 points. The Irish received: • One hundred points for winning the combined men's and women's fencing national title. • Eighty-three points in men's hockey for advancing into the Frozen Four (per the scoring chart, in 16-team NCAA Tournament brackets the third- and fourth-place teams receive 83 points). • Seventy-three points in women's basketball for moving on to the Elite Eight, where it lost by one point to Stanford. • Fifty points in men's basketball, which moved into the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished No. 20 in the final USA Today coaches poll. During the winter, Notre Dame also picked up 49 points from men's swimming, 40.5 points from indoor women's track, 29 points in women's swimming and 19.5 in indoor men's track. Warm-weather schools often make a bigger jump during the spring sports season, and that is where a number of them eclipsed Notre Dame, which tallied 202 points in the spring competition: • Men's lacrosse finished with the most points with 60 while advancing to the Elite Eight. • Women's tennis accounted for 50 points while tying for the 17th position. • Women's rowing added 42 points for a No. 16 placement. • Finally, women's lacrosse and softball added 25 points apiece for their play in the NCAA Championships. FINAL 2016-17 DIRECTORS' CUP STANDINGS Rk. School Points 1. Stanford 1,563.00 2. Ohio State 1,343.75 3. Florida 1,252.50 4. USC 1,251.25 5. North Carolina 1,154.00 6. Michigan 1,133.25 7. Texas 1,067.75 8. Penn State 1,046.75 9. Oregon 1,027.00 10. Kentucky 1,025.00 23. Notre Dame 801.00

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