Notre Dame Football: Terry Brennan

Players to watch: Michigan State

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
3:00
PM ET
On Sept. 21, Notre Dame will be looking to notch its first three-game winning streak against Michigan State since the Lou Holtz days (1987-94). The two will take a two-year break before meeting in East Lansing, Mich., on Sept. 24, 2016. Who are the biggest Sparty threats to another Irish win?

To read previous entries from this series, click here.

Offense: Travis Jackson, C. The junior was hampered by injuries last season, starting just five games before going down with a broken leg and a knee injury. Now healthy, Jackson is on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy and will look to pave the way for a backfield that is without Le'Veon Bell. He had 10 knockdowns in five contests last year and started 10 games as a freshman in 2011, earning freshman All-America honors from Phil Steele and conference all-freshman honors from three different publications.

Defense: Max Bullough, LB. The three-year starter in the middle for the always-stout Spartan D has amassed 223 total tackles in 40 career games, including 21 for loss and 6.5 sacks. The Big Ten coaches named Bullough a first-team all-conference selection last season, with the media placing him on the second team. Bullough had a team-best 111 total tackles last season, including 12.5 for loss, to go with 2.5 sacks, one pick, four pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. He led the team in tackles (89) in 2011, too, getting named second-team all-conference by the coaches and honorable mention by the media. Bullough's grandfather, Jim Morse, played halfback at Notre Dame under Terry Brennan from 1954-56. His uncle, also named Jim Morse, was a cornerback for the Irish under Dan Devine from 1976-77.

Irish lunch links

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
1:00
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More links = getting closer to season = everybody wins
The regular season is over and the end of the semester has arrived. Here, we grade Notre Dame's 2011 campaign by position. The finale of the 10-part series brings us to the coaching staff.

COACHING STAFF

Grade: B

Summary: As the Irish enter the Champs Sports Bowl with a different quarterback controversy from the one they began the season with, a lot is left to be desired for Notre Dame fans. What was resolved this year? How can a team turn the ball over so many times? Was progress even really made?

We still don't know much about the quarterback situation, which will only bring more questions when Everett Golson is thrown into the mix this offseason. Five turnovers in each of its first two games -- both of which should have been wins -- is, of course, inexcusable. As for progress …

A Dec. 29 loss to Florida State would give the Irish the same record as last season. A win would signal a one-game improvement from last season, which was a two-game improvement from the season before. Either way, the fact is Brian Kelly has consecutive eight-win seasons to begin his Notre Dame career, something only three previous Irish coaches (Charlie Weis, Dan Devine and Terry Brennan) can say. This team no longer gets pushed around in the trenches, has an absolutely lethal defensive line to build off, and made tremendous strides in its running game. Michael Floyd rewarded Kelly's faith.

Still … Kelly's comments about the difference between his players and Weis' players almost fractured the team, though it managed to come together and win its next four games. The punt return game was the worst in the nation and will need major evaluation this offseason. And slow starts in the season opener (South Florida) and against its arch rival (USC) are inexcusable for a team that could very easily have been 10-2 and on the cusp of the BCS-bowl berth it spoke so openly about to begin the season.

All of that being said, the season could have easily been thrown away after the 0-2 start. Kelly rallied the troops to win their next four and eight of their final 10. He successfully challenged Jonas Gray, who responded by having a senior year no one saw coming. Gary Gray bounced back nicely from a nightmare performance at Michigan. In the end, USC and Stanford were simply better teams, which you can live with. It's the first two games that left the sour taste in Notre Dame's mouth, and the Irish have little room for error next season against an unforgiving slate

Previous report cards:

Quarterbacks
Defensive line
Offensive line
Linebackers
Running backs
Wide receivers
Tight ends
Secondary
Special teams

Week 12: Did you know?

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
9:00
AM ET
Thanks to ESPN Stats & Info for these tidbits:
  • Notre Dame is looking for its third consecutive victory against Boston College, this after losing six in a row to the Eagles.
  • When the Irish have three or more turnovers in a game this season, they are 1-3. They are 6-0 when committing fewer than three turnovers in a game. They have turned the ball over 22 times this season, though just twice over their past two games.
  • A Notre Dame victory Saturday would mean a second consecutive eight-win season for Brian Kelly, who would join Charlie Weis (2005-06), Dan Devine (1975-76) and Terry Brennan (1954-55) as the only Irish coaches to win at least eight games in their first two seasons as Notre Dame's head coach.
  • Jonas Gray's current stretch of seven consecutive games with a rushing touchdown is Notre Dame's longest stretch since 1998, when Autry Denson scored a rushing touchdown in 10 straight games.
  • A Boston College loss Saturday would be its eighth of the season and mark the program's first eight-loss season since 1995, when it went 4-8.

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