2015 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

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2015 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo.svg
Fiesta Bowl, L 28–44 vs. Ohio State
Conference Independent
Ranking
Coaches No. 12
AP No. 11
2015 record 10–3
Head coach Brian Kelly (6th season)
Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. (1st season)
Offensive scheme Spread
Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder (2nd season)
Base defense 4–3 multiple
Captain Sheldon Day
Captain Nick Martin
Captain Joe Schmidt
Captain Jaylon Smith
Home stadium Notre Dame Stadium
(Capacity: 80,795)
Seasons
← 2014
2016 →
2015 Division I FBS independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 11 Notre Dame               10 3  
BYU               9 4  
Army               2 10  
Rankings from AP Poll

The 2015 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 2015 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team was coached by Brian Kelly and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. They competed as an independent.

The 2015 Fighting Irish squad was arguably the most explosive offense that Brian Kelly has coached at Notre Dame. During the regular season, the Irish were one of twenty-one schools in the country to average 200 or more passing yards and rushing yards per game. The Irish had fourteen plays of over 50 yards during the season, which ranked 13th in the country and was a school record. They also had two touchdowns of over 90 yards, (a 91-yard touchdown run by C.J. Prosise and a 98-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams). The Irish only had two in the previous 126 years of Notre Dame football. The running game was dominant. The 5.76 yards per carry were fifth in the country. They finished the regular season averaging 34 points per game, including a 62-point effort against UMass, the most points in a game since 1996.

The Irish were defeated by Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 44–28.

Before the season[edit]

Previous season[edit]

The 2014 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team finished the regular season with a 7–5 record. They beat the LSU Tigers, 31–28, in the 2014 Music City Bowl.

2015 NFL Draft[edit]

Transfers out / departures[edit]

On May 19, 2015, QB Everett Golson announced he was transferring to the Florida State Seminoles football team to complete his college eligibility. Golson will be able to play immediately as he has graduated from Notre Dame. On June 11, 2015, sophomore defensive end Jhonny Williams announced his transfer from the university.[1] Williams transferred to Toledo.[2] Sophomore defensive end Kolin Hill transferred from the university, and headed to Texas Tech.[3]

Transfers in[edit]

Avery Sebastian, a defensive back who previously played for the California Golden Bears, announced he would transfer to Notre Dame in June after he received his degree in May 2015. He would be enrolled in a graduate studies program while exhausting his final season of eligibility.[4]

Coaching changes[edit]

The off-season brought a few changes to the coaching staff, as Notre Dame lost three assistant coaches to other opportunities: Kerry Cooks left the coaching staff to take the same position at the University of Oklahoma.[5] Matt LaFleur departed to take the same position for the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL,[6] and Tony Alford left the university to take the same position at Ohio State University.[7] Also, Outside Linebackers coach Bob Elliott moved into an off-the-field coaching role within the program.[8] To replace their losses, Notre Dame welcomed the addition of four new assistant coaches. Mike Sanford Jr. former Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach at Boise State accepted the same position on the coaching staff.[9] Todd Lyght, a former All-American at Notre Dame and Cornerbacks coach at Vanderbilt, accepted the same position on the coaching staff.[10] Keith Gilmore, previously the Defensive line coach at North Carolina, accepted the same position on the coaching staff. Autry Denson, Notre Dame's all-time leading rusher and Running Backs coach at the University of South Florida, accepted the same position on the coaching staff.[11]

Recruiting class[edit]

Brian Kelly received 24 commitments in his fifth full recruiting class including one five-star, Aliz'e Jones. The class included student-athletes from 13 different states.[12]

During the season[edit]

On television[edit]

The 2015 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team was featured in the miniseries, A Season With Notre Dame Football on Showtime, which premiered on Tuesday September 8, 2015. It followed Fighting Irish football players and coaches at University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Each episode reviews highlights of every football game played during the current season of Notre Dame football. The series was narrated by actor and Fighting Irish fan Barry Pepper. The tagline was "It's more than just a game."

Personnel[edit]

Coaching staff[edit]

Name Position Year at Notre Dame Alma mater (Year)
Brian Kelly Head coach 6th Assumption (1982)
Mike Denbrock Associate head coach/wide receivers 6th Grand Valley State (1987)
Mike Elston Linebackers/recruiting coordinator 6th Michigan (1998)
Harry Hiestand Offensive line/run game coordinator 4th East Stroudsburg (1983)
Scott Booker Tight ends/special teams coordinator 4th Kent State (2003)
Brian VanGorder Defensive coordinator 2nd Wayne State (1980)
Mike Sanford Jr. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks 1st Boise State (2005)
Autry Denson Running backs 1st Notre Dame (1999)
Keith Gilmore Defensive line 1st Wayne State (1981)
Todd Lyght Defensive backs 1st Notre Dame (1991)
Paul Longo Director of football strength and conditioning 6th Wayne State (1981)

Roster[edit]

2015 Roster - und.com

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

  • 33 Josh AdamsFreshman
  • 46 Josh Anderson – Senior
  • 25 Tarean FolstonJunior Injured
  • 49 Bailey Ross – Junior
  • 28 Austin Ross – Junior
  • 34 Dexter Williams – Freshman
  • 20 C. J. ProsiseSenior

Wide Receivers

  • 11 Justin Brent – Sophomore
  • 81 Miles Boykin – Freshman
  • 2 Chris Brown – Senior
  • 32 Cam Bryan – Senior
  • 3 Amir Carlisle – Graduate Student
  • 87 Keenan Centlivre – Sophomore
  • 27 Chris Finke – Freshman
  • 7 Will FullerJunior
  • 83 Jalen Guyton – Freshman
  • 15 Corey Holmes – Sophomore
  • 37 Omar Hunter – Junior
  • 16 Torii Hunter, Jr. – Junior
  • 20 C. J. ProsiseSenior
  • 88 Corey RobinsonJunior
  • 9 C. J. SandersFreshman
  • 85 Buster Sheridan – Junior
  • 86 Equanimeous St. Brown – Freshman
  • 26 Austin Webster – Sophomore

Tight Ends

  • 18 Chase Hounshell – Graduate Student
  • 10 Alize JonesFreshman
  • 13 Tyler Luatua – Sophomore Redshirt
  • 80 Durham Smythe – Junior Redshirt Injured
  • 89 Ben Suttman – Junior
  • 82 Nic Weishar – Sophomore Redshirt
 

Offensive Lineman

  • 71 Alex Bars – Sophomore Injured
  • 70 Hunter Bivin – Junior
  • 63 Sam Bush – Sophomore
  • 67 Jimmy Byrne – Sophomore
  • 79 Steve Elmer – Junior
  • 75 Mark Harrell – Senior
  • 66 Tristen Hoge – Freshman
  • 72 Nick MartinGraduate Student
  • 68 Mike McGlincheyJunior
  • 62 Colin McGovern – Junior
  • 60 John Montelus – Junior
  • 53 Sam Mustipher – Sophomore
  • 56 Quenton NelsonSophomore
  • 57 Trevor Ruhland – Freshman
  • 78 Ronnie StanleySenior

Defensive Lineman

  • 92 Grant Blankenship – Sophomore
  • 55 Jonathan Bonner – Sophomore
  • 75 Daniel Cage – Sophomore
  • 91 Sheldon DaySenior
  • 97 Micah Dew-Treadway – Freshman
  • 95 Marquis Dickerson – Junior
  • 54 Lincoln Feist – Freshman
  • 93 Jay Hayes – Sophomore
  • 94 Jarron Jones – Senior Injured
  • 64 Ryan Kilander – Sophomore
  • 89 Jacob Matuska – Junior
  • 87 Patrick Mazza – Junior
  • 96 Peter Mokwuah – Sophomore
  • 45 Romeo OkwaraSenior
  • 44 Doug Randolph – Junior
  • 90 Isaac RochellJunior
  • 58 Elijah Taylor – Freshman
  • 77 Brandon Tiassum – Freshman
  • 99 Jerry Tillery – Freshman
  • 98 Andrew Trumbetti – Sophomore
  • 11 Ishaq WilliamsSenior
 

Linebackers

  • 30 Josh Barajas – Freshman
  • 27 Asmar Bilal – Freshman
  • 4 Te'von Coney – Freshman
  • 59 Jarrett Grace – Graduate Student
  • 49 Brandon Hutson – Freshman
  • 52 Austin Larkin – Junior
  • 48 Greer Martini – Sophomore
  • 5 Nyles Morgan – Sophomore
  • 40 Kier Murphy – Freshman
  • 17 James OnwualuJunior
  • 38 Joe Schmidt – Graduate Student
  • 9 Jaylon SmithJunior
  • 51 Devyn Spruell – Freshman

Cornerbacks

  • 34 Jesse Bongiovi – Junior
  • 12 Devin Butler – Junior
  • 40 Connor Cavalaris – Graduate Student
  • 24 Nick Coleman – Freshman
  • 14 Shaun Crawford – Freshman
  • 41 Matthias FarleyGraduate Student
  • 35 Grant Hammann – Sophomore
  • 36 Cole LukeJunior
  • 6 KeiVarae RussellSenior
  • 21 Nick Watkins – Sophomore
  • 26 Ashton White – Freshman

Safeties

  • 29 Nicky Baratti – Junior
  • 28 Nicco FertittaFreshman
  • 46 Eamon McOsker – Junior
  • 32 Nick Ossello – Graduate Student
  • 39 Drew Recker – Junior
  • 10 Max Redfield – Junior
  • 8 Avery Sebastian – Graduate Student
  • 22 Elijah Shumate – Senior
  • 23 Drue Tranquill – Sophomore Injured
  • 31 John Turner – Senior
  • 18 Mykelti Williams – Freshman
 

Kickers/Punters

  • 43 John Chereson – Junior
  • 85 Tyler Newsome – Freshman Redshirt
  • 85 Jeff Riney – Freshman
  • 19 Justin YoonFreshman Redshirt

Long Snappers

  • 40 Kyle Conrad – Freshman
  • 61 Scott Daly – Senior
  • 99 Hunter Smith – Senior

Season[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 5 7:30 p.m. Texas No. 11 Notre Dame StadiumSouth Bend, IN NBC W 38–3   80,795
September 12 3:30 p.m. at Virginia No. 9 Scott StadiumCharlottesville, VA ABC W 34–27   58,200
September 19 3:30 p.m. No. 14 Georgia Tech No. 8 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN NBC W 30–22   80,795
September 26 3:30 p.m. UMass No. 6 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN NBC W 62–27   80,795
October 3 8:00 p.m. at No. 12 Clemson No. 6 Memorial StadiumClemson, SC ABC L 22–24   82,415
October 10 3:30 p.m. Navy No. 15 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN (Rip Miller Trophy) NBC W 41–24   80,795
October 17 7:30 p.m. USC No. 14 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN (Jeweled Shillelagh) NBC W 41–31   80,795
October 31 8:00 p.m. at No. 21 Temple No. 9 Lincoln Financial FieldPhiladelphia, PA ABC W 24–20   69,280
November 7 12:00 p.m. at Pittsburgh No. 9 Heinz FieldPittsburgh, PA (Rivalry) ABC W 42–30   68,400
November 14 3:30 p.m. Wake Forest No. 6 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN NBC W 28–7   80,795
November 21 7:30 p.m. vs. Boston College No. 5 Fenway ParkBoston, MA (Holy War / Shamrock Series) NBCSN W 19–16   38,686
November 28 7:30 p.m. at No. 13 Stanford No. 4 Stanford StadiumStanford, CA (Legends Trophy) Fox L 36–38   51,424
January 1, 2016 1:00 p.m. vs. No. 7 Ohio State No. 8 University of Phoenix StadiumGlendale, AZ (Fiesta Bowl) ESPN L 28–44   71,123
#Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Game summaries[edit]

Texas[edit]

Texas at Notre Dame
1 234Total
Longhorns 0 030 3
No. 11 Fighting Irish 14 3147 38
Overall record Last meeting Result
8–2 1996 ND, 27–24

Notre Dame would start the year out strong by beating the Texas Longhorns by a score of 38–3. Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire finished the game 19 for 22 for 313 yards and three touchdown passes. The Irish offense outgained Texas 527 to 163 and had 30 first downs compared to the Longhorns who had 8.

Virginia[edit]

Notre Dame at Virginia
1 234Total
No. 9 Fighting Irish 12 0148 34
Cavaliers 0 14013 27
Overall record Last meeting Result
1–0 1989 ND, 36–13

While leading 26–14 midway through the third quarter, the Irish would lose their starting Quarterback Malik Zaire to a broken ankle. Virginia would take advantage, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take the lead 27–26 with 1:54 left in the game. Irish backup quarterback DeShone Kizer would then lead Notre Dame on a game-winning drive. Kizer would convert a 4th and 2 with a four-yard run and then three plays later hit William Fuller with a 39-yard touchdown pass with :12 left in the game to seal the win for the Irish. It was reported after the game that Zaire would be out for the remainder of the season.

Georgia Tech[edit]

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame
1 234Total
No. 14 Yellow Jackets 0 7015 22
No. 8 Fighting Irish 7 6314 30
Overall record Last meeting Result
27–6–1 2007 GT, 33–3

Despite being ranked higher than Georgia Tech in both the AP and Coach's Polls, Notre Dame would come into the game as underdogs, due to the injury to starting QB Malik Zaire. 19 year old quarterback DeShone Kizer would make his first career start. The result would be an impressive Irish win, 30–22. Despite the score, Notre Dame thoroughly dominated the game. Irish running back C.J. Prosise would score on a 91-yard touchdown run (longest in Notre Dame Stadium history) late in the fourth quarter to put Notre Dame up by a resounding 30–7 score. The Yellow Jackets would make a rally late, but it was too late and Notre Dame would hold on for the win. Kizer would finish 21 for 30 with 242 passing yards, one touchdown pass and an interception. Georgia Tech came into the game averaging 67 points a game and 457 rush yards a game, but the Irish defense would stifle them, holding them to just 216 rush yards and not allowing the Yellow Jackets to convert a third down until the fourth quarter.

UMass[edit]

UMass at Notre Dame
1 234Total
Minutemen 6 1407 27
No. 6 Fighting Irish 14 21207 62
Overall record Last meeting Result
First meeting

Though Notre Dame would have just a 21–20 lead over heavy underdog UMass, the Irish would score 41 consecutive points to put the game out of reach. Notre Dame would accumulate 681 total yards of offense, 457 of it from rushing and would score 62 points. It was the most points the Irish would score since 1996, when they beat Rutgers 62–0.

Clemson[edit]

Notre Dame at Clemson
1 234Total
No. 6 Fighting Irish 3 0019 22
No. 11 Tigers 14 073 24
Overall record Last meeting Result
1–1 1979 CLEM, 16–10

In a game where Notre Dame did everything it could to lose, they came just a 2-point conversion from sending the game into overtime. Down 21–3, the Irish storm back with three fourth quarter touchdowns, but failed to convert the 2 point conversion with :06 left in the game, and Clemson holds off the furious Irish comeback. Four turnovers and eight dropped passes (one which would've been a touchdown) doomed the Irish.

Navy[edit]

Navy at Notre Dame
(Rip Miller Trophy)
1 234Total
Midshipmen 7 1430 24
No. 15 Fighting Irish 7 17143 41
Overall record Last meeting Result
75–12–1 2014 ND, 49–39

USC[edit]

USC at Notre Dame
(Jeweled Shillelagh)
1 234Total
Trojans 10 1470 31
No. 14 Fighting Irish 21 3017 41
Overall record Last meeting Result
45–36–5 2014 USC, 49–14

Looking to get revenge after last years blowout loss to USC, the Irish would respond by defeating the Trojans 41–31. USC would get the ball first and score a touchdown. It was the third consecutive game the Irish allowed an opponent to score an opening drive touchdown. The Irish would return the favor with a 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Deshone Kizer to Will Fuller on their first offensive play of the game to even the score at seven. Later in the first, Notre Dame would block a USC punt and Amir Carlisle would return it for a touchdown. Notre dame would score 21 first quarter points, the most the Irish have scored in the first quarter against USC in the history of the rivalry. After taking a 24–10 lead in the second, the Trojans would score 21 unanswered points to take a 31–24 lead in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Irish would take control and score 17 unanswered points themselves. Deshone Kizer's ten yard touchdown pass to Corey Robinson would give Notre Dame a 38–31 lead, and put the Irish up for good. The 41 points the Irish scored against USC would be the most since 1977.

Temple[edit]

Notre Dame at Temple
1 234Total
No. 9 Fighting Irish 7 737 24
No. 21 Owls 3 7010 20
Overall record Last meeting Result
1–0 2013 ND, 28–6

For this Primetime matchup, the Irish would travel to Philadelphia for a game against the 7–0 Temple Owls. For the first time in Temple school history, the Owls would host a top ranked team while ranked themselves. Despite Temple sporting the 14th best defense in the country, Notre Dame came into this game as double digit favorites. Notre Dame would outgain Temple in yardage 467 to 295, but turnovers and consistent miscues in the red zone by the Irish offense kept the game close. With 4:45 left in the game, and Temple leading 20–17, Irish freshman Quarterback Deshone Kizer would lead Notre Dame on a game-winning drive, finished off with a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller. The game was sealed when Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell intercepted Temple quarterback PJ Walker's pass with 1:09 left in the game. Deshone Kizer would finish the game with 299 passing yards and 143 yards rushing, including a 79-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Pittsburgh[edit]

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
(Rivalry)
1 234Total
No. 5 Fighting Irish 7 14714 42
Panthers 3 01413 30
Overall record Last meeting Result
47–21–1 2013 PITT, 28–21

Notre Dame's 12 point win is the largest margin of victory over Pittsburgh since 2005. Up until today, nine out of the last ten games were decided by 8 points or less.

Wake Forest[edit]

Wake Forest at Notre Dame
1 234Total
Demon Deacons 0 070 7
No. 4 Fighting Irish 14 707 28
Overall record Last meeting Result
2–0 2012 ND, 38–0

Freshman running back Josh Adams, who was fourth on the depth chart during the summer, broke off for a Notre Dame record 98 yard rushing touchdown. It was the longest play from scrimmage in the FBS this year and tied for NCAAF record for longest run by a freshman. Despite looking sluggish all day, the Irish were able to keep Wake Forest out of the endzone for the most part and win 28–7. Wake Forest had more passing yards, total yards, first downs and red zone trips than the Irish.

Boston College[edit]

Notre Dame vs Boston College
(Holy War / Shamrock Series)
1 234Total
Eagles 0 0313 16
No. 4 Fighting Irish 10 063 19
Overall record Last meeting Result
13–9 2012 ND, 21–6

Notre Dame's explosive offense would rack up 447 yards of offense against Boston College's defense, which was the #1 ranked defense in the country. But 5 Notre Dame turnovers kept the game closer than it should have been. Notre Dame's defense would only give up 88 passing yards, but failure to score in the redzone continued for the Irish, which leads the country in red zone turnovers with 15.

Stanford[edit]

Notre Dame at Stanford
(Legends Trophy)
1 234Total
No. 6 Fighting Irish 7 1397 36
No. 9 Cardinal 14 7710 38
Overall record Last meeting Result
19–10 2014 ND, 17–14

In arguably one of the best College Football games of the year, a game that had ten lead changes and almost 1,000 yards of offense, Notre Dame's playoff hopes ended as Stanford kicker Conrad Ukropina hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. With 6:48 left in the game, and the Irish trailing 35–29, the Irish marched 88 yards in 15 plays (using up 6:18 of the game clock). The drive was capped off by Irish Quarterback Deshone Kizer's two yard touchdown run to give Notre Dame the lead with just :30 left in the game. The Irish defense could not hold, however, as Stanford drove 45 yards in just 28 seconds to finish off the game with the win.

The Irish offense accumulated 533 yards of offense, 299 of those yards from rushing. The Irish had three scores of over 62 yards in the game. The first was a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Sanders. The second was a Deshone Kizer 73 yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller. And the third was a 62-yard rushing touchdown by Freshman running back Josh Adams. At one point in the second half, the Irish offense was averaging 11.6 yards a play.

The Irish defense left a lot to be desired though as they allowed Stanford's offense to have touchdown drives of 75, 78, 75, 76 and 74. And the most costly, allowing Stanford to get into field goal range with :30 left in the game. Stanford scored five touchdowns in five red zone trips.

Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl)[edit]

Notre Dame vs Ohio State
(Fiesta Bowl)
1 234Total
No. 8 Fighting Irish 0 1477 28
No. 7 Buckeyes 14 1479 44
Overall record Last meeting Result
2–3 2006 OSU, 34–20

Rankings[edit]

Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking. ██ Decrease in ranking.
NR = Not ranked. RV = Received votes. ( ) = First place votes.
Week
Poll Pre 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Final 
AP 11 9 8 6 6 15 14 11 9 8 6 5 4 9 8 11 
Coaches 11 11 10 8 7 15 13 10 9 9 6 5 4 10 9 12 
CFP Not released 5 4 4 6 8 8 Not released

Post season[edit]

Awards[edit]

All-Americans

Name AP AFCA FWAA TSN WCFF Athlon CBS ESPN FOX PFW Rivals Scout SI.com USAT
Sheldon Day, DT 2 2 2 2 HM 1
Will Fuller, RE 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Nick Martin, C HM
C. J. Prosise, RB HM
Jaylon Smith, LB 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Ronnie Stanley, OT 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 2
†denotes unanimous selection. NCAA recognizes a selection to all five of the AP, AFCA, FWAA, SN and WCFF 1st teams for unanimous selections and three of five for consensus selections       

References[edit]