Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Irish coordinator Bob Diaco back where it all ended

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EL PASO, Texas -- Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is making a triumphant return to the Sun Bowl.

Diaco was a second-team all-Big Ten linebacker for Iowa when the Hawkeyes surprised Pac-10 co-champion Washington 38-18 at the 1995 Sun Bowl in El Paso.

He returns as the coordinator of a Notre Dame defense that has redeemed itself since allowing 438 yards in a 35-17 loss to Navy on Oct. 23. Since that game, Notre Dame's defense allowed 35 points and two touchdowns in the final four games against Tulsa, then-No. 15 Utah, Army and USC. And 19 of those points were scored on drives of 24 yards or less.
'We won the game, so that was memorable,'' said Diaco, who led Iowa in tackles that season (128) and was a Hawkeye co-MVP with future Bears center Casey Wiegmann and Sedrick Shaw that season. ''[It was] my last football game. The last time you identify yourself as a football player your whole life from when you were a kid -- obviously walking off that field is a different kind of feeling.

Iowa dominated both sides of the ball and special teams that day, leading 24-0 in the third quarter.

''I don't statistically remember  how it went [personally],'' Diaco said, ''but I feel like I was productive in the game and served the overall team and  unit well.''


You are getting sleepy...

Notre Dame might not be as mentally tough as Brian Kelly would like. The team was entertained by a hypnotist on Tuesday night and at least one player was spellbound just by being in the audience.

Linebacker Carlo Calabrese and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore were among the players whose participated provided the best entertainment. ''They were really fun to watch and totally under the spell of the hypnotist,'' offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said.


Next Man In

The Irish aren't sweating the absence of senior wide receiver Duval Kamara, who did not make the trip for ''personal reasons.''

''I don't think it affects us very much,'' Molnar said. ''The way practice had been going, T.J. Jones was slated to be the [starter] anyway.''

While Jones and John Goodman were  listed as co-backups to Kamara on the depth chart, Molnar said freshman Bennett Jackson would back up Jones against Miami.


Miami 7, Notre Dame 1

The Bears' Devin Hester was one of seven former Miami Hurricanes who made the Pro Bowl. The others included four starters -- wide receivers  Andre Johnson (Texans) and Reggie Wayne (Colts), linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed -- plus safety Brandon Meriweather (Patriots) and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (Patriots).

For what it's worth, all but Hester (2006) and Meriweather (2007) were drafted prior to 2005.

Notre Dame is represented by New York Giants' defensive lineman Justin Tuck.


Seven-out?

The Champs Sports Bowl, which has the right to take Notre Dame once in a four-year period, took a bit of a gamble by passing on 7-5 Notre Dame in favor of 9-3 West Virginia this year -- figuring West Virginia would still travel well and a better Notre Dame team would be available in the next three years.

So far, so bad. The game between West Virginia and North Carolina State on Tuesday night drew 48,962 to the 70,000-seat Citrus Bowl in Orlando. That's well below the 56,747 and 52,692 the previous Champs Sports bowls drew. The Sun Bowl eagerly scooped up the Irish and sold out the 51,500-seat stadium in one day.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on December 29, 2010 6:25 PM.

Brian Kelly adds no details to Kamara's absence was the previous entry in this blog.

Breaking News: Jacory Harris to start in Sun Bowl!! is the next entry in this blog.

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