What’s up, friends? It’s been quite a week. Let’s talk about the Bengals’ streak to the AFC North lead, my first NFL TD and Notre Dame’s victory over USC!

I don’t get too worked up about much, but I was pretty excited about my first touchdown. I started to give the ball to the ref, then stopped and thought, “I might keep this one!”

We got two big road wins, and it’s never easy winning in the NFL, let alone on the road. Special teams were key, as Mike Nugent kicked two clutch game-winning field goals set up by a good punt return vs. the Bills and then a bad punt by the Lions. Overall, so many different things happen in a game that you can’t let one thing stifle you—you’ve got to keep plugging along, and that’s what we did in both wins.

Mike’s kicks were as pressure-packed as you’re going to get. He’s a very laid-back guy and you’ve kind of got to be for those situations. As for me, I don’t get too worked up about much, but I was pretty excited about my first touchdown. I started to give the ball to the ref, then stopped and thought, “I might keep this one!” It was an out and up, basically. The defender had good coverage but Andy really aired it out, trusting me to make the grab. Andy played great—24 for 34 for 372 yards, with three TD passes and zero picks [a career-high 135.9 QB rating]. It’s exciting when he and our offense are playing well, along with our defense and special teams, all clicking.

Meanwhile, AJ Green and his off-season buddy Megatron both scored TDs and were having a battle of the All-Pro wideouts. I try to really study AJ, the way he runs routes that are similar to ones I’ll be running, the little things he does to get open. He’s got unbelievable hands, there aren’t too many balls he can’t catch. When the ball’s in the air, I think like he does—the only person coming down with it is me!

So my Irish (5-2) beat our big rivals, USC, and it was tough to watch at times—it’s more nerve-wracking as a fan, completely different than playing. It drives you nuts! The team has a legacy of producing NFL tight ends. Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph—going back to Dave Casper and Ken MacAfee, there’ve been some good ones. And they have a young talent in Troy Niklas, who scored a touchdown against USC and who I played with last season. He’s a good overall athlete, a converted linebacker who’s a big body and knows how to use it.


“Pardon me while I make this AWESOME TD CATCH.”

Nothing’s ever guaranteed, but if you look at the rest of ND’s schedule, leading to highly ranked Stanford to finish off, we could land a great bowl game. We’ve now got affiliation with the Orange Bowl along with the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls. We’re looking good!

Now I’d like to talk about a big passion of mine, hunting. I started young, going with my dad and uncles. We went pheasant and quail hunting, so I grew up doing that. These days, it’s about getting away from the everyday routine of handling requests or running around doing things, football related or not. It’s a busy schedule. So it’s great to get out in my downtime, not thinking about anything. And the adrenaline rush that you get is pretty intense.

I only recently got into bow hunting, and I just got my first bow kill last week—I’ll talk about that next time. I use a Mathews Z9, which is called the “ultimate bow for long draw.” It’s not the fastest, but I didn’t want to feel cramped. So the draw length, combined with the poundage I’m pulling, makes up for the lack of speed. These bows are really high-tech. It’s pretty amazing what they can do and how fast they can shoot, up to 300 feet per second. The guys at Broken Rack Archery hooked me up and strung some Fighting Irish blue and gold strings for me, so I’m pretty psyched.

Please check me out on Twitter @EiferTy85. And as always, Go Irish, and Who Dey!

—As told to Ashley Jude Collie