Domer.mq at Her Loyal Sons is hosting this week's IBG, and I actually shortened his original title a bit from Irish Blogger Gathering: The “Saying A Lot By Asking Obtuse Questions” Edition. In any case, click on the link to see the original post from Domer.mq as well as links to the responses from other bloggers participating in the IBG this week. While you're over there, be sure to give Domer.mq grief over the fact that he "passed" on the IBG last week, but now that it's his turn he comes up with "obtuse" questions that give the rest of us headaches. Here we go.
1. What photo of some member of the 2008 Irish squad doing something, anything at all, really, says all 1,000 words that need to be said about this team? OR, which photo of some member of the 2008 Irish squad doing something would tell 1,000 lies about this team if you only saw the photo and didn’t know better? (Double-secret word score bonus for answering both mutations of the same question).
My first thought in considering this question was to find a great photo of Notre Dame linebacker Maurice Crum really stuffing a hole and putting a thumping on an opposing running back, and then answering the "1,000 lies" question by pointing out that Mo Crum stuffing a hole and making a tackle is such a rare occurrence that I was surprised to find a good photo of such a play. But it turns out that Mo Crum stuffing a running play is so rare that I actually couldn't find a photo of it at all! So, in this case, it's the lack of a photo that says 1,00 words.
Instead we have this terrific photo of Notre Dame safety David Bruton and Irish cornerback Raeshon McNeil making a touchdown-saving goal-line tackle on Michigan State running back Javon Ringer.
What does this photo say about the 2008 Fighting Irish? It says that David Bruton is a heck of a safety, a tough guy willing to make a physical play to help the team. But it also says, unfortunately, that Notre Dame's defensive backs are making goal-line tackles on opposing running backs instead of our linebackers. Where are our linebackers?
2. Some of you may know that I (domer.mq) am a football stat geek. Which statistic do you think geeks like myself should really be paying attention to this season and why? (Can pertain to ND or CFB in general.)
Earlier in the season I would have said Average Starting Field Position (ASFP). But I'm starting to feel like I have beaten that one to death. By the way, do you know which team won the battle of ASFP last Saturday? EXCELLENT!! Pitt did! The Panthers had an ASFP of the 34-yard line, while the Irish ASFP was the 30. Can you guess the other two games this season when the Irish lost the ASFP battle? Wow - you're good! The Irish have lost ASFP in their three losses this season, and have won that stat in each of their five victories.
But to tie this question back to question #1, above, the statistic that is driving me crazy this season is: Team leaders in tackles. By far, the top two tacklers on the Notre Dame defense are safeties Kyle McCarthy and David Bruton. McCarthy has 44 solo tackles, 32 assists, for 76 total tackles. Bruton has 43 solos, 30 assists, for 73 total tackles. Third in tackles for the team is interior linebacker Mo Crum, who has just 24 solos, 25 assists, and 49 total tackles. Linebacker Brian Smith's numbers are 22/21/43. So our two safeties have combined for 87 solo tackles, while our top two linebackers have 46 solo tackles, combined. I think I am beginning to understand why we're having trouble stopping the run. These numbers should be reversed! Our LBs are getting owned at the line of scrimmage and opposing running backs are not being tackled until they get to the third level of the defense. Mo Crum's picture should be plastered on the side of a milk carton.
3. Seeing as how Boston College is nothing but an up-jumped program enjoying the luxury and soft Corinthian leather of an ACC schedule, which team from the current top 25 would you love to see this year’s Irish play this weekend in Fredo’s stead? Why? Do you think the Irish would win? Describe the game. Paint us a picture! I’ll get the popcorn!
Okay, so I head over to USATODAY.com to check out the polls to see what's what, and BALL-FREAKING-STATE jumps off the page at me. The Cardinals are 8-0 and sitting at #17 in the BCS polls (and is in similar position in most other major polls).
I know that playing Ball State doesn't have much cachet, but we have to get this whole thing straightened out. Indiana may not be much of a state, but it's all Notre Dame has, and "we must protect this house." The Irish can't let Ball State fans walk around chirping about being the "best team in the state." We need to invite the Cardinals to Notre Dame Stadium and open up a can of whoop-ass on 'em. Ball State has amassed their remarkable 8-0 record against the 121st toughest schedule in Division I, made up of the following opponents (with scores):
- Northeastern (48-14)
- Navy (35-23)
- Akron (41-24)
- Indiana (42-20)
- Kent St. (41-20)
- Toledo (31-0)
- Western Kentucky (24-7)
- Eastern Michigan (38-16)
4. Let’s dispose of the gradient colors and subtle vagaries of college football for a moment and answer this question with one of the supplied, absolute answers and a blurb defending your pick. No waffling! The Question: Why is Notre Dame unable to put away games when leading going into half time? The possible answers: 1) ND Players all have a soft, nougat center 2) The Coaches don’t want to tick off potential future employers 3) God doesn’t think it’s classy to blow a team out 4) The ND Fanbase can’t really stomach blowouts any more than they could stomach a protracted land war in Asia. Remember, you must pick one and you must defend it with great vigor!
Notre Dame's players have a soft, nougat center. I have been worried about the lack of a killer instinct in this Irish team for a while, but had allowed myself to believe that my worries were overblown after the Washington win. Wrong! When Coach Weis came to Notre Dame he famously promised us a football team that would play with a nasty streak.
Um, still waiting ...
This team needs to realize that it is a 60-minute game (or longer) and that the other team is usually going to fight you tooth and nail to the bitter end to win the game. They are not going to roll over just because "we are ND" and we have a nice half-time lead. Beating the Fighting Irish is a big deal, and beating the Fighting Irish in a comeback win is even better! This team needs to develop some ruthlessness and make it their goal to dominate the opposition on every play. They need to adopt the attitude of Conan the Barbarian that what is best in life is "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."
Our players need to realize that once they have a 14-point lead their goal needs to be to get a 21-point lead, not to run out the clock for an entire half. And once they have a 21-point lead they need to challenge themselves to make it a 30-point lead.
And that goes double for the coaches who are calling the offensive plays. No lead is safe!
5. Tennessee just began celebrating the career of Phil Fulmer
Well, I would think the Athletic Directors at Syracuse and Arizona State would be just about ready to accept the voluntary resignations of head football coaches Greg Robinson and Dennis Erickson.
And I would bet the short list for a replacement at most BCS programs would include Skip Holtz of Eastern Carolina. Others I'd be interested in looking at would be Todd Graham at Tulsa and Fresno State's Pat Hill. And don't be shy about looking into successful coaches in Division I-AA, at places like Appalachian State. If I were Michigan I would have hired the Appy State coach instead of Rich Rodriguez. Don't forget where Ohio State pulled Jim Tressel from - those guys in the big time I-AA programs an coach.