Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Thankful for what, exactly?

The Irish Blogger Gathering returns to its roots this week as Subway Domer is the host. I apologize for not participating in the IBG last week, but I was in poor humor and I just wasn't feeling it on last week's questions. I've got company coming in just a few hours for Thanksgiving, so I don't have time for lengthy answers this week, but I did want to throw in my two cents' worth. And here we go:

1. Regardless of what you may have heard and what may happen, what do you think should be the fate of Charlie Weis? Please give an explanation in detail along with a possible replacement if you said... FIRED. No Urban Meyer bullshit here. He's not coming. Get over it.

As I just wrote in my last post, I'm done defending Charlie Weis. The loss to Syracuse on top of the blown games at North Carolina and against Pitt tossed me right out the back of the CW Bandwagon and into the mud. I'm not calling for Charlie's head, and if it was up to me I'd give him one more season because we really are very close to being a 9-2 team right now. But changes have to be made on his staff.

2. Recruiting. Colin Cowherd has been murdering the recruiting services and Notre Dame. He thinks that the recruiting services rank Irish recruits higher than what they should be because of a marketing plan. Everyone else on the outside is falling in line with this thought. What are your opinions? Please explain and provide a solution.

I'm a big fan of Colin Cowherd and I get at least 90 minutes of him every morning on my drive to work. But he's wrong on this one. The kids Notre Dame is getting are already rated 4 and 5 stars long before they commit to Notre Dame. Cowherd has never cited a single case of a 3-star kid becoming a 4-star overnight after committing to ND. In fact, my perception has been that in the past the services have downgraded Notre Dame recruits after the Irish sign them. In my view, the problem is that Charlie Weis gives too much credence to Scouts Inc. and Rivals. He chases after their 4- and 5-star players because he wants to have a highly rated recruiting class, and I think he isn't doing a good enough job evaluating the rated kids to see who really are the most talented players and who would do best in the Irish system. Not every 4-star player will fit our scheme. Maybe a 3-star is really underrated by everyone else and would be a great fit at Notre Dame? A lot of the Scouts Inc. and Rivals stuff is just hype and B.S. created by overzealous dads and high school coaches sending out highlight videos to every program and media outlet in the country. My solution is to concentrate harder on bringing into the program guys who play the game like Mike Anello. Highly rated guys who don't play with enough passion for the game are useless.

3. I made a comparison in a poorly written post about this team mirroring the 2004 team. I generally don't like doing comparisons to other years, but I felt it was valid. What is your take? Is the 2008 version of ND like the 2004 team, and do you think the 2009 team could have similar results to the team in 2005?

I'm going to have to agree with the part where Subway said "I generally don't like doing comparisons to other years."

4. Is Michael Floyd the Notre Dame team MVP? Why? If not, who then?

This gives me a great opportunity to solicit nominations for the OC Domer Player of the Year Award for 2008! I have a couple of ideas about who I like as the possible winner this season, but I want to give my readers a chance to provide input before I make a final decision. If you have any ideas about who should win the award this season, you can e-mail me or leave a comment to this post.

Last year's winner was, of course David Bruton, who has justified my faith in him with a tremendous season in 2008. Runners-Up in 2007 were Trevor Laws and Pat Kuntz. Honorable Mentions went to Robby Parris and Duval Kamara.

The criteria for the OC Domer Player of the Year Award are as follows:
The OC Domer Player of the Year Award is intended to recognize the Notre Dame football player or players who played the best when it mattered the most. I want to recognize the guys who showed up and gave quality efforts against the best teams we faced, not the rest of the teams we faced. The award is based on a horrendously complex and intricate scoring system that would take too long to explain and that you wouldn't understand anyway. Suffice it to say that the primary criterion was a consistently high level of play, with significant bonus points awarded for exceeding expectations.
I look forward to hearing from readers with nominations. Of course, my answer to this IBG question will have to wait until the formal announcement of the OCDPOY Award winner.

5. What is Notre Dame's biggest problem schematically and mentally?

Schematically, our biggest problem is that our big guys get tossed around like rag dolls by our opponents' big guys. Both our offensive line and our defensive front seven play like they are on roller skates. The O-line can't win the battle on 3rd-and-2, and our defensive front seven can't take on a blocker and stuff a running back in the hole, preferring instead to run around blocks, leaving seams in the defensive front big enough to drive trucks through. Our two safeties shouldn't be leading the team in tackles - especially on running plays.

6. Notre Dame is a 30 point underdog to U$C. It's safe to say that none of us thought that ND would ever be that big of an underdog in this rivalry game. Your thoughts and please include a prediction for the game.

The good news is that, as of right now, the weather in Los Angeles is supposed to be good on Saturday night. So I won't have to stand in the rain while watching my team get pummeled by USC. Hopefully.

My thoughts on the game? If Michael Floyd were playing I would have given the Irish a puncher's chance against USC. The Trojans have been vulnerable at times this year, and Stanford (who lost to the Irish) gave USC all they wanted for three quarters. But without Floyd in the game, USC will double up on Golden Tate and force the Irish to run the ball, which we will not be able to do against the Trojans. I was at last year's game back in South Bend, and my lasting memory of that game was of how pathetic the Irish pass rush was against USC. Here's a picture I took of it:

And that wasn't a fluke example. I have a bunch of these pictures that show 7, 8, or 9 yards between Mark Sanchez in the pocket and the nearest Irish defender. Will the vaunted Jon Tenuta "pressure" show up this week? I expect Sanchez to be under a little more duress this Saturday, but our defense hasn't exactly struck fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks this season, and we haven't seen an offensive line of USC's caliber yet this season.

I expect the game to be ugly, again. But I'll be there, and I'll be cheering, and I'll be hoping for a miracle.

But here's the problem. Let's say that the Fighting Irish show up on Saturday, play out of their minds, and shock the world with a win over USC. Woo-hoo!! I would be totally pumped and it would be a day I would remember forever.

But once the stadium quiets down and the elation eases, I'd be left with this question: How in the world does a team with the talent to beat USC lose to North Carolina, Boston College, Pitt, and Syracuse? And the answer would have to be: bad coaching. So even a win over USC wouldn't be a cure-all, and it might actually raise more questions than it answers.


Anonymous said...

Golden Tate, Player of the Year, hands down.

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Anonymous said...

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Jack said...

Some one on the rish team thought they could beat USC... ...THATS A GOOD THOUGHT!