It's been quiet here at OC Domer this Summer. My posting numbers have been down, and I've been scratching my head as to the reasons. After a little introspection, I've come up with a couple of factors. First, I've been busy/distracted. Work can really cut into a blogger's day, and a lot has been happening on the family front including the OC Domer Daughter heading off to Notre Dame in just 16 days. Oh My! But the other factor is that blogging, for me, is driven by news, controversy, uncertainty, and debate. With respect to Notre Dame football, there just isn't much uncertainty this year, other than the ultimate uncertainty of how many wins the Irish will put in the books. I'm not the only one to note this. There is no quarterback controversy like there was prior to the 2007 season (Sharpley? Clausen? Jones? You do remember Jones, don't you? And Frazer?). In 2008 there were question marks all over the depth chart, if not at quarterback. Which of the youngsters would play and would they mature fast enough to erase the nightmarish images of 2007? There was also the addition of coach Jon Tenuta to spark some discussion.
For 2009, there just aren't many unknowns. The players in 2009 are almost without exception the same guys we watched lose at home to Syracuse and then win impressively in Hawaii. Same quarterback, same running backs, same linemen, same receivers. Same defensive players, with the exception of an opening at linebacker and an opening at safety. The coaching situation is settled. Charlie is the Boss, and he's calling plays again. Corwin Brown is promoted to assistant head coach, and Jon Tenuta to Defensive Coordinator. The big unknown is new offensive line coach Frank Verducci. I'll be watching the O-line very closely this season, as once again (just like 2007 and 2008) I will no doubt predict that Fighting Irish fortunes depend principally on the performance of that group. But what can you post about the O-line in pre-season?
From a blogger's perspective, it is clearly too quiet on the Fighting Irish front. We know who the players are, we know the schedule looks pretty darn manageable. We think the pieces are in place. The question on everyone's lips is: How good are the Irish going to be this season? That sounds innocent enough to the casual fan, but for die hard Notre Dame fans, this ultimate question carries an undertone. The question is really code for the following mysteries:
- How many games are they going to win?
- Which team are we going to see - the team that lost to UNC, Pitt and Syracuse? Or the team that looked amazing against Michigan, Washington, and Hawaii?
- Will Jimmy Clausen take that step up to "the next level"? Is Coach Weis really a good enough quarterback coach to take Clausen to the next level?
- Is Charlie Weis going to be the "The Guy" at Notre Dame for the next decade? Or is he not up to the job?
Video clips of warm-ups, staged scrimmages for the public, press conferences and interviews. Leaked news and rumors. All absolutely worthless. Because we know how well they COULD play. We know this team has the POTENTIAL to be great. But until they line-up on a Saturday, we have no inkling of how the WILL play.
And so it's quiet. Too quiet. I will post my pre-season previews and predictions, I'll share my hopes and fears. Or at least my hopes. But we're all just biding our time until kick-off against Nevada. It won't take long after that for us to learn an awful lot about this team and our season. Will it be a San Diego State close call that presages another year of mediocrity? Or will it be a continuation of what we saw at Hawaii, a prelude to greatness?
33 days until we know.