Thursday, September 3, 2009

Irish Blogger Gathering: Here Come the 2009 Fighting Irish!

We're going to try to keep Subway Domer's love child alive for a second season. Yes, the Irish Blogger Gathering is back for 2009. The idea is for our intrepid group of Notre Dame football bloggers to respond each week during the season to a set of questions posed to the group. The blogger asking the questions rotates, and the host for Nevada week is the Domer Law Blog. You can head over there to read Domer Law's IBG post, and in the comments you will find the responses written by all the bloggers participating in the Gathering this week. And so, without further ado:

1. What song or video do you feel typifies this year's Notre Dame team heading into the season? Embed a youtube or other similar video if possible.

The very first thought that popped into my head was "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. This has to be the attitude of the Notre Dame coaches and players as they hit the field this year. They have to stand up and show the whole world that they aren't going to take being pushed around and beaten down any more. We need to see some attitude and some defiance from the '09 Irish.

2. Post a picture that to you portrays the attitude of this year's team and discuss.

As I've been writing all pre-season, we won't know anything about this team until Saturday. Talk and speculation is useless - this team needs to show up on game day and take care of business. The team that runs out into Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday afternoon needs to have the attitude of the incredible Hulk. They needs to be big, fast, strong, nasty, and not worried about breaking things or hurting anyone's feelings. They need to be merciless and supremely confident. They need to crush the Nevada Wolf Pack like a bug. Coach Weis needs to set the example by not taking his foot off the gas. Notre Dame lost three games last year because they had comfortable leads that they thought were safe and they tried to nurse those leads to the end of the 4th quarter. There can be no comfortable leads at half-time. Maybe if you're up by 28 with 5:00 to go you can nurse the clock. But this team needs to bring a little Hulk to Notre Dame Stadium. Is it a coincidence that the Hulk wears green? I think not.

3. What do you perceive as the team's biggest weakness heading into the season?

Toughness. Coach Weis has brought into the program some very talented athletes, and he has largely fixed Notre Dame's perennial problem - Team Speed. Now we need to see some toughness; some of the nasty that Charlie promised when he showed up in South Bend. The O-line needs to be tough. Armando Allen needs to run tough, not fall over on contact. The D-line needs to be tough against the run. The linebackers need to take on blockers and win the battles at the point of attack and stuff the run at the line of scrimmage without safety help.

4. With the exception of the 1990s, Notre Dame has won a National Championship in every decade since the 1920s. What are the chances (a) that Notre Dame wins a championship this year, and (b) if not this year, when do you predict the next championship for the Irish?

The odds makers have Notre Dame's odds of winning a National Championship at 25-1. In order to win the championship, the Irish have three major hurdles to clear. First, they have to beat USC. I put the chances of that at 40%. Second, they have to win the other eleven games on their regular season schedule. I put the chances of that at most at 30%. Then they would have to win the BCS Championship Game against Florida or some other very worthy opponent. If this team has played well enough to be 12-0 and beat USC and get voted into the Title game, I'll go ahead and give them a 50% chance of winning that game. A little math (4/10 x 3/10 x 1/2) gets you a 6% chance of Notre Dame winning a National Championship, which is only slightly better than the Vegas odds. That may sound very pessimistic, but to put it in perspective the chances of winning just five games in a row if the chances of winning each individual game is 50% is 3.125%. The chances of winning twelve games in a row if each game is a 50-50 proposition is 0.024%. (That's a 1 in 4096 chance).

Bottom line: The team has to play consistently at the top of its game for a whole season, and get some breaks along the way. But really, 6% is a decent chance in the big scheme of things.

If they don't win it all this season, I think they'll have an even better chance next year, as nearly every player of import will return in 2010.

5. Nevada runs the Pistol offense, Navy the Triple Option, and Michigan the Spread Option. Which offensive scheme do you think is the most difficult to prepare for, and why?

Okay, I suppose I could PRETEND that I understand the nuances of each of these offenses and the unique challenges they pose to a defensive coordinator. But that would be silly. The toughest offense to prepare for is the one featuring the most talented athletes with the most experience in the offense. Given Michigan's woes and Navy's rebuilding this year, you'd have to say that Nevada, with a very experienced starting QB in a system he knows well will be the most difficult to prepare for.

6. Is Colin Capaernick the best quarterback we'll see this year? If not, who is?

He probably is the best quarterback as of today. But USC's true freshman Matt Barkley will have much more talent around him, and will have five games under his belt (including on the road at Ohio State and Cal) when he arrives in South Bend. Thus, Barkley will likely pose a bigger challenge to defend than Capaernick.

7. Prediction time. We have to get on the record before the season kicks off. Give me:

(1) Overall prediction for wins/losses.

I'm calling for a 10-2 regular season. The probably lose to USC in a game that is much more competitive than the last three years, and they will lose one game that they should win, rather than losing three games they should have won in 2008. More details on my season forecast can be found at this link.

(2) Projected bowl game and result.

I expect Notre Dame to play in and win a BCS Bowl Game, albeit not the BCS Championship game.

(3) Predicted final ranking.

The bowl win will lead to a #5 ranking in the final polls, behind the two teams in the BCS Championship game and the winners of the other two BCS bowl games.

(4) Best player on the team.

I hope there will be a lot of competition for this honor, but in order for the team to reach it's goals the best player needs to be Jimmy Clausen.

(5) Heisman trophy winner.

If it isn't Clausen, I'm pulling for Colt McCoy.

(6) National Champion.

If not the Irish, I like Texas.

(7) Prediction for Nevada game, including score.

Notre Dame 38, Nevada 20


Frankie V said...

Good call on the video OC Domer, that was my second choice.

blogger said...

My Michigan tix are available