Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Team in Need of Direction

Armchair Quarterbacking

I'm not sure Coach Weis got the memo that this wasn't a preseason game. The use of quarterbacks in this game resembled the NFL preseason rather than a game that actually counts on your record. The entire first half felt like an experiment on the offensive side of the football, where Coach wanted to see how good the team could be without even threatening to pass.

Overall, I feel like this game showcased every weakness of Coach Weis. He's still a great coach, but he often outthinks himself. Today was a classic example. He has been running a pro style offense for his entire career, but decided to try to turn himself into Rich Rodriguez to accomodate his dual threat QB. He also gets a little impatient at times, and the cycle of QBs showcased that. In addition, his choice this offseason to lay off of the team somewhat resulted in a team that lacked discipline throughout. On and off the field.

In retrospect, this team is suffering badly from a lack of senior leadership. With only 6 true seniors on the roster (and 9 5th years), there is a lack of leaders to choose from.

Even the leaders we do have suffered from a lack of direction, something that can be hung directly on the head coach. Weis ran three different offenses today, with 3 different quarterbacks. Is it any wonder that the offense couldn't find any rhythm? And that confusion on offense resulted in far too many turnovers, which put the defense in bad situations and hung them out to dry for far too long. The lack of direction and indecision by Coach Weis extended even to the kick returners. After starting Allen and Tate, Tate was pulled in favor of West after only one return attempt.

I'm not sure how Coach Weis decided to start Demetrius at QB, as he clearly has NO faith in Demetrius' throwing ability, allowing opposing defenses to stack the box and choke up the running game. And Sharpley, as I predicted, was not the answer either. He displayed almost no athleticism, and couldn't get through his reads before the pressure got to him. Even when he did get the ball off, it was usually off the mark. Granted, Clausen was playing in garbage time against reserves, but he ran the offense with more precision than either DJ or Sharpley. He blazed through his reads, made a decision, and delivered the ball quickly and on target.

Eating Crow

And as long as I'm dishing out criticism, I might as well learn to take it.

Boy was I wrong about our offensive line. Sullivan did a horrible job of recognizing blitzes, and our inexperienced linemen got torched far too frequently. Their size never translated into push on the front line, and they couldn't open a hole to save their lives.

Also, I far underestimated Tashard Choice. I knew he was good, but I thought that we would be able to focus on shutting him down and see if the young QB could beat us with his arm. But Choice was able to run roughshod over and through our D-line and linebackers, even when we KNEW that he was coming. Tech didn't even bother with fakes and misdirections eventually - they'd just line Tashard up in the backfield, snap the ball to him directly, and watch him torch our defense.

Bright spots

The game, as disappointing as it was, did have some bright spots. Not many, but some.

The defense was placed in bad situations early and often, and was able to force field goals. It was only after they became tired and demoralized that they let the game get out of hand.

The receivers by and large looked very good, despite Weis' almost pathological aversion to using them. To put this in perspective, it wasn't until the 3rd quarter that our All-American tight end finally got a touch. In fact, our receivers were the most impressive position group today, which makes the choice of DJ as the starter even more perplexing. But I digress - I'm trying to focus on the positive...

Armando Allen showed flashes of brilliance. He didn't break one today, but he showed us enough that we know that he can and will. He has excellent speed and good moves. He just needs a little bit of experience to learn how to run through arm tackles and see the running lanes better.

Our coverage on special teams was outstanding all day long.

Clausen looks healthy and appears to be as good as advertised. Even if it was in mop up time.

Our secondary didn't give up the big play. There was one long pass that was perfectly defended, but the receiver made a great catch. Another that was a blown coverage but that we quickly corrected and kept it from going for 6.

I sat next to a really hot chick. OK, I'm reaching a little here, but this section was so depressingly short. And she was really hot.


Anonymous said...

I do agree with most of your assessements of the game, especially when it comes to running backs,receivers and tight ends but lets not jump into conclusion about quartebacks. As awefull as the game was, DJ should have been kept in the game with an extra option to throw. The run play he made almost got us to the end zone. The choice to start him was the best, especially with GT defense I think Clausen would have been hurt on the first offensive play with a season ending injury. Ever since the michigan game last year, ND football has no answer for a blitzing defense. On a positive note, alot of young guys on ND team are very hungry for a win, notably DJ,Allen,Jimmy Clausen,Golden Tate, Paris,DJ Hord lets give them a chance to have fun they will get us there.

Anonymous said...

Weis commited a mojor fraud on all of ND fandome.

We were told before that he thinks they could win with any one of the QB's. In fact, he couldn't win with all three.

He said we've got 5 great RB's, when in fact we've got none. I never agreed with the decision to start Thomas. You can't switch a player between positions and expect him to do anything.

The secrecy of the starting QB was a joke. Jones' highschool coach went to the press with "Jones was taking the most reps..." when Weis early said the starter has been getting the most reps. Who do you think told Jones' coach? Clausen? I don't think so. I would seriously consider kicking Jones off my team after investigating how much talking he did prior to the game.

Stupidist decision was to force the offense to learn and entirely new offense that would only be used for 1 game. You can't do that to a bumch of rookies and expect results.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one bothered by Demetrius Jones' treason? While his selfishness was not the reason the Irish lost, his desire to make his school coach proud at the expense of helping his current team is worthy of demotion to the scout team, or some other punishment.

His HS coach went to the press before the game saying: "Let's just say Demetrius is going to make everyone in Chicago proud," Spurlock said. "I would think anyone who is taking most of the snaps in practice would be the guy who starts."

The article quotes the coach as saying he spoke with DJ earlier in the day. Earlier, Charlie said the starter was taking the most snaps with the first team. While it appears GT were 75% sure the starter was DJ, this comment confirmed it by another 15-20%.

Weis swore the student press to secrecy, but apparently forgot to put the gag order on his players. Or DJ didn't care. either way, the fact that DJ could keep the secret for a few more days is treasonous.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that everyone on this blog has overlooked the facts or finds a need to place their hope in Jimmy. Firstly, there is a reason the coaching staff offered another fine QB (Crist) a place for next year. All those who see Jimmy as the second coming have not had the opportunity (as have those who are close to the program)to see him in practice. Regrettably, neither Jimmy nor any QB(even Brady) could be successful behind that offensive line as it is today. For all the heat Sharpley is taking in this blog, he did go 10 for 13 and led the team on its only meaningful drive. The problem is not so much with the QB as it is with the O-line. Until that is fixed, expect continued blow-outs and a very very long season.

Wacko said...

For the record, I have seen Jimmy in practice this past spring, and I left impressed with the kid's mechanics. As a matter of fact, every piece of tape or observation of Clausen has led me to believe that he is a rare talent at the QB position.

And the recruitment of Crist doesn't speak to Jimmy's ability - Weis intends to sign the top QB in the nation EVERY SINGLE YEAR and then let them duke it out.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me, but that's a ridiculous strategy that will surely backfire. What would deter the nation's top high school quarterback from signing at ND more than knowing he may never start?