So, I've been on hiatus for a while, for good reason. Things at work have been crazy, I went on vacation, and there may be a lot of changes in store for me in the near future (promotion, anyone?). But, I couldn't shirk my duties as a member of the Irish Blogger Gathering, so here are my answers to Subway's questions:
1. Take your temperature. A) What sort of things are you looking for the team to work upon to help the 2009 season? Group improvements, players improvements, new fertilizer... whatever. As general a question as you will find. B) Same question, but instead of just the 2009 season- the future of the program as a whole.
A) There are a few things that I'm looking for this year. Fist, I'd like to see Jimmy Clausen start acting like a leader and a Notre Dame man. He came in with a punk-ass attitude, and I'd like to see him take a hint from his predecessor, and start leading by example. First in the weight room in the morning, last out of film review at night, keeping his nose clean and being confident, not cocky. Also, I want to see the major jumps in production that you usually get between sophomore and junior years. If that happens for even a small majority of that class, this offense will be SICK.
B) This is a more interesting question. My expectations for this year are insanely high. I keep hinking about all of the factors involved, and I can't help but see this as being the beginning of a long run for the Irish back in the elite. A big part of this long-term hope comes from one man - Bryant Young. Not because he has the potential to be a great coach and leader (which I think he will), but more because of what it says about the long-term health of our program. Weis has taken the view that he will be here a while, and is grooming Bryant Young as a coach. He hired a veteran statesman on the D-line, so that Young could grow and eventually replace him. This kind of long-term continuity, growth, and planning could pay major dividends for the University. It's doing things the right way.
2. It remains to be seen if I will be traveling to the spring game. My wife may have objections to yet another birthday of hers being used for a game that essentially doesn't count. (I know, I know- she just doesn't get it.) Don't you think it's about time that the spring game was televised? You know ESPN is dying to get inside that stadium for a live broadcast. I don't think it would interfere with the NBC contract, and if it does- why aren't they televising this?
As an annual attendee to the Spring Game, I could honestly care less about whether it's televised, personally. However, I do see the benefit of the exposure this early, especially as it informs the voters in the preseason polls. Of course, ESPN would be the beast we'd have to sell out to, as spring games are not network TV material. But assuming we could get assurances of front page coverage, I think it would be a great tool in recruiting and shaping preseason perception.
3. What position battle will be decided this spring? Which one will have to wait for summer/fall?
I think the only position battle that will be decided this spring is the QB. Weis will give Crist the chance to legitimately show what he can do against Jimmy, but I think JC's mechanics solidify him as the starter moving forward.
The rest of the positions I think will be open well into the summer. There are only a few places I see as locked down - Tate and Floyd at receiver, Young on the O line, Williams on the D line, and Brian Smith as inside LB. The rest of the spots have too many talented players competing for me to hazard a guess.
4. If you could change anything about the way spring practice/ Blue-Gold Game is done- what would it be?
I'd like to see them get away from the strange scoring rules and actually get out there and play a game. 1st on 1st and 2nd on 2nd, with the rest of the team split evenly for subs. Play it out, and let us see how it goes. This goes for silly rules protectng the QB as well. Obviusly, we want to avoid injuries, but at least let the defenders wrap up the QB.
I like Subway's idea of bringing in another team to scrimmage against, as well.
5. Name your 5 favorite players and change their jersey number. Tell us why...
Jimmy Clausen - #7 to #10. As I said before, I'd like to see Jimmy try to emulate Brady, and be a true leader, rather than just a talented QB.
Ian Williams - #95 to # 50. I'd like to see this, complete with cut off jersey and attitude, to emulate Zorro. We need some nasty inside on defense.
Eric Olsen - #51 to #00. Just because.
Golden Tate - #23 to #25. This kid is the new rocket. Did you see him run down Armando Allen on the kick return, AFTER a pancake block? Raw speed.
6. Last year two sophomore's won the MVP awards for the Blue-Gold Game (Harrison Smith and Robert Hughes). Predict who this years MVP's will be using the same criteria. (Same class- 1 OFF. & 1 DEF.).
I'm going to predict a return to form, when you knew who the best players were, and expected them to be the MVP every time. Therefore, I'm going to pick:
Jimmy Clausen, QB (could be Tate, but he'll miss a lot for baseball)
Darrin Walls, CB (could also be B. Smith or I. Williams)