I've been on hiatus for a little while, feeling unmotivated to blog about what has been a very disappointing season prior to Saturday. Also, I've been working an insane amount lately. I apologize for the lack of posting, but as things settle back down at work, I should be able to get back on track. Here are this week's IBG questions and answers:
1) Saturday’s result against Utah was a very pleasant surprise, but an unexpected one, to say the least. What was the biggest positive you took from the win over the Utes, and what concerns you most as the Irish head into their final two games of the regular season?
I think that this Notre Dame team got up off the mat and came out swinging. The loss to Tulsa was a low point for our program. With the Declan Sullivan tragedy, the kids weren't emotionally prepared to play a football game. With the loss, the prospects of a bowl game and a winning season were on life support. Our All-American tight end was out for the season, along with our 3-year starting running back, one of our most dynamic wide receivers and our only seasoned quarterback. And, we had the #14 team in the country coming to town.
It is times like these when you learn about the character of a team.
They could have come out flat, let Utah roll over them and limped their way into the offseason to lick their wounds. But instead, they showed their pride and came out and destroyed Utah. This gives them some momentum with a very winnable game against Army before we travel out to Southern Cal to take on an underachieving Trojan squad. A win in the Coliseum would make this, in my eyes, a successful season.
There is always the chance for a let-down, however, and a loss to Army would put us right back down in the dumps. If we can maintain the focus and intensity we had against Utah, we will be a very dangerous team.
2) The Irish will have to take a completely different approach against the Army option than they did against the Navy attack a few weeks ago. Who do you see playing the biggest role in slowing down the Black Knight attack? Who will be the big performer on offense?
We need someone on the defensive front to get pressure up the middle and take away the dive. If we can do that, the team speed to the outside should do much better against Army than we did against Navy.
I'm expecting Michael Floyd to do the heavy lifting for this offense for the remainder of the season, so look for Tommy Rees to have a very big day.
3) Should Notre Dame win one of their final two games, they’ll likely be going bowling. There are a lot of tie-ins that may or may not be fulfilled from other conferences that will likely end up deciding their postseason fate, but what bowl do you see the Irish playing in?
If we win out, the last game against USC should give us enough momentum, along with our innate popularity, to put us in the Champs Sports Bowl.
4) This isn’t a question any of us thought would be an issue at the start of the season, but who do you see as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback against South Florida next year?
I think we'll see Dayne Crist. He'll have his hands full with the way Tommy Rees is playing, and Andrew Hendrix has arguably more potential than either of them. But, I think that Dayne's physical and mental maturity will put him under center come opening day next year.
5) We’re all very excited for Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, which is a nice turn towards some pretty exciting neutral site games (Miami at Soldier Field, Arizona State at Cowboys Stadium) after a rather lackluster start (Washington State in San Antonio). What are three neutral site games you’d like to see down the road?
Alabama in Nashville
Texas in St. Louis
Indiana in Indianapolis