Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Defensive Coordinator - Corwin Brown

There is no official word yet from Notre Dame, who is probably still going over his resume with a fine-toothed comb to avoid another O'leary fiasco, but it has been widely reported that the Irish have hired Corwin Brown as the new defensive coordinator.

Here are the pros and cons as I see it:

- young
- energetic
- good coaching pedigree (studied under Belichik and Parcells)
- African-American (I wrote a paper on this last semester, and more African-American coaches are needed throughout the upper echelon of football at all divisions)
- proven recruiter
- from Chicago, usually a pipeline for the Irish
- aggressive style of defense
- great reputation in the locker room
- came from NFL coaching ranks
- former NFL player

- Michigan grad
- young
- not a lot of coaching experience (6 yrs. total)
- has never been a coordinator before
- Michigan grad

Actually, I really like this hire. I think he exactly the salve that this team needed. Minter played a wait and react style of defense that relied on different looks rather that blitzing and jamming receivers. It fit with our less than stellar talent level of the past couple of years, but he did not teach it well enough for the kids to execute the scheme effectively. Brown will bring in an uptempo style of defense that is attacking and puts more emphasis on athleticism, which has gotten a great shot in the arm over the past two recruiting classes.

The end result of all of the news this past week has assured us of one thing:

Next year will be totally different.

We'll be breaking in a new QB, RB, WRs, and several O-linemen. Our only returning weapon on offense is All-American tight end John Carlson (which is key for a new QB). With all of the new talent on the field, and Weis' penchant for moulding the offense around the players, what we see next year will be completely different from the last couple of years.

On defense, we lose a handful of starters, but we should see a majority of the defense composed of freshman and sophomores. Trevor Laws will be back to anchor and lead the D-line, Crum will hopefully move backoutside where he can lead the linebackers, and Tommy Z (with all of his detractors out there) will come back to the team to lead an Irish secondary that should be our deepest and most talented secondary in years (if also one of our youngest).

This combination of 5th-year senior leadership and young inexpereienced talent will be interesting to watch. If the veteran guys can provide the stability and leadership that the underclassmen need, this team could far exceed most people's expectations, much like the Trojans did in Carroll's third year. Alternatively, replacing so many talented players, especially a leader like Brady Quinn, could mean a huge step back for the Irish. In Carroll's fateful third year, he had a veteran QB - we won't.

We still have a couple of weeks until national signing day, at which time we'll know for sure whether we can land the much-needed Will Blackwell and super safety prospect Major Wright among the remaining undecided players. Hopefully, Corwin Brown can come in and fire up the players still on the fence and turn a decent recruiting haul into one for the ages.

Welcome the the Irish, Coach Brown. Best of luck.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Team News

Darius Walker is leaving for the NFL.

I’m a little surprised by this move. Darius is a millionaire already, due to a racial harassment lawsuit he won in high school. Money isn’t an issue.

He would have been returning as the leading offensive weapon from the team. He would have been the odds-on favorite to be voted the offensive captain. He would have had the opportunity to become the all-time leading rusher in Notre Dame history.

On the other hand, he would have been the leading returning starter from an offense that will lose a quarterback, two receivers and at least one lineman to the NFL. He would have to run behind a young, retooled offensive line and catch passes from a young inexperienced QB.

I wish Darius the best, and I hope that he has a long and successful NFL career.

In other news, Chris Little, one of the top offensive line prospects for this year, surprised everyone and committed to the Florida State Seminoles during the U.S. Army High School All-American game. Prior to the commitment, since November, Little had been reported as a Notre Dame lean, and many considered his commitment to be little more than a formality. However, the week of the All-American game Little decided hastily to stay close to home to be near his mother. After discussing the decision with his family, however, Chris Little realized that his first instincts were correct.

Chris Little then decommitted from Florida State, and made a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.

Also, Coach Weis has announced that 9 fifth-year eligible players will be returning to the team. Those players include: All-Americans John Carlson (TE) and Tom Zbikowski (SS), Dwight Stevenson (OL) and Trevor Laws (DL) among others. This announcement helps fill in some of the holes left by next year’s senior class, which is by far Ty’s worst recruiting class. Especially considering the Darius Walker announcement, these returning starters provide next year’s team with some much-needed senior leadership, as young freshman and sophomores will be playing all over the field.

There is still no solid news concerning the future of our defensive coaching staff, which has widely been rumored to be undergoing significant turnover this offseason. The rumor mill pretty much agrees that defensive coordinator Rick Minter is on his way out. Also rumored to be potentially gone is Special Teams coach Brian Polian. I’ll let you know a soon as I get more specific information.

Now, I have to get back to Intensive Trial Ad week.