Thursday, October 01, 2009

IBG: Quick Questions (aka Subway Domer nearly screwed the pooch on this one)

So, apparently Subway Domer did get around to posting some questions for this week, so here goes...

1. Describe your worst nightmare coming true on Saturday. Can that nightmare become a reality?

I'm assuming you mean related to Notre Dame football, as I'm guessing that the entire stadium being attacked by 1,000s of giant spiders wasn't what you were going for here.

Honestly, my worst nightmare is that we lose.

Think about this for a second.

We've all given Coach Weis a pass on rebuilding this team from the decimation that Tyrone wreaked on the program.

But his criminally reckless behavior in recruiting at Notre Dame pales in comparison to the intentional dismantling of the Huskies program that Tyrone tried.

And then Coach Weis, in year 5 of his rebuilding project inherited from Ty, LOSES to Sarkisian in year 1 of his?

It would be, psychologically, a death blow to everyone's confidence in Weis, and immediately render moot any argument put forward for retaining him as head coach.

2. Can we all agree that Jake Locker will be the best quarterback that we have/will face all season?

Yes. I stated this in the first IBG of the season, and I'll restate it again here.

Jake Locker is the best quarterback that we will face this season. He is a seasoned veteran with the athleticism to beat you on the ground and through the air. He reminds me of a cross between Antwaan Randle-El and Steve Young. In fact, although his stats will never bear it out because he plays on an otherwise atrocious team, he may well be the best QB in the country. Including JC and Jesus H. Tebow.

3. Replace two starters on both sides of the football for the Washington game. Who are they, who are they replacing, and why?

OFFENSE: Move 1: I'm going to cheat here, and simply change the way we do things for move #1, as (unless you're going to give me the fantasy of plugging Floyd back into the lineup), I don't want to replace any of our skill positions. So, instead of REPLACING anyone, I'm just going to tweak our formations. On any given snap, Armando Allen, Golden Tate, and Kyle Rudolph line up in variations of tailback, slot receiver, tight end, and fullback. And from that, we can shift into or out of any number of formations. Jimmy Clausen is of course optional here, as we move into and out of the Leprecat offense.

Rudolph could be a hell of a lead blocker, and the amount of speed coming out of an AA/Tate backfield is ridiculous. Also, I think Rudolph could be an interesting tailback with his size and deceptive speed, especially as you have to account for AA and Tate on the outside.

We've already experimented with varying forms of the "Leprecat" offense, so now I just want to add in the twist of using Kyle Rudolph in the backfield as well as TE and split out.

Move 2: Bench Sam Young for the first half. He may be our most experienced and most physically talented offensive lineman, but his mistakes have cost this team too many times, and I would send him a message that he had better shape up, or we'll leave him on the sidelines. Plug in whoever is next on the depth chart (Taylor Dever or Matt Romine, depending on how coach decides to play it).

DEFENSE: Move 1: Easy - Te'o for Toryan Smith. Toryan does not appear to have the fundamentals necessary for middle linebacker for his level of athletic ability. Te'o may be lacking the same fundamentals, but his athleticism makes up for mistakes.

Move 2: Tougher, but I'll go with Sergio Brown for Harrison Smith. I just get the sense that Harrison isn't quite getting it. Brown has made some mistakes, but he just always seems to be around the ball.

4. Ty Willingham enters the stadium in the second quarter. What happens?


I think in this situation, the entire fanbase, en masse, rushes the field, picks up the Moulder of Men, marches him out to St. Joe River, and unceremoniously dumps him in.

Then they return to the stadium, everyone (ushers included) drinks a shot, and then they resume the pounding that the Irish are giving the Huskies, who are only 1 season removed from Ty's criminally reckless recruiting skills, compared to Notre Dame's 5.

5. Are you impressed with the improvement in the run game in 2009, or is it a figment of our imagination?

How could you not be? This team's running game is absolutely Holtz-esque. And that's AFTER the Big Ten portion of our schedule. Verducci is the next Joe Moore, and as far as I'm concerned, we need to make him a Notre Dame lifer.

After what Stanford did last week to Washington, you'd have to be drooling if you're Armando Allen.

6. Who's hotter, Wendi Nix or Erin Andrews? Why. It your hottie a defensive or offensive player?

Given the choice, I'd have to go with Erin Andrews. But, I'd much rather be my own person, and go with the write-in of

Alex Flanagan

I mean, come on guys. Wendi and Erin are so last season...

And Alex is totally a tight end. (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no more.)

7. Predictions please...

This is the week that Washington remembers that they were 0-12 last year.

Jake Locker throws for 250 yards (150 of them to himself, incredibly enough) and 3 TDs (again, 2 of them to himself), and runs for 200 yards and 2 TDs, accounting for a total of 7 of the Huskies' 5 touchdowns.

IRISH 140-35

(all seriousness aside, I'll take the Irish, 38-10)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jimmy Clausen: Earning his stripes

I've been on record several times over the past few years knocking Clausen. I've heard rumblings and grumblings about campus about his cocky attitude and sense of entitlement. I've even had my own less than impressive run-ins with him myself as recently as last season.

But I gotta admit, the kid is earning my respect this year.

He's clearly starting to learn what it is to be not just a leader on the football field, but slowly also learning to be a Notre Dame man on AND off the field.

Gone is the cockiness and bravado of a kid who hasn't proved anything, and it has been replaced by the quiet confidence, grit and determination of a leader.

And that, more than anything, is why I'm climbing onto the Clausen for Heisman bandwagon.

I posted last week that I thought his numbers should have placed him at the forefront of the QBs in consideration for the Heisman, but this week, hobbled by turf toe, he showed what we all look for in a Heisman quarterback - the ability to put his team on his back and pluck victory from the jaws of defeat. He limped out onto the field with 3 minutes left, and like Brady before him, the team KNEW it was going to find a way to win. And on the strong right arm of Jimmy Clausen, that's exactly what they did.

The season is still young, and Clausen will have plenty of opportunities to prove his mettle as a legitimate Heisman candidate. Perhaps he'll even have one of those classic TV moments in the ND/USC game. But I doubt any will be remembered as fondly in history as the final drive against Purdue late Saturday night - a drive that may not have just saved the season, but the program.

With a healthy toe and a healthy Armando Allen going into this weekend's tilt against Washington, a hot team which has surprised a lot of people (including the vaunted Trojans of USC), this may be the week where Clausen lights up the Huskies, and with them the hype for ND/USC going into the bye week.

Go Irish! Beat Huskies!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What does beating Purdue mean?

Alright, so there has been much moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth on the Notre Dame message boards. The fan base has splintered into two groups:

1. Weis is a horrible coach, and [example of poor performance from most recent game] is why he'll never win a championship at Notre Dame. Hire [Stoops, Meyer, Saban, Gruden, etc.].

2. Weis has rebuilt this program and has us playing well, and [example of good performance from most recent game] is why we'll get to the national championship next year. Besides, we could never get [Stoops, Meyer, Saban, Gruden, etc.].

I've been working on an analysis of Coach Weis' career thus far, and I'll post that over the bye week. But in the interim, we have one of the clearest arguments for both sides in this week's game.

Side 1:

Weis is a horrible coach, and the complete lack of tackling fundamentals in this game show that we'll never have a defense capable of winning a championship at Notre Dame. Hire Stoops.

Side 2:

Weis has rebuilt this program and has us playing well, and going into an opposing stadium against a Big Ten team that hung around with Oregon and coming away with a win without our top receiver, top running back, and only half of our Heisman candidate quarterback is a testament to the depth we've developed and is why we'll win the championship next year. Besides, we could never get Stoops.


And I'm really stuck on the fence here. As I watched the game with my buddy Ian (a Purdue guy), it was kind of hilarious to watch. At one point we seriously got into an argument about whose team is more capable of choking a game away.

I think that everything you need to know about this team is summed up in this quote by Weis:

"You know, they (Purdue) had a couple of carries where they got yards, and then the rest of the carries I mean, they gained 56 yards on three carries, and they gained 11 yards on the other 14 carries. They had a 26 yard run, a 15 yard run and a 15 yard run, and they were really the only runs that were over ten yards, and the rest of it averaged less than a yard a carry."

So to sum up, if we wouldn't screw up a few times a game, we could be really good.

Every coach I know has stressed that the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win the game.

And we still make too many mistakes.

We've got the talent, and (finally) the depth. We have the motivation and the belief.

But I'm tired of watching us shoot ourselves in the foot over and over again.

If I were Coach Weis, I would spend no time trying to put in a gameplan this week. We'll run our base offense and defense against Washington.

I'd spend every second of practice time available drilling fundamentals. Fundamental tackling. Rip/swim/spin drills. Fundamental blocking. Catching drills. Passing drills. Kicking drills. Ball running drills.

I want some Oklahoma drills, baby. Learn to hit someone one-on-one and put them in the ground.

If this team started playing solid fundamental football, they could run my pee-wee team's offense and defense and beat everyone on their schedule. We're relying too heavily on athleticism and not enough on crisp, clean fundamental football.

And that's on the coaching. Watch it, coach - I may be falling off the fence here pretty soon if you don't clean things up.