Sunday, October 07, 2007

About Frickin' Time

The Irish outlast UCLA and finally, finally, finally, holy freaking hell, finally get their first W of the season. Was it pretty? It seems like the answer to this is no but in all honesty I didn't see one down of this game. Being in college and all and having to broadcast The Battle for the Little Brass Bell took away from my Irish-watching Saturday night.

Announcing for a 3-2 DIII team coupled with not having a functioning VCR leaves me with the Ga-Tech debacle as the only game I have seen from start to finish for Notre Dame this year. With everything being read however I am left with plenty of questions...

1) Why no vertical passing game from Jimmy Clausen??
-Seems to me from everything that I have been able to read that the team runs the same offense when both Clausen and Sharpley are on the field. When then may I ask does Jimmy not attempt the deep ball? Whatever happened to John Carlson and his seem routes that were so effective last year and why have they not been used in '07?

2) Was the defense that good last night?
-Honest question. I have heard that the performance last night is what a 3-4 defense is supposed to look like and by giving up just six points it was obviously effective. Remember Ben Olson was injured though, how big of difference would he have made?

3) Is the progression of the offense enough to make this an elite offense in the years to come?
-Seems to be the offensive line is playing better as of late. Are they developing as we expected or is this simply what happens when you play a few of the weaker fronts? Is Jimmy for real, will he be the Saviour that we were lead on to believe he would be? Sure Armando has as much speed as anyone but will he ever be able to maneuver around a defender?

That's all I have for now. BC this week, time to have a role reversal and have us ruin their potential title dreams...wait, "BC" and "title dreams" in the same sentence? That's gotta be a misprint. Midterms this week which means procrastination and much blogging...go irish.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Golden Tate

Rhema McKnight with hands.

Playoff Debate

A playoff would be crazy in college football, especially after watching this weeks slew of upsets. As my often outspoken suite mate often tells me, "Bite My Ass!".

There is no need for a college football playoff. If there was a playoff, someone please tell me the significance of what happened late in Gainesville on Saturday night. What meaning would Colorado upstaging Bob Stoops and Oklahoma have? Would the fact that South Florida ousted the favored Mountaineers even matter?

The answer to all these questions is a simple n-o. The fact of the matter is that each week plays the role of a round by round playoff in college football. There is no need to mess with this. What do you know, right now the two teams that everyone has slated as the two best in the country would be set to play each other in the national title. Think of Ohio State/Michigan last fall and all the hype that surrounded that game. Would there have been any hype whatsoever around this game between unbeatens in the final week of the season? None at all. Likely the stars would have sat out with both coaching staffs knowing each others futures were safe in the fact both would be in a playoff.

A playoff would ruin college football, it would make what happened this past weekend painfully meaningless. It would not make for a crazy playoff, it would simply take away from the regular season, a regular that is bar none the most exciting of any major sport.

Clausen or Sharpley?

Question on many Irish fans minds right now. Should it be the wonder boy JC, or should it be Evan Sharpley under center for the Irish against the Bruins. Depends what exactly you are looking for if you are Notre Dame. I feel very adamant that a two quarterback system does not work unless you have QB's with two extremes (passing and rush ability). Obviously Demetrius Jones may have presented the Irish with the option to at least try running the ball with the QB but his passing was beyond a joke.

So stick with Jimmy or go with Sharpley who is yet to start a game? Coach Weis today announced as long as JC is healthy that he is the guy. I will admit that I am quite the fan of Evan Sharpley but I feel this is the right move.

As much as it hurts to say, the Irish really have no hope for this year. In order to reach a bowl game even you have to ask them to beat at least one top 10 team as well as win in the Rose Bowl this weekend. We can hope but reality has to set in that this is not likely to happen whatsoever.

I would like to see JC throw the ball down field a little bit more than we have seen. The only difference I see between him and Sharpley right now is that Sharpley shows a little better ability to step up in the pocket and fire the ball down field. JC still seems to prefer escaping the tackle box and having to either throw on the run or take it himself. Although he is more fleet of foot than Brady ever was, Jimmy is by no means a scrambler.

This is something that is only going to come with time for Jimmy. Anyone remember Brady's line his freshman year? Refresher...

Brady Quinn 157/332 15INT 47.3 Comp.% 1831yds 9TD
JC(Thru 5 games) 57/94 3 INT 60.6 Comp.% 474yds 0TD

Tough to compare numbers, Brady obviously was less hesitant to throw the ball down field his freshman year. Will Jimmy Clausen turn into what Brady Quinn was? Time will tell. I do feel however in order to have a big time quarterback, he has to be given time to learn by trial and error now. Having Clausen on the sidelines if he is healthy is not going to do this team any favors besides for the short term. At most, maybe Sharpley is one win better than Clausen the rest of the year. I'm not sure about you, I'll trade a win or two from here on out this year for an All-American type quarterback in a year or two.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

West Virginia

At least there is some humor in the world of college football that can still make me smile these days. That and the fact that Kirk Herbstriet feels pretty confident that the Irish will be back in a real short amount of time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ty is a better coach than Charlie

Ask anyone, Ty is obviously a better coach than Charlie Weis. Weis can only win with Ty's players, forget the fact that nearly every main contributor on the Notre Dame team this year is in their first real year of big time contribution.

Ty beat a bad Syracuse team and won against a Boise State team that was rated highly only because of their success last year. For those that say Ty is such a great coach, talk to me in 5 weeks...after the Huskies drop 5 games in a row to Ohio State, USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona State. I'm not exaggerating, Arizona State is the only one of the five games I could see Ty winning.

Has Charlie Weis done perfect at Notre Dame? No. The offensive line has looked terrible in the first two weeks, nothing more can be said for them. Lowest rated running game in college football, they have talent up front, the offensive line is just not getting the job done.

One thing that I do disagree with Weis in is the fact he has failed to really make the field vertical yet this year. Two plays the Irish really threw the ball downfield so far this year, one from Evan Sharpley to David Grimes, with Grimes just being overthrown against GaTech and the other being from Jimmy Clausen to Golden Tate on a play that was actually completed against Penn State, but negated because of holding.

I would like to see Charlie and the offense test the Michigan secondary a little more this weekend. Appalachian State showed success with it and Oregon had a successful day throwing the ball as well. Usually the pass game is used to compliment the run game...this week I feel this may have to change.

If I were a coach, which I stress I am not, the offense should come out with four receivers against the Wolverines this weekend. Spread them out, take away their ability to blitz...or at least minimize it. USC is the only team with as good of defense as the Irish faced in both week one and week two.

I feel you go to a shotgun set and spread the receivers out and good things are bound to happen. Spread the linebackers out and open up running holes a little bit better. These are little things that have not been done by Notre Dame this year and that is what I question. The offensive line has dropped the ball more than any other contributor to the Irish team...why not take the pressure off of them a little bit?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Darren McFadden

Today Darren McFadden's mother made it clear to the world that her son will not return to Arkansas for his senior season. Forget the fact he hasn't played a down of his junior season yet...

I'm not big on a player declaring for the draft before his regular season even starts. Makes no sense to me. What happens if there is an injury and he's no longer capable of everything he was at one time? I'm not wishing this on him, just stating that I think he went about this the wrong way.

If I were one of McFadden's Arkansas teammates this would drive me nuts. Seems to me that McFadden cares more about the big bucks than he does his college career. Funny how he told his mother "He told me [Friday], 'Mom, I'll be through in December...". I guess that means Darren doesn't plan on his team making a New Years Day or better bowl game.

Of course I do not either but just oddly quoted. How will McFadden fare this year? In all honesty I have trouble believing he will come anywhere near replicating last years performance. Much of the Hogs O-Line is gone, good luck Darren because you are going to half to make most of your yards on your own this year, something you didn't have to worry about a season ago.

Heisman Winner? Doubtful. I would actually be shocked if he's a finalist for sports most coveted individual award come December.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What Makes Notre Dame Special

Recent events with Steve Spurrier have made me more proud than ever to be a fan of the University of Notre Dame. When a coach comes to Notre Dame they know that things aren't going to be made special for them and not just any player, no matter the level of talent will be able to be a Golden Domer.

When it comes down to it do you want your team to be full of thugs that rarely attend class, are far from model citizens and win or be a team with average talent at best but have a roster full of athletes that you would be proud to call your son?

As much as I did not like Bob Davie or Tyrone Willingham, they put what was most important to me first. That is the athletes life they were dealing with. It can be said that Charlie Weis "gets it".

You never saw Davie or Willingham going after players that make the school look bad. You saw a lot of good people go through the Notre Dame football doors when these two men were on campus. The same can be said for what Charlie has done now as well, as you hear stories of Weis getting on recruits cases because their grades in high school aren't good enough. These are kids he isn't even going to coach for sure.

Rumors had it that Urban Meyer would have taken the job at Notre Dame had he been able to lower academic standards for athletes to get in. Congrats Urban on winning a National Title at Florida. I am not arguing that he is not a great coach because he really is. However I just feel Notre Dame prides themselves on being different from everywhere else and it makes me proud to say I'm a fan of the institution.

Another case that sticks out to me is that of Friday Hand. Hand, the Irish defensive end who was arrested by an undercover police officer in a prostitution ring a short time ago was immediately suspended and isn't expected to see the practice or game field anytime soon. It seems to me that when players get in trouble at most other schools, cutting playing time is the last thing that any coaches wish to do.

Take Rashon Powers-Neal's case in 2005. After being arrested for a DUI he did not see the field again that season, a season off to a very promising start after he scored three times against Pitt.

So many players aren't suspended for their actions and I feel that this is where many NCAA Coaches drop the ball. Its not only the coaches duty to turn out a good football team in my personal opinion, its also their duty to try and distribute quality young men.

I feel Notre Dame does a great job of that compared to most other places. Every time I hear about a player from another school being charged with a crime and not being punished severely by his coach it just makes the Golden Dome shine that much brighter to me.

Big Ten

Is the Big Ten still an elite conference? Many say not like it used to be anyway and for the most part you can't argue it. When you look at what the conference did last year at the top in bowl games, its embarrassing. On New Years Day Michigan was still claiming they should be playing Ohio State in the National Title and in the process were run off the field by Southern Cal. A week later Ohio State who held the number one ranking all season couldn't even celebrate a touchdown the right way as Florida looked like world beaters in a 41-14 drubbing.

Good but not great is how I see the Big Ten this year. A few very talented teams but how they compete on the national level instead of just in conference will be a test once again this year. It seems that Wisconsin and Michigan both could be title game contenders, but can they play with the SECs and USCs of the world? Only time will tell.

Players to Watch:
Offensively everywhere you look people will tell you how great Mike Hart, Chad Henne, and Mario Manningham are as well as anything to ever wear the Maize and Blue. Don't get me wrong, all three are exceptional players but my preseason Big Ten Offensive MVP is P.J. Hill of Wisconsin...

As a freshman last year he went over 1500 yards while averaging 5 yards a carry and scoring 15 times on the ground. Oh, and 0 fumbles in over 320 touches.
This year Hill will come back with four of his five offensive linemen in front of him. Grant it the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, Joe Thomas is gone, but the core of a solid offensive line is still there. Couple that with a new quarterback and expect Hill's numbers to only go up. After Wisconsin defeats Michigan in Camp Randall, Hill will clinch a trip to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Other than the Michigan boys and Mr. Hill things are a blur at best offensively in the Big Ten this year. Remember the names Dorien Bryant (Purdue) and James Hardy (Indiana) as both will have huge years catching the football.

On the defensive side of the ball is where the Big Ten makes up some ground against the rest of the nation. Wisconsin brings a team that is loaded on defense into the conference this year with much back from a squad that surrendered just 12.1 points a game last fall. DeAndre Levy, and Jonathan Casillas will anchor the outside linebacker roles but a lot will be asked of Elijah Hodge as he will be the Mac-backer for the Badgers. The secondary will be a little younger but expect big things from them as the season wears on, also the defensive line for Wisconsin will be amongst the best in all of football.

Defensive MVP you ask? None other than James Laurinaitis of The Ohio State University. The man's an animal, we can leave it at that. 115 tackles last season as a sophomore, Laurinaitis gives Columbus reason for hope this coming year. He will be asked to do a lot for a team that losses most of its star power, but behind Laurinaitis you will see the Buckeye D mature quickly during the year and make a New Years Day bowl game.

How They'll Fall:
1. Wisconsin - Loaded D and a great run game make things much easier on a new quarterback.
2. Ohio State - Supposed to be a down year but the defense has time to mature in the first half before showdowns at Penn State, against Wisconsin, and in the Big House three of the last four weeks of the season.
3. Michigan - Lloyd Carr is still coach, therefore expect disappointment. Until he wins a meaningful game (Notre Dame last year can be argued, however he followed it up with losses to OSU and USC) I can't consider the Wolverines a true Big Ten title contender.
4. Penn State - A team I was very high on at the end of last year just keeps impressing me less and less. Some off the field issues this off season didn't do Joe Pa any favors and a tough schedule could leave the Nittany Lions with four regular season losses.
5. Iowa - All the highly touted recruits from Kirk Ferentz have to kick in eventually...don't they?
6. Purdue - Offense will put up points but can they stop anything?
7. Illinois - Very young but very talented. The team will improve much as the year goes on but a bowl berth may finish just out of reach.
8. Indiana - Sad story with coach Terry Hoeppner this offseason, not only a great coach but even a better guy from everything you hear. A program headed in the right direction has just too much to overcome this year.
9. Northwestern - Not much to work with gives the Cats another losing season.
10. Michigan State - Team headed in a downward spiral and not much veteran experience on top of it.
11. Minnesota - If football were a contest determined by off the field issues then Minnesota has a legit case at being your preseason number 1. Its not and the Gophers will not win a conference game.

There is how it will go. Other predictions I might include would be Michigan losing to Wisconsin and Ohio State as well as their bowl game and Lloyd Carr getting axed. I also don't expect the Big Ten BCS luck to change this year, a few good teams won't be enough to beat a SEC or Pac 10 Champ.

Previews Galore!!!

I know you have all been waiting very anxiously for this and here it is...20 days until the first Thursday of the year and 22 days until September 1st. Time for some previews.

During the next couple of days expect previews for the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Big East, and Pac-10. We'll start things off however with my first top 10 of the season. Anything after the top 10 is really pointless to me so we will keep it at 10 for now. Read later entries for reasons why teams are ranked where they are...

1. USC
2. LSU
3. Wisconsin
4. Texas
5. Florida
6. West Virginia
7. Va Tech
8. Oklahoma
9. Ohio State
10. Georgia

As I said, conference by conference previews to come. Also expect some Heisman Hopefuls and all that fun stuff...including bad youtube videos from various gameday campuses this coming fall..

Its good to be back and its really good to be just three weeks away now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mr. Quinn?

The biker is somewhat surprising, I would have guessed the cowboy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'm Back

While I was gone plenty happened. I apologize, I am a college student after all and with an unpaid internship going on and a lot of class work for a change it has been hard for me to get on here on a consistent basis, or at all even. But since I have been away plenty has happened.

Corwin Brown is the new defensive coordinator, seems to have a good track record. As for a Michigan guy taking over an important coaching position, it will be different getting used to but at least we might have a hint of a secondary now.

Recruiting came and went, another top 10 class but not a whole lot on the defensive side of the ball. It should be interesting to see what Coach Weis can do with this class. I was also disappointed to see a few bail outs on Signing Day but what can you do? Enjoy North Carolina Greg Little.

Basketball has also consumed me the last couple of months. I know I'm late but congrats to Colin Falls for setting the Big East record for career three pointers. Quite the feat, also congrats to Mike Brey for being named Big East Coach of the Year this past weekend. As you all know the Irish were picked to finish eleventh in conference this year in the preseason coaches poll. Fourth in the regular season was a solid showing with a near upset of Georgetown in the conference tournament semi's.

This past afternoon was Selection Sunday. Combine it with the first day of the tournament and it is right there with New Years Day for my favorite day of the year, sports related anyway. The Irish drew a #6 seed where they will play Winthrop. Are you kidding me? The Big East was regarded by most to be the toughest conference in college hoops this season and the Irish finished fourth in it. The Irish should have been in contention for a #4 seed, I thought a #5 was a safe bet. Instead they draw amongst the toughest mid majors and a #6. Not real sure how this happens, especially when you look and see the likes of Virginia, Va Tech, Maryland, and Tennessee. The Irish had a stronger case than all of these teams for a #5 seed and were flat out screwed by the tournament selection committee.

That's all for now, finals tomorrow morning. Can't wait for this term to be done and to go on spring Coal City, Il.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Army All American Game

Now on NBC I am watching the Army All American Game. I tuned in thinking that this would be much like the pro bowl with sugar coated defenses and very boring offenses. I also didn't expect to see much hitting.

I was wrong. Grant the West is blowing out the East but I feel reassured that the Irish are in good hands. A few years ago we were lucky to get one or two players in this game, now we have at last count, 8.

I know its a high school all-star game so to say but I enjoy this day. Watching it has made me feel a helluva a lot better about things than I felt at about 10:15 Wednesday night. It would be nice to see a couple linebackers or defensive linemen dawn the interlocking ND on their heads but with what I have seen so far I can't complain.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Where did it all go wrong? After a well played second quarter, with 1:44 to go in the half the Irish looked as if they were onto something. They hadn't allowed any points in the quarter and fought back to tie the game at 14 after trailing 14-0 to start off the ballgame. That is when things got ugly.

Real ugly.

LSU marched down field and scored just before the half to put the Bayou Bengals ahead 21-14 and they never looked back. They came out guns a blazin' in the third quarter and the Irish were lucky to hold them to a pair of field goals. Two more second half scores made it a 41-14 ballgame and thats how it finished.

"Where do we go from here?" is a question that will be asked.

What unemployed looks like

In all likelihood I feel that Rick Minter has coached his final game at Notre Dame. On defense Notre Dame does a very bad job of disguising blitzes and the defensive backs are out of position too much. Those both showed tonight. To an extent you can blame the players but there comes a time when you have to question who is running the defense. It was as if they had no idea what was coming at them, not real sure why because LSU didn't run that complex of a defense.

Can't put all the blame on the defense either, offensively in the second half the Irish looked miserable. Recievers dropped too many balls, offensive line didn't play their best game, and Brady had seen better evenings as well. A lot will be gone next year, we will have to wait and see what the rest of '07 has to bring.

Many will say that Charlie Weis is yet to deliver a top notch win at Notre Dame and they are completely correct in that assessment. I am not going to jump all over him and call for his head though. I am guilty of drinking a little too much "Notre Dame Kool-Aid" as you all call it. I apologize. However look what has happened under the Golden Dome in the past two seasons. A combined 19-6, with five of those losses being against top 5 teams in the nation. He doesn't lose games that he is supposed to do, a credit to him. Maybe all Irish fans alike are guilty of expecting too much, too early.

Two BCS bowls in a row, sure Notre Dame gets a break on bids when it comes down to it, but its a helluva way from a combined 1 BCS bowl in 8 years and its a better to be playing in New Orleans on January 3rd than in Bank One Ballpark before the New Year. Give Weis time. Next year doesn't look the best on paper but only time will tell. Even after tonights shalacking, there is not a doubt in my mind that the Irish are headed in the right direction and will be a force to reckon with as long as Weis is there.

Thank you seniors, what you were able to contribute to this team in your four years is remarkable. It ended biterly, but you have a lot to keep your heads up about.

BCS Wrap

As asked for, heres my Rose Bowl (and other New Years Day Bowls) wrap up.

Obviously, the most important football related event took place in the Rose Bowl. That is shown above with the song girl who forgot her spankies. The investigation of which song girl it was continues on Deadspin as you read this...

Sidenote: Those sweaters get hotter every time I see them. If you put Rachel Bilson in one it would be the hottest cheerleader imaginable.

The Big Ten had an impressive day on New Years Day with Penn State upstaging Tennessee along with Wisconsin holding off Arkansas. In both of the games one thing was more obvious to me than anything. How much more physical the two Big Ten teams were than the SEC teams. Sure the Vols and Razorbacks showed at times how much more team speed they had, I won't argue that. However they physicalness of the Big Ten was just too much in both cases.

The Rose Bowl was a different story however. What we saw in the morning and early afternoon games was turned around 180 degrees in the Rose Bowl. You could tell that USC's defense was just too much for Michigan. The Wolverines were outplayed really from the middle of the second quarter on, which made Lloyd Carr's record in big games during the 21st Century something like 2-13. Dwayne Jarrett also showed off why he will be the first reciever taken in next April's NFL Draft, and the most questionable celebrations after big catches (being patted down, slowing down before endzone, and tossing ball on opponents chest). Needless to say, Michigan was a disappointing.

The night ended with one of the craziest damn games you will ever see. Spending $1.99 for the condensed version of this one on ITunes is amongst the greatest investments you will ever make.

I'll admit that I was a Boise State doubter, when Marcus Walker ran the pick back I was more than sure the game was over. Whoops. However, before you beg for a playoff make sure you are aware that the Broncos #9 rating in the AP and Coaches polls would not have allowed them to be in an 8 team playoff.

Last night was the least exciting of the BCS games so far this year. I was hoping for a Wake Forest win but it wasn't meant to be. The Big East has two consecutive BCS victories, so much for taking away that berth that everyone was so set on doing two short years ago.

Tonight the Irish take on LSU in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. I'm still confused about this game because for as long as I can remember it has been the Nokia Sugar Bowl. Allstate is making my head spin.

Nonetheless the Domers go into tonights ballgame as the obvious underdog, +8.5 as of 5 pm to be exact. News has come of a few LSU players being suspended for the first quarter/half for missing team curfew. How much of a difference will it make?

To me the Irish must be on the attack early. Slow starts against Michigan and USC doomed them earlier in the year. Get out to a quick start is a must for tonight. If that does not happen I do not like the Irish's chances.

Keep a watchful eye on Rhema McKnight tonight. He struggled with several drops on key plays in both the Michigan and USC losses this year. If he can get the butter off his fingers the Irish offense will without a doubt fair better. The defense, as is obvious, must make a few stops. Way too many big plays this year. If they allow the big plays that they did against Ohio State last year ND could be in trouble.

With a surprisingly good day from the defense and a strong Rhema McKnight output, I would expect an Irish upset as the midwest shows the southeast once again how football is really meant to be played.