Count On This Two PDF Print E-mail
Posted by 2Lakes   
Saturday, 23 April 2011
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We can expect great things from our secondary or in recruiting or both. Coach Martin is arguably the most accomplished and talented Assistant on the staff.

Last year we witnessed his handiwork in the transformation of our secondary from a frightening liability to a source of strength for our defense. Now, we have Coach Martin plus Coach Kerry Cooks working with a small group of corners and safeties. Coach Kelly is investing a lot of capital on the development of about eight players, or else he is freeing up more time for Coach Martin to hit the recruiting trail. Or both. Given the recent tweet where a recruit quoted Coach Martin as saying he was going after the “fab five” of defensive backs, and knowing how vital it is for us to develop young guys like Jackson, Wood, and Collinsworth; I vote for “both.”

There are signs of that coaching move already paying dividends. During the Blue Gold Game, we didn’t see much action from the DBs, but what we saw was pretty good. The veterans and the new guys were holding their own. Recruiting is full steam ahead: exhibit “A” – Ronald Darby and Tee Shepard.

Bottom line: our go-to position coach/chief recruiter will be better positioned to strengthen our secondary and bring in blue chip players. Our defensive backfield will be tough next year; and our February recruiting haul will exceed even our heightened expectations. Count on it.

We will beat Navy. They lost the perfect option quarterback with the graduation (and, I assume, deployment) of Midshipman Ricky Dobbs. Greg Jones, the best Navy receiver in the era of the option, is also gone. Part of me wonders if Jones was that good, or was it that Dobbs’ arm combined with his effectiveness as a runner made Jones that good. Either way, they are gone. Furthermore, as tough as Dobbs was, most of Navy’s games were still close enough that the backups rarely played. Even when they were winning handily, it appears that Coach Niumatalolo was too nervous to put in the reserves. Case in point: in the game against Notre Dame, the quarterback who appears to be the heir apparent, Kriss Proctor, neither threw a pass nor gained a yard rushing despite the fact that they were beating us 35-10 in the fourth quarter. Throughout his career, Proctor did get some playing time as a backup and even started a couple of games, but not against quality opponents. His performance to this point gives no indication that he will be as good as Dobbs or that Navy can replace Jones.

The last few years have been a fluke, and the Irish were obviously suffering the ill effects of having lost two out of three games to the Midshipmen combined with a poor showing early in the season. Navy was very beatable even last year. Look at how they did against some other weak teams: losing to Duke (3-9) and eking out victories against AA Georgia Southern, Wake Forrest (3-9), SMU (7-7) and Central Michigan (3-9). Proctor started and won the Central Michigan game; but if he and Navy were playing against Coach Kelly’s 2006 team (or even Butch Jones’ 2009 squad), they lose. Now Coach Kelly is firmly entrenched at Notre Dame, with much better talent than he had at Central Michigan, and Navy will not beat him or the Irish.

Bottom line: Notre Dame will be much better than last year and Navy will not be as good. Four Navy wins in five years after forty-three losses in a row? Not going to happen. Not against this Notre Dame team and this coaching staff. Count on it.

We will handily beat the teams we should and pull out some close games against quality opponents. Kelly-coached teams have demonstrated an ability to put weaker teams away. At Cincinnati, in his second and third years, the Bearcats won tens games by twenty or more points against opponents like Marshall, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Louisville. In addition, they won some close ones against Rutgers, West Virginia, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh. They also beat Illinois by thirteen and Oregon State by ten. True, those “quality” teams were not great teams; but relative to Cincinnati’s average level of success and talent, they would roughly equate to our best teams.

No one can predict with certainty which teams will have banner years or be uncharacteristically bad; but we can make an educated guess about the teams we should beat and those that should be close games. Our weaker opponents appear to be: South Florida, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Air Force, and Wake Forrest. We should expect close games against: Michigan State, USC, Navy, and Stanford. That leaves USF, Michigan, Maryland, and Boston College: teams which have proven unpredictable because they have been inconsistent, are trending downward, and/or have new coaches.

Bottom line: we have our share of both good and bad teams on next year’s schedule; and Coach Kelly knows how to both “whoop” the bad teams and win the close games against the good ones. We will have the luxury of watching our younger players develop during “junk” minutes in games we put away; and we will win more than our share of exciting nail biters against good teams. Count on it.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 April 2011 )
 
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