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2/23 - The Third Year Test Comes Early - Offense I

As The Rock covered in the last column, it looks like second year or bust if Weis is going to keep within the three year rule of past legends. As a reminder, Parseghian, Leahy, Devine and Holtz all won national championships in their third seasons, while Rockne had his second straight undefeated season. But after this year, Notre Dame will lose over half its starting team, including, on offense: Brady Quinn, Ryan Harris, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McNight, Brian Mattes, John Sullivan(has a 5th year,) Marcus Freeman and Dan Santucci (on defense, it's Landri, Laws(5th?), Frome, Abiamiri, Wooden(5th?), Zibby(5th?), Nedu and Richardson.) Uh hum. Now factor in the reality that the recruiting classes in the upcoming junior and sophomore classes were probably the worst two back-to-back talent hauls in modern history and Weis really has only one choice, win it this year.

 

If not it's wait for this year's expected "one for the ages" recruiting class to age into a national championship team. Don't get me wrong, playing opportunity is a great recruiting tool and Notre Dame, by all accounts, will sign one of its greatest recruting classes ever this year, but as talented as those guys may be, they're not going to get it done as freshmen unless they all have big "S's" underneath their workout grays. I really do like this freshmen class, but there just aren't a lot of top -tier game-changers ala Reggie Bush and Vince Young. I look at this year's class as the foundation (they're all good, but few greats) and next year's as the class that will raise us to a championship team.

 

Charlie has a lot of pieces to work with this year on offense and a defense that should improve dramatically from last year. That said, Notre Dame just doesn't possess the overall talent of Texas or USC, so if the Irish are going to win it all, it's going to come down to hugs, kisses, disciplined play and a little luck. A much overlooked fact was that Notre Dame lost exactly six fumbles in twelve games, and threw just eigth interceptions, that's remarkable and part discipline, part luck.

 

 

The Big Uglies

 

I like to begin upfront, because usually as the line goes, so goes the offense. Last year Notre Dame could not dominate the line of scrimmage at will and was forced into more of a finesse running game. If Notre Dame's offensive line can, which returns four of it's top six lineman, dicatate a running game, this offense could very well be unstoppable. Right now, that's a big if. Mark LeVoir played very well at the right tackle position last year and the Irish are going need one of Mattes, Turkovich, Duncan, Young or possibly even Stewart to step in and step-up (that's for you Andy) and become the fifth cog in this ugly wheel. Ryan Harris seems to have been at Notre Dame as long as Carlos Huerta kicked at Miami (I swear he was on the ten year plan,) but that's because he started out of the gate. Along with Harris are Sullivan (USA AA,) Morton and Santucci. That gives the Irish a strong nucleus to build upon and should be a very good offensive line, though I just don't see it being dominant next year. Is it possible? Yes, they were in a en entirely new offense next year and most of the unit returns, but I'm not sure the horses are there to blow talented big men off the point of attack.

 

 

Out: Mark LeVoir, Dan Stevenson

In: Sam Young, Dan Wenger, Matt Curafel, Bartley Webb, Chris Steward, Eric Olsen

 

Air Brady

 

Brady Quinn will return at quarterback. Here's his stat line: PE:158.4 Att:450 Comp: 292 C%: 64.9 Yards:3919 YPG:326.6 YPA:8.7 TD:32 INT:7 Sacks:20

 

What all that means is that he threw for the third most yards in the country, the third most touchdowns and was sacked just twenty times, a stat he doesn't get enough credit for. He's pretty good, don't ya think? He is going to have to adjust his throwing scheme this year. Don't know if you caught it, but Quinn repeatedly put the ball on a very high plane where only Stovall, Fasano and Samardzija could get it, with Rhema replacing Stovall, he won't have that luxury this year. Oh, and if his sister is going get more pub off his performance she better damn will ditch the "halfsies" jersey and wear full on Notre Dame next year. Pardon my digression. Heisman candidate.

 

Out: Nobody

In: Demetrius Jones, Frazer

 

 

The Wingmen

 

I don't have to remind you that The Rock picked Samalamadingdong as his darkhorse a few years back do I? Okay, I won't then. Samardzija is as a talented a player as Notre Dame has had at Wide Receiver. Rhema McKnight was the go-to wide receiver two years ago. In my opinion, Rhema's an excellent wide receiver, but not a game-breaker. What Notre Dame is lacking is a true speed receiver that can stretch the field or run that damn deep seam route that Troy Brown used to run for the Patriots. David Grimes is one of those guys who just gets open and should play a lot as third receiver. Weis has a lot of confidence in Grimes, he had him on kickoff returns and even put him in for a reverse in the all-everything game against USC. But, Chase Anastascio, if he emerges from the dog house or DJ Hord, if he develops, could offer more inviting targets. Rob Ianello has proven himself a to be much more than a recruiter and one of the most valuable members of this staff. I'm expecting him to coach-up (another for you Andy) Hord. Hord has sub10.5 100M speed, but can he translate that into a game? On the Frosh side, Weis has brought in four wide-receivers that are capable of playing now. I really like Gallup as you know, Jackson has an NFL body, West as the Troy Brown capability and Parris is the heir apparent to the big man legacy. I expect one of this group to see extensive action this year and if I had to pick, it would be Jackson.

 

Out: Maurice Stovall, Matt Shelton

In: Richard Jackson, Barry Gallup, Rob Parris, George West

 

Tomorrow, or at least in the next week, we'll take a look at the tight end, tailback and fullback positions. Oh crap, and the kickers, always forget the kickers. BTW, we just shot up over 900 book sales (much thanks for your support) and it's on order at the following stores:

 

Barnes &

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Guest IrishCupaJoe
2/23 - Charlie has a lot of pieces to work with this year on offense and a defense that should improve dramatically from last year.

 

Do you really think so (on defense)? I hope you're right, but unless Walls and McNeil are allowed to step in, I don't see our current defense improving much. There was practically no pressure on Smith during the Fiesta Bowl and our secondary, well, we all know the weakness here. I'm not all over it like many of you guys, so please educate me. Where do you think we could improve dramatically on the D side of the ball? Kudos for mentioning that ridiculous halfsies shirt Brady's sister was wearing. For god's sake honey, pick your team!

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I think there's lots of room for improvement for the defense. Even if some of the same players are coming back, I tend to trust the coaches to make them better players. As we've seen, maybe what we needed more than an influx of talent was a change of philosophy or mindset. Either way, Charlie's got talent coming in and I loved the focus of the team, EVEN WHEN THEY LOST!!!

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Guest SirJohn

Sir John Yesterdaysnews42@aol.com

 

Presser? You mean blitz? I think it was a consentious decision of the Defensive coaches to go with what little we had (maybe have) on the D side. ND had to lay back and respect QB ability. A matter of how do you want your weak D to get burned?

 

I know ex coach Pagna (Irish Eyes employee now?) was openly critical of ND D schemes. ' way to much damn man to man' I believe he said. But he's an EX coach now. :lol: His era's gone, long, long gone like Davie and Hotltz even. He's a comentator now a sideline sitter critic.

 

Let's go to the basic 4-3 defense. It's the safest we have right now with the personnel we have. The Defense again had to sort of take a back seat during this year in Recruiting, 2006. I think 2007 it changes and a huge chunk of that class is D.

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Ah yes, the defense. We all know Z's speed and Wooden cruises too. But they were out of position plenty of times. If we can teach dogs to stay why not the secondary? It seems Minter has escaped with a minimum amount of criticism. Huge risky decision for Weis is coming up. Reload with a very seasoned and underperforming secondary or go with some freshmen studs.

 

Can solid coaching bring the same bunch to higher levels? Or do we roll the dice with hyped talent?

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nd1, very good points

 

Tommy has done a great job but there are also parts of his game that need alot of work. You said it best when you said he is often out of position. He plays the free safety and IMO he is NOT a free safety. He is a strong safety. Duke is in his way at the strong. I think Duke should either move to Apache or go to the bench. Personally, I don't think Duke brings alot to the table for our defense. I am more intrigued by Bruton than Duke. A safety lineup of Tommy at the strong safety and Bruton at the free safety with Duke as the primary backup would make me very happy. Bruton has the ability and speed to "play centerfield" like a free safety should.

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Guest bluester2000

Minter was able to escape criticism because he's a good coach. Look at what he did with the team in the early 90s. We just didn't have the bullets this year. Think about it, who was our 3rd coverage guy? A team puts 3 wideouts on the field and who are they lined up against?

 

If Crum gets back in time for the spring he should move to OLB (from Apache) and Ndukwe should move to Apache. According to the depth chart Ndukwe was the coverage safety, but he's doesn't have the coverage skills.

 

At least most of the criticism from early in the season has been moved from the corners to the safeties (where I thought it belonged the entire time). And let's remember for what Zib does right, he's not perfect. There's no way for us to tell who screws up when, but I'm sure a fair number can be laid at his feet. He does have the athletic ability to play there though.

 

We don't have much more "talent" that's going to be able to play. I think we're looking at progression on the line and in the secondary. The linebackers will be a bit worse than last year, but Crum's a player if he can recover from back surgery. If not, teams will run the ball on us all day, and we'll be wishing for a 9-3 season. Because if teams can run with proficiency, they'll be able to play action pass which is where Zib gets killed the most.

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yea, duke would make for a fast lb and i think he would give us alot of sideline to sideline speed and woudl be able to still provide a big hit...if duke puts on a few pounds this off season that may be a great move. Bruton is going to be a good one, and with the safety talent coming in, we can afford to move duke with no loss, and maybe even a gain at the safety position

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here we go again, blue u are correct. Minter was missing many of the pieces to make a strong D. Our secondary was poor, but better than I was expecting. Tommy bites too much on the fakes and Duke does not have the necesary speed. Wooden and Richardson have their moments but it would not surprise if one or both are replaced by the end of the year. A dark horse is Lambert. Our pass rush definitely could have been better in 2005.

 

One more thing about Duke and the possible switch to apache is that I have read from some of the experts that he lacks the physical toughness to play LB. who knows, just what I have read.

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Guest SirJohn

Sir John Yesterdaysnews42@aol.com

 

broker THANK YOU!

:)

I agree I saw tooooooooooooooo many posters over at Blue Gray Sky and lesser sites wanting to string minter up after year #1. "You are what you are" he had what he had and does not get a whole bunch more improvement 2006 in way of recruits unless a miracle happens.

 

Charlie's very close to him, they both understand the heat in the kitchen, they often fly together, it's but let my O have a good year and take the heat and by 2007 we got your guys on D. (We will have the last laugh then)

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30 Richardson, Mike Defensive Back 5-11/193 SR Warner Robins, GA/Warner Robins

 

This was his listing at the beginning of last season....the only way he's back is if he's a 5th year guy. Will Weis extend him another year? I dont think that's the solution, he's been getting burned the last 2 years.

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Richardson is a senior but he is eligible for a 5th year. I would be shocked if he is not brought back. Not that I am a big supporter of him but we are already weak back there and young. He is probably expected to be a starter at the beginning of the year. Hopefully Walls or McNeil beat him out. But if he was not brought back I think it would hurt us.

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Thanks, Broker, I was wrong on that. Maybe Ferrine will work his way onto the field some more next year.

 

I have to retract some. Who knows? I could still be wrong. Richardson may not be brought back or he may not want to come back. But I still don't think that is happening. I still highly expect him to come back.

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