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NDNation.com Staff: Scott Engler - Michael Cash - John Vannie - Mike Coffey - Kayo - Bacchus

Sunday, April 23, 2006

No More Identity Crisis

posted by John Vannie
Basking in the glow of Jimmy Clausen's oral commitment to Charlie Weis and Notre Dame, Irish fans have all but forgotten the recent years of offensive misery. Before Weis came aboard, Notre Dame's attack was the subject of richly-deserved ridicule by rival schools and even among its most ardent supporters.

Bob Davie's offensive philosophy was a well-placed punt, while Tyrone Willingham brought Bill Diedrick and the bubble screen to South Bend. Top flight recruits stayed away in droves, and Brady Quinn took a vicious pounding as he searched in vain for an open receiver.

In order to appreciate Weis' impact on the Irish offense, a quick statistical comparison between 2005 and previous five years is particularly enlightening. During the 2000-2004 seasons, Notre Dame averaged 23.5 points per game. This number grew by more than 50% to 36.7 under Weis.

The total offense comparison for the same period is equally impressive. The Irish gained 5728 total yards last year after averaging 3850 in the five previous seasons, while the yards per game statistics are 477 and 326, respectively. The average increase under Weis is between 46 and 49%, depending on how you slice the data. Third down conversions also rose from 35% to 49%.

In the passing game, the 2005 squad racked up 3963 passing yards as compared to an average of 1920 under the last five autumns of Davieham. That's better than a 100% improvement. What may be even more impressive is that Quinn threw 32 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions in 2005, while the totals for 2000-2004 are 58 TDs and 57 INTs. Quinn also completed 65% of his passes last season, while his predecessors could manage only 51%.

Despite these compelling numbers, the depth of Notre Dame's offensive futility prior to 2005 cannot be fully understood unless you saw the Irish play. Quarterbacks were shuffled in and given the hook with alarming regularity, and wobbly third down passes either fell harmlessly to the turf or were caught two yards short of the first down marker. The two minute offense was an entire rosary of Hail Marys. Irish fans wondered why the team could not emulate Michigan or even Purdue, and now we can't wait to play them.

Clausen opted for Notre Dame because he wants to prepare for a productive career in the NFL. There is nothing surprising about this given the history at Notre Dame, except that recent Irish quarterbacks were destined to play on Sunday as wide receivers.

I have no objection to the fact that Clausen chose the Irish for football reasons, calling it a "business decision." I'm sure some purists winced as Clausen did not include the obligatory mention of academics in announcing his choice of schools, but it's actually a welcome sign that Notre Dame has become a destination of choice to football prospects with legitimate professional aspirations.

Over the previous five years, star athletes at the skill positions have seen no connection between the Irish offense and the NFL. Not only has Weis altered that perception, but his cutting edge attack has elevated Notre Dame from the Stone Age to the hot program for blue chip athletes who can read and write.

It happened so fast in reality, but the rebirth of Notre Dame Football could not have come soon enough for those who endured the recent, tortuous past. In order to appreciate where we are about to go, let's not forget the overall mediocrity and utter futility of where we've been.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weis is really doing so much for the Irish I sometimes laugh. Its amazing how quickly the perception of recent years has changed with him. I cant wait to see what type of recruiting he does now with the national respect Notre Dame has once again gotten. As long as Weis is around, I see nothing but bright blue skies ahead, and a wve of four and five star recruits year in and year out. Thats the credibility he brings. if he did this with an average team that has a few great players, wait till the has a load of great players and a defense to go with it. Its a scary thought....the USC of the Mid-states....and probably better. posted by alberto

4/25/2006 12:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, my Brutha !!!!


4/25/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Handley said...

Although not an Alum I and my family have had a conection to ND for over 70 years. My Greatgrand Father, Grand Father and some Uncles worked for ND in the skilled trades. When my Grand Father Russ Handley passed away of a heart attack in 1966 ND closed the University inorder that people from ND could attend his funeral. Needless to say my family and I bleed Blue and Gold.
Charlie has brought back all that is good with ND. No ND fan should take a back seat when it comes to lolaty and integrity.

4/25/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, what Weis is doing is very exciting, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With every Texas blue-chipper heading for the Longhorns, and as many blue-chippers dazzled by LA and the program Pete Carroll has built at USC in just a few years, these two schools were threatening to dominate college football over the next ten years. Add Florida and possibly South Carolina to that group. I have no doubt that Urban Meyer will do great things in Gainesville, and blue chippers from the south are going there in droves. Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks could be a new power in that region. And in the midwest, Ohio State is threatening to carry the banner.

The fact is that a small number of schools are poised to dominate college football like never before. Had ND continued in its mediocrity, this new wave could have all but dismantled Irish football's future for some time. As it turns out, ND is in a position where they could be amongst that elite half-dozen programs that will define football over the next decate. And to think that had Weis not come along, ND could very well have been a program where a Top-25 finish would be an accomplishment.

4/25/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still enjoy that highlight of the Purdue coaches on the sideline asking "what happened?!" GAME OVER, boys. For a LONG TIME....!
Can't wait to see Charlie & the boys welcome BC back to Rock's House next year and demo the offense to them, again and again and again! What a wonderful feeling to not have to worry about pipsqueek programs like them anymore!


4/25/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The days of "pushgate" will be no more as teams will not even be able to stay close to the offensive firepower we will be seeing this year and in years to come. Bring on Penn State, bring on USC....even bring on the convicts of Miami. Whoever, whenever, it will be fun embarrassing them on national television, even more enjoyable to listen to the announcers (if you really call them that) do a 360 from the typical ND bashing we have heard in past years.

4/25/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised that so many ND fans, with the announcement of one recruit in Jimmy Clausen, feel that the Irish are going to dominate college football in the years to come. I don't see USC getting any weaker. After nearly three national championships in the last three years, Carroll still managed to pull in arguably the best recruiting class this year. Texas already has most of its class filled for next year. Meyer will pull in his share of great players. Even if Clausen does turn out to be the player some think he can be, that is no guarantee that ND can get past the likes of USC, UCLA, Penn State and Michigan year after year, not to mention the occasional bites in the butt it is sure to get from the Purdues, Michigan States and (watch out, folks) Georgia Techs of the college football world.

Irish fans shouldn't set themselves up for potential public ridicule. They should enjoy the fact that ND APPEARSto be on the upswing, that it APPEARS that they will be competitive against anyone in the country, and that it APPEARS that they could be a serious contender for future national championships, as early as next year. To go around announcing how great the teams will be so far in advance just opens the door to disappointment. It also does nothing for the members of the team who already have enough pressure placed on them every year as it is.

4/25/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Replying to the comment made above, I do not think that most ND fans feel that the signing of Jimmy Clausen will ultimately seal future success for ND, but rather prove to the naysayers out there that ND is well on it's way as being a perenial recruiting force under Coach Weis. Notre Dame has endured 8 years of mediocrity coaching and it ulimately showed on the football field. Now with a REAL coach roaming the sidelines teams including USC now know that the days of 30 point blow outs will NEVER occur again under this man's watch.

Poodle beat Charile with a better team, better players. Let's see how he does now given that Charlie is getting his own elite recruits.

I'm not a betting man, but I wouldn't bet against 4-Time Super Bowl Champion Charlie Weis.

4/25/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we're definitely heading in the right direction and haven't been this thrilled about the team in years, but the last time I can remember people being this excited about a QB recruit, we got Ron Powlus. Before I bet on anything, I'd make sure this guy's got stronge collarbones.

And also the correct number of vertebrae.

At least we're out of that embarassment of QB recruits from the 90s.

4/25/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Anonymous stated, "Notre Dame has endured 8 years of mediocrity coaching and it ulimately showed on the football field. Now with a REAL coach roaming the sidelines teams including USC now know that the days of 30 point blow outs will NEVER occur again under this man's watch."

I agree that the 30 point losses are probably a thing of the past under Weis. If there is anything he has proved he can do it is putting points up on the board. However, a loss by 30 points or a loss by 3 points is still a loss. From the things that I gather from the comments of the ND faithful, some believe that even the 3 point losses are history. I just don't believe it. I am just as confident as the most loyal Domer that ND football is on the rise, and that Weis is fully capable of leading his charges to a national championship. I also believe that ND fans who feel that this will be a regular occurence are in for a major letdown.

4/25/2006 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger RogersVMI'99 said...

I feel Notre Dame football is heading in the right direction. Coach Weis will certainly lead the Irish to a national championship or three over his tenure. I can't wait to see every snap of the '06 season as Notre Dame prepares to utterly dismantle opponents week in and week out. Can you say 12-0! I believe the Irish are back and destined to return to glory. All this from an ardent Irish fan who once visited Notre Dame my senior year of high school in '94 during the Air Force game, met Lou Holtz, Ron Powlus, and crew and felt right at home. I have since returned to Notre Dame a dozen times for the football (and Linebacker Lounge) and very much look forward to seeing the Irish dominate across the board in years to come, particularly in the W's column. The solid recruiting Weis is doing will ensure those W's.

4/26/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Seamus said...

I went to school during the Bob Davie-George O'Leary-Tyrone Willinham era. What an awful time to tailgate and be drunk. Talk about clinical depression. In fact, when I graduated, the dome wasn't even gold anymore.

I haven't been back to see the improvements to campus yet, and I haven't been in the stadium since we lost the final game of my Super Senior year in '05.

Needless to say, I'm damn starving. I had the opportunity to see the Irish from the nosebleeds in Heinz Field last September, but the players were the size of my thumbnail. A professional alumnus deserves better than this!!!

If I have to make the 640 mile drive back to campus, I'll do it - especially now that Capitol Hill seems to want to give me a hundred bucks for gas money.


It's going to look awful nice on those ceramic mugs in the bookstore.

4/27/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous mckevy89 said...

As an alum, I cannot say how relieved I am that we have one of our kind looking out for the program. More wins will be nice, yes very nice, but an understanding of what the university stands for beyond football and an obvious appreciation for what it can offer is my favorite aspect of Coach Weis. This will directly relate to pride, commitment, and victories on the field. Go get 'em Coach!

5/01/2006 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above, Seamus talks about how bad it was enduring the last dismal ND football seasons by being drunk. He ought to have tried it sober like I did. Not good.

5/02/2006 05:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been following ND since the days of Alan Pinkett. Faust was bad, Davie was worse and Willingham was just flat out awful. In today’s college football perception is everything (since we don't have no tournament and everything is based off rankings). Weis has the Michigan, USC, Ohio State, and Miami fans and media conceding that ND is better under Weis and to be honest some of them are shaking in their shoes. I think the best is yet to come and the skies are jet blue. Weis still has some surprises up his sleeve. He is a master game planner, great fundamentals coach/teacher, and now we all know he is one heck of a recruiter. I remember the article of his recruiting trip to N. Carolina and he told the recruits that they were making a quick stop at his friends house John Fox. These are the types of unique ideas Weis has brought to the dome. I can’t wait for ND to play those overrated (overrated for 2006) Buckeyes again…..if they get a chance

5/03/2006 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having been a fan since my Dad brainwashed me in the early 60s,My favorite player then was Coley O'brien.I have lived through the good {Ara,Lou} the bad{Devine}and the ugly{Davies,Willingham}.I am impressed with the direction of the program but I still feel like the program may hit a bump or to before becoming truly elite again.Lets not kid ourselves the recruiting class that are currently juniors and sophs are not exactly elite so it may take a year or two more before you can really say the Irish are truly a perennial power again.That said at least we can see that the coach and the administration certainly are on the same page and the glory of the past and the consistent contention for National titles are in the works

5/05/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't have just one top notch QB on board, we have 3. Coach Weis has a lot to work with. Defensive line and linebacker is the key. When we get the 4 & 5 Star players there we'll be an absolute monster. Controlling the line and getting pressure on the opposing QB's like Ohio St. did to us is what we must have. Build it and they will come!

5/10/2006 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just want to say, it is about time we got a coach in there who realizes that being the head football coach is a year round job and not just a fall seasonal job.

god bless charlie for his efforts.

5/11/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Mickey Skelly said...

I can remember sitting with my Grandfather and my Father listening to Notre Dame on the radio in 1949. I have been a true "Golden Doomer" ever since.
But, let us not forget the fast start of Willingham. Granted he is not even half the football coach as Coach Weis. Notre Dame is back on the national scene and we are going to get better. Don't get caught up with all of last year until we do it on a regular basis. We all believe it is going to happen, as I do, but don't be to disappointed with "just" 9, 10 or 11 wins for the next year or two.
I hope to live long enough to see one more National Championship and maybe another Heisman winner.
Go Irish, Go Charlie.
Mickey Skelly

5/12/2006 05:24:00 PM  

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