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A $1.3 Million Bargain

As most ND fans are aware, Notre Dame agreed to a significant pay cut in the last round of BCS negotiations. A couple of websites have recently pointed out that Notre Dame gets $1.3 Million from the BCS regardless of whether it plays in a bowl game.

Sounds like a sweetheart deal until you realize what ND gave up and how it was forced into the deal by BCS conferences. Previously for ND, it was all or nothing. ND either got the full BCS payout, specific bowl revenue or nothing if it failed to make a bowl game.


In lean times ND didn't receive anything... but when it made the BCS it received a full BCS share. For that risk ND was compensated. The BCS Payout was $17 Million last year, but Notre Dame only received $4.5 million. That's because the Conferences distribute their revenues throughout their conferences and weren't happy with the proposition that ND could gain a big windfall. So the BCS conferences forced ND into a cap and, in exchange, guaranteed ND what would be a conference minimum.

This was not a deal ND faithful were happy about.

So when you read the headline: "Notre Dame gets $1.3 million for nothing," think again. ND receives $1.3 Million for giving up the shot at $17+Million which it would likely have received every 2 out of 3 years on average -- especially given the expanded BCS.

Over nine years here's how the deal would work out assuming a 2 out of 3 year BCS hit ratio and "lesser" bowl.


Old System

6 x 17 = $102 million
1 x 2 = $2 million
--------------------
Total=$104 million

New System

6 x 4.5 = $27 million
3 x 1.3 = $3.9 million
--------------------
Total=$30.9 million

Even if you figure ND makes the BCS 1 out of 3 years... they're still leaving a ton on the table.

$1.3 million is a bargain.

Boys v Men II

From FDS

GEORGIA TECH

OVERALL - eight games played
Fr - 0
So - 11
Jr - 36
Sr - 81
5th- 48

OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr - 0
So - 0
Jr - 4
Sr - 20
5th- 16

QUARTERBACK
Fr -0
So- 0
Jr- 0
Sr -8
5th-0


And here are both Michigan State and Michigan.

I only had time to research their offenses. I'm getting the sense our OL is on the young side for D1:

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS - eight games played

MICHIGAN STATE OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr - 0
So - 0
Jr - 5
Sr- 16
5th-19

MICHIGAN STATE QB
Fr - 0
So - 0
Jr - 0
Sr - 8
5th- 0

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES - eight games played

MICHIGAN OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr- 0
So- 16
Jr- 3
Sr- 5
5th-16

MICHIGAN QB
Fr- 2
So- 0
Jr- 0
Sr- 6
5th-0

Senioritis

Poster Mike Regan took a look at our 2004 recruiting class:

Look at 2004:

Terrail Lambert (starting CB)
Junior Jabbie (career backup tailback who left team and came back)
Anthony Vernaglia (career backup who started the season with first team as OLB. Lost job to true freshman).
Leo Ferrine (career backup who is 3rd team corner).
Darrin Bragg (career backup at QB, moved to receiver, quit team, came back as show team QB).
Justin Brown (career backup at DL who starts this year when healthy, but has high ankle sprain).
Darius Walker (two year starter, in NFL).
David Wolke (backup QB, transferred to Western Kentucky)
Maurice Crum (2nd year starter at LB).
Ronald Talley (backup DL who transferred to Delaware).
John Kadous (backup OL, who quit football still in school)
Abdel Banda (back problems forced him to give up football prior to sophomore season)
Brandon Nicholas (transferred to Colorado)
Chauncey Incarnato (transferred to Indiana because he couldn't play. Couldn't play there either, then transferred to a I-AA school where he is a backup).
Justin Hoskins (transferred to I-AA)
Christopher Vaughn (kicked out of school for legal troubles. Transferred to Louisville where he was subsequently kicked off team).
Tregg Duerson (son of famous alum Dave Duerson). Not offered by any other I-A program. Ended up leaving the team and staying in school. Scored his first career touchdown a couple of weeks ago as an intramural football player in interhall football.

So that is the current senior class.
Only the following guys still with the team:
QB Darrin Bragg
TB Junior Jabbie
DL Justin Brown
LB Anthony Vernaglia
LB Maurice Crum
CB Terrail Lambert
CB Leo Ferrine

As an addendum, how would you rate the class as it stands now?

Out of that group, only Brown, Crum and Lambert play many meaningful minutes.

A senior class should be counted on for much, much more than that, but as you can see they are pretty much non existent.

The junior class is not much better with a couple of guys no longer with the team and the '05 class' top rated player, D.J. Hord, coming off a ruptured achillies which is a career altering/ruining injury. The only other four star player in that class was Joey Hiben, who quit the team to concentrate on architecture, then transferred to Minnesota where he is currently a 3rd team walk-on defensive end.

Top players in the junior class are David Grimes (injured last three games), Pat Kuntz, Turkovich and David Bruton who is turning into an stellar Free Safety.

Boys vs. Men

This is a copy of FunkDoctorSpock's post on rock's house:

The problems that Notre Dame has encountered in 2007 are not solely related to the youth of the roster. Coach Weis and his staff made a terrible error by not having full contact practices until after the Michigan game. It is likely the most damaging error that Weis has made in his football career. When you're record is 1-7 you deserve almost all the criticism, valid or imagined, that you get.

There are, however, other factors at play. One is the schedule. Jeff Sagarin currently has it rated the 2nd most difficult schedule in the country.

Another is the lack of seniors, both on the team and in the starting lineup. For all intents and purposes this team is missing an entire class of players. Notre Dame has a total of 16 fourth and fifth year seniors. USC has 28. Boston College has 17 fifth year seniors alone.

Here is how the breakdown of starts compares between the Irish, Boston College, USC, and Penn State. Those teams are the highest ranked of ND's opponents.

I am working on getting the data for Michigan, Georgia Tech, etc. But I can tell you with the utmost confidence that those numbers will look a great deal like what I'm about the show you.


The numbers are the amount of starts that players in each class have accumulated thus far in the season:

NOTRE DAME - eight games played
Fr - 15
So - 48
Jr - 45
Sr - 21
5th- 47

SOUTHERN CAL - seven games played
Fr - 5
So - 22
Jr - 36
Sr - 39
5th- 52

BOSTON COLLEGE - seven games played
Fr - 7
So - 19
Jr - 24
Sr - 12
5th- 92

PENN STATE - eight games played
Fr - 1
So - 25
Jr - 57
Sr - 79
5th- 14

Put another way, each team has started these amounts of fourth and fifth year seniors per game:

ND - 8.5
PSU - 12.88
SC - 13
BC - 14.86

And here is the average number of starts per game for freshmen and sophomores:

ND - 7.9
PSU - 3.25
SC - 3.9
BC - 3.7

STARTS:

NOTRE DAME OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr - 0
So - 16
Jr - 16
Sr - 0
5th- 8

SOUTHERN CAL OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr - 3
So - 3
Jr - 1
Sr - 11
5th- 17

PENN STATE OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr - 1
So - o
Jr - 8
Sr - 29
5th- 2

BOSTON COLLEGE OFFENSIVE LINE
Fr - 7
So - 0
Jr - 5
Sr - 4
5th- 19

Also, at QB here is how the starts shake out:

NOTRE DAME
Fr - 6
So - 1
Jr - 1
Sr - 0
5th- 0

USC
Fr - 0
So - 0
Jr - 2
Sr - 0
5th- 5

PENN STATE
Fr - o
So - 0
Jr - 0
Sr - 8
5th- 0

BC
Fr - 0
So - 0
Jr - 0
Sr - 0
5th- 7

Floyd, A Differencemaker

By now everyone knows I'm a huge Michael Floyd fan. He's the differencemaker Notre Dame needs if it's going to challenge for a national championship. First of all he has great hands and size. Beyond that, he's a YAC guy... someone who can make significant yards after he gets those hands on the ball. Here are some local highlights of Floyd and more highlights from Rivals.

Floyd Highlights from Local TV

Floyd Highlights from Rivals

Weis Behind Shaky Flight?

Some USC players were thrown from their seats and others were just shaken when USC's charter flight dropped through the air while attempting to land ins South Bend.

"There was a moment there when I was thinking, 'This is it,' " Slutak said.

Said sophomore safety Taylor Mays: "I was screaming."

At their hotel, senior defensive end Lawrence Jackson said he was going to see the team trainer because a popsicle stick had pierced the inside of his mouth during the drop.

"That was terrifying," freshman fullback Stanley Havili said. "I thought I was going to die."

Quarterback John David Booty said, "It wasn't the worst flight I've ever been on, but it was definitely the biggest drop."

But this doesn't figure to be the end of this story as USC is convinced that Weis will do anything to get and edge from growing long grass to screwing with flight plans. Perhaps another Jeff Carroll expose?

Of course, they could have just worn their seat belts.

Meanwhile USC's injury riddled team (as predicted) is looking a lot more healthy heading into game day. In addition to Booty starting, Sam Baker, Brian Cushing and even Ray Maualuga look like they'll be in Saturday's contest.

But the key could be stopping USC's running game and special teams (groan)... Joe McKnight is starting to look Bushesque.




What if Sharpley Had Started the Season?

Before this season began, I had assumed Sharpley would start the year and Clausen would challenge for a starting role by mid to late season. Instead, Charlie went for a spread look against Georgia Tech. Not necessarily a bad choice at the time, if it worked. But it didn't and now we're paying a price and playing from behind.

So where would we be without the Jones' experiment?

My guess is that we'd have another win or two, our offensive line would be far more consistent and that overall we'd have a much more positive vibe around the program. It's not that I think Sharpley is that much better than Clausen, though he clearly has the stronger arm at this point. It's that we would have been practicing the same offense consistently.

Weis's 'design the offense around the player' concept sounds great... but it also ensures that if that player doesn't fit your system, you're not going to be completely focused on becoming proficient in a specific concept, which is death knell for a team with a young offensive line. Especially facing some very good defenses.

When you add in the fact that the Weis offense isn't simplicity in motion, it's not hard to see where we went wrong this season.... (isn't hindsight a handy tool,) it actually would have taken a remarkable set of circumstances to not fail with the young offensive line, a grab bagging offense and this schedule.

So what would have been helpful?

1 - Rather than start with building a system around a quarterback, start with the understanding that with such a young offensive line, we needed identify what they could do, simplify it and stick with it so that we could have developed some proficiency. My theory has always been the offensive line dictates what's possible.

2 - Choose a quarterback that can execute the system we can block for at a high level. It's my belief that Weis screwed this year up by either bending to Jones' will (he knew Jones was going to transfer) or thinking he was smart enough design a system to make it work. Don't get me wrong, it could have worked... the problem is that when it didn't we were back to behind square one. Our offense, which already had a low probability of executing one strategy, now had several to try and implement. Sharpley was the logical choice to start this season if we were thinking about more than one game (easy to say now.)

3 - Call plays that have low execution risk or that at least reward that risk. As I mentioned here before, Charlie calls plays that should work... but nothing can work with so many breakdowns. Part of his magic in the NFL was calling plays you didn't expect and you can do that and have it work if you're executing at a high level. Charlie calls plays you don't expect, but also that don't work. There's just not as much value in fooling a defensive coordinator when you're executing so poorly. It really is better in college to run plays they know are coming and still make them work. That's demoralizing.... then you out-trick them. BTW, I think the fourth down call was excellent last week.


4 - To establish one thing you can do really well and build a base.


Despite the schedule and the offensive line woes, we shouldn't be this bad on offense at this point. From where I sit the part of the problem that rests on Charlie's shoulders is the lack of identify in offense. He either felt beholden to certain players or thought himself smart enough to work around some pretty obvious problems. Speculating now, but I think it was a little of both and he and the team are paying the price for it.

Of course, the good news here is that these are one-time circumstance driven problems that should be very correctable as we gain experience. We're not going to be in such a pickle again in the future.... but in retrospect, of all the possible options it appears we chose the risky ones that didn't pan out and left us behind in development. Now hindsight being hindsight it's also possible that nothing would have worked better to this point.

Notre Dame's Secret Weapon

Bad taste. Couple green slime unis with four salutes to the heroes in the cafeteria line and we could actually disorient USC so much that they give us a game.

I kid, though it reminds of the Pirates old unis.

We are fam-i-lee.

Youngstown State, Akron, Washington, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, Kent State

This is the number one ranked team in the country? I'm not sure how it started that a loss to a good team is worse than a win over a bunch of crappy teams, but that thinking is skewed. Strength of Schedule has to factor into the race for #1 in a much larger way or college football is going to see more schedule rigging to get to the BCS championship game. OSU shouldn't be rewarded for winning against such a rigged opening season schedule.


Youngstown State (Alumni Band) 38 - 6 (W)
STATS NOTES QUOTES
Akron (Hall of Fame) 20 - 2 (W)
STATS NOTES QUOTES
Washington 33 - 14 (W)
STATS NOTES
Northwestern * 58 - 7 (W)
NOTES
Minnesota * 30 - 7 (W)
STATS NOTES QUOTES
Purdue * 23 - 7 (W)
NOTES
Kent State 48 - 3 (W)
STATS NOTES QUOTES

USC, Quarterbacks, Dominos and Defense

Here's the USC infirmary report:

QB's
JD Booty (All Pac-10) = out

RB's
Stafon Johnson (starter) = out
CJ Gable (starter) = out for season
Broderick Green = out
Marc Tyler = out for season
Emmanuel Moody = transferred

WR
Travon Patterson = out for season
Jamere Holland = transferred

OL
Sam Baker (2-time All-American) = out
Chilo Rachal (All Pac-10) = out
Kris O'Dowd (starter) = out
Tiny Malu = out
Zach Heberer = out
Charles Brown = out
Thomas Herring = out
Nick Howell = out for season

LB's
Brian Cushing (All Pac-10) = out
Rey Maulaluga (All Pac-10) = out
Chris Galippo = out for season

DB's
Josh Pinkard (starter) = out for season
Kevin Thomas = out for season
Shareece Wright (CB) = out



The scary thing is that they still have more starting experience than ND heading into this season. It also underscores the tricky decision coaches have to make when designing practice structures and balancing depth. If you go full speed, but lose a key guy... well it's not an easy decision. Of course, I expect to see a lot of these guys play, there's always some pre-game sandbagging.

I hope the grass is long.

As for the quarterbacks... I don't much care who starts. We can't block anybody. Yeah, Sharpley could make plays, he could also throw two quick game losing interceptions. Clausen's going to be a great quarterback, he just needs a couple of hamburgers, a season to weight train and blockers. I'd start Sharpley just to even out the body blows, but I don't think anyone really has a clue as to what will happen.

ND could win this game, except for the fact that we can't, uhm, block anybody. We haven't blocked one talented team this year and that's probably not going to change say the gurus in Mike Frank's excellent (pay for) article on our blocking problems. This is from the free portion of the article:
Most linemen aren’t physically ready to perform until their third season, and most don’t know the proper techniques or have the mental mindset needed to perform at a high level in the college game.
Thinking about this, if we had good recruits in our Senior and Junior class, my bet is that Sullivan, one of Turkovic/Duncan and maybe a little Young would be playing well with two more seasoned players. But ... that's not the case.

We've seen some improvements starting in game five, but that improvement hasn't been consistent. As was mentioned by other posters... Charlie's choice to practice the spread option and an unrelenting schedule probably has set back development this year. I'm resigned to the fact that we're just not going to get markedly better until it just happens.


BigEND shared this interesting take on the coaching merry-go-round:
There's a whole storyline behind this firing. All involved parties ended up worse off.

The Institutions:

Pitt
A & M
Nebraska

The ADs:

Bill Byrne
Steve Pederson

The Coaches:

Walt Harris
Frank Solich
RC Slocum
Dennis Franchionne
Bill Callahan
Dave Wannstadt

In 2002, Pederson was the AD at Pitt and Byrne was at Nebraska. Nebraska and Pitt were doing relatively well in football -- Pitt was experiencing a lot of success relative to its recent (20 year) history, and Nebraska was coming off a season in which they played for the national title. RC Slocum had a solid program at Texas A & M.

At the end of 2002, A & M axed both their AD and RC Slocum after a 6-6 season. They went and hired Bill Byrne as their AD away from Nebraska. Byrne came on board and was involved in the hiring of Franchionne, although he wasn't the only one behind it. Franchionne has failed miserably at A & M and has thoroughly embarassed the school. While Byrne is safe for the time being, Franchionne's firing is but a formality now.

Nebraska went out and hired Pederson away from Pitt when Byrne left. Pederson came in and demanded improvement from Solich. Solich responded by getting one of the best DC's in the game (Pelini) and responded by winning 10 games in 2003. Nevertheless, he was axed at the end of 2003, and Pederson conducted a one man search, coming up with Bill Callahan, recently fired from the Raiders. History has shown how well that moved turned out for the Huskers. While Callahan's head awaits the axe, Solich has done fairly well at Ohio University.

Meanwhile, the new AD at Pitt didn't take a liking to Walt Harris and eventually pushed him out at the end of the 2004 season (a season in which Pitt won the Big East). Harris was pushed out to make room for Wannstache, who has been an abject failure. Harris went on to Stanford. Crippled by crappy Willingham recruiting, he lost to UC-Davis in his first year and went 1-11 in the next, himself getting fired after the 2006 season. Now he helps out at a high school in Pittsburgh.

All three schools are now far worse off today (at least in terms of football) than they were in 2002. Interesting how that played out.

I hope it doesn't get lost in the fray that our defense is exactly what we've been calling for since Barry Alvarez left (and that's a long, long time ago.) Despite our situation on the defensive line, our defense came through again and again last week. Brown has been a phenomenal hire.

BC's Disdain

BC/ND - it has indeed become a sore point for ND fans, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. No one wants to lose to BC again, but it's for reasons off the football field as much as on. From their players trashing of the visitor Dame locker room, defecating in the locker room, tearing up ND turf like a high school team and intentionally disrupting pep rallies to BC fans pouring beer on kids, throwing garbage and spitting on ND fans (at Notre Dame,) BC has shown a disdain for Notre Dame and its traditions unlike any school on the schedule in recent years.

Oh, and they've won four straight and stubbed ND's toe on the way to the championship in 1993.

So yeah, you want to beat a team like that. In fact, I'll put it at the top of my list this year because of the timing.

I want to beat BC and hope we can play the game of our lives to do it. But in the larger context, it doesn't matter much. It actually had the makings of a decent rivalry, but it's never going to get there. It's never going to be a consistent bigger picture game especially with BC pulling a Fredo and heading the ACC.

Instead it's a grudge match. And the only thing Notre Dame players, despite being younger, can do is smash them in the mouth and beat them. I'll take no great pride in a win, but I will take a lot of joy in it, simply because they've been egging our house and toilet papering our trees for so long. No one really wants to hate BC. It's a good school that graduates players in a heavily Irish city, but really, you can't help but dislike a fan base and teams that consistently exhibit such outward disdain.

It hasn't been a very honorable game filled with tradition, it's more of feud that's born out of lack of respect, so it will never be at a level of USC or even Navy.

It's time to end this and send them back to their ACC life of half-full stadiums and fifth fiddle standing in Boston Sports. Do I think we'll beat them this year? Probably not unless the players take this burden upon their shoulders and let it drive them to an upset.

There is, however, a chance.

Coach Weis handled this well:


COACH WEIS: I think it's a very good natural rivalry, but the problem is they're in the ACC and we're an independent, so they're tied into a whole bunch of ACC games, and that isn't really our deal. When Kevin and John try to get games scheduled for ten years out, it's usually a little bit easier to get Big East scheduled teams than it is to get ACC scheduled teams. It was a little easier when they were in the Big East, but when they left the Big East to go to the ACC, it wasn't as natural of a fit.

Obviously, you’re not playing for the National Championship this year but do you feel your team can have a role affecting a team that is in the national hunt?

“Obviously, when you know you have some teams ahead in your schedule that it could affect, you’re not playing to be spoilers; you’re playing to win that game. It’s not where I’m playing to try to beat Boston College to ruin their chances. But that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re supposed to be playing to win. So I don’t find any solace in the fact that you could put a damper on somebody else’s season. I think it’s more important that we do something good for ours.”

So this is not a motivation factor?

“No, no personal motivation factor. I think the most important thing is that we have one win and we’re trying to get number two. I have to be concerned with our program; I can’t be concerned with theirs. I think that’s really the biggest motivation driving me.”



Jersey Redux and Going Jumbo

Folks, I was having fun with the Jersey thing (who knew this would start a real discussion.) Charlie really uses it effectively to relate to Jersey recruits.

For reference, those places to the left of New York: 908, 201,973, etc. are Jersey. 609 and 856 are South Jersey... People from outside of Jersey don't realize that South Jersey is a different state (and home to the Jersey Devil.)

As for Saturday, would anyone else like to see ND "Go Jumbo" against BC's 240 lb ends and 5'9" cornerbacks?

I'd love to see Charlie line up Ragone, Kamara, Yeatman and Carlson up tight then split Ragone out and just throw it up for grabs to whomever their smurfs were covering. Or you could split Carlson wide then pack them in and run at the corners.

Maybe we could line Chris Stewart up as a fullback... this is probably why I'm not a coach.

I'd love to see ND pull this one off, but we're facing a very, very experienced BC team with 12 fifth year starters and the best quarterback in the country.

We probably have more talent, but are just too green to beat a seasoned QB like Ryan with a such an experienced cast.

Who Weeps for Frank Solich?

Here's another post from omahadomer that deserves some attention (don't they all?)

For all of the thrashing about regarding the perceived unfairness of the firing of a former ND coach (who is 9-19 at his new school, taking over a program that was 10-18 for its last 28 games) who weeps for Frank Solich?

Solich, the quintessential Nebraska man from the time he was a 155 lb. fullback, was 58-19 as head coach of the Huskers. He finished #2 one year and played in the national championship game less than two years before he was fired. He was axed at the end of a 9-3 regular season and coached by his new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini the team won the Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.

Nevertheless, progress is progress and Solich had to go and was replaced by Bill Callahan. Callahan, taking over a program that was 17-10 the prior two years proceeded to go 13-10, (actually only 11-10 against I-A opponents) his first two years.

No matter, recruiting was taking hold and all the JUCO's, transfers and stud freshmen would pay off the next two years. In his third year, Nebraska arguably inched forward going from 8 wins to 9 (though not improving its record as the Huskers went from 8-4 to 9-5) but managed to win the terribly weak Big 12 North and then lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship and Auburn in the Cotton Bowl.

But this would be the year for Nebraska. The Huskers started off ranked and were a dark horse pick by some to win the NC especially with strong-armed ASU transfer Sam Keller at QB. Well the Huskers were right about Keller, he is a good player. And after opening the season with a rout of Nevada, Callahan (then 23-15) was inked to a 5-year contract extension.

But Nebraska is no better. They are 4-2 after having suffered a 49-31 beatdown at USC's hands (it was 49-17 in the middle of the 4th quarter) and a 41-6 thrashing at the hands of Missouri last week. Nebraska has given up over 600 yards twice so far this season (once to MU and the other time in an impossibly lucky 41-40 win over Ball State) and are allowing over 440 yards per game on average.

So now here stands Callahan at 26-17 and suddenly all six of the remaining games look to be competitive at best for Nebraska: Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, at Texas, at Kansas, KSU and at Colorado. Nebraska could quite conceivably wind up 6-6 or even worse.

And what of Frank Solich? Well, he might not be the greatest coach in history but he's 15-16 at Ohio University taking over a program that was 9-22 in its previous 31 games. He took them to a bowl game for the first time since current Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe coached the Bobcats.

So here's Frank Solich whose new team is 6 games better and his old team is 4 games worse (Solich was 30-13 in his last 43 games) yet there will be no national columns about the unfairness of firing him or the perceived excesses of his former employer in its treatment of the new coach.

Charlie Ball

Probably cause I'm a Catholic from Jersey (not 609) I actually get Charlie and yeah he's gruff, but he's also beloved by those who played for him. He's a smart guy who understands the game and there's not a coach who knows him well who would say otherwise. I suppose you know that Nick Saban (an ND fan) had an interest in Notre Dame. His comment on Charlie, "At least they got themselves a real football coach." The theme that has always resonated throughout Weis's career is teaching.

Pick through this abbreviated Weis press conference and compare notes to previous coaches:

COACH WEIS: They returned 18 starters on their team because they've got seven on offense, nine or defense and two specialists. I think this is the best start they've had since 1942 when they started 8 and 0. BC has beaten us four times in a row, and the obvious rivalry comes from being the two Catholic universities in America that play Division I football. Coach Jagodzinski obviously had been in the NFL for a while but he had been a coordinator for Boston College, takes over as the head coach and hired Steve Logan as offensive coordinator, they worked together at East Carolina. As a matter of fact, Coach Jag was Steve's offensive line coach and they both worked under Bill Lewis at East Carolina, as well. Steve was in NFL Europe for the last three years or so.
Their offense has really got it rockin' and rollin', they're averaging just under 36 points a game, and their season averages, and last week was kind of a microcosm of their season averages, they're averaging just about 141 yards rushing a game and 314 passing, and that's 455 all together. And they're converting 46 percent on 3rd down. When they've gone for it on 4th down, which has been five times this year, they've made it every time. They've only given up six sacks in the first half, and they've outscored the opponents 23 to 48. Last week, just to show you the parallel, they rushed for 146, they threw for 325 for 471, they converted 55 percent on 3rd down, when they went for it once on 4th down, they converted and they didn't allow a sack.

Okay, let's stop right there. Can you imagine Ty, Bob or even Lou spouting off these facts? The answer is no.

At fullback they play three different guys. The first guy I want to mention is a true freshman by the game of Brad Newman, mainly because he went to Manasquan High School, which is my home turf, so I have to give him a plug right off the bat.

That's a Jersey reference, btw. Though Manasquan isn't really jersey, it's the shore. It's where Jersey guys go to get drunk, ogle women and get some sun. From knowing the number of passes batted down to his take on BC being on the schedule in the future, Charlie gets it. I love reading Charlie PCs because I always learn something (unlike previous coach's press conferences where I struggled to decipher the point.) Before I turn it back over to Charlie I want to mention that he still doesn't get why his pass call with Clausen throwing at the one was a bad call. Here's the reason it was bad: because it introduced risk into a situation that didn't have much risk at the time. It's a smart call in the NFL. It could be smart call at Notre Dame with the right amount of experience. It was bad call against UCLA because it introduced risk. Charlie hasn't done a very good job of managing downside risk/reward in his offensive play calling... I like that he thinks positive, but sometimes you gotta take the easy money. It should be noted that ND fans gnashed many a tooth over Lou's play calling, in fact it was much worse when Lou was winning. I used to call the plays from the stands with a pretty high degree of accuracy (and love Lou.)

With that, let me turn it back over to Charlie.

Q. You talked about the approach that you took last week, conservative and letting the defense. Is that difficult for you as a play caller?
COACH WEIS: Yes, it's difficult for me personally, but I think that if you truly want to follow your philosophy of playing each game to win that game, then as the offensive play caller it's difficult for me. As the head coach it's easy for me. Fortunately/unfortunately I wear both hats, and the head coach wins over the play caller. I think that my job is to put us in the best position in the to win the game, and I think that's exactly what we did.

Q. You talked about Clausen managing the game. Does the opponent dictate when you change that, or is it strictly upon when Jimmy is ready?
COACH WEIS: No, the opponent has a lot to do with how the game plan changes. You know, he obviously has to -- as he continues his progression allows you to do more, but really the style of the defense you play against dictates what you end up doing.

Q. As far as your two-minute offense, Sharpley was that guy early in the year. Now that Jimmy is five starts into it, has he taken that over?
COACH WEIS: He would stay in there if we were in two-minute right now. He wouldn't come out. At that time of the year, early in the year, Jimmy wasn't even throwing the ball during two-minute, it was all Evan. Now, whoever would be in the game as the starter, if Evan ended up in the game for some reason and two-minute came up, Evan would run it. But Jimmy is the starter and Jimmy will be brought in when that time comes out.

Q. And Vernaglia, you moved him inside?
COACH WEIS: Well, we moved him inside out of need last week. I think this week he's going to practice at both inside and outside. He'll be listed as one. I think Brian gave it to me yesterday. I think I put him as the backup Sam behind John Ryan. I think that's where I put him, as the best backup left outside linebacker, but he'll practice at both inside and outside this week.

Q. If someone told you before the game you'd win with 140 yards total offense, would you have believed that?
COACH WEIS: If you win with a +7 ratio, I'd say yes. I think there's more to it. You're throwing one snap at me and one snap doesn't make the game. I think that if you told me you were going to be +7 and you had 140 yards of offense and didn't turn the ball over, I'd say there's a pretty good chance you won the game. Normally the answer to that would be an emphatic no.

Q. After the game you talked about talking to the team about not celebrating too much after the touchdown. Is that something you talked more about on Sunday?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I did talk to them because they were so delirious on the sideline, and at the time we're up 13 to 6. I think what I was trying to do, I want them to enjoy touchdowns, I want them to be happy and be fired up and everything. But at the same time, we've got almost a half a game to go. We had just taken the lead. There's a lot of football yet to be played.
I think that the Crum-Ryan strip sack fumble return for a touchdown really took some of the pressure off the rest of the game because the way the game was going, I think that as long as we didn't turn the ball over there was a good chance we were going to end up winning that game.
But I think that it was a very good learning experience, and I think it allowed you a very good teaching lesson. I wouldn't even call it constructive criticism because you want the kids to be excited. But they need to understand that, okay, now, remember that feeling, you've got to make sure that you can bottle that energy because you've got to be able to finish the rest of the game because one of our points in the game was to make sure you went for 60 minutes. You don't want to be going for 35, all of a sudden you're leading and you're feeling real good about yourself and somebody comes back and next thing you know it could be a big deflating type of situation.

Q. Since this is such a young team, you talked more about being a teacher. Have you had more moments like that this year, just teaching the team the approach, mental attitude?
COACH WEIS: More than I ever have in my life. I've spent more time mentally and psychologically this year than I ever have before. I think that I've had to make sure -- I wouldn't say you temper your comments, but you be more instructive. You don't take things for granted. You have a veteran team you sit there and tell them, you know they get it. You have a younger team and they might be shaking their heads, I get it, but they have no idea what you're talking about. I think you have to make sure you spend the time to make sure they understand what you're talking about.

Q. Could you give me an example of one of those?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, you might say -- well, let's take one from the game the other day. Let's use the example that you brought up with scoring a touchdown and we go up 13 to 6. When you come over to the sideline and say to Mo Crum and Joe Brockington, okay, let's go, get off your feet, get off your feet, relax, because everyone is jumping up and down, you're going to be out there in a couple seconds, the younger guys might say, well, why is he telling us to get off our feet? An older guy knows all you're trying to do is telling them to get some rest. A younger guy might not understand. All you're trying to do is getting him to conserve some energy because before you know it you're going to be out there again. Those little things that you just take for granted as common sense things, sometimes you need to address them.

Q. Is the whole practice -- you've changed your practices along the way. Has part of that been teaching the mentality -- you've been more physical, just trying to teach them this is how you have to practice?
COACH WEIS: That's why we've had to go in that direction, because I think that there was sometimes -- I wouldn't say they don't practice hard, but I think that we had to teach them how to practice, and that's really not something that I've had to spend much energy on in the past, teaching them how to practice.
When you go full speed and you're taking them to the ground, that really alleviates any of the -- what's the tempo going to be because there's only one tempo it could be when you're going full speed, and that's full speed.

Q. Looking at the depth chart, there's quite a bit of shuffling this week it looks like. I guess in general terms, how much of a true blueprint is the depth chart when it comes to coaches and players, or is it just kind of something to put out there?
COACH WEIS: Well, sometimes when I'm putting guys down -- for example, you've got two outside linebacker positions, so because I -- when we did this last night for -- when we use a guy like Brian Smith, Brian Smith, I don't know, I probably have him listed as the second right outside linebacker with Morrice Richardson. But he could be in the game at the left outside linebacker, as well.
But what I do is I try to put them down in the position where I think that they'll probably get on the field the fastest because there's flexibility. For example, Justin Brown could be in the game for either Dwight Stephenson or Trevor Laws. I don't know which spot he'll get in the game first, but he'll be in the game for one of those two guys. But I'll list him probably behind Dwight on one side and I'll probably put Derrell and Patty on the other side. But Justin would go in first.
I'm using that as an example. When you're doing that I'm trying to place them so that you guys get the closest idea without having to list one guy in two spots.

Q. On a specific note, when you look at Carufel, is it still a case of Wanger being injured or has he done something to play himself into there?
COACH WEIS: Well, actually Danny hasn't practiced that many reps full speed yet. We're finally getting him back on a more full speed basis this week. He's not going to just automatically get thrown in there. I've got Danny and Eric who have been out there a lot. He's going to have to get his -- earn his way back out there.

Q. Kerry Neal, are you starting to see some things that he can play both run and pass?
COACH WEIS: Well, he's a bigger body than some of those other guys, and he's more of a -- he's not as tall as John, but he's more of a John Ryan type of player, so it kind of gives you -- when those two guys are out there, it gives you more of a mirrored look on the right side and the left side.

Q. I noticed Barry Gallup now ahead of Golden Tate. I thought that was kind of interesting.
COACH WEIS: Well, that's because Golden got dinged a little bit in the game. He got knocked in the head a little bit. Golden will be involved in this mix right here. But it's also BC week. How could I not have Barry Gallup in the depth chart for BC week? By the way, his mother is rooting for Barry Gallup. I know that question will come up. That's who she's rooting for.

Q. It's halfway through the season here. What's your biggest sense of accomplishment with this team and maybe what's the one thing that you really want to get a handle on?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think the greatest sense of accomplishment in a team that's 1 and 5 is it doesn't act like a team, doesn't practice like a team that's 1 and 5. I only can credit the players. I'd like to sit there and pat myself on the back, but it's really the character of our team because most teams when they're 0 and 5 don't act like a team that still thinks they can win. They don't practice that way, they don't act that way, and it says a lot for the character of our players.
I'd have to say that's probably the team's biggest accomplishment, that despite the fact that we have had a very down year to this point, but there's no indication by the mannerisms of our players that that's the case we're at.
The flipside, obviously the lack of production, especially on the offensive side of the ball, I think that the defense has shown spurts of getting better. I think the offense has been up and down and has only shown flashes, and I think that I'm the -- the biggest thing I'm encouraged at is I think our best ball is yet to come. You'd like to sit there and say you're playing your best ball early in the year, but I think with this team from where we are, I can't do anything about games 1 through 6. All I can do is do stuff for games 7 through 12, and I'd have to feel very strongly in all three aspects the arrow is pointing up.

Q. What did Geoff Price show you last week that got him back in the lineup?
COACH WEIS: Well, the thing is, and you saw in the games, the biggest problem he's had this year is inconsistency. We all know that he's got the leg that can hit the ball 70 yards. But when you go out in the game and hit two or three crummy ones and then drop a snap on top of it, at that position you can't hide.
I never call a player out, but there's certain positions, the quarterback throws three interceptions, everybody in the stands sees it. An offensive lineman misses three blocks, you might not see it, depending on what happened on the play. But when a punter is out there and the ball goes 25 or 30 yards, it's tough to hide that.
But I think that he's really working on his consistency. I think that last week with the exception of one kick that he didn't hit very well, I think that he kicked -- he punted nine times and I think he had a very, very good day.

Q. Aldridge, his apropos isn't show up in terms of production yet. How would you evaluate his year?
COACH WEIS: Actually last week he ran about as hard as you could possibly run. You go back and look at that, I knew that they were going to get an eighth or ninth guy up there and they were going to get you outnumbered, but we already said that this is the way we're going to play that game. That doesn't mean that's the way we're going to play this game. Okay, but what he's done is he's shown to be the most consistent of the runners. That's why he's listed one now. I mean, they're all different. Every one of them is different. But he's shown to be the most consistent with all the things we do.
I mean, he's not as fast as Armando and he might not catch the ball as well as Robert or he might not pick up the blitz as well as Junior or he might not be as good on the goal line as Travis, which is kind of different roles that all those guys have. But if you put them all together, he's been the most consistent of all of them.

Q. Are you starting to notice that teams are giving Darrin Walls a lot of respect? What do you sense about any reputation he might be getting?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that one thing is I don't think this guy is going to be worrying too much about Darrin because what this guy does is what really good quarterbacks do, he just throws it to the open guy. So I think that you can game plan -- when you're playing with like a less experienced quarterback, you can game plan to stay away from a certain corner if you want to. But I think Darrin is going to be just like one of the rest of the guys this week because they're all going to have to be heads up this week because this quarterback will find it if you make a mistake.

Q. In the preseason a lot of people thought Pat Kuntz was going to be a little too small to play nose tackle, and that hasn't been the case. What are your thoughts on what he's done out there?
COACH WEIS: I thought Pat Kuntz -- going in I was really, really comfortable with Pat Kuntz and I was really comfortable with Trevor and I wanted to find out what's going to happen with Dwight and Justin and Derrell wasn't back yet and Ian was new and Patty and those guys, but as far as front line players, all year long the two guys that have been very consistent for us, everyone knows Trevor, but the guy after Trevor who's easily been the most consistent every game so far has been Kuntz.

Q. You just alluded to this talking to Eric in answering his question. With how efficient and productive Boston College's offense is, how much of that close-to-the-vest stuff you did last week has to change this week?
COACH WEIS: Say that one more time.

Q. With how efficient and productive the Boston College is in terms of not only putting pints on the board but minimizing mistakes, how much of your conservative plan from last week has to change this week?
COACH WEIS: Our offense? It has to change significantly. You can't go -- you're not going to -- they know that, too. This isn't like I'm giving away any big secret. It's not like we're going to go in with three tight ends and run the ball inside the whole game. We're going to have to score some points to win.
Last week especially after Olsen got knocked down, you knew you weren't going to need to score a whole bunch of points to win the game. This week you're going to have to score some points to win.

Q. Can you be aggressive and not risky, or is it just inherently both?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, you just don't try to throw the ball -- last week we were either dinking and dunking or taking play action shots. Really there wasn't a prescribed intermediate passing game last week because it was kind of an all-or-nothing approach, which goes with a conservative nature approach that we were playing last week. When you're playing against a team that -- Boston College is so good against a run that they get extra yardage in the passing game because they're going to play a bend but don't break -- very similar in mentality, not scheme-wise, but mentality to Penn State. When Penn State plays, they just count on you not to have the patience and you mess it up.
I think that we're going to have to do a very good job and be consistent to put some drives together because if not all of a sudden it's 1st and 10, 2nd and 7, then it's 3rd and 7, and you're off the field and you're punting again.

Q. What are some of your thoughts on this rivalry and this game?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that growing up on the east coast, a Catholic kid on the east coast, and you were looking at universities, the two universities that were involved in Division I football that you knew very much about were Notre Dame and Boston College. I think the stereotype or the chemistry of the kids are very similar type of kids.
I think that a better person to ask about their kids might be Barry. I know a couple guys I've talked to today, but I think they're the same type of kids that go to both schools that academics are important to them and they're high character kids and there's an obvious rivalry between the two schools because they're very similar in nature.

Q. Can you talk also about the football aspect of it? It seems like there's a history of one team ruining another season.
COACH WEIS: Well, they're not going to ruin our season (laughter).

Q. I'm talking about more on the other end of it.
COACH WEIS: We'd love very much to put a damper on their season. But I think that we understand that they're playing very, very good football and they deserve a high ranking based off of their production. We're going to have to play a very good game to be able to win.

Q. If this is the first of what's usually the last four games in this series, would you like to see this series continue, considering the similarities between the schools?
COACH WEIS: I think it's a very good natural rivalry, but the problem is they're in the ACC and we're an independent, so they're tied into a whole bunch of ACC games, and that isn't really our deal. When Kevin and John try to get games scheduled for ten years out, it's usually a little bit easier to get Big East scheduled teams than it is to get ACC scheduled teams. It was a little easier when they were in the Big East, but when they left the Big East to go to the ACC, it wasn't as natural of a fit.

Q. Last question about the defensive line. I realize passes broken up are not really a glamour stat for defensive linemen, but it seems like Trevor and Pat have been pretty efficient in that regard.
COACH WEIS: I think we had our hands last week on seven balls in a game. I think that not all of them were defensive linemen, but I think we had seven pass breakups in the game that we recorded. Not what the official stats are, but I think that those two guys, and there's been some times where you wondered how did they know to get their hand up at that point, but there's several times where the easiest way to cover them is one of these defensive linemen knock that ball down and the ball never even get there. So I think they've both done a very nice job on that aspect right there.

Q. Is that an instinctual thing or how much are you --
COACH WEIS: I think yes because there's been a couple times where how did he know to put his hand up just at that time? It isn't like you're rushing at him like this right here, you're spinning at a moment and all of a sudden you put your hand up and there's where the ball is. I think that you have to be a pretty good athlete, but you have to have some instinct, as well.

Q. You mentioned earlier about the testament to the players that you practice like a team who had not won five in a row. I know that's a collective effort but could you talk about Mo Crum's role in that?
COACH WEIS: He's been one of the guys who in every loss -- I love guys like Mo Crum because I feel like he gets it when I'm talking, and Mo Crum takes losses as personal as anyone else. Every time we lose, he blames the loss on himself, and I like to think that -- I basically think that way personally. There isn't one time when he comes in there and said, oh, I played well but we lost. He takes every loss personal, like what could I have done more to help us win the game, and if it isn't a play physically how could I have led the team better, what could I have done better. I mean, he takes this personal.
Not everyone knows all the players personally, but you'd want 100 Mo Crums.

Q. Not every guy is naturally like that?
COACH WEIS: No, not every guy is naturally like that. There's a lot of guys that don't have that -- are much more insecure, and they don't want to be blamed for the loss, whereas he wants to take the blame for the loss. He doesn't even care if you blame him. He's already taken the blame for the loss long before you start divvying it out yourself.

Q. A couple of personnel questions. Matt Romine with his elbow, do you expect him back any time soon?
COACH WEIS: No, I don't think -- he's a little ways away. I don't expect to see him any time soon.

Q. And then Robert Hughes has been giving you some good production the last couple weeks. I don't think he played against UCLA. Is he injured or just a coaches' decision?
COACH WEIS: No, we didn't have a string of longer drives. It wasn't like we had a bunch of 13-play drives in there. He was listed right behind James in all the pounding packages, we just weren't on the field that many consecutive plays to warrant James being that tired to have to go out. Robert is very much in the mix. I really think that the sky is the limit for Robert.

Q. Speaking of Mo Crum, any chance he comes back next year?
COACH WEIS: Let's hope so. I'm going to start addressing that issue the week of the bye. I never talk about things like that with the players when there's games going on. I think that's a distraction. But that will be the week where I talk to the guys that are outgoing and a handful of guys who are -- there's some decision to be made on that. There's not very many that are in that mix, but there's a few.

Q. Obviously you were counting on Trevor Laws to be a mainstay on your D-line this year, but did you envision him being the play maker that he has become?
COACH WEIS: I told him that's why he should come back here. You can ask him. I told him that that's what he was capable of doing, he just hadn't done it yet. I really thought that he would have a banner year because the kid is on a mission, and he's playing that way.

Q. His conditioning must be tremendous because he looks like he's going 100 percent every play.
COACH WEIS: Well, the one thing he's done this year that's really helped him out is he's practiced that way. You know, he's practiced to play like that. The really great players on defense practice like it's a game. Other players that are good players, they just practice to get through practice, but he's practiced like he's playing in a game, and I think that helps you on game day.

Q. And that's new this year for him?
COACH WEIS: I think it's added this year for him. I don't think it's new, I think he's taken his practice tempo to a different level than he's taken it in the past. That doesn't mean he's ever dogged it at practice. I think he's just correlated -- the one thing I always admired when I was a young, ignorant, immature coach in the NFL, the first year I was there I was standing watching Lawrence Taylor in practice. Every play of practice you would have thought it was the biggest play in the game. Every play of practice. You know, he practiced as hard as anyone I've ever seen before, and I think that that's what made him great.
So when I watch players practice like that, like Brady Quinn, when he would throw an incomplete pass in practice, you would think he just missed a touchdown pass to lose the game. When guys practice like that, you usually know that some good things are usually going to happen on game day.

Q. The one fifth year senior who doesn't get a lot of note right is Joe Brockington. What does he bring to your defense?
COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, if Mo Crum is not on the field, Joe runs the defense, so there's really two guys that run the defense the best, and right after Mo would be Joe, and he can play both inside positions. He gives you versatility where he can play both, and at Mike linebacker he's got himself big enough where he can play the Mike linebacker, but he also is good enough at pass coverage where if he plays the Jack linebacker who gets exposed to more coverage, he's showing a holdup there. And I think as far as production, I think we'd be a lot worse team if he weren't back here last year.

Q. It seems like last year he didn't start off the year as a starter. He was third string, I know there were some injuries, and this year Toryan Smith is pushing him, but he always seems to hang onto that job and has a lot of playing time. Does he do enough good things to do so?
COACH WEIS: I think that's a very fair analysis. I think you just can't get him out of there. He's one of those guys you wish you could take the younger guy and get him out of there and then you'd have him for the next couple years, but he gives you no reason to take him off the field. They have to give you a reason to move the other guy ahead. He's more than hanging on, he's holding his own.

Q. David Grimes this week, is he available?
COACH WEIS: He's practicing today, so he looks like he should be a go, but I'll just have to wait and go by what I see.

Q. And John Carlson's six catches last week, is there a point of emphasis to get him involved?
COACH WEIS: No, it's just where the balls went. I think that we -- every week we go in there, I'd say there's ten of the passes we throw, he's a primary receiver. But when you go in there on those ten passes, six of them the guy is sitting inside of him, a guy is sitting outside of him. I'm not saying they designed their coverages to double-team John Carlson, but if the rotation or the coverage dictates not throwing it to him, we just don't throw it to him. I've never really believed in saying -- you design plays that he's the primary receiver, but that doesn't mean that he's going to get the ball.

Q. You mentioned Brady getting upset when he dropped passes or missed passes in practice. You also mentioned Mo Crum taking everything personally as hard losses. Are those attitudes you can teach or is that something the players have to come in with?
COACH WEIS: I think that there's -- you can address those issues and you can make a guy more cognizant of those issues, but the true, natural leaders -- like Mo Crum is a natural leader, okay. He might have been introverted when he was younger, but he's even become a vocal leader. And I think that that's part of the makeup of somebody who really already has that innate ability to take it to a different level. I think that you can address it and you can improve it with people, but I think that leadership is something that just rises. Those natural leaders just show up.

Q. It may be easier when you have Mo Crum because you can say to a player, this is how you should feel when something goes wrong?
COACH WEIS: I cite him weekly.

Q. Could you talk about the special teams' overall field position, running was solid, return yardage was solid? It had to do with an injury on the other team's part, but the special teams really seemed to play well and consistent the whole game.
COACH WEIS: We got better field position on the kickoff return. Our average drive start was the 30-yard line, which was an improvement. Our punter had a good day. You know, usually your punt team and kickoff team, a lot of how the production goes on those teams are directly related to the kicks. Obviously when the punter has a good day and they overage two yards a punt return, it usually means that the punter had a good day.
Kickoff return, they only average 18 yards a kickoff return, but most of our kicks were to the 10-yard line, so their drives starts like the 20-yard line even though they were only getting 18 yards a kickoff return, so we need to do a better job of kicking the ball.
Obviously I was happy with our field goal production. I think the kid had a good day at the office.
And punt return we could have had a really good day, but we got called for two penalties right there that cost us yardage. I think that's one of the things that we're going to emphasize again this week, although I think that one of them was a bit of a myth. He still got call for two and it cost us significant yardage in the return game.

Q. Was there a point before the Michigan State game where the light kind of went on for James, or was it kind of a gradual process for how he became the featured back?
COACH WEIS: No, James has always been right there in the mix, it's just to take all those different elements we talked about, taking all those different guys and having one guy who's -- I wouldn't call him a jack of all trades, master of none, but you'd said the one guy who can handle all those jobs together so you didn't have to substitute in every situation, I think James has just done the best job of being that guy.

Q. Is there another guy that's close to that?
COACH WEIS: I'd say the guy who has the best chance of being like that would probably be Robert because Robert is a big back, he's physical enough to pick up the blitz, he's got really soft hands, he's a power runner. I mean, you need to have all sorts of elements.
Like Armando is a different style of player. Armando is a guy who can pick up the blitz, he can catch the ball, he can run with the ball, I just don't think that you'd want him to run the ball inside 22 times in a game like you were doing with James Saturday.

Q. Obviously every year you're kind of presented a new coaching challenge and I wonder if at the halfway point you could compare this year to past challenges you've had as a coach.
COACH WEIS: I wouldn't compare it to either of the first two years we had here because the first two years we had here we got off to good starts. I think that that's a question that's better to ask me in December because at the halfway mark, I wouldn't be very happy with where we are, but I don't know -- I'd have to say that I'd have to reserve judgment to see how this all ends up.

Q. How important is that second half when you look at the bigger picture, and I know you don't do that much during the season, but as this program kind of continues to go forward, these younger players are going to get some experience, some lights are going to go on and this team will be peaking later in the season and continue to get better?
COACH WEIS: I'm not going to deny the positive residual effect of playing a bunch of young guys as far as experience goes, but I think you've still got to play for today, you can't play for next year. And I think that right now playing a bunch of young guys is a great thing as long as it helps you beat Boston College.

NDNation/NDWorld

Thought this was interesting. Here's a snapshot of where NDN users logged in from around the world in September.

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Togo

The Death of Read and React

The most painful part of Notre Dame football the past few years has been watching opposing quarterbacks slice and dice Notre Dame’s secondary with seemingly enough time to mix and pour a Jvan margarita before completing a pass that travels bushels of hash marks. Which usually resulted in ND fans developing "instant Tourettes syndrome" or "inanimate object(hopefully) smashing syndrome." I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse base pass rush combined with completely ineffective blitzes. It’s like Minter and Baer were playing Rocks, Paper, Scissors and losing every time.

The constant complaint from inside the program was that our defenders were forced to read and react rather than attack. The consequence is that we played tentative and let offenses dictate the tempo of games. Notre Dame had the amazing ability to turn opposing quarterbacks, whether it be Bachelor Bob or JeMarcus “Foreman” Russell, into Heisman winners or first round picks.

But this year Notre Dame’s defense, despite some obvious talent deficiencies, is finally starting to attack rather react. Sayeth Corwin Brown, “I believe in being aggressive... you have to hit. You have to run. And you’ve got to play hard. And that’s what I believe in,”

The pass rush Saturday came from all angles, many players and as I touched on last night, caused five sacks and seven turnovers. I replayed the video of the turnovers and while there’s definitely a “green quarterback” element to the fumbles and interceptions, these were, for the most part, caused rather than gifted. Remember, Olsen went out of the game after Zibby’s blitz from the outside caused a fumble. My favorite line of the night is: “Irish linebacker Maurice Crum became the first player in school history to force two fumbles, recover two fumbles and intercept two passes in a single game.” I mean, that’s a season for many players. That individual stat line points to a larger team progression: we’re finally learning to be aggressive. Crum’s stat line is the simply the payoff. Despite our most impatient hopes, progress just doesn’t happen instantly, but it’s finally happening.

And here’s where the learning curve comes into play and why inexperience and lack of time with a system restricted everything we tried to do. First, until you stop doing stuff wrong, you can’t work on getting stuff right. Pretty simple, you have to fix the deficiencies before you can build toward something positive. So far this year Notre Dame’s been trying to plug ten dike leaks with five fingers. Second, until you develop timing and can play in a system without thinking, you’re not going to see the full capability of the defense (or offense.) That’s made it tough to judge exactly where we were.

But we’ve gradually developed a base level of proficiency with the new 3-4 scheme, which has enabled a whole new level of defensive play. Brown’s 3-4 is predicated on pressure, disgues and timing which takes awhile to develop. You have to get the base scheme right, identify the talent and then give them some time to make it work. The payoff is that with a 3-4 you can disguise blitzes and create multiple blitz packages that can be very hard for a college line to pick up. On Saturday you saw much of this plan unleashed and it was destructive once the pieces start working together. Trevor Laws is playing outstanding. That type of defensive line play enables a different level of linebacker play and opens up options and creates confusion within the offensive line. Brown pressed the advantage to the point that on some plays you wondered who would get to the quarterback first. Now we’re in a completely different world from watching every single blitz get picked up and rendered impotent.

Equally heartening the younger players are embracing the challenge… and Brown has responded by showing he’s not afraid to let the best player play regardless of seniority. Note that Brown is responsible for bringing in Brian Smith after Minter passed on him.
“We were contacted by the new defensive coordinator (Corwin Brown),” Smith said. “In the summer, (Notre Dame) was very well in the mix. I was just waiting on the offer so I could commit. But in June, I was told I didn’t fit into the old defensive coordinator’s plan. … I guess he wasn’t impressed with me, but the new defensive coordinator came in and liked what he saw.”
And after watching Smith play, that says a lot, about both Minter and Brown. All of this bodes very well for the future, especially as I watch next year’s defensive recruits decimate their High School competition. As I said when he was hired, Corwin Brown was Notre Dame’s key recruit last year. While the changeover in defensive coordinators led to the loss of several top players including Justin Trattou, Chris Donald and Martez Wilson, the gains we’re starting to see are more than worth the price paid. We all know there are more growing pains ahead, especially with BC’s Matt Ryan coming to play, but it’s also now clear that Notre Dame is finding that it’s so much better to give pressure than receive it.

Even When We're Down, We're Never Out

It's been the toughest of seasons, but omahadomer went to the game Saturday night and found the fight hasn't left the Irish.
This isn't much about the game or Weis. Briefly as to the game ND played with tremendous heart and toughness. Yes, there are problems to be fixed. Big ones. But winning is underrated. It's a foothold on the beach. It's something to build on. And anyone who can't see the improvement in this team is blind. As to Weis, we can still debate whether he's the right guy though I believe he will go down as a successful ND coach. Yes he made some mysterious calls but the fundamental thing is that he hung onto this team through a stretch of historically miserable proportions.

But yesterday at the Rose Bowl I was reminded why ND will never be out and why fans of other teams generally hate us so.

The place was mobbed with ND fans. For an 0-5 team. Let me repeat that, for an 0-5 team. Two thousand or so miles from campus. For an 0-5 team. We heard plenty of "0-6" chants from the UCLA fans beforehand, though they were generally lighthearted and the Rose Bowl is a great venue. And they were polite and a lot quieter on their way out.

But what the Mays and Whitlocks and the rest keep trying to say to us is: "Give up. Accept that it's over. ND will never be great again. Why don't you people do something else?" But we'll never accept that it's over which means that it never will be over. Ever. And that's what makes them hate us. We'll never be permanently defeated. Ever.

Oh, I've had plenty of dark thoughts of late about whether we're permanently down. But strangely it was this 0-5 team and its fans that reminded me why it will never be over. Each endzone filled with N.D. fans. Our defensive players, on the road, urging us to stand and scream on every key offensive play for UCLA in the second half. For an 0-5 team. On the road. Two thousand miles from campus.
And mkovac reports that Notre Dame rediscovered a little magic on Saturday night.
My favorite moment of the game....was after the game.

The UCLA team left the field, but the ND players trotted over to the north end zone, where the students must have been. The people in the stand erupted, like a crowd full of hungry people in a Depression-era food line being told that they were going to get a bowl of soup and a crust of bread.

ND players pumped their helmets into the air, jumped up, held each other, and I swear that I saw a few tears shed, looking through my binoculars.

The monkey was off their back.

In fact, the monkey was torn off their back at that end of the field when Jimmie Clausen willed his way into the end zone and was buried when Mo Crum recovered that fumble and ran it back for a td - at the same end.

I don't know if this was the same end of the field that Bob Stiles and Dallas Grider - those gutty little Bruins of the '65 team stopped #1 Michigan State's Bob Apisa at the 1966 Rose Bowl, but I like that end of the field.

I was sitting with some loyal ND Club of Bakersfield fans in the South End zone - where earlier in the game Zibby, coming in on a safety blitz, took Olson out of the game (not intentionally, of course), which turned out to be the most important play of the game.

After the ND players had finished taking in the love at the North end of the Rose Bowl, they headed toward the tunnel at our end of the field.

But, they were not done. All the ND fans around me stood up and clapped...and cheered. The ND players, knowing we were there for them, came to the end zone and stood there, delighted. #31 even did a backward flip, a la Ozzie Newsome. So did another player. They were kids - happy kids. Delighted kids. Relieved kids. Notre Dame men.

It was my favorite part of the game. The afterglow.

When I looked down into their faces, I saw young men who had battled all night and who had won the battle. They looked so happy. Tommy Z was pumping his helmet into the air, and that's when I realized what has been going on with him this year. He's been waiting for this all this time. He's a fierce competitor and he has been denied this electricity, this juice, this wonderful feeling.

You can take the greatest athletes in the world, but if they don't win, they lose just a little bit of their talent each time they lose. It takes more of themselves to get back to where they need to be to win.

These young men last night regained their winning spirit. They now know what it's like to win. They've got the electricity back. They've got the juice.

The monkey is dead. The monkey is buried.

Love thee Notre Dame.

What A Difference A Pass Rush Makes

Notre Dame's defense recorded five sacks, four interceptions and three fumbles recovered while chasing Bruin quarterbacks all over the field and limiting the UCLA rushing game to just over 100 yards (adding back in sacks.) Scrub the UCLA off the Bruin helmets and you'd have a snapshot of what Notre Dame's offensive season has looked like.

Trevor Laws is evolving into one of the best ND defensive linemen in recent memory. Mr. Kuntz is proving everyone wrong by showing Zorich like toughness. And their play allowed Maurice Crum to have the game of his life at linebacker. And that's just a shapshot of what we'll likely be seeing in the future with so many talented defensive recruits coming into Notre Dame next year.

Our offense, well, they didn't make any big mistakes which was their most important role last night. Some puzzling questions still to be answered, but suddenly hopes are alive for a bowl game. We're probably not going to beat BC or USC unless we make dramatic improvements, but we're showing signs of life.

I also noted a big improvement in special teams. The coaches deserve some praise here.

And while UCLA looked bumbling this was a very talented team with a ton of experience.

Winning isn't everything, but losing just sucks. As omahadomer put it, an ugly wins are vastly superior to ugly losses.

It's all that much sweeter when ugly wins are coupled with losses by Meyer and Carroll. And Bruce Davis... isn't irony ironic?

Check out the turnovers from the game.

"They Can't Block A Soul" - UCLA's Bruce Davis

This is from the LA Daily News

UCLA linebacker Bruce Davis has never met Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, but he can't wait to greet him Saturday.

"He's a good kid, a good quarterback," Davis said. "But I haven't met a freshman that I wasn't able to get inside their head yet. You should expect the first play of the game - whether it's run, pass, whatever it is - you'll see me in his face. I'm just going to give him a friendly hello and let him know that it's going to be a long day for him. That part of it will be taken care of early. Our defense is going to get there."

Every team that has played the Irish (0-5) has gotten to its quarterbacks.

Notre Dame's offensive line has allowed 29 sacks and paved the way for an embarrassing rushing output of 30.4 yards per game. Both statistics are the worst among the 119 schools in DivisionI.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has said Clausen is the probable starting quarterback if he's healthy. But it might not matter who's behind center, Davis said.

"Jimmy Clausen is one of the better true freshman quarterbacks I've seen the whole time I've been here," Davis said. "Unfortunately, his O-line is just falling apart. They can't block a soul. That's going to hurt your team. That's going to hurt your offense. That's going to get you to 0-5."

There's a Bad News on the Rise

Have you seen Rudolph, Slaughter and Hafis Williams (click and scroll down for video?)

The incoming talent level will soon be it's highest overall since 1993. I'm sure y'all are wondering why I'm so damn positive this year.

I'm actually giddy.

And it's because of Hunter (click on Hunter Dominates,) Rudolph and Johnson. Guys we're taking away from the best programs in the country. They're the guys we just don't have now, but will be clogging running lanes for years to come. Making plays in the backfield, burning linbebackers, disrupting offenses. We're going to be hurting people. If you haven't seen these players, you ought to.

ND has the number one recruiting class in the country coming on the heels of two straight top ten recruiting classes.

Here's what this means: We're finally a program school again, which means we're not going to get caught in a crappy year like this any time soon. It also means we have an intelligent hard working coach who busted his ass to balance three straight top classes out. That's been the missing piece for ND football. We've had one good year followed by a bad year or in this case two awful years.

Guys like Hunter and Johnson and Fleming and Filer and Blanton and McCarthy are all future NFL players.

Every program wanted them.

We've got them and now have an aggressive DC to go with one of the most proven minds in offensive football.

Has Weis screwed up this year?

Yes.

But he screwed up trying to fix a very tough situation with no breaks in the schedule. He had to try something and I give him credit for reaching outside of his comfort zone.

But much more important than any crap this year, is that next year we're all going to be wildly optimistic about the future of Notre Dame.

Every single one of you.

I guarantee your heart will be racing in the spring time watching Allen and Tate and Kamara and Clausen work with an experienced offensive line while the mother load of defensive recruiting waits to shore up our pathetic depth.

It's coming and none of the next games or what any talking head says will matter. If you focus on the growing pains this year, you're going to miss what's right around the corner.

It's coming.

I haven't felt this way since 1992. Here are the Scout breakdowns of this class. Hunter will likely rise to a five start recruit and Williams to a four start.


PosNat'l
Rank
Nat'l
Rating
Name
School, Hometown
Video HT/ WT/ 40 Commit DateSigned LOI? Commit School
MLB 3 Steve Filer
(Mount Carmel HS)
Chicago, IL
6-4/220/4.65 07/24/2007

Notre Dame
S 9 Dan McCarthy
(Cardinal Mooney HS)
Youngstown, OH
6-2/190/4.48 07/16/2007

Notre Dame
DE 4 Ethan Johnson
(Lincoln HS)
Portland, OR
6-4.5/265/4.90 06/27/2007

Notre Dame
S 14 Jamoris Slaughter
(Tucker HS)
Tucker, GA
6-1/180/4.50 06/27/2007

Notre Dame
CB 9 Robert Blanton
(David W Butler HS)
Matthews, NC
6-1/175/4.50 06/20/2007

Notre Dame
DT 9 Omar Hunter
(Buford HS)
Buford, GA
6-2/297/4.90 06/04/2007

Notre Dame
DT 21 Brandon Newman
(Pleasure Ridge Park HS)
Louisville, KY
6-1/305/5.05 05/26/2007

Notre Dame
OG 8 Lane Clelland
(Mc Donogh School)
Owings Mills, MD
6-5/265/4.90 05/03/2007

Notre Dame
DT 32 Hafis Williams
(Elizabeth HS)
Elizabeth, NJ

6-4/295 05/02/2007

Notre Dame
SLB 7 Darius Fleming
(St. Rita HS)
Chicago, IL
6-2/219/4.57 04/21/2007

Notre Dame
TE 11 Joseph Fauria
(Crespi Carmelite HS)
Encino, CA
6-7/250 04/21/2007

Notre Dame
QB 4 Dayne Crist
(Notre Dame HS)
Sherman Oaks, CA
6-4.5/225/4.70 04/19/2007

Notre Dame
MLB 7 Anthony McDonald
(Notre Dame HS)
Sherman Oaks, CA
6-3/220/4.55 04/11/2007

Notre Dame
WLB 24 David Posluszny
(Hopewell SHS)
Aliquippa, PA
6-2/214/4.60 04/06/2007

Notre Dame
TE 1 Kyle Rudolph
(Elder HS)
Cincinnati, OH
6-7/235/4.70 03/26/2007

Notre Dame
DT 16 Sean Cwynar
(Marian Central Catholic HS)
Woodstock, IL
6-4/283 03/06/2007

Notre Dame
WR 33 John Goodman
(Bishop Dwenger HS)
Fort Wayne, IN
6-3/186 03/03/2007

Notre Dame
C 6 Braxston Cave
(Penn HS)
Mishawaka, IN
6-3/292 03/03/2007

Notre Dame
OG 26 Michael Golic
(Northwest Catholic HS)
West Hartford, CT
6-5/265 02/19/2007

Notre Dame

Who's to Blame

I hate to give a plug for ND hater and BC homer Mike Farrell (who's turned into a more balanced writer now that he has national aspirations), but here are some excerpts from this recent article on Notre Dame football: Who's to Blame.
If recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, then it was Willingham's efforts that let the program down.

Willingham left the cupboard bare at many key positions. The linebackers were a step too slow, the offensive line lacked any sort of depth and Notre Dame was too slow at key skill positions. Weis inherited a good quarterback, some leadership at certain positions and a few key playmakers. But what he didn't inherit was a deep football team.
Players get better the more they are able to compete with other top players. The younger prospects brought in by Weis, for the most part, haven't had the same advantage as players at Florida, USC, LSU, Ohio State and other major programs. Without a lot of superior upperclass talent, one can argue that players such as Darrin Walls, Sam Young, George West and Jimmy Clausen haven't had to beat out NFL-caliber talent to become starters. Don't underestimate this factor.

The Notre Dame two-deep is made up of a lot of players from Weis' first two recruiting years. The quarterback is a true freshman, the most promising wide receivers are freshmen or sophomores and the two-deep on the offensive line is loaded with younger players. On defense, the story is the same, with some experienced leaders such as Zbikowski and a bunch of younger players providing depth.
Here's a nugget from Rock's House, Morrice Richardson will start at OLB, meaning he's now beat out one of the few recruits that was starting from the 2004 class. Terrail Lambert, Justin Brown, Maurice Crum and Joe Brockington are the only members of the 2004 class still starting.


Here is a look at the average star rating and rank nationally of Notre Dame's recent recruiting classes (numbers for 2008 reflect current commitments):
YearAvg. StarsNat. RankSigneesOn Roster
20042.8332169
20053.00401514
20063.4682825
20073.7281818
20083.84119-

The Bandwagon - by Ronald Reagan

the poster, Ronald Reagan.

I’ve heard rumblings that some Notre Dame fans are beginning to question whether they should stick with the team for the rest of the season. I hope such sentiments are borne of disappointment and frustration, and are thus temporary, as opposed to being rooted in the notion that one can simply turn his or her back on the team – and on Notre Dame – when things aren’t going well.

One of the main points I made in “We Are A Nation” (which, I believe, is still around here in some form) was that while victory is our goal, our relationship with Notre Dame is far deeper than anything that might happen on the football field.

Does this mean we accept losing? No, never. Does this mean we take a Monkian approach and deemphasize excellence in sports? Not a chance. Does it mean that we should never get frustrated with the status quo or criticize a coach’s decisions? Nope.

But what it does mean is that no matter what happens, no matter the odds, no matter the final score, we are still Notre Dame, and we will always believe in our school and our team. It means that we can weather the storms, as we’ve done many times in the past, and that we will find a way to win again.

During my junior year, the ND basketball team traveled to Los Angeles, where they defeated the #1 ranked UCLA Bruins. After the game, during a frenzied mid-court interview, Digger Phelps looked into the camera and said that he wanted to see the entire student body turn out to greet the team when they arrived back on campus at 4:30 AM.

My roommate and I didn’t know how many others would show up, but we knew we’d be there.

Thousands of students began assembling at the main circle in the cold, predawn hours the next morning. The mass of humanity soon stretched halfway down Notre Dame Avenue, filling the street in growing anticipation of our victorious team’s arrival. A makeshift stage had been erected, and, if I remember correctly, at least a portion of the band had assembled and was playing the great marches of Notre Dame.

At about 4:45, the team bus turned from Angela Boulevard and began making its way up Notre Dame Avenue. A few students actually climbed atop the bus and held their arms aloft as the vehicle slowly navigated through the cheering crowd. The driver turned on the flashing lights and then opened the doors so that the players could lean out and wave.

All the while, the band played and the students danced in the street. A fine morning mist reflected the glow of the streetlamps, illuminating the scene and giving it the look and feel of an incredible movie set.

In all of my time at Notre Dame, this was one of the most amazing sights I ever witnessed, (and I was there for the “Green Jersey Game” of 1977 and a National Championship). It was, indeed, a classic Notre Dame moment. And like them all, it was made of pure magic.

For me, the moment wasn’t only about winning the game, which was fantastic. It was also about celebrating the fact that we were Notre Dame.

I almost got the sense that we would’ve turned out even if we hadn’t won, not simply as a sign of solidarity, but in celebration of the fact that even if another team can occasionally beat Notre Dame, they can never BE Notre Dame.

In 2003, I attended the final home football game of the season. A friend of mine, who was a longtime admirer of the Irish but who had never attended a game, was with me. We took in all the pre-game activities on campus, then headed over to the stadium, where we were fortunate enough to be seated in the gold seats right at the fifty yard line.

Caught up in the pageantry in the minutes immediately prior to the opening kickoff, my friend turned to me and said, “This is amazing! I’ve never witnessed anything like this before in my life!”

The stadium was full, the crowd was cheering, the band was playing.

“But what’s it like around here when Notre Dame is having a losing season?” she asked, noting that there are many stadiums around the country that become sparsely-populated when the home team isn’t winning.

“We ARE having a losing season,” I explained. “This is what it’s like.”

She looked around the stadium again. “But how can that be?” she asked. “Why is everybody still so excited?”

I smiled. “Because we’re Notre Dame,” I told her.

My message is simple: The Notre Dame football team has never given up on us, and we will never give up on them.

I think one good thing about this season is that it will show us who the true Notre Dame fans are. We’ll be the ones there through all the difficult times, and we’ll be the ones there when the victories start coming our way again. And those victories will be sweeter for us than for those who continuously jump on and off and on the bandwagon again.

The Fan Conundrum

No doubt coaches who make $ , , . 00 a year have a lot to live up to, but there's also no doubt that fans will judge them according to their fan emotions at the time.

Reality becomes almost impossible to find amid the chaos of fan pain. There are fans who swear ND is done forever at five games into what we knew was going to be a disappointing season. One fan suggested mid first half against Purdue that there was no doubt that Charlie Weis should hire a stronger offensive coordinator.

Well, I have doubts... a lot of them.

Those same fans will simply shrug their shoulders when things turn around and admit they were driven by their emotions "back then." But those same fans seem so "certain" now and demand a pound of flesh for their pain. There is no certainty now because we're dealing with a sick patient who's going to be on a roller coaster ride back to full form.

Look, it's part of being a fan. No diehard Irish fan can do anything but want to throw a brick through a window looking at five straight losses. But we're just coming out of a death spiral or perfect storm, where everything you try to fix causes another problem and none of them will be right until the underlying issue is fixed - which is simply time in the system for a very young team that is raw at many positions.

Some teams have part our our problems, but I've yet to come across a team in recent years that has ALL of our problems and the restrictions on JC transfers which can be used fill the void or at least provide depth. Fans will compare apples to mangos then look you in the face with their crazed eyes and proclaim, "See, X team has young offensive linemen too!" or "Y has a freshmen quarterback." No team has as few returning lettermen, smaller junior and senior classes and an overall scholarship level ten below the max AND the inexperience in as many positions. Remember we have ZERO offensive linemen in the senior class. All this while playing the number two schedule in the country (sagarin.)

So, it seems "obvious" to fans what should be done, but obvious isn't always so obvious. Kayo summarized this nicely on Cartier Field today talking about why the talented freshmen haven't played more this year:
1. Freshmen have a steep learning curve. They're more ready to play by the week. It's entirely possible that Kumara and Tate couldn't have performed in game one like they did in game five.

2. Simplifying the offense for your freshmen also simplifies the offense for opposing defensive coordinators. If everything is done at the most rudimentary level, it will be easy for an experienced defense to take inexperienced players out of the offense; and that will defeat the purpose of simplifying the offense in the first place. There's a balance to strike.

3. Missed assignments get people hurt. Ragone looked confused on the play that knocked Clausen out of the game on Saturday. Everyone else blocked down, but he took one step forward in blocking position. Nobody was there to block, but the defensive end who would have been Ragone's man had he blocked down had a free path to Clausen. Wide receivers don't have the same kind of blocking responsibility, but they cause quarterbacks to hold the ball if they don't go where they're supposed to go. It's one thing to tell Tate to run a go route, but what do you call when you have freshman at the wide receiver positions, one tight end spot, and running back? Should they all run junior high pass routed? If the freshmen don't know enough of the play book, they might have to play one or two at a time; and that will limit all of their playing time.

I am not saying the freshmen shouldn't play. I am saying there's more to it than sending all of them out there and running basic plays. Freshmen who are ready to play most of the game at the start of the season are rare. The skill position players often have the physical ability to play right away, but they have to have a base line understanding of what the other 10 guys on the field are doing, as well as what they're doing. They'll get onto the field more as the season progresses.

Throwing Rocks

The Big Man is Back

Chris Stewart is apparently back in school after contemplating transferring. Welcome back, Chris. I'd love to see him pull just once on a sweep.

OL Incubation

The big challenge in developing this year's line is that it's hard to get good if you're not at a base level of proficiency. If you're not there at all -- you're not getting reps doing it right. Once you start gelling as a unit, you will make exponential progress because you're actually practicing doing something right and then perfecting that instead of just trying to fix what's wrong. We've been stuck in a chicken-egg scenario.

Zero to Two


The bad news at the beginning of this season is that we didn't have one quarterback. The good news now is it appears we have two. Evan Sharpley is starting to play up to his four star potential. Clausen is a tough kid.

Stolen Traditions

I'm sure you've read here how Urban Meyer's trying to recreate Notre Dame traditions at Florida. He's already stolen the "Gator Walk" and he tried to get the band to play the fight song for the players after every game, win or lose. Ya know, like the Notre Dame student body salutes the players after a game? Problem was... the Gator players didn't feel doing it and sulked after their loss.

unSpecial Teams

Just a reminder, Charlie... it's really hard to win when you're constantly losing the special teams battle. Really hard.

Wide Receivers Rising

It's time to give some praise to Mr. Ianello. When he arrived neither Shark nor Stovall were considered top tier receivers. Granted there was latent talent there, but it went undeveloped by the previous staff. Two year's later we're watching a new crop of receivers in Tate, Kamara and Parris turning into very good players with even better potential. Coming into this season with a new OL, no proven WR and a new QB it only took a playschool level of strategy development to know you could beat ND with pressure. Now that we're getting some pass blocking and seeing our receivers gain experience we'll likely force a change in defenses. Once you can beat them deep the run opens up more. Once you open up the run more you're pass protection gets better. Funny how that works. I'm going to delve more into the death spiral analogy later this week.

I love this post from omahadomer:
If I had to describe the single biggest problem that I've seen in our offense besides the OL play (which has made considerable progress the last two weeks) it's that we've almost been trying to play a man or two down because teams have been able to contain our WR's with single coverage (and add to the fact that our TE's have had to stay in to block).

If I don't see 23, 18 and 82 out there a lot I may run down out of the stands, knock Weis unconscious, grab the play sheet and start calling the plays myself. Golden, I don't care what "personnel grouping" you're supposed to be in, you run a "go" route and go get that thing. And I'm going to the game so I could do it.


Pure Gold

Kudos to Scout who rated Golden Tate as the second best wide receiver prospect in the country in last year's class. Just remember who else was touting him before this year. Here's their evaluation below:
Evaluation: Tate is one of the best overall athletes in this entire class and could be an impact player at the college level at multiple positions. However, his outstanding blend of speed, quickness, instincts and ball skills will likely have every coach placing him at cornerback or wide receiver. He is a fast-rising prospect with explosive speed. Is a fluid athlete with very good initial quickness and change-of-direction skills. He shows the ability to turn and run without losing much in transition. Is quick out of his pedal and shows good closing burst. Is able to make up a lot of ground when the ball is in the air; has fantastic acceleration abilities. He shows good leaping ability and will challenge for the ball in traffic. Possesses natural playmaking instincts and very good ball skills. Is aggressive in run support. Willing and fills hard. Shows adequate strength and is an efficient tackler in space. Has experience as a return specialist and showed some significant promise in that area, both as a punt returner and kick returner. Has big-play ability to change field position on special teams. He is also a serious vertical threat as a receiver. At running back, he is lightning in a bottle and a big play waiting to happen. Tate is very confident and will rely too much on his natural tools. At times, will come out of his pedal too high and will get off-balance in those instances. Needs to improve footwork technique off the plant and not get too wide a base. He is a natural playmaker with excellent awareness and a feel for the game. Has the upside to become a premier player at several positions.