Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homer Preview: The Fighting Irish Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we've asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of site co-founder RV. Whose knowledge of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is extensive and quite frankly, a little scary.

Homer Preview: Notre Dame
Fighting Irish

I’ll go ahead and put my hat in this ring. I’m sure no one is surprised that someone of my stature would choose to write a post on Notre Dame, but frankly, there aren’t enough posts about ND’s season on the web. I’ll do my best to stray from the blatant homerism that I normally put forth, so bare with me.

What You Need To Know: If you didn’t hear about the Irish’s woes last year, you’re on the wrong site. Go back to TMZ or whatever rock you normally hide under. Last year was a combination of bad coaching decisions and ridiculously pathetic recruiting. Tyrone Willingham was not responsible for what happened, but he certainly helped. I find it hard to believe that Charlie Weis was not expecting a dismal season. The writing was on the walls to anyone who saw the inexperience of the offensive line. Granted, teams have success without experience on the line, but more often than not you can’t match up with any team when there is zero continuity between the offensive line and the skill players.

The good news, 2008 is a season where it’s easy to be optimistic. On the offensive side of the ball, almost everyone comes back. The o-line is extremely beefy compared to last year, plus the departure of Bob ‘Snaps-A-Lot’ Morton at center will hopefully result in a few less jump balls for Jimmy Clausen. There is a ton of talent at the skill positions and there will be some great battles all year long for playing time. Aldridge, Allen and Hughes will all get multiple touches, and all bring something unique to the table. Should Charlie choose to lean on the run this year, I’m confident that teams will fear that tandem in the backfield. The receivers are young and chock full of talent. Duval Kamara and David Grimes return, along with Michael Floyd and Deion Walker, all who will make an impact this year. Unfortunately there is no sugar coating it, the offense sucked last year. But, there’s only room for improvement. Right?

The defense has a whole different list of reasons to be optimistic. Adding Jon Tenuta to Corwin Brown’s staff will be an instant improvement. The man did so much with what was widely-regarded as a talent barren defense at Georgia Tech, that he has to be salivating at the prospect of working with the young linebackers at ND. The defensive backfield is the most talented and deep squad on either side of the ball. The departure of last year’s best DB, Darrin Walls, will be felt, but only by allowing Gary Gray – who sat out last year with a broken arm – and Raeshon McNeil to compete for the starting spot. The future is VERY bright for this defense, especially on the defensive line. But, once again…let’s be cautious.

Who You Need To Know & Their 07 Stats:
DT Ian Williams, Sophomore - Freshman All-American, 45 tkls, 19 solo, 1.5 sacks
WR Duval Kamara, Sophomore – 32 rec., 357 yds, 4 TDs
FS and Gunner David Bruton, Senior– 85tkls, 5.5 tfl, 3 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF/FR
RBs James Aldridge/ Armando Allen/Robert Hughes – 260 att., 1163yds, 4tds

Game To Watch
: Michigan – Second game of the year, with both teams trying to answer major questions. Both teams will have nothing to lose, and it’ll be entertaining for anyone interested in college football. We’ll see two completely different programs from the year before, and it’ll be an entertaining game to watch just to see whoever lines up behind center for Michigan as they try and figure out how to run the spread offense.

USC – It’s the last game of the year, in LA (Jimmy Clausen has never lost a football game he started in California, that’s just science) and both teams will be extremely different from their first game of the season. USC can reload at any point at any position, and Pete Carroll loves everything about you. He’s jacked just because you’ll be watching. As much as I hate the man, he’s an unbelievable icon in the college football world, and if the Irish mature as the season progresses it can end up a great game.

They'll Do Well If....:
They win 8 games. It isn’t the murder’s row of a schedule that last year’s slate started off with, but almost every game is a game that they could lose. At the same time, no team but USC looks better on paper. Charlie needs to win a bowl game to shut up the crappy fans and the media, but it’s not required. Just as long as the Irish get there and play well.

Season Outlook: This season is a tough one to give an outlook that isn’t ridiculous. The easiest way to look at it is if you can pretend that 2007 never happened. If ND had gone 6-6 last year, with wins over Navy, BC and Purdue, it’d be conceivable to think that they’re on track for a 10-2 season. But you have to put the brakes on when a team has its worst in their storied history, so let’s just say 8-4 is doable, 7-5 likely, 6-6 a must. It’s going to be a fun rollercoaster, and everyone is going to be watching.


Alan said...

Well written and solid, per usual your insight on the Irish. Big season for Charlie. And a big waistline.

RV said...

The loss of incumbent TE starter, Mike Ragone, is a double edged sword. Charlie has named Kyle Rudolph, the 6'6" freshman from Cincinnati Elder. If Rudolph can beat Yeatman, regardless of him missing the spring practices, that's a positive spin on a pretty big injury. Or is it? Spin it however you want...tempered enthusiasm is for the weak.

nick kline said...

Murderers row from last year? HA! their schedule last year was the usual creamfest that keeps ND fat and happy. and they got their asses handed to them every saturday. weak.