“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
by Rivals.com Michigan has been recruiting the defensive end ranks hard throughout the class of 2009 and tomorrow they will find out their fate with one of the top targets. Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School's Anthony Lalota will announce tomorrow night and Michigan's chances look good.
Lalota is a top 250 strongside defensive end to Rivals and a five star OT to Scout and would be a major relief at a position of significant need. Which one? I dunno, pick one. Michigan’s recruiting him at DE.
Now, there are various degrees of “look good”; this one is not a foregone conclusion like the two Pahokee guys were, but it is, as they say, looking good. Lalota announces at 8 PM on CSTV.
So perhaps all the running left was by design: if we can beat SDSU with the left hand, why show the big right hook to Michigan at all? Until we fell behind in the third quarter, we really didn't need to exploit the right side. Did Weis want to give Michigan, which has been absolutely dominant against the run, lots of looks at the left side of the run game, knowing full well that the right side is the true strength?
That's what I'm wondering. I don't know why else we would consciously run 10 times in a row to the left when you know the right side is more productive. It's crazy, isn't it?
Later, the author urges us to see the ploy as “deviously Weisian,” because against Michigan they’ll come out and run it right and Michigan will go “WTF I thought this was a NASCAR offense” and die. Because the only explanation for Charlie Weis doing something dumb has to be that he is secretly a genius.
We are talking about Charlie Weis here, right?
Weis loves doing things that are unexpected even more than he loves doing things that are correct according to game theory: fake punts, that idiotic QB draw against Georgia Tech two years ago, sending your national-worst offense onto the field to try and convert a fourth and eight when a reasonable field goal attempt is in the offing. Weis does dumb things to emphasize how smart he is.
Breakin’ it down. There’s a lot of fantastic Notre Dame preview content out there in the Michigan blogosphere. A sampling:
I meant to mention Genuinely Sarcastic’s Run Chart as part of the UFR but neglected it. Said chart (chart) is right in line with my expectations: +4 for Molk, an active but uneven day from McAvoy, concern about Nowicki, and appreciation for Moundros’s small but important role at fullback.
The Ace of Sportsbreaks downClausen’s day against San Diego State complete with video clips; the general upshot is that Clausen’s arm and general competence have taken great steps forward but on the rare occasions the Aztec defensive line got anywhere near him he went “eeee I’m a little girl for something other than Mike Barwis” and chose… poorly.
The question with Clausen has always been his ability to make decisions under pressure; the SDSU game was probably a flashback to high school for him. This week will be the test.
Varsity Blue has a new feature they’re calling Inside The Play which is like a super UFR directed at a single play; this time they tackle Michael Shaw’s 30-yard zone stretch.
Speaking of that defensive line: there have been reports that as many as seven Aztec defensive linemen were out or wounded for the Notre Dame game, forcing SDSU to start a linebacker at defensive tackle and a stack of post-it notes at end. Surely that a vast exagerration spawned in the wild outcroppings of the internet, where the truth bends like kelp at high tide?
The Aztecs, who concluded fall camp already thin across the defensive front, had no fewer than four more defensive linemen sustain at least some sort of injury in Saturday's season-opening 29-27 loss to Cal Poly.
Jebus! A dossier:
DE Tony DeMartinis and DT Neil Spencer, both starters, are out for the year.
Siaosi Fifita missed the opener with a knee injury
DE Eric Ikonne and DT Jerome Long had ankle sprains.
DeMartinis’ replacement suffered a concussion.
DT Ernie Lawson aggravated a foot injury.
I’m not exactly sure how many of these guys played, but only Lawson was credited with a tackle.
Brandon Sullivan was inches away from a 4-yard touchdown run and a two-score lead for the Aztecs. But safety David Bruton jarred the ball loose and recovered it in the end zone to help the Irish (1-0) avoid an embarrassing loss.
As of Wednesday night, the forecast for South Bend on Saturday called for high winds and scattered thunderstorms. That would be quite a departure from the clear skies the Wolverines.
Is this good? Or bad? Or what?
On the one hand, Notre Dame’s biggest advantage in this game is the ability to throw passes past the line of scrimmage. On the other hand, they’ve got a couple of big bruising backs who might be better suited to pounding ahead in Hurricane Katrina (MAKE PLAYS). On what appears to be a third hand—I’m just zis guy, you know—, sometimes those little nimble guys can make cuts no one else can because of physics. Remember the one awesome game Justin Fargas had? No? Well, it came against Northwestern in a driving rain and ugly conditions.
I tentatively suggest rain and winds are advantage Michigan because then it’s super hard to make the DL irrelevant, and from what I’ve seen of the Notre Dame blogs they seem to agree.
"As a junior, Anthony LaLota made 40 tackles, 10 sacks, forced two fumbles and deflected a pass. He played both defensive end and offensive tackle as a junior, but considers himself more of a defensive player. It was LaLota's first year playing football."
Uhhh, clearly has a nice, thick portfolio that coached are looking at. This is like Cissoko, only with less Africa.
I read the entire BGS article and discovered the great thing about being a genius is even when you do something stupid people search to find the genius in it. In my experience, when you are searching for a reason to why someone did something incredibly stupid the answer rarely is because that person is a genius.
I would also add that over the last several years the term “Weisean” has not come to mean “utterly diabolic and brilliant” as BGS might have you believe. Something more along the lines of “trying so hard to prove your own arrogant brilliance that you eschew the simple and make everything overly complicated cleverly causing you to fail” seems more likely.
I think fans make too much of this hiding things issue. You don’t ‘hide’ things so much as not need them—except for DeBord who’s idea of not needing aspects of offense was dramatically different from the norm. Even Weis wouldn’t be so presumptuous to purposely sabotage his offense last week. After last season, I cannot imagine anyone at ND is taking any opponent lightly. Maybe the coaches thought the right side was strong. The only evidence I saw suggesting the left side was strong was the name of the left tackle (Sam Young still played like crap last season despite being Sam Young) and some weights. Maybe the coaches thought the SDSU dudes on that side were particularly bad. Maybe SDSU lined up to invite runs right. I would also suggest that the success running late probably had less to do with the choice of side and more to do with the undersized SDSU DL getting exhausted after fighting uselessly against the ND giants all day. Additionally, it is much more likely that ND passed on 3rd and short because the coaches figured they couldn’t run or wanted to ‘trick’ SDSU.
ND will have to improve dramatically to run on Michigan. I suspect they will make a faint hearted effort and then decide to pass. I was also heartened that the few times SDSU ran they did plays similar to Michigan and had success. That may just be because they passed so much but it is better than the alternative.
If anyone gets this far my subject line refers to the idea that if ND never runs one direction Michigan might forget it is possible--much like Kirk outsmarted the genius Kahn by using a third vector when Kahn was thinking 2 dimensional.