Fall practice preview..
First (for some it is old news but..) Notre Dame going into fall practice is down two players. Of the two, Darrin Walls is the most noteworthy. He was a blue chip CB that was recruited by ND, Michgian, PSU, and Pitt. Rumors around South Bend is because of classroom related problems. I cannot believe it is grades because it seems Notre Dame's football players all graduate, win the Nobel Prize, and go from a high school 2.5 gpa to a "top univeristy" MD in business with honors.
What does this mean for Michigan? Considering the passing game will be the most unkown quantity of the offense this year, it could only help that one of the better ND secondary is at home for this game.
What else is new for ND this year.
In the offseason, the biggest splash was the hiring of Jon Tenuta as assistant head coach and linebacker coach. I believe it will be a stepping stone to the Defensive Coordinator postition as well. If the defense improves, I think Corwin Brown is pushed out or demoted. If the defense does not improve, I think Corwin Brown is pushed out or demoted. My opinion only here, but why hire a guy who is the "most awesomest DC" not to be the "most awesomest DC" of a good program. I remember Notre Dame hiring the last decent DC to beat them and groom him for head coach. You remeber Bob Davis don't you? Is history about to repeat itself?
Emu and the Gang.
By Imperial edict, Jimmy Clausen is the second comming, only better. He is fully recovered from last year's pre-season elbow surgery that wasn't supposed to be a problem or cause him to lose any of his awesomeness. One 3-9 season and whoops!!!! The savior was only playing at 5% of his full potential. Only the Son of God could have done so good given the conditions. Gotta love the sliding scale used by Charlie.
- "No, it won't be a problem."
- Doh! "Yea, it was a huge problem, we never said otherwise."
Last year we saw ND quaterbacks not named JC heading out of town. Evan Sharpley, a MLB prospect and not a NFL one, was the only one to stay. He was the most senior member of the QB club and played in a few games. Now, ND has a good incoming QB in Dayne Crist. I will go on record here and saying I think Charlie has him penciled in at the #2 postition and will give him the reps to be so. Charile is all about the QB and his percieved mojo as a QB guy. Evan Sharpley is a dead end since this is his last year. Crist is probably just as good on paper as Jimmy C, but may have more upside due to his size and strength.
Can I get a running back for $100 Alex?
Despite decent recruiting in the backfield, Charlie has yet to figure out what to do with these guys. James Aldridge is their version of Kevin Grady minus the booze. In other words, a highly ranked recruit yet to prove themselves. Neither one is presumed to be top of their prospective depth charts. I could go on to review the other members of the backfield, but unless Charlie changes his M.O., they are mere pawns in his quest for QB domination.
Why so many defections?
In the past, there have been quite a few players deciding to transfer, despite it not being the coach's first year. It may seem higher than normal, but most programs see players leave for various reasons. Why may it seem more likely at Notre Dame is, I believe, the promises of playing time. Combine that with the pressure of playing the "hot new recruit" may drive players that feel forgoten to look elsewhere. I think that is something that may not be unique to Notre Dame, but they are a product of their own hype.
Charlie Weis doesn't make excuses. He has told us so many times. He has told us all the excuses he will not make. He also doesn't boast or brag. He lets the team's actions on the field speak for him.
No. He tells you he is not going to make excuses for x, y, and z. The problem is, by not offering valid counter excuses, he is making thinly veiled excuses without a scapegoat. When he tells us all the excuses he will not make, he in fact is trying to deflect critisism he knows is coming.
We all know about his quotes to let the team speak on the field and "to hell with Michigan!".
His latest gem is forcasting Notre Dame to win 9-12 games this year. Thats right, they could play for the Mythical National Champoinship with those results. I guess all you have to do is beat everybody. Why haven't all the other coaches thought of that?
Now I can hear the excuses now. "Every coach beleives they will win every game"...."Just trying to fire his team up"...."Motivation".....
These are all the wrong excuses. No respectible coach believes they will win most of their games. They worry themselves sick that they may lose every game. If you don't have that "looking over your shoulder" outlook as a coach, you are either arrogant, or ignorant. Maybe a little of both. Back in the day, Lou Holtz would tell you they would be lucky to beat opponent x, y, or z. Even if they were a High School practice team. Nobody believed him, and felt he was just paying respect to his opponents. The "thing" is, Lou didn't take anything or anyone for granted. Sucessful coaches do that. Lou did it, Lloyd Carr did it. Jim Tressel does it.
Charlie is respectible in his own mind. He is a legend in his own mind. Maybe his team will have the record he predicts. If so, I am sure he won't be smug about it. If not, I am sure he won't make any excuses either.
Living in the outskirts of South Bend, I had many opportunities to see Notre Dame games. During Notre Dame's Gerry Faust years one of our high school teachers that was an usher would sneak a couple of his students in if they showed up. A few of my friends did this, but I was never interested. I could care less about Notre Dame, and they weren't very good. This was the before the Lou Holtz era.
The first time I was able to see a game I really wanted to see a at ND stadium was the 1998 Michigan-Notre Dame game. I had tried to see the few Mich-ND games there before hand but was never able to get tickets at a "not insane price". For me, $400 was just too much.
Back to 1998, the year after the Wolverine's National Championship. One of my co-workers parents were season ticket holders from out of state. He was unable to go to the game and sold them to me at face value, which was all profit to him. Woot!!! Second ever cheapest ND-Mich game I ever attended.
Pre-season #5, Michigan comes to town with a new QB replacing the departed Brian Griese. A tall, skinny, not very mobile kid by the name of Tom Brady (Jr.). There was also alot of buzz about a freshman that was supposed to be the best ever at Michigan, Drew Henson. Another noteworthy player on Michigan's side was a blue chip wide reciever by the name of David Terrell.
Ranked #20, Notre Dame was coached by Bob "you may have heard I coached at Notre Dame" Davie. Their QB was also playing in his first start, Jarious Jackson.
The game started kind of slow. Both teams trading a field goal. With kicker Kraig Baker missing a 43 yard and 33 yard FG. attempt on Michigan's 2nd. and 3rd. possession, he was later replaced by Jay Feely. Feely added a field goal for a 6-3 lead before ND matched it with a score of 6-6 with a few minutes left in the half. A Tom Brady QB TD run made it 13-6 at the half. Michigan looked decent, but didn't play very well. It seemed they couldn't get out of their own way. Long drives would stall out, and the two missed field goals would have been nice to have.
After a comedy of errors and costly fumbles, Notre Dame snapped off 30 unanswered points in the second half. Michigan had one scoring opportunity, but a field goal was blocked. With the game out of hand 36-13, Drew Henson came in for the final points of the game. Henson drove the team 80 yards, completing 5 of 8, including a 17 yard scramble. His TD pass to Jerame Tuman came as I was standing up to make way for the swarm of ND and Michigan fans making their way out of the stadium to beat the "rush". One set of fans happy, another starting to second guess LLoyd Carr despite Tom Brady having pretty good numbers of a Qb's first game (23-36, 267yds, 0 int. 0td.)
Two things I took from this game were, "where did the awesome defense of last year go" and "Why to people leave with three minutes left in a game?". I never leave early, ever. I paid to see a game, good, bad, or ugly.
The following weekend, a kid by the name of Donovan McNabb made the wolverine defense look even worse. Michigan lost to Syracuse and was 0-2. Welcome to the scrambling QB era Mr. Carr. I don't think you would call both of those offenses a "spread" offense, because mostly it was an athletic QB buying time and hitting open recievers while the defense is in pursuit. This was a different animal than an option team, where the QB was not really a threat to pass. Once the defense figured, ok, this guy isn't going to run, we'll cover the recievers, whoops, there he goes.
All I knew was there were some serious issues with the defense, but I didn't know if it was personell, scheme, or coaching. I believe I had it backwards back then.
There is a well known fact that in many areas of Michigan Stadium, Jumping up and screaming, and giving your friends a "high five" for a 10+ yard run would mean you would hear shouts of "Down in front!". I can remember the first time me and my brother did that on one of our trips up to Ann Arbor to watch a game. The awkward stares recieved by being the only two people showing a pulse anywhere other than the student section was creepy.
Here is a little gem I found on Yahoo sports dealing with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Arrow Head Stadium.
Re the new rules:
In practice, though, it might not be such a great idea, especially if the person responsible for coming up with the rules is an 85-year-old woman who teaches the 2nd grade and regards standing up as one of the evil things that young whippersnappers often do. Seriously, standing erect is the No. 2 item on the list of things that are prohibited:
• Standing and/or obstructing the view of other fans
Not only that, Pro Football Talk points out how seated fans can anonymously tattle on their upright counterparts:
The Chiefs also have set up a text-messaging system that allows fans who might be offended by behaviors like standing to report the situation to the powers-that-be.
I can see the down in front crowd salivating at the same ideas now.
Well, here I go trying to make my own mini-blog space. Hopefully it will be a version of the former MZone's know your foe.
First about me. I am a long time wolverine fan (circa 1978) living just across the border from South Bend, Indiana. You know, "those guys". The "Fighting Irish". I drive by the campus twice a day, too and from work. It's not as bad now, I used to drive by staduim before they rerouted traffic. My friend, a ND fan, lives in one of the few houses that you can see the Golden Dome from the state of Michigan. You get the picture.
Enough about me, here is what is going on behind enemy lines....
Well Notre Dame had their fantasy football camp where rich white guys can pay big bucks to pretend to be Rudy.
The South Bend Tribune runs the typical college town articles, unless your name is Ann Arbor News (Zing!). One of the more recent ones was the meh recruiting so far this year.
"It's shaping up as a good year, but not a great year, like last year," Lemming said. "This is going to be more of a complementary class. And that's all Notre Dame needs, really, but they need to finish strong. I think they've been slow to pull the trigger on some guys (in terms of offering scholarships). And that has hurt them."
Other than that, kids comming in for conditioning workouts like everywhere else.
I am already starting my mojo to try and score some tickets for this year's game.