Notre Dame Offense

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on September 15th, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Am I delusional or is the Notre Dame offense better, by far, than anything in the Big 10 and top 5 nationally. Position by position, can you think of a team as complete on offense?

QB - At this point, better than anyone in the Big 10 (I think Tate's the closest, but we don't have much data).

RB - As good as Minor, maybe only Royster better.

WR - Best by far.

TE - Best, although the data are limited.

OL - Maybe Iowa has some hype, but who else?

My point is:

* ND runs the table except for USC, but they will be competitive in that game; I think Carroll will get to Clausen some way. And we should root them on.

* That our defense is not as scary and shaky as Saturday would suggest, although PAINFULLY thin.

* That we do not face a team with some offensive power until the end of October, a lot of time for Justin Turner, Vlad the Impaler, and William Campbell to come online, and for Williams, Woolfolk, Roh and Cissoko to get vastly more seasoned.

Litmus Test (to see if my assumptions are correct):

# ND destroys MSU, Purdue and Washington
# Our defense looks dominant against Eastern, Indiana and MSU



September 15th, 2009 at 9:09 AM ^

I totally agree, I think Notre Dame will surprise people with how well they play through the season, with a lot of cupcakes and a hyper-powered offense. We should absolutely cheer for Notre Dame, every big win for them makes us look even better.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:15 AM ^

I don't know if I can bring myself to root for them, but I thought that offense was at least the best U of M has faced since the Dennis Dixon Oregon team in '07. It's a joke, I think, that ND isn't in the top 25...Floyd is one of the best players in the country at any position.

I also agree that Michigan's defense will generally look a lot better than they did on Saturday.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:26 AM ^

I agree ND should be in the top 25. It's weird because if you had asked me two weeks ago whether Notre Dame should be ranked even if they lose to Michigan, I would say "no way". But Notre Dame's offense looked so good that I think they actually have a chance to beat USC more than I thought before they lost to Michigan.


September 15th, 2009 at 11:49 AM ^

Good point about the UM D looking better from here on out. ND was the worst possible match-up. They can effectively throw the deep ball, are good at screens and have a big line/talented back so they can run the ball with power. We have good speed on D, so spread teams should be a better match-up (unlike the past) and against teams that are primarily good at rushing (MSU, Wisky) we can flood the box.

Blue in Yarmouth

September 15th, 2009 at 9:16 AM ^

Perhaps it is only because I want there to be a darn good reason why our defense looked so overmatched for all but the third quarter of that game, I don't know, but I agree.

I think you are bang on in your assessment other than perhaps the offensive line, I think that is their only question mark. We didn't do much to test them but with our d-line being a question mark it is hard to gauge how good their o-line really is. Was our d-line good but they were just better or did we stink and just make them look good? I'm not sure yet but I hope it is just that they were that good.

I have to say that I was really impressed with their offense and don't think there will be any that we will face that will be as explosive as their's and that is including OSU and PSU (OSU especially).


September 15th, 2009 at 9:20 AM ^

It would be great to see Notre Dame go undefeated or look very strong the rest of the season. That makes our win over them that much more special.

I'd argue that Illinois and Benn have a pretty good receiving corp, but ND is definitely better and have a better player throwing the ball to them.

I just want us to win these next two games convincingly, while giving our backups and young guys a LOT of game time reps to prepare them for the rest of the season.

We'll see...


September 15th, 2009 at 9:22 AM ^

I might put us better at TE (Koger!), and Darryl Clark is still probably the best QB in the Big Ten. But other than that, I agree. As long as the OL blocks like they did against us, I think that's one of the best offenses in the nation. One concern, has anyone heard about the status of Floyd? I think that would be a major injury and could stymie their effectiveness the rest of the way. Shaq Evans didn't look quite ready for prime time.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:22 AM ^

I agree.....before the final drive in the ND game IMO I couldnt help but feel that Notre Dame had the better athletes. It just goes to show you that better coaching/strategy can go along way.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:06 AM ^

They [Notre Dame] have great talent, but I'm not sure about the coaching [Charlie Weis].

I believe he is saying that although Notre Dame does have great talent, their poor coaching will be a hindrance during the rest of their season.

I'm not quite sure how you jumped to the conclusion that he was stating that Weis out-coached Rich Rod.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:31 AM ^

Benn is the only other receiver who is on par with Floyd or Tate that we will face. Clark is probably a better QB than Clausen, but he doesn't have the receivers or good run blocking to provide balance.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:11 AM ^

Why not? Personally, I'm not sure who I'd take. Clausen has a cannon, but Clark presents a totally different bag of issues for a defense to deal with and isn't a bad passer himself. I think it's easy to discount Clark because he's not as good of a passer, but he's a terrific game manager and his mobility can cause all kinds of problems for a defense.

Blue in Yarmouth

September 15th, 2009 at 10:44 AM ^

I agree that Clark does other things better (and is the better athlete) but I what I meant was that Clausen was a better pure QB (meaning essentially passer). I thought that was what was being referred to here. I could have made a mistake in assuming that though.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:39 AM ^

I would say that Minor is better than any back ND has. I'm assuming that he got limited touches because he still has lingering effects from the injury, but he managed to shred the ND defense over and over and he did a fantastic job in pass protection. One of the primary reasons that the ND running game was so effective is that Michigan had to keep their safeties back, as well as their cornerbacks and occasionally a linebacker or two to defend the pass (especially the long ball). ND's ability to beat up (and by beat up, I mean consistently hold like nobody's business) the front four and then grab swaths of yardage while the rest of the defense got back into the action.

I agree with the rest though.

Meeechigan Dan

September 15th, 2009 at 9:59 AM ^

I have a serious question for you because I watched the game streamed online and couldn't absorb the game like I normally do: if we had our safeties back, how come Warren and Cissoko looked like they NEVER had anyone within a zip code of their coverage? If they were helping, it must have been with their Math homework, because I didn't see any safeties near Tate and Floyd.

Blue in Yarmouth

September 15th, 2009 at 10:05 AM ^

Helping with math homework, that's too much! Seriously though, I thought Warren played well but Cissoko should be in the burn unit of the local hospital. He got torched all game long so I am wondering where the safeties were as well.

One thing I will say is other than Cissoko's missed tackle, the team tackled well again this week. I also think I remember seeing Ezeh get drug downfield an extra 8 yards once too.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:59 AM ^

I agree with the basic premise of your post. ND has a good offense. But:

QB: Tate won the game without Hemingway (or Floyd for that matter). TP didn't have his best game against SC but he's still basically Vince Young in scarlet and gray.

RB: I'm not sure what Armando had for breakfast on Saturday but I don't expect him to average 6.6 ypc for the rest of the year. And as far as depth, ND doesn't have any. There was a notable drop off when Jonas Gray, who would be maybe 5th string if we would have offered, came in.

WR: I agree.

TE: Um, Eric Decker?

OL: Same line of Yakety Sax fame albeit with more experience. OK, they looked much improved Saturday when they weren't getting called for holding. OSU has a better line.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:54 AM ^

QB: 1-Jimmah (2-Forcier, 3-Clark, 4-Cousins, 5-Pryor)
RB: Minor
WR: 1-Floyd (2-Benn, 3-Tate, 4-Decker)
TE: Koger

OSU by far.

1-RR, 2-Ferentz, 3-JoePa, ... 11-Tressel, 12-Weis


September 15th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

the forcier is mightier. we just dont know it yet. his passing is just as good, accurate, with his feet set. and he is way way better passing on the run, plus he is the additional running threat (that jimmah isnt) in the backfield that our opponents will have to worry about. besides these skills, he is imperturbable and makes great decisions instantly. and he is a winner. these are the most important qualities of a star qb. how long did it takes us to realize that brady was great? greise? we have the best quarterback in the big ten right now, including nd. we just dont know it yet.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

I also have more respect for Notre Dame after the game than I did before it (at least as far as the athletes on the field go). They were not overrated and were possibly even a little better than advertised. I think Michigan's play calling, adjustments, and clock management (in other words gameday coaching) was one of Michigan's strengths. The other--for the first time I've ever seen--was the noise from the home crowd (which exacerbated the problem of the offensive plays getting to Clausen late). After that, Michigan flat out played their asses off and never gave up.

I actually think Notre Dame has a shot at beating USC this year.

I’ll have a difficult time actually rooting for them against anyone other than USC (hate them, too). It’d be an injustice for them to win out and make a BCS bowl while Michigan does not. I suppose the best thing for Michigan would be for Notre Dame to lose to Michigan State or Purdue—or both--since Michigan also plays them and they pretty much cancel each other out.

Blue In NC

September 15th, 2009 at 9:57 AM ^

I think the ND offense will prove to be prolific but I would not rate them as "one of the best" right now. We don't know enough and I tend to think their line play is just mediocre. Yes, the WR and TE and probably the nation's best and JC is a very good QB. But I think the line is just average to good (despite our lack of pressure) and in games where JC is "off" they may struggle at times to be dominant on the ground. Just as guess as the data is limited. We will learn more about ND this Saturday vs. MSU.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:03 AM ^

Two things. First, right now, disregarding fandom and personal bias, I'd take Tate over Clausen. I'm not saying Tate's "better." They are two different kinds of QBs. Clausen is obviously more polished and experienced, and won't make freshmen mistakes. But I take Tate for raw talent, the "IT" factor, and his scrambling/running ability.

Second, I want ND to beat USC. In fact, I want them to mop the floor with everyone else on their schedule. Makes Michigan's victory over them so much sweeter.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:16 AM ^

QB Whenever Clausen get’s time he’s money. Without time he’s avg. I put Clark and yes Forcier over him b/c of the decision making and scrambling ability.

RB Royster is only averaging about 3 ypc against cupcakes so I’m not impressed. I think so far Minor, McCray (from Indi) and Bolden (Purdue) are better.

WR Benn’s been hurt, but I would still put him ahead of Tate, probably tied with Floyd.

TE Koger is the best in the Midwest hands down.

OL I like our line. I don’t know if Minor and Tate are making them look good or what, but I think our line is better.

They have good talent in every position, but I don’t think they face a secondary that can hold their receiving corps.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:17 AM ^

I agree that RichRod had things together Saturday and the evidence suggests he has been considered a great coach everywhere he has been. It still seems a little premature to me to declare him great. He has to prove more to me before I believe he's the best in the big 10. Unfortunately, Tressel likely has a lock on the lead.

Forcier on the other hand seems to be the real deal. I would take Forcier over any other QB in the B10 and including Clausen. Does anyone remember watching Henson? It is the first time since Henson that I have wanted to see the QB take off (i.e. Navarre made me cringe if a play lasted more than 3 seconds).

Blue In NC

September 15th, 2009 at 10:45 AM ^

Before we get too carried away, let's just hope that Forcier is an above-average QB in the Big 10. If so, that's a HUGE step forward. He has shown incredible poise and decision making for a true frosh but he is still only two games in. Let's see how he performs against MSU, PSU and OSU before we say he is near the top of the QBs in the conference (seems to have that potential however).

Now I worry what if Forcier gets injured? I hope that we can get DR many passes in the next two games so he can get some confidence and balance in the offense when DR is in.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:46 AM ^

And if they meet or exceed 9-3, which is possible, I bet they will be swaggering by the end of the season. The voters will breathe a collective sigh of relief and install ND ahead of us in the polls even if we have the same record (just because it's ND). One caveat to the rankings -- even if ND wins out, I think we will be higher if we beat PSU and tOSU because that could make us the story of the year.

BTW, I am a long time reader of MGoBlog but a new poster. I am looking for a swingin' avatar, but I'm not all that computer savvy, so my posts will probably always look as plain as Penn State's uniforms.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:59 AM ^

Notre Dame is the best offense we will see this year. Clausen has matured as a passer and with any amount of time he's money. He throws with good velocity and touch and his receivers are as good a tandem as CFB has to offer this year, maybe even #1 overall. We will however see teams much better on the ground and a few with QB's who have Tate's same ability to make plays with their feet - Clark (PSU), Pryor (OSU), Williams (Illinois), Nichol (MSU).


September 15th, 2009 at 12:24 PM ^

I agree they are the best offense, but I don't think Clausen has great touch. maybe its just because of our corners, but on most deep routes he basically threw jump balls, and Warren and Cissoko just couldn't elevate as much as Tate and Floyd. He hit tate in stride a few times, but tate never seemed to get a good handle on the ball, and dropped a couple tds, and floyd could have had at least one more if he didn't have to jump for it. I think our Tate has better touch, and I really like the way the offense is clicking and that Tate can find guys even missing Hemingway and Stonum, his two best deep threats

Eye of the Tiger

September 15th, 2009 at 11:37 AM ^

I think this is a good offense we're talking about, and I agree that they'll do well down the stretch. They have mostly cupcakes left on the schedule, though USC should smack them down, PSU should beat them, and Washington could be surprisingly tough, considering how bad they've been. I bet they end up with 3 losses and go to a good, but not BCS, bowl game. End up ranked somewhere in the 20s.

They definitely have the best pass offense we'll see all year. But to get into the minutiae, is Jimmah really a better QB than Darrel Clarke at this point?


September 15th, 2009 at 11:48 AM ^

I think ND has a real shot at beating USC. I'm not sold on Matt Barkley at all. He is holding SC's offense back right now and might not get it together by midseason (when they play ND). I'm also not sure how good SC's defense is, with eight new starters and a new DC. Yeah, they looked good against OSU, but Tressel was even more gutless in his playcalling than usual.