Friday, September 28, 2007


As I struggle to do a multitude of management homework before getting ready to go to Purdue this weekend, I felt obliged to at least throw up a few things to watch for in the game tomorrow.

1. Look for Notre Dame to run run run.
When it comes to his philosophy, Weis will commonly talk about winning a game 34-31 or 21-17; in other words, do you want to win in a shootout, or a relatively low scoring game? Needless to say, with the ultra high powered offense we currently have, Weis hasn't been trying to compete in many shoot outs, and with Purdue's impressive offensive numbers (even if they have been against week opponents) expect the Irish to play the ball control game as much as they can.

2. Look for Purdue to run a nifty option play.
A friend of mine who lives down the hall tapes the portions of practice open to the media, and apparently Notre Dame spent a good deal of time defending a nifty option. The quarterback either hands the ball off for a run up the middle, throws a jet screen, or rolls out for a pass. The difficulty in covering this play is that the DB who comes up to hit the quarterback on the rollout must also cover his receiver. I hope practice paid off because poor coverage and missed tackles can lead to big gains on short passes.

3. Look for John Carlson to get involved in the passing game.
Who am I kidding? Everyone's been saying this all season, but I can at least hope that it happens, right?

4. Look for Purdue to come out strong.
Starting the season off 4-0, the Boilermakers have a lot of momentum coming into this game, and they should be sufficiently motivated, having been crushed by Notre Dame twice in the last two years. It would be huge to stop Purdue and get a quick score, giving our team confidence and rattling them at the same time.

5. Look for your uncle Pops.
Section 133, Row 15. I'll be the one in a green shirt cheering for Notre Dame.

Go Irish. Beat Boilermakers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quotable Quotables

Legends of South Bend put up a nice video of former Irish star Aaron Taylor interviewing former Irish coach Lou Holtz. When asked what makes a good football team, Lou responded:

"If you find a good football team, you find the seniors playing the best football of their career. It doesn't matter if they're third string; as a senior, you have an obligation to provide leadership to the younger players."

Its time for the leaders on this squad to step up. John Sullivan appeared to do a better job running the offensive line against Michigan State, and Derrell Hand performed up to expectations in his first start of the season. Look for Carlson, Zibby, and Travis Thomas (yes, even Travis Thomas needs to step up for ND to do better) to take over their rolls as captains on this team.

On a side note, in the interview, Aaron Taylor talked about practicing opposite Lombardi winner Chris Zorich as a freshman:

"He had arms like legs and legs like people" Taylor said of his mentor, but he added that his tough first year competing against Zorich led to him being a much better football player as his career progressed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Transfer Fever

Just as the weather in South Bend begins to cool down, the heat surrounding Irish transfers and recruiting is suddenly firing up. ND tight end Konrad Reuland followed in the footsteps of former quarterbacks Zach Frazer and Demetrious Jones when he announced that he would transfer earlier this week. Ranked by Rivals as the 3rd best tight end and the 81st best player overall in his class, Reuland has seen playing time vanish in front of his eyes as he was passed by fellow sophomore, two sport athlete, and man child, Will Yeatman. Freshman Mike Ragone has also apparently been pushing for playing time, and with five star recruit Kyle Ruldoph coming in next year, the tight end spot seems pretty full. Its times like this where I wish colleges could trade players; imagine the ESPN ticker: "ND trades Konrad Reuland to Wisconsin for offensive tackle to be named and cash considerations...."

How does Konrad's transfer affect verbal commitments for ND's next freshmen class? The Rock Report says not at all, and I agree. The high school seniors that have committed to Notre Dame are aware of the depleted upperclassmen talent on this year's squad, and if anything else, there is definitely a chance for them to get some playing time next year if they bring their A game.

What's Weis' take on this you ask?

In his presser the other day, a reporter asked how the team's poor start is affecting recruiting. Here's Charlie's response:

"I think it's pretty evident to them. I mean, when they sit there and watch and they see you starting off the year the way we're starting, they're looking at the team and they're saying, "okay, there's opportunities for me." And I'm never going to be disrespectful to our own kids, the kids that are on the team.
They watch the games just the way you do or the way I do. And they make their own evaluations of how they see where they fit. And they're pretty objective when it comes to a lot of times when they're looking at schools, whether it's somebody who has already committed to us or somebody's considering us. A lot of times, every one of these guys wants an opportunity where they can see themselves playing relatively early. "

There you have it. Go Irish. Beat Boilermakers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Charlie's Duds and Studs

I was encouraged by the MSU game. Not thrilled; theres nothing to be ecstatic about when your team loses by 17 points to an unranked foe. Ever. But some players at least showed some potential on Saturday, and Charlie's Nasties would like to congratulate those players. But first, lets look at who underperformed:

Tom Zbikowski: After watching highlights of him two years ago, I would expect Zibby to actually be killing teams (figuratively, and the cases of a few wide outs, literally) by his fifth year, but up to this point in the season, his coverage gambles have resulted in big plays for the offense instead of turnovers, and he has yet to deliver a respectable hit in the run game. One tackle comes to mind in the MSU game where Zibby was playing at linebacker depth and made contact with Javon Ringer after a gain of a yard or two, but instead of squaring up and knocking him back, Zbikowski was content to wrap his arms around Ringer's shoulder pads and ride him for an extra 5 or 6 yards before bringing him down. I might expect such arm tackles out of a high school player, but a fifth year senior known for hitting shouldn't be holding on to a running back for that long.

Weis: Sorry Charlie, the offense looked more respectable today (see studs) but a few mistakes lead me to uncharacteristically point fingers at the coaching staff. Specifically, the decision to go for it on a 4th and 2 from midfield seemed questionable. If we were in a situation where it was too close to punt and too long for the field goal, I would give Weis a pass, but calling a run to Schawpp out of all people when the Irish havn't been able to convert on short yardage all year put our defense on its heels early in the game, and could have been avoided.
Slow Mo

The Secondary: Brian Hoyer was the most inept quarterback the Irish have faced all season. How did we respond? By allowing four touchdown passes. I'm not going to go into much detail about this one, but its downright unacceptable to have a wide receiver double covered on fourth down and allow him five yards of space to catch a touchdown pass.

Clausen: I have a feeling I might get some heat for this one, but I'm sticking to it. True Jimmy completed 7/13 passes, but they only went for a 4.1 average. To give you some perspective, Aldridge and Hughes averaged over 5 yards a carry, and they never got sacked or fumbled. Sharpley demonstrated much better pocket presence when he came in and threw his passes with considerably more zip. I don't know if its because of his elbow surgery, but Clausen's passes have seemed lazy and we have yet to challenge a team with more than one deep ball.

sack lunchStuds:

The Offensive Line: Alright, they have a lot of room to improve, but they showed considerably more effort in Saturday's game than they have all season. Young, Turkovich, and Sullivan were consistently able to allow us to run to the left and the only time Clausen was sacked from his backside was when he decided to roll out for 10 seconds without checking his blind side. I attribute this improvement largely to the way practice was run over the week, and if the line continues to improve like it did last week, our team could be competitive much sooner then anticipated.

Freshmen Linebackers: Kerry Neal and Brian Smith were great. Both of them showed that they were able to power their way around the tackles and get to the quarterback. Having two outside players that can disrupt the line will be key to the success of the 3-4.

strong as oxYoung Legs: As Weis promised, Saturday would be an Aldridge type of day, and it was. James showed everyone in the stadium why he was a five star recruit when he plowed through defenders, showed good hole recognition, and even a little more speed than some people expected. Hughes made a case to be pushed up the depth chart with his impressive runs as well. We saw less of Armando against MSU, but he did his job with the carries he was given.

All and all, could've been better, could've been worse, but on Saturday I saw a glimpse of the future Irish. Note that all of the studs were young players (except Sullivan, who at least partially redeemed himself from last weeks atrocity); this year may be a downer, but don't be too quick to turn your backs domers, things have the potential to get better fast.

Go Irish.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quote of the Week

From the Chicago Tribune, September 21:

"No matter what happens down the line, my career started at Notre Dame, and that was because of coach Weis. I was a soldier in 'Charlie's Army,' and I enjoyed every minute of it."

--Demetrius Jones

Best Fans in the Land

I decided at the last minute to head over to the pep rally yesterday for two reasons. One was that Regis Philbin was speaking and the second was that I wanted to see what the hell Charlie would say to fire up the crowd after the team's first 3 dismal performances. Some highlights from the rally:

John Carlson: A man's true character is seen in his response to adversity.
My take: I thought the team was facing adversity after Georgia Tech, and after Penn State... but we'll see if they can step up today.

Regis: You can accomplish any thing if you want it enough.
My take: The team better demonstrate some desire to win today because the heart and effort needed to compete with their schedule has not been shown yet.

Mo Crum: We're going to war tomorrow, and when you're going to war, you have to know that everyone's got your back.
My take: Absolutely right; everyone on the team needs to step up and play good team football today.

Weis spoke last and spent most of his mic time praising the fans and the students for their loyalty. How loyal are the fans? This is what the pep rally looked like in the JACC 3 games into one of the team's worst starts in history, and there wasn't an empty seat.

Go Irish. Beat Spartans.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Practice Week In Review

This might be the first time I'm glad that I'm not on the football team.

This week included a #1 spot in ESPN's Bottom Ten, Jay Leno cracking jokes at the team's expense, and a week of hard practices. I guess that's what it takes to get better.

In Weis' press conference Wednesday, he said that the last two and a half days were "much, much, much more physical" than any other practices this year; for the first time this season, the whistle was blown only after the ball carrier had been tackled. On every practice play.

I'm glad they've been busting their humps this week because they're gonna need it. Michigan State is tied for the nation's lead in sacks (17), and no one has scored against them in the first quarter this year. Call me optimistic for even thinking it, but if the Irish want to have a chance against State, they had better put up some points early.

Weis said that Sam Young has looked more natural at the left tackle position this week, which is good, because nothing looked natural about the o-line last week (except Mr. Bemenderfer who looked supernatural). He also said in an article with the Chicago-Tribune that fans can expect to see some more of Aldridge this week:

"This is a James Aldridge type of week, that's exactly right," Weis said. "I would expect to see James early and often. "He knows he's going to get plenty of opportunities, so that's what he knows. I would imagine he's very excited."

The team has yet to watch any film on Michigan State, and the coaching staff didn't even start implementing any specific gameplan until the end of Wednesday's practice. Charlie rationalized this risk by saying the team needed to change its attitude about playing before any specific adjustments can be made.

Dan Wenger doesn't look like he'll be back at guard anytime soon after his injury against Michigan. He was wearing a "boot" (walking cast for lower leg injuries) and was getting around campus via crutches the last few days, although I did see him walking around the dinning hall today without crutches.

And for all of you hanging on for the Quote of the Week, here you go:

"Its not what everyone else is saying, its just us" - Charlie Weis

If Notre Dame even wants to think about being competitive this weekend, they need to listen to that phrase. If the game goes the way the media thinks it will, we could be looking at a triple digit loss, but then again, that's why they play the game.

Go Irish. Beat Spartans.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Midweek Magic?

Word on the street is that Weis has spent this week whipping our boys into shape. A friend of a friend's former roommate who now lives with someone on the team said a football player described Sunday's practice as "the hardest practice ever," adding that out of the 4 hours (the maximum Sunday practicing time allowed by the NCAA), 3 of them consisted entirely of conditioning and exhausting hitting drills. I guess Charlie wasn't kidding when he said we're going back to training camp; from what I've been hearing, these practices seem more intense than the entire training camp. This should please the writers at Blue-Gray Sky who posted a nice article explaining the need for Weis to be more physical with the team.

In other news, Ronald Talley seems to have been replaced by a new cult figure on the football team: a stout young lineman by the name of Thomas Bemenderfer. Irish Round Table explains why this man is such a beast, but if you don't feel like reading, here's some visual evidence.

Mr. Bemenderfer as seen around campus.

Mr. Bemenderfer after 12 ounces of spinach.

Go Irish. Beat Spartans.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Car Rides, Tailgates, and Other General Shenanigahns

After preparing myself for the worst insults and mistreatment from the Michigan fan base, I have to admit that barring the football game (...), my experience Saturday exceeded expectations. Albeit, our plan of waking up at 8:00, grabbing breakfast at Reckers, and hitting the road was a bit of a stretch, but when all was said and done, my posse and I eventually made it to a $15 parking lot in Ann Arbor by 11:30.

After a quick stroll through the UM golf course, we made it to the Notre Dame Club of Ann Arbor official tailgate. Students were offered the chance to scarf a tasty brat and cool beverage for $1, and I can vouch that after a 2 and a half hour car ride, grilled meat does the body good. However, we soon left after realizing that further lunch treats were upwards of $6; I guess the ND club teamed up with the bookstore for the pricing plan.

When we left the safety of an all-irish tailgate and started walking around the golf course / parking lots where UM fans were set up, I was blown away by the overall good atmosphere. Imagine a place where football fans can set up and play beer pong and flip cup outdoors before a game and all just get along. After one fan stopped our group and asked us to join him for a drink I felt like busting out a few verses of Kumbaya.

And then there was the game...

I don't want to get into too much of a tizzy trying to analyze why we lost; it seemed like no one on our roster felt like bringing it last weekend. Michigan came out fired up, and after Sullivan's (I thought Remington award candidates were able to snap the ball) miscue on the first play, the momentum left the Irish and they were never able to get it back.

Did Michigan really care who was under center?

Rakes of Mallow put up a nice add for all of the positions ND seems to be lacking in, which is mildly humorous until you realize how true it is. It honestly doesn't bother me to be losing to these teams. While I obviously wouldn't prefer an O-fer to start the first however many games of the season, all of the experts (I'm talking about people other than Mark May, too) only had us winning one of two if any of those games. What got to me was the lack of hustle, the lack of heart, the lack of (insert any other coaching cliche). Our team just didn't seem to care; offensive linemen were falling to their knees on 5 step drops, Zibby was waiting for Hart to come to him (a classic example of being the hammer, not the nail) instead of attacking the runner, and the defensive front failed to push Michigan's line off the ball.

I have to hand it to the Irish students who stayed the whole game. After I moved down from row 93 to 30 in the fourth quarter, I was pleased to find a good crowd of students down there. What was even nicer was all of the fair weather fans who spent the entire game criticizing everything from the playcalling to the water distribution had already left to complain with someone else, leaving a student section that actually cheered for their football team. This loyalty was also shown on an ESPN segment that aired today.

Several students were interviewed outside of the Hesburgh Library on Sunday, and the responses were all pretty good. The basic message from the students was "We're disappointed with where we are right now, but we will continue to stand behind our football team even if they aren't winning right now." There was one kid who said that as long as we extend our winning streak vs. Navy he'll consider the season a success, but that had to have been more in jest than in heart.

Our trip ended with us sharing a Spicy Chicken Sandwich with the cheerleading team at a Wendey's a few exits West of Ann Arbor. After they climbed back into their leather seated, flat screen tv'd, and all around awesome coach bus, my gang piled into my '99 Civic and got ready to tough out the drive back to campus. In conclusion, the trip was fun, the game wasn't. I defiantly hope the team can at least manage some positive rushing yards in time for my next trip to Purdue.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Michigan Preview: The Battle to Avoid Disaster

Notre Dame has not started a season 0-3 since the days of Bob Davie back in 2001, and tomorrow, the Fighting Irish will try to avoid falling into that category this year. Tomorrow's game can be pitched as "Two storied programs fight for the title of: College Football's most winningest team" or "Two struggling coaches will try to prove themselves" or even "two promising young quarterbacks will compete to lead their team to victory."

You can say what you want about the lines that ESPN and the other networks will pitch, but the bottom line is that the winner of this game will be the team that wins time of possession and avoids turnovers. Ineptitude in the Michigan defense led to big plays for Appalachian State and Oregon while a poor offense put the Irish defense in position to be slowly grinded into submission against Georgia Tech and Penn State.

Keys to beating Michigan's offense: Notre Dame must stop Mike Hart. Period. An already stagnant offense has been quelled even more with the loss of Chad Henne. Look for Michigan to run hand off after hand off in order to milk the time of possession and avoid turnovers by putting the ball in the hands of their senior work horse running back. Mallet's 35% completion percentage for 49 yards and one interception do not provide much boost to the passing game, so Notre Dame should be able to play a lot of man coverage and throw an extra man (I'll bet money it's Zibby) in the box for run support. If Corwin's team can continue to prevent big plays, holding the Michigan offense to under 20 points seems not only possible, but probable.

Keys to beating Michigan's defense: Charlie must test the Michigan defense in order to succeed in tomorrow's game. Michigan has a front seven more than capable of causing havoc for ND's struggling offensive line. Look for Clausen to (hopefully) use John Carlson, David Grimes, Robby Parris, and Armando Allen (even if it is all on RB flare patterns) to stretch out the defense and prevent the linebackers from blitzing every play.

It's tough to say, but this analysis gives a pretty large edge to Michigan. Clausen is much more likely to cause turnovers trying to establish and unproven passing game than Hart is likely to fumble in his thirty carries. Notre Dame also hasn't shown the capability of producing the big plays that hurt Michigan in its last two games, and Michigan's running game could potentially tire out our defense and lead to a pour second half just like in the last two weeks.

Bottom line, Go Irish! Beat Wolverines! As you can see, I'll be bringing tissues for the constant nosebleed I'll be experiencing in row 93.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quote Jawn

Writer Ben Ford, who has media admission to Irish football practice and blogs on etruth, reports that up until now, the team has been breaking the huddle with "Respect!"

Apparently now Notre Dame has changed their motto to "Get Better!" and that is Thursday's quote of the week. During the portion of yesterday's practice open to the media, Weis made sure to spend a lot of time (aka shouting and glaring) at the offensive line drills. Backup interior linemen Eric Olsen and Matt Carufel as well as freshman left tackle Taylor Dever were getting reps with Sam Young, John Sullivan, and the first team offense. Weis stated that these young players have a chance to play against Michigan if they have a good week in practice; hopefully someone can step up and shore up our blocking woes.

Here's another excerpt from Ford's article:

"Usually the doors to the Loftus Center are propped open when it's warm outside, but it looked like they already tried that and had to shut them, because there were leaves on the artificial turf. "

The normal take on this: damn South Bend weather is already getting cold!
My take on this: could it be that Charlie is installing something we haven't seen before and he wants to make sure no one else sees it? Normally the team only practices in Loftus when the weather is bad, and yesterday was almost a perfect day, hmmm....

Go Irish. Beat Wolverines.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

News Update

Three new story lines have developed for the ND Michigan game this coming weekend. First (and I'm sure that this will be mentioned multiple times during the broadcast of the game), this is the first time that Notre Dame and Michigan have both started a season 0-2. This shouldn't be that surprising considering 1: Michigan is in the Big Ten and usually schedules a cupcake MAC school or 1-AA opponent in Week 1, and 2: Notre Dame and Michigan usually play each other during the first two weeks of the season.

Our second story, Wolverine running back Mike Hart doesn't plan on letting his team fall to 0-3:

"This team's going to be ready to go, there's no doubt in my mind. I'm not going to lose. We're not going to lose," Hart said Saturday, according to the Detroit Free Press. "It is what it is. Obviously, I talk. I talk a lot, everyone knows that. I mean what I say. It came out in there because I feel like we're being doubted. I feel like it's something we need."

Here's the full ESPN article on that story, and can you blame him? Up until now Michigan has played with very little intensity and something like this just might give them the spark they need. Then again, guarantees work for motivation for both teams...

Lastly, Michigan officially announced that former Heisman candidate Chad Henne will not play against the Irish Saturday. This is probably the most interesting subplot as now Michigan freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett, the #2 QB and #4 overall ranked player in his class, will match up against Clausen, the #1 QB and #1 overall recruit in his class. Should be fun. Go Irish.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Toyota's Reasons for Failure

First of all, I would like to thank the people at Toyota for sponsoring today's recap of the Penn State game. Celebrating over 50 years in America, Toyota: moving forward.
Here's a look at some of Charlie's Nasties suggestions for the Irish. Let's see how they did in each one.

Stop the run: I stand by my statement from last week that the d-line is playing above and beyond their expectations; Laws and Brown are especially helping out the Irish so far this season. However, there still seems to be two main problems in stopping the run up to this point. The 3-4 defense relies heavily on support from the linebackers to fly sideline to sideline and make plays to stop the running game, and up to this point, our linebackers have been either too slow, too hesitant, or have not been able to shed blocks to stop the running backs. Look to see more of freshman Kerry Neal as he at least has been able to overpower blockers with his superhuman strength. Secondly, our offense has left the defense out to dry for two straight games. After holding the Lions to 14 points in the first half, Penn State's 8:00 advantage in time of possession caused some fatigue which turned into big plays against us.

Protect the QB: Needless to say the Irish failed to succeed in this respect. I'll admit there were sacks and incompletions where Clausen failed to see an open man or took too long in his progressions, but the porous blocking has been the major reason for ND's offensive woes. Paul Duncan looked more like a high school player at left tackle. The most integral position for protecting a new quarterback, Duncan was responsible for multiple false starts and was absolutely torched off the edge on several occasions. The scary thing is that I know Weis wouldn't be playing him if he had any confidence in his backup. Keep an eye on this position next week: if Duncan is able to step up, we could be in for some legitimate scoring, if not, then you could be in for more of this:

Give Allen and Aldridge more touches: Again Weis confused me here. I was thrilled to see Armando in the backfield as much as he was, but for some reason it didn't yield the results I expected. The general feeling around campus is that he didn't play that well, but he did manage 38 receiving yards on 6 catches. Translation: almost every time Allen got the ball in the flat (with space to run!), ND was able to pick up just over 6 yards. Armando may be slick and quick, but after this game, it is apparent that he is not suited for power running up the middle out of a multiple tight end set as he managed only 11 yards on 8 attempts. I still stand by my statement that he needs to get the ball and I hope that Weis is more creative with his formations and playcalling when he gives #5 touches. For some reason, James Aldridge that Endsdridge was only seen in two plays Saturday. I can't speculate as to why this was, but hopefully he will see more time against Michigan.

Continue the good work on special teams: Wow did ND drop the ball on this one. Horrible pursuit angels and head-down arm tackling led to some unacceptable returns by PSU. Most notably, a 68 yard kick return and the 78 yard punt return took a lot of wind out of our sails. On the bright side, Price appeared to step up his game, punting 9 times for a 44.8 average including a 57 yarder. For a team that is this young, it is devastating to give up big plays on special teams; I expect the team to practice some pursuit drills this week to correct their problems.

Throw in that Notre Dame was flagged 14 times for 97 yards in our first road game and its no wonder why we lost by 21 points. Fortunately, all of these mistakes are still correctable. By that, I mean that we aren't necessarily "out-manned." With the exception of maybe Duncan, I didn't think that Penn State's talent was much better than ours; they simply played with more intensity, had an obvious experience advantage, and were playing in a stadium that makes life difficult for opposing teams. That being said, I sure hope our coaches fix the problems we have soon, I'm heading up to Ann Arbor next weekend and fully expecting a win. (If they lost to Appalachian State, we should be able to beat them, right?)

On that note, I'll leave you with some pictures of a few Penn State fans from the game. Needless to say some are more clever than others.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Penn State Preview

With months of virtually no substantial activity in the college football world, fans are provided more than ample time to research, analyze, and sometimes obsess about the first opponent of the year, which is why the second game of the season seems to follow so quickly. Don't worry Irish faithful, Charlie's Nasties has taken the liberty of writing a basic breakdown of tomorrow's opponent so you will be able to adequately prepare yourself for Saturday's matchup.

Penn State looks to build off of a 59 point thumping of Florida International. Senior quarterback Anthony Morelli threw for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns, hooking up primarily with his 3 returning starters at receiver: Joron Norwood, Derrick Williams, and Deon Butler, who had days of 92, 31, and 66 yards, respectively. Also in the mix was sophomore tight end Mickey Sculer who caught 4 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. More confident in their air attack, look for the Lions to test the Irish secondary this weekend.
Even with the improved aerial game, Penn State is still in the Big Ten and Big Ten teams love to run the football. State returns 3 starters on the interior line and looks to repeat last week's performance where they rushed for 236 yards and 5 touchdowns. Redshirt Senior and first time starter Austin Scott only posted a 4.2 yard average so look to see more of Rodney Kinlaw and freshman Evan Royster who both put up carry averages of over 8 against FIU.
On defense, the Lions return 7 starters. Among the more notable returnees are linebacker Dan Connor and cornerback Justin King. The defensive unit ganged up on the green FIU offense last week, forcing five fumbles and sacking the quarterback seven times en route to a shutout. Look for Linebacker U to spice up their blitz packages in an attempt to fluster Notre Dame's new starting quarterback. Clausen will have to think on his feet and make smart plays if he wants to move the ball against this experienced unit.

The best thing the Irish have on their side going into this game is that they have nothing to lose. The offense will be out to prove something; expect Weis to keep it relatively simple (however, relatively simple for Weis can be pretty complex) and grind it out with the running game. Watch for the defense to "knock some heads" out there and get physical trying to stop the run. I'm personally looking forward to see some more of Corwin's blitz packages; I really like what he's done with the defense up to this point, and I can't wait for our secondary to start hitting like Coach Brown used to.

Due to last week's unfortunate events, my roommate will no long be providing Charlie's Nasties with a score prediction, so we'll have to settle for Mark May's simulation of 87 - 0 Penn State. Have a good one. Go Irish!


I just had to put this up when I saw it:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

ND Basketball Schedule Released

Here it is:I have to say I'm a little disappointed with it. When the best out of conference home games are Eastern Michigan (?) and maybe North Florida (?) and two of the best in conference home games (West Virginia and Connecticut) are over winter break, it doesn't give the students a whole lot to cheer about. On the bright side, it looks like we have a very good opportunity to extend our record winning streak at home.
Over the summer, Coach Mike Brey spent several days in Iraq coaching a charity basketball tournament with the troops. In a speech at the beginning of the school year, Brey described one of his more memorable experiences from the trip:

Brey climbed into a black hawk helicopter to experience flying with the army when the pilot, a 2000 ND alum, took off his helmet and replaced it with an Irish ball cap. While they were in the air, they had a conversation that went something like this:
Pilot: "Coach, can hear me (through the microphone system)?"
Brey: "Yeah, loud and clear."
Pilot: "I just have one question I need you to answer."
Brey: "What's that?"
Pilot: "What happened in the Winthrop game?"
Suddenly feeling the pressure of being thousands of feet in the air and at the mercy of this ND fan, Brey apologized for the loss and promised it wouldn't happen again. Good thing for us basketball fans that Brey is a man of his word: expect nothing less than an undefeated season this year. Go Irish! Beat (uh.. what is St. Ambrose's mascot again?)

Quote of the Week

James Aldridge on carrying behind Travis Thomas: "Whatever Coach calls, if I'm in the game and I get the carry, then so be it."

If any PSU defender wants to try and stop this man, then so be it. Go Irish.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

For Your Information

I was watching Sports Center today and they relayed a pretty interesting statistic: this is the first time since October 23rd 1967 that the top 25 has not included Notre Dame, Michigan, or Florida State. Ouch. At least we're not in it alone...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

In Case You Missed It...

Weis officially announced today that Clausen will be starting against Penn State. Here's the ESPN article for your reading pleasure. While I don't think any quarterback did enough to stand out on Saturday, I am happy that Weis is going to stick with one guy; living around the Cleveland area, I can tell you that quarterback controversies aren't any fun.

In big ugly news, Irish Illustrated posted a nice 5 minute clip of the offensive linemen from practice today. Crank up the volume to get the full experience.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Week 1 Review

It has taken nearly two full days for me to physically and emotionally recover from Saturdays loss and compose a somewhat sensible assessment of this year's disappointing home opener. To sum things up, we couldn't find a running or passing game to counter Tech's blitz packages and our defense surrendered 33 points. In the defense of our defense, however, it is almost unrealistic to expect a unit to goose egg a team that enjoyed ample time of possession and excellent starting field position; even Weis admitted that his offense "hung the defense out to dry."
While the rest of campus seems to be in despair, I was able to see some signs of hope in the pounding the Irish took Saturday. Granted it may not be enough hope to win out, but I think it'll be enough to turn some heads in our next few games.

Our run defense was shaky when Choice was able to turn the corner, but at least for the first half, Corwin's unit was able to hold Tech to fewer points than they should have had given their starting field position. Our secondary seemed to be in decent form, allowing the Jackets to complete only 11 pass attempts for just over 100 yards with a 50% completion rate, which isn't spectacular, but is something to build upon. I'm confident that Brown will be able to patch up the problems in time for Penn State.

As for the positives on offense, Jones did deliver on his promise as a running quarterback; despite facing the same blitzing linebackers and porous offensive blocking, Jones was still our leading rusher. Critics bashed his ability to read defenses in the passing game, but let's be honest for a second: how many quarterbacks do you know that can release the ball in a 5 or 7 step drop when the defense is bringing the house and the receivers are all running intermediate or deep routes? My take on the quarterback situation: it doesn't matter who's back there unless there is a decent 3 step passing game or some hot route system to counter the blitz. Our quarterbacks completed an acceptable percentage of their passes (except Jones who only threw 3), the issue was that they were routinely sacked before they could get the ball off.

Armando Allen and James Aldridge looked good. I mean good. Allen averaged 8 yards per carry, but only saw the ball three times; Aldridge managed over 3 per carry, but he was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage almost every time he touched the ball. It will only be a matter of time before they start getting the touches that they need to become staples of the new offense.

Ignoring a few botched punts by Price, the special teams unit looked pretty solid. I stand by my belief that Tate and Allen will be a force to reckon with in the return game, and our field goal block unit was getting a pretty good push up front. The best surprise on special teams, however, was that our kickoff team was able to place the ball inside the 5 and hold Tech to returns at the 16 and 24 yard line. After the student practice, I was sure that the kickoffs would be our biggest special team weakness, so I was please to see some improvement.

In times like these, all one can hope for is that the team is able to build on these positives in time to stick it to Penn State next weekend. Go Irish.
If you still need to do some Irish football venting, then click on the image of this little gem I found on the Goo Tube.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bad News

Due to an undisclosed emergency, the Notre Dame-Georgia Tech football game was cancelled yesterday. No makeup date has been announced, though it is not likely to ever be played due to scheduling difficulties. Students are to bring their tickets to ticket windows A through F in order to receive compensation. The University has not commented on this unfortunate situation.

In other news, Michigan was upset by Appalachain State, a Division I-AA opponent. HAHA! What losers!