Thursday, November 29, 2007

Carlson and Laws Make ND Look Good

These two fifth year seniors were named to the 2nd All-Academic team by ESPN The Magazine and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Believe it or not, this is the first time since 1988 that ND has had multiple players with this distinction.

There were only seven other D-1 schools that had multiple all-academic players, and no team had more than two. Finally, Notre Dame is with the top of the pack again. More info on this can be found in this UND write up.

Apparently, the Pac-10 officiating crew is standing by their ruling in the booth to overturn Grime's spectacular end-zone reception. The South Bend Tribune breaks down the nits and grits of it here, but our quote of the week (since there has been little player/media interaction since the season ended) gives David Grimes' personal opinion on the matter:

"I know I had it" - David Grimes

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Years

Coincidentally, the close of Notre Dame's football season lined up pretty well with the ending of the Church's liturgical year, and while the end of the 2007 campaign was accompanied with some discussion of the apocalypse, the optimism brought along with the start of a new season is refreshing, even though it comes at the expense of having to watch Top 10 segments void of much pigskin action.

However, there is no need to fear the complete absence of Notre Dame Football in the next few months: loyal readers can look forward to post-season recaps (grades, awards, and such) before very premature previews for next season (what better way to spend Christmas than completely breaking down the San Diego State defensive line?).

However, While this blog projects a gridiron image, the Nasties crew is also a proud member of the Leprechaun Legion, so especially in these months of slow football news, don't be surprised to see a few posts devoted to the hardwood. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture (from's photo gallery), along with it's caption, offers a fair summation of the Irish's most recent win over Patriot League foe, Colgate:

"Kyle McAlarney, starting junior point guard, prepares to shoot the ball as the Colgate coach yells at his players to play better defense."

No joke. That's the actual caption.

Notre Dame's 94-63 win on Monday marked the 23rd straight win at the Joyce Center, 1 W shy of the school record. With a win over an Eastern Michigan squad this Saturday, the Irish can finally start making history in a good way.

I'd also like to point out to those that haven't already noticed, Charlie's Nasties has now gone global, with readers from Panama, Ireland, England, Germany, Australia, and our friendly neighbors of the north. Check out the real-time map at the bottom of the site to see the last 1000 visitors in the U.S.

Go Irish. Beat Eagles.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Duds and Studs: The Last Hurrah

Congrats to the Fighting Irish for taking down the Cardinal in their last game of the 2007 campaign. The official box score was as follows:

Notre Dame: 35
Stanford: 14
Officials: -14


ESPN: Electing to use the C-Team announcers to cover a more notorious game during rivalry week, ND was stuck with what appeared to be the J-Team, consisting of a field reporter with spray on hair and two announcers that couldn't help beating everything to death.

Announcer A: Look at number 20 for Stanford! That linebacker's all over the place!
Announcer B: I agree, if you had to take a guess for who made the tackle last play, you could say Clinton Synder and you would be right 90% of the time.
A: Clinton Synder is around the play almost 90% of the time.
B: He really is all over the place.
A: Well, B, that's because he was a 2 star recruit and he plays with more heart than 4 star recruits...

Officials: "The call on the field is reversed" seemed to be the most popular words out of their mouths, and the 'indisputable evidence' that overturned Grime's endzone circus catch might have caused riots if it became a deciding factor in the game. The primary reason these officials make the duds list, however, is that they failed to keep the game in control. There is absolutely no reason for the Notre Dame vs. Stanford game to escalate to FIU/Miami proportions. The drive where the announcer's son and his bash brother decided to headbutt Clausen after a play and de-cleat a stationary David Grimes after the whistle (respectively) could have resulted in ejections; labelling them as "off-setting personal fouls" was ridiculous. This foul play seemed to stem from Lambert's (even though it wasn't necessarily malicious or intentional) hit on Pritchard, and it was missing this call that really turned the game downhill for the officials.

Defensive Fundamentals: In a showing that made the Duke game look like a masterpiece, our defense seemed to forget how to take pursuit angles or break down when they were tackling. The preferred method of lunging at the feet of Stanford's players was able to quell a less than impressive offense, but it is obvious that Corwin needs to address this issue during the offseason.

O-Line: As opposed to positions like linebacker or defensive tackle, the problem at this position is that if one player misses an assignment, it usually blows up the entire play. Blitz-ford delivered as advertised and dished out 5 sacks on Clausen as well as creating several other pressure situations. To Weis' credit, he didn't mess around this game, pulling players in Lou Holtz fashion if they failed to properly execute an assignment. While Chris Stewart and Dan Wenger showed some promise, Sam Young needs to learn how to stop a speed rush; the opposing gameplan on him appears to encourage pinning back one's ears and sprinting around him. Fortunate for us, Young appears to have the talent and desire to correct this weakness.

Jim Harbaugh: I have to admit that I enjoy some of his outspoken nature, but could you imagine being Mrs. Pritchard and watching Harbaugh send your son back onto the field after suffering an obvious concussion? I think that he will have a hard time convincing parents to trust him with their children after that.


Robert Hughes: Despite the Notre Dame v. Reggie Bush circa 2005 efforts by the Cardinal grounds crew, Hughes succeeded in becoming the first freshman to eclipse the century mark in back to back games since Autry Denson in the 95 season. It would have been nice to see him finish his two long runs, but it's becoming clear the Hughes likes his role as a feature back, turning 18 carries into 136 yards and a touchdown.

The D-Team: Darrin Walls, David Bruton, and Ian Williams join permanent resident Trevor Laws in this group. All performed well with Williams recording 6 tackles, Walls and Bruton providing good coverage, and Laws being Laws. The young outside linebacking duo of Kerry Neal and Brian Smith looked pretty decent as well.

Brian Smith says "Give me a low-five"
Duval Kamara: The late season Golden Tate, Kamara has proven to be ND's most consistent aerial weapon, however, Charlie could improve on mixing up his play calling to the #1 receiver. It seems like whenever someone catches a deep ball, Weis has to run 3 or 4 fly routes to him before reverting back to the out and slant patterns. Irish fans should be especially thankful for Kamara's consistency when considering the drop in production from Parris and the inconsistency of Grimes. While #11 is able to make a spectacular catch from time to time, his inability to haul in the gimme's could move him into the slot next season if he doesn't show improvement.

Tom Zbikowski: It was great to see Zibby back in his old form for his last game with the Irish. His punishing hits and momentum changing plays in the Stanford game serve as a reminder for what the Irish will be missing at the safety position next year.

Also, props to the Blue and Gold supporters that made it out to Palo Alto for the game; judging by the crowd noise, it almost sounded like a home game on TV. Good job sticking with the team throughout this struggling season. As former Irish head coach Gerry Faust said, "It won't be long before they're back on top again. Sometimes it's good to go through these things. It makes you stronger. The crucifixion has to come before the resurrection."

Go Irish. Beat Aztecs!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Show Me The Trophy!

Finalists for the nation's more prestigious college football awards were announced earlier this week. lists the finalists for all the awards, but the Nasties crew is here to help break down three of them.

Doak Walker Award

Mike Hart, Darren McFadden, and Ray Rice round out the competition for the nation's best running back. After an excellent first 7 weeks, Michigan's Mike Hart tapered off at the end of the season, missing 3 games with an injury and only rushing for 44 yards against rival Ohio State. However, Hart's impressive 1232 yards and 12 touchdowns accumulated in only 9 games keep him in the conversation. Scarlet Knight Ray Rice has put together the most impressive numbers this season (projected 1759 yards and 20 total touchdowns), but the Nasties crew is giving the edge to last year's winner, Darren McFadden. On pace to mirror last year's stats of 1794 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns, the Razorback earns this award for compiling impressive numbers in the nation's best conference. Monster games against South Carolina (321 YDS 1 TD) and Alabama (195 YDS 2 TDs) help seal the deal for this junior.

Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award

Two great players were nominated in Oregon's Dennis Dixon and Missouri's Chase Daniel. Dixon threw for 20 TDs and rushed for 9 more during the season, but weak performances against Cal and USC combined with a leg injury suffered against Arizona last week could shatter more than the Ducks championship hopes. The centerpiece of a high powered offense in Missouri, Daniel has thrown for 3,590 yards and 30 touchdowns. Passing highlights include 5 touchdown performances against Mississippi and Colorado as well as 350 yards and 3 TDs against A&M. However, another SEC boy in Tim Tebow will win this award; this super-sophomore has rushed for 749 yards and 20 touchdowns in addition to throwing for 2,870 and another 26 touchdowns. Especially against tough SEC competition (5 total touchdowns against Kentucky, 5 rushing TDs against the Gamecocks), Tebow's 177 QB Rating gives extra reason for why he should win this award.

Maxwell Award

Dixon, Tebow, and McFadden are all looking to join Brady Quinn as a Maxwell Award winner this season. Sidelined for the rest of the season with knee surgery, Dixon will be unable to finish his impressive season and stands little chance of coming away with this trophy. While McFadden makes a strong case for winning this award, the Nasties crew woefully congratulates evil enemy Urban Meyer for producing a Maxwell winner. Even in losses to #1 ranked LSU, Auburn, and Georgia, his QB rating never dipped below 114, and against LSU, he still managed to accumulate over 200 total yards and 3 total touchdowns while only turning over the ball once. Tebow's impressive numbers should be enough to win him the Maxwell Award, if not the Heisman, this season.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stuff my Turkey with Natty

The Stanford Cardinal will be coming off of a bye week to face Notre Dame this weekend. At 3-7, this team has shown vulnerability (45-17 loss to UCLA, 27-9 loss to Washington), but has also managed to hang around long enough to drop some huge opponents in the PAC-10 (21-20 over Arizona, 24-23 over USC). Jim Harbaugh uses his plethora of receivers to mimic a pro style offense, and with 41 freshmen on the squad this year, the Christmas Trees might be on their way up in the next few seasons.

ND needs to watch out for the passing attack, but the deciding factor on who wins this game will likely be determined when the Irish are on offense. Ranked 11th in the country in sacks, Stanford ain't afraid to bring the heat with it's pass rush, frequently sending one or two linebackers on every down. As Weis mentioned in his press conference, "you don't have to guess if they're coming, cause they're always coming." While not quite deserving of a name like Blitz-Ford, the Cardinal defensive scheme could cause some problems for our green offensive line. Evaluating how ND picks up the pass pressure will give fans some idea of how much the O-Line has meshed at the end of the season.

Expect to see some Wenger and Bemenderfer at center with Sullivan listed as doubtful, and Hughes should continue to see some carries with Aldridge "still not at full speed." Pat Kuntz is not expected to play, still nursing a leg injury, but freshman Ian Williams has done a nice job filling in for him up to this point in the season.

Today's quotes are about two studs on the team from Charlie's November 20th press conference.

On Eric Maust's ridiculous rugby punt:
"There was no bigger play in the game than that play by Maust. You really have to be an athlete to do what he did. A, to catch the ball, but B, to be athletic enough to get the ball off and end up net punting 30 yards on a play really you could have lost 20 yards on. That was 50 yards of field position on that play there, solely due to him. No one else could we benefit that 50 yards to other than his athleticism on that play. "

On Laws potentially being named an All-American:

"Let's just go by the numbers. I mean, I don't see all these guys, what everyone does. When I do, it's just for a couple minutes of a game on Saturday night before I go to sleep. But if you just go by the numbers, the guy's getting nine, 10 tackles a game as an interior defensive lineman. That's phenomenal. Isn't like we're playing against crummy teams. Isn't like he's going against bad guys, and he's had numbers every week. Doesn't make any difference who we go against, he's had numbers every single week. It's tough not to at least have that argument. "

Sweet Potatoes or Yams? Nasties Thanksgiving Day Predictions:

Packers 17, Lions 24

Jets 10, Dallas 31

Colts 28, Falcons 14

There you have it Nasties, easy on the tryptophan. Beat Cardinal!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Duds and Studs: Senior Game

Irish Insider on campus had an interesting breakdown of the game before this weekend. The articles contained all of the similar text found in ESPN breakdowns of a Pats Colts game or an SI NBA Finals preview; each position was analyzed and the writers gave the edge to either Notre Dame or Duke. It was a decent read, but it lost a little credibility in my book when it gave the "Intangibles" to Duke. Against Notre Dame at home. On Senior Day... Come on, there's no way we're that bad this year, right? O well, one of the writers was the same that predicted us to go 11-1 in the regular season with our only loss being at UCLA... No one's perfect.

Robby Parris: I've been a Parris fan all season long, but against Duke he was overshadowed by the performance of other players who stepped up at his position, going catchless with a few drops. The competition at the WR position will be something to pay attention to next game.
James Aldridge: I've been a huge fan of Weis' first prized recruit, but he has only been able to average over 4 yards a carry 3 times this season (5.1, 5.5, 4.4 yards against Michigan, MSU, and Air Force, respectively). I realize that Aldridge left the game early, but his mediocre production has given the other running backs on the team a chance for them to show what they can do during the games. I am obviously not including an injured player in the 'duds' column because he is injured, but because his injury just might lead to a position change at running back. The Stanford game could set the stage for a very competitive running back battle during the off season that I'll be looking forward too.
Every week I try my best to find players who sucked it up when we won (UCLA) and played well in a losing effort (see other 9 games), but for some reason, I struggled to do this with the Duke game. Even Aldridge and Parris played decently well, but the fact is that our defense looked very competent and our offense seemed to have a game plan for the first time all season. What's not to like about that?

Robert Hughes: The first freshman to run for over 100 yards since Walker against Pittsburgh 3 years ago, Hughes showed some good potential in a great performance Saturday. Granted it was against Duke, but on senior day, a freshman was able to step up in a big way, earning some of the carries that Aldridge used to see.

Jimmy Clausen: Weis mentioned in a post game interview that Jimmy has benefited greatly from sitting out against USC and Navy, getting a chance to rest up a little bit and watch from the sidelines. Once again, his last two starts were against Air Force and Duke, but Notre Dame has been waiting all year for a quarterback that can move the ball without creating turnovers, and with 440 yards (50% completion rate), 6 touchdowns, and no interceptions in his last two starts, it seems that JC is starting to do just that.

Trevor Laws: Laws ended his final game in Notre Dame stadium with 7 tackles and a sack, continuing to make a case for being a first day draft choice. Hats off to him for playing solid game in and game out all year.

The Seniors: Everyone probably saw this one coming, but its still important to recognize the seniors for getting some playing time and making sure that they ended their final game in South Bend on a good note. This might just have been me, but I thought center Neal Kennedy looked good enough to get some snaps in earlier in the year...

As for the decision to play Zbikowski at quarterback, I'll say that Willingham probably wouldn't have played him like Weis did. Some might have viewed the move as disrespectful to Duke, but Zibby had been asking Weis for three seasons to get a chance to go under center. The fact that Weis didn't make any apologies for giving one of his most loyal seniors some requested playing time is one of the reasons that his players like playing for him. He knows how to reward good performance. Although after watching Zbikowski run the offense, I'm glad Weis chose not to put him in earlier in the season...
You tell 'em ChuckGo Irish! Beat Cardinal!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Congrats to all of the seniors! Go Irish!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Of Pep Talks and Seniors

Notre Dame will begin the end of its football season with its last home game tomorrow against Duke, and several Alums tried to give the players some last minute motivation. Most notable are the speeches given by Lou Holtz and Mike Golic.

Holtz's official ESPN Pep Talk, which can be found here at Colonialhead's Irish Blog, emphasizes the importance of representing the university on every down:

"[Notre Dame] stands for intelligence, play smart. It stands for excellence; whatever we do, we do it with class. And it represents faith. You always have faith; you always have a belief you're gonna find a way to succeed."

Holtz also focused on a no excuses mentality:

"It's time to put Notre Dame back where it belongs. We have talent here, that's not the case. It's a matter of a commitment to excellence."

I strongly recommend watching this pep talk. It's easy to see that Lou has a little more emotion when his speech is being directed towards his former team.

Golic, who spoke at the pep rally tonight, also brought up the privilege of being able to play for Notre Dame:
"I played 9 years in the NFL, and was fortunate enough to be able to play in every stadium, but no tunnel gave me the chills that I got when I ran out onto Notre Dame Stadium."

Some may shrug this game off, a contest between two 1-9 teams, but the fact of the matter is that this will be the last home game for many Irish players that have excited us (positively or negatively) over the last few years, and the fans and student body owe it to those players to give them a good showing on Saturday.

The nasties crew will try to get a senior post up sometime soon, but for now, I'd just like to once again acknowledge the season that defensive end Trevor Laws is having. Per the folks at BGS, Laws currently has 98 tackles, which is good for the 33rd rank in the nation. To give you some perspective on the magnitude of this accomplishment: no other defensive lineman is ranked in the top 100.
Go Irish. Beat Devils.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the Week

Despite the start of the college basketball season, the Blue Devil pigskin supporters will be at full strength in South Bend come Saturday. Don't believe me? Here's a link to the Duke Super Bowl website that offers a breakdown of this weekend's upcoming game.

Speaking of basketball, this week's quote comes from Sports Illustrated:

"Luke Harangody and Rob Kurz are formidable up front; Kyle McAlarney's return from a lengthy suspension bolsters a thin backcourt."

Bam Bam tears it up in last year's Bama game
Sometimes when the team has a 1-9 record, it can be helpful to fall back on the basketball team, who currently boasts a #29 preseason ranking.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This One's For You, Brian

In the last edition of Duds and Studs, the Nasties judged Clausen's performance somewhere between the two: not quite duddly, but not quite studly. One of our loyal readers challenged us on this issue, and it caused me to contemplate the quarterback situation as I have never contemplated it before.

Coming off of two seasons of high octane offense led by a future first round draft pick and Heisman finalist, I seemed to have forgoten what it was like to develop a young quarterback. After seeing so many rookie quarterbacks struggle in the NFL the last few seasons, it amazes me that I hadn't made the connection that adjusting from high school to college must possess similar challenges.

With these thoughts in mind, I whipped out my pocket calculator and set out to compile some statistics with another Notre Dame quarterback who saw playing time as a freshman. The statistics are from each quarterback's first 8 games (except for one of Brady's*).

Also, the stats I was using didn't have a QB rating for Brady, but according to a article, Brady had a 93.53 rating after 9 games and Clausen had 98.77 after 7. Anyone can put together a simple table in Excel, but in order to take full advantage of my incredibly difficult integrated applications course I took in high school, I thought I should display some of the data in a more visual way, using an appealing orange and brown for Brady and a traditional blue and gold for JC:
A couple things jump out:

1. Brady threw the ball on average about 10 more times per game, and this partly contributed to Quinn averaging about 60 more yards per game (167 to 108).

2. One of Brady's outlier games included 59 attempts for 297 yards against Purdue in his third game, but he threw only 1 TD and 4 INTs in a 23-10 loss. His other came against BC, where he threw the ball 39 times for 350 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in a 27-25 loss.

3. Ignoring those two games, Clausen's yards per game were more or less statistically indifferent even though Quinn was throwing the ball more. This especially makes sense when comparing Jimmy's 57% completion rate to Quinn's 45%.

It's official, I have let the emotional student fan in myself completely bias my opinion of Jimmy Clausen, and I apologize for being so harsh before looking at the numbers. The most underrated part of his performance appears to be his efficiency, averaging just over 36 attempts per interception (compared with Brady's 22), which is even more startling when considering that Quinn's offense was able to average over 170 rush yards a game (41 yards this year) and had been sacked half a frequently as Clausen. It's hard not to criticize the quarterback when the team is 1-9, but these numbers indicate that Jimmy may eventually live up to the promised hype that surrounded him. Let's hope for the best.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Duds and Studs: Crash Landing

USC hammered us, but they were once a top 5 team this year. Navy? Well, I guess they had to break the streak sometime, right? So why not this year: a rebuilding year, and it took them three overtimes and a blunt-headed coaching decision to do so. But losing by 17 at home to Air Force? Yikes Irish fans... Lets look at last weeks Duds and Studs and see where we stand after this one:

O-Line: If the Navy game wasn't enough evidence to get rid of Latina, the 1.5 YPC and 6 sacks allowed against the Falcons should do the job. This unit seems to consistently underperformed regardless of who we are playing. The one bright spot that I can find solace in is that we will be returning a lot of experience next year, but the situation doesn't look much different than when fans looked forward to the return of the porous secondary before the 2006 season after they had looked porous in the 2005 season. I think the only way to get this unit clicking is by vamping up the practice intensity and forcing them to get more full speed experience.

4th quarter kicking: A somewhat legitimate chance at a comeback was ruined when ND allowed Air Force to run the ball back 52 yards (the drive ended in a field goal) and later kicked the ball out of bounds. It doesn't matter if you're playing AF or UF, giving the leading team free field position at the end of the game greatly diminishes the chance of a comeback.

Defense: After opening the game by allowing a 14 play, 56 yard drive, the defense seemed to collect itself on the sidelines, causing 2 three-and-outs and a forced fumble on the next three drives, but after this good start, the Irish only forced the Falcons to punt twice (in nine drives) more in the ball game. Especially in the fourth quarter, the defense failed to get a stop when it mattered most. I'm tempted to start calling to see special teams walk-on Mike Anello in the secondary after failing to stop a service academy passing attack (63% completions for a 7.5 average) for the second week in a row.

Coaching: I know that I defended Charlie and the Weis guys in the previous post, but you have to scratch your head at the lack of in game adjustments against Air Force. A well written Sporting News student blog breaks down why ND would be foolish to fire Weis this year, and the gang at IR throws in some additional thoughts here. Both writers feel that Weis should be given the same opportunity as Willingham: to rebound from a bad year. If Charlie still can't find a place in the W column after his recruits have been in the program for 2 or 3 years, however, don't be surprised if ND starts shopping the coach market to find someone who is better at developing talent and making adjustments during games.

Eric Maust: The Irish backup punter had another solid week replacing Price, kicking 5 times for an average of 43 yards with 2 kicks inside the 20. With a special teams weapon like Maust, one has to wonder why the Irish neglect to ever play the field position game.

Junior Jabbie: Albeit in somewhat of a mop-up situation when Air Force was playing a conservative defense, Jabbie did have four nice catches for 51 yards, an effort that might justify a few more touches against Duke.

WRs: It is with great hesitation that I group Grimes and Carlson in here, and I only do so because they redeemed their early mistakes (multiple dropped passes and a ridiculous fumble, respectively) by hauling in a difficult touchdown reception (Carlson) and coming up with two big fourth down catches (Grimes) later in the game. Duval missed some action apparently because of academic issues (just like in NCAA 08 when you have to suspend someone for a game), but Parris came up with another strong performance and Allen added somewhat of a receiving threat out of the backfield.

On the quarterback situation: Clausen's performance fell somewhere between the two; not quite duddly, but not studly. For whatever reason, I feel that Sharpley is better right now, but its hard to argue Charlie handing over the reigns to his prize recruit in order to get him ready for next year. However, Irish fans need to hope that Clausen can learn to throw a deep ball better than an interhall quarterback and step up in the pocket instead of taking 12 yard sacks or the Dayne Crist era might come sooner than expected.

That's it for this week's edition of Duds and Studs. Hopefully we can catch Duke looking ahead to UNC and muster a home win this season. Go Irish.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fire Weis?

While I was perusing when I was supposed to be listening to a lecture on Microsoft Access, I came across an interesting Gene Wojciechowski article about Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. The article wasn't interesting because it addressed the age old Weis - Willingham comparison, but because it talked about fans turning their backs on the coach:

"Notre Dame alums and fans feel empowered by the precedent set when Willingham was dismissed. [. . .] Some of them want a new coach."

Over the last week, Charlie undoubtedly took some heat (even from the Nasties crew) for (among other decisions) not kicking the field goal against Navy, but I have yet to hear any students on campus challenging his job position. The ND blog roll also appears to be responding the same way, by criticizing the coaching, but not necessarily the coach.

"Weis is going to have to live with the "Fire Charlie" chatter"

Even though this season is breaking all sorts of bad records (only two other Irish teams have lost 8 games in a season), I feel that our fan base has been smart enough to tough out this season knowing, not hoping, that things will get better quickly. The reason ND locked up Weis with a big contract so early is that when he is given the talent to work with, the results have been two BCS bowl bids, and once this current Irish squad develops in terms of skill and experience, fans expect nothing less than a perennial championship contender.

Wojciechowski also was critical of Weis' recruiting, basically saying that even though his classes have been ranked very highly, it doesn't matter because high school player rankings can be so wildly inaccurate. On this point, I'd like to refer this professional ESPN writer to the research done over at the Blue-Gray Sky, where over the summer, the boys reviewed the high school rankings of the current college seniors and compared them to their on field performance, and here are some of the conclusions they found:

  • 30% of the top 50 seemed capable of playing in the NFL after only 3 years of school
  • Only 10% of the top 50 were considered true "busts"
  • Purdue's top 50 players seem to bust more than others (just a fun fact)

Also interesting was that the BGS team found that the hardest positions to evaluate were the offensive line and cornerback positions, so I guess that the ranking of the upcoming class could be somewhat skewed given that it contains 7 o-linemen and DBs, but the point is that a top ranking seems to be a decent predictor of college success. Oh, and by the way, the #1 ranked player of the 2008 class just set a single game rushing record in the NFL. I think his name's Peterson or something like that.

Up to this point, I haven't been sucked into comparing Weis and Willingham at all. Actually, I think this might be the first time I wrote the word "Willingham" in a post. But given that I am criticising an article that discusses him, I think I should at least say something on the issue. Well, I'm not going to, but I will point our loyal readers to a Huskie blog (link courtesy of Her Loyal Sons) so they can see how they are doing with our former head coach.

The ESPN article also includes a very good video of Mark May and Lou Holtz breaking down Notre Dame. Lou talked about how Notre Dame needs to get back to the fundamentals of toughness and good technique; Weis seems to have had some difficulty with this in the 07 season, and my only rational for it is that he is used to coaching experienced players, but not yet used to developing inexperienced players. One of May's criticisms was that Charlie has been unable to translate the recruiting rankings onto the field, so hopefully Chuck can prove him wrong as he learns how to better deal with youngsters.

Commenting on the loss to Navy, Lou referred to the 1987 team that lost in the Sugar Bowl, saying that that loss was able to fuel the team over the offseason and allowed them to go after the championship the next year. I personally believe that ND has faced enough "adversity" between getting walloped in its last two bowl games, getting hammered by USC in four out of the last five contests, and losing a record eight games this season, but if snapping the 43 year old winning streak against Navy ends up being the catalyst that leads to future success, I'll take it for now. This leaves us with the quote of the week:

"[losing to Navy] could be the best thing that happens to [Notre Dame]" - Lou Holtz

When life gives you lemons... Beat Falcons!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Navy Duds and Studs

At least the Browns won this weekend...
ND Secondary: There is absolutely no reason that our secondary should have allowed all-name quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada to complete 6 of 8 passes. I guess that I stirred up some bad karma in my game preview with the accidental Minter reference because our secondary looked just about as lost (out schemed, too slow, whatever you want to say) as it ever has over the last three years. Navy isn't exactly bringing in Calvin Johnson freaks of nature at the receiver positions and I doubt Kaipo will be nominated for the Golden Arm Award any time soon. Even worse than the 75% completion rate is that several passes gave Navy key first downs (and one touchdown in overtime). Getting sucked into an option playfake is no excuse for allowing this type of passing efficiency to a running team like Navy.

Playcalling: Because this blog will lose some of its relevance if ND cuts ties with Weis, I don't want to be too harsh, but there is no excuse for not kicking the field goal at the end of the game. Say what you want about running Thomas in the goal line packages or the decision to go for it 8 times on fourth down, I haven't found one person that agrees with Weis' decision to scrap the field goal late in the game. Charlie rationed that the team needed to get the ball to the 20 in order to attempt the field goal, but lets be honest: when the offense needs to put points on the board, kicking a 41 yard field goal has a much higher percentage than converting a 4th and 8 (and even if we do convert, we still don't have guaranteed points on the board). In an interhall game earlier this year, I saw a team that had never even practiced kicking extra points (they figured it was easier to go for 2 all the time) organize a field goal team for the first time during a game and kick a game winning 40 yarder as time expired. If a bunch of hung over college kids can do it, there's no excuse why varsity athletes can't.
The offensive line: Coming into the season, Navy had only 4 sacks (and that was against all of the Ball States and Dukes of the world), and our offensive line continued to disappoint by allowing 4 sacks in Saturday's game! It's no secret that Navy's linemen on both sides are limited by Naval Academy size restrictions, but somehow they gave us numerous problems. In addition to having poor pass protection, ND only averaged 3.7 yards a rush, and this leads me to point the finger at the coaching staff. There is no way that we don't have the talent to overwhelm Navy at the line of scrimmage. John Latina might as well pack his bags after this game; it might be ok to have a bad running attack in a rebuilding year while facing top 25 teams, but a 3.7 yard average against Navy is unacceptable.


Pat Kuntz: Without our workhorse nose tackle, Navy was able to get 3 yards up the middle at will, which forced the Irish to assign extra men to help out with the middle rush. In struggling with stopping the run up the middle, the Irish opened themselves up to be attacked on the perimeter. Hopefully Kuntz won't be out long.

Armando Allen: James Aldridge played
well, but Allen has to get the 'best running back' award. With 91 yards on a 5.9 average on the ground, 3 catches for 20 yards, and 115 yards on 4 kick returns, this freshman knows how to fill the stat sheet. Against Navy, I could see what Weis meant when he said Allen was seeing things slow down on the field; his burst of speed seems more natural, and I'm excited to see him continue to develop as a player.

Duval Kamara: Another bright youngster, Kamara showed flashes of potential against Navy. Most notably, his long touchdown reception on 3rd down to help keep the Irish in the game. Look for Kamara to start with Robby Parris against Air Force as Grimes continues to look average and Tate has yet to do anything exciting since Purdue.

Here are some of the better write-ups about the Navy game from other blogs:
Enjoy. Go Irish. Beat Falcons.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Maybe not quite as bad, but this loss seemed to sting a little...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Weekend Preview: We WILL Score Points Against Navy

Looking forward to the Navy game tomorrow, there are a few stats that I find encouraging, and few stats I find frightening. Read on to see what the Nasties crew thinks of the Midshipmen in an edition of good stat / bad stat.
Good Stat: Navy surrenders 38.1 points a game. What makes this figure even more potent is that the points were against teams not exactly known for their prolific offenses: Temple (30), Ball State (34), Duke (46), Wake Forest (44), and most recently, 1-AA team Delaware (59). Despite the adversity, I've remained positive about Charlie and his army, but if we can't put up some points this weekend, you might see me pulling out all of the hair on my head and drowning my sorrows at the fro-yo machine.

Bad Stat: Navy scores 35.8 points a game. Fortunately, these stats are also against the opponents above, but being able to put up 48 points on Pitt (even though it was overtime) and 24 on Rutgers is arguably better than the Irish could do this season. There will be a lot of pressure on the Irish defense to hold Navy to minimal scoring.
Good Stat: Navy only averages 100 yards passing per game. Compared to some of our past opponents, the Midshipmen do not have the height and speed at the receiver position that has given us problems up to this point in the year. This allows Minter to call more man coverages and apply a little more pressure up front.

Bad Stat: Navy has one of the top ten best rushing attacks in Division 1. Averaging over 300 yards on the ground, our front 8 (that's the regular 7 plus Zibby) will have to step it up if we want to stall their offense.

Good Stat: Geoff Price averaged 45 yards per punt last game. Especially against a ground attack team, the field position game is imperative. A team that stretches the field with the pass can go 80 yards in 5 or 6 plays, but for a grind-it-out running team, such drives normally take 10 to 12 plays. Translation: its much harder to string together 10 or 12 good plays than 5 or 6.

Bad Stat: Notre Dame
has only scored 17 first quarter points this year. When facing a team that is great at running the clock like Navy, it is important not to get behind early. Hopefully, ND can get a quick touchdown to keep the pressure off of the defense.

Good Stat: The Irish have beaten the Midshipmen in 43 consecutive meetings. That has to count for something, right?

In other news, good luck to the men's basketball team, who is tipping off against St. Ambrose in their first exhibition game tonight. Although the team will be without power forward Luke Harangody, who is nursing a broken hand, I expect nothing less than a 30 point victory.

Also, keep Robert Hughes' family in your prayers. The sophomore running back's brother was shot and killed a few days ago. His funeral was scheduled for 11:00 am today.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quote of the Week

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a lecture earlier in the week that Weis spoke at, and now our loyal readers will be fortunate enough to catch my quick summary:

Anyone that has heard Weis speak about the University and the football program before knows how passionate he is about both, and this was further strengthened in his talk when he said "One of two things is gonna happen. Either Notre Dame's gonna get to the top, or I'm gonna die." However, any American citizen knows that this season, Notre Dame is anything but at the top. As he stated at the lecture, Weis knew that coming into the ND job, it was going to take a full cycle of recruiting in order for him to get ND to where he wanted it to be. Winning 9 and 10 games his first two years was nice, but according to Weis, the Irish aren't supposed to win 10 games one year and 6 the next; we should be on top every year. Chuck said that in order to get the program to this level, it would take 4 or 5 years (full cycle of recruiting).

The point is that Weis obviously cares about the program, and with anyone who combines the passion he has with the talent that he is recruiting, it won't be long until this program returns to its winning ways.

For those of you who weren't satisfied with that, here's a nice highlight video for you to watch:

My personal favorite line: "That might be the most SENSATIONAL, UNBELIEVABLE, play in DIVISION III!"