Thursday, July 31, 2008

Here We Go Brownies...

Unfortunately for me and the rest of the Notre Dame community, there's nothing Irish pigskin related to look forward to (besides perhaps the open to student practice) until September 6th.

Fortunately for me and every NFL fan out there, next week starts the beginning of preseason football games. So while the Notre Dame athletes are busy going from class to practice to CJs to bed, my home Dawgs are hard at work running through plays and cranking out media material.

And, fortunately for our Quote of the Week segment, a few Notre Dame players happen to be in the lime light of the preseason media binoculars, so I can find a way to tie in the Brown and Orange with the Blue and Gold.

While most late round draft picks (let alone undrafted free agents) rarely experience any media coverage while trying to make the team, former Irish running back Travis Thomas is making his presence known enough in practice to merit his own write up on the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal sports section this morning.
Quinn hands off to Thomas during Two-A-Days
First impressions are everything, and there's little doubt that rookie running back Travis Thomas made a favorable one on Browns coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel recently singled out Thomas for praise, an enviable position just a week into training camp.

For all
of you potential Notre Dame recruits reading this, Thomas credits playing for Charlie Weis as one of the reasons for his success:

Thomas said he feels comfortable in the Browns offense, primarily because Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis ran a pro-style attack.''I thought the offense was similar to what I came from in college, and also, it was a good opportunity, and it seemed to be a good fit for me,'' he said of signing as an undrafted free agent.

It's very encouraging to see that TT is doing so well in Cleveland. I have to admit that I was skeptical about him making the team when I saw that he was signed, and even if he does make the team now, it would be an even larger surprise if he sees time at running back. Thomas is currently sitting behind Jamal Lewis, Jason Wright, and Jerome Harrison, who have already proven to coaches and fans that they can be a dominant back, an above average backup, and a capable speedy 3rd down back, respectively. The most likely way for Thomas to make an impact this season is on special teams, where he will rely on the experienced he gained while playing linebacker for Notre Dame.

There have been mixed reviews about Quinn's performance in training camp, but I think it is more a result of high expectations and tough competition than a lack of talent. What I have been reading about this summer camp is night and day different than what I was reading last season, when the Browns were in a 2.5 man quarterback derby (Quinn only practiced about half of the camp due to a hold out). Now DA is showing off his strong arm with confidence and is looking primed to lead the team this season, and Quinn, while he has been praised for his accuracy in the short game and ability to read the defense, is still going through some issues that every young quarterback faces in the NFL. For one thing, Quinn has been allegedly having some trouble with overthrowing his receivers on deep balls (which I suppose is better than the alternative Pennington approach), but head coach Romeo Crennel doesn't see it as a problem, but as sign of growth:

"Last year, he would just take what the defense gave him. I think he has better command of the offense, and he's trying to anticipate when he can make a play down the field."

''I know that he works hard. Things are going to smooth out for him and things will be less erratic for him, so to speak. "

Good luck to both Thomas and Quinn as they prepare to face New York a week from today in the first preseason game. Go Cleveland! Beat Jets!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Way Too Early Purdue Preview

Over the next several weeks, Charlie's Nasties will be giving readers previews of the 2008 Irish opponents.

2007 record: 8-5

2007 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters: 7 on offense - 5 on defense

After an excellent trip (ignoring the loss) to West Lafayette last season, I’m looking forward to hosting the Boilermakers in South Bend this year; Purdue’s offense and lack of defense should make for a fun and exciting thriller on September 27th.

Longshot Heisman candidate Curtis Painter will return under center, looking to build off of a season where he threw for 3,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. Fortunately for the Irish, top receiver Dorien Bryant and well utilized tight end Dustin Keller will both be in the NFL next season, leaving Greg Orton to step up as Painter’s main target. The Boilermaker’s may have graduated a lot of talent at the position last year (they also lost WR Selwyn Lymon), but Orton hauled in over 60 receptions (3 TDs), and seniors Joe Whitest, Desmond Tardy, and JUCO Aaron Valentin should be able to bring a decent deal of experience to fill the void. None of the new receiving corp may impress on paper, but then again, Matt Ryan didn’t need a lot to work with in order to win with BC last season.
A week after facing Javon Ringer, the Notre Dame front seven will be challenged again to stop the run as talented senior Kory Sheets will return for another year. Sheets ran for nearly 900 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, and with capable backups filling out this position, Painter should be able to hand off when he needs to pick up yards on the ground.

That is, however, if Purdue can field an offensive line this year. Three starters return along the front five, but all three players are recovering from offseason surgery. Seniors Zach Jones (OT) and Zach Redman (OG) both had work done on their shoulders in the offseason, and season left tackle Sean Sester, arguably the best pro prospect on the team, is coming off of back surgery. It can be tough for any player to fully recover from surgery, and extensive injuries like these can be especially nagging on linemen over the course of a season. The lack of depth at the position could aid to this problem as the three starters will likely be banged up for the game against Notre Dame, facing Oregon and Central Michigan before traveling to South Bend.
An offense that could put points on the board last season (423 yards/game, 32.9 points/game) looks like it might have the capability of having another good offensive year, but a defense that gave up 385 yards/game and nearly 25 ppg has some room for improvement heading into 2008. Four members of the 2007 secondary (2 CBs, 1 SS, 1 LB) tried to make it to the NFL through free agency and tryouts this spring, but the loss of OLBs Cliff Avril and Stanford Keglar through the draft probably hurt this team the most. Anthony Heygood is a legitimate all-Big-Ten player at the Mike position, registering 80 tackles in his first season with playing time. The question is whether or not some talented young players can join Heygood and aid an above average defensive line in applying pressure up front.

By this point in the season, our offensive line should be able to win the battle against Purdue's front seven, allowing the Irish to open up a decent running game and give Jimmy enough time rack up some passing stats. While students should be able to count on doing some push ups in the stands, whether or not our defense can stop the Boilermaker offense is a bigger question mark. If Purdue's offensive line is healthy, Sheets could have a big day on the ground, and Painter will have time to set his feet and pick apart our secondary. What's most scary about facing a good quarterback like Painter is that if TAN-NOOH-TAH's blitz packages don't land, he has the ability to make the defense pay.

Fortunately, I think that after two tough ground games against Michigan and MSU, our defense will be up to the task of winning the battle at the defensive line of scrimmage, forcing a turnover or two, and giving fans something to cheer about with a 35-24 win, and thankfully the Irish will be able to witness victory without 10,000 megawatt advertisements blaring in their ears.

Go Irish!

Pars Secundus: MMVIII Notre Dame Football cum Digitalos Viros

mmmm nothing like Latin in the summertime......

But before diving into Part 2 of my season preview, some disappointing news coming from Eagles training camp up at Lehigh regarding a Notre Dame football alumnus. DE Victor Abiamiri underwent surgery today to heal a wrist injury suffered in the first few days of the camp. The second year player received two screws to close the fracture and doctors repaired ligament damage. Team doctors believe at most he will be healed in 4 months, hopefully sooner. But a main part of playing the defense end position, and one of Victor's strengths, is the use of one's hands to shed off a guard which will no doubt be affected by the cast placed on his wrist. The Eagles expected big things after an impressive rookie season by Victor, and he will be missed.

On a better note, he did return to Lehigh today from his surgery down near Philadelphia no doubt to support fellow Eagle Trevor Laws in his assimilation into the life of a professional athlete from the warm confines of Notre Dame.

Onto the preview...

North Carolina- I was very surprised how well this team came out infront of its own crowd. As those who were at last year's game on campus saw, NC is a team and program on the rise, and are only a few more good years away under Butch Davis from really breaking into the national radar. This game was a shock to me, in that it was a back and forth game going into the final minutes. Only a costly INT by their QB salvaged the day for our squad. I could see this team being overlooked by the coaches and players in anticipation for the Washington game.

Washington- You have to admire a guy like Jake Locker, I know he plays under Ty but the guy dedicated himself to being a Huskie and stuck with it. He also sacrifices his body more than Tim Tebow ever would. (Although I do hope he is shown a new meaning of pain by the ND linebacker core) In the game, he did not really run except for around the goal line, and in 4 attempts inside the redzone, I was not able to surmise a counter to his hardnose up-the-gut running style. Close loss unfortunately.

I'm not saying I'm brushing aside Navy and Syracuse, but when you go up by 40 in each game in the first half, not much can be gathered from the opponent's play.

Pitt- Dave Wannsted and his whimsical stache would have been great to see in high color HD graphics, but regretfully the artists at EA couldn't render the crunchy-chewy-cheesy-ness of it into this years game. Soph RB LeSeAn McCoY ran all over the Notre Dame defense, but in what is becoming one of the great attributes of this team, when they need a stop, they come up big. And it proved to be no bigger than in the 4th, ND up by 10, Pitt drove the ball to the 15 only to see a fired up defense snarl and turn up a sack, incompletion, tackle for loss, and then another sack on 4th down to seal the game.

BC- this is great payback for all of last year. Navy aside, nothing was worse last year then seeing a good (read: overrated and if that VT rain game didn't end the way it did, they'd be nothing) Boston College team. But now with all 17 of the 5th year seniors gone (yep......17), they really have nothing, and it was marvelous. Armando hinted at how great his junior season was going to turn out by returning two kicks for TDs, as well as combining for over 200 yards rushing/receiving. Big win which brings me to Number 1 USC.

With the Coliseum intimidating as hell, this night game seemed as foolish as Caesar crossing the Rubicon, but would prove to be the first step into a new football empire. (thus the Latin)
Starting out in a 4-wide spread offense the entire way down the field on the first drive, Clausen was perfect on his 5 passes including a quick slant to Armando in the left slot for the score. The defense on all USC's drives smothered the Trojan attack forcing Mark "Some people call me dirty" Sanchez into 4 turnovers. Twice this was on the first play after a score. Clausen with a lead would just pick apart the Trojan secondary for short passes and screens with his precision and cool demenor often with a charging linebacker or end in his face. The final score of 24-17 did not reflect the rout the game was, with USC scoring on the last play and also a late kick-off return.

This game exemplifies what I feel this team can do. Our boys are not flashy, but are a very good team which is still learning and growing into what they can be. There are no game changing receivers, but all of them can get open and catch a ball. Clausen is great when given time and has perfect touch to pick apart any zone. Armando and Aldridge both can break spectacular plays but are a year away from being Reggie Bush unstoppable. The defense sometimes misses tackles, but they make them when they count. Nobody demands a double team on the line, but nobody can be left in single blocking for too long without breaking through. The secondary is all hungry for the ball and I forsee many many interceptions. And as I can attest in the next season, the team truely becomes dominant and awesomely powerful, dictating its offense and leaving the opposing offense stymied.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quote of the Week

Before I get everyone rarin to go with some quality quotes, there are a few maintenance messages:

1. I hope everyone enjoyed the first post by our new writer, JY. It's taken me weeks of hard work competing on I Love Money to drum up enough payroll to hire a new writer, so if you don't like him, tough luck; I'm getting all of the writing I can out of him.

2. I've made some updates in the blogroll. Nothing against the Irish Roundup or the House Rock Built; they are great blogs that can really crank out some good stuff, but months without any posts have forced them out of the rotation for now. Check out Her Loyal Sons, which will fill their void for now.

3. JY's post pretty much took care of it, but I would like to welcome the new NCAA football game. Nothing passes time in the slow offseason like some pixelated greatness.

4. Speaking of slow news, sorry for missing last week's quote; I was lounging around a hotel in Scottsdale sans wireless access, which made it difficult to post anything.

Congrats to the Weis recruiting train for picking up some huge (as in 550 lbs) recruits over the past two weeks. Last Sunday, Notre Dame picked up a five star guard in Chris Watt. Ranked as the second best guard in the country by Rivals and Scout, Watt is an excellent grab for the Irish, and you have to love getting a lineman who says stuff like this:

“I think offensive line is the best position on the field,” Watt said. “You get to come off the ball. You’re already in the stance. You have power coming out of it. You get to knock somebody as hard as you can without getting in trouble for it.”

Days ago, Zach Martin, a 6'5" 275 Indiana prospect, gave Notre Dame a much needed commit at the offensive tackle position, and it seems that he will be fighting in the Irish trenches with the same intensity as Watt:

"I go after people," said Martin who, in addition to playing offensive line at Chatard, also plays defensive end. "I'm a vicious player."

I can't overstate how great it is that both of these players have so much love for the game, and specifically, for their position. It may sound cliche (especially on this blog), but it would be nice to see ND grow a little nasty over the next few seasons. Of course it never hurts to bring in some talent to match the intensity:

"(Martin is) really almost, I think, the equal of Chris Watt," CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "He's the No. 1 player in Indiana."
Joining elite prospect Alex Bullard, this class is firmly establishing itself in the trenches, and in completely unrelated news, Ty Willingham secured his first recruit of the year in Washington.

Go Irish!

Monday, July 21, 2008

This is my long awaited and heavily anticipated debut on Charlie’s nasties. After many months of trying to come up with a topic (engineering tends to destroy all of your creative writing skills using fancy vectors and eigenvalues and the such). But as I am tearing into the new edition of NCAA Football on my Xbox 360, it occurred to me that nothing would be more apt then to start my sure to be illustrious career with this:

The Notre Dame 2008 Season Preview through NCAA 09 pt. I

Now as pops and Brugg (yea matt, you used to write on this) can attest, I have tunnel vision when I play and tend to throw game crushing interceptions inexplicably. But besides that, I am an above average player against the computer with dozens of seasons under my belt, so I am just entering my prime. These games were played on heisman with the current 2008 rosters without any significant injuries in 4 minute quarters.

The game this year is flawless. It is such an improvement over previous years as well as the Madden franchise. The gameplay especially the running is fluid. The penalties are real, and there is actually pass interference, so you just cant have your safety plow the WR into the sideline when the pass goes up. But above all, the computer AI is perfect, which makes the pursuit angles real, so that you just cant run to the corner and get an easy touchdown on a kickoff, option pitch, or handoff. Unfortunately, ncaa hasnt taken a hint from madden and changed how easy it is for a scrambling quarterback to pick apart a defense by running back and to the sideline before a pass. Onto the season…

San Diego State- this team is terrible; their defense is comparable to the french army, on the field but not really doing anything and just running towards their endzone. This team really had no offense, so it was no surprise that Notre Dame had the ball most of the game. Screen passes to both Armando and Aldridge proved to be the best way to get big chunks of yards. Easy easy win.

Michigan- I was all excited to see the digitalized Dick Rod, but sadly they got rid of the terrible shots of the coaches on the sidelines (which I am also sorry to say, was the most flattering picture of Charlie on a sideline ever taken). But Michigan pales in comparison to even last year’s team and struggles to move the ball. But as sluggish as their offense is, ours did not fair well either with some untimely fumbling after an game clinching end zone reception, which led to a last second field goal for a Michigan win. ( every sports game has the eff-u game when there is nothing you can do to prevent it, the computer will win in the end and ur left with only a puzzled look on your face, skynet gets its kicks off your misery)

Michigan State- this game was interesting in that they could run all over our usually stout run defense, and the ND running backs could not make it past the back of our center's jearsey. But this proved to be Clausen’s breakout game, netting over 400 yards total in the Irish win. In another funny note, once scoring a touchdown, you can run over to the leprechaun and dance with him, which is both awkward and hilarious at the same time since the mascot only comes up to Duval Kamara’s waist, and his hand is 5x bigger.

Purdue- in this game, both our offensive line and defensive line smothered Purdue leading to a very lopsided and easy win. Now I missed the game last year due to complications of a late nite and an early bus, and was not able to see the loss there. But if the video game Irish are anything like their counterparts, the game this year will be very satisfying for all Notre Dame fans with an out and out popping of "the big drum".

I’ll be back in a few with the second half of the season including coverage of how good this years team can be as exemplified during the USC game as well as this weeks "Movie of the Week" for our boys….

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Way Too Early MSU Preview

Over the next several weeks, Charlie's Nasties will be giving readers previews of the 2008 Irish opponents.

2007 record: 7-6
2007 conference record: 3-5
Returning starters: 9 on offense - 5 on defense

Based on last year's record, MSU looks like a team that could turn the corner in 2008. They fought the number 9 ranked badgers to a 3 point loss in Madison, they took the top ranked Buckeyes down to the wire in Columbus, and dropped their bowl game to a skilled Boston College team by only 3 points. Mark Dantonio’s team may have lost 6 times in 2007, but none of these losses were by more than seven points.

Tailback Javon Ringer rushed for nearly 1,500 yards last season while splitting time with Jehuu Cualcrick, who as we all know, was a BOWLING BALL against the Irish in 2006, but was kept out of the game in the final minutes as part of John L. Smith's genius self destruct plan. Cualcrick was used as the goal line back last season, tallying a school record 21 rushing touchdowns; look for Ringer to challenge that record if he can stay healthy.
Senior quarterback Brian Hoyer is coming off of an impressive campaign, throwing for 2,725 yards with a 131 quarterback rating. He will be without his two favorite targets, Devin Thomas and tight end Kellen Davis (both in NFL), but Hoyer should have enough talent to work with as the team returns two contributors at WR (Mark Dell and Deon Curry), and Ringer is also a capable receiving back. If for nothing else, an offensive line that returns 3 starters from last season should be able to give Hoyer time to throw, especially against a thin Irish front 7.

When breaking down teams, analysts and bloggers can come up with some pretty decent opinions, but the people who really know what they're doing are the bookies. Here's what thinks about the Spartan defense:

"With only 5 returning starters there is talk that this same defense that created 20 turnovers and had a combined 40 sacks can improve on those numbers this season. The team is very high at the end spots with senior Brandon Long and transfer Trevor Anderson. Even though the only returning starter on the d-line is tackle Justin Kershaw, but sophomores Oren Wilson and Trevor Anderson have shown a lot of promise so far. The best player on this side of the ball is sophomore MLB Greg Jones, as he makes the switch to the middle from outside. Jones is only going to get better, as he led the team in tackles as a true freshman. Look for fellow sophomore Eric Gordon to be a solid campaign at linebacker. The secondary has 4 guys that have seen action at the corner spot, but look for junior Ashton Henderson and senior Kendell Davis-Clark to hold down the spots to start the season. Otis Wiley will return as the starting strong safety and it looks like junior Roderick Jenrette will be the guy roaming at free safety."

So on paper, the 2008 Spartans look like a pretty scary matchup, right? So why does BetFirms have MSU finishing 5th in the Big Ten? Why does say that MSU fans are only "cautiously optimistic" at this point in the season. Oh yeah, because they are Michigan State.

It seems like MSU is on the verge of greatness nearly every season, but they can never turn the corner. Whether they start out hot and suffer a cataclysmic loss that dooms the rest of their season, or consistently drop close games throughout the season, Spartan fans usually use this time of the year to think back on what could have been.
Notre Dame has won 15 of the last 17 games at Michigan State, but unfortunately, ND will be facing off against a capable offense and aggressive defense too early in the season for Michigan State to have completely collapsed. Look for Ringer to have a 150 yard game while an experienced Hoyer takes control of the ball enough to hold onto a 21-17 win. Notre Dame starts off the 2008 season 1-2.

Not to end on a bad note, here's one of the best highlight videos ever made:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Way Too Early Michigan Preview

Over the next several weeks, Charlie's Nasties will be giving readers previews of the 2008 Irish opponents.

2007 record: 9-4
2007 conference record:
Returning starters: 3 on offense – 5 on defense

Carlos Brown will battle Brandon Minor for the starting roll. Both backs posted similar numbers last season, each netting around 380 rushing yards on around 80 attempts. Look to see some of incoming freshman Sam McGuffie if either of those two struggle; the speedster from Texas comes to Ann Arbor with an impressive highlight reel and possesses the big play potential that could be helpful for a young offense. I know that my dorm-mates back at school all fear and respect the McGuffie virus.

After losing Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham to the green movement, errr… NFL, Greg Matthews and Junior Hemmingway will likely be the primary targets at receiver this fall. The pair only contributed to 15% of the passing offense last season and will have to make a big jump if they want to scare any team’s secondary. Look for Threet to use returning TEs Carson Butler and Mike Massey if Rodriguez doesn’t eliminate their positions so the Wolverines can run a spread…
Redshirt SO David Molk, redshirt SE Mark Ortmann, redshirt SE David Moosman, redshirt SE Cory Zirbel, and redshirt junior Steve Schilling are the favorites to start in the offensive trenches, and while a first glance at the line should make a UM fan feel pretty confident, a solid and mature offensive line last year prevented most of these guys from getting playing time; Schilling is the only returning starter. There was a reason most of these guys weren’t starting last year, but four years to develop strength and technique leads me to believe that while the group may lack experience, their age should make them pretty solid. Notre Dame is fortunate to play Mich early in the season, but could still have major troubles matching up against this group.
It gets worse in the defensive line. The same four hog-mollys that gave Clausen an unforgettable (for all the wrong reasons) welcome to college football is back; a fine tuned group of seniors and fifth years that sacked Clausen eight times last year will give the Notre Dame line a much tougher test than the Aztecs.
A lot of experience returns at cornerback as the Wolverines will have two seniors back from last year as well as a talented Donovan Warren, who saw a lot of PT last year as a freshman, but the two projected starters at the safety positions are both rising juniors with little experience. Notre Dame’s best bet will be to stretch the field and keep the UM linebackers and safeties guessing with lots of playaction and screens.

Unfortunately for the Irish, the ability to keep a defense off balance relies heavily on establishing a consistent running game; even if only 3 yards is consistently gained. Clausen must also be able to set his feet on his deep drops in order to deliver catchable deep balls, and while the showing by the offensive line will be better than last year’s debacle (how could it be worse?), I think that Michigan’s talent and experience up front will prevent ND from moving the ball with much success.
The Bleacher Report and I both agree that this game will be interesting from the standpoint that it will tell us much about the future of each team, this one probably won't be a shootout in South Bend:

"With Michigan still working out kinks of its own at this point of the season, and a highly inexperienced offensive unit entering a hostile environment for the first time, I foresee a low-scoring affair and a game determined by the play of both defenses."

Notre Dame’s best chance for success in this is game is to be the aggressor
on defense, bringing heat up the middle and off the edge, forcing a green offense to make the plays. If the Irish are successful in this one, it will be due to ND’s defense drumming up come circa 2002 turnovers, and Michigan's defense surrendering one or two big plays on offense and special teams. It is fortunate that Notre Dame has week one to work out a few kinks against San Diego State, but this game will likely be a grueling defensive struggle. Unless the team made some giant strides in the offseason, however, the Irish offense will struggle against a good UM defense, and Notre Dame will drop their second game of the season 17 – 10.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Football in the offseason

Even though the Irish players are spending more time hitting the books and weights than each other, and even though my media darling Brownies are all on vacation, I've luckily been able to curb some of my football cravings the past few weeks in other ways than putting on my high school helmet while playing Madden.

That's right, I'm talking about the Cleveland Gladiators, a team that moved to the shores of Lake Erie after notching a dismal 2-14 record in Sin City last season. No Cleveland team has won anything since 1964, but this Saturday, the Gladiators will square off in a rematch against Bon Jovi's Philadelphia Soul in the league semi finals. At first glance, one might think that Weis will be rooting for the team of his musical man crush, but Cleveland does have a mascot named Rudi who I guess is a baller, so Notre Dame coaches from Jersey could probably go either way on this one.

So watch the game if you have time this weekend; they're more fun to watch than a failing Indians team.

But enough about Cleveland; news has been pretty good in South Bend these last few days as the Irish have secured two more verbal commitments for the recruiting class of 2009. The combination of Weis and Brown continued their trend of landing talented secondary recruits with the addition of Marlon Pollard on Monday, and also landed the second TE in the '09 class the next day in Fort Wayne product Tyler Eifert.

While such paper numbers as Pollard's 160 lb weight may not make him jump out as an elite prospect, the experts all seem to agree that his small frame is more than compensated for by other attributes. Recruiting guru Tom Lemming ranks Pollard as the 70th best player nationally, and adds that he has "everything needed to be an outstanding cornerback." While the 6'1" corner could use some time in the weight room, it seems that once he gets a little bigger, his style of play indicates that he should be able to add to Notre Dame's quickly growing aggressive secondary:

"I just go after it and I swarm to the ball. I play off my instincts and usually that carries me to the ball."
If Pollard has a nose for the ball, then TE prospect Tyler Eifert has hands for the ball. Eifert's picture may make him look more like the guy that sat next to you in freshman calc than someone that'll be playing ball on Saturdays, but his 6'5" 220 lb frame begs to differ. Ranked as a 3 star recruit by both Rivals and Scout, Eifert played his way to a scholarship offer at one of Notre Dame's camps this summer; Weis reportedly offered him the chance to play TE, WR, or safety for the Irish:"I think I could help out most at tight end,” he responded. “I know they already have some great tight ends, but I’ll play wherever I can contribute. It’s fine with me if that’s working out as a wide receiver first and growing into a tight end.”
You gotta love the way the kid is already talking like he's a team player. Here's ESPN's take on the Indiana native:

"Displays soft hands and the ability to pluck the ball. Eifert's main contribution to a college program likely will be as a pass-catcher, especially initially. He has the frame and hands to be a chains-mover"

Let's hope these two can help ND dominate teams in the future like Rudi dominates ugly chicken (?) mascots now!
Go Irish!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Way Too Early SDSU Preview

The fireworks are over, it's getting hot outside, and I'm ready to finally start talking some football. Thus starts the Charlie's Nasties Way Too Early enemy scouting report series. Check back every week or so to read in on our future opponents.

Week 1: The San Diego State Aztecs

While far from the greatest show on turf, the Aztecs of San Diego State put together a fairly respectable offense in 2007. Quarterback Kevin O’Connell impressed the Patriots enough to use a 3rd round pick on him; last year the QB was efficient in moving his team through the air (3000 yards and 15 TDs) and on the ground (over 400 rush yards and 11 TDs). Receivers Chaz Schilens and Brett Swain also brought explosiveness to the Aztec offense before being selected in the 7th round of the NFL Draft, and while running back Lynell Hamilton never heard his name called, he did get picked up in free agency by the New Orleans Saints. Fortunately the Irish won’t have to deal with any of those players (I seriously think that a mobile quarterback with a decent ground game and capable wide receivers could have destroyed us early last year), and additionally, the Aztecs will only return one starter (guard Mike Schmidt) on the offensive line for the 2008 campaign.
Does this sound familiar to anyone yet? Star quarterback and two excellent receivers leave to play at the next level and a very capable running back gets signed as an NFL free agent? The O-line also loses NFL talent (G Brandyn Dombrowski was also signed in free agency) and is projected to start multiple youngsters (C Tommie Draheim, T Kurtis Gunther and T Mike Matamua are all redshirt freshmen)? What’s more, SDSU is still deciding who will be under center; 3 different quarterbacks saw action in the spring game, and no one appeared to seize the job. If Notre Dame, who put up explosive offensive numbers in 2006, was reduced to a national laughing stock on offense after graduating playmakers at virtually every position on offense, what is in store for San Diego State, who only won 4 games last season with all of these future NFL players?

Mr. OptimisticDomer: Awesome! There’s no way we can lose to such a terrible team. That would be great to start the season off with a shutout. I’m going to make reservations for Rocko’s right now so I can be sure to celebrate an easy victory with some pizza pies.
Not so fast, Mr. OptimisticDomer. The Aztecs were never in consideration for a BCS game last year, but they weren’t losing because of their offense. To steal from Sunday Morning Quarterback, the SDSU defense was so terrible last season that words don’t really do it justice. Here is a comparison of San Diego State’s defense among its Mountain West opponents:

U.G.L.Y. you ain’t got no alibi.

Mr. OptomisticDomer: AND their defense is terrible? Forget Rocko’s, I think I’m going to penny up for a tailgating bus to make sure I can really celebrate a good win.
While SDSU graduated a considerable chunk of its offense, the defense will return 8 starters, including linebacker Russell Allen, who lead the team in tackles with 119. Rising sophomore Miles Burris also seems to have a nose for the football, leading the defense in tackles throughout the spring, and even though there really may not be anywhere to go but up, the defensive front looks like it may be considerably better than last year:

Defensive coordinator Bob Elliott is convinced that his strength in the trenches is improved with the development of sophomore DT Ernie Lawson and juniors Peter Nelson and Avery Williams. DE Ryan Williams, a transfer from Ohio State, looked like an immediate contributor as a pass-rushing threat, and head Coach Chuck Long seems particularly excited about the development of the secondary, which returns both Aaron Moore and Vonnie Holmes, each of whom recorded four picks in 2007. In order to jumpstart the development of his young football squad, Long has made sure that his team has been practicing while the rest of the school is partying. It has been rumored that the Aztec squad has been among the hardest working in the country this off season. In fact, they might have been practicing too much, as Long is apparently facing allegations of violating NCAA rules. Any snaps that SDSU earned in this way weren’t made apparent in the school’s annual Red and Black game this spring. The quarterback carousel went 9-24 for just 89 yards, and the starting job has apparently been handed to consensus top 100 recruit (redshirt freshman) Ryan Lindley after his competition succeeded in looking as inexperienced as he did. Talking like a good leader should, Lindley refused to throw his newly earned offense under the bus after their dismal performance:
“I think this year and next year you're going to see this offense get explosive."
Sorry Ryan, but a spring game like the one you had points to the opposite direction of explosiveness. I know. I’ve seen it.

Unlike the Irish of 2007, the Aztecs will have a chance to work out a few kinks in a season opener against Cal-Poly before facing Notre Dame (who is hopefully a more formidable opponent) September 6th. However, after suffering through last year, I can say fairly confidently that any team like San Diego State will likely experience some hefty growing pains early in the season. The young offensive line and green skill players should provide for an entertaining introduction to the warped schemes of John Tenuta, and an improving but still poor defense will allow Clausen and company to get off to a good start offensively. If our new offensive line isn’t able to open up the running game and quarterback pressure forces a few turnovers, this one could be fairly close, but I predict Notre Dame to come out of the gates strong in 2008, taking down San Diego State 31 to 9.

Go ahead and rent your bus.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


In lieu of this week's quote, I thought it would be nice to get something with a little red white and blue up here to get everyone in the mood for tomorrow.
Here's another clip from a concert I was at this summer:

Happy 4th!
Go Irish!