Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I guess that's sort of what happened hear at Charlie's Nasties since the Boston College game. After an increase in school work was coupled with on-field performance I found difficult to write about, this blog has been put on the back burner. Kudos to everyone still writing the IBG posts - I've still been reading all things Irish, but the time to write kept finding away to escape from me.
Nevertheless, I felt that I should at least share a few thoughts about the bowl game against the Hawaii Warriors tonight. Naturally, BGS has a very in depth breakdown of the team we will be facing tonight. Here are a few observations about their roster:
- Hawaii only has one starter (soph RB Kealoha Pilares) that isn't at least a junior. It absolutely amazes me that Notre Dame is still fielding so much youth (5 freshman have started this year) that it is still markedly younger than a Hawaii team that just graduated perhaps its best class in school history.
- The matchup that might determine the game could very well be Hawaii's D-Line vs. the Notre Dame sled pushers. DE David Veikune has 9 sacks in the last six games and is projected by some to get drafted this spring. Couple that with two 300 lb tackles on the interior, and the Irish offensive line could be challenged by the Warriors, who are 11th in the nation in sacks this year.
- I feel that our defense will match up favorably against Hawaii's run and shoot offense. Sports Illustrated wrote a great article a few months ago about the keys to stopping a spread offense, and it seems that the secret is to field a very rare and specific type of defensive players that are fast, agile, and capable tacklers. This has shown up in Weis' recruiting as he has been getting bigger, more physical CBs and quicker (and sometimes smaller) front seven players. Look for Harrison Smith to be all over the field in this game.
That's about as in depth as I can go into a game preview, but hopefully readers can find something worthwhile in there. Perhaps more interesting than any game preview, however, is the reaction to Notre Dame playing in this bowl game in the first place. Here are some bullet points on that:
- On the decision to bowl at .500: I am aware that Notre Dame is used to holding itself to a higher tradition, and the thought of being rewarded for such a disappointing season doesn't sit well with some people. However, this young team needs this game not for the extra practices (I honestly don't think an extra 2-3 weeks at the end of the season does much), they need this game to change the momentum around before the offseason. Getting the bowl monkey off our back would help everything from recruiting to player moral; we need this win. Good call.
- On the decision to bowl in Hawaii: From my understanding, there were a few lower-tiered bowls chomping at the bit to host Notre Dame and its large viewing audience, and the coaches asked the players informally if they preferred any of these bowls. Naturally, the players picked Hawaii. Here is where I have a problem because it does seem to turn the trip into a reward. This also seems to be a lose-lose from a football standpoint: if we win, we beat Hawaii. If we lose, we lost to Hawaii. Neither option is very appealing; it's no wonder the ever generous University offered students $45 tickets to this game. Bad call.
- More on the decision to bowl in Hawaii: Besides the coach/player/football decision to go to Hawaii, this bowl choice has not seemed to make fans very happy. For the first time in history, the band will not follow the team to the bowl game, and in the current economy, it seems unlikely that many fans will either. One domer from Pittsburgh commented that instead of paying the $2,500 for a plane ticket, he would rather watch the game on a new High Def TV. As for the students, some of the better off upperclassmen are fortunate enough be able to vacation to Hawaii and watch the team, but I know too many Seniors that are financially unable to cheer on their team in person for their last game as students. Bad Call.
- On playing on Christmas Eve: I don't like this date for two reasons. First, its proximity to finals means that the team either didn't get as much practice as they could have, or sacrificed study time to cram in football, neither of which is good. Second, the extraordinary time wasted on travel and time adjustment handicaps Notre Dame and leaves Hawaii unaffected. Bad call from a football standpoint. From a religious / fan standpoint, if Notre Dame doesn't have a problem playing bowls on Jan. 1, then I don't see a religious problem, and fortunately, in today's age of TiVo, Christmas Eve conflicts should at least be minimized. No call.
That's it for this short bowl preview. Thanks to all of the fans that have read and commented on this blog over the past two seasons. Merry Christmas, and of course, Go Irish!