Anyone expecting to see Notre Dame rise from the ashes and make a run at the top 25 this season were hit with a serious reality check after Saturday’s dissappointing 21-13 win against San Diego State. The Irish, 22 point favorites at home, played from behind most of the game, and eeked out a non-decisive decision at the final gun. Never has an opening week victory raised more sources of concern than optimism, and it is safe to say this team will hover around .500 over the next 11 games IF someone is looking down and smiling.
Nothing personal against quarterback Jimmy Clausen, but his new “Samson” look has got to go. Those blonde locks make him look like a transvestite version of Bradley from the TV show Home Improvement. Here’s what I’m talking about:
“Bradley!!!! I’m varry diserpointed in you!” (cue redneck mom voice from show)
The Irish offense looks like it will again be a huge question mark this season, and I have some questions of my own after Saturday:
1. How can a team without any bona-fide playmakers win more than 6 games?
Let’s face it, this team lacks the explosive playmakers/superstars rival teams like USC are full of. The team speed looks pedestrian again, and it will be hard to do better than 6-6 with a roster void of anyone capable of taking over a game. Speed needs to be a top priority in recruiting, for it seems to be working quite well for SEC powerhouses Florida and LSU. I’m tired of seeing our boys get blown off the line.
2. Clausen showed flashes of competence, why aren’t the reigns loosened?
The passing performance may not have been spectacular, but Clausen did indeed earn some credibility by throwing for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. The playcalling seemed modest at times, almost as if the coaches are still concerned about their quarterback’s decision making ability. Jimmy will never fully mature as a passer until he is given opportunities to consistently throw long passes, and make difficult reads. As sad as it is to say, what do we have to lose?
3. Who is gonna carry the rock?
The running back position looks very thin, and neither Armando Allen or Robert Hughes separated themselves as the Irish‘s premier rusher. The duo combined for less than 4 yards a carry, and at no point did the backfield appear to be gaining steam and running downhill. Allen lacks the size to be a powerful every-down rusher, and Hughes lacks the speed to be a homerun threat. Looks like we will be watching this two-headed monster share carries all season, in meager fashion. James Aldridge needs to see the field…..NOW.
4. Is Mike Anello the biggest badass in the history of mankind?
#37 was a stark raving lunatic on special teams. I haven’t seen a tenacious little gunner kick more ass, and take more names, since Steve Tasker back in the day. He seemed to be the only guy playing his tail off (exception Kyle McCarthy), and cemented a legacy with the Irish faithful as a blue-collar favorite.
5. When will Charlie Weis officially be on the “hot seat?”
The fickle alumni association in South Bend is not accustomed to rebuilding, and back-to-back seasons in the abyss will surely make Charlie’s coaching security shakier than a personal rendition of Chunk’s “Truffle Shuffle.” The man is not a golden calf, and I predict SERIOUS replacement talks begin if the Irish lose more than 2 games in a row in ’08. I personally believe the personnel on the field is a bigger issue than the personnel on the sidelines. 2005’s disastrous recruiting class is what have hindered the last two years. Give Weis a chance with his last two classes before passing judgement.
Charlie’s next gig if the Blue and Gold don’t turn it around…..
6. Will the defense be able to keep it up against superior competition?
What a difference a year makes. The Domer defense, despite lining up against an inferior offense, looked much improved, and even dominant at times. McCarthy was all over the place, and some big stops were made when needed. Our boys became more and more confident as the game went on, and impressed with some hard hitting. Speed looks like an issue on this side of the ball too, but a well disciplined linebacking corps led by Coach Jon Tenuta should be able to bend, but not break in the games against unranked teams.
7. Will this team make a Bowl game?
I predicted pre-season that the Irish would finish 7-5, and defeat Cal in the Sun Bowl. Although my confidence for that particular finish has waned after Saturday, it is way too early to flipflop on my pick, and besides, I’m too damn stubborn. Sticking to my guns, I feel that the pick is still entirely feasible, and this week’s game against rival Michigan will give us all a better idea of what the Irish are really made of this year.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27 Michigan 21
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