Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Weis’

ND NSD Liveblog

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I can’t say I’ll be at my computer all day long (it is Ash Wednesday, after all), but at least through these early morning hours I’ll be posting NSD-related news as it breaks. Stay tuned …

10:20am PST: … and so the liveblog endeth. Congrats to Weis & Co. on an amazing class, and to all the recruits for signing up with an amazing program. Let’s get this train back on the rails!

Check back in this afternoon for Milton Knox’s decision - last I heard, he wants to go to ND but his dad won’t let him …

9:17am PST: In an interview on Rivals Radio this morning, Dayne Crist apparently said that he’s going to enroll at ND in mid-June. I guess that means he’ll be around for summer practice, which is GREAT … [EDIT: Err, not quite. See Grant's helpful comment.]

9:14am PST: Via GoshenGipper:

During his presser CW just mentioned that there are still a few guys out there that are uncommitted so there might be a few surprises, but that he wasn’t counting on it and he wanted to focus his presser on the 23 that have already signed.

Sheesh. A FEW?! Hold on to your hats, folks …

8:54am PST: Word is there is still some uncertainty about what the heck Omar Hunter is going to do with himself. I hope Urbie is having as miserable a time as we all were a month or so ago. Stay tuned …

8:39am PST: Via the Scout liveblog once again, this is the kind of thing that just has to make you smile:

11:28 am EST: Joe Adams just pulled a stunner, spurning USC, where he was a longtime commit, to sign with homestate Arkansas. — Brandon Huffman

There has been a simply unbelievable number of recruits today who’ve sent their LOIs to schools other than the ones they committed to. The fact that ND has managed to avoid this really speaks to the character of their recruits, and to the terrific job the coaches have done of making them feel a part of the team from Day One.

7:53am PST: Steve Filer is in as well. So that’s all for now in the LOI department, pending Milton Knox’s announcement this evening. My kid is up, though, so I’m off to make some breakfast. Get back to work, folks - I’ll be back soon.

7:52am PST: NDNation is reporting that Dayne Crist has faxed in his letter.

7:47am PST: This is worth passing along, for anyone who hasn’t seen it or didn’t notice this particular story. It’s Charlie Weis talking about what recruiting was like this year:

“The biggest highlight for me, personally, is the great player from a distant place that decided to go to another school. Obviously, I can’t say his name. As much as it hurt, I called him and wished him the very best. It turns out the Mom was in our corner, and the next night he called back and asked, ‘You still got that scholarship?’ When I said ‘Yes I do,’ he responded, ‘Well, I came to my senses. I am coming to Notre Dame.’ That was a great feeling that we had handled things the right way.”

It certainly seems like he’s referring to Kapron Lewis-Moore, though at the time he couldn’t mention him by name. Great story …

7:45am PST: Hello out there. Not yet eight in the morning, and already over 1,100 pageloads today. Sheesh.

7:39am PST: From Scout’s Bob Lichtenfels, commenting on the commitment of Kapron Lewis-Moore:

… the race for No. 1 in the Scout.com recruiting rankings narrows.

Ahh yes, the famed MRNC. Standings here and here, btw.

7:35am PST: Damn:

10:27 am EST: Apparently there was a lot of truth to DT Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) wavering on his Florida commitment. Hunter heard some rumors late yesterday that DL Coach Greg Mattison might be leaving for the Ravens and wavered. Whether Mattison leaves or not is not known at this time (or it could be a bad rumor that got to Hunter) but it did cause a moment of pause for Omar. Hunter just signed with the Gators. — Jamie Newberg

7:33am PST: LOIs are in from Anthony McDonald and Joseph Fauria. Crist and Filer are the only ones left, by my accounting.

7:17am PST: Hafis Williams and Ethan Johnson, done and done.

7:05am PST: Take this FWIW (from the Scout.com live blog):

9:53 am EST: I am hearing some rumblings that five-star D-tackle Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) may not sign with Florida. Could it be Georgia? Don’t know just yet and I’m trying to track this one down. This could be devastating to the Gators. — Jamie Newberg

One can only dream.

6:50am PST: Expect letters from Steve Filer and Hafis Williams in the next ten minutes or so … that will take care of the non-PSTers.

6:47am PST: In more karma-related news, Florida has lost yet another verbal commitment, as Ramon Buchanon has sent an LOI into Miami (where he had “committed” before he “committed” to Florida). Methinks this is what happens when you keep telling kids who are committed to other programs that verbal commitments aren’t binding … word gets around, you know?

6:38am PST: According to Scout, the idea of being Omar Hunter’s back-up plan was part of what turned Mike Martin off to ND. Never mind that Michigan recruited Hunter as well, of course, and may not have given Martin as much attention if Hunter had committed (or “committed”, as the case may be) to them. Goes to show you the consequences of insincere - or at least less-than-solid - verbal commitments, though … this wouldn’t have been a problem if Omar had just told ND he wasn’t sure in the first place.

6:33am PST: Lewis-Moore’s letter is in, per Rivals.

6:32am PST: In other news, Josh Jenkins snubbed Florida State and Ohio State to stay local and play for West Virginia, and Florida commit Ricky Barnum jumped ship to go play for Michigan. Poetic justice, much? Suck it, Urbie.

6:30am PST: Jonas Gray, check.

6:17am PST: Apparently bad weather in the Midwest might delay the Chicago- and Detroit-area guys …

6:14am PST: Fleming is in …

6:12am PST: We’re still waiting on: Hafis Williams, Jonas Gray, Ethan Johnson, Dayne Crist, Anthony McDonald, Darius Fleming, Steve Filer, and Joseph Fauria. With the exception of Williams, all those guys are in the Central or Pacific time zones, though …

6:09am PST: I’ll well aware that I’m one of those “dorks”, thank you very much.

6:06am PST: Per GoshenGipper, Kapron Lewis-Moore apparently kept himself entertained over the weekend by reading message boards and watching everyone try to figure out who the “secret commit” was. LOL … what a bunch of dorks.

6:01am PST: … and Braxston Cave makes fourteen.

5:57am PST: Lane Clelland, too …

5:55am PST: Kyle Rudolph, David Posluszny, and Dan McCarthy are safely in the fold now … that’s twelve so far, not counting Lewis-Moore.

5:51am PST: Michael Floyd’s letter is in …

5:41am PST: More here on the supposed “mystery” recruit, for all you insatiable rumor-sharks out there.

5:30am PST: Apparently BGI is reporting that Kapron Lewis-Moore will be sending his LOI in shortly. They’re also indicating that he’s the “mystery” recruit whom all the whispers had been about … we’ll see, I guess. If it is him, though, then thanks for ruining Christmas, Tom Lemming!

5:15am PST: Rivals is also reporting that Omar Hunter has faxed his LOI in to the world’s biggest douche Urban Meyer the world’s biggest douche.

5:14am PST: According to Rivals, the following LOIs have all been sent in:

  • Robert Blanton
  • Sean Cwynar
  • Mike Golic Jr.
  • Brandon Newman
  • Trevor Robinson
  • Jamoris Slaughter
  • Deion Walker

4:57am PST: Apparently it has been confirmed that Deion Walker will honor his verbal commitment and enroll at ND in 2008. Whew. He will be on Rivals Radio in about a half an hour.

4:54am PST: A quick update of the morning’s big stories:

  • Apparently Deion Walker is going to be on Rivals Radio in a few minutes “announcing” whether he’s decided to stay at ND or switch his verbal to ND or PSU. Ugh.
  • Mike Golic Jr. signed his LOI on the Mike and Mike Show about a half-hour ago.
  • Milton Knox will announce his decision at 7pm EST; I’m not sure when the official word will be in on Kapron Lewis-Moore.
  • No word yet on the mystery recruit who supposedly offered a super-secret commitment to ND in the last few days … stay tuned.

Deion Walker is Irish!!

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Wide receiver Deion Walker of Christchurch, Virginia announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame during the Under Armour All-American Bowl this Saturday afternoon. Walker had long been rumored to be a silent verbal or at least a strong Irish lean, and this weekend’s announcement made it all public:

The value of Notre Dame’s academics is excellent, and I have developed a strong relationship with Charlie Weis. He is just a cool guy and really put in a lot of effort calling and recruiting me personally.

Walker is rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals, who rank him as the #5 wide receiver and #35 player overall. Scout.com gives him five stars, the #40 overall ranking, and the #7 ranking among wide receiver prospects, and ESPN lists him #34 overall and #8 among wide receivers. He is regarded as a dynamic athlete, but will need to work on adding some strength before he is ready to play at the college level. He joins Mike Floyd and John Goodman as the third wide receiver and 22nd player overall in Notre Dame’s top-ranked recruiting class.

Welcome to the Notre Dame family, Deion!

What’s the deal with Omar Hunter?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

By some basically all accounts he’s scheduled to take an official visit to Florida, and USC looks to be in the mix as well:

Buford defensive tackle Omar Hunter is having second thoughts about his commitment to Notre Dame, his coach said Wednesday.

Coach Jess Simpson said Hunter has not withdrawn his commitment to the Irish - yet. But he is giving strong consideration to both Florida and Southern California - with Florida being the more likely alternative to Notre Dame, Simpson said.

“I think he wants to take the holidays and reconsider things,” Simpson said, “and possibly take a visit to Florida and [USC].”

There has never been a shortage of interest in Hunter, who is rated the second-best high school defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com. The 6-foot-1, 311-pound senior committed to Notre Dame in June, but has apparently become less certain in recent months.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis tried to firm up Hunter’s commitment last week with a personal visit to Buford. And later in the week, USC coach Pete Carroll also showed up, urging Hunter to take another trip out west.

Hunter, who could not be reached for comment, did not have any visits planned as of Wednesday. He visited Florida and USC before committing to the Irish, and has enough time to see both schools again if he wants before signing a letter of intent in February.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Simpson said.

A couple of quick thoughts:

  1. Obviously Omar is entitled to think things through and make sure he makes the best decision for himself and his future. If he feels like he was too hasty in giving his pledge to Notre Dame back in June, then by all means he should own up to that fact and take a closer look at his options now. A verbal commitment is not a marriage vow.
  2. He’s not, however, entitled to mislead the Irish coaching staff about where he stands. What’s bothersome to me about this whole situation is that this isn’t the first time that worries like this have surfaced, and Omar has consistently reiterated that he is committed to ND and doesn’t intend to look elsewhere. Obviously it’s possible that he’s been saying different things to the staff than to the recruiting sites, but if that were so then I’d expect to have seen Weis continue to recruit other players at Hunter’s position. In other words, this could turn out to be a situation that is less like that of Justin Trattou - who was very upfront about the fact that he was taking a visit to Florida because of Rick Minter’s firing - than Greg Little - who was silently committed to North Carolina for months as he put up a charade of being an ND recruit. Obviously Omar’s situation doesn’t look to be THAT shady, but if he’s had his doubts all along, then he shouldn’t have kept them from the people who were expecting his signature on February 7.

Who knows … maybe he’ll change his mind and decide not to make the visits. Maybe he’ll make them and decide to stay at ND. Or maybe he’s gone. In any case, I’m sure the coaching staff isn’t going to let themselves get burned like they did last year. If he’s looking, they’re looking - and heck, last year the decommitment of Trattou was a big part of what got an offer extended to Brian Smith … and we all know how that turned out.

“Whoa, this guy’s an idiot.”

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

In the spirit of this post from Saturday, check out the recent SB Tribune article on John Goodman:

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound wide receiver (maybe) from Fort Wayne, Ind., is as solid in his pledge to coach Charlie Weis and the Irish as the day he committed back in May, possibly more so now than then.

Several schools have tried to sway him since then, including Penn State. After Notre Dame dropped to 0-4, Goodman received a call from a Penn State assistant whose negative approach did little toward that end.

“They definitely tried all the negatives,” Goodman said of the coach whose name he couldn’t recall. “They talked about coach Weis, how he’s a bad coach, he’s a bad recruiter and about how Notre Dame’s doing terribly right now and all that, their stadium’s better. They never really said anything good about themselves, and I was just listening and I was like, ‘Whoa, this guy’s an idiot.’”

He also had some choice words about the players who chose to transfer from ND over the past season:

 “If they’re going to leave like that, leaving an education and that football team, then personally, I think they’re stupid,” Goodman said. “They don’t deserve anything better because you can’t get anything better than Notre Dame.”

Lots of other good stuff too, including the possibility of Goodman, who played QB for his high school team, lining up behind center now and then. (”It sort of is creeping into my thoughts because it could actually happen, and I’m going to be ready for it,” he says.) Read the whole thing.

(HT: GoshenGipper.)

Fully on board

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Via the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton, here’s some great stuff about the strength of the commitments among ND’s 2008 recruiting class:

Dayne Crist is a part-time Christmas tree salesman in Southern California and a full-time committed recruit for the Notre Dame football team. This means his hour-long break from hawking evergreens is a rare escape from needles, of any kind.

“You know who you’re talking to,” Crist said. “You’re talking to a kid from Los Angeles that’s sitting in the heart of USC country.”

The breadth and depth of the Irish’s miseries this season spared few from collateral damage, and indeed Notre Dame’s ballyhooed recruiting class endured more than a few caustic barbs.

Despite the slings and arrows that accompanied Notre Dame’s outrageous misfortune, though, that class so far is undeterred. Not a single component of what is widely considered the nation’s top talent haul has wavered publicly after the implosion of 2007. (more…)

Trevor Robinson is Irish!!

Friday, December 14th, 2007

The Nebraska Rivals site, HuskersIllustrated.com, reported this afternoon that Elkhorn (Neb.) offensive lineman Trevor Robinson committed to Notre Dame during Charlie Weis’s in-home visit to his family last night. This confirmed a wide range of message board rumblings from last night, including reports by an IrishEnvy poster with strong ties to the Youngstown area that Nebraska head coach (and former Mooney HS quarterbacks coach) Bo Pelini and AD Tom Osborne had failed in a last-ditch effort to win Robinson over.

Robinson’s decision caps a roller-coaster ride of a recruiting process, which included at least ten visits to the Notre Dame campus, a commitment to Nebraska followed by a decommitment that had Irish fans expecting an imminent announcement that he’d be coming to South Bend, and then what seemed like an eternity of (mostly impatient) waiting by fans of both teams. He was one of the first recruits offered this year by the Irish staff.

At 6′6″ and 304 lbs., Robinson is ranked as a four-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals, and is listed as the third-best offensive guard and a top-100 player by both services. He will enroll at Notre Dame early, and start classes this coming January.

Welcome to the Irish family, Trevor! (more…)

In defense of John Latina (?)

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

A lot has been made of the awful mess that was the 2007 Notre Dame offensive line. Some of this blame has gone towards Charlie Weis, in particular for to his decision to run non-physical practices that lacked real hitting. A significantly larger portion of the criticism has been directed at the offensive line coach, John Latina, who many believe has failed to generate a dominant unit in his tenure at Notre Dame.

I think both of these criticisms hold some merit, though neither gets at the whole story. My gut reaction on the criticisms of Coach Latina is to say “Hey, forget the situation - a winner wins and this man hasn’t been able to do his job.” Nevertheless, after reflecting on the situation it’s clear there are plenty of other reasons why the Irish have been hamstrung up front with the big uglies. As the season ends and the coaches head out on the recruiting trail, it seems increasingly likely that Latina - who has paid visits to Hafis Williams and Kenneth Page in the past few days - will be with the Irish into 2008. Thus it seemed worth looking more closely at the past three years to see whether the calls for his firing are valid or not.

First, though, a bit of background on Coach Latina for those unacquainted with his resume: during his six-year period as an offensive line coach at Temple from 1983-1988, Latina had three lineman drafted by the NFL and four signed as free-agents. Temple tailback Paul Palmer led the nation in rushing in 1986. Following that, he produced seven NFL linemen in five years at Kansas State (1989-1993), six All-ACC linemen at in five years at Clemson (1994-1998), and eleven NFL linemen in six years at Ole Miss (1999-2004). Ole Miss allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC, and in two of his years at Clemson the Tigers were among the top two in the ACC in rushing yardage.

All of this sets him up as a man who came to Notre Dame with quite a distinguished background and an excellent resume. But all that really ought to matter to Irish fans is the job he’s done since 2005. So let’s take a look, shall we?

2005

Situation: Weis is entering his first year and the Irish have an offensive explosion, jumping to one of the top rated offenses in the nation. Brady Quinn has a breakout year, and Darius Walker rushes for nearly 1200 yards.

Offensive Line:

  • LT - Ryan Harris (6-5, 288, JR) - Mike Turkovich (6-6, 290, FR)
  • LG - Dan Santucci (6-4, 290, SR) - Brian Mattes (6-6, 285, SR)
  • C - Bob Morton (6-4, 292, SR) - John Sullivan (6-4, 298, JR)
  • RT - Dan Stevenson (6-6, 292, SR) - Scott Raridon (6-7, 304, SR)
  • RT - Mark Levoir (6-7, 311, SR) - Paul Duncan (6-7, 292, FR)

Evaluation: This was clearly the best offensive line of the past three years. ND had an almost all-senior starting line and all were legitimate talents. The biggest glaring spots here are the lack of sophomore and junior depth as well as how light all these seniors were. Ty Willingham preferred the lighter/quicker offensive lineman, which doesn’t gel with Weis’s pro-style offense. Latina seems to have been able to install the system well with good players despite their physical limitations.

Grade: B+

2006

Situation: The Irish come into the year ranked #2 in pre-season polls and looking to improve on their 9-3 record and BCS bowl loss. Brady Quinn is looking to be one of the top Heisman candidates, and most of the skill players are back to back him up.

Offensive Line:

  • LT - Ryan Harris (6-5, 292, SR) - Mike Turkovich (6-6, 290, SO)
  • LG - Dan Santucci (6-4, 290, 5th) - Eric Olsen (6-4, 290, FR)
  • C - John Sullivan (6-4, 298, SR) - Bob Morton (6-4, 292, 5th)
  • RG - Bob Morton (6-4, 292, 5th) - Brian Mattes (6-6, 287, SR)
  • RT - Sam Young (6-7, 292, FR) - Paul Duncan (6-7, 292, SO)

Evaluation: The team as a whole didn’t live up to the hype, getting beaten soundly by top competition. While most of the blame lies with the defense giving out points to anyone who asked, the offense looked lost at times, and certainly didn’t dominate like they did in ‘05. The linemen were about the same size as the previous year, so either they hit a ceiling for gaining weight or they were not coached well in terms of gaining size. Young started all thirteen games as a freshman and did well for the situation while having some struggles. Clearly depth was becoming a pressing concern as the two-deep now had two sophomores, two freshman, and one starter being a potential backup for Sullivan. In the NFL draft, Harris was selected in the third round and Santucci in the seventh.

Grade: C

2007

Situation: Notre Dame is turning the page, having lost most of its starters from the previous year. Though no one is actively saying it is a rebuilding season, all signs point to a downturn from the previous two. Virtually the entire two-deep is being replaced along the line, and there are new receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks. However they are all more highly touted coming out of high school and ND looks to use youthful talent over experience.

Offensive Line: (granted there was a lot of movement)

  • LT - Sam Young (6-8, 310, SO) - Taylor Dever (6-5, 289, FR)
  • LG - Mike Turkovich (6-6, 301, JR) - Thomas Bermenderfer (6-5, 285, JR)
  • C - John Sullivan (6-4, 303, SR) - Dan Wenger (6-4, 287, SO)
  • RG - Eric Olsen (6-5, 303, SO) - Dan Wenger (6-4, 287, SO)
  • RT - Paul Duncan (6-7, 308, JR) - Chris Stewart (6-5, 339, SO)

Evaluation: Well, the team was awful, and a lot of the troubles extended from the o-line. The Irish gave up record numbers of sacks, penalties, and negative yardage plays. That being said, this fact can be traced largely to the fact that there were only had two returning starters among the ENTIRE two-deep, one of whom was a true sophomore. The unit showed moderate improvement as the year went on, but still lacked any real luster. Sullivan did not look like his old self, and Wenger actually looked like one of the best players on the unit by season’s end.

Grade: D

The upshot of all of this is that it would be wrong to lay all of the blame for ND’s struggles up front at the feet of Coach Latina. Sure, we’re three seasons in and the Irish have yet to have an overpowering offensive line unit, but a lot of it is attributable to size issues in 2005/2006, depth issues in 2006/2007, and inexperience issues in 2007. It seems that Weis may hold off passing judgment on Latina until the end of the 2008 season and I would advise others to do so as well. While we haven’t seen much in terms of a finished product, the Irish have been working hard to develop their current players (18 lbs. by Young in one offseason - whew!), and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll have another situation where they have to replace almost the entire unit in one season. In any case, next year eight of the nine players who were listed along the two-deep from the end of the 2007 season will be back: the line’s performance in 2008 should give us a much better indication of whether Latina is up to the task.

You stay classy, Palo Alto.

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Crooked refs. Awful field conditions. An obnoxious stadium announcer. A dreadful marching band whose absurd antics amuse no one but themselves and their similarly drunk friends. A beautiful new facility gone to waste as one of America’s most esteemed universities presents a gameday experience matched only by the ineptitude of their football program. That’s right - another day, another dollar, another road trip to Stanford.

A few thoughts about the trip in general: as I said, the new Stanford stadium really is very nice. We had endzone seats in the upper tier, but the view was great - and right up above us there was a big grassy area where kids could play, and so my son really managed to enjoy himself. That’s why it’s such a shame that the other elements of gameday at Stanford are so embarrassingly horrible: at least when you used to go, you sat on splintered wooden benches in a dumpy stadium, so the rest of what was going on around you didn’t seem so bad.

And it was awful. The parking crew exercised no control over tailgaters taking up spaces the width of four cars to spread out their folding chairs, and the only way they managed to determine whether a lot was full was by directing a line of cars into it, having them drive around for ten minutes, and seeing whether they came out the other side. The pre-game “festivities” featured a mediocre cover band playing bad rock-and-roll, and then deciding to abandon their break so that they could drown out ND’s alumni marching band. The stadium announcer showed himself to be as classless as he was annoying when he twice referred to Jimmy Clausen as “Casey,” and also pretended to get him mixed up with Tom Zbikowski at one point. And the band - oh, the band. I understand that they’re having fun, but the stupid halftime shows really do nothing at all for the fans. No wonder the stadium was half-empty. Honestly, we felt embarrassed for Stanford University at any number of different junctures on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of which, there was a football game as well:

  • Jimmy Clausen played very well - he completed 19 20 of his 32 passes for 196 225 yards and a touchdown. He also made some really nice moves to get away from would-be tacklers, though on some occasions he ran out of bounds for lost yardage instead of throwing the ball away. His downfield throws were a bit uneven, and the one play on which he was intercepted was a really bad decision. Altogether, though, it was a solid day for a true freshman quarterback who showed some nice improvement over the course of the year - now it’s time for him to hit the weight room, practice those deep routes, and soak up the rest of the playbook.
  • Duval Kamara - six receptions for 93 yards - had a really nice day catching the ball. It’s clear that he’s a tremendous talent, and there’s little doubt that he’ll be the #1 receiver on the team next year: the challenge is figuring out who else is going to catch it. George West was as invisible on Saturday as he has been for most of the season, Robby Parris saw the field sparingly, and David Grimes showed why he’s best suited to be a third option rather than a featured guy. Hopefully Will Yeatman and Mike Ragone have got the stuff to help replace John Carlson next year; I’d also look to see Michael Floyd see the field early and often, much as Kamara did this year.
  • Robert Hughes - 18 carries for 136 yards - had a spectacular game, as he became the first Notre Dame freshman to pass the century mark twice in a season since Autry Denson did it in back-to-back games in 1995. He could use a bit more speed, though, as both of his long carries really should have gone for scores. Armando Allen started off well, as he picked up 18 yards on his first three carries, but after that he started going backwards, and while the banged-up James Aldridge did manage to get into the game, he didn’t end up touching the ball. Asaph Schwapp had another dreadful day, as he gained only four yards on his three carries, fumbled the ball once, and did a less-than-stellar job of blocking. I really have trouble seeing why Charlie Weis bothers putting him on the field. Kudos to Travis Thomas, who made the most of what was (thankfully!) his last stand as a goalline back by punching his one carry into the end zone from a yard out, and to Junior Jabbie, who’s shaping up into a great situational back for third-down passing situations.
  • Once again, we saw a lot of Chris Stewart on the offensive line, as he pretty much switched off series-by-series with Paul Duncan at right tackle. And once again, the play along the offensive line, and in pass protection in particular, was pretty terrible: Clausen was sacked on five occasions and pressured pretty heavily on many others, and while the running game was effective, the Irish running backs netted only 3.15 yards per carry if we factor out Hughes’s two huge runs.
  • The defense played quite well, and in particular they did a much better job at containing the outside run than they had in weeks past. Ian Williams had six tackles in his second start at the nose guard position, and made a strong case for some heavy playing time or even a starting role next year. Darrin Walls got turned around on one or two plays but had a great game overall, Brian Smith played a nice game on the outside, and David Bruton was his usual athletic self. But missed tackles were still a significant problem, as was fatigue - Stanford possessed the ball for over 21 minutes in the second half, and you could see the Irish defenders tiring out.

At the end of the day, a win is a win, no matter how bad the opponent (and the venue). The Irish came out strong, played with emotion, and rebounded nicely from the things that set them back. But many of those back-setting things - in particular the three fumbles and the five sacks - were exactly the sorts of problems that have killed this squad all year long. A team that puts the ball on the carpet, and allows its opponents to do the same to their quarterback, with that kind of frequency is not a team that’s going to win many games. Maybe experience will cure all - but only time will tell.

Obviously there’s a lot to think about as we head from the season of our discontent to what will hopefully be the the looooongest offseason - 285 days to go! - the Fighting Irish will have to endure for quite some time. I’ll have plenty of “bigger picture”-type of thoughts in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, here’s to West Virginia and Mizzou in the MNC game!

Let’s start moving forward now.

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

My Stanford recap is still in the works. In the meantime, I thought it was worth passing along this tidbit from the AP report on yesterday’s game:

As soon as the final whistle blew, the Notre Dame players gathered in the end zone to salute their fans and savor a season-ending victory.

The celebration continued in the locker room with multiple renditions of the school’s fight song and pictures for the departing seniors. The Fighting Irish managed to put a positive finish on the worst season ever for college football’s most storied team.


“When we were singing in there — and the last two games we didn’t even worry about our record, just that we were winning those games,” senior safety Tom Zbikowski said. “It feels good to get that feeling back of winning games.”

That’s exactly what you want to hear about a young team that’s trying to build for the future. There are no illusions, and there is no shortage of frustration, about the awfulness of a 3-9 season, but that doesn’t mean you have to hang your heads:

“It’s still 3-9. Let’s not kid ourselves,” [Charlie] Weis said. “But at least it’s 3-9 with two wins at the end of the year. Now all of a sudden, you’re going into the offseason winning the last game at home and then we go on the road and win our last game there. Let’s start moving forward now.”

Well said, Coach. The 2008 season begins today. 286 days ’til kickoff …

So much to be thankful for

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

A few days ago, Irish Envy member ‘littlerick77′ posted this story about taking his son to Notre Dame for the Duke game. It seemed worth sharing it with the wider community, especially since it’s Thanksgiving week. He’s allowing us to do that, and has also sent along a bunch of great pictures, which are included at the bottom - click on the thumbnails to get a larger view of them. Enjoy! -John

For those of you who don’t know, my son David has been battling a very aggressive form of childhood lung cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma since he was two. He has had many treatments/surgeries over the years and he is now eight years old. However, his cancer has recently returned and is spreading at a rapid rate. We had planned our trip to Notre Dame four months ago before any of this occurred.

His third grade teacher knows how much he loves ND and she was talking to her husband about David. Her husband (who is Michigan alum) made a bunch of calls to friends and connections to people at the university and told them of David’s situation.

I can’t tell you how much more I believe in the Notre Dame “spirit and family” philosophy after this weekend. It was such an incredible experience, led by the ND Fire Department (specifically, Fire Chief Antonucci) who spent the time to get to know David in a short amount of time and had all of his staff make sure David had the best time possible!

Our first day started by meeting Coach Weis, Zibby (David’s favorite player), Jimmy, Evan and Armando at Thursday’s practice. Chad Klunder, who is the Director of Football Operations, was such a great host to us, walking us around, giving David souvenirs and making sure he was enjoying himself. He also set us up with pre-game field passes and upgraded our game tickets.

We got to go to the luncheon on Friday, where David was called up to the stage by Coach Weis - David was a little nervous, but later told me that was the favorite part of his day! We also got a tour of the locker room where David got a picture with Zibby’s helmet in front of his locker. We were also very fortunate to meet Father Jenkins, who was a very nice man. We ended the day going to the pep rally later that night.

Game day was awesome - obviously because of the win, but more importantly because it was David’s first ND home game experience and he loved every moment of it! Even though it got a little cold out there, he wanted to stick it out and enjoy it. We did end up catching the last few minutes of the game with the Chief in the press box.

To me, it was just very touching to have so many people go out of their way and take time out of their schedules to give a wonderful experience to a little boy they had never met before. That is why I love Notre Dame so much: the people, the culture, the love they have for their own - it all came together in one full weekend to show that ND loves David as much as David loves ND. No matter what happens down the road, I know this past weekend gave me the greatest memories I could ever share with my son - THANK YOU TO ALL THE STAFF, PLAYERS, COACHES, AND EVERYONE ASSOCIATED WITH NOTRE DAME FOR ALL YOU DID FOR US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!