Apr 1, 2009


Every year at this time Irish fans are in a frenzy. Spring football can do that to you. Spring football can do that to you, especially after 16 years since Notre Dame last truly competed for a National Title, and 21 years since they actually won one.

So it's time to break out the polish and buff out those mistakes that plagued the Irish both physically and mentally last year. My friend Domer.mq at the always great Her Loyal Sons blog, posted that we will learn absolutely nothing from Spring football. At first I thought mq was dead wrong. Then I started to really agree with him. Then boys and girls, I realized that like all things (OK almost all things) in life, this is more of a gray area than black and white, and you can still learn from gray. (Except that piece of shit Grays Anatomy. I will never travel to Seattle... ever).

When you polish something, it can work out the flaws or make them stand out even more. That is what Spring ball really is. No position battles will be won or lost as I so foolishly once thought. However, it does help the transition from year to year in that it gives the players and coaches different looks than the previous year provided. Am I losing you? It's 3 AM and I might be losing myself too. So without further bullshit, let me provide some of my commentary on a few questions that Notre Dame has, headed into Spring and for the 2009 season for that matter. Let's plug in the buffer...

Jimmy Clausen and his leadership are in question. Maybe this is the most poignant topic for the team in general. Many Irish fans and haters have called Clausen out for his lack of leadership on a team that desperately needs a leader on offense. This subject has been addressed over and over again from the start of the 2008 season till even now. Do not get sucked into the propaganda that Clausen is developing into a leader. If I were you, I would forget everything that you hear and see from Clausen as far as this subject is concerned.

In high school, the football coaches tried to shove a couple of players down our throat our senior year and called them captains. Only two, instead of the traditional four that our school always had. It took two minutes into the first day of camp for myself and another player to walk up to the front and basically declare ourselves the the "Players Captains" as opposed to the "Coaches Captains." I often wonder if Clausen is that "Coaches Captain" that leads, but is never followed.

This is what will begin to define his legacy as a Notre Dame quarterback. Will these guys follow Jimmy into battle and look to him for that leadership on and off of the field? This is something that will not be answered this Spring and won't be until the Nevada game- or perhaps Michigan.

The defensive scenarios are giving me a headache. There are too many blitz packages and defensive alignments to really have a true grasp at what the depth chart will look like, especially in the spring. Different players names are being thrown around like they own their position. Most die hard fans already know what I am about to write, but it needs to be said. There is no position on defense that is locked down 100%. There might be a player or two (you'll find out in a minute) that are pretty much guaranteed a spot on the field, but that spot may differ from last year. Don't get me wrong. I speculate and have a good time in trying to figure out the depth chart, but Spring football will only inch us closer to a two deep instead of leaping into one.

It amazes me that Irish fans are so confident about our defense. I too am guilty, and we all have some valid reasons as to why we think this way, but here is a bit of truth to take into consideration: There are only two players on the front seven that we can say with absolute certainty that will be playmakers; Brian Smith and Ethan Johnson. Everyone else is still a mystery. The potential is there, but potential is always a tricky subject.

Maybe this is why I am so feverishly promoting Sergio Brown as an everydown safety. The Irish have proven playmakers in the secondary, but have very few in the front seven. I just feel that the defense needs as many playmakers as it can put out there, and it's no secret that I think Brown has more potential than McCarthy.

I could seriously go on like this for another 13 or 14 points. Maybe I should. This team has far too many questions across the board to have many decisions made in April. The offense is a little easier to figure out, at least when it comes to personnel and even then, the Irish still need a left tackle, a 3rd and 4th WR, a second TE, fullback questions- blah, blah, blah. See. How much we learn about this team will be enigmatic if we don't look at the stuff below the surface.

So no. We won't learn who the 22 starters will be coming out of spring. We will however, have a better idea about who they might be after a little polish. And with a schedule like Notre Dame's this year- a little polish could go a long way into make this season shine.

Editors Note: This is what 4 AM feedings will do to a person.


Jim said...

SD, Spring is a great time for us football fanatics. For the first time in 20 years I wanted to strap on a helmer and do battle. The hell with those people who want to place a sense of reality to it all. The problem is there is no sense of reality. It is a time of hope, a time to believe wnat can be possible. I just don't see anything wrong with that. I don't agree with mq. It was last spring that we got indications of what to expect from Tate and K. McCarthy. Glimpses are possible.

On the subject of the D-Line: it is tough to figure out because we have a transition taking place moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The player personnel are suited for a 3-4. Both Williams's and Newman are prototypical NT's. I think we may be lucky if H. Willians steps up as a DT in the 4-3. A good line would be Lewis-Moore, the Williams's, and E. Johnson. That is a fairly stout line.

tednict said...

Subway, you are right about S. Brown. We need someone who can cover on pass plays, not just a tackler. A complete player.

Pops said...

As a Cleveland guy, I got a good laugh about the Clausen Witness pic - nice work.

However, the big difference between JC and LBJ is that while the play of each goes a long way towards determining the success of their team, one is an unquestionable leader and fan favorite, and the other draws mixed feelings from fans and teammates. Hopefully JC can summon his inner LeBron this year. If he does, I like our chances.