May 26, 2009

Wu Am I? Fearless Overlord & Spunky Misunderstood Genius

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 9 & 10...

Jimmy Clausen #7
6'3" 218 lbs.
Westlake Village, California
Wu Name: Fearless Overlord

You all know the recruiting story of Jimmy Clausen, and the story of his now infamous commitment to Notre Dame. Fuck everyone else. Seriously. Jimmy had two of the best statistical years for any freshman and sophomore quarterback in Notre Dame history with two of the youngest teams in Notre Dame history. At times, Clausen has looked like the real deal with a cannon arm, and pinpoint accuracy that rivals any former Irish signal caller. Jimmy's weakness has been his decision making in key situations. Sometimes those poor decisions were due to being gang-raped by opposing defensive lineman, linebackers, defensive backs, mascots, concession workers, etc. Some, were due to a belief that he can make any pass a completed pass. What ever the cause of the error, it generally resulted in an Irish loss. This was a young quarterback.

The excuses are all gone. Jimmy may still have to run for his life this year, but the general consensus is that Notre Dame should have a much improved run game and pass protection due to a very veteran line that still has vast potential. I have always said that I don't like comparing former years and former players to the current year and current players, but the similarities of this 2009 team are frightening close to the 2005 squad. Jimmy will have better overall talent around him catching passes. I honestly think that Jimmy will have a better statistical year than Quinn had in 2005. Can he cut down on the mental errors and prove that he can lead this team? That will be the difference in at least two games in 2009; "Did Clausen lead them to victory?" I believe he can- and will. Fuck U$C.

James Aldridge #34
6'1" 225 lbs.
Crown Point, Indiana
Wu Name: Spunky Misunderstood Genius

James was part of the 2006 recruiting class that boasted 28 players, a number #8 ranking nationally, and the first early enrollees in Notre Dame history with Aldridge, Stewart, and West all enrolling in January. James was a beast during his High School career and earned a Five star rating. However, he suffered a knee injury during his senior year and it never fully recovered until last spring. The expectations for a 5 star are always astronomical, but for a 5 star running back heading to Notre dame early- there were a lot of expectations. By all accounts, Aldridge looks like the player Irish fans were yearning for. He has a tremendous burst through the hole and enough shake and speed to make the long run. After leading the irish in rushing in 2007, he took another backseat to Allen and Hughes in the rotation in 2008.

Now this has me really pumped. Remember RPN? Remember what a Charlie Weis offense looks like with an athletic fullback? Rolling. That's what they were. With Schwapp at fullback, the Irish lost speed and pass catching ability. How many times did we see the ball carrier reach the edge of a stretch play or a sweep before the fullback- and then get crushed? Too many times. Asaph was not suited for the speed of the defenses facing the Irish. By all accounts, James is really embracing this new role to help the team. I fully expect the Fighting Irish offense to a lot more dynamic with an athletic talent at fullback. For another example, look at what those Trojan commie bastards do with Stanley Havili at fullback. It's impressive. Just watch it. Watch how things just come together, and after everyone gives the credit to the new line coach, the other running backs, the passing game- everything else- rewind and look what James Aldridge did in his Senior year. In the end, this is why he came to Notre Dame.

Elder Son

The Fighting Irish finally ended their long drought of no new commitments since Chris Martin in the beginning of February when Alex Welch made the call to Coach Weis.

May 25, 2009

Bagpipe Monday... Remember Those Who Served

I'll take a pass on the bagpipes today. Remember to thank a Veteran today for all of their sacrifices. I forget to do that sometimes, and forgot late Sunday night when I saw a family member that served in the Army in Bosnia. Thank-you for all of your sacrifices.

The Subway Domer Family Roll Call. All served in wartime, and all came back home alive. Thank-you:

Christopher. Cousin. Marines. Iraq.
Corey. Cousin. Marines. Iraq.
PJ. B-I-L. Army. Bosnia
Calo. Grandfather. Army. Germany.
John. Grandfather. Navy. Korea.

Send prayers to the families of those that have lost their loved ones to war. May we all one day find peace.

May 21, 2009

Wu Am I? Tha Chosen Assassin & 100 Watt Warlock

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 7 & 8...

Golden Tate #23
Wide Receiver
5'11" 195 lbs.
Hendersonville, Tennessee
Wu Name: Tha Chosen Assassin

Hailing from Pope John Paul II High School and blessed with the name "Golden," was there any doubt Tate would end up in South Bend? Yes. The Fighting Irish did not offer Tate for quite some time. While the official reason was that ND was waiting on some test scores, this was also the year that saw ND lose the recruiting battle for Aurelius Benn. Were the Irish waiting on a possible flip from Benn? Does it matter? Tate ended up wearing the Blue and the Gold- Benn didn't, and some would say that Notre Dame still came out on top. Benn is a tremendous talent, but Golden had a breakout year last year, and all signs point to a better season in 2009.

Tate only had 6 receptions for 131 yards and 1 TD during his sophomore year, but he showed blazing speed and a knack for going up and getting the ball despite his short stature. He quieted most critics of his game in 2008 as he posted 58 receptions for 1080 yards and 10 TD's. He took his game beyond the fly-route, and became a better overall receiver. The scary part- is that Tate has still not developed fully as a wide receiver. But to think of Golden as an offensive weapon only catching balls, would also be naive. He is a very instinctive runner and I would think that Weis will use him even more in 2009 in the running game. Plus, due to those same skills, Golden can be a very dangerous kick returner. Did I mention how fast he is? 2009 is the time to let the Gold shine.

Brian Smith #58
6'2" 245 lbs.
Overland Park, Kansas
Wu Name: 100 Watt Warlock

Now, if Golden's recruitment was somewhat of a mystery, Brian Smith's is legendary based on fact. The legacy (father, Chris Smith played fullback for the Irish in the 80's) wanted to go to Notre Dame his entire life. Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator, Rick Minter, didn't think he could use Smith in his system, and the Fighting Irish never offered Brian during the normal office hours. Brian thought the offer may never come, and he committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes in August of 2006. Fast forward a few months. Notre Dame loses out on more than a handful of top-ranked linebacker recruits such as Chris Donald, Malcolm Smith, Martez Wilson, and Lorenzo Edwards. They also get a defection from Justin Tratou to Florida, Corwin Brown replaces the now fired Rick Minter, and voila!... Brian Smith is offered. Hawkeye head coach, Kirk Ferentz warned Smith that if he visited the Irish he would pull the scholarship offer. You know what happened next.

As soon as Brian reported to Notre Dame in the summer of 2007, he instantly became one of the sparkplugs for the entire team. 100 Watt Warlock is perhaps the best fitting name of all of the Wu Am I members. He worked his way into the rotation his freshman year and developed into a pretty good pass rusher on the edge and showed he could cover the pass as well. He was noted for playing with a passion in what was a passionless season. In 2008 Smith was moved from his natural outside position to fill in a need at Mike linebacker. He was the emotional leader of the defense and played inspired football all season. Smith will move once again in 2009 (at least for now), and play on the outside. He should show his true potential this year as he will be allowed to do what he does best as a pass rusher and containment on the edge. He won't win the Butkus award, but he will show the country what kind of football player he really has become. A hard motherfucker that wants to take heads. That's what Brian Smith is, and that is who the defense will need to follow to have the type of season that optimists are projecting.

May 17, 2009

Bagpipe Monday: Doctor. Doctor. Doctor. Doctor...

Welcome back to a special edition of Subway Domer's Bagpipe Monday. There will be no poll this week as I posted the survey for the month on last week's Bagpipe Monday. If you haven't filled out the survey yet, please do so. It is located in the right hand margin.

But enough of that. This week, Bagpipe Monday is dedicated to my Brother-In-Law; Jon. On Saturday, Jon received his doctorate in Mathematics from The University of Notre Dame. My wife and I are so very proud of Jon and this tremendous accomplishment. I remember when I first heard that Jon was going to be attending ND for his Doctorate. I was thinking, " Thank Christ! A free hotel on gameday!!!" OK, maybe that was a bit shallow. But seriously, I was also thinking, "Man. This guy must be pretty smart. Math? I kept withdrawing from intro math classes in college because I couldn't understand the foreign professors. How in the hell, am I going to stack up to this guy at Christmas?"

And to think... Jon owes his life to me. I saved him from falling off of this cliff. Selective memory does not suit you, Jon.
Jon has been a huge source of information for the Subway Domer, as well as a freelance photographer. His quick thinking allowed me to get a very candid interview with Demetrius Jones at the Michigan State game in 2007. Thanks for everything Jon, It's sad to see you and Julie move out of South Bend- but we will always have the huge globe.

Congratulations Dr. Hauenstein, on a job well done. Good luck in Toronto, and if you get the chance to do this- you must give it a try. I drink this Gin & Tonic (minus the tonic) to you sir!

Who is the Subway Alumnus & who is the Doctor? It's any one's guess...

These pipes are for you:

Ooohhhh... A 5th Star?

Here's a little video from Rivals about possible 5 star candidates. Several of the recruits mentioned are Notre Dame targets.

AMP: Top candidates to earn fifth star? @ Rivals Video

10 Quick Facts About Nevada

If you didn't know by now, Mike Frank has made the move from Eyes to Irish Sports Daily, an ESPN affiliate. Nice job Mike.

Occasionally I'll post a good quote, or an entire post, from any number of Notre Dame message boards here at Subway Domer. (As long, of course, as it is not "premium" information). The following is a post from the aforementioned Irish Sports Daily by the member KenND. If his facts hold up, it will be more like a rabbit hunt than a wolf hunt come September...

  1. 2008 record: 7-6.
  2. The only common opponent with ND in 2008 was Hawaii. Nevada lost 38-31.
  3. Nevada's wins: Grambling State, UNLV, Idaho, Utah State, Fresno State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech.
  4. Average ranking of Nevada's opponents in total defense, not including Grambling State: 76
  5. Record against BCS teams: 0-3.
  6. Average score in the three losses against BCS teams: 48-23 (Texas Tech, Missouri, Maryland).
  7. Record against Top 25 teams: 0-3.
  8. Average score in the three losses against Top 25 teams: 48-23 (Texas Tech, Missouri, Boise State).
  9. Average win-loss record of the teams that Nevada beat, not including Grambling State: 5-7.
  10. Record against Bowl teams: 2-5 (wins were against Fresno State and Louisiana Tech).

May 12, 2009

Wu Am I? Violent Toilet Thing & Action-Packed Mentalist

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 5 & 6...

Armando Allen
Running Back
5' 10" 195 lbs.
Opa Locka, Florida
Wu Name: Violent Toilet Thing

When Armando Allen arrived at Notre Dame, the fanbase was in a frenzy over the game-breaking speed that the young Floridian possessed. There was a dying need for speed on both sides of the ball, and Armando seemed like just the right fit for Weis's offense. Some thought that he would be able to step into the role left behind by Darius Walker and perform even better than Walker because of his crazy quick speed. Things weren't that smooth. Allen took a while to get back to top form after suffering a broken leg during his Senior year in high school, and some insiders believe that only now, that Armando is 100%. Still, Allen led the team in All-Purpose yards as a freshman, and was second in the same category as a sophomore.

I expect 2009 to be a big, big year for Allen. If the offensive line continually improves under new offensive line coach Frank Verducci, that means bigger holes for Allen. Bigger holes will allow Allen to use that speed that has been bottled up for the past 2 years. Armando's "vision" is also improving under new running backs coach Tony Alford. This was very evident during the Blue-Gold Game and throughout spring practice. Allen should also get a boost from sharing duty with a bruiser back in Robert Hughes. Did I mention that I expect a big, big year from Allen? It could really be a phenomenal year when you also consider that his pass-catching skills coming out of the backfield really took a leap in 2008. Allen is like that really good lead-off hitter in baseball. He could make the whole thing click.

Darrin Walls
6' 0" 190 lbs.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Wu Name: Action-Packed Mentalist

In 2006, Darrin Walls arrived on Notre Dame's campus with high expectations from the fanbase- and for himself. The Fighting Irish were in dire need of coverage corners after several years of being the "whipping boy" for opposing offenses. Walls didn't make much noise his freshman year, but he gained valuable experience from the games he played in the most. During the first game of his freshman year, Darrin was asked to blanket all-world wide receiver, Calvin Johnson. He did an admirable job too. He only allowed 2 reception and 16 yards to Johnson in the second half. Walls' sophomore campaign got off to a decent start when he picked off Penn State QB Anthony Morrelli and returned it 71 yards for a TD. After that, the rest of Notre Dame's opponents didn't throw the ball Darrin's way very often. He still had 9 pass break-ups and he was primed for a big season in 2008. Unfortunately for Darrin and ND Nation, Darrin left school for personal reasons for the fall semester of 2008.

Enter 2009. Darrin's absence created several things for the Irish. First it established some very nice depth at corner with the emergence of Robert Blanton, Raeshon McNeil improving his game, and even allowing Sergio Brown more reps at Nickel. Second, Notre Dame lost 3 games last year after holding double-digit leads (North Carolina, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh). Great players in the secondary make big plays to win those games and thwart off comeback attempts. I have NO DOUBT, that if Walls was playing- ND would have won at least 2 of those 3. Never-the-less, the Irish secondary was a tremendous bight spot and one of the best units on either side of the ball. With the addition of Walls, whom I fully expect to be the lockdown corner that he is, opponents will fear throwing the ball against ND. Walls should have a banner season, but will our opponents throw at him?

May 10, 2009

Bagpipe Monday... Shiny New Toys

Welcome back to your weekly Bagpipe Monday at Subway Domer. First things first- the results from last weeks poll question: "Will Notre Dame finally beat Michigan State in Notre Dame Stadium?"

  • 80% were confident enough that history would change and said, yes.
  • 6% are all too aware of the history and regrettably voted, no.

14% decided that they would punch their own mother in the face if the Fighting Irish lost, yet again, to the Spartans inside Notre Dame Stadium. Wasn't Mother's Day just yesterday?

The Fighting Irish have not beaten the Michigan State Spartans in South Bend since... wait for it... 1993. 16 fucking years. There was a 2 year break between 1995 &1996- and then Bob Davie became the Head football Coach at ND. Some guy named Holtz was 8-1 versus the Spartans, winning 8 in a row before the break in the mid-nineties. Davie was 0-5, Ty was 2-1, and Charlie is now 1-3. Good grief.

The weekly poll is being replaced this month by a survey that I will be using for some future posts for this summer, as well as just plain curiosity. It can be found on the right sidebar. The results are posted after you vote.

So if you haven't voted yet, please do. BTW- All future polls conducted on Subway Domer for Bagpipe Monday- and any other post, will be made with the Quibblo thing. It just looks better. Whoo.

Anyways- time for some pipes! I think these guys are the Gwar of bagpipers.

May 7, 2009

Random Randomness Is A Survey

Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey on Notre Dame Football. I will be using the information on future posts this summer. I'll have a link, or something, posted where I normally have the weekly poll for the month of May. If you have any comments on the questions, or if you feel like you have to explain your answers, please do so in the comment section below. I will quote some of the comments in the aforementioned future posts, and give you some street cred. Vote or Die...

May 6, 2009

Wu Am I? Tha Lonely Donkey Kong & Embryonic Crusadah

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 3 and 4...

Sam Young #74
Right Tackle
6'8" 330 lbs.
Coral Springs, Florida
Wu Name: Embryonic Crusadah

Ever since Sam Young committed to Notre Dame, the expectations for the mammoth offensive lineman have been equally enormous. He was the top offensive lineman coming out of high school and he was well on his way to proving everyone right as he started the very first game of his freshman year against Georgia Tech. He has started every game since. That doesn't mean that his career at Notre dame has been golden. Sam is a natural right tackle, but an injury early in the 2007 season to his right wrist forced him over to the left side. While playing left tackle, Sam was exposed as slow-footed as he went up against the opposing teams best pass-rushers. Of course, it didn't help that he had no help around him, or that he was really playing out of position, or the fact that he was still only a sophomore.

This year, the offensive line got a late Christmas present in the form of Frank Verducci. I predict that NO ONE will benefit more from Verducci's coaching than Young. Sam is already being touted as a first round lock in next years NFL Draft. Those are big expectations for someone that still is looking to justify prior ones. I think Sam can- and will develop into a dominant presence on the offensive line. He has the will to be great- the Irish faithful are waiting.

Ethan Johnson #9
Defensive End
6'4" 280 lbs.
Portland, Oregon
Wu Name: Tha Lonely Donkey Kong

When Ethan Johnson committed to the Irish in June of 2007, he was being touted as a can't miss 5 star prospect. Than, Ethan sprained his knee during the first game of his senior year and missed the rest of the season. To rehab his knee for his upcoming college career, Johnson joined the swim team. The results paid off for Ethan. He played a lot of critical minutes for the Irish, and as the season wore on- Ethan got better. He played a brilliant Hawaii Bowl and at times last year - he looked like the best defensive lineman on the team.

What helped get Ethan on the field early and often for the Irish was his versatility. He can play as either a defensive tackle, or on the outside as an end. Notre Dame has him listed as a defensive end right now, and that is looking like more of the major role that he will play. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Ethan was moved around a lot in 2009. Aside from Ian Williams, the rest of the defensive tackles are very inexperienced. The best news for the Irish faithful, would be that their young defensive tackles developed and became a sound rotation, keeping Johnson on the outside. That seems a like a little too much to ask, but you never know. Personally, I think Johnson will retain the same kind of role across the front in 2009 as he had in 2008. Either way- he's going to kick someones ass.

May 4, 2009

Bagpipe Monday... The 5 Minutes Before Work Edition

I don't have a lot of time this morning, so this might be a little short- but, at least you will be able to rock out to some bagpipes today. Don't forget to vote in this weeks poll and enjoy the pipes!

May 1, 2009

Wu Am I? Return Of The 36 Chambers: Kyle Rudolph & Ian Williams

Here we go again. Last year I started a preseason series entitled, "Wu Am I?" Or something like that. Basically, I did it as a way to identify who the 36 players of impact that we have expected to see on the team in the 2008 season. Plus it gave me a reason to put Wu-Tang videos on here. If you have followed the site for a while, you know that i don't need much of a reason for pumping up the Wu- but I do as I do.

I don't like straight depth charts as they only include one base formation from the defense and one base formation from the offense. This is a false truth. While the players listed as the #1 may be the "starter" and see a lot of playing time, the #2- and even #3 could see a lot of playing time- DEPENDING ON THE FORMATION. This is easy to see in a Weis offense and a Tenuta defense. Different packages throughout the whole game.

I never did finish last years series, but I will definitely have this years group done by July. Please keep in mind that this list is fairly large, but it will exclude some who you may think is worthy. You can let me know if you agree or disagree with any of the choices, but as the talent level grows in South Bend, so does the bench- if you know what I mean.

Let's get started by opening the first two chambers...

Kyle Rudolph #9
Tight End
6' 7" 248 lbs.
Cincinnati, Ohio
Wu Name: Dynamic Bandit

Kyle could never be described as a sweet surprise for the Fighting Irish. Most fans had him penciled in as a major contributor right away, but they couldn't have known how major he really was. After a season ending injury to Mike Ragone, Will Yeatman continuing his quest to make Jimmy Buffet look sober, and Luke Schmidt being forced out of football due to a migraine/concussion issue- Kyle Rudolph was the answer we were all hoping to get as he played his way on the the Freshman All-American team.

This year, Rudolph should have even better production as he will continue to improve as a dynamic pass receiver and strong run blocker. The biggest improvement may come in the form of help, as Kyle shouldn't be asked to carry the load in 2009 as he did in 2008. With Ragone seemingly healthy, this will certainly help Rudolph as he runs the TE standards of seam, in, and out routes. The offense is at its best when the tight end is continually in the mix as a receiver. Kyle will be able to answer the call.

Ian Williams #95
Defensive Tackle
6'2" 310 lbs.
Alamonte Springs, Florida
Wu Name: Thunderous Wizard

Ian Williams came on strong as a freshman in 2007. Years of bad recruiting at defensive tackle, allowed Williams to step in as a true freshman and not only get in the mix in the rotation, but he eventually started due to injuries. He was second in tackles that year behind the great Trevor Laws. 2008 was supposed to be a huge year for the then sophomore, but he just didn't have the amount of production that was expected of him.

2009 will be not only Ian's, but the entire defensive units third system in as many years. A lot will be similar, but it will still be a change. Will this tweak help the talented junior make bigger plays in the backfield in 2009? With a strong, albeit young, rotation of defensive tackles for 2009- the pressure may have subsided a bit for Ian. Make no mistake about it however, Ian has to perform at a high level for the Irish defense to reach its potential. Everything starts up front on both sides of the ball. Can Ian find his potential and shove it down the throat of the enemies across the line? He has to. How's that for pressure?