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?

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