Welcome to another edition of The Irish Blogger Gathering. This weeks IBG is brought to you by the guys over at Her Loyal Sons. (BTW- If you are an Irish Blog and you wish to be apart of the IBG, merely publish a post with this weeks responses and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org what blog you are associated with. I will then plug you into the database. if you have already requested to join, and I have not responded, please forgive me… I have had technical difficulties with my PC. I will get you signed up ASAP).
Her Loyal Sons provides a very appropriate title for this weeks IBG, which closes out spring ball; “De Omnibus Dubitandem,” which means, ” All is to be doubted.” We must all be careful to not look too deeply into what is provided to us on the surface, but we should look very carefully into the subtleties and small changes- especially with a regime change.
Let’s get right into the IBG…
1. Given the stat-lines of Brian Kelly’s first Blue and Gold
SprintSpring Game, it seems obvious to me that the media will be shark-feeding from now until the first game of the 2010 season over our new-found “quarterback controversy.” I mean, didjya see MONTANA SON of MONTANA throw those TD PASSES!? HE LOOKED JUST LIKE MONTANA! So let’s all do the responsible thing as “Notre Dame Blogs: Protectors of the Realm” and come to full agreeance about this so-called controversy and put it to rest right now: Nate Montana should be the starter, right?
Oh, how things never change. Junior Jabbie should have been our starting tailback in 2007 too… right? What’s funny, is my Dad texted me about this and was in that column of Montana supporters. I didn’t text back. (Sorry dad). This is a perfect example of how things can get blown out of proportion after spring football. What you see is rarely what you get- or really want.
Dayne Crist will be the starter, and in Brian Kelly’s eyes there really is no debate about that fact. Yes, it is a fact. Crist is no Jimmy Clausen in terms of production right now, but he will give Notre Dame the best chance to win every week and he will keep improving. He is still not 100% healthy, and his mobility, leadership, and grasp of Kelly’s system will set him apart and will turn him into a success.
What Nate Montana did this spring was just as important though. Nate put himself squarely into the #2 spot before Luke Massa and Andrew Hendrix arrive in June. That’s a BIG headstart. Besides, any success should be downplayed a little bit because of the vanilla defense that he went up against. Solid- but he won’t take over thestarting reigns. Sorry.
2. One of the over-arching themes of the 2010 Spring session of Notre Dame football was that Brian Kelly has been spending a lot of time trying to change the overall attitude of the Notre Dame team. To quote Kelly, “What I want them talking about is, ‘It’s me that gets that first national championship,’ not ‘I want to be the No. 1 draft pick.’ That’s what we’re reshaping.” Do you think that unexpectedly long wait-time this weekend for Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen to receive that magical phone call from some NFL team will go noticed by any of the Irish footballers who, until this weekend, weren’t getting the message from Kelly? Was there anything this spring that you noticed that made you think that most of the team was already on board the Good Ship Greater Good and that the transformation in that regard was complete?
The freefall of Jimmy Clausen and the lack of respect towards Golden Tate in terms of draft position, certainly was noticed by the team- but I don’t think it will have as strong of an effect as implied. These are fairly smart kids, and I don”t think that they thought Golden would go much sooner than where he did, and the Clausen deal will be seen more as a “All those teams just fucked up,” rather than an, “oh snap! I better shape up.”
With that said, I think the transformation is still underway, and won”t probably be complete until the 2011 season- but change is certainly in the wind. Kelly has talked quite a bit about changing the attitude of “entitlement” that was ever so present in the Weis era. From the small bits of interviews with some of the players, you can see a difference, but I am still unsure about what difference it really is. Is it because the two biggest stars on the team for the past 2- even 3 season are now gone? Or is their really a newfound hunger in some of the players that is now pushing the rest of the team to be equally hungry? I just don’t know. One thing that struck me, was hoe Brian Kelly spoke about my boy, Emeka Nwankwo and how he has changed his attitude. Kelly wasn’t sure that playing really was all that important to Nwankwo, but it appeared that it most certainly is now.
3. A fair number of players made a pretty good splash in Spring Ball and in the Blue & Gold Game. Name one you didn’t notice belly flopping into the big pool of opportunity and explain why that disappoints you. Or, if you really want to be creative, explain why you’re glad that particular player didn’t win any belly flop competitions.
First off, I must explain something. I did not attend the game for the first time since 2006, which was the year that broke a 6 year streak before. Clausen’s announcement had me doing shots of Irish Mist all night- and I wasn’t able to move the next day. Also, I was working all day Saturday, so I was also unable to watch the game online- but i was following the Tweets closely and have seen quite a few highlight videos since.
With that said, I really thought the defene would have a few more highlight than what they did. The Dline got their hands up, batted some ball, and the rest of the defense got a few picks- but I was hoping for something spectacular. I’m not sure what- but I would know it if I saw it.
But to really answer the question, I thought Darrin Walls would look better than this:
4. Pick one quotation from Spring Ball sourced by an Irish coach and parse the living hell out of it.
“This is the first coat of paint.”- Brian Kelly (which he said twice in one day). Basically, Kelly wants the world to know that this whole thing is a work in progress. He has talked about the need to win right away, but this quote offers us a little insight into what a large job is at hand. It will be a constant reminder that the players and the coaches are working to turn this thing around, but it will take more work than what was allowed in the spring. Kelly has the demeanor of a man that is never satisfied, and to be quite lazy about it… it has a “Holtz feel” about it.
5. Select one stat from the 2009 season that either troubled you greatly or made you brag to all your coworkers who cheered for teams with sucky comparable stats, and explain why that particular stat will be vastly improved or ruined in 2010 based on what you’ve seen in the spring.
101 and 110. What are those? 101 is the amount of tackles Kyle McCarthy had in 2009 and 110 was the amount of tackles Kyle McCarthy had in 2008. No, I am not worried that Harrison Smith or Jamoris Slaughter will under perform- on the contrary. I think they will both be more successful in other stats that I would rather have my safeties leading in… but what am I getting at?
The tackling up front by the front 7 for the past 2 years has been awful. Really awful. I think the approach that Diaco and Kelly have took towards more fundamentals and using a system that embodies the personnel (3-4) will show up in the stat line amongst our tackle leaders. The safeties will still get their fair share, but I will bet a linebacker or two will finish as the leaders in 2010. Yes I am encouraged, and it didn’t take much.
6. Bonus: Stick figures, collage, stolen work, hotlinked photo, professionally edited photoshopping, whatever… give us a visual that best represents everything you’ve seen from spring college football, Irish and/or otherwise, in 2010.
Easy enough… This image has a calming effect on me. It says, “Don”t worry. I know what I am doing. Get the bronze ready….”