Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Friday, September 08, 2006

Re: Below post; Tom, you ignorant slut...

While I agree with your appraisal of Weis's testicular fortitude, Saturday night's game gave me plenty to worry about.

Both Georgia Tech and Ohio State (in last January's Fiesta Bowl) provided the blueprint for how to contain the Irish: attack them with an aggressive, physical defense. Our offensive line, while good, is not a dominating one; they are neither big enough (they average under 300 lbs., which puts them more-or-less in the middle of the pack of college lines) nor athletic enough to dominate the line of scrimmage. Also, we do not have breakaway speed at the receiver nor the running back position. Samardzija and McKnight are very good receivers, but they are possession receivers, not burners - it is possible to cover them without stretching your defense too thin, and you can play them tight and physical without much worry that they're going to blow by you. Walker is a solid back with a knack for finding holes, but not a guy who will leave your defense in the dust - the longest run of his career is 40 yards.

With these limitations, the Irish under Weis have relied on superior play calling and timing to exploit opposing defenses' weaknesses. An aggressive defense can by neutralized by draws and trap runs, as well as quick slants and screen passes. Quinn was checking out of runs for most of the first half Saturday night, and the Irish looked out-of-sync as Tech's aggressive, physical defense knocked Quinn and his receivers out of their rhythm. Quinn didn't check out of the running plays Weis called in the second half, and ND was able to exploit the weakness of an aggressive defense: the tendency to over-pursue.

The defense looked much quicker to the ball on Saturday night than last season, but at this point it is tough to tell how much better they are, because Georgia Tech has, at best, a mediocre offense.

While I'm not forecasting doom and gloom or a return to the futility of the Davie-Willingham period of darkness, I think a more realistic expectation for the 2006 Irish is a 10W - 2L regular season record. I think Michigan has the right ingredients to beat us, and have been focusing on the ND game quite intensely in the offseason (it's a shame, too, because I will be at that game). USC, despite losing two Heisman Trophy winners to the NFL, are fast, talented, and deep. It would be a minor miracle for the Irish not to lose a starter or three to injury over the course of the season, and thanks to the (non)recruiting of Ty Willingham, ND has practically no experienced depth after the starters (they played at least 9 freshmen on Saturday night). While USC can afford the attrition, ND can't, and the game is in late November, so.....I'm not very optimistic about that game either.


Okay, that's my head talking. My heart, and every other fiber of my being, will be hoping and praying for an Irish victory each week. Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame!!!

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