This week, Frank, over at the excellently designed, prolific UHND, asks the questions. We provide our answers below…
- The obvious question for the week, how does Notre Dame deal with the loss of Michael Floyd? What wide receiver steps up? How, if at all, does the offense change?
With a pants-load of 4 and 5 receiver sets. One of the keys (I’m guessing) to the success of the ND rushing game of late has probably been the tendancy of all opposing defensive coordinators to look at ND’s base offense, get a load of the top 2 receivers, piss themselves, pass out, and forget who they are for an hour or so. And when they come to, the DCs all tell the safeties to get absolutely nowhere near the “box” for run support on threat of death. Now with Floyd out, Weis will have to find a way to keep those safeties out of the box. So 4 receiver (with Rudolph acting as a “receiver”) and 5 receiver (Rudolph and a just-swung-out-to-the-flank-during-the-cadence Allen as “receivers”) sets makes sense, at least to me.
- After seeing three games from Notre Dame in 2009 have your expectations increased, decreased, or remained the same?
This season feels a lot like a game of craps to someone who doesn’t get the game explained to them. I don’t know what the hell is going on, what the hell will happen, and what circumstances might occur that may or may not make whatever final results we’re presented with seem acceptable or unacceptable. All I know is, if I did do something based on some notion of expectations, like, say, bet of games, I’d likely lose everything. I’m staying the hell away from this market because I don’t understand it. Yet.
- The last two years against Purdue a Notre Dame player has had their breakout game. In 2007 it was Golden Tate and in 2008 it was Armando Allen. Who do you think could have their breakout game against the Boilermakers this year?
I’m gonna go with a defensive guy because, well, we need someone on the defense not named “McCarthy” to do something really positive. I’m going with Ethan Johnson. I left the open practice feeling like he might be the best “football player” on the squad, and so I’m going with Ethan Johnson in a breakout performance that involves him accumulating more tackles than one of the starting safeties. Note I didn’t say both of the starting safeties. I’ll take a member of the DL besting one of the starting safeties.
- How would you grade the three new coaches on this yearâ€™s staff based on the first three games?
Verducci: B+. Clearly something has “clicked” for the OL. The presence of the possibly-most-lethal-passing-attack can’t account for all of the improvement we’ve seen in the running game, and even after the MSU debacle, the pass protection has been quite solid. Alford: B. Allen’s certainly running better than he ever has, though we’re still frustrated by the total lack of a break-away run. Also, sure, the RB depth is a little sticky right now in terms of experience, but we hate that we now feel like RB #2 is probably a liability in either ball protection or blitz pickup. Hart: Incomplete. And boy, we’re tempted to give out a D here. We have a man-crush on the guy that’s saving him right now, but thus far the DL has, at best, underperformed, and, more bluntly, in a way, wrecked the chances of the 2009 Irish being 3-0.
- Your thoughts on Golden Tateâ€™s stage dive into the Michigan State band? Was he trying to avoid running into the band? Was the whole thing intentional? Little of column A, little of column B?
Loved it since he didn’t get hurt. Now let me comment on my thoughts on the melange of reactions among the ND faneratti: Holy balls, people. I don’t think a day has gone by in the last 5 years where someone on the internet hasn’t mocked the “promise” Weis made of a “Nasty” football team, and now that you’ve got some guys showing some of the symptoms of such an attribute, you piss and moan? No, I don’t think Golden’s dive was “nasty,” but it is representative of a guy playing the game with every wire exposed, and that’s part of playing “nasty” football. People who have a problem with it remind me of when I was 9, saw a recipe on the back of a Cheez-it box for “Cheez-it crusted fried chicken,” and harrassed my mother for a month before she finally gave in and prepared – for a family dinner – “Cheez-it crusted fried chicken.” I hated it. I thought it was horrible. I refused to eat it and I pitched a fit about it. And my mother asked, “It’s Cheez-it crusted fried chicken, what the hell did you expect it to be like?” What the hell did you expect a team what plays some nasty football to look like? Tate’s dive was only a glimmer, of course, of what balls-out, commando-style football play looks like, but if you all get that for which you’ve been asking, be prepared for what it’s going to look like. Be prepared for some insanity.
- How has your opinion of the Notre Dame schedule changed from how you felt about it in the pre-season?
Much tougher, largely because Pitt actually looks competent, Stanford’s running game scares me, Washington looks much improved, and SoCal, no matter how “down” they might have been against Washington, will always, always come to play against the Irish.
- Should Jimmy Clausen be getting more hype for the Heisman?
Certainly. What he’s done thus far in the season is difficult to do in 7-on-7 drills against defenses that aren’t really trying. He should at least be considered among the top-5 candidates at this point. One odd thing about the Floyd loss is that it could represent a real opportunity for Clausen. If Clausen continues to play impressively without his best receiver, then the world will be forced to take notice. It’s a big ‘if,’ but it’s there and the opportunity is huge.