Irish Blogger Gathering: A Year in Review

The Irish Blogger Gathering has come out of their slumber and holiday hangovers. It’s time to get back to business.

In this edition, we are taking the round-robin approach. The Subway Domer hosts answers from Josh Flint. Josh has my thoughts over at Strong and True. Keith Arnold from Inside the Irish answers by questions after the jump and he’ll have Subway’s answers up at his site soon.

Since we have one more IBG before the title game, I wanted to take a step back. My questions for this IBG allow us just one more chance to reflect back on the 2012 season before ND/Alabama reaches a fever pitch.

There’s been quite a lot of celebration about going 12-0. From t-shirts, to TV specials, and DVD sets, there is quite a lot for Irish fans to latch on to well before the Irish play for the ultimate prize. What’s your take on all this? Is it too much too soon or a well good and well-deserved use of time while we await the finale to the college football season?

I’ve got mixed emotions on this one. Going 12-0 is a special feat. And while it’s easy to bristle at the marketing machine, I mulled pulling the trigger on the DVD set. There’s no question that this season will be one always remembered by Irish fans, especially the younger generation that doesn’t remember title runs under Ara, Devine or even Lou. But it’s all going to look a little silly if ND gets blown out by Alabama.

If you were to choose a defining moment for this Irish team in the 2012 season, what would it be?

It’s got to be the goal line stand against Stanford. Between the driving rain, the overtime, and the ensuing controversy, that stop encapsulated Notre Dame’s season — a defense that just wouldn’t give up the final inch. That celebration running off the field will be one that I remember for a long time.

As a writer, that was one of those moments where you hope you just didn’t screw it up. It was a really fun column to write, and looking back and rewatching that game, you marvel at all the things that happened that rainy afternoon.

Let’s give out some IBG postseason awards. Who would be your offensive and defensive MVPs? By the way you, can’t pick Manti Te’o because that would make part of this question far too easy.

Offensive MVP: Theo Riddick

The fact that Brian Kelly put the offense on Theo Riddick’s back is amazing. Here’s a guy that couldn’t be relied upon to catch a punt, and a player that epitomized the inconsistency that plagued the Irish over the past few years. Riddick wasn’t all that dynamic — he was the team’s third best rusher statistically — but he was just so tremendously steady, and he continued to improve every step of the way, with his performance against USC an incredible conclusion to four seasons.

Defensive MVP (non-Te’o): Louis Nix & Zeke Motta

If I can’t pick Te’o, then I’m not going to pick just one player. To borrow from a baseball analogy, a team’s defense is only as good as its up-the-middle players. Well this Irish defense was just tremendous up the middle. While we can spend the next few years talking about Te’o’s senior season, nearly matching his brilliance were his fellow up-the-middle defenders, nose tackle Louis Nix and safety Zeke Motta.

The road those two took to get to where they are is incredible. Nix’s story has been told plenty, but he’s gone from a 370-pound fat kid to one of the nation’s finest nose tackles. That’s a credit to a coaching staff that used tough love to develop Nix, and the player himself. That he’s also one of the team’s most lovable personalities only makes it even better. For Motta, his ascent to excellence is just as miraculous. Mike Mayock expects Motta to be drafted in the second or third round. That’s a long way from the guy many constantly complained about for missing tackles and running around the secondary lost.

As hard as it was to narrow things down to Nix and Motta, I could make equally persuasive cases for Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Bennett Jackson.

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