Irish Blogger Gathering: Championship Edition

It’s been a crazy week for all Irish blogeratti, but we still have time to give you a championship edition of the Irish Blogger Gathering. For this edition, I again pick the brain of Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish. Be sure to check out IBG posts from The Subway Domer and Strong & True as well.

Let’s get to it!

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been monitoring Barrett Jones’ injury situation like a hawk. To me, the Irish defensive success begins and ends with Louis Nix III seeing major success. Do you agree or is there another matchup that you are keeping your eye on for the Irish defense to succeed?

If we’ve beaten just about every other storyline to death in the run up to this game, this might be the one wildcard that’s absolutely fascinating. If you ask an Alabama fan, they seem to be genuinely unconcerned. Perhaps that’s just their confidence in the Tide, or the magical healing powers of Jones’ ankle — which was in a boot as of Thursday night — but if Braxston Cave were in a walking boot less than a week before the national title game, you can bet there’d be candle light vigils across the country.

From a more general perspective, the injury situation on whole is worth watching. Quite a few key players on the Alabama side of the ball are a little nicked up, so that could be something that Notre Dame takes advantage of, especially in the trenches. From all that I read about Jones and see of him from the limited footage I’ve watched, he’s obviously a talented guy with the craft of a wily veteran. But I don’t want the anchor of my offensive line trying to stop Louis Nix on one foot.

On the other side of the ball, all eyes appear to be on Everett Golson. In my opinion most of this is due to the success of one Johnny “Football” Manziel. However, considering the strength of the Irish squad is it’s running back stable are you looking for the rushing attack to carry the day or will Golson have to follow the “Johnny Football blueprint” in order to find offensive success?

The Golson-Manziel comparisons were flying around quite a bit in the media session with Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. And Smart didn’t laugh them off. That said, watching Manziel absolutely obliterate Oklahoma’s defense kind of reminds you that while Everett Golson is talented, he’s a long way away productivity wise from Manziel.
If Notre Dame is going to win on Monday night, they’re going to need to get something out of their running backs as well as Everett Golson’s ability to buy time with his legs. I’m not sure how realistic it is to think that the Irish can run consistently against the Tide, even with Jesse Williams dinged. But to think that the Irish can win this game without all guns blazing and hitting on all cylinders is pretty far fetched.

Wednesday night, we saw the third ranked team in the country, Florida fall in rather convincing fashion to Louisville. To say the least, the SEC has had a less than stellar showing this year in the bowl games. Is this a sign that the gap between the SEC and everyone else is narrower than even ND fans have thought or are we reading too much into the tea leaves?

I think that’s a totally fair statement. SEC apologists tried explaining away Florida’s embarrassing loss, but that game really exposed the Gators. The rest of the bowl games did little to help the SEC’s claims of global supremacy. I still think the SEC is the best conference in college football, but I think their performances in the bowl games thus far can put to rest any talk that the SEC’s seventh or eighth best team is still better than Notre Dame.

I’m still waiting to get an answer from an Alabama beat writer I’ve been discussing this game with, but I’m curious to see how the acknowledgment of Over-Signing, and the attempts to curb the abuse of manipulating scholarship numbers, has helped level the playing field. Part of me thinks that now that SEC coaches aren’t able to sign 100+ guys over a 4 year period, their rosters all of a sudden don’t look quite as deep.

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