Irish Blogger Gathering: NDNation Answers

IBG

In this installment of the Irish Blogger Gathering, HLS paired up with NDNation. Yep. I questioned. El Kabong answered. Let’s get to it.
For you SEC-students out there, the questions are in bold, numbered, and have a “question mark” at the end of them. You know, the thing you call a “doohickey.”

1.) Having lost Golson, evaluate or reevaluate the quarterback position. Is it just too easy to say that we’ve been dealt a huge blow to the offense and we can expect 8-4 at best with Turnover Tommy under center? Or, does 2013 see the triumphant ascension of Touchdown Tommy, who will lead us to 10-2 or 11-1 in the regular season and thereby become the greatest work-a-day hero in Irish quarterback lore? Or what?

Your examples represent the full range of the spectrum of what could happen this season, and while I don’t think either describes what will happen, I think the probability favors a result closer to the 8-4 end than the 11-1 end.

Tommy Rees is everything you’d want in a Notre Dame quarterback above the shoulders.  Trouble is, he’s got some deficiencies below them, and those issues aren’t things that can be coached out of you.  But right now, Chuck Martin is going to have to make the best of a non-optimal situation, because Malik Zaire, while he has great tools, is not ready for prime time just yet, and I believe they’ll want to save his redshirt if at all possible.
The good news is I think ND has enough pieces in place on the overall depth chart that the quarterback position overall won’t be a season-killer.  The bad news is I think the quarterback position, whether via injury, inexperience, or physical limitations, is going to cost ND at least one winnable game.

2.) What are your thoughts on the loss of Eddie Vanderdoes? Are we right to panic about the once perfect state of our defensive line? In the larger picture, though, what does Notre Dame’s stance in the situation mean, if anything?

I think Vanderdoes is a big loss from a depth and physicality standpoint.  The old adage is your success is determined by how your lines play, and there’s no better example of that than last season.  When you lose a highly-touted defensive lineman, that’s going to hurt you, because now you have a gap in your recruiting strategy you didn’t know you had, and the timing makes it impossible to correct.

Having said that, however, I question what Vanderdoes would have done for Notre Dame had he stayed.  Everyone has the right to change their mind, but when you change it early and often, that betrays a lack of focus.  I’ve been trying to think of a player who left Notre Dame and had great college football success elsewhere, and none come to mind.  To the contrary, just about all of them floundered at their new schools because of (wait for it) a lack of mental discipline and focus.  Maybe Lynch will be a monster this year and prove me wrong, or maybe Vanderdoes will be all Pac-10 at UCLA, but i ain’t holding my breath.

Regardless, I believe Notre Dame’s actions in this situation were both appropriate and necessary.  I’m not interested in the “athletes are used by the system” argument, because that’s not relevant to this particular discussion.  The National Letter of Intent has to have teeth.  We can’t have a free agency market for college players, so long as those college players are ostensibly student athletes.  The entire system would be thrown into chaos, and even though it would be the elite programs like Notre Dame that would benefit, it’s critical to the sport that some kind of level playing field be maintained.

3.) I have my twenty year reunion coming up next summer, so my mind is keyed into analyzing the last two decades. Where do you fit the program today, and Coach Kelly, on that continuum? Obviously, he’s the guy there now, but comparing him to his predecessors, Holtz, Davie, Willingham, and Weis, where does Brian Kelly fit?

There’s really no point in a comparison between Kelly and any combination of the Three Stooges of the ND coaching pantheon — it’s a waste of bandwidth.  Going back to Ara or earlier is apples-to-oranges, the game was too different back then.  So let’s talk about Holtz.

Any comparison will depend on the scale or criteria you’re measuring.  From a W/L perspective, Kelly certainly can stand up to scrutiny with Holtz.  Holtz’s progression was a little steeper, and he had a national championship win at this point, but it’s not like Kelly is outside the margin of error here.
The problem, however, is Notre Dame is supposed to be about more than wins and losses.  If all we cared about was the record, we’d all be SEC fans.  And it’s in this area that Kelly, so far, falls short on the Holtz scale.  He lacks Holtz’s savvy when dealing with others, whether those people be media creatures or school administrators or Notre Dame alumni.  This most likely is borne of his lack of experience at elite programs.  If you’re not used to the spotlight’s temperature, it can be a tough adjustment when it’s cranked up to full.
That’s not to say he can’t gain such experience.  But to the outside observer, he doesn’t seem interested in doing so.  That’s his decision to make, of course, but such decisions have consequences, particularly if substandard on-field results follow in their wake.  You make deposits into your account to save for a rainy day.  If you’ve been on a shopping spree when the monsoon comes….irish blogger gathering2a
El Kabong, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.In this iteration of the IBG, HLS answered questions from the lovely and talented Aaron Horvath, your new @NDSportsBlogger, over at Strong and True. Follow him on the twitter-machine and help him impress his boss, @oknd1.

 

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  • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

    El K, I was with you up until the last statement you made. Great commentary and awesome mental composure on some of those topics. However, with the Kelly to Lou comparison, I dont know if this is YOU or the site you maintain that is leaking through, but you come off as the typical crotchety old ND fan who despises Kelly purely because he didnt coach in the 70′s or 80′s. It the typical ‘Harrumph, FULLBACKS!’ mentality, to quote a phrase from OFD. How exactly do you ascertain that Kelly hasnt connected to fans, alumni, media? I find he’s done that SO MUCH better than you give him credit for. The only people who feel otherwise are those who will never give him the fair shake because of some foolish notion that he’s not ‘winning the right way,’ whatever the hell that means.

    • David Knight

      I agree it was a very well thought out commentary. I work in the Middle east and much of my down time is spent watching Notre Dame highlights on You Tube. Its 125 here. I look at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz and all the success using the bump and grind it out running attack dashed in with some effective passing. One thing I wish Lou would have done was utilize his plethora of NFL DBs rather than play zone and passive coverage schemes. Also, Tight End U could really have been Tight End U for a much longer period of time. However, with Coach Kelly, it looks like he has started leaning toward a power running attack out of a spread formation. the power running attack still can work, I think Alabama uses that, correct? Last, with all of the accolades given to Tommy about his cerebral knack, his untimely turnovers usually resulted when he locked on Mr. Eifert or Mr. Floyd. He doesn’t appear to be able to scan the field effectively or Opt out of his initial target. Thus, if he is a very smart QB, something gets lost in transition and maybe that transition is the speed of the game. For all of our sakes, I hope he has a brilliant year and I do wish him well. I really do. GOD Bless everyone and take care.

  • http://gravatar.com/tlndma tlndma

    When Tommy Rees stops turning the ball over and starts getting the plays off on time, I’ll give much more credit for being a cerebral QB.

  • Brendan

    I don’t really have much respect for anyone officially associated with NDN given the way they ban members who post reasoned arguments that differ from the kool-aid derived opinions of their geriatric braintrust.

    Trey is spot-on in his critique of El Kabong’s silly Kelly-Lou comments.

  • http://gravatar.com/gbsk gbsk

    Have they investigated the posibility of grafting Rees’ head on Malik’s body? or vice versa?