Throughout the 2012 season, Her Loyal Sons and the Subway Domer, Keith Arnold’s Inside the Irish, and UND’s Strong and True blog will be participating in the rebirth of the Irish Blogger Gathering. The Subway Domer explained the details on his site last week:
This season, the “rules” are as follows:
- Round Robin format with weekly pairings.
- One site asks another site 3 questions, and then posts those answers.
- The articles will be posted on Thursday each week.
It’s as simple as that. Our hope, is that this will provide a much broader discussion each week and provide more insight for all of our loyal and not so loyal readers.
To kick things off, I asked three questions (well, really more with a few hidden in there) to Josh Flynt of Strong and True. Josh is traveling to Ireland with the team for the game this weekend – make sure you follow his trip on Twitter: @NDSportsBlogger.
The other IBG’s of the week can be found at the following links:
The Subway Domer asks Twibby of HLS what could go wrong this year
Keith Arnold at Inside the Irish asks Subway Domer what would make a successful season
Josh Flynt at Strong and True asks Keith Arnold about the challenges for the Irish this weekend
Now to the good stuff: my questions and Josh’s answers are below:
1. Everett Golson will be taking his first competitive snaps in almost two years against Navy. Do you expect Brian Kelly to favor the run or the pass on Saturday? And how will Golson fare in his debut?
When you have a sophomore quarterback making his first start, let alone collegiate appearance, it seems like a no-brainer to rely heavily upon your 1,000-yard senior running back. But that was before Coach Kelly announced the suspension of Cierre Wood on Sunday.
Even without Wood, there is a lot of talent in the backfield. Senior Theo Riddick has returned to running back and sophomore George Atkinson III, who made a name for himself last season on kick returns, will look to have an even bigger role in Notre Dame’s game plan this year.
Last October, Wood, GAIII, Jonas Gray and Michael Floyd combined to score seven rushing touchdowns against the Midshipmen. With a veteran offensive line, it makes sense for Notre Dame to run right back at Navy again this Saturday.
Not to mention, the Midshipmen option offense will eat clock and keep the Irish defense on the field, so I expect Notre Dame to run the ball often too, in an effort to take some pressure off of Golson, while also giving the defense a breather.
While no one should expect Everett Golson to put up Madden-like numbers in his first start, I think the sophomore has the talent, poise and supporting cast to lead the Irish to a fairly comfortable victory and secure his role as Notre Dame’s quarterback.
2. We have been hearing a lot about freshmen receivers Chris Brown, Davonte’ Neal, and Justin Ferguson. What are your expectations for this talented trio during their first season in South Bend?
With Floyd catching passes on Sundays, there’s a lot of opportunity and a plethora of talent at the wide receiver. Will someone emerge as a Biletnikoff frontrunner? Probably not.
But between veterans (Goodman, Toma and Jones) and newcomers (Daniels and the three aforementioned freshmen), a combination of players will step up to give offensive coordinator Chuck Martin several solid options.
As for the freshmen – All three were electrifying athletes in high school, but I’m most excited to see what Neal can do as the starting punt returner. It’s no secret that punt returns have been a weakness for the Irish. If the 5-foot-9 freshman can solve that problem, well, he’ll already be a hero in the eyes of some of the Irish faithful.
I’m not saying we need to see Neal turn into Tim Brown versus the Spartans in ’87, but if he can shorten the field, it could go a long way towards helping the Irish offense find its rhythm this season. I have seen some compare him to Golden Tate – both are undersized receivers with the talent to break off a big play any time they touch the football.
Offensively, I think Brown is the freshman receiver most likely to make the biggest impact. His quickness seems to have been one of the hot topics from all of training camp. Listed at just 172 lb., he will benefit from some time in the weight room, but I think he has the athleticism to give the Irish a deep ball threat throughout the 2012 season.
I’m not sure what to expect from Ferguson. He is certainly a talented young receiver, but with the surplus of bodies at the position, I wonder if the coaching staff could send him in the direction of DaVaris Daniels in 2011, and preserve a year of his eligibility.
3. After struggling with the Navy attack in 2010, the Irish dominated the Midshipmen defensively in 2011. Which defense shows up in Dublin? Do you expect Navy to have any offensive wrinkles thrown in for this first game of the season?
Rallying behind the outstanding leadership of newly-appointed captains Manti Te’o and Kapron Lewis-Moore, I think we’ll see the 2011 version of the Irish defense against Navy.
Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt provide tremendous young talent alongside KLM. Veterans Te’o, Dan Fox and Prince Shembo will work with sophomore Ben Councell in the linebacking corps, and experienced safeties Zeke Motta and Jamoris Slaughter will lead the Irish secondary.
Some offenses will seek to exploit Notre Dame’s young cornerbacks, but Navy is known for its triple-option offense, and I don’t see the Midshipmen deviating too much from that.
That being said, both teams have had a long time to prepare for one another, so it should be an interesting afternoon. This game’s being played at a rugby stadium and on a different continent. Anything could happen.