Wednesday, November 21, 2007

IrishGlory Q&A

I wanted to take some time before the Thanksgiving holiday to address some questions I have received:

1. Q: What do you think of Charlie Weis going back to New England after the season? Tom Pagna thinks it is a bad idea.

A: Thank you for the question. I think it is a great idea, regardless of what Tom Pagna says. After a season as difficult as this one, a good head coach needs to sit down, break down the entire program, and decide what is working well and what is not working well. The most important aspect of this process is honesty. A coach needs to hear it all in plain, brutally honest terms -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. To really have a meaningful impact, a coach needs to engage in this process with the people that know his schemes the best, the people whose judgments and counsel he trusts, and the people who know the coach well enough to hit him between the eyes with the things they believe he has done wrong. For Charlie, those people are located in New England. How could this be a bad thing? I have heard a few frequent criticisms:
1. These are NFL people and Charlie already runs the Irish program too much like an NFL organization. RESPONSE - Part of the evaluation process Charlie needs to undertake deals with scheme and personnel evaluation. I don't think there is any place I would rather have my coach go right now than to New England for any type of scheme or personnel evaluation. As an aside, take a look at the resumes of several of the New England coaches. I think you will find quite a bit of college coaching experience on their staff.
2. From Tom Pagna, he would prefer Charlie engage in this process with his current staff of coaches, not the New England coaches. RESPONSE - I don't get it. Sometimes it just seems like guys like Pagna are looking to make issues where they don't exist. Do you really think that after the season is over Charlie won't sit down with his entire staff and go through this analysis??? I don't see why the 2 are mutually exclusive. How does Mr. Pagna make the assumption that because Charlie will be going to New England to break down the season that he also won't be doing the same thing with his staff in South Bend????
Long answer to a short question, but I think it is a great idea and the Irish program will be better for it.

2. Q: After Clausen threw the TD pass to Grimes, it looked like everyone congratulated Grimes and no one congratulated Clausen. Also, when Clausen gets sacked, no one seems to help him up. Do you think Clausen's teammates don't like him?

A: I respect this question because I also see what you are talking about, but I believe it is overblown. In the game of football, you have to earn guys' respect and that is very hard to do for a freshman, especially when you come in with the hype Jimmy had. Jimmy will never be just another freshman, or just a guy on the team. I think as Jimmy grows and develops and shows what he can do on and off the field, these issues will go away. From what I gather, Jimmy's personality is very different than the prima donna he is often accused of being. Sometimes it takes a while, and in some cases it takes older guys graduating, for those perceptions to go away and people to see what type of person, player, and leader a kid is. Coaches have to walk a fine line here. On the one hand, a coach needs to let his team know that it is not acceptable to let your QB get beaten up like that and not protected. On the other hand, a coach needs to avoid the appearance that the QB is his pet and needs to be defended. I think Coach Weis has handled this situation fine and I fully believe this will become a non-issue very shortly.

3. Q: You seem like a positive person when talking about the team and the program. What is your biggest concern going into next season?

A: Thank you for that, it made me smile. If you could see me watching the games on Saturday, I think you might change your opinion slightly because I am like most Irish fans and want to put my foot through the screen sometimes. I have several concerns for next season, but let me highlight 3 big ones:
1. Inside Linebacker Play - I think when Coach Weis and Corwin evaluate the defense this year, they will see that ILB play really hurt the defense at times. Mo Crum and Joe Brockington both played hard, but are athletically limited in my view and really struggled getting off blocks and getting to the outside. Brockington will be gone, but I think Crum will return. The Irish really need an infusion of athleticism and strength at ILB. The incoming freshmen should provide that, but in this defense, you need your ILB to really quarterback the defense with calls. In that sense, I think it will be very very difficult to take Mo Crum off the field next year. The best situation for the Irish will be if the light goes on for Toryan Smith.
2. Replacing Trevor Laws - Trevor has been the heart and soul of this defense and has really covered up a lot of deficiencies along the D line. Replacing him is a huge concern.
3. Special teams - special teams have been a disaster for seemingly the last decade. I have not seen many improvements and therefore have difficulty expecting improvement next season. With the schedule the Irish play year in and year out, they need solid special teams.

4. Q: You suck! When are you going to stop making excuses for Charlie Weis and accept that he is not going to get it done?

A: I guess this gets filed under the heading of "You take the good with the bad." :) I make no apologies for what I believe and stand behind what I have written. This is still the same head coach that took this program to 2 BCS games in his first 2 seasons. Don't forget that.

5. Q: With Hughes' performance last week, does ND have a RB controversy next season?

A: No. First of all, all 3 of those guys (Aldridge, Allen, and Hughes) are extremely close and will not allow that to happen. Second, I believe there are enough carries over the course of the season for all of those guys. As Charlie alluded to this week, I believe there will always be a place in the gameplan for Armando. I think Armando will always have his 10-15 touches worked into the gameplan. I think the battle for carries will be between James and Robert. With both being punishing runners, the Irish will need both of these guys. I also see differences in style between James and Robert. I firmly believe all 3 will see significant action. If you want to pinpoint who will get more playing time, I think a critical factor will be in the spring and fall, who emerges as the most reliable blitz pickup guy. That will be a separator.

Thank you all again for the questions. With this week being Thanksgiving, I would also like to wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving. I am very thankful that folks like you take time out of your busy lives to read my thoughts and my blog and correspond with me. I truly enjoy getting emails from folks and love talking football. Thank you, Happy Thanksgiving, and GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Anonymous said...

As many have said the OL play this year has been dismal. I am curious as to why this is not your #1 concern going into 2008. I know it is mine as all begins and ends with OL play.

IrishGlory said...

Anonymous - I see your point. Any time you are 2-9 going into the last game of the season, you can probably point to 15 different concerns. I also agree that the O line has been dismal. They are not my #1 concern because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for them. I see encouraging signs of Sam Young stepping up. I see Dan Wenger stepping up. I think these guys have gained invaluable experience this year and I believe you will see a much more cohesive unit next year. In my estimation, the O line problems this year have had less to do with talent than with chemistry and commuication. Individually, these guys are actually quite good. It is when they were required to function as a cohesive unit that they struggled. I am expecting many of those issues to work themselves out this offseason. O line is certainly a big concern going into next season, but I highlighted those other areas because I am less sure of where the solution lies to those problems. Does that make sense? Thank you for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Only other issue I would look to is OL play, and OL play and uh....OL play. They are brutal and Latina hasn't yet put together a decent line. He needs to pack up and leave.

Face Mask said...

Happy thanksgiving to you & yours IG.I agree that the OL problems will not be there next year.I can't wait to see them when they get it togeather.GO IRISH!!

sir John said...

Nice read.. Golor... I'm a bit behind duties and expecting a granchiled very soon.

IrishGlory said...

I think there is going to be a ton of competition along the OL in the offseason going into next year. There are some really competitive options who I see vying for time.