Monday, November 26, 2007

Notre Dame - Stanford: Wrapup

On Saturday afternoon against Stanford, the Irish mercifully concluded the 2007 campaign by beating the Cardinal. In many ways, this game epitomized the season for the Irish -- sloppy at times, inconsistent, but with fashes of promise. Here are my thoughts:

1. This was not a great game for Jimmy Clausen. I was really hoping he would have 1 game before the season ended where he put it all together and showed for 60 minutes the tremendous promise he has. This was not that game. Jimmy was again harassed by blitzes all day and that played a factor as well. His INT in the second half while being sacked should not happen. That is just a young player who needs to know better than to try to throw that ball. I also think that once Jimmy gets healthy, his deep ball will look a lot better than it looked against Stanford. Nevertheless, Jimmy did plenty of good things as well and he is really developing some good chemistry with Duval. As always, I like the fire, passion, and intensity that Jimmy brings to the table.

2. Robert Hughes had a solid game. He really is a load to bring down once he gets churning. I am still not ready to toss James Aldridge aside, but Robert may be more ready to be "the guy" than I previously thought. Wait till you guys see more of Robert catching the ball out of the backfield. We are tempted to pigeon hole guys and says that because Armando is small and fast, he is our best screen pass back. Generally, that may be true, but I think you will see Robert do an awful lot of damage catching passes in the future.

3. It was a better day for the Irish WRs. I want to give some credit to the much maligned David Grimes. That catch he made laying out for the TD (any yes it most certainly was a catch depite the blind men in the replay booth) was a thing of beauty. It doesn't get much better than that catch. Duval is going to be a big-time WR playing with Jimmy. More and more, I am starting to believe that this is a critical spring for Robbie Parris. Parris has a lot of talent, but his inconsistency has cost him. I think he better take a significant step forward in the spring because he has some extremely talented freshmen showing up in the fall.

4. At some point, this offense has to take the step forward and show that we can handle the blitz. All year (and you can even argue that we didn't do a good job against the blitz last year) the Irish have been really hurt by blitzing teams. Right now, the Irish do 2 things against blitzing teams -- run misdirection and throw deep fly patterns. There is nothing wrong with either of those, but it isn't enough. The deep pass is just not high percentage enough and the run blocking of the line is not consistent enough to keep you out of negative yardage plays consistently. At some point (likely when Jimmy advances to the stage where he can check into and out of certain plays at the line of scrimmage) the Irish need to develop a quick passing game to beat back the blitz. I am not sure why the Irish did not run more slants with someone like Duval against the blitz.

5. The O line was, as it has been all year, inconsistent. It is maddening at times. The effort was fine against Stanford but the same inconsistency we have seen from the line all year showed up again. Without naming names, guys have to bring it physically AND mentally every down, and if they can't do that, then they should not be every down players.

6. Trevor Laws was...well... Trevor Laws. Meaning an unblockable, determined, high motor, productive terror on the football field. Trevor is far and away the MVP of this team and should be an All American. Thank you Trevor for an incredible season. It was truly a pleasure to watch this kid play the game this year.

7. The Irish LBs have a long long way to go. There is no way to sugarcoat that. Brian Smith and Kerry Neal are phenomenal prospects and they are really fun to watch. However, the Irish need a lot more productivity out of the guys in the middle. Way too many missed tackles and way too many lost contains against Stanford.

8. Darrin Walls is about ready to burst on the scene. The light appears to be going on for him. He is playing with a lot more physicality, energy, and passion. He is well on his way to becoming the lockdown corner the Irish have desperately needed in recent years. I still wonder what he would look like as a regular kick returner. Hmmmmmm.

9. Terrail Lambert - I really like the kid as a player, but that hit he put on the Stanford QB was dangerous and clearly helmet to helmet. You are better than that Terrail.

10. Jim Harbaugh - You are retired. The game is not all about you anymore. Your sideline antics of jumping up and down and throwing your headset and drawing attention to yourself are embarrassing. Grow up. Your antics do nothing for you and they certainly don't help your team. Putting in a QB who has clearly suffered a head injury is irresponsible and dangerous and if I was a parent of a recruit watching that, it would make me think long and hard about sending my child to play for you.

11. David Bruton is going to be a monster next year. I really think that between this year and next year he is going to take the same step forward that Trevor Laws took from last season to this one. I believe David will be a captain next year.

12. Kicking - It has gotten to the point where I have to look away when we attempt any kick, even extra points. I am still not ready to give up on a kid like Brandon Walker though. If you follow the practice reports, he is pretty good in practice. It is simply not translating into the games right now. That tells me that it is a mental issue, not an ability issue.


OC Domer said...

Great wrap-up. I might nit-pick a couple of points, but overall we are very much in agreement.

IrishGlory said...

Thank you oc domer. I welcome the nit picking. Feel free to share your thoughts anytime. I love to discuss Irish football.

Face Mask said...

Do you think one of the LB recruits will see time in the middle??

IrishGlory said...

I think that at east 1 of the ILB recruits will see significant playing time (though not necessarily as a starter). I think it is 50/50 whether that guy would be Filer or McDonald. Filer brings the athleticism that we need to that position, but McDonald has tremendous instincts for the position that I believe will allow him to contribute early.

Face Mask said...

So two posibilites to beef up the middle.Sounds good.

Face Mask said...

IG,when was the last time an ND QB ended the season with - yds? Just wondering.