Friday, January 11, 2008

IrishGlory Q&A

Just wanted to take some time to address the latest round of questions about Irish football:

Q: Hi--- I thought offensive line play improved with Wenger at C.. your thoughts?

A: This is probably going to be a longer answer than you were hoping for because I have several thoughts on this. In general, the O Line did appear better with Wenger at center. However, I am not willing to draw any sweeping conclusions from that mainly because 2 games is a very small sample size and the 2 opponents were Duke and Stanford -- abysmal teams simply playing out the string. Nevertheless, I thought the line play with Wenger at center was a positive for a couple of reasons. First and most blatant to me, having Wenger at center allowed the Irish to once again incorporate the shotgun into their offense. Whatever the reason, John Sullivan simply did not execute the snaps in the shotgun this year and as a result, the Irish almost completely abandoned the formation as the year progressed. With Wenger at center, we saw Jimmy in the shotgun quite a bit. This was significant because the shotgun formation is where Jimmy is most comfortable at this stage of his career (as are most young QBs). He played much of his high school career from the shotgun and the formation gives a young QB more time to make his reads without worrying about the nuances of his footwork on a dropback. It is not a coincidence that Jimmy's performance improved as a result. Second, I have always said that O Line is a position where you absolutely need great chemistry. As Charlie stated, John Sullivan is a dominant personality. For better or worse, the guy is a dominant personality. That is fine when the rest of the line are his peers and there is a relationship there. However, when the majority of the line is comprised of young guys, they are naturally going to shrink back and allow the dominant personality to control things. This lessens communication and chemistry. When Sully went out, you had a guy like Sam Young going to Charlie to see how he could be a better leader. You had Dan Wenger getting quoted in the paper supporting Jimmy as the team's QB. You had Eric Olsen jumping up and down after running downfield to block for a long Robert Hughes run. In short, I think guys felt like they could breathe a little bit and take more ownership of the team. This is not a knock on John Sullivan at all, it is simply an observation of what I saw. I think the O Line next year has a real chance to surprise. I know the talent is there. What we don't know is if the attitude and effort will match that talent. Only time will answer that question.

Q: What do you know about Bartley Webb's ability?

A: Not a whole lot unfortunately. It should be noted that there have been strong rumors that Bartley has an injury that could end his football career at ND, although that has not been officially confirmed by Charlie. What I remember about Bartley from his high school film was that he was big kid with long arms who was somewhat gangly and awkward in his movements. He played with solid effort and had ability, but he was very raw from a technique standpoint and he did not appear to have great footwork or athleticism. He also played in a spread type offense and he had a ton of talent around him on that team, particularly on offense. I remember thinking he had a chance to be at least a solid depth/backup guy at ND, but he was going to need time to develop. I always hate to see a kid's career derailed by injuries so I hope it turns out for the best for Bartley.

Q: Judging by the type of recruits Charlie is bringing in on offense, what type of offense do you think he is trying to create? A smashmouth running style or a passing offense?

A: Good question. Honestly, Charlie's strength as a coach is his ability to gameplan against opponents. I think what he is trying to do first of all is upgrade the talent level at every position. That goes without saying. Second, I think he is trying to amass enough weapons and talent that he can attack an opponent's weakness, whatever that may be. If you look at the Patriots, for example, they have enough weapons that if a team is weak against the run, they can pound the ball all day long. If a team is weak against the pass, they can throw the ball all over the yard. By contrast, look at a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have to run the ball to win. If they can't run, they lose. What I think Charlie is trying to do is what we saw a little bit in year 1. Week to week change the gameplan and know you have the arsenal to do it. If I had to guess, however, I think ND will always be a pass-first team under Charlie.

Q: Did Omar Hunter lie to Charlie about his commitment and has he been committed to Florida for a while now?

A: There is plenty of smoke to that fire. However, I will say that what goes around has a way of coming around. There are rumblings that Omar may have a little love left in the heart for Georgia, who is making a late push. I think it would be quite funny if Omar landed at Georgia. Then Mr. Meyer's recruiting would have resulted in Omar leaving a team Meyer would have only potentially played in a bowl and landing with a team that Meyer will have to contend with in the SEC for years to come.

Q: After watching the high school all-star games, which ND recruit was the biggest surprise and which was the biggest disappointment?

A: No one was a disappointment. I am not going to label any kid a disappointment after 1 all-star game. Some are certainly more ready to play early than others, but I thought they all were extremely talented. As for the biggest surprise, I would have to say Braxston Cave followed by Mike Golic. Braxston really impressed me not only with his size and strength, but also his aggression and technique. I really really liked what I saw from him. As for Golic, he is so undersized right now that I didn't know what to expect. What I saw is a lot of what I saw from Mike Ragone this year at TE, who was also undersized for his position. His lack of size hurts him and he will be much better when he adds size and strength, but Golic is a battler who doesn't back down and plays with very good technique. Every time I focused on him, I expected him to get blown back and it didn't happen. He needs lots of time to develop, but I think he is going to be a player down the road. He is not just a depth guy.

Thanks for all the great questions and keep them coming to GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

Face Mask said...

I liked what I seen from Golic,the way he fought,the down field movement to the play.I look for him to be one of those reliable players,always there,always doing his job,just a work horse type of player.Once fully developed he may well be a guy you look to run behind when ever you need those 2 or 3 yd gains in a tight spot.Good reading IG,GO IRISH!!!!