Thursday, October 30, 2014
One of my favorite games every year is Navy. It is not because Notre Dame has an easy win, but because I have the utmost respect for those who serve and protect or great nation. This game is a result of a lifetime contract that begin during World War II when Navy was allowed to use Notre Dame's campus as training. This might have saved the school from going out. Kids were not going to school during that time because of the draft.
The Notre Dame-Navy game honors that every year. Historically, Notre Dame has dominated this rivalry. They won 43 straight. Navy did go on a stretch during the Charlie Weis years where they won 3 out of 4. That last win was technically Brian Kelly's first year, but it was heavily loaded with Weis recruits. Since that time, the Irish offense has completely dominated the Midshipmen defense. Navy just does not have the athletes on defense to stay with Notre Dame. I am not seeing anything to convince me that anything will be any different this year. So unless Notre Dame is super flat, they should have another big offensive day.
Where Notre Dame has had struggles is with the defense. We all remember last year when it was really a case of who had the ball last would win. When Notre Dame builds a defense each year, how to stop Navy is not at the top of the list of priorities. So the defense has to adjust for one week and that is tough considering you don't build a defense to stop Navy. Bob Diaco always had a more of a bend but don't break style and had inconsistent results with it.
Brian Van Gorder has a much different mindset. He likes to blitz, then blitz more, and then blitz some more. I am curious to see if he sits back a little more or if he just attacks it. If he attacks it, the results will be either big loss or big gain. In other words, if you go after them you better get there.
What has hurt the Irish in the past is the play of the fullback. This year it is Noah Copeland who has over 600 yards with 3 touchdowns. That is the one that I would gear to stop. I would assign Joe Schmidt to him and have him take him out on every play.
That would force QB Keenan Reynolds who has 639 yards and 11 touchdowns to match Jaylon Smith speed for speed on the outside. With all due respect to Reynolds, I don't think he can do that.
Notre Dame really should have no trouble winning this but they have a tendency to play down to the competition.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Notre Dame comes it at #10 in the first ever college football playoff poll. Now there are worse places to be ranked. The Irish are ahead of 7 teams who have just one loss as well. Among those teams are Georgia, Ohio State, Nebraska, and future opponent Arizona State.
But there are teams in front of Notre Dame who shouldn't be. #9 is Kansas State whose only loss was to Auburn. But the Tigers have a loss as well and the Irish have only lost to an undefeated team.
At #8 is Michigan State and this one just irritates me. Where do I start? How about with the fact that the Irish beat them last year with Tommy Rees at quarterback? What do you think would happen this year with Everett Golson? Seriously!
Notre Dame picked the wrong year to not play them considering they beat them the last three times. But looking at this year, Sparty is in a weak conference and had a weak non-conference schedule other than Oregon who blew them out 46-27. How is that a more quality loss than a last second controversial loss to the defending national champs? How is it a quality loss at all? It is a bad loss. Their best win was Nebraska which is hard to convince me that they are better than Stanford.
At #7 is TCU. Their toughest non-conference game was Minnesota who is not as good as Stanford. Their loss was to Baylor in which they gave up 61 points. That is not quality at all.
At #6 is Alabama and I won't complain about that or about Oregon at #5.
What I really don't like is the SEC bias. Mississippi State, Auburn, and Ole Miss would all be in in spite of the fact that Ole Miss just lost and hasn't played anybody outside the SEC of significance. Neither has Mississippi State for that matter. I don't have too much of an issue with Auburn being there.
It is still early on the process but I don't like the early returns on this new system. It looks to be not as good as the BCS. In closing, remember that humans are biased and computers are not.
One of my favorite segments on ESPN is the weekly Final Verdict between Notre Dame legend Lou Holtz and Notre Dame hater Mark May. It is very entertaining. This week Holtz shocked me when he made a surprising suggestion for Notre Dame. He was arguing the case that in this playoff, only conference champions should be included. His argument was that if you are one of the 4 best teams in the nation, you should be able to win your conference.
Rece Davis then asked the obvious question of what about Notre Dame? I expected Holtz to say something along the lines of Notre Dame having different requirements as they did in the BCS era. But instead he said that they need to do what the basketball team did and join a conference.
I was shocked to hear him say that. I expect that from those who don't really know what Notre Dame is all about, but not from him. Notre Dame has too much tradition in being an independent to join a conference.
I do agree with him for the most part that the playoff should be for conference champs. But how you address Notre Dame is you tell them their schedule has to have 10 out of 12 games against Power 5 teams. If they go unbeaten they are in and if they win 11 they are eligible to be picked.
What do you think of Lou Holtz's point of view?
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Up until two days ago, nobody even knew who Justin Brent was. He is a bench warmer who has not caught a single pass all season. I am not sure if that is due to being red shirted or just not being very good. Regardless, there are 100 receivers in the country who would love a chance at a school like Notre Dame. It is a privilege to wear the gold dome. With that comes certain standards that a player is expected to live by. One of those standards is to not do anything that would publicly embarrass the school.
Who a player dates is his own private business. But when you publicly post a picture of yourself with a porn star over the internet, it is no longer private. Instead of bragging to everybody about hooking up with her, he should have kept a private matter private. This was just dumb and is not the kind of distraction Notre Dame needs.
He should just get cut from the team. He can go to an SEC team. He would fit right in and would be a team captain.
This is one of the negatives that can happen on a bye week. I don't trust anybody with two first names anyway.
Friday, October 24, 2014
I have been a bit of a critic of this new 4 team playoff for college football. The main reason is because it is left up to a selection committee whom have not really had a criteria for how they will select teams. Or at least they have not been transparent about it.
Another fear I have is the idea of human bias. I have a funny feeling that the SEC will get preferential treatment. They currently are considered the toughest conference. I have been a critic though because they really don't schedule tough non-conference games. For example, look at the two Mississippi schools who are the supposed darlings of college football right now. There is no doubt that they have taken care of business in conference, but their non-conference schedules are jokes. The Bulldogs have on their schedule Southern Mississippi, UAB, South Alabama, and Tennessee-Martin. The Rebels have Bosie State, Louisiana-Lafeyette, Memphis, and Presbyterian.
The SEC is known for this and their justification is that they play tough conference games. Nobody is denying that but if they truly are the best conference, they should have no problem with teams from the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, or PAC 12.
But looking at the current situation, only those two schools and Florida State remain unbeaten. The two Mississippi schools will play each other, so at least one of them will lose. That means that there will be some one loss teams to choose from. Besides Notre Dame, there are currently 15 teams with just one loss. The SEC has Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn. The ACC has Duke. The Big 12 has Kansas State, Baylor, and TCU. The Big Ten has Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Finally, the PAC 12 has Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, and Utah. Many will play each other and knock each other out, but still it could be a sticky situation.
Earlier I was listening to ESPN radio talking about what will be the criteria for what teams they choose. They just said pick the 4 best teams. But the problem is that that is subjective. So in order to pick that out you need a process of elimination and that is where the criteria would really help.
I would have two simple criteria that would eliminate a lot. One would be that you have to be a Conference Champ. How can you be the best team in the country if you can't even win your conference. Now the obvious question is what about Notre Dame. For Notre Dame, make it simple. Go 12-0 and your in. Go 11-1 and your eligible to be selected. Seems simple to me.
But that begs the question is that there are 5 conferences and only 4 spots and if Notre Dame is in, it will be only 3. That brings be to the second criteria. That would be scheduling other power conferences. What I mean is that in order to make the playoff, you would have to have at least one win over a team from another power conference. If that criteria were in place, both Mississippi schools would be out for not playing a worthy schedule. Only TCU from the Big 12 would be alive. Only Nebraska from the Big Ten would be alive. Arizona from the PAC 12 would also be out.
On that scheduling note, it should also be a rule that to make the playoff, you are only allowed one FCS team. For Notre Dame not being in conference, I won't make it easy. 10 out of 12 games need to be against power 5 competition.
Prior to this, we had 3 unbeatens and 16 one loss teams. That is trying to pick 4 from 19. With this criteria of elimination, we got it down to 11 teams to choose from. Given that many will play each other, the odds are you may only have 6 teams to choose from in the playoff. That would almost take the subjectivity out of it. This seems like a fair way to do it. I am curious to see what the actual criteria is.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
With Notre Dame not playing this week, Irish fans all over the country wonder what games they will be watching. Although the Irish aren't playing, there are games that could impact their playoff chances. With two Mississippi schools and all the other one loss teams, seeing a few of them go down wouldn't break my heart. So here are some of the teams I will be rooting for this weekend.
This one will be tough to root for but we picked the wrong year to leave Sparty off the schedule. Both of us have a single loss and we need them to lose. So I hope Michigan can pull off a miraculous upset against their in state rival.
It would really help if another PAC 12 team can knock off Oregon. Go Cal.
Although the Irish will open their next two seasons against Texas, this weekend they can help Notre Dame by pulling off a great upset against Kansas State. So for one weekend, Hook 'em Horns.
Although a traditional basketball power, this year they have a really good football team. Are they good enough to knock off Mississippi State? It will help Notre Dame if they are.
I am feeling good about this one. LSU can knock off Mississippi and end their fairy tale.
Tennessee used to be a regular opponent for Notre Dame. This weekend they can help the Irish by knocking off Alabama. That one might be tough but the Tide might be on a real high after demolishing Texas A & M.
Lou Holtz's other team, South Carolina, can help Notre Dame by knocking off Auburn. This one can happen.
Our last bowl opponent Rutgers can help by taking out Nebraska.
Finally, another old Notre Dame rival, Penn State, can get back on track with an upset of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Those are just a few games that the Irish fans can watch with interest this weekend. I will sit back and watch them and then next week is Navy week.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
One of the few concerns the first weeks of this season was the Irish running game. Maybe the appropriate term is lack of running game. Coach Kelly used a three man rotation with Tarean Folston, Cam McDaniel, and Greg Bryant. The problem is that would never allow for one guy to get into a rhythm. I understand that Notre Dame has three talented backs and wanting to use them all, but here's the problem. We all agree that Malik Zaire is a talented young quarterback, but does that mean we will rotate him with Everett Golson? Of course not. Zaire can play in blow outs and will have a chance one day.
That is exactly how the running back situation should be handled as well. Folston has really done so much better these past two games when he was given a bulk of the carries. For the season he has 383 yards with 2 touchdowns. That may not seem like a lot but more than 200 of those yards came in the last 2 games. That gets back to the point of letting one guy get into a rhythm. He also showed in the North Carolina game his ability in receiving game as well. He caught 5 for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Bryant and McDaniel don't even have as many yards rushing as Golson. I am not saying we just kick them to the curb. They both can have valuable roles. McDaniel can be the bruising short yardage and goal line back. That is a very important role. Bryant can be brought in every now and then to spell Folston and be the change of pace.
So Bryant and McDaniel both have their places on this team, but the key to really getting the running game going is with Folston getting most of the carries.