Posted: November 23rd, 2011 | by: Blog Davie
Categories: College Football, Gameday 40, IBG, Irish
GameDay 40′s traveling to NoCal this weekend in hopes of seeing the deforestation of the Pacific Northwest (or Palo Alto specifically). With any luck (lower case of course), the Irish will slash and burn the trees.
A special thanks to Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish for hosting this week’s IBG. Near as I can tell, Keith is actually a professional blogger who gets paid by NBC. He’s putting us to the test this week with some thought provoking questions. Steve in Iowa and I will answer the call and respond in standard cover 2 formation.
1. Obviously, Saturday night’s game is massive. Win, and the Irish get to nine wins after starting 0-2, and you can make a really persuasive argument that they’re deserving of a BCS berth. Lose, and ND only makes incremental progress over last year’s 8-5 record. Three potential outcomes: Win, close loss, ten-point loss. How does your takeaway for the season change?
Blog Davie: It’s sad that the outcome of one game can change the perception of the whole season, but that’s college football. Although BK has downplayed the importance of Saturday night’s match up, this game will be a good measuring stick for the program’s progress in year two of the Kelly Regime.
Win: The team will have picked itself off the mat after an 0-2 start and shown they can win against a top 10 opponent on the road. With a win, the Irish will be 9-1 in their last 10 games and will have won 5 in a row for the first time since 2006. That’s the kind of consistency lacking in the last several years. A victory over a top 10 Stanford team will create some recruiting momentum, and the Irish could eventually finish with a top 10 recruiting class.
An Irish win on Saturday could also have major implications on the quarterback situation moving forward. If the Irish win, Tommy Rees will have likely made plays rather than just managing the game. That should silence his critics (at least for an evening), and his performance will likely entrench him as the presumptive starter in 2012.
Close loss: The team will have demonstrated that it can compete on the road against a physical team with the presumptive number one draft choice at quarterback. In the last ten games, the Irish will have won games they should, e.g., against the Service Academies, — something that has not happened with any consistency in recent years. There’s definite progress, but the program still is not ready for the spotlight. Rees will likely have been unable to make plays, and the calls for Hendrix/Golson could increase during bowl preparation.
Ten-Point Loss: Assuming the Irish don’t get embarrassed, the takeaway from a ten-point loss is the same as a close loss.
2. Right now the Irish have 15 prospects committed to the 2012 recruiting class. Let’s assume every starter with a year left is coming back (Cave, KLM, Cwynar and Slaughter) and the Irish end up signing 20 recruits. That’ll make 93 players technically available for the 85-man roster (With Mike Ragone potentially being No. 94). Assuming Te’o and Eifert are back next season, what reserves do you invite back for a fifth year? Why?
Ragone* (Sixth Year)
Blog Davie: How many recruits can I gray shirt in this exercise? Oh wait, can we even discuss any colored shirt at Notre Dame?
By Keith’s math, we can keep two of the above-listed players. To even be considered, a player should at least be in the two-deep. That immediately eliminates Walker, Clelland, Williams, Newman, McDonald and Posluszny from consideration.
Assuming Crist transfers (and he would have my blessing given the circumstances), that leaves Goodman, Golic, McCarthy and Ragone vying for the remaining spots. Considering that none of these four are true impact players, I’m not sure any of them are offered a fifth year.
- Goodman is a serviceable receiver, but the younger players on the depth chart and incoming recruits will likely surpass him. I would probably not invite Goodman back.
- With the uncertainty of Braxton Cave’s injury, Golic could add quality depth to the line. He appears to have good chemistry with his teammates and has filled in admirably in the last several games. He’s a definite step down from Cave, but I would bring him back.
- McCarthy has been injury prone throughout his career, and the emergence of Austin Collinsworth limits his value, even in a fairly thin defensive backfield. I would probably not invite McCarthy back.
- Ragone is a curious decision. Assuming Eifert is back, Alex Welch and Ben Koyack provide solid depth. However, none of these players provide the physical blocking Ragone can. I would at least consider bringing Ragone back depending on projected recruiting numbers.
3. If you ran the website NDNation, what would you do with it? It’s the most prominent Notre Dame hub on all of the internet, but it’s got a very vocal faction of readers/fans that seem to control the agenda — most often with a significantly negative point-of-view. What would you do if that was your website?
Blog Davie: I would try to make as much money from it as I possibly could. To be clear, I have nothing against NDNation personally — it’s a good aggregator. I visit the site occasionally to find articles on Notre Dame football but have never visited the forums. If the persons running the site have a negative agenda and singular point of view, let them seek validation from all of their vitriol-spewing readers/fans.
4. You’re Brian Kelly. You spent last recruiting class successfully upgrading the front seven of the defense. Over the next two recruiting classes, what position groups do you absolutely need to upgrade to get the Irish over the BCS hump?
Steve in Iowa: Does the QB position constitute its own “group”, i.e. is it a set of 1? Even for casual observers, the trillions of pixels of text devoted to the ND QB situation this season across the vast reaches of the interwebs practically threatens to explode the internet. Seriously, though, no group of players has come in for more scrutiny that the guys wearing the red hats. I don’t think that there is a blogger in this gathering who thinks that TR, who might very well be the starter for the next two years, can “get the Irish over the BCS hump.” Even if we grant marginal improvement for TR as he becomes a junior he’ll be without security blanket Michael Floyd. Tommy’s limitations are on display for us every game. Imagine TR going against a top notch BCS caliber defense the likes of LSU, Alabama, or Oklahoma. Against the top defenses, the QB must make plays.
5. I’ve seen dozens of analogies used to describe the current state of the quarterbacking position at Notre Dame. What’s your favorite, or the one you think is the most appropriate?
Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1 [but the door is not opened], and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, “Do you want to pick door No. 2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?
6. Get out the crystal ball. Even after an unimpressive weekend, the Irish are right around a seven-point underdog to Stanford. Do the Irish leave Palo Alto victorious?
It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Stanford and Notre Dame are both ranked in the top 10. To make things even more perfect, half of GameDay 40 is in attendance (Blog Davie and Steve in Iowa– for real– we already have our tickets and booked the flight). ND is up by four late in the 4th quarter and Andrew Luck is driving the Tree’s offense into Irish territory. The Trees are threatening when the pocket totally collapses on Luck because LNIII, a.k.a. Irish Chocolate, has anticipated the snap count and pushed his way through a triple team, smothering the presumptive number one draft pick on the turf and jarring the ball loose. Manti scoops it up and rumbles 70 yards to put the game out of reach with an eleven point lead. After Stanford turns the ball over on downs, Notre Dame lines up in a victory formation to end the game. Then GameDay 40 lines up a couple of PBR’s for their victory formation.