by Mike Coffey
Just when you thought the academies were in the rear-view, here I am again to intellectually cut-block you via the Irish Blogger Gathering. We’re trying something new to keep it fresh this week. Instead of asking five … er, three questions of one of my fellow bloggers, we each submitted a question to the pool, and each of us will be providing an answer to everyone else’s questions. So instead of the prose below being the opinion of one of my cohorts, it’ll be mine, and you can read everyone else’s responses to my question on their blogs.
Clear as mud? Thought so. Onward and upward.
Let’s start out with the question I asked the group … and if you read Rock’s House at all, you saw this question coming a mile away:
Lots of comments after the game concerned the poor condition of the turf in Notre Dame Stadium and what can/should be done about it. One of our number has contended the BYU game on November 23rd will be the last with the current grass in the Stadium. What kind of a playing surface do you believe the Stadium should have and why?
You can read the responses of each interlocutor by clicking the link in their question to me.
Meanwhile, here are my thoughts on the group’s queries:
Ryan Ritter of HLS: Tommy Rees has very quietly put up some rather impressive passing numbers. His 22 TDs and 8 INTs are surprisingly not far off from Heisman candidate QBs such as Jameis Winston (24 TD, 6 INT), Johnny Manziel (26 TD, 8 INT), and Marcus Mariota (20 TD, 0 INT). While “Rees for Heisman” is an obvious stretch, especially since he isn’t a dual threat like the previously mentioned QBs, I’d wager tied 8th in the nation for TD passes is a lot more than most Notre Dame fans were expecting. Should we all be making a much bigger deal about this or should we wait and see how he ends the season?
I think a big deal is quite appropriate. 3-to-1 on this ratio is top marks. As much flak as “Turnover Tommy” got two years ago, he deserves all the accolades we can throw his way for how he’s performed this season. He’s certainly not perfect, but given how he’s being utilized in this offense, Notre Dame fans should be thrilled at what they’re seeing.
Frank Vitovich of UHND: Tarean Folston broke out in a big way against Navy last week with 140 yards. How big of a role do you think the freshman back will play in the final three games and what level of production are you expecting from him down the stretch after his break through performance last weekend?
I think he has (or at least should) moved into the top two and I expect we’ll see quite a bit out of him the rest of the season. Granted, not all defenses are as undersized as Navy’s, but Folston seems to have very good field vision and excellent acceleration. For a running back, that quick first step can make all the difference in the world. The jump-cuts we saw Saturday weren’t just because it was against the Midshipmen — that’s something he can do that can’t be coached.
Aaron Horvath of Strong and True: Due to the immense amount of injuries during the past few weeks to the Irish defense, do you think that playing both option teams on our schedule in back to back weeks was a good idea?
I don’t think the fact they were back to back had anything to do with it. If you’re going to play option teams like the Academies, you’re going to get cut-blocked because those blocks are an integral part of that offense. Given how those blocks seem to cause more than their fair share of injuries, I’d like to see them made illegal, but until that day comes, it’s a part of the game ND will have to deal with.
Keith Arnold of Inside Irish: With the defense so beaten up, is winning out still possible? Would you prefer a lopsided match-up in a BCS bowl or a potential bowl win and possible 11-win season? Would the offseason narrative be better if ND won a second-tier bowl or lost a BCS bowl?
I believe it is still possible. Pitt lost to the same Navy team ND just beat. BYU is tough, but hasn’t necessarily beaten anyone of consequence — we’ll know a lot more about them Sunday after they play Wisconsin. Stanford is very good, but has their weaknesses just like ND does. I remain hopeful it can be done.
Regarding the bowl, while a BCS bowl would be challenging, I’d rather see ND challenged. The non-BCS options are so putrid they become a lose-lose scenario. A game against NIU, for example, with mobile QB Jordan Lynch and a huge chip on their collective shoulder would do absolutely nothing for Notre Dame. Win, and you just beat a directional school. Lose, and the offseason narrative goes south real quick. An 11-win season would be great, don’t get me wrong, but an 11-win season achieved by winning out and then beating Clemson in the Orange Bowl would be an offseason narrative worth talking about and a great springboard into next season.