by Mike Coffey
After a week off, the IBG is back with something short of a vengeance but definitely more than a whimper. The new format seems to be a hit, so rather than asking five … er, three questions to another IBG participant, all of us will answer a single question submitted to the pool. The past couple weeks, I’ve linked to each blogger’s response to my question in my response to theirs, but methinks that’s a little clumsy, so I’m going to make those links a little more explicit.
So, let’s get on with it. My question:
Which of ND’s strengths do you believe has the greatest chance of getting ND the win on Saturday, and which of ND’s weaknesses do you fear might keep it from happening?
Ryan Ritter of Her Loyal Sons thinks we should run the damn ball. I knew we’d convert him eventually. Meanwhile, he asked the group:
BYU and Stanford are somewhat similar offensively: a strong rushing attack paired with a quarterback that can go mobile. Does the defense’s performance, injuries and all, against BYU make you feel any better going up against Stanford or are we facing a totally different beast in the Cardinal?
While I was happy with the defensive performance (particularly that of Jarron Jones, who belied all the practice reports that were down on him with great play), I think the one thing that differentiates the Cardinal from the Cougars is talent level. We may see the same offensive philosophy, but it’s being executed at a higher level of performance by Stanford than it is by BYU right now.
Rather than make me feel bad, though, it gives me hope. If Jones and his cohorts can repeat their BYU performance against Stanford, that will go a long way toward alleviating my fears about next year’s defense sans Nix, Tuitt, et al. Some of these young guys are still unknowns, and they can take a big step towards being knowns Saturday.
Frank Vitovich of UHND agrees the ground game is the strength and fears we won’t use it. His poser:
It’s been a long time since Notre Dame has won a game it has been as big of an underdog in as they are this weekend. Where would this game rank in your mind in terms of upsets for Notre Dame and when was the last time you went into a game thinking Notre Dame had no chance and they walked home with the victory. As a bonus, would a win over Stanford this weekend be Brian Kelly’s signature win up until this point in his tenure at Notre Dame?
As I said on Dome and Domer last night, I think a win at Stanford probably would be the best win ND would have this season. I realize by oddsmakers’ terms it would be an upset, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it one. ND has more talent on paper than Stanford at most positions, and while some Cardinal players (e.g. Skov) could be difference-makers in the game, I believe ND has the strength and depth to overcome them.
In answer to the bonus, as I also said on D&D, while it would be a quality win, I don’t think it would be a signature win. Signature wins, to me, are games like Miami in 1988, FSU in 1993, USC in 1973, etc. Stanford just doesn’t rise to that level in my mind. I’m not going to be talking about the 2013 win over Stanford 10 years from now.
And for the record, I never go into a game thinking Notre Dame has no chance.
While we wait for Aaron Horvath of Strong & True’s response, here’s his query:
If someone would have told you that Tommy Rees would leave Notre Dame with 7,000+ yards and most likely 60+ touchdowns when he committed out of high school, most people would call that person crazy. Needless to say, he has surprised many. What are your thoughts on what Rees has been able to accomplish during his tenure at Notre Dame and what other Irish senior went above and beyond your expectations during his time at Notre Dame?
I think Tommy Rees has done spectacularly well considering the situations into which he has been put. His weaknesses are well-documented, but he’s used his strengths to overcome them whenever possible. He’s the prototypical “good soldier”, and deserves every accolade sent his way.
I’m not sure about other seniors going beyond expectations. This senior class, back when they were recruits, were pretty highly regarded, so the fact they performed well and played for a National Championship last year pretty much assures them high grades. I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be Danny Spond. He performed very well on the field when he was able, and took that attitude and effort to the sidelines when his health forced him to give up the game.
Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish fears our inability to get off the field on third down, but hopes the run game will overcome it. He asked of us:
You’ve got your choice of bowl game locations and opponents. Put yourself in Jack Swarbrick’s shoes: Give me the ideal opponent and location.
Well, the minute you say I have to be in Jack’s shoes, the ideal opponent becomes the highest ranked and the ideal location becomes the one that pays the best. Not that I’m disparaging the logic — outside of the BCS, that’s absolutely the logical formula to use. But that logic gives us the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC, and even though it’ll allow the trip to cover its own expenses, there isn’t enough money on the planet to get me to travel to that city in January to sit in the freezing cold to watch a game. If I were Grand Poobah of college football, no bowl games would be allowed north of the 35th Parallel. I’d much rather see the team in Dallas (to help recruiting) or San Diego (nicer weather), but none of the bowls in that geography fulfill the requirements.