Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Blue-Gray Sky

Charlie Weis is in year 5 but do any of us have a good feel of what to expect. The Irish have improved from the past two years, but are they for real? To get a better feel of what we will face, I've asked Jay from Blue-Gray Sky a few questions about the Irish. His answers are below.

ATLeagle: Jimmy Clausen is playing very well and living up to the hype. Last year BC played a lot of zone and forced him to make tight throws. Do you see a similar scheme working this year? When the Notre Dame has bogged down this year, what have been the causes?

BGS: I think the BC game last year was sort of an emblematic event for Jimmy in 2008, in that he threw a few terrible interceptions into coverage that were just plain mis-reads on his part. He's really cleaned that up this year, to the extent that there's really only been one "terrible" throw all year (the ill-advised swing to Allen -- a lateral, really -- that got returned for a touchdown by Washington). He's reading coverages very well, and his two interceptions weren't really his fault: one bounced off of Allen's hands and to a defender, and the other was a half-ending heave on a Hail Mary to the end zone.

I'm sure your defense will disguise coverages and try to duplicate the success you had last year against him, but he has really grown in his ability to read and make the right decision. And let's not forget that a big part of your defensive gameplan last year involved Brace and Raji blowing up our OL; those guys are gone, and our OL seems much improved anyway. So I think you'll have your hands full on defense.

ATLeagle: I am sort of amazed how everyone but Nevada has been able to move the ball on the Irish. There's talent there and Tenuta has a good track record. What has been the problem with the defense?

BGS: poor tackling, missed assignments, "no" assignments (in the case of USC tight end Anthony McCoy, who seemed to run around all day unhindered), and a seeming backslide in production by our defensive backs. The secondary was supposed to be the strength of the D, but they've allowed many a "quarterback of the week" performances from opposing signalcallers this year. It's a mystery; in fact, it's probably the biggest mystery being discussed by Irish fans all over. I will say that the poor performance is not for lack of trying to find the right mix on defense; Tenuta and Corwin Brown have been shuttling such a high number of players in and out of position as the year has gone on, sometimes it looks like a hockey shift change. This week, for instance, expect to see Harrison Smith start splitting time at free safety for the first time all year. The DL rotation has been hot and heavy. And Manti Teo supplanted Toryan Smith at starting linebacker four games into the season. They're trying everything, but I suspect it is scheme-related as much as personnel-related. And back to tackling for a second: it's been piss poor. That, at least, is something they can improve on with practice and focus.

ATLeagle: Although there has clearly been progress and improvement from 2007 and 2008, to outside observers, it still seems like Notre Dame fans are divided on Charlie Weis' tenure and future in Notre Dame. I also know how much of your
fanbase strongly dislikes BC. Does that make this game a "must win" for him to keep his job?

BGS: I don't think it's overstating it to say that every game for the rest of the regular season is a "must win" for Charlie. A close loss to an 8-1 Pitt team might be forgiven, but any other is a hanging offense, including this Saturday.

What is your prediction for the game?

BGS: After winning and losing five games in a row by a touchdown or less, we're officially out of the prediction business for this Irish team. I think it could be another heart-stopper, though. We shall see.


mod34b said...

Is the following excerpt from a CBS Sportsline article (written just before the USC game) ND hype or for real? I hope it is hype, but think its not. Boy, I wish we had Raji and Brace back for one more game! Please, get Jimmy boy out of the pocket and running!

"There are some fabulous quarterbacks in college football.

None of them throws the football better than the guy at Notre Dame.

This is not an easy position for me to take. All that stuff about the arrogance of Clausen and the hype of Notre Dame? That was me three years ago. Clausen stepped out of that Hummer limo in 2006 and I despised him for it. I might even have written a few words about it at the time. Did I take some glee in his early struggles? It's possible. And I wasn't the only one, believe that.

But stories change. Clausen isn't the overmatched freshman of 2007 putting up putrid numbers like a 56.3 completion percentage or a 7-to-6 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions or a 103.85 passer rating that would rank No. 102 in the country this season.

Nor is he the solid sophomore of 2008: 60.9 completion percentage, 25 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and a 132.5 passer rating (would be 57th nationally this season).

Nope. Clausen has blossomed into an absolute stud. He is completing 67.6 percent of his passes. He averages 315 passing yards per game. He has 12 touchdowns. Just two interceptions. And his passer rating of 179.25?

It leads the country.

Clausen deserves every bit of praise normally afforded the quarterback at Notre Dame -- only, he's not getting it."

Big Jack Krack said...

I agree that Clausen will do serious damage all afternoon - we must get some pressure on him at key moments.

We have our hands full, and must show composure and stay in the game early for sure. We do not want to spot ND a couple of TDs on their own field.

I'd love for BC to draw first blood. This could be a great game!

Go BC.

CT said...

A secondary that has devolved this year, huh? Sounds familiar.

Tenuta blitzes all the time. He did at Tech, at least. Can Shinskie make the quick reads, can the OLine and RBs pick up the blitzes, can the WRs make plays after the catch...these will determine if we can hang into the 2nd half and keep it close.

mod34b said...

I looked at last year's comments by the same ND blogger on the BGS blog. Here are his 'before' the 2008 game comments and his after the game comments. Let hope for a repeat of the 'after' comments this year!

Speaking of the turf-defilers...the reason I'm not bowled over just yet by BC is the fact that they've feasted on 3 pansies, barely beat a lousy NC State (scored with :23 left to win it), and went 1-1 in tight games against Georgia Tech and Va Tech, the only two decent teams they've faced. Yes, it's Boston College, yes, I know they always play us like it's the finals of the Extreme Activities Competition, and yes, I know we haven't beaten them in five games. . . I put them in the challenge bin, but behind Pitt and Southern Cal.

The albatross of six straight losses to BC (even though Weis accounted for only two of them) joined its cousins (nine straight bowl losses and six straight home losses to Michigan State, again Weis accounted for two each of those) around Weis's neck, and media outlets and ND "fans" are claiming the buzzards are circling overhead. So much so that the AD felt it necessary to come out in support of Coach Weis yesterday. Looking at Weis only over his last four games is certainly not a fair evaluation of his performance or potential, but fans are flocking to whatever trends they can find.

mmason said...

Herbstreit on ESPN pre-Gameday thinks BC has a real threat in Montel that Notre Dame has to stop or they'll be in for it. From his lips to the scoreboard, we pray. ND Guestblogger has doubts with no pick, and I concur--ND doesn't know what will happen and BC is always a dangerous team in South Bend. But my pick is BC in a close one with Shinskie & Montel bringing it.

I just talked with a friend who went to Yale and who was at the Bend when Gilmore kicked the knuckleball FG to win in '93--(his then date was a Domer and he was a guest)--and he gloried in the true greatness of that underdog win, regaling us with the way the Domers felt about that one afterwards. Booyah to all the people out there who don't think this is a big game for both colleges. It's a big game for people who never even went to BC (Yaleis,too!) or ND and dig the fact that the Holy War is a Spiritual Event!! Nuns are praying over this one... (Yeah, I'm havin'fun, but I've got to work the Loyola High vs. St. Francis game tonight, so Go Eagles!! Go Loyola Cubs! See you in South Bend via HD TV!) I got a Jeb comin' to the house to watch the game tomorrow and I guarantee we'll say a prayer before halftime for a victory, Jesuit style--Deeds, not words! Beat the Irish!

CT said...

Um, Gordon.

Gordon and knuckleball should always be synonymous.

As are margaritas and mmason.

How often does one game set a program back a decade or more?

It's only a meaningful game to ND when they win. Which doesn't happen much lately. Therefore...

Wait a minute, don't Jesuits take an extra vow of obedience to the Pope? That has to count for something. Please?