In this week’s edition of the Irish Blogger Gathering, we head to the venerable Irish Round Table for our questions. Bonus points to these guys for an awesome blog name, and for officially killing one of my first weekly column ideas before it ever started.
As we’ll discuss in the next 48 hours, the game against Pitt is an absolutely critical game when trying to determine the trajectory of the season.
Here we go with IRT’s questions and my answers.
1. Grade Brian Kelly’s performance to date. We’re not interested in how
you think he will perform going forward. How has he done through the
first five games? Grade scale is A+ to F-.
Maybe I’m nuts, but I’m giving Kelly a B+ for his work thus far. While that might be a way better letter grade than the scoreboard has dictated through the first five games, I’m judging his work from the day of hiring until October 7th.
Kelly has absolutely transformed the football program, assembled a staff that speaks the same language, believes in the same philosophy, and has gone about reconfiguring the roster to help the Irish win football games. I’m with everyone in that I’d have liked to win both the Michigan and Michigan State games, but I also believe the process right now is more important than the results.
2. Much has been made of Brian Kelly’s sideline rants. Some fans like the
excitement and energy others are worried that they are excessive and
will wear thin on the players. Where do you stand?
I’ve already tackled the sideline rants here, but I think this is the absolute dumbest story of the season. Football coaches raise there voices, and college athletes respond better to coaches that are high-intensity and highly audible, two things Kelly has proven himself to be. It wasn’t too long ago that Notre Dame fans absolutely hated the stoicism that Ty Willingham showed on the sideline, and chided Charlie Weis for being a poor motivator. Any worry that Irish student-athletes can’t take the criticism should be dismissed immediately.
3. What is the best storyline for Notre Dame football this year? The best storyline in college football?
The easy answer to the Notre Dame storyline is Brian Kelly taking over a program that had slid into very murky waters. While the wins haven’t come, the disciplined football team is starting to shape up, with Notre Dame ranking 8th in the country in fewest penalties per game.
(If I had to pick a player for a storyline, it’d be a tie between Zack Martin and David Ruffer. What Martin is doing at left tackle as a redshirt freshman is pretty incredible, with Kelly calling him the Irish’s highest-rated lineman. And Ruffer’s perfect career after never evening playing high school football is the stuff of Irish legend.)
As for a college football storyline, it’s got to be Denard Robinson. While the shoelace thing absolutely drives me nuts, he’s the most explosive football player I can think of since Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. If he makes it through the season, he’s going to lead the country in rushing yards, and that’s at quarterback — where sacks actually count against him, and his job is to also throw about 20 passes a game. Rich Rodriguez may be over-using Robinson, but his abuse is giving the rest of the college football world enjoyment — unless you’re playing the Wolverines that week.
4. We are going to test your prognostication skills with a little IBG
prediction contest. Predict the following for this week’s Pitt game:
Kyle Rudolf receptions — Five catches, 86 yards, one TD
Taylor Swift in attendance — Next game she sees is USC on Thanksgiving weekend.
5. What would you like to see in place of the yellow mums on the Notre Dame sidelines?
Can Notre Dame put BCS Trophies there?