We’re getting closer. With the July 4th holiday right around the corner, it won’t be long until August is here and preseason camp begins. That might be a depressing thought to those of you who look forward to these summer months (me), but at least we know football is getting closer.
To that point, we rolled out another Irish Blogger Gathering. Call this a brief summer check-in to see where everything sits down that the dust has settled after some fairly rocky months.
New to the game is UND.com’s Aaron Horvath. Now carrying the @NDSportsBlogger handle, Horvath’s taking the blog game by storm and has come sprinting out of the gate, writing at the UNDerground and the Strong and True blog as well.
For more IBG fun (including my answers at the Subway Domer) you can check out:
Here are my questions and Aaron’s answers. Don’t get too excited:
1) How deflating was the Everett Golson and Eddie Vanderdoes news? Obviously, losing your starting quarterback is a killer, but ND returns one of the most experienced back-ups in the country. And Vanderdoes’ best days weren’t likely in ’13, when he would have been backing up Louis Nix.
Do you think the ceiling on the upcoming season was lowered due to these losses?
Anytime you lose potential key contributors it can hurt, but one thing that Coach Kelly has done since he has arrived in South Bend is shore up the depth chart. He has players that can step in right away and play at almost every position. You may play devils advocate and say, “well Aaron, there is a freshman in the backup position, how are they experienced?” Easy answer is, they are listed as the back-up when (insert awesome Notre Dame Football student-athlete here) is healthy and the starter, but if the starter were to get hurt, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘inexperienced’ backup would step in to the full-time duty. They are listed as the back up because they fit in certain schemes or ‘down and distance’ situations. If you go farther down the depth chart you will find stout back ups that will do just fine in the role the coaches put them.
As far as the ceiling on the upcoming season, the quick answer is “no.” The ceiling will be just as high as before seeing as there really was only one returning player change due to the off-season news and as you mentioned that presses one of the most experienced QB’s in the country under center. If I have learned one thing in my time watching Coach Kelly at Cincinnati and Notre Dame, he doesn’t shove his offensive game plan down the throat of his players, instead he (and now Coach Martin) look at the personnel and shape the offense around them. For that reason and more, I feel that the ceiling will be just as high (depending I guess on where you set it before) before the off-season departures.
2) There were two rather large surprises in 2012: 1) That the offense could fix its turnover problem and turn into a power ground team and 2) That the defense would be historically good.
Show me your crystal ball. Give me two big surprises coming in ’13.
Well I’m looking into my crystal ball and it keeps telling me ‘My Sources Say No’ … wait, nevermind … that is a magic 8-ball. Found my crystal ball. Thinking of two surprises for the 2013 season are not easy, but I think there are two things you can look towards as the fall begins.
On the defensive side of the ball I look for Bennett Jackson and Matthias Farley to have big years. Last year they made some big plays, but also didn’t show the consistent man coverage skills that top-flight defensive backs have. If you think otherwise, evidently you put too much weight on interceptions (which they combined for four) and feel that hitting .220 and 44 home runs in baseball is good. Don’t get me wrong, this duo played beyond their years last year as they came to Notre Dame as offensive playmakers. I’m just predicting that Farley and Jackson take a huge step into becoming stout defensive presences in the defensive backfield that opposing offensive coordinators have to scheme for.
For my second surprise, I look at a guy like DaVaris Daniels to have a huge season. This season, I predict Daniels doubles his catch total from 25 to 50+. The reasoning is simple; first, when Rees was the starter he tended to look towards the ‘Z’ receiver (Michael Floyd) or the tight end when in trouble. If Daniels footwork and ability to reduce false steps continues this offseason, I feel like there is no reason a 50-catch season is out of the question.
3) It’s the offseason, so now is the time to be fickle. If you had a major complaint/solution for both the offense and the defense to implement over the summer, what would it be?
I don’t like to be a Monday morning quarterback or even a Saturday morning quarterback because let’s be honest, the coaches that are on the staff are far smarter, have more experience and know the ability of the student-athletes far better than I ever will.
What I would like to see is a different story, but I am positive there is a reason for why it isn’t in the game plan.
First off, I would like to see more hurry-up on the offensive side of the ball. Again, I know there are downsides to running the hurry-up; less time for the Irish defense to rest, harder to be composed at the line of scrimmage and it doesn’t help when the way your squad wins is to control the ball and keep the score close. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see it, but I’m aware why you wouldn’t run it with the personnel you have.
On the defensive side of the ball I would like to see more exotic blitz packages (i.e. sending players from all of the field, different variety of players). Again, last year Coach Diaco had the ability apply pressure with his front-three and I see that continuing this season with the core of the defensive line returning this season. Sometimes when only rushing three, the opposing QB had tons of time in the pocket and I’m sure with the continued development of the young defensive backfield, Coach Diaco will be able to send more ‘blitzers’ at the QB to apply pressure and feel comfortable to leave their DB’s on an island.