Season previews continue: the pragmatic Dr. Saturday

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Dr. Saturday, Yahoo! Sports’ Matt Hinton, takes his turn at the operating table as he dissects this season’s Fighting Irish. Doc’s preview is especially pragmatic, as he analyzes some of the talking points we’ve hit on a few times this week. Here are some of his thoughts on…

BCS or bust:

“Given just how dire the straits were
between last year’s regular season finale at USC — yes, as I am
obliged to mention, the one in which the Irish took all of three
quarters to pick up their first down — and the bowl win in Hawaii,
it’s not too much a stretch to read between the lines and come away
with the assumption that another “disappointment” is the death knell
for Weis.”

A coming of age story:

“This group of players has more talent and more experience than the
similar set of misfits — Brady Quinn, Darius Walker, Jeff Samardzija,
Rhema McKnight, John Carlson — that made the leap from woeful
underachievers in Tyrone Willingham’s last two years to Stirrers of
Echoes as upperclassmen when Weis showed up in 2005. In every respect,
Clausen, Armando Allen, Golden Tate, et al are in better position to
make that kind of leap than their predecessors were at the same stage
of their careers.”

Experience can’t be that bad of a thing:

“Beyond any doubt, this has been a terrible line and is by far more
likely than any other culprit to derail the offense; they’re also not
up-and-comers just rounding a corner like the skill guys. Still, there
aren’t many circumstances where five seniors with at least a season of
starting experience would be considered anything but a major positive,
and this isn’t one of them — it’s much more likely the veterans
produce a more passable effort than a bunch of cabbage.”

The ceiling:

“I defy you to honestly project more than two losses from games
against Michigan, Michigan State, Boston College, Pittsburgh, UConn and
Stanford. ND is likely to go into each of those games as a clear
favorite, meaning it can drop two games it shouldn’t and still finish
in the nine-win/top 15-20 range.

So I think it’s hard to argue that the Irish’s ceiling isn’t very high,
along the lines of 10 wins and a BCS berth that will set most of the
rest of the country into a furious backlash and projections of doom,
which of course they’ll take in a heartbeat. I think they’ll take nine
wins, too, as a significant step toward the prize even if it remains
slightly out of reach.”

It seems as if we’ve found our median.

Hinton, along with Kirk Herbstreit, seem to be as middle-of-the-road as you can get with his forecast for the 2009 season. When dealing with the sticky question as to whether and 8-4 season is a fireable offense, Hinton wisely declares that it “probably depends on which eight and which four.”