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2007 CFN Notre Dame Preview |
2006 CFN Notre
Let's take this from a different angle.
This all-time clunker of a miserable 2007 season. This disaster that
made everyone question Charlie Weis just a short year after he took
his program to a second straight BCS game. This campaign that saw a
loss to Navy for the first time in about a bazillion years, had the
worst rushing attack in Irish history, and had the nation's worst
offense was bad, but at the end of the day, it really didn't matter.
At this point in the college football world, with its own network
deal and without a conference affiliation, Notre Dame either makes
it to a BCS game, or nothing. That's where the unrealistic bar has
been set, and that's the standard for the most loved and hated team
Head coach: Charlie Weis
4th year: 22-15
Off 20, Def 17, ST 0
Lettermen Lost: 26
Best Irish Players
2. LB Maurice Crum Jr., Sr.
3. OT Sam Young, Jr.
4. QB Jimmy Clausen, Soph.
5. CB Terrail Lambert, Sr.
6. RB Robert Hughes, Soph.
7. RB James Aldridge, Jr.
8. WR Duval Kamara, Soph.
9. TE Mike Ragone, Soph.
10. CB Darrin Walls, Jr.
CFN Prediction: COMING
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 San
Sept. 13 Michigan
Sept. 20 at Michigan State
Sept. 27 Purdue
Oct. 4 Stanford
Oct. 11 at North Carolina
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 at Washington
Nov. 1 Pitt
Nov. 8 at Boston College
Nov. 15 Navy (Baltimore)
Nov. 22 Syracuse
Nov. 29 at USC
CFN Prediction: 6-6
Georgia Tech L 33-3
Sept. 8 at
Penn State L 31-10
Sept. 15 at
Michigan L 38-0
Sept. 29 at
Purdue L 33-19
UCLA W 20-6
L 46-44 3OT
Will anyone remotely care if the Irish get an invite to the
International Bowl? Is the Gator Bowl really a prize? Sure, the
Cotton might be like a BCS-lite game (sort of like the Gator), but it's
not the primetime spotlight showcase the Irish need to make a season
Forget for a moment that the 2005 and 2006 teams were way overmatched in
their bowl games, and that last year's team was starting from square
one, this is still Notre Dame with a fan base that expects national
titles, and the money to make it happen.
And that's why Weis is on such a hot seat. He's trying to improve his
overall image, especially after last year, and he has been able to
recruit well, something Ty Willingham was accused of being unable to do,
so either everyone has to relax, sit back and groove on average year in
hopes that everyone matures and improves at the same time in 2009, or
else there could be a major shock because of the other key factor in the
Notre Dame equation ... the schedule.
Notre Dame never ducks anyone and has a slate made years in advance, but
the schedule could be a stunning breeze outside of trips to Boston
College and USC. If there's just a little bit of an improvement on
defense, and if the offense grows up and gets something out of the line,
the possibility is there for an immediate turnaround making 2007 an
Oh no, the talent level isn't close to BCS game level, at least the
talent hasn't matured to that point yet, and there are still major,
major problems on both sides of the ball and with the kicking game, but
after last year, this should be a far better season, even if it's a
stepping-stone to potentially bigger things down the road.
What to watch for on offense: The new, improved Jimmy Clausen. He
has receivers who know what they're doing. He has a good trio of backs
behind him. He has a line that, well, he has a line that can't be any
worse than last year when it allowed 58 sacks. Clausen, unlike last year
when he was coming off surgery, is healthier, throwing the ball with
more zip, and after closing last year strong, has the potential to be
the player everyone has been waiting for.
What to watch for on defense: Jon Tenuta. The former Georgia Tech
defensive coordinator will help out Corwin Brown mold an experienced
defense that did far more last season. The problem was generating
pressure ... the Irish couldn't do it. While the 3-4 scheme will stick
for now, Tenuta will try to bring the noise and bring the funk from all
areas with more blitzing, more pressure, and more more sacks. the
outside linebackers like Brian Smith, Kerry Neal and John Ryan could
blossom into statistical stars.
The team will be far better if … the line can pass protect.
Brady Quinn survived getting nailed on every other play, but Clausen and
the rest of the Irish quarterback didn't. Wholesale changes and awful
years from some key players led to 58 sacks allowed, the most given up
by anyone, and little push for the ground game. No one really knows if
Clausen can play because he hasn't had two seconds to breathe. Job one
is to let him work.
There's a tough-looking November road trip to Boston College and the
regular season-ender at USC. Everything else is very, very winnable.
With four home games in the first five, with the one road game at pesky
Michigan State, the Irish have to come up with wins over beatable
Michigan and Purdue, and wins over San Diego State and Stanford are a
must, for at least a 3-2 start going into an interesting road game at
North Carolina. The home game against Pitt won't be a walk in the park,
but getting Syracuse in South Bend is a nice layup. All eyes will be on
October 35th when it's Weis vs. Willingham as the Irish play Washington.
Best Offensive Player:
Junior OT Sam Young. It's going to be Clausen sooner than later, but
for now, Young has the most talent of anyone on the offense. Considering
he was thought of as one of the nation's top few recruits a few years
ago, he's a very big, very athletic player who has the upside to
eventually become a ten-year starting NFL tackle. Now he has to be far
better on a regular basis in pass protection.
Best Defensive Player:
David Bruton. LB Maurice Crum might be the leader and the star, but
Bruton is the next-level talent with the freak-of-nature skills in a
6-2, 207-pound frame. He was a great all-around player last year, and
now he's in better overall shape and in a salary drive. If he puts it
all together and is the player he can become, even after all the good
thing he has done so far, the Irish will have a major league playmaker
to work the secondary around.
Key player to a
successful season: Junior DE Morrice Richardson. The entire
offensive line belongs here and there has to be better play, especially
from Paul Duncan and Mike Turkovich on the left side, but replacing 112
tackles of Trevor Laws could be the team's biggest keys. Richardson is a
different sort of player than Laws, who was a tackle designated as an
end in the 3-4. Richardson is a linebacker with phenomenal speed who
needs to be the pass rusher the defense has been missing.
The season will be a
success if …
the Irish gets to the BCS. No, it won't happen, and the realistic goal
is to come up with a winning season and get back to a bowl, but at this
point, either the Irish gets to the BCS or there's nothing to get that
excited about. Again, there's no conference title to go after, so
there's one and only real goal to go after outside of winning the
national title. Realistically, the Gator or Cotton has to be what the
team shoots for as a great stepping-stone to 2009.
Key game: Sept. 13 vs. Michigan. If the Irish lose the opener to
San Diego State, back up the bus and start planning for the future.
Assuming that won't happen, the Irish has to beat a rebuilding and
retooling Wolverine team to show that this is a different year and an
improved team. A loss to Michigan will mean yet another struggling
2007 Fun Stats:
Opponents 58 for 415 yards – Notre Dame 19 for 132 yards
- Average yards per carry: Opponents 4.3 yards – Notre Dame 2.1 yards
- First half scoring: Opponents 182 – Notre Dame 83