2008 Independent Recaps
| Notre Dame
2007 Independent Lookback/Recaps |
2008 Independent Lookaheads
CFN Preseason Prediction: 1-11 Final Record: 3-9
offense changed up to a Navy-like rushing attack, and it struggled
mightily early on scoring just 20 points in the first three games
despite playing just Temple, New Hampshire, and Akron. All three games
were losses, and those were followed up by a tough 21-17 loss to Texas
A&M. And then the thing actually worked as the offense blew up with wins
over Tulane and Eastern Michigan before losing to Buffalo in a 27-24
heartbreaker. While a nice win over Louisiana Tech might have given the
season hope, losing the final four games of the season, including a 34-0
spanking by Navy, ended things on a down note and ended the Army head
coaching tenure of Stan Brock.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Collin Mooney
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Frank Scappaticci
Biggest Surprise: Collin Mooney and the running game. The senior
fullback became the centerpiece of the offense coming through with a
brilliant midseason stretch of 588 yards and six touchdowns over three
games. He finished the season with 1,339 yards and eight scores, but
only scored in three games. The running game actually worked, going over
200 yards in eight games, over 300 yards three times, and blew by Rice
for 461 yards and four scores … in a loss.
Biggest Disappointment: The Black Knights weren’t able to build
on a strong midseason. After winning three of four games, with the one
loss coming in overtime to Buffalo, Army appeared to turn a corner as a
program. There was actually talk of a possible bowl appearance with a
little bit of luck. And then came the finishing kick with losses to Air
Force, Rice, Rutgers and Navy, losing the final two games by a combined
score of 64-3.
Looking Ahead: New head coach Rich Ellerson is a good one. He
comes over from Cal Poly where his offenses were among the best in the
FCS, but he’ll have to find a few key players good enough to run his
attack. Collin Mooney is gone, as is the interior of the line, but nine
starters return on defense to hope for a big turnaround early on.
CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5 Final Record: 8-5
was some concern that the coaching change meant a return to the mediocre
for a Navy program that thrived under Paul Johnson, who left for Georgia
Tech. After a 1-2 start, with losses to Ball State and Duke, Navy needed
to come up with a win, and it got three against Rutgers, Wake Forest,
and Air Force, all bowl bound teams, before losing to Pitt. Another nice
run with four wins in five games, with the one loss coming to Notre
Dame, sealed a spot in the EagleBank Bowl against Wake Forest. Beating
Northern Illinois and Army by a combined score of 50-0 to close out the
regular season turned out to be the high point of the year as the season
closed out with a 29-19 loss to Wake Forest.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Shun White
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Ross Pospisil
Biggest Surprise: The biggest surprise was that there were no
surprises. The one slight shocker was how the defense dominated the
final two games against Northern Illinois and Army teams desperate for
wins. It was another year, another winning season for Navy, and another
bowl appearance. This has become old hat for the program, but this
season was different as it had to overcome the loss of head coach Paul
Johnson. It was business as usual for the ground game as it finished No.
1 in the nation, again, as head coach Ken Niumataolo proved he could
handle the gig.
Biggest Disappointment: The defense against Wake Forest. After
making such great strides as the season went on, the Midshipmen
struggled against the Demon Deacons in the bowl game. Wake QB Riley
Skinner completed all 11 of his passes, while the running game rumbled
for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Even so, Navy was in the game late
but 15 Wake Forest points in the fourth pulled out the win.
Looking Ahead: Niumataolo was able to win with Johnson’s players,
and now he’ll have to deal with some turnover on both sides of the ball.
That’s nothing new for a Navy program used to plugging the holes without
a problem, but there’s a lot of lost production in the offensive
backfield and at cornerback. This will be another strong team that’ll do
what it needs to do to get to another bowl game, even if it’ll have to
sweat a little bit.
CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5 Final Record: 7-6
when it seemed like Notre Dame would be ushering in a new coaching era,
Charlie Weis was kept around and his team came up with a 49-21 bombing
of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl to close out a strange, disappointing
season. The Irish were far better than 2007, doing just enough to lead
the way to a 5-2 start. However, it was a mirage as wins over name teams
like Michigan, Purdue, and Washington turned out to be no big deal. A
four overtime loss to Pitt was acceptable, but a 24-23 collapse against
a woeful Syracuse team wasn’t. Struggling to get a first down against
USC in a 38-3 loss put Weis all but kicked out the door, but to the
shock of many, he was given a reprieve. And then came the Jimmy Clausen
22-of-26, 401-yard, five touchdown performance against Hawaii to
potentially set the tone for 2009.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Jimmy Clausen
Defensive Player of the Year: FS David Bruton
Biggest Surprise: Charlie Weis is still the head coach. He
could’ve been canned late in the year and almost no one would’ve been
surprised or disappointed. However, it might not have been fair. This is
his program now, and just when his recruiting classes are starting
mature, this is when the payoff is supposed to come. Getting a
super-recruit like LB Manti Te’o from Hawaii this year showed that the
potential is there to bring in the top-shelf talent, but it’s BCS-or-Bust
(or at least the team needs to come really, really close) or there will
be a change next year.
Biggest Disappointment: The losses to Pitt and Syracuse. The
Irish got away with wins against San Diego State and Navy, needing to
rally to beat the Aztecs and needing to hang on to beat Navy, but the
team came through when pushed in those games. On the flip side, the
defense couldn’t hang on against the two Big East teams on the schedule
with each scoring in the final minute of regulation. Had the Irish won
those two games, it would’ve finished a solid 8-4 before the bowl, and
Weis would be secure as the head man.
Looking Ahead: Notre Dame will certainly be in the spotlight, at
least more than usual. With the pressure on to finally produce at the
high level it was at when Weis first came aboard, this is supposed to be
the year when Jimmy Clausen, his tremendous young receivers, and the
offense explode after just getting by over the last few years. There’s
good depth, an upgrade of talent compared to two seasons ago, and the
right coaching mix. Weis is going to be the offensive coordinator again,
and he should help make Clausen finally shine. This will be interesting
one way or another.