The Irish Blogger Gathering returns for another week with Aaron from the UND Blog Strong & True answered our questions on the defense, Tommy Rees, and the running back rotation.
As always, be sure to check out the other IBG sites for their posts as well:
- Subway Domer - http://www.subwaydomer.com/2013-articles/september/irish-blogger-gathering-sparty-no.html
- Her Loyal Sons - http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2013/09/18/irish-blogger-gathering-struggling/
- ND Nation - http://ndnation.com/archives/4214
- Strong & True - http://ndfootball.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/irish-blogger-gathering-michigan-state-edition/
- Inside the Irish - http://irish.nbcsports.com/2013/09/18/ibg-sparty-on/
1.Notre Dame has had a different running back lead the team in rushing in each of its three games so far. How do you see the running back rotation shaking out the rest of the season and who will lead the Irish in rushing this weekend against a tough Michigan State defense?
I think Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said it best this week about the running back rotation when he talked about how each of them will be used where they can strive in different situations. Additionally, he spoke about how each running back likes to get more and more carries to get in a rhythm… As we all know, the Notre Dame offense doesn’t run downhill all the time and prefers to look to the sidelines when running the rock, therefore there will be more change at the running back from series to series or play to play unless they are trying to run out the clock just like we saw last week at the end of the Purdue game.
In short, the running back stable will tighten as the season goes one, but not much. Coach Kelly has never used just one back during his coaching tenure, so what makes us think he will now.
2. For the third week in a row the Notre Dame defense allowed an opposing quarterback to have their best game of the young season despite those opposing signal callers playing fairly weak competition outside of the Irish. Why is the Notre Dame defense, one of the best units in the country in 2012, struggling to keep opposing quarterbacks in check this year?
The early season has been different for the Irish. Think about what the Irish have faced thus far. In week one they played a first-year head coach that was a starting a first-year player, in week two they were playing a team in Michigan who didn’t have to show any wrinkles in their opening-week win and in week three with the Boilers they were playing a first-year coach at Purdue in Darrell Hazell who had one game against an FBS opponent during his time in West Lafayette.
Not going to make the excuse that there was no tape to go off of for Coach Diaco and the defense, but early in the season, especially with the unique schedule the Irish have, is tough for coaches to deal with.
In regards to quarterbacks, I don’t have the answer. I tend to let the guys who know much more about football that I deal with how to stop them. But from what I can see is that Diaco and the rest of the defensive staff is still feeling out the team and where each piece fits. The loss of Te’o in the middle of the defense and Motta on the back end is huge, but don’t forget about the loss of Danny Spond to injury.
This defense will find it’s way, I hope there is enough room on the bandwagon once the defense does for those who have jumped off at the first sign of distress.
3. A quarter of the way through the 2013 regular season, assess the play of Tommy Rees as he has filled in for Everett Golson. Would Notre Dame’s record be different if Golson were still the starting quarterback and has Rees player better, worse, or as you expected him to thus far?
Since Tommy Rees was named the starter for this football team early this year I have always been confident in his abilities. In a conversation before the season began many people in the FIDM office, myself included, believed that Rees was the most underrated player on the Notre Dame roster. What has he done this season? Just throw for 300 yards in three straight games, toss seven touchdown passes (to just two picks), lead a ten-point comeback in a night game on the road, better his record as a starter to 16-5 and be the signal caller for just the eighth Irish team in history to score 28-points or more in the first three games of the season. Not bad for someone many Irish fans want to throw under the bus.
Would Notre Dame’s record be different with Golson at the helm? Doubftul. Look, the Irish scored enough points against Temple and outclassed Purdue in the second half, but last season when Golson was at the helm, the Irish scored over 41 points just once, that was in the season-opening win against Navy when they scored 50.
In ending, Rees has exceeded my already lofty expectations so far this season. I expected that Coach Martin, Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, would employ a steady diet of the run game early on. Instead, the Irish have thrown the ball around the lot, getting all of their offensive weapons involved as early as possible. But, Rees’ play has not warranted the use of the run game thus far due to his accuracy to the outside and throws over the top.
I’m really excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds for Rees and the rest of the Irish offense.