Well, it’s my turn to host the Irish Blog Gathering this week. Since its a bye week, I decided to make my questions speculative and not based too much on this year’s team. Let me know what you guys think about some of the questions I asked in the comments and be sure to look for the links to all of the other Irish bloggers’ responses in the comments as well.
1. With our beloved Irish on the bye this weekend, how much college football will you be watching Saturday and what games are you most looking forward to watching?
I’m a college football junkie so I will still be watching a lot of college football this weekend. There’s a lot of interesting games this weekend, but I think the Texas-Missouri game is the one I’m looking forward to most. I think Missouri got caught looking a little ahead last weekend and could give the Texas defense a lot of problems. Pitt-Navy is another interesting game since we play both teams. USC-Washington and Penn State-Michigan are also interesting matchups in a train wreck sort of way – I just can’t turn away. In a way I love bye weeks because I can just sit back and enjoy some college football without getting all worked up over a Notre Dame game.
2. Not to look too far ahead… but in looking at the 2009 schedule, do you think the Irish will be set up for a title run if they continue to improve each week as they are doing now?
I’m just not sure yet. I think the schedule will make a title run possible if Tenuta and Brown can get the defense up to par by then. On paper, the Irish should be favored in every game except the USC game assuming we keep improving at the current rate. I have little question that our offense will be national title caliber next year, but we might have to rely on too many too many young players on defense. Let’s hope some of the younger guys like Steve Filer, Darius Fleming, Ethan Johnson, Kerry Neal, Robert Blanton, etc keep getting more and more playing time down the stretch. It’s going to come down to how improved the defense is next year.
3. If you could take 1 recruit we missed on from each of the last 4 years (1 from each year), who would they be and how differently would this team look like right now if we had gotten that 1 player each year? (Note, the players should be players the Irish either led for at one time or were at least a finalist for).
This one took a little research, but here goes.
- 2005 – Lawrence Wilson (OSU) – We had Wilson committed to ND before Willingham was fired and even after Weis sent the entire staff to visit Wilson we couldn’t get him back. Wilson coming off the edge for the past four years could have made a huge difference for the defense. He’s battled injuries at OSU, but is a top flight player when healthy.
- 2006 – Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) – McCoy was thought to be favoring Notre Dame at one point and he would have been hands down the jewel of this class and easily the best defensive recruit for the Irish under Weis. We wouldn’t be having problems stopping the run this year if we had someone like McCoy in the middle of the defensive line.
- 2007 – Martez Wilson (Illinois) – While Wilson is still raw, he’s got amazing athleticism and when teamed up with LB coach Jon Tenuta I think we’d have a havoc wrecking LB on our hands.
- 2008 – Omar Hunter (Florida) – This one hurts the most because Hunter was ours for so long and then flipped to Florida late in the process after assuring everyone that he was solid with Notre Dame. Hunter could have seen the field for Notre Dame this year, but he bought Meyer’s BS
Notice a trend with my picks? Offensively there have been some great prospects we’ve missed out on like Arrelious Benn, but for the most part, offensive recruiting could not have gone too much better. Defensively though it seems every year we’ve missed out on one or two critical recruits. Imagine the 2008 Notre Dame with Lawrence Wilson and Gerald McCoy starting along the defensive line and think about how much more effective our blitzes would be. Wilson was the toughest call because there were a lot of high ranked defensive recruits we missed out on in 2007 (Justin Trattou, Ben Martin, Lorenzo Edwards, Malcolm Smith). I think Wilson + Tenuta would be an awesome combination at some point.
4. If Notre Dame could only land 1 more recruit on each side the ball in this recruiting class, who would you like it to be? (Again, it should be someone we have a reasonable chance with).
Without a question, its Shaquelle Evans on offense. I would love to say Xavier Nixon on offense, but it doesn’t look like we will be till the end with Nixon. Evans is a playmaker though and would fit in wonderfully with this class. Defensively, I would say Jelani Jenkins because he is talented enough to step in next year and start for the Irish. This was a tougher call since we are in dire need of some more defensive linemen as well, but I think Jenkins would be an instant impact player.
5. If you could take one of Notre Dame’s bowl losses since the 1994 Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M and turn it into a win, which one would it be? Why? And What if any impact do you think that win would have had on the Irish.
This one was easy for me – the 2007 Sugar Bowl loss to LSU. Before that game we lead for a lot of the defensive recruits that I previously mentioned, but after the 41-14 loss, we didn’t get any of them. Ben Martin, Lorenzo Edwards, and Chris Donald come to mind. Leading up to the All American Bowl which was that same week, it looked like we were going to get at a minimum one of them, most likely two of them, and possibly all three. We ended up not getting any of them. A upset win over that LSU team would have also propelled Brady Quinn back a top the NFL Draft boards . That game had a lot of residual effects for a non championship bowl game. Who says bowl games are meaningless?