Since we’re still a few weeks away from Spring practice, I figured it would be a good idea to take a look back at a couple posts I made this time last year. The first one I’ll revisit was called 5 Things I Want to See in 2007 and was a quick little list of things I was hoping to see during the 2007 season. Here’s how those things played out.
“1. A Kick Return for a Touchdown” – Going into last season Notre Dame hadn’t taken a kick back for a touchdown in over four seasons. Well, we can make that five now. Golden Tate and Armando Allen looked pretty good at times in 2007, but the longest kickoff return the Irish managed was a 40 yarder by Golden Tate against Michigan in week 3. On the season Tate averaged 21.7 yards a return and Allen averaged 21.3. Both have the speed to take one the distance, but the blocking was just not there. Weis has placed Brian Polian in charge of special teams without having to coach an individual position and will be assisting in the special teams as well. With athletes like Tate and Allen returning kicks in 2008, there is really no excuse for Notre Dame to go empty in this department again.
“2. Touchbacks – Lots of Them” – Moving kickoffs back five yards in 2007 didn’t help Notre Dame out in this department much, but even when the Irish were aided by penalties, they couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. In 41 attempts, Brandon Walker and Nate Whitaker combined for 0 touchdowns. Notre Dame opponents netted 6 touchbacks in 68 attempts.
“3. A 50+ Yard Run” – Going into last season the last Notre Dame running back to bust a 50 yard run was Julius Jones. Today Jones is still the last Notre Dame back to break a 50 yarder. Both James Aldridge and Robert Hughes had runs of 40+ yards this year, but neither eclipsed 50. The offensive line play had a lot to do with Notre Dame’s inability to create big plays in the running game last year, but even Armando Allen, who many thought would be the big play guy, had a long of just 15 yards.
“4. Real 4 and 5 Wide Receiver Sets” – Mark this down as another thing that we’re still waiting to see. The wide receivers were inconsistent last year and while we had four wide receivers who were capable of playing, we still weren’t seeing four and five wide sets on a regular basis due to the inconsistency. With Duval Kamara, Robby Parris, and Golden Tate emerging last year; the additions of Deion Walker, John Goodman, and Michael Floyd this year; and the presence of David Grimes having effective four and five wide sets on a regular basis should be attainable in 2008.
“5. 3rd and Short Conversion”– And this one makes me 0 for 5 because last year third and short conversions were still an issue. The offensive line had a lot to do with this, but so did some ineffective running from the likes of Travis Thomas (2.1 yards/carry) and Asaph Schwapp (1.2 yards/carry). Will Robert Hughes and an experienced interior offensive line be able to make third and short failures a thing of the past in 2008? Let’s hope so.
Ok, so none of the five things I listed actually occurred in 2007. Maybe this spring I should make a similar post and say I’d like to see 1) a Michigan win 2) a USC win 3) Navy start its own streak 4) a win for Ty and 5) the return of Bob Davie to the Notre Dame sidelines. Maybe reverse psychology will work this year.