We’re a little late to the party this week – that whole real life thing got in the way again – but here is this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering with questions answered for us by NBC’s Keith Arnold.
As always, here are the links to all the other participants in the IBG:
- Her Loyal Sons – http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2013/10/03/irish-blogger-gathering-shamrock-series/
- Strong & True – http://ndfootball.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/irish-blogger-gathering-asu-subway-domer/
- NDNation – http://ndnation.com/archives/4257
- Inside the Irish – http://irish.nbcsports.com/2013/10/02/ibg-shamrock-showdown/
1. Tommy Rees had one of the worst performances of his career last week against Oklahoma. Should Brian Kelly burn Malik Zaire’s redshirt and get him some snaps the rest of the way to see if he can ignite the Irish offense?
Burning Zaire’s redshirt makes no sense to me. Everett Golson will be back and has two years of eligibility left. Unless Zaire has a cape and S on his chest that we don’t know about, he’s not going to beat out Golson for the starting job next season. So ultimately, putting Zaire in would start his eligibility clock now, having him waste two seasons backing up Golson, and then potentially have just one season left as the starter.
The other factor in all of this is what’s Zaire going to actually bring this team? He’s been sick with mono for much of the season’s first month. That’s kept him out of pads and unable to do anything but take mental reps. He also comes from a mostly running system in high school football, and while we all want desperately to believe that Zaire really did absorb the offense this spring, thinking he’s going to be the answer for Notre Dame’s problems and help the Irish run the table sure sounds silly to me.
Nobody likes hearing it, but Tommy Rees is the best quarterback on Notre Dame’s roster.
2. George Atkinson had a breakout game last week and looked had the looks of a feature back – the first time any RB has had that look for the Irish this year – and Tarean Folston showed big play ability as well. Should these two backs start to see the lion’s share of the carries moving forward or should Notre Dame continue to rotate backs?
I’ve got no clue. Are we sure that Atkinson’s one good game is going to be the launch pad for him? I’d wait until I see how well he does against the Sun Devils, a perfect defense for GA3 to go big against because they’re pretty mediocre against the outside run, basically Atkinson’s specialty.
Is Folston the next guy in? I’m not sure, either. If Greg Bryant is really hurt, and more importantly, if he’s able to keep a redshirt on this season, then I don’t see the harm. But I’m not ready to kick dirt all over Amir Carlisle or Cam McDaniel, and I still like McDaniel as the closer at the end of the football game. (If I’m coach — I turn Carlisle into a slot guy now, and run some fly sweeps to him or quick bubble screens, and if he is running the ball from the backfield, it’s after he motions there.)
Keeping a backfield like this happy is tough. Doing it when you’re only running the ball 20 times a game is even tougher. Hopefully the Irish put together a game plan that calls for 30+ runs this week and against the Trojans and it helps everybody figure out their roles a little better.
3. ASU scored 62 points last week on USC and Notre Dame is coming off a game where they couldn’t get a key stop in the second half to get the ball back in the offenses’s hands down less than two scores. What can the Irish do to slow down the Sun Devil offense enough to have a chance to stay undefeated in Shamrock Series games?
Get back to the basics. Bend, don’t break. Tackle well in space. Win the battle up front with solid defensive line play. Get Prince Shembo out of the Witness Protection Program.
But just as important — keep the ASU offense off the field and behind schedule. It’s tough to run the football when you’re down a couple touchdowns, and that falls on the Irish offense, who should be able to score points and move the ball consistently against ASU’s defense.
If the Sun Devil offense is turned one-dimensional, that’s going to be a big help for Bob Diaco’s troops. Getting a few big plays out of this group wouldn’t hurt either.
Bonus: This is now the fourth Shamrock Series game, what are your thoughts on the positive or negative impacts of the concept so far?
I think it’s been great. I don’t have the disdain for the alternate uniforms as some other people, but each game seems to be a nice addition to the schedule, and ND-Miami in Soldier Field and ND-ASU in JerryWorld are cool games.
If the economics of everything work out for Notre Dame, I’m all for keeping it on the schedule, if only to help equipment manager Ryan Grooms keeping trolling the Irish twittersphere.