A couple days ago I made a post about 5 things I’d like to see in 2007. Well, today I’m going to switch gears and talk about some things I don’t want to see in 2007. This list includes things that we saw plenty of in 2006 that I’m hoping we don’t see much of in 2007.
5. Dropped Passes
Against USC, Notre Dame was plagued by dropped passes and it really had an impact on the outcome of the game. Notre Dame wide receivers had a number of opportunities to make plays but couldn’t come down with the ball. Had Notre Dame did a better job holding onto the ball int he first quarter, chances are they wouldn’t have fallen behind as badly as they did. Rhema McKnight in particular had a couple drops against USC and again against LSU. With a new starting quarterback though, Notre Dame will need to have the receivers hold onto to every catchable ball they get their hands. Having an almost entirely new cast of receivers, however, makes this a question mark heading into the season. David Grimes, who figures to be the #1 receiver next year, did show some sure hands in 2006 as the #3 receiver behind McKnight and Samardzija. Let’s hope Grimes running mates can show the same kind of sure hands that he has.
4. Linebackers Getting Run Over
Maurice Crum and Travis Thomas were both playing out of position last year. Crum was too small to be the middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense and Thomas was pretty much too small for any linebacker position. Both played admirably though and played tough. Still, Notre Dame’s linebackers were run over last year far too often. Adding some size in the middle in the form of Toryan Smith would be a nice start here. Crum will probably still be in the middle as an inside linebacker in the 3-4, but if he has someone with Smith’s size next to him, it should help free him up a bit. The Irish should add even more size to the linebacker spots on the outside with guys like Morrice Richardson, Kerry Neal, and Kallen Wade all being guys who were too big to be linebackers in a traditional 4-3, but are perfect fits as outside linebackers in a 3-4. Notre Dame’s linebackers were a major liability in 2006 – hopefully we see some vast improvement here this year.
3. Ineffective Safety/Corner Blitzes
Rick Minter liked using corner and safety blitzes and were usually saw a couple a game. The problem in 2006 was they were almost never effective and almost always ended up giving up big plays. Minter’s safety and corner blitzes didn’t fool anyone and the blitzing defensive back was usually picked up rather easily. With a new defensive scheme we should see an entirely new blitz package from Brown. The 3-4 defense is all about giving offensive different looks and bringing pressure from different angles which in theory should help improve the Notre Dame pass rush. Thankfully Mike Richardson and Nedu have graduated, because, no offense to them, but if I had to see either of them sent in after the quarterback in one of Minter’s blitzes I might go insane.
2. As Many 4th Down Attempts
Let me start off here by saying I love Weis’s aggressiveness and the trust he has in his offense to convert fourth downs. What I don’t love is how Weis’s lack of trust in his defense and special teams forced Notre Dame to go for it on fourth down far too many times. Because Notre Dame didn’t have a kicker they felt comfortable with outside of 40 yards (the Irish converted just 1 of 4 field goals from 40 yards or more), Weis was forced to go for it on fourth down more often than even he probably would have liked. The problem here for 2007 is that the Irish still may not have that kicker. Notre Dame’s defensive woes against teams like USC may have forced Weis to go for it on fourth down too much in the first half as well because he knew he would need to put up a lot of point to win. I hope Weis stays aggressive on fourth downs and goes for it often, but I’d also much rather see Notre Dame find a kicker and a defense that doesn’t force the offense into more fourth downs than they need to face.
1. Tom Zbikowski being moved to Linebacker
There has been a ton of talk of moving Zibby to linebacker across all of the different Notre Dame websites for the past two years, but I for one hope he doesn’t even get a look at linebacker. Maybe in 4-3 defense he could have added enough weight this off-season to play an outside linebacker position, but even that was a stretch. Zibby will be a 5th year senior and rarely do position moves for 5th year seniors pay dividends. Corwin Brown just got done turning Kerry Rhodes into a pro-bowl caliber safety for the Jets and with the help of defensive backs coach Bill Lewis, I think we’ll see a much improved Zbikowski this year. Remember, Zibby was not the safety usually seen trailing a wide open wide receiver down field throughout the year. Forget about Zibby adding weight and moving to linebacker. Let’s see him slim down a bit to his 2005 size and become the dominating safety many felt he would become a few years back.
As always, leave your comments below with some things you hope we don’t see much of in 2007.
Any injuries. Period.
There is one comment in particular that I could not agree with more and that would be number 4. Crum is an unreal athlete and LB, who honestly is better suited to a 4-3 defence, where he is NOT the MLB. Unfortunately for him, he had zero supporting cast last year and it showed. Hopefully, with the new defensive scheme, he will be able to wreak havoc on opposing offences. Realistically, put in the right position, and with better players supporting, he has the potential to be an All American
I agree with most of your guys suggestions. I was thinking about the one about making ND stadium a place that opponents are affraid to play in and a place where we dont lose. I have been a ND season Tix holder for 10 years now and I will have to say that ND stadium is one of the most quiet 80,000+ stadiums in the country. There is always 80 year alum around me that just sit there and gripe about how we dont deserve this ranking and for the people in front of them to sit down. In the UCLA game last year I couldnt hear how many bad things the fans were saying about ND. I have almost got booted out 4 differnt times over the years for standing and the other “fans” telling on me for it. They dont cheer until the game is on the line or something happens right in front of them. I mean within in 5 yards of where they are sitting. People dont stand but a few moments during the game and its quiet. Ive been to a ND game few years ago at LSU and wow it was loud. We actually upset them that year also but still it was very loud. I see on TV to at OSU Fl USC etc much louder more involvment by fans. I dont blame that on the team nor the band its just the fans are not what they should be. With that all said I think as fans we need to cheer, stand, and be loud as we can to help ND stadium be a place that opponents dont like to play in. We can affect audibles being called and rattle opposing teams.
That also is good pt about Zibby being a 5th year sr. I posted in the last blog about the 5 things youd like to see Zibby switch. It doesnt seem like a good idea to learn a new position. I also dont want to see a qb controversy either. We need someone that the team trusts and that can lead them. A controversy will not fair well with a young team.
TOWARD THE END OF LAST SEASON I CONTINUALLY SAW BRUTON MAKING PLAYS, AND COULDN’T SEE WHY HE WAS NOT INSERTED IN MORE AT SAFETY.I SEE HIM AS A STARTER IN THE DBACKFIELD AT EITHER SAFETY SPOT, AND I’M A HUGE ZIBBY FAN.KEEP LAMBERT AT CORNER, ALWAYS NEED AS MANY AS POSSIBLE THERE.
I’m in agreement with a lot that has been said and in order for Notre Dame to continue get back to where there supposed to be where they need to be, they need to get back to playing good old smashmouth Notre Dame football. Let’s face it over the past few years Notre Dame has become a finesse team. And they need to get back to playing with some pride and attitude especially on defense.
I’m going to say that all 5 of those are great, however, one thing I don’t want to see is interceptions off of tipped passes by the defense or WR/TE’s. Last year I remeber the first play against Michigan when Carlson tipped the ball up in the air because of the high pass and another tip INT by a D-lineman that was big. Hopefully, C dub gives the ball a lot to T squared and Aldridge because of their speed/ power combo. Even throw in a 3 back set like Lou back in the 90’s with the speed option in Allen or the extra Power with Robert Hughes.
In total agreement with Frankie V.:
I’m just happy we have a big running back (hopefully) joining the backfield to help alleviate the pressures on third and a bunch, so ND won’t have to attempt forth and far too many, too many times.
I have an easy one,
I don’t want to see ND lose by more than 2 scores, maybe 10 points at most. (in reality, I don’t want to see them lose period). We need to play the elite teams just as we played USC 2 years back. ND’s stock went up after that game, even though they lost. If Ryan’s #2 holds true, then we won’t have to worry about losing that game.
Couldn’t agree more with Zibby staying at SS. I was really intrigued last year to see him move to LB and have three smallish LBs (Zibby/Thomas/Crum) flying all over the field like a TCU defense, but that was before Corwin and the 3-4 came along. Lambert to FS this year sounds equally enticing since we know he has range, but what about all the talk of Herring and Bruton developing so nicely? I kind of want to see how they do. And unless Walls, McNeil, & Gray are ready to step up at corner, I don’t think they can afford to shift Lambert.
I had asked all last pre-season about moving Zibby to LB, but agree it’s probably too late in the game for a 5th yr. SR. However, he needs to concentrate 100% on football & put the boxing on hold. It was a neat feature to talk about last year but seemed to end up being a distraction. Was it the reason for his falloff? Maybe not, but by concentrating 100% on f’ball, he’ll at least take that possibility off the table as a reason for lack of focus, etc. He may not have been as culpable as Ndukwe on giving up the big plays, but I seemed to remember him continually biting on the play action all year w/ no improvement. If they move Lambert to free safety or one of the 2 deep from last year steps up, it may be a better complement than Ndukwe. He & Chinedum seemed too similar to be lining up as safeties together.
All negatives already listed are definite things that we as Notre Dame fans would not want to see. I’d like to add one:
1)A quarterback controversy. Let’s assume that Clausen gets the starting job (which may be too early to assume). He is, let’s remember, a freshman. If he is as good as everybody says he is then give him time and let him develop. Don’t forget the year over year improvement from Quinn. And if one of the other QB’s get’s the starting job, be patient and wait for Clausen’s turn.
1. Very ineffective first down plays.
This obviously resulted in a lot of 2nd and long plays which forced the Irish to go on 4th down a ton last season. This just adds to the number 2 comment above.
2. Big Plays while on Defensive.
Charlie calls “Big Plays” 10 yards or more. They vowed to work on this last year but we indeed saw it, time and time again, resulting in being blow out in the big game. In Corwin we trust.
3. Freshmen corners on big time wideouts.
We saw Walls get thrown in time and time again last season when he hadnt been in the game very much. He was covering the likes of Johnson and Jarrett and getting burnt coming off the bench. I like Walls, and in his defense, Ndukwe and Zibby did not do a great job in their part of cover 2 to help out the corners in these situations. I look to see a vast improvement on defense this season. I’d like to play every quarter like we did at Michigan State in the 4th quarter last season.
I’m definitely in agreement with #1. We’re already looking at two potential starters this year who are smallish linebackers (Brockington, Crum Jr.), and I think a third would simply make our run defense horrid.
One thing I wouldn’t like to see is more pass plays on offense than runs. It either means our running attack hasn’t gelled again this year, or our team is already behind on the scoreboard.
– Lulls in the game where the defense can’t stop playing prevent, or close relatives, like you saw at times last year.
– Home losses. The Irish haven’t made South Bend a force to be reckoned with for years. There have been losses (’05 Michigan St, ’06 Michigan) and games that should have been cakewalks that weren’t (last year North Carolina and UCLA). I’d like to see them “protect this house”.
– Irish fans start to question Weis when they struggle this year. To me, he’s only really had two of “his” recruiting classes. Coming in when he did, amid the bad publicity from Willingham’s firing, that last recruiting class had little chance to fly. Once he gets his third class on the field, then we can truly start to judge him. Until then, we’d better own up to the fact that seven new starters on offense and a new defensive scheme will equate to growing pains.