The final Irish Blogger Gathering of the season has a new twist to it. Subway Domer hosts the last IBG of 2010, but readers are asked to weigh in this week.
Below is a survey with the questions for this week’s IBG. Further below are my responses to them, but before getting into them, take a few minutes and fill out the survey then let me know where you disagree in the comments.
Subway Domer will be keeping track of all of the responses from the other Notre Dame blogs that make up the IBG as well.
1. What us your biggest “FEAR” going int the bowl game?
- Tommy Rees will look like a freshman QB.
- Our running game gets shut down
- Jacory Harris decides he is a good player, and proves it
- Losing to a coachless team
For the first time since taking over Dayne Crist in the Tulsa game, Rees looked like a freshman against USC. The USC defense tormented Rees into four turnovers and the Miami defense is just as talented. The Miami defense may not be as disciplined, as hard as that may be to believe, but they are every bit as fast and talented. The extra practice time should benefit Rees, but if he is asked to throw the ball as much as he was early on against USC, I’m worried he could look like a freshman again.
- Floyd will, but not Rudolph
Unfortunately, I think this is true. Rudolph and Floyd are both rated pretty highly on draft boards. ESPN’s Scouts Inc has Floyd rated lower than some services, but with a big bowl game performance, Floyd would catapult himself into the first round. Rudolph is most likely going to be the most physically gifted tight end in the draft if he comes out making his early departure appear to be more likely.
3. Duval Kamara did not make the trip for personal reasons. This is very bad.
This is true for Kamara because he will not get a chance to suit up for Notre Dame one final time. Notre Dame should be able to overcome his absence fairly easily with a healthy trio of Michael Floyd, Theo Riddick, and TJ Jones though. Kamara had a nice close to his regular season – especially his two touchdown performance against Utah. Sadly, this will be a disappointing end to what became a disappointing career – a career that had started with such promise in 2007.
With Kamara not an option, we may see more of freshman Daniel Smith. The South Bend native has seen plenty of action on special teams this season, but hasn’t seen any meaningful action on offense. He is listed in the 2-deep for the bowl game and with the possible early departure of Floyd, Smith could be groomed to be the big, physical receiver for this offense.
4. Which senior will have the bigger game?
- Brian Smith
- Harrison Smith
- Robert Hughes
- Ian William
I originally answered Brian Smith here when I answered the survey on Subway Domer, but on second thought, I might change my answer to Robert Hughes. The proverbial “light switch” turned on for Hughes in that USC game and for one half of football, we saw the running back we all envisioned from Hughes. Brian Kelly has said multiple times that they need to protect Rees in the bowl game and the best way to do that is with a power running game led by Hughes.
As for Smith, his light switch came on weeks ago and he has been a different player. He is the one senior on the team that I think cares most about going out on a high note. The Irish defense has been outstanding since the Navy game and Smith has been a major reason for that.
It would be nice to see Ian Williams go out on a high note too, but after missing the final four games of the season and not playing since Navy, it is going to be tough for the Florida native to jump right back in. Before his injury, Williams was the MVP of the defense.
5. Vegas has the Irish as a 3 point dog….
- That’s about right
- They are horribly mistaken
This seems about right. For as strong as Notre Dame closed the season, this is still a team with a freshman QB with losses to Navy and Tulsa on its resume this year. On paper, Miami has more talent and speed. Notre Dame is the stronger team at this point though and comes into the game with much more momentum. How well Notre Dame maintains that momentum with a month off , however, remains to be seen.
6. Does Notre Dame NEED this bowl win for a good start to 2011
Yes, but more so for recruiting than a good start to 2011. Notre Dame lost the Independence Bowl in Bob Davie’s first season in 1997 and then started off the 1998 season with a upset over Michigan so a bowl win or loss doesn’t always carry over to the next season. From a recruiting standpoint, however, Notre Dame really NEEDS this game. A win would give Notre Dame a four game winning streak with wins over USC and Miami to end the season and would show recruits Notre Dame is headed in the right direction.
Notre Dame has several highly touted recruits left on their board for this season – especially on defense. Ishaq Williams, Brennan Scarlett, and Troy Niklas are three defensive recruits left that would be excellent additions to this class. A strong close to this year’s class is essential for not just 2011, but for 2012, 2013, and 2014.
7. Notre Dame will
- Win big
- Win close
- Lose big
- Lose close
I think Notre Dame will win this one close. After where Notre Dame has come from after the Tulsa loss, they are a team that is much more excited to be where they are at. In late October it didn’t look like the Irish would be bowling at all, let alone in a bowl on New Year’s Eve against Miami. On the other hand, Miami has had a disappointing season and lost their head coach. That is usually a recipe for a let down in a bowl game. See Notre Dame/2004 Inisght.com bowl. The key for Notre Dame will be to come out early and make sure Miami doesn’t get any momentum.
If Notre Dame controls the game early and is physical with Miami, the Irish should be in good position to win this game. If they let Miami come out and hit a few plays early and build confidence, things could get tricky. In the end, I like Brian Kelly’s ability to coach his team to a bowl victory over an interim coach’s ability to do the same.