The Irish Blogger Gathering returns during the bye week following Notre Dame’s win over Arizona State in the latest edition of the Shamrock Series.
On a sad note, the IBG founder, The Subway Domer, has hung up his keyboard and gotten out of the Notre Dame blogging game. The remaining participants are moving forward without our fearless leader though. Here are this week’s entrants:
- Strong & True: http://ndfootball.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/josh-returns-for-this-weeks-irish-blogger-gathering/
- Her Loyal Sons: not yet published
- ND Nation: not yet published
- Inside the Irish: not yet published
Over here at UHND, Ryan from Her Loyal Sons answered our questions while we sent questions over to Keith at Inside the Irish.
1. We saw the good and the bad of Tommy Rees against Arizona State. What do you expect to see out of him over the final 6 games of the season?
Her Loyal Sons: In all honesty, we saw a lot more of good Tommy than bad against ASU. Even though he was only 44.7% passing on the day, he still managed to make his completions count going 279 yards for 3 TDs which lead to a 127.2 rating (his other two highest ratings were Temple: 238.97 and Purdue: 159.27).
I think what we see from him the rest of the season will really depend on how the rest of the offense develops as well as how Tommy attacks the field.
The rushing game is hitting their stride which obviously helps. We can’t discount the emergence of Hendrix bringing QB runs and the read option back into play, which will now force defenses to prepare for more than usual.
Tommy’s decisions though will be the interesting part. I’m not just talking about throwing INTs either, but how he attacks the field. I wish I had the time to chart his passes out, but I’ve felt like Tommy has fallen in love with the one-on-one jump ball down the sidelines. He reads the single coverage on his boundary receiver and just can’t resist taking a shot. This pass my have a low percentage INT rate, but his success rate hasn’t been nearly high enough to justify taking those chances (especially on third and short).
If Tommy can focus on attacking the entire field, I think we’ll see remarkable improvement from here on out.
2) The Notre Dame pass rush woke up against the Sun Devils, but we’ve seen single game outbursts from Prince Shembo before (BC ’12 and Utah ’10). What must Shembo and the rest of the Irish pass rush do to build on the momentum from last weekend in the second half of the season.
Her Loyal Sons: Quite frankly, I think ASU simply couldn’t match up with Shembo on a talent level much like the other two teams you mention. That isn’t to say Shembo only comes to play when the matchups are good, but I think it should temper the “he’s figured it out” expectations.
Overall though, I think the defense is starting to hit their stride as a group. Jaylon Smith alone has improved by leaps and bounds and is starting to fill the void left by Spond. Carlo Calabrese has been playing much better as well. I’m still a little leery on the secondary, overall I think they’ve improved, but they are still giving up the occasional huge play.
If the defense keeps this pace up, I think you’ll see the pass rush on its own. QBs have been able to get rid of the ball far too fast against the Irish and no D-line adjustment will fix that. If the Irish can force opposing QBs to take a second or two longer, our guys will get home.
3) With the bye week upon us, what is the one area that you would like to see Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff address the most?
Her Loyal Sons: Find an identity on offense.
This kind of goes to my answer in question one. I want Kelly drill into Tommy’s head that he isn’t the kind of QB that can abuse the sideline jump ball (for instance, Brady Quinn abused opposing defenses with the jump ball at will). The focus needs to be on the shorter routes over the middle. Every pass can’t be a homerun.
The sideline jump-ball thing is even more puzzling considering how often the Irish are 5-wide. Single coverage down the sideline is pretty common there, but so is single coverage on just about everyone. The goal of the 5-wide is to spread the offense so thin that the defense will inevitably give up a short route underneath because there is simply too much to cover. The logic behind using it on third and short, for instance, is the belief that there’s going to be someone right at the sticks open. The jump ball down the sideline is a bad choice in comparison.
Along with focusing on Tommy, I am hopeful that the Irish rushing attack continues to improve. I think the addition of Hendrix in this rotation opens up a wide variety of read option looks that defenses really haven’t seen from us all year. Forcing defenses to worry about this new package will inevitably open up the offense when Tommy is on the field.
Bonus: No Notre Dame game this weekend. What games are you watching, if any and what is your idea of the perfect bye weekend as a fan?
Her Loyal Sons: I’m actually watching zero college football this weekend. I promised the fiancee a weekend getaway trip with just the two of us and zero CFB. She enjoys watching ND games with me and maybe one other game, but she has yet to come around on my obsessive CFB binges of watching 10+ games in a day.
In all honesty, it’ll be a good break too. There are definitely some great matchups this week, but watching football analytically can be draining. Even as hammered as I was during the Shamrock Series game, its something I still couldn’t turn off in my brain. So, I’d say being able to get away (preferably during a week with crappier games) is a perfect weekend to unwind a bit.
The games that’ll make me want to sneak a peak at my phone: Texas/OU (so I can laugh at the Longhorns), Florida/LSU, and Oregon/Washington.