IBG: Tree Chopping Edition


After a week off, the Irish Blogger Edition in its new and improved format is back for a Thanksgiving Day post.  Before you start chowing down and over indulging on turkey, stuffing, and some NFL football, we bring you this week’s post as the Irish get ready to travel to Palo Alto and chop down the #8 ranked Stanford Cardinal.

My Question: It’s been a long time since Notre Dame has won a game it has been as big of an underdog in as they are this weekend.  Where would this game rank in your mind in terms of upsets for Notre Dame and when was the last time you went into a game thinking Notre Dame had no chance and they walked home with the victory.   As a bonus, would a win over Stanford this weekend be Brian Kelly’s signature win up until this point in his tenure at Notre Dame?

Ryan from Her Loyal Sons: BYU and Stanford are somewhat similar offensively: a strong rushing attack paired with a quarterback that can go mobile. Does the defense’s performance, injuries and all, against BYU make you feel any better going up against Stanford or are we facing a totally different beast in the Cardinal? 

We are facing a different beast this weekend, but at the same time, last week’s defensive performance did give me a little more hope heading into this weekend even if the Irish did give up a bunch of yards at times.  What was encouraging, however, was the red zone defense.  Last year Notre Dame’s defense was as good as it was in large part because the redzone defense was so stingy.  Last year the defense bent but didn’t break.  This year its been bent and broken more often than not.

BYU was held to their lowest point output of the season by the Irish a week ago, but they still ran for 247 yards and picked up 23 first downs.  Those numbers are not all that encouraging given that Stanford is a better, stronger version of BYU.  The Cougars, however, scored just one touchdown in four trips to the redzone.  The other three trips resulted in two made field goals and a blocked Jarron Jones field goal.  That’s what the Notre Dame defense did last year when teams made it to the redzone – they either forced a turnover or forced a field goal attempt.

For Notre Dame to pull off the upset this weekend, the Irish will need to have similar results in when the Cardinal advance the ball inside their 20 yard.

Aaron Horvath from Strong & TrueIf someone would have told you that Tommy Rees would leave Notre Dame with 7,000+ yards and most likely 60+ touchdowns when he committed out of high school, most people would call that person crazy. Needless to say, he has surprised many. What are your thoughts on what Rees has been able to accomplish during his tenure at Notre Dame and what other Irish senior went above and beyond your expectations during his time at Notre Dame?

My feelings of Rees have been pretty well documented around these parts.  Over the summer I described him as the “Most unappreciated man in the world” and then just a few days ago I wrote about how his final home game in Notre Dame Stadium was a fitting ending and that hearing him walk off the field to chants of “Tommy, Tommy” were not only well deserved but a testament to what makes Notre Dame, Notre Dame.

No one could have ever imagined that Rees would put up the numbers that he has – not just because of his pedigree coming in but also because everyone assumed he would be over recruited by the next year.  Instead, he was able to unseat a former 5-star recruit as a sophomore, came off the bench as the best relief pitcher in college football as a junior, and then stepped in a provided some stability on a team that went through a tumultuous off-season on the heels of its best season in more than 20 years.

Aside from Rees, Louis Nix is another player who exceeded my expectations.  I thought Nix would be a very good player for the Irish no doubt, but I didn’t think he would become one of the premier nose tackles in the country and a potential top 10 draft pick.  A top 10 NFL draft pick from Notre Dame who plays along the defensive line?  Who knew that was possible anymore.  Nix has exceeded everyone’s expectations off the field too.  He might be a one in 20 year player on the field for the Irish, but he is a once in a life time player off the field.

Speaking of a once in a lifetime type of player off the the field.  We can throw Danny Spond into that discussion as well.  Who would have thought that Danny Spond, a late offer by Brian Kelly that the Weis regime didn’t recruit at all who become a playmaker on the field and then have as much of an impact off it once he had retire early?  Nix, Spond, and Rees are all just the type of players that make it easy to remember why we are all Notre Dame fans.

Mike Coffey from NDNation: Which of Notre Dame’s strengths do you believe has the greatest chance of getting ND the win on Saturday, and which of Notre Dame’s weaknesses do you fear might keep it from happening?

In terms of Notre Dame’s greatest strengths, I will pick the offensive line even with the lumps that it’s taken the last few weeks.  Even after Nick Martin got hurt against BYU and Matt Hegarty had to come in off the bench the Irish offensive line was still dominant against BYU.  Notre Dame has an offensive line capable of playing the kind of knock down, drag out type of fight necessary to take down Stanford this weekend.

Notre Dame’s biggest weakness that could keep it from happening?  Not using that offensive early on and just assuming that they won’t be able to run the ball.  Too often in the past Notre Dame has come out chucking the ball all over the field because opponents stacked the line and they assumed they couldn’t run the ball.  This weekend, Notre Dame is going to have to run the ball effectively on Stanford to come out victorious.  If Notre Dame comes out slinging it all over the place, things will play out just like they did in 2011 when Stanford won by a score that was much closer than the game felt.

Keith Arnold from Inside the Irish: You’ve got your choice of bowl game locations and opponents. Put yourself in Jack Swarbrick’s shoes: Give me the ideal opponent and location.

This year if I had my choice of bowl games for Notre Dame outside of the BCS bowls, I think I would pick the bowl game the Irish are most likely to land in – the Pinstripes Bowl.  The Pinstripes Bowl would let the most storied program in college football play in the stadium of the most storied team in all of sports in a market that would make it very easy for many Notre Dame fans to see them.

This year, a likely opponent for the Irish would be Rutgers – a program desperate to take over the local recruiting scene from the likes of Notre Dame and Penn State meaning that Notre Dame would have a chance to beat Rutgers in their backyard to help its recruiting dominance in an area that has produced the likes of Ishaq Williams, Jarron Jones, and Jay Hayes in the last few years alone.

There may be some concerns about the weather in New York in late December for a bowl game, but I’m of the mindset of football should be played in the cold and love the idea of the Super Bowl being played in cold weather cities as well.  Throw in some snow and to me you have a picturesque scene.  Besides, even when Notre Dame has played bowl games in Texas recently they have been unable to escape the cold so I say, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.



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  1. beating Stanford will require a brain transplant for B. Kelly,
    On defense, forget bend, don’t break (forget rush 3 and arm tackle) Use a variety of blitz packages and put constant pressure on Hogan.

    On O, don’t come out passing ala Kelly, – instead, run, run, run,

    Bottom line, kelly will pass. 3 and out, 3 and out 3 and out.

    On D, we’ll make Hogan a Heisman candidate – with no pressure, he will have a record day passing not to mention the Stanford running game which will gouge the finesse irish D. game plan

    Stanford 42, ND 17

  2. Well if you look it up the “Tree” mascot for the Cardinal was from an ongoing student search for a name and mascot for the Stanford school in the mid 70’s. The Sequoia is a tree once found all along California’s Pacific coast. Much like the Sycamore it is a big tree.

  3. I don’t know where this “Tree” nonsense comes from re: The Stanford Cardinal. But I’m from Boston. Grew-up watching Larry Bird. Bird graduated Indiana State U. Their mascot? The “SYCAMORES” – a sycamore being a tree. Just a piece of trivia for anyone who cared. (or not!)

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