Notre Dame might be a on bye week this week, but the Irish Blogger Gathering isn’t. We’re hard at work again this week with our weekly roundtable discussion of the Fighting Irish as we discuss where Notre Dame is headed into the bye week and what our expectations are for the remainder of the season.
Here is the question that I posed to the group: If there was only one thing that the coaching staff could address and fix during the bye week, what would you want it to be? What happens if the staff isn’t able to correct that one thing between now and two weeks from now?
- NDSportsBlogger – IBG: Bye Week Blues
- Subway Domer – IBG: I Bye’d the Bye Week
- Her Loyal Sons – IBG: Here Comes the Bye Edition
- ND Nation – IBG: Busman’s Bye Week
NDSportsBlogger: As we head into the bye week, the Irish are 3-0, averaging over 30 points per game, while allowing just over 10 including shutting out Michigan. If I were to tell you that those three facts would be true prior to the season beginning, would you have taken it? Through 1/4 of the year, how do your expectations of this season match up?
Of course I would have taken it, who wouldn’t? I don’t think anyone really objectively saw that coming. The shut out of Michigan is what would have taken me by surprise the most though. Up until kick-off and even slightly after I was very worried about that game given the struggles Notre Dame has had with the Wolverines in recent years – even in years when Michigan hasn’t been that strong. I expected Notre Dame to win easily versus Rice and Purdue – actually I expected Notre Dame to beat Purdue much more soundly in the pre-season. All that said, I did not expect the Notre Dame defense to give up on average of just over 10 points a game. I expected there to be many more growing pains for Brian VanGorder’s young defense.
With the 3-0 start I would say my expectations are slightly raised but I am still a little cautious about jumping on the playoff bandwagon at this point. Every time I let myself start to dream of a playoff run I think of that October stretch of games and the run of games to end the year. While the Irish are playing better than I though they would as a whole, the schedule still worries me even though USC and Stanford both already have a notch in the loss column.
NDNation: At the first bye week, who is your MVP on offense and on defense so far?
Offensively, I think there is only one choice and that’s Everett Golson. He’s been borderline phenomenal in his return and while I think the Heisman talk might be a bit premature at this time, he is the main reason that I think a playoff run could potentially happen. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of #5 yet either. I have a feeling he is going to have a couple games where he just flat out goes off before the end of the season. The only other player I really think can even be in the conversation on offense at this point is Will Fuller, but he’s been doing his damage thanks to Golson getting him the ball.
Defensively, I think the easy choice is Jaylon Smith because he is a ridiculous athlete and has been all over the field, but I’m going with Sheldon Day here. Day has been a beast in the trenches and the push he’s gotten up front has in part allowed Smith to roam as freely as he has been. Day’s made a number of plays that don’t show up int he stat sheet too such as flushing Devin Gardner out of the pocket to set up one of Kolin Hill’s sacks against Michigan. Day’s grunt work in the trenches has helped lay the groundwork for the solid work VanGorder’s defense has been turning in.
Subway Domer: Bye week means SCOUT week. What games are you looking forward to watching this week? Do you have any non CFB plans for Saturday?
I will be taking a bye week myself most likely this weekend without the Irish playing. The only game that has me really interested over the weekend is Clemson and Florida State, but that game had me interested last year and it turned out to be a complete laugher. I’ll get some work done and rest up for football Sunday when my 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles try to improve to 3-0 just like the Irish. The last time that happened was 1993.
Her Loyal Sons: What’s your temperature after this game? Happy because a win is a win or upset with poor play against or are you somewhere completely different?
I would probably say I am leaning more towards upset… and I am absolutely thrilled about it. It’s been too long since I’ve felt that empty after a 16 point win. It’s a sign that expectations are raised and that more than just winning is what is expected of Notre Dame now. When was the last time we could truly say that? What made Saturday so frustrating was how close that game was to being a blowout.
At the same time, it’s really easy to forget how young this team is and how many players are playing prominent roles for the first times in there careers. It’s almost crazy to think that Notre Dame is currently starting two players (with Austin Collinsworth injured) who are in their final years of eligibility – Cody Riggs and Ben Koyack. All of that youth, however, is what should make the rest of the season both equal parts exciting and at times frustrating. Even with a bye week to get in some more reps and work out kinks, this is still a very young team that is going to have some more growing pains along the way.
So in a very circuitous way, I’m saying that I was upset with the poor play because of the potential that is so easy to see while at the same time realizing we are probably going to have some more moments like that the rest of the way given how young the team is. Should be a hell of a lot of fun to watch along the way though.