IBG: “University of the Naval Academy” Edition

The Irish Blogger Gathering returns this week with Ryan from Her Loyal Sons answering our questions and me answering a set of questions for Aaron Horvath aka @NDSportsBlogger over on Strong and True.  Props to the first person to get the reference in this week’s title and posts them in the comments section.

As always, here are this week’s entries into the IBG:

1. Notre Dame gave up yards but not a lot of points this past weekend (thanks in part to some self destruction from Air Force). Did the defense shake enough rust off from defending the option that they will come out and dominate this weekend or should there be a little concern for Notre Dame fans heading into this weekend’s matchup with the Naval Academy.

I think having to face to option teams back-to-back is the perfect scenario for ND. There wasn’t just a rust scenario against Air Force, but also a lot of guys either seeing more playing time than usual and defending a college-speed option for the first time. On top of that, Air Force does like to pass more than Navy does out of the option, so I think the corners were playing far too safe against that to start (later in the game, they started playing the run almost every down).

As far as the yards surrendered, it can happen against option teams, so I’m not worried. The bigger measure of excellence is how successful you are on each drive. If Air Force gains 60 yards and gets only 3 points and then your offense turns around and puts up 7, that’s a win.

2. The Irish couldn’t run on the Falcons for the first 30 minutes last week but looked much better int he second half with Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston getting the bulk of the carries. Is it time for McDaniel and Folston to get the nod as the top two backs over George Atkinson and Amir Carlisle?

I asked this exact same question and I wouldn’t be surprised if others did as well.

My answer is an emphatic yes. I love what GA3 and Carlisle bring to the table from a physical tools standpoint, but Cam and Folston are getting the better carries right now. You have to give those guys the ball to establish the run. Having GA3 or Carlisle slam into the line over and over for 2 yards isn’t helping.

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Something has to change. Those two failing to run against Air Force is inexcusable.

3. Notre Dame’s freshman wide receivers are showing why the coaches spoke so glowingly of them over the summer. Out of Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, James Onwualu, and Tori Hunter – who are you most excited to see over the next three years and who of them will have the biggest impact on the Irish passing game?

My answer to both is Corey Robinson. After watching him take what should have been a Rees INT and turn it into a TD was amazing. With his height, I see him being a huge threat and security blanket for years to come. Perhaps even an unstoppable fade option if one of our QBs can learn how to throw it correctly…

Now, that isn’t taking anything away from the other WRs you list and I could very well be wrong on the biggest impact; however, the bottom line is the future is oh so bright for the Irish at this position.

Bonus: Tommy Rees is sitting at 20 TDs this season and 54 for his career.  He needs 13 more over the last five games (including a bowl) to pass Brady Quinn’s 32 TDs in 2006 for the 2nd highest single season total in Notre Dame history and 7 more to move into sole possession of 2nd place all time in career TD passes.  Will he get either milestone and how surprised are you Rees is reaching these heights after some of the things he has gone through throughout his career?

Navy is not good, so Rees could probably get 3 or 4 TDs this weekend. Pitt is also terrible, so perhaps another 3 TD performance there is possible. BYU and Stanford have solid defensive units, but, even so, I think 2 TDs in each isn’t out of the question. That would put Rees at 10 TDs for the season, meaning he’d need 3 in the bowl game.

So what the hell, I say he gets the mark and passes Quinn and easily gets the 7 TDs needed to be second all time.

Honestly, I’m surprised that he is getting these numbers. Not just because most of the memories in 2011 are awful ones, but because he’s basically doing all of this on only one full, solid season — one that he was never expected to play.

As much heat as Brian Kelly has gotten for apparently failing to develop QBs, I look at what Rees is doing and wonder what people are thinking. He’s exceeding my wildest expectations and I hope he gets both of these records just to shove it in every detractor’s face.

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