Impressions for the Army All American Game

Notre Dame had more than 1/2 of this year’s recruiting class on display in San Antonio this weekend for the Army All American Bowl and here are some observations after watching the game and seeing random video clips throughout the week.  All in all, the ND guys were very impressive.

  • Dayne Crist, QB
    Crist looked like a natural leader on the field and threw a very nice pass.  He’s got a big league arm and a quick release.  After watching him play in person earlier this year, the one knock Ihad on Crist was his accuracy and that was a bit evident on Saturday as well.  Crist missed a couple open receivers, but overall, he turned in a fantastic performance.   Crist was 5 of 12 for 113 yards with a 56 yard touchdown to fellow ND commit Michael Floyd.  He showed he’s got all the tools to be a star quarterback for the Irish.
  • Michael Floyd, WR
    If there was a better wide receiver in the game, I didn’t see him.  Floyd showed he can burn a corner one on one when he torched Michigan commit Boubacar Cissoko on the 56 yard touchdown.  He also showed he can use his body to shield a defender in the end zone when he caught a jump ball from Andrew Luck for a score over fellow ND commit Robert Blanton.  Floyd’s performance did nothing to quiet the internet chatter that he will start from day one at Notre Dame.
  • John Goodman, WR
    Goodman looked pretty skinny compared to the other wide receivers in the game, but he looked pretty good out there and ended up catching a fourth quarter touchdown pass over Gerrell Robinson after Robinson picked Arizona State over the Irish.  The Samardzija comparisons are a bit premature right now because he doesn’t have the kind of size and strength that Jeff had, but he looks like he’ll be a pretty good receiver.
  • Kyle Rudolph, TE
    Rudolph didn’t see too much action in the passing game this weekend, but by all accounts he was pretty impressive throughout the week in practice.  Rudolph will be the #3 tight end next year at least and appears ready to play.
  • Lane Clelland, OL
    Clelland will probably drop down in the recruiting rankings a bit after the game, because it showed that he is still a bit raw and needs some work in the weight room before he’s ready to play.
  • Mike Golic Jr, OL
    Golic was easily the smallest offensive lineman in the game, but he actually surprised me with how well he played despite the size disadvantage he was at.  Golic looked like a very polished blocker already and looked pretty good at run blocking.  He is going to need to spend a ton of time in the weight room, but if he makes Reuben Mendoza his best friend once he gets to Notre Dame, Golic is going to be much more than a “filler” recruit as many felt.
  • Trevor Robinson, OL
    Robinson got some rave reviews throughout the week, but didn’t quite live up to those reports in the game.  Robinson was not by any means disappointing, but he did not dominate in the game as many reports had suggested he was doing all week in practice.
  • Darius Flemming, DE/OLB
    Flemming was playing defensive end in the 4-3 defense the East team was using and showed that he is quick off the line and can rush the quarterback pretty well.  Flemming nearly had (and probably should have had) Luck sacked in the end zone for a safety.  He was tough to block for the West OL whenever he was in the game and showed that he will most likely be able to come in and play next year.  Brian Smith and Kerry Neal will likely cement the starting OLB positions in the spring, but I would expect we will be seeing Darius get snaps on passing downs next fall.
  • Sean Cywnar, DT
    Cywnar ended up recovering a botched snap by Crist in the first half and showed a good motor in the game.   He reminded me of a much bigger Pat Kuntz during the game.  He’s not the biggest or fastest guy, but he plays hard from snap until the whistle.  With Cywnar enrolling early, it is conceivable that he will be worked into ND’s thin defensive line rotation next year.
  • Brandon Newman, NT
    No one player may have surprised people as much this week.  By all accounts, Newman was much, much better than most people expected he would be in practice all week long.  Newman showed that he is quick off the snap and can handle double teams.  He will need to start working on his conditioning right away, however, as he showed up pretty out of shape.  Still, Newman probably could not have surprised anyone anymore than he did this week.  Newman could be able to take some snaps at NT next year if necessary.
  • Anthony McDonald, LB
    McDonald was playing in a 4-3 defense this weekend after playing a 3-4 in high school and looked a bit out of place at times.  He over pursues a couple of running plays early, but he looked pretty athletic for an inside linebacker and his game should translate very well into Notre Dame’s 3-4 attack.  He wasn’t among the most impressive linebackers in the game, but he was far from the least impressive either.
  • Steve Filer, LB
    Filer was adjusting to the 4-3 defense this week just like McDonald so its tough to judge his performance too much.  He did make one nice stop on a run play in the game, but other than that, his name was not called that much.  He already looks about as big as Mo Crum though which is encouraging considering our lack of size among the interior linebackers.
  • Robert Blanton, CB/S
    Blanton played safety in the game, but will be lining up as a corner once he gets to Notre Dame.  Blanton looked great in run support and hit pretty well.  He’ll need to add some size before he’s an every down type of player, but he raised some eyebrows this week.  He did get beat by Floyd in the jump ball in the end zone primarily because Floyd just out positioned him and shielded him from the ball showing that Blanton will need some work on his technique as well.
  • Jonas Gray, RB
    Gray was slowed by injuries during the week and didn’t see a whole lot of action.  He had a couple runs up the middle, but never really got into space to show his speed.   He had 3 attempts for 8 yards in his limited action.

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  1. I agree with Frankie that ND’s D was just horrible in the Sugar Bowl and accounts for that INSANE number pts and yards they put up. I think they got the right man in Corwin to turn it around.

  2. If OSU knew exactly what ND was going to do on offense, their defense must have been pretty shitty for Notre Dame to score 21 points and be within 7 points with 4 or 5 minutes to go.

    Notre Dame did not lose that game because of offense, we lost it because the defense gave up over 600 yards of offense and couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down in the 4th quarter when it looked like Troy Smith was going to get sacked.

    I’m sure AJ Hawk was laughing though with a 7 point lead though, and I’m sure having to play Justin Brown and Ronald Talley at DE a lot that game also had nothing to do with the outcome.

  3. Bleed –

    The parity that exists in college football these days is exactly my point. Most of the teams I watched during bowl season were light years ahead of ND in execution – play calling and energy. The Irish D sucked every time this year on plays that counted. I have read all the comments on the defensive statistics but the fact remains they painfully could do nothing scheme wise or other when it counted. Most glaring to me was how the Irish D was out on the field literally waiting and wondering – more concerned with whether they were in the right defense instead of focusing on attacking and disrupting the opponent. God forbid – dont blitz more than once a game as it ALWAYS works!

    Time will tell me friend – 2006 was not a really good year. 2005 had the same energy and record result similar to Willinghams 1st year. Any new coach would have seen the same result in 2005 w/ new blood coming in. The difference w/ Weis was he simply threw more.

    I have a friend down here who knows AJ Hawk – AJ said in the Fiesta bowl they were literally laughing in the huddle during the game because they knew in advance exactly what ND was going to do on offense.
    Doesn’t sound like a complex offensive mindset to me.

  4. Chris: I agree with you 100% about BoB and I also agree that Charlie did have a number of questionable calls last year. I do not agree that Charlie is not personable with his players. Most players that are already on the team and players in this incoming recruiting class list Charlie and Corwin as very high on their reasons to attend ND. I think Charlie does connect with his players. Especially his QB’s. These recruits are sold on ND but also on Charlie. I think Corwin will do a great job. I saw strides last year with the 3-4 Defense and I feel it will be affective. I dont agree with players regressing in Charlies second year. I think you forget how Quinn, Mcknight and Shark all set offensive records at ND in Charlies second year. Zibby on the other hand didnt seem as affective his secord & third year as he did in his first. I think last year’s ND team had talent but it was raw. A freshman QB facing one of the most difficult schedules in the country did ok. I agree that the O-line is very discouraging to watch. They SUCKED horribly this year and didnt improve very much throughout the season. I believe that from seeing Charlies first two seasons, there is a lot of potential for him to be a great coach at ND. He had 1 bad year and people already are screaming for his job and he cant develope nor coach these student athletes. I think that a lot of ND fans still live in those “Glory Years” and dont realize that the landscape in general in college football has changed and you cant win a title every year. ND has suffered in recruiting for the past 8 years before Weis has put together 3 great classes. Give Charlie some time. People loved Charlie his first two years because he was WINNING and since this year he was LOSING people want to jump off the train and start complaining. I have complained about a lot this year but I have never stated Charlie cant coach or he cant develope talent. He has been there for 3 years and had 2 really good years. He is getting the recruits that fit his system. I think this year we will see a better team on the field. 7-8 w’s. I have followed ND football for 18 years. Granted im only 25 but I still have gone through some good times in the beginning then since about 97 gone through many really bad times. Charlie in two seaons gave me hope. I can deal with one bad season. My opinion of course.

  5. …It was getting late – that should read ….clothes..
    thank you for listening – or reading or whatever.

  6. Let me first comment on some counter posts. #1 I dont need to read any other papers or other blogs to form my own opinion. I’ve been watching ND football seriously for 34 years ok? I know what I am seeing. #2 Mr. Gilleran – you seem very well versed in the goings on behind the scenes associated w/ ND football and recruiting but perhaps you might entertain the idea of reading Charlies book “No Excuses” because your reply is full of them.

    I am also being cast as a negative person here – I would counter the real negativity is telling someone who’s house is on fire to look at the bright side because they are saving on their heating costs equates to REAL negativity. This corporate buzz to embrace a positive attitude at all costs is nauseating.

    I suppose my real overall point is the talent issue and I think there is talent on this current team but it is simply not being developed. Furthermore I am convinced Charlie has been and is currently unable to accomplish this. The man simply can not coach at the college level. He does not relate to these players once in the system.

    Tell me there was not some sort of dissention on this team this year. Yes recruits leave many programs – we had 4 prominent ones leave DURING THE SEASON! I also just heard we may have lost Prince too. The job done on Demetrious Jones after the Georgia Tech game was also of particular interest. These were real oddities and cause for concern if you ask me.

    From what I saw, Quinn, Samardzija, Zibby and McKnight all took steps backwards in the second year under Weis.

    Golden Tate likely the fastest guy on the team is only capable of running a fly pattern?? Weis, who is supposed to be known for his offensive genius, can’t teach the kid a couple other routes or design a couple other plays tailored to him?

    Sam Young went backwards this past year.

    Three years into Weis’ system and the offensive line still can’t friggin block? You folks tell me when you last saw or even noticed once a “tough – disciplined – nasty” ND football team since Weis came on board? I haven’t seen it. Hell they just had their first real physical practices under Charlie after 4 games into this past season!

    I attended the B/G game this year – ND-BC and ND Air Force. I watched Weis then and on TV. The man is an island. There is hardly anyone ever around him on the sidelines except for whoever was deemed to be the QB for the game. Almost never any interaction w/ guys coming off the field. The fact he doesn’t sit down and seek some answers from Ara or Lou or the best candidate in my opinion Tom Pagna but instead relys on his NE connection speaks volumes.

    Offer solutions? OK. First off, find an AD worth a damn. White should have been committed to not taking no for an answer when they went after Urban Meyer before Weis. I can hear it now but say what you will about so called “recruiting thief” in Florida – he would be being praised for his aggressivness had he been doing that as our coach presently. In addition Whites choice of scheduling future opponents is interesting to say the least in addition to his lack of comment on the football program either pro or con during the worst season ever of ND football was nice and showed great leadership.

    Other than that, I also believe we need a high profile defensive coach w/ a proven scheme instead of a guy who never assembled a defense before. ND needed defensive help 3 years ago.

    With the past season’s record in his 3rd year, totally unimaginative offense packages, the inexplicable loss of the talented players Weis recruited himself, the questionable play calling in numerous games this year, the failure to even improve a little bit over the course of the season supports this disconnect. The New Jersey bravado of Weis is also wearing thin. He makes for a great sound bite but not a coach at the college level.

    Simply put, this program should be on much firmer ground at this point regardless of the current inexperience and past recruiting follies. After all this is ND.

    I think there are just too many monkeys on the programs back to turn things around under Weis. To think that yet another group of freshmen recruits are going to resurrect this program when many of the posts are griping about the current inexperience of the team is ridiculous.

    I truly hope I am wrong and I WILL be the first one to admit it but the odds are ND football will unfortunately remain a very questionable program until eventually someone has the gonads to say hey guess what – the emperor wears no cloths!

  7. Chris, I hear what you are saying man but this year was horrible and this recruiting class is def not a by-product of this season. It is amazing to see this class and to see where ND finished last season. ND sucked a fat one last year and I got down, way down about it but this class has brought me back up. I am now dare I say a little optimistic about next year. I know James Aldridge has NOT lived up to his high recruiting ranking but supposedly he has been hurt. I ask for the past two years? I think Allen and Hughes are going to be our common backs for next couple of years. There is a lot of talent in this years incoming class and I think we saw it during the AA bowl. I wouldnt listen to BoB because we all know he has serious issues with ND’s True Enemies lol. I know you dont want to jump the gun and I dont either but after this past season this is about exciting as its going to get for a while.

  8. im going to play fence sitter here…i see both sides to all of this…chris your right…its too early to start hyping these kids up to be gods that will one day win a national title and your right sam young did have a lot of penalties this year….but on the other hand…young is still that..young…and as for the recruiting class….we should be excited about it…we were 3-9 this year..and don’t have much to look forward to expect good recruiting classes and the hopes that they will add to a winning season next year…so if your truly a fan..i just can’t understand being negative about our recruits.

  9. frank,

    1.another reason why any recruit who is not afraid of the academics and does not have personal family reasons for choosing a school closer to home is notre dame’s latest award for academic achievement by the american football coaches association for 2007 accepted by charlie weis today.

    2. notre dame tied for 1st place with northwestern with a 95% graduation rate.

    3. there were only 4 schools with graduation rates better than addition to notre dame and northwestern, there were duke and vanderbilt.

    4. michigan, florida, usc, and the other football factories that compete in the recruiting wars with notre dame by fraudulently flaunting their academic prowess to recruits, even in a good year, are lucky to exceed 50%.

    5. in addition, the educations that all student athletes get at notre dame consist of real academic courses which will help them in their careers and lives whether they get to the nfl or not, instead of ballroom dancing(usc), watching movies( usc and others),finger painting(auburn), internet music appreciation( florida state and they still got caught cheating) or phony private studies classes which have no real academic content(auburn, usc, and many others).

    6. these are among the many reasons why omar hunter may still be coming to notre dame, after realizing that he has been conned by urban meyer and pete carroll and certain other dishonest recruiters and why mike martin and other student athletes will be picking notre dame over notre dame’s enemies in the recruiting wars in 2008 and in future years.

    7. bleednd82, it is nice that you are being positive. however, my friends and i are at war with notre dame’s enemies and will keep on fighting those wars.

    8. unlike you, we have seen the fraudulent and dishonest information that certain dishonest coaches and recruiters from other schools have been, and are still sending, to notre dame’s 2008 and future years commits and recruits and to their families and high school coaches.

    9. you can think or do anything you want, provided that you do not violate the civil and legal rights of other people.

    10. we do not presume to give any orders or instructions to anyone else and we are not about to take any orders or instructions from you or from anyone else, except when we are in the us military and our superiors give us orders.


    bob gilleran

  10. Chris – If you want to debate from a position of strength have the facts. Stewart is not gone as you stated; in fact he left for a week to think and came back better than ever.

  11. Chris- You sound a little upset about something. Is there something about this #1 ranked Irish class that bothers you? Are you upset according to Rivals, Scout, and Espn they are the #1 rated class in the country? Are you upset that almost all of ND’s recruits were showcased in the AA game? Are you upset that the ND recruits performed very well? I am unsure of what is wrong with this picture for you. I saw Weis develope Quinn and to some levels Clausen last year. I do have a few concerns but a 7-8 win season this year will put all those concerns behind me. I think that is reasonable. Bob- quit calling people enemies man. You sound like we are at war with these “enemies”. You make the rest of us ND fans look kinda crazy. Crist did look great out there and Floyd probably will start next year. Deion Walker seems to have the most talent of the group but seems very skinny. He needs to put on a little bit of weight. Walker is the fastest out of the bunch as well and we need SPEED. My main question about this class is actually Jimmy Clausen. Yes, i know Clausen was in last years class but people seem to be on the Christ bandwagon and I can see why, but both are pro style qb’s. Does Christ know something that we dont about Clausen? Any word on Mike Martin the DT from Michigan? I heard he might decommit and come to the Irish. Just saw on Espn that Rich Rod has stated that Ryan Mallett was leaving Michigan and transfering. Sweet deal!

  12. chris,

    1. if you want to be negative about everything, that is your choice. perhaps being that way is part of your personality.

    2. however, being negative just for the sake of being negative, without any worthwhile suggestions about how charlie and corwin, their staffs, and current and future members of the notre dame football team can do things any better does play right into the hands of notre dame’s enemies.

    3. if you want to know why joe moore player development of the hard hitting joe moore type was not possible before charlie, corwin, and their staffs brought in the depth of talent with that magnificent 2008 recruiting class, just take a look at the rosters of notre dame’s 2005, 2006, and 2007 teams.

    4. those hard hitting joe moore type of practices do involve some risk of injury and notre dame simply did not have the depth of talent to absorb those injuries before the 2005,2006,and 2007 seasons.

    5. just imagine what would have happened if brady quinn had been seriously injured during the 2005 or 2006 seasons. the talent and game experience gap between the 1st string and the backups in those years was as wide as the pacific ocean.

    6. in fact, brady was seriously injured as a result of several dirty hits( no penalties were called by the crooked big refs at that game and crooked dennis lipski was the head ref as he had been at the 2006 notre dame/michigan game. you will notice that charlie terminated notre dame’s long relationship with the big 10 to provide the refs for notre dame’s away games in 2007, replacing them with big east refs) in the 2006 usc game.

    7. brady played the lsu sugar bowl game with some pretty serious injuries. until dt derek landri went down with an injury around halftime in that game, the 2006 notre dame team was giving a much better lsu a much better game than the buckeyes did last night.

    8. you and the other doom and gloomers will start to see the vast improvements in 2008 and 2009 and in future seasons now that charlie and corwin finally have the talent, depth of talent and game experience to develop that talent before the 2008 season and before every game.

    9. the key to all of this progress is all of the hard work and intelligence that charlie, corwin, their staffs, and those very thin green lines and very courageous the members of notre dame’s 2005, 2006, and 2007 teams put in in the recruiting wars.

    10. they recreated the notre dame recruiting network, which was close to being dead when charlie arrived, and reinvented college football recruiting for the 21st century.

    11. we do have a certain advantage in the empirical data areas of the miracles that charlie and corwin, and their staffs have already done for the notre dame football program, despite the vicious attacks from notre dame’s enemies and from certain doom and gloomers who provide asistance to notre dame’s enemies.

    12. we actually know some of notre dame’s 2008 commits and their families and high school coaches and we have seen all of the garbage that has been thrown at them, including negative material from notre dame fan sites.

    13. after we saw a crew of crooked pac 10 refs steal from notre dame their 2005 win over usc at south bend, we got very angry.

    14. after we saw charlie’s detailed ref evaluation after the notre dame 2006 michigan game, we decided to collect the evidence and force changes in the current ref system, including getting the conferences out of the ref and tech review business.

    15. after all, having participated in taking down the crooks at enron, mci worldcom, aig insurance,a crooked ca bar association, and a number of crooked judges and many other big powerful crooked companies and individuals in the civil courts using our expertise with the civil rico statutes, why would we hesitate to use that skill and experience to put an end to the current crooked refs system and replace it with an honest one?

    16. you and a few of your friends actually attempted, without any success, to excommunicate me as a notre dame fan and to persuade frank and his asociates to ban me from posting anything on their web site.

    17. well, notre dame’s enemies have failed to break up notre dame’s 2008 recruiting class, even with the assistance of people like you and your few friends.

    18. constructive criticism, based on actual facts and knowledge, is always helpful, but better kept in house and not on public websites.

    19.however, none of us have any real experience as football coaches. that is why some people very familiar with football at the college and nfl levels chose to hire charlie and corwin and their staffs

    20. pure vicious and mean negativity based on no facts and no knowledge is always going to hurt notre dame and assist her enemies.

    21. perhaps some prayers will help you and those like you. we certainly hope so, despite your vicious attacks.

    we wish you a speedy recovery from your current vicious negativity( perhaps you are depressed about some things in your personal or business life),

    bob gilleran

  13. oh – I forgot this is the blog where it doesn’t matter that you’ve bee a fan for 34 yrs, had two brother who were graduated from ND, attended too many games to remember, but can’t say anything critical or you’re deemed an “ND enemy”. Lets put this in perspective people – lets remember Reuland, Jones, Carufel, Stewart all the best things since sliced bread according to this an other ND blogs – now that they are gone – ah they weren’t that great afterall. Maybe instead of talking up unproven recruits – you address the apparent failure to develop this talent? Case in point – Sam Young 6-8 315 pounds in his 2nd year and he had how many holding penalties? A guy that big should be Orlando Pacing people into the ground.

  14. One week of practice sharing snaps with 2 other QB’s behind linemen playing schemes they may never have blocked before and throwing to WR’s they have only known a week. DL playing in 4-3 schemes with LB’s and DB’s hampered by blitzing and coverage limitations. These games are what they are. An opportunity to show off athletic ability and skill. The best best player I saw all weekend was QB Pryor but I saw great athletes all over the field. In a game like this some will shine and some will not. Bottom line; all these KIDS have potential to do great things. Let’s see who rises to the top in 4 years.

  15. Crist had more passing yards than any other quarterback in the game. When say you, “if you take away…” you can make anyone’s stats look terrible.

    In a game where you are playing every 3rd series, it’s not exactly easy to get into rhythm, especially when you are throwing to a group of receivers you’ve played with for a week.

    So I will say it again… Crist turned in a FANTASTIC performance.

  16. “Crist missed a couple open receivers, but overall, he turned in a fantastic performance. Crist was 5 of 12 for 113 yards with a 56 yard touchdown to fellow ND commit Michael Floyd.”

    That’s 41.7% completion rate! That’s well… Lets put it this way, if you take away the 1 big TD pass it’s 4/11 (36%) for 57 yards. That’s hardly “fantastic” Crist is a great player and I expect him to help lead the Irish to a BCS championship one day. But I wouldn’t call a mediocre performance “fantastic”.

  17. frank,

    1. congratulations on a fine review of the army all american game. of course, it was just one game played under unusual circumstances.

    2.when you factor in the intelligence, character, and dedication of notre dame’s 2008 commits and the fact that they will all be spending the summer in south bend with rueben mendoza and bonding with their teamates, in addition to taking some real academic courses, we expect that many more of the 2008 commits will be ready to play in 2008 than was evident from the performances at the army all american game.

    3. when you add in the fact that the depth of talent added to the notre dame team by the 2008 commits gives charlie and corwin and their staffs their 1st real opportunity to hold those joe moore type of hard hitting practices well before the 1st game of the 2008 season so that the 2008 notre dame team will be game ready before the 1st game of the 2008 season and for every game during the 2008 and future seasons , as ara’s and lou holtz’s notre dame teams always were.

    4. as for DD and chris, their posts make it obvious that they are notre dame enemies. we already know their real identities and they have every reason to be extremely concerned about the notre dame teams of 2008 and the future and about their economic exposures in the civil courts, based on the posts they have voluntarily posted on your website and on other internet websites.

    we thank you and your associates for your eloquence, inspirations, and positive attitudes,

    bob gilleran

  18. Frankie V, I agree with you. I think “Chris” needs to read a little bit more! What news paper is he following?

  19. Yes, Notre Dame’s #1 ranked recruiting class with 5 five star players (Floyd, Crist, Walker, Johnson, and Rudolph) is littered with “medicore” players.

  20. Sounds like ND made the best haul of another group of mediocre players. The 2008 class of the James Aldridges…..

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