Archive for the ‘Depth’ Category

The Curious Case of Sergio Brown

March 6, 2009

It’s that time of year. Spring football is right around the corner and the message boards are a buzz with roster movement and depth chart speculation. People can’t help themselves. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and its all we got right now.

I generally try to stay away from printing out any type of depth chart or starter projection-type material. In this era of football, more players are playing due to both sides of the ball using many different formations and packages. So instead of pinpointing 22 guys as “starters”, I have instead pointed to 35-36 players of impact. These are players that will contribute heavily to the team. Sergio Brown is certainly one of those players, but could he be more?

If you ask around the Notre Dame locker room, “Who is the best athlete on the team?” More times than not, Sergio Brown would be the answer, and it has been for the last couple of years.

Last spring, Brown competed against Kyle McCarthy for the strong safety spot that opened up after the departure of 4 year starter Tom Zbikowski. McCarthy won that position battle and it bore fruit after Kyle led the team in tackles in 2008 with 110 and also had 2 interceptions. It was a very solid performance- that also had me yawning. Where were the big plays? Granted, Kyle did make some very big tackles that helped the team. However, it was done so quietly and 10-20 yards past the line of scrimmage, that it looked effortless.

After spring ball, the designated starters at defensive back were pretty much decided. These are the players that fell into the slots:

  • CB- Darrin Walls
  • CB- Terrail Lambert
  • FS- David Bruton
  • SS- Kyle McCarthy
  • Nickel- Raeshon McNeil
  • Dime- Gary Gray

Oh, how things change- and quickly at that. After Walls, the most talented defensive back on the roster, left school for personal reasons it opened up a huge hole. That hole got filled by Raeshon McNeil, but like a submarine taking on water, another hole opened up. The lineup soon looked like this:

  • CB- Raeshon McNeil
  • CB- Terrail Lambert
  • FS- David Bruton
  • SS- Kyle McCarthy
  • Nickel- Sergio Brown
  • Dime- Gary Gray

It didn’t take long for this lineup to get tampered with either. Robert Blanton started kicking down the door from the day he stepped on campus and he soon got a lot of playing time. At first it was Gary Gray rotating in with Lambert and occasionally McNeil. Then, Blanton took over the role that Gray was occupying as the season wore on.

As we roll into spring football for 2009, we see the same type of battles that must take place to decide the participants. With Walls back, and the emergence of Robert Blanton the lineup will definitely be shook up- but is it the right shake up. Enter Sergio Brown.

After playing on special teams in his first two seasons and racking up a colossal 11 tackles, Brown stepped onto the stage in a huge way for the Irish at the Nickel position from game one last year. He was an effective blitzer and terrific in coverage. He showed great athleticism and playmaking ability and in my opinion- he proved himself to be able to contend for the SS spot once again. He deserves it, and keep in mind that this is his last year of eligibility. (That last part sucks balls).

I just feel that Brown brings more to the table than McCarthy. I like Kyle, but I also like safeties that make big plays. I’m not sure if Kyle can do it or can’t do it, but I am sure that Sergio has more of the tools needed to make those big plays.

In today’s game, we see more and more defenses having to move towards using the nickel package as somewhat of a base defense against spread teams. Spread teams are multiplying. So, the nickel is just as important as the SS for the most part. My ideal setup for the defensive backs in a nickel formation looks like this:

  • CB- Darrin Walls
  • CB- Raeshon McNeil
  • FS- Harrison Smith
  • SS- Sergio Brown
  • Nickel- Robert Blanton

We can argue about the Blanton/McNeil battle at a later time. By now, the McCarthy brothers and fan club are ready to tear my ass apart, but we have to be honest with ourselves. You could at least pencil Kyle in as the Dime- but I keep hearing that the staff is very high on Jamoris Slaughter too. Uh, oh…

By now, if you’re still reading this, you are probably wondering if I am moving towards some type of point or closing argument. Perhaps. But I think I have made it clear already. Sergio Brown is an exciting and athletic player and in my opinion- he should be starting at the SS spot. This puts our defensive backfield in better situations to make the big play. McCarthy led the team in tackles last year with 110, so I can understand that some people may be hesitant to accept this fact, but we should. A safety shouldn’t be making that many tackles anyways.

This is the “Curious Case of Sergio Brown,” but in essence it is also the ” Curious Case of the Secondary.” What do we do with what is the most talented defensive backfield the Irish have had in a very long time? In my opinion, we go with the playmakers and let them make plays, and somehow that all revolves around Mr. Brown.

Stats For Kids

November 25, 2008

I saw a list of stats on an Irish message board from a poster with the handle: Norm91. He was trying to show how young this team really is this year. So I took it and turned it into a spreadsheet using my minimal spreadsheet skills. For your enjoyment:

Doesn’t The Word "Depth", Imply Deep?

January 19, 2008

With the departure of Pat Kuntz this spring, and the future of Darrell Hand a question mark (Hand has been linked to rumors about heart problems that may end his football career) where do the Irish go to find its defensive lineman?

For argument sake, let’s take Hand out of the equation even though nothing has been officially announced. This leaves the Irish with only 6 scholarship players on the defensive line for the Spring game. That includes early enrollee Freshman, Sean Cwynar. Including Sean are: DE Paddy Mullen (JR), DE Justin Brown (5SR), NT Ian Williams (SO), DE Kallen Wade (JR), and offensive line covert DT Emeka Nwankwo (SO). Of these players, only Ian Williams and Justin Brown have started for the Irish and those were due to an injury pushing them into the lineup. Not very deep, is it? For the past few years, Notre Dame has had to use a rotation system with the offensive lineman and play them for both the Blue and Gold teams. It looks like this year, the defensive line might have to play the Iron man role. This does not look good for a defense looking to improve during the second year of Corwin Browns system.

There is hope on the way however. Come summer and fall, the Irish D-Line will be infused with more talent and youth. 3 more players will be suiting up and will be looking for significant playing time due to the lack of depth…and their own talent. DE Ethan Johnson, NT Brandon Newman, and DT Hafis Williams will be ready to go and might have that impact that Freshman All-American Ian Williams had last year. Plus, Kuntz might be able to return to ND as soon as this summer. That is starting to look a lot better. The Irish are still hammering away at possible commitments from two other D-Line prospects for the freshman class with signing day only 17 days away. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore is on campus right now, and DT Mike Martin will be visiting the Irish next weekend. Both are rated as 4 stars and could be impact recruits. The Irish already have their best D-line haul in almost two decades and it could be significantly better if one OR both commit to the Irish. We will have to wait and see.

Any way you look at the situation, the Irish should be in a lot better shape come Summer. In the meantime, watch the progression of the players at the Spring game. Hopefully, they will all improve and help create a real solution to a terrible problem. Doesn’t the word “depth” imply deep? Not quite yet, but soon.

Where’s Ted Nugent? It’s A Free-For-All…Fleming & Fauria Commit

April 22, 2007

This is getting out of control. Notre Dame received their 9th and 10th oral commitments for the incoming 2008 class. YO! I just got home from the Blue-Gold Game… now I got all this typing to do. If Charlie doesn’t stop this crap, I may end up with carpel-tunnel (spelling?who cares).

I will have all my Blue-Gold Game stuff up soon, but first let me introduce you to the boys.
Darius Fleming. DE/OLB. This is what we ,as Irish fans, have been craving for a long time. A PREMIER linebacker. A CHICAGO product. And Mike Frank’s favorite slang, DEPTH. After weeks of speculating, Darius made it official after speaking with coach Weis this morning before the BG game. Fleming becomes commit #9 and the 3rd linebacker. 3rd linebacker. This Corwin Brown is the real deal. Many have said that ND will take 4-5 (and maybe a 6th) linebackers this class. The spots are disappearing fast and ND has their eyes set on Arthur Brown and Steve Filer. If they land these two, pray for our opponents…seriously pray for them.
Joseph Fauria. TE. Welcome to Tight End U. AGAIN! Notre Dame received its 10th verbal commit for 2008, and its 3rd from California. 3rd from California. ND is becoming THE place to be for TEs and QBs (DEPTH, DEPTH,DEPTH)… like it should be. Joseph plays in the same league as current ND commits Anthony McDonald and Dayne Crist. Someone call Tony and Joe and tell them not to kill each other before they get to ND! Joseph is also the nephew of former Patriot tight end Christian Fauria. But don’t think that just because he played for Weis that he pushed him towards ND. He was pulling for Colorado (Alma Mata) this whole time. Looks like the brains in the family are in the younger generation.
Congratulations, and welcome to the Notre Dame Family Joseph and Darius!