Archive for the ‘Next Season…’ Category

Saving The Program

October 25, 2007

So it has come to this. A 1-7 season with 4 games remaining. Certainly this is not the start most Irish fans had envisioned for this year. Even for those who were that pessimistic, I’m sure they wouldn’t of imagined that our offense would be on the brink of being labeled as the worst in 9 years at the division 1-A (I refuse to name it by its new title) level. Saving the season has been an anthem for the last 3-4 weeks, but that has been snuffed out by the likes of Purdue, USC, and Boston College. Saving the season would have meant a berth in a bowl game. Any bowl game would have sufficed, but now that is a distant memory less than a week after its final blow handed by the Trojans. What is the battle cry now? Easy. Save the program.

So now you’re thinking this may be a little melodramatic. And on the surface it may very well be, but at the root of the matter it is very much the reality. Notre Dame is a program that has lasted over a century. It has survived its share of bad seasons and its share of glory. The future of the program lies in what Charlie Weis and his players can accomplish in the next 4 games, on national signing day, spring ball, and in fall camp. Let me explain…

Over the next four games the Irish will be facing opponents that very well may be favored over Notre Dame, but are definitely beatable and could be handled in impressive fashion. The bye week could not of been in a better spot for the Irish this year. Navy runs a triple option and the extra time it takes to relearn how to defend this attack will be much needed. The Navy defense is horrible and if the offensive line can get going against the smallest defensive front the Irish have seen this year, they should FINALLY be able to move the ball up and down the field on the Midshipmen. Although the Irish have struggled this year defending the run, I believe with the proper coaching from Corwin Brown on defending against the option, ND can slow down the Middies and walk out he victors. So they beat Navy, now on to Air Force at home. Air Force is having a decent season and is already bowl eligible. ND has had problems in the past with mobile QB’s and Carney put up very good numbers last year versus ND. They are however a lot like Navy talent wise and if ND is physical enough, they could handle AFA with pounding the ball and playing stout defense. Duke is the final home game of the year and again, they will not have as much talent on the field as the Irish and depending upon the progress of the last two games, should win. Then comes Stanford. The Cardinal could be in a position to be bowl eligible with a win over the Irish. This sounds very familiar to 2005 when they needed a victory to go bowling and nearly got it, if it weren’t for a last minute drive by Quinn and Walker to put ND ahead for good. This is the team that beat USC so a win over ND would not come as a surprise to many. To put itself in good position in the off season ND must win at least 3 of these games. Four would be ideal and would give the program a head of steam going into spring ball. Also, if Weis has a worse season record than Ty did in 2003, it will make it quite uncomfortable for all involved.

National Signing Day. Right now the Irish have the #1 class for 2008 according to all major recruiting services. Not only have they landed top talent, but have filled huge needs at linebacker and on the defensive line. But as we saw last year, things can change quickly. To ensure that momentum from the four game winning streak, ND must keep all of its current verbals intact and pick up a few more, most notably guys such as Trevor Robinson, Ken Page, and Gerrell Robinson. This class has the potential to be the best (if it isn’t already) since Lou Holtz coached ND. Finish strong.

Spring Ball. No bowl game means a loss of practice time for a young team that desperately needs more. Spring practice becomes even more important next year as ND HAS to find its identity on both sides of the ball. This means that the Irish have to establish a clear depth chart for ALL of its positions and of course come out healthy. Weis has eluded to having a more physical spring that would also include the QBs being live game. Feast or famine. One thing is clear, constant improvement for the young players as ND will still be in need of them to step up and contribute meaningfully.

Fall camp. With what should be an established depth chart from the spring, this needs to be the time to let the players mold themselves into cohesive units with leadership emerging from its captains as well as its other starters. Compete ion every day for their spot and physical practices should help ND get prepared for the season to come. Staying healthy with full contact is a risk , but it can be very rewarding in the end.

Put all of these things together and ND should have a successful season next year. I’m not saying BCS bound, but going to a bowl game and WINNING, will set this program off into overdrive in 2009 and beyond. That’s saving the program. The program of Charlie Weis. If he fails, who will come and save it? Trust these words: more than likely, NO ONE. Remember all of those that spurned the job before Weis’ hire. He can save the program and is still trying to do so with a team that had issues still from Willingham. Should Notre Dame fall on its face for the rest of this year and put up another dismal year, we could be seeing a LONG trek back to the top despite having good talent. I feel that ND can and will continue to improve and make its way back to elite status, I have to believe it.

Originally Posted On Notre Dame Fans of New England Newsletter by Subway Domer.