Archive for the ‘Position Battles’ Category

What Do We Know? Part 1

August 15, 2007


After the first week of practice (and a few days), they are still many questions surrounding this team. I’m not sure when the answers will come, other than to say ‘ We’ll see on September 1st. Here is a rundown of things we do know, along with a few maybes. What’s a blog good for if we can’t speculate?

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

This is the easiest, we don’t know. We may think we know, or we think we might know because someones brother’s nephew’s cousin’s neighbor’s kid lives next door to someone who says they know a kid on campus and he thinks that so-and-so is the starter because this student overheard a confession of Darrin Bragg’s and said he walked out smiling. Internet rumors are stupid as they are rampant. The media certainly doesn’t help matters by throwing ANYTHING against the wall until something sticks. (Someone will tell you they told you so sometime after kickoff against Georgia Tech. Weis has said that he won’t release the name until then, so I think we should just take his word and chill. With that said however, whoever the starter turns out to be, Demetrius Jones should, and will, see significant time under center. He has displayed too much talent, savvy, and leadership skills not to. Whether he is the starter or a redzone guy or whatever…#3 will play.

Running Backs

There is now a stable of horses in the backfield for the first time since the mid to late nineties. 5 of them to be exact, and ALL have something to bring to the table. The starter will be Travis Thomas and should see most of the carries. He is a captain and has a good mix of power and speed along with a toughness that cannot be coached. (Justin King just wet himself). If it wasn’t for our need at linebacker last year, Thomas would have seen a large amount of carries. Weis had to run what was basically a 3rd down offense for most of the game because of Walkers limitations as a finesse runner. That will be a huge advantage for the Irish this year as opposed to last year. Behind Thomas is James Aldridge. JA has a load of talent and is the same type of runner as Thomas. This will be very important to the Irish as fresh legs are most explosive. ND doesn’t have to change its playcalling with JA in when Thomas takes a breather. He (Aldridge) will see a lot of carries… just less than Thomas. Junior Jabbie is a personal favorite of mine since he committed to the Irish. I love the name and the H.S.- Junnior Jabbie from The Hun School. That’s badass. Jabbie impressed Weis in spring practice, BEFORE, the Blue-Gold game. Charlie kept saying it, and then we all saw it. Whether or not this translates into this season at all is still a question mark, but he is involved with the competition for playing time which translates into a better unit overall. That leaves the 2 frosh. Armando Allen and Robert Hughes. I have no doubt that Allen will see significant P.T. on special teams and running the ball because of his speed and quickness. Weis loves him and we NEED that homerun threat in the backfield. Hughes will really have to surge on the depth chart, I believe, to see much playing time if any. He may be a “redshirt” before it is all said and done barring any injuries to the other 4. He did make it a point during recruiting that he wanted to play right away and Weis may have promised this, and Weis is a man of his word. We are stacked with talent and should see a lot of production from this unit. Leading the way for these guys will be Asaph Schwaap. Schwaap is a beast who should be laying out any and all who stand in front of him and his runner. Luke Schmidt will see some action as well at FB after a good spring showing and is probably the best runner of the two.

Offensive Line

Already this camp, we are starting to see what should be the starters emerge. As of right now the starters consist of: LT-Paul Duncan, LG-Mike Turkovich, C-John Sullivan, RG-Dan Wenger, RT-Sam Young. This will be a very physical line and as the line goes, so will our running and passing game. We will probably see some action from others such as Matt Carufel, Eric Olsen and Matt Romine. Should something happen to Sullivan (God forbid) Wenger will slide over to Center and either Olsen or Carufel will take over the guard spot. John Latina wants a unit that is versatile and interchangeable, and finally with depth we may have that. Chris Stewart returns to OL after a spring stint at NT, but he has some catching up to do despite having, by all accounts, all the physical tools to make an impact. This unit may surprise a lot of “national” media outlets. On paper they have a small amount of total playing time, but will make up for it with a nastiness that was lacking from last years unit.

Wide Receivers

Yet another huge question mark for the Irish is “Who’s catching them?” Only David Grimes has really cemented himself in at WR. I think we will see a large rotation of players. The freshman, Duval Kamara, is a physical presence. He will see the field a lot this season. No one else on the depth chart has his size and abilities all wrapped into one sweet package. George West has made huge strides this offseason and should be the number 2 guy… as of right now. D.J. Hord has really been impressing the staff and media with his practice play. If he can translate that onto the field for gameday, we may have finally found our speedy deep threat. Robby Parris is also in the mix. This could be a blessing in disguise, since defenses will be unable to lock down on who the #1 target might be. That’s 5 guys listed, and don’t forget about Golden Tate and Barry Gallup who both have great speed and could really mix things up. This unit is severely lacking experience and that may hurt us right away. However, they will improve and could become very deadly with the variety that they offer. Seriously, watch out for Kamara. He could be our answer to USC’s Mike Williams from a few years ago.

Tomorrow, I will have the defensive units for you.

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3’s Company

May 30, 2007

There is an odd man out for the starting quarterback position at Notre Dame. And that guy is Zach Frazer.

Irish fans were expecting a twosome to contend for the starting job this fall, as was told to us by Coach Weis, but the tricky Chuck named three potential gunslingers yesterday per a press release.

Zach was the first quarterback recruited by Weis and a 4 star prospect according to Scout.com. There has been a lot of speculation on Zach’s future in the last few weeks and his father let it be known that Zach did not want to transfer. Now there is an article out that may prove otherwise…

Frazer’s future at Notre Dame appears in doubt
By
Eric Thomas, May 31, 2007
Last updated: Thursday, May 31, 2007 1:53 AM EDT
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Mechanicsburg alum Zach Frazer has been loyal to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, but if a statement released by head coach Charlie Weis on Wednesday afternoon is any indication, then Frazer’s Irish eyes may no longer be smiling.Weis released a statement through the media relations department at Notre Dame stating that the quarterback competition is open into the fall, and only three quarterbacks are gunning for the top spot.Frazer is not one of them.”After concluding spring ball evaluations, Evan Sharpley, Demetrius Jones and Jimmy Clausen remain as the main contenders,” Weis said. “Each of these three men brought something unique to the quarterback competition. Evan ran the operation the best, Jimmy threw the best ball, and Demetrius made the most plays. For these reasons, they will compete for playing time.”And so the dream of running out of the tunnel in front of “Touchdown Jesus” as the top dog on the South Bend campus could come to a screeching halt for Frazer.


His father, David, hinted that a transfer could happen if Zach does not gain any opportunities in South Bend.”If the opportunity is out there and they (other schools) come calling, he wants to play,” David Frazer said. “He’s a kid that wants to play. He’s not going to run the scout team or do mop-up duty, he wants to play.”Zach Frazer, home on break from school, is unavailable to the media per university rules. He received a phone call from Weis Wednesday afternoon and was informed of the decision with his parents by his side.”We were with him when Coach Weis called,” said David Frazer. “Coach Weis called at about 1:30 p.m. and informed him that he did not see Zach having any opportunities to be the No. 1 quarterback at Notre Dame (this season.)”
Frazer was the only one of the four quarterbacks who did not complete a pass in the annual Blue-Gold game earlier this spring, but got the starting nod for the game based on a coin flip with the coaching staff.”At this point he’s a little disappointed,” said David Frazer. “He’s worked very hard in the last year and a half and he’s been extremely loyal to Notre Dame. He loves the university.”Frazer’s name has been tossed around as a possible transfer since the Irish recruited Jones and Clausen. For the upcoming season, the Irish landed four-star prospect Dayne Crist from Sherman Oaks, Calif.Frazer, who did not see time a season ago, has four years of eligibility remaining. Should he transfer to another Division I school, he would be required to sit out a season, but would still have three years left. A transfer before the fall, to a Division II or III school, means he could play all four years.”If he could fulfill his desire to be a starting quarterback at a Division I university, he might look at that,” David Frazer said.”We owe a lot to Charlie Weis. He is a phenomenal coach. The coaches are putting together an offense that will match the talent on the team. The style of play of Zach as a quarterback might not match the other players or the scheme the coaches need to develop the offense that’s there.”Frazer chose the Irish back on April 14, 2005, over Penn State, Duke, Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville and Georgia Tech. Schools such as West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and other southern-based schools that showed some interest during Frazer’s recruitment may all be interested if he indeed does seek a transfer from Notre Dame.Should he decide to leave the Irish, any school that would be willing to accept his transfer must go through the Mechanicsburg coaching staff. Wildcats assistant coach Tony Rivito would act as the go-between according to David Frazer. Schools may not have direct contact to Frazer since he is under scholarship with the Irish and may not have contact until he is released from that scholarship.Frazer was named the Class AAA Associated Press Player of the Year after his junior season in which he threw for 3,674 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Spring Fling Notes…And A Coronation Of Sorts

April 25, 2007

The Blue-Gold Game has been over for approximately 4 days and I can now finally sit down and enlighten you all of what has happened and what shall be. Please keep in mind that I speak on behalf of the ENTIRE Notre Dame Subway Alumni Association. (I am the self-appointed Emperor…voting is for wussies).

This is a bulleted breakdown of the weekend.

  • The Shirt unveiling was a joke. I think it was poorly organized and the line was exhausting. Clearly a better way to sell these things, is a topic that should be discussed at the committee meetings. If you were there, you know what I mean… if you were not there, don’t be at the event next year. I will update you in the future if it is safe. I do like the color. I think the slogans are cheesy. I will wear it at all the home games. Please simplify it for next year.
  • Before I go into any info on the game and players, I have another complaint about ND and poor organization. I almost died of dehydration. When one is expecting between 40.000 and 55,000 guests it seems that common sense would rule that beverages should be plentiful. Especially as warm as it was. No water bottle stations? Have they gone mad? I stood in line for 20 minutes prior to the game, and during the entire halftime. I NEVER GOT SERVED. Why I followed rules and didn’t bring anything in, is beyond me. But hey “Super, Smart, Elite University” Think the details out a little for next year.
  • Quarterbacks. A lot of my fellow spectators in my section were confused and quite honestly upset, that the passing game was almost non-existent. I knew better. Weis already has a good idea who is top 2 QBs are and didn’t need an aerial dogfight to help him out. Who those 2 are is antibody’s guess (and everyone is). Clausen is one of them I am certain, flip a coin for the other. I will say that I was impressed by all the QBs, and a little disappointed in all as well. I don’t think we can take anything out of this game, and why should we. Chris Olsen was once the MVP here.
  • Running Backs. We’ve got a lot of them. One in particular was very impressive. Junior Jabbie. Weis has been talking about this kid all spring, and we finally saw what he was dishing. He cuts very well and showed good vision and a nice burst through the line. I have had a man-crush on this kid since he committed in HS. The name alone is great “Junior Jabbie from The Hun School in New Jersey”. The other backs were equally impressive in their own ways. Travis Thomas is going to have a very good year. He plays with fire and guts and runs as hard as an escaped convict.He seems to have improved on his lateral movement as well. James Aldridge is going to be a huge factor for the Irish this year. James is showing signs of why he was a 5 star recruit. His legs are back and power and shiftiness go hand in hand with him. Armando Allen looks fast and is a slick runner. Let’s hope we can find ways to get him in some open field.
  • Wide Receivers. I am not going to even start on this subject. I don’t have the heart. I will say that no routes went longer than 15 yards, so the jury is still defiantly out on this position.
  • Tight Ends. Ask Lou Holtz.
  • Offensive Line. They looked very good at times and poor at others. Pass blocking is a concern, but that is defiantly a technique issue. The run blocking looked very good. They play very physically. Sully got injured and will be fine. I like this group for the most part, but depth is an issue. Weis needs to keep these guys mean and what’s the word…NASTY. Jeff Faine style.
  • Defensive Line. The word of the day is going to be aggressive. They looked like a bunch of crazies. Laws is an animal and Pat Kuntz surprised me with his physical play. I would not be put back at all this season with a healthy rotation of players during the games. Chris Stewart is as big as Asia and could be huge, if he revs up his motor every play.
  • Linebackers. Toryan Smith is going to be a legend… I can feel it. He is the biggest bad ass out there. (That includes#9). They all played pretty well. I am not sure if I am sold on John Ryan, but this is a 3-4 personnel defense, not a true 3-4. Some people were impressed with Vernaglia, but he has fooled me before. I think the starting 4 will be a mystery until the end of August.
  • Secondary. What’s the word again?…AGGRESSIVE. They looked a lot faster. Why? Probably because they are playing in a system where they know what the hell they are doing. They all flew around to the ball very well. Bruton of course was a key guy to watch and he didn’t disappoint. ALL of the DBs looked very good and should be a strong force this year. Here’s to a pass rush, huh fellas!
  • Kickers. I see lots of practice showdowns in the future. We need a solid leg this year. Not sure if it’s on campus just yet.

Well that’s my little take on it. I need to go. Weis is blowing up my cell…everyone needs a little help. If you need more on the game, go to Blue-Gray Sky. They got a rundown of good stuff along with a very nice slide show.

Stay tuned for more coverage of ND Football this whole off-season.

Subway Domer…The Last Emperor.