Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Irish Blogger Gathering: The Feels Like 2005 All Over Again Edition

After taking a hiatus for a few weeks (as always, work life intrudes), I am back with this week’s IBG, hosted by OC Domer, a poor man stuck in USC territory. Somehow, in between obsessive weather checks, constant perusing of the internet, and prayers for Michael Floyd’s immediate health and return to the field (I love USC week), I managed to get this thing knocked out. So, without further ado, the questions:

1. The weather forecast for Saturday's game (as of this writing) has the high temperature in the mid 40's with some chance of rain (or snow?). What weather would give Notre Dame the best chance to beat USC? Why?

I was originally tempted to ask for rain, but thanks to my crack detective skills (read: watching Conan O’Brien), I have discovered that it has been raining in Los Angeles. So, even with rain this week in South Bend, a rainy day on Saturday would be a wash in terms of preparation for the weather (haha, get it? A wash? Wow, I really need to stop working so much).

The other obvious answer is snow. But no one is prepared for snow this early in the year (except for maybe North Dakota), so any advantage ND might have on that front at the end of November is not there right now.

So, what I really want is what the weather forecast for Saturday actually is: sunny and very cold (well, very cold for mid-October). Anyone who has lived in a cold climate knows how deceiving a sunny - but cold - day can be if you are not prepared for it. One aspect of this is under-dressing. Sure, it seems like a good idea not to wear something with sleeves under the uniform when you are in the locker room, or even while you make the quick trips between hotel and bus, and bus and locker room, but once you get on the sidelines, waiting while Jimmy makes a long drive down the field, it could be a regretted decision.

2. Irresistable Force or Immovable Object? Notre Dame's offense is ranked #10 in yards (470 per game) and #27 in points (32.6 per game). USC's defense is ranked #6 in yards allowed (238.6 per game) and #4 in scoring allowed (just 8.6 points per game). In 2008 Notre Dame had just 91 total yards against USC. Will the Notre Dame offense be able to move the ball on Saturday? If so, how?

The one thing I don’t worry about with ND is moving the ball. Rudolph and Tate provide two constant and legitimate threats, and I have been steadily gaining confidence in the run game to provide at least some alternative to the passing game. Of course, I would feel about ten times more confident in these statements if Michael Floyd were involved. As was posted by “Brad” in the comments over at Blue-Gray Sky:

I say Floyd miraculously heals overnight, takes the field against Southern Cal, scores on passing plays of 72,65,83,42, and 24, and after the game we find out the whole 'broken collarbone' thing was really just a separated shoulder and was done in anticipation of screwing Southern Cal over! Parties erupt, craziness ensues, insanity reigns, dogs and cats living together.

That’s kind of my inner hope.

Back to reality, though, my one big worry is that the turf toe will be bothering Jimmy, and he won’t be able to make the passes he needs to make, or scramble when USC comes after him. Hopefully, the bye week and the adrenaline of USC week will erase most of the problems here, but it’s still my number one worry.

I still hate the wildcat, though. If you don’t think USC is salivating to take Jimmy out if he lines up at receiver - penalties be damned - then you think much more highly of the Poodle and company than I do.

3. USC's offense is #22 in yards (430.6 per game) and #53 in scoring (28.8 points per game). Notre Dame's defense is #100 in total defense (403.2 yards per game) and #59 in scoring defense (allowing 23.8 points per game). Will the Notre Dame defense be able to slow down the USC offense? If so, how?

Answer two weeks ago: Yes. With magic.

Answer today: Bring some of that energy and skill brought to the Washington goal line stands to the game. Get the crowd fired up while USC is still in the huddle so they can’t hear themselves think, let alone what others are saying. Figure out how to fully execute the blitz. Force turnovers.

And a little magic wouldn’t hurt, either.

4. In 2008, with Michael Floyd unable to play due to injury, Golden Tate had 2 catches against USC for a team-high 15 receiving yards. How do you expect Golden Tate to play against USC this year?

I have many, many hopes for this game. Among these is the hope that Golden Tate plays out of his mind on Saturday. And, it being USC week, I have managed to convince myself that he WILL play out of his mind on Saturday. Do I have any good reason? Not really.

Also, please, Golden? No random dropped passes.

5. Jimmy Clausen has started to get some Heisman buzz. In your opinion, which Notre Dame player is the most deserving of Heisman attention, Jimmy or Golden Tate? Why?

No question in my mind. Jimmy. While I appreciate Golden stepping up big time in the absence of Michael Floyd, he’s still not the person I want to trust when the game is on the line. At the Purdue game, as Jimmy began the last ND drive of the game, I texted a friend, “Brady would do this.” Turns out, Jimmy did it. Repeat at Washington (including the text). On Saturday, if it comes down to that last drive, the person I want to get the ball is not Golden Tate, but whoever Jimmy Clausen decides is the right person to have the ball. (And, even though the person who I was texting will be sitting with me on Saturday, I WILL be texting him the same thing if it comes down to one last drive. Don’t mess with success, even on the level of superstition).

6. Overrated or Underrated. Notre Dame cracked into the AP Poll at #25 this week. Are they overrated or underrated at #25? Where would you put them in your poll?

Underrated. I would have them in the mid- to high-teens, mostly for playing all D-I teams of generally decent abilities.

7. USC Song Girls: Ambassadors of Collegiate Goodwill or Anachronism from a bygone era of oppressive sexist stereotypes?

If you’re looking for the female participant to call the Song Girls an Anachronism from a bygone era of oppressive sexist stereotypes, you’re dealing with the wrong woman. I wish I had the ND version of the song girl outfit. Speaking of, that might not be a bad thing to look into...

8. Green Jerseys? There's a lot of "green" talk coming from campus this week, and it raises the question of whether the team will be wearing green on Saturday. Do you want to see the green jerseys or not? Why?

I love the green jerseys, and if I see them at the beginning of the game, I will not be upset. However, the way I really want them employed is like this: All week long, the coaches drill it into the heads of the players that they have the skills to win this game, they don’t need any help from higher powers, they don’t need to resort to any gimmick-y jerseys. Then, the team comes out, and, if the game is close or the Irish are winning at half, break them out. Even with it drilled into their heads that they don’t need them, a little boost can’t hurt.

Plus, I can imagine that the stadium - especially the students - would go nuts if they came out at half. And keeping the crowd into the game for the second half on a cold day can only boost the Irish.

9. Name the next number in this sequence: -3, -20, -38, -35, _______. Explain

+5. I’m not sure my heart can handle another close game - especially against USC - but I don’t see the Irish beating the Trojans by a large number. I fear that my heart will have to deal with the Cardiac Catholics for at least another week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cheeseburgers Have Been Eaten...

Bring on USC!

(Because lolcats are definitely the way to start out USC week).