1. My season preview included music video footage for each position group. What song or video do you feel typifies this year's Notre Dame team heading into the season? Embed a youtube or other similar video if possible.
Irish band? Check. Rocking song? Check. Sweeping anthem with themes of drinking, fighting, friendship and return? Checks across the board. This one was a no-brainer.
2. Post a picture that to you portrays the attitude of this year's team and discuss.
Poor grammar aside, I hope this pretty much encapsulates what the Irish will be thinking each time they show up to play.
3. What do you perceive as the team's biggest weakness heading into the season?
Lack of testicular fortitude (see above). This team really needs to develop some nasty. Too often it has seemed that, rather than chomping at the bit to absolutely destroy their opponents, the Irish would prefer to curl up with a Snuggie and a warm glass of milk. Go back and watch tapes of Holtz's teams, particularly the '88 and '89 squads. They were very talented, but they were also enthusiastic about kicking the other team's ass. In watching those teams play, you'll see that, with some regularity, the Irish were flagged with some type of late hit, roughing the passer, etc (watch the Miami and Fiesta Bowl games from the '88 season). While I'm obviously not advocating penalties, those types are indicative of a team playing with passion and intensity, rather than the passiveness we've seen for most of the Weis era. So, yeah, I'd rather an Irish defender be so fired up he drills someone out of bounds, than have him engage in the kind of weakass, Kennedy Compound two-hand touch that has come to epitomize the team. Hopefully, this season, ND puts the Snuggie away and breaks out the hammer.
4. With the exception of the 1990s, Notre Dame has won a National Championship in every decade since the 1920s. What are the chances (a) that Notre Dame wins a championship this year, and (b) if not this year, when do you predict the next championship for the Irish?
Wow, is this a tough question. First off, while some sort of unexpected, 1988-esque national championship could take place this year, I think it's pretty doubtful. While the talent has improved tremendously, we still don't have nearly the depth of talent as places like USC and Florida. Secondly, let's face it, Notre Dame was pretty erratic in 2008 (please see losses to UNC, Pitt and Syracuse and narrow wins over Navy and Stanford). I would be very surprised if, during the offseason, the Irish developed the type of consistency necessary to win a championship. I'd be thrilled to death if it happened, but I just don't think it occurs in 2009. So, when will it happen? With a nice nucleus of talent slated to come back and, what will likely be, another deep and talented recruiting class coming on board, 2010's a very real possibility. If not next year, I think in the next 3-5 (assuming recruiting trends continue), the long championship-less drought will come to an end.
5. Nevada runs the Pistol offense, Navy the Triple Option, and Michigan the Spread Option. Which offensive scheme do you think is the most difficult to prepare for, and why?
The Pistol - Simply because ND's never seen it live. The Irish play against the triple option every year and have faced the spread with Michigan as recently as a season ago. On the other hand, with The Pistol, they only have tape of porous WAC defenses trying to stop it in order to go on. More importantly, Nevada's players are more talented than Navy's and more experienced in their system than Michigan's. This is going to be a tall order for the Irish 'D'.
6. Is Colin Capaernick the best quarterback we'll see this year? If not, who is?
With apologies to Colin "The Quarterbeast" Capaernick (Nickname courtesy of Brawling Hibernian Industries, all rights reserved), I am going with Matt Barkley of USC. Being inexperienced and being untalented are two completely different things and, I don't think anyone can doubt Barkley's talent. Consider that he just won the honor of leading one of the best teams in the country by beating out two other highly-recruited quarterbacks (Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain) as a freakin' incoming freshman! Sure, he could suck, but I doubt it. For one thing, Pete Carroll is too good a coach to take a flyer on someone he perceives to be a question mark. For another, the talent surrounding him is enough to give him the confidence he needs to grow into the position.
7. Prediction time. We have to get on the record before the season kicks off. Give me:
(1) Overall prediction for wins/losses.
(2) Projected bowl game and result.
A non-national championship, BCS game that the Irish manage to win.
(3) Predicted final ranking.
(4) Best player on the team.
(5) Heisman trophy winner.
Tim Tebow...because sportswriters relate to him the way he relates to Jesus.
(6) National Champion.
Florida - in spite of managing to lose at least two regular season games, they'll win their conference championship and the familiar refrain of "The SEC is sooooooo hard" will be enough to get them into the title game.
(7) Prediction for Nevada game, including score.
Irish win a nail-biter, 38-31.