Saturday, November 7, 2009

IBG: Gold Helmets As Far As The Eye Can See...

This week, the Irish square off against the Middies and the good folks over at Charlie's Nasties dial up the IBG questions..

1. With all of the recent injuries, what scenario would you rather have? Option A: Dayne Crist out for the season, Trevor Robinson out indefinitely with an ankle sprain and Jimmy Clausen suffering week to week with turf toe OR Option B: All of the above players are 100% and Floyd is out for the year?

Well, obviously, I'd prefer Option C: Everyone's healthy but, if that's off the table, I'll go with A. Certainly, the situation at QB is tenuous right now, but Jimmy has proven himself to be exceptionally resilient and Sharpley is a solid back-up who has started in the past. As for T-Rob, while he's arguably Notre Dame's best offensive lineman, being able to bring in another former starter (Dan Wenger) isn't exactly a terrible option. With Floyd in the line-up, the offense goes from "very good" to "unstoppable."

2. After experiencing our first neutral site game at San Antonio this week, it got me thinking about our upcoming off site game against Navy. What are your thoughts on playing Navy in Ireland in 2012? Should the 7-4-1 model take us abroad?

I remember when Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin in 1996, and I thought it was pretty awesome. I mean, it's one thing for an NFL team to go overseas for a game, but how many college teams could plausibly pull that off? So, yes, I definitely support the going abroad thing. It's a fantastic bit of global marketing and really unique opportunity which ND affords its student-athletes.

3. Navy's unique offense and personnel always seem to test the Irish in some ways that other opponents don't. What position matchup are you most looking forward to this weekend?

I'm actual looking forward to seeing a match-up of two players: Darius Fleming versus Navy FB, Vince Murray. Murray is a beast who's averaging 4.7 ypc and who has only been stopped for loss once this season. Fleming, conversely, has really become a force since the Michigan game and now is eighth nationally with 11.5 tackles for loss. To me, this match-up is the microcosm that will define what type of day it's going to be for ND. If Fleming is getting penetration and stuffing Murray, then the defense is likely playing well and Navy's offense is stalling. If, however, Murray continues apace, it's going to be a long afternoon in South Bend.

4. The Navy football stereotype is generally that the players are undersized and have less star power, but by emphasizing the fundamentals, minimizing mental errors, and playing as a team, they are always able to put up a fight. What position or player on Notre Dame's roster do you think could benefit from approaching games with this attitude?

Harrison Smith. I don't relish calling out ND players, but Smith has been a little, shall we say, 'confused' this season. He's unquestionably got a ton of talent, but it's the mental part of his game that's lacking. I do think that some work cleaning up the mental flubs and focusing on solid fundamentals would go a long way towards making him the type of player we all expect to see out there.

5. Everyone in the country saw that Navy took #6 Ohio State down to the wire in the opening week; how will the Midshipmen fare against the Irish? Predictions please.

You can go ahead and disregard the Ohio State game for two reasons: 1) First games of the season are notoriously bad as a gauge of how good or bad a team is because of how many variables come into play (i.e., who's already gelled as a team vs. who's coming together, who's more excited, who's more focused, etc.), 2) Navy's triple-option was a new wrinkle for the Buckeyes, whereas the Irish see it every year. With that out of the way, I really don't think Saturday's game is going to be all that close. ND's defense has really improved against the run and, if they're able to slow down Navy's rushing attack, the Midshipmen are sunk (annnnnd there's your obligatory naval pun). On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame gets Michael Floyd back in the line-up and he is going to be quite fired up. While Navy has a tough defense, one look at their schedule tells you they have not faced anything close to the caliber of the Irish offense this season. I'm going to with ND, 41 - Navy, 17.

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