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2-a-Days: Notre Dame and Ohio

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame probably made the most noise last season with the signing of Jimmy Claussen. But on the field, Notre Dame got crushed against it's elite opponents, so how will that change now that Brady Quinn is a Cleveland Brown?

THE OFFENSE: It's not really much of a stretch to suggest that Notre Dame has some rebuilding to do. They only get 3 guys back on offense, the most notable loss being Brady Quinn. Not to mention, Darius Walker, Ryan Harris, Rhema McKnight, and Jeff Samardzija are also not in the picture any longer. Evan Sharpley should be the guy early on, but he'll probably get pulled mid-season for Jimmy Claussen (more on that later). Speaking of that Claussen fellow, he was the biggest recruit to come to South Bend in quite some time. He'll find his way onto the field. Travis Thomas will be a decent option at RB, but James Aldridge is a hot prospect if he can stay healthy. He'll also get some playing time. Notre Dame was 72nd in rushing last year and without Walker, I'm not really sure if that will continue.........actually. They have a talented backfield. Anyway, looking at the WRs, David Grimes was a serviceable one in the offense last year and he'll now have to step up and take the leading role. John Carlson is a nice TE and he is just a solid overall player. Sam Young should be much better as a sophomore because his blocking was a bit under par for his first season. He should live up to the hype.

THE DEFENSE: The D only gets 5 guys back. But, the guys that are coming back are pretty good. The pass defense wasn't very reliable against teams that could pass worth a lick, so at least the guys coming back are from the secondary. For starters, Tom Zbikowski at S is back and so is Ambrose Wooden Terrail Lambert at the CB position. Maurice Crum could be the 2nd best player on the defense, he registered 100 tackles. Trevor Laws is a pretty solid transitioning-DE even though the rest of the D-line is pretty shaky at this point. Rick Minter is gone, and now the defense is switching to a 3-4. Will it help? Beats me.


Sept. 1 Georgia Tech
Sept. 8 at Penn State
Sept. 15 at Michigan
Sept. 22 Michigan State
Sept. 29 at Purdue
Oct. 6 at UCLA
Oct. 13 Boston College
Oct. 20 USC
Nov. 3 Navy
Nov. 10 Air Force
Nov. 17 Duke
Nov. 24 at Stanford

The schedule is brutal early on and light down the stretch. Michigan State will be anything but an oasis in the midst of this tough run. They're a rival and they always play Notre Dame pretty hard. Road trips consist of Penn State, Michigan, Purdue, UCLA, and Stanford. The game against USC is on October 20th.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Michigan, USC
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Georgia Tech, @ Penn State, @ Purdue, @ UCLA, Boston College
Good/Probable Shot At It: Michigan State, Navy, Air Force, Duke, @ Stanford

THE OUTLOOK: Notre Dame is definitely going to have a down-year. Even though everybody thinks that Notre Dame is loved by the polls, having back-to-back BCS seasons is a pretty good start to a coach's career with Charlie Weis. But this is not going to be even close to that. The offense should be better at the run, mildly, but the passing game is going to be going down the drain. The defense got nailed by better offenses last year. Notre Dame is going to teeter on the verge of eligibility but I just can't see them upsetting the good teams on this schedule. They'll compete with Purdue and UCLA, but it won't be enough because of the team's youth. Any which way you slice it, Notre Dame is going to have a rough year, but WATCH OUT! 2008 is when it'll come together for a big season and after that, Notre Dame will be, for real, here to stay. And, about Jimmy Claussen, he'll be the starter midway through the year when Notre Dame begins 0-3.

BOWL GAME?: This may come as a shocker, but, no.

Ohio Bobcats

Ohio had a surprising turnaround in Solich's 2nd season. The Bobcats were 7-1 in conference play taking advantage of a weak MAC East. But after that, they got roughed up pretty good against Central Michigan and Southern Miss. Can Solich keep it going?

THE OFFENSE: Ohio's fate will be determined by their QB. Brad Bower is the guy in charge as of the moment, but earlier this spring, there was a fierce competition. Theo Scott and Josh Febus (to a lesser extent) were pushing Bower, but it still looks like he has a hold on the job. Solich probably won't have a long leash because it looks like he might want to see what Scott can do. Bower is probably the best passer of the bunch even though his stats might not indicate it. At RB though, there's a lot of good stuff to say. Kalvin McRae was one of the nation's best RBs and he didn't get a whole lot of attention. Scott Mayle is gone, he was their only plus in the passing game (Ohio was 115th in passing offense).

THE DEFENSE: The defense was the thing that got Ohio to go bowling. They get 6 starters back, but the LBing unit is depleted. Matt Muncy and Tyler Russ are gone, they were key contributors last year. T.J. Wright is also gone in the secondary. Taj Henley is a good player though and he'll certainly be capable of filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle. But forget about all of the losses, the defense (which was 29th ranked overall) should remain to be one of the better MAC defenses out there. DE Jameson Hartke is the best player on this side of the ball. At DT, Landon Cohen should keep being a very good player and in the secondary, Mark Parson is one of the better ones in the MAC. This defense was extremely good at making plays behind the line of scrimmage; they were 11th in TFLs.


Sept. 1 Gardner-Webb
Sept. 8 at Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 15 at Virginia Tech
Sept. 22 Wyoming
Sept. 29 Kent State
Oct. 6 at Buffalo
Oct. 13 Eastern Michigan
Oct. 20 at Toledo
Oct. 27 at Bowling Green
Nov. 2 Temple
Nov. 7 at Akron
Nov. 24 Miami OH

The OOC schedule isn't typical of a smaller school like Ohio. An FCS team, a Sun Belt team, and a decent MWC team. In MAC play, their draw from the MAC West isn't too bad, they only have to play eastern Michigan and Toledo.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Virginia Tech
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Wyoming, @ Toledo
Good/Probable Shot At It: Gardner-Webb, @ ULL, Kent State, Buffalo, EMU, @ BGSU, Temple, @ Akron, Miami OH

THE OUTLOOK: Ohio should be in the thick of things for the MAC East championship. It really is a crapshoot, because Kent State, Miami OH, Bowling Green, Akron, and Ohio figure to be in the race. Ohio lost some key parts on offense and on defense, so don't expect the same dominance that we saw over the course of 2006. There's also an issue at K, Matt Lasher is gone and for a team that rarely blows people out and plays people close, those 3 points often come in handy. Ohio has the schedule to go bowling, but like I always say, those MAC East games are tossups. If they lose 3 times in conference play, they will probably not be in the bowl hunt. And UL Lafayette is going to be dangerous.



Mike said...

I think Notre Dame will have a Florida State-like season this year. Horrible rushing with quarterback questions. Their defense is the only brightspot in my opinion.

Eric said...

I dunno, they look really bad coming into this year. However, with the classes that they've been bringing in (and Jimmy Claussen), Notre Dame will re-emerge into a national power. Just not this year, so you Notre Dame haters, this is your last chance for the next decade or so! lol

Pete Fiutak is doubting their chances, too.

Adam said...

I think ND will be just find. I know they lose a lot but they are loaded with VHT's as Phil Steele likes to say. The reality is they have a good shot at teams like GT, BC, and Purdue which have problems of their own. Maybe Penn State to, which nobody would be that high on had they not won the Outback Bowl.

Eric said...

I think Georgia Tech is going to run over them with Tashard Choice. Purdue will expose their defense because they're offense will be more than capable than just scoring against the also-rans. I think Boston College will be one of the best teams in the ACC next year.

The problem is, they got crushed against elite teams. Wouldn't they, with all of the losses suffered, take another step down and lose, somewhat handily, to the above average teams on the schedule? That's where I'm coming from.

If there's any year for Navy to knock them off, Adam, this is it. They better get their lick in because Notre Dame is going to be a top-notch powerhouse for as long as Charlie Weis is there beginning in 2008.