The Mouth responds to this week's IBG, which is brought to us courtesy of the ever-entertaining Subway Domer. Check out the Subway Response if you dare.
1. So, uh, the defense has looked pretty good. Give me a stat that most exemplifies what this defense is all about. Are we really as good as we think, or are we inflating the results?
Run defense. We have been publicly pantsing opposing offenses by just completely shutting down their run games. The stats speak volumes. Keith Arnold laid it out really nicely, so I won't reinvent the wheel, but I will take the numbers a step further. We have held our opponents, on average, to 36.5% of their average rushing yards.
South Florida rushed for only 47.9% of their season average. Ok, well all they wanted to do was run the clock out, since we spotted them 16 points, so we could just tee off on the run, right? No, that's a tough and diverse rushing attack that features a mobile quarterback, but let's assume arguendo that South Florida was a fluke. The next week we held Michigan to 32.7% of its season average. Well, they were trying to force Denard Robinson to be what he's not-a pocket passer, right? So assume that UM was a fluke too. We then held State to 16% of their season rushing average. That's a one followed by a six. Not 60, but 16. You read that correctly. And that 16% represented only 29 rushing yards. We held the ever-physical, always run-oriented Spartans to 29 yards rushing. "This is NOT Sparta!" I wonder if Te'o said that after every play. I would have.
Does this look like a mean beaten by the run?
Against Pitt the Irish defense had a bad week-yes, they let Pitt run roughshod for a whopping 53.5% of their season average. Ouch, right? Wrong. We made Pitt look like the pits. Brief aside-the universe really ceases to make sense when you beat a team (Pitt), then they beat a team (USF) that beat you. Shouldn't this case a rift in the space-time continuum? I digress. The Irish D returned to form against Purdue, holding the train people to 32.5% of their season average rushing yards. Ladies and germs, I'll posit that holding our opponents to 50% or even 75% or even 90% of their season average would be good to great. But 36.5%? The horror (for opposing offensive coordinators)....
These statistics and those from the latter half of last season give us pretty overwhelming proof that this staff and team have decided that they will not let anyone run on us. They have made run defense their business, and business is good. This sounds eerily like getting so good at something that you can do it without thinking. Seems like I heard somewhere that that was a good thing. Yes, I'm certain of it now, unconscious competence is definitely a good thing.
2. What concerns you the most about Air Force? How will ND be able to ease your fear?
If this were 5 years ago, my answer would be "nothing." Before 2007, we'd had trouble with the academies a few times, but we hadn't actually lost to one in a while. Then we lose to Navy, then Air Force, then Navy, then Navy again. Enough already. This team is better than any other team of the past ten years. They will refuse to be defeated by Air Force or Navy.
3. You're the long snapper. You get into a bit of a fracas on the field and break your hand... just how dumb are you feeling right now?
I'm not feeling too good, but 18-23 year-old kids make mistakes. Senior Ethan Johnson committed a bone-headed personal foul against South Florida. Aaron Lynch did the same against Purdue. The players will get frustrated and do stupid things. It just needs to happen less frequently. I did much stupider things than poor Jordan Cowart when I was 19, only I wasn't on national television. I'm really surprised that you don't see more punches thrown on the field, because I'm more accustomed to a sport where it's legal to exchange punches with your opponent. Long story short, I like the tenacity, don't like the lack of restraint, and am critical of the long-snapping.
4. FYI: Tommy Rees will have 2 more years of eligibility after this year. How is Notre Dame's QB situation going to shake out over the next couple of years?
Smarter people than I-Mike Frank in Power Hour, I think-have said that the depth chart made a lot more sense with Crist the starter. Crist starts for two years, Rees is a career backup, Hendrix can provide some spark in the running game ala Tebow '06, Golson redshirts, and leads us to national championships in '13, '14, and '15. Now, Rees is really complicating things. He may be the guy in '12 and '13, which is great if he keeps developing, but does his lack of mobility keep this staff from doing everything they want to do offensively? We'll see, but Tony Pike ran very little for Cincy, so I think Rees can be a very productive quarterback if continues to improve. He may not even need to be very productive if our running game and defense also continue to improve.
5. Subway Domer has always championed a "People's Champion" if you will. This year, however, I just couldn't make the call before the season began. We dig great hair, tattoos, and at least some playing time. Who would you name as the Subway Domer People's Champ? Keep in mind, at no point in time were guys like Te'o or Floyd eligible and that should help guide you.
Before answering the question, I need to give The Subway Domer kudos for figuring out an ingenious Trojan Horse strategy for getting all of the other ND blogs to give him free advertising. Nicely played, sir.
As for the People's Champion, The Rock is my all-time favourite. On this year's Irish squad, however, it's gotta be Zach Martin. He sports a 70's-era coif and moustache typical of trailer parks and seedy professions. Both of these features contrast almost laughably with his baby face. Add to his appearance the fact that he is absolutely mauling opposing defenders, and he is the clear choice. It can't feel too good to get pancaked by this moustachioed, baby-faced behemoth. Must be kind of like getting taken to the hole by The Artist. GAME. Staches.
6. OK, talk to me about Saturday. Give me:
•a. 2 reasons we lose:
1. The teams switch uniforms-a ridiculous theory, I know, because we'd never fit into theirs, and they'd look like hilarious football versions of Snow White's Seven Dwarves swimming around in our unis. 2. A drunken Air Force Colonel tries to deploy his airmen to quell a conflict known as the Red River Rivalry. He mistakenly issues the order to the wrong team, but the Fighting Irish comply out of respect for the armed forces. Air Force wins by forfeit.
•b. 2 reasons we win:
1. We're Notre Dame. 2. They're Air Force.
•c. Any prediction you might have for the game.
It's time we cut out the ballyhoo, the tomfoolery, if you will, what have you. This weekend we stop treating the academies with kid gloves. Notre Dame wins, a lot to a little.
7. I love hardware. There is no hardware on sale this week... bummer. Give me your thoughts on Notre Dame's "rivalry trophy" situation, and would you change anything about it?
The trophies we exchange with our rivals have become little more than memorials to the histories of our rivalries. I doubt Brian Kelly uses the Megaphone to motivate the team to beat State. What do 18-23 year olds care about a shillelagh? What is a shillelagh? This is a serious question. Is it for walking or fighting, or both? It's not like Minnesota v. Wisconsin, where (a) the trophy is an actual extra-large axe, and (b) the players actually hoist the axe on high to much jubilation after the game. I don't think the players actually even touch the trophies. The trophies are nice memorials of the shared history of our rivalries. They don't hurt anything, so we may as well keep them around. It's just that they have little relevance for the teams, coaches, or fans.
BONUS: If the 4 Notre Dame scholarship quarterbacks could be quantified as a present or former country in the world; who they be?
Dayne Crist - U.S.A. Past his prime, hobbled by crippling injuries (debt crises), but still in a better position to compete than are a lot of other people, we hope.
Tommy Rees - U.S.A.: Has made some stupid mistakes, but is hopefully learning from them, and has a lot of potential because he's smart, works hard, and won't be denied.
Andrew Hendrix - U.S.A.: Big, strong, agile, able to project strength downfield by air or land.
Everett Golson - U.S.A.: Despite lacking ideal size (trade deficit), has a lot of upside (is still the world's largest economy/best passer), and is certain to emerge as a major player, though we're not exactly sure when.