This week we here at One Foot Down wish to treat our readers to a new weekly segment entitled "Five Wide Fullbacks," wherein we break down the week's events, roundtable style. You may have noticed that the title of said roundtable will be "Five Wide Fullbacks." This is a shameless attempt to pander to all constituencies--the Crusty, Curmudgeonly Harumphing-Harumphers who howl "Harumph, Fullbacks," as well as the Snott-Nosed, Entitled, Free-Loving Hippy Spreadophiles, because hey, it's Five Wide, but also Five Fullbacks. "Five Wide Fullbacks." And because we'll cover 5 ND-football-related topics, college-football related topics, or just plain topics. Get it? Name recognition. Now you'll never forget it. And everyone loves it when you try to please everyone, right? That never goes wrong... without further adieu, I give you this week's.... Well, you know the name by now.
1. In the 4 losses, turnovers played a huge role in the Irish loss. What do you see as the second biggest contributor?
Offensive diversity. Or lack thereof. Don't ever get it twisted--our defense did their job in every game this year. They had a tough go of it early on against SC, sure. But as bad as things looked, they put the offense in position to make it a tie ball-game in the third quarter, just before, well, you know. We can argue all we want that Andrew Luck would have thrown for seven more touchdowns if we had scored again, but the defense held The Second Coming Andrew Luck The Most High to his lowest point total of the season. Say what you want about the defense's fourth-quarter performance against Michigan, but if the offense and one Mr. Thomas J. Rees hadn't turned the ball over, if they had just followed The King's mantra and TC-edB, we wouldn't have needed a fourth-quarter defensive stand.
Special teams had its moments, good and bad, but they really didn't lose us any games. I don't want to hear anything about a missed field goal against Stanford, either, because you need to put the ball in the end zone when you're down against a better team. And of course our
fair-catch team punt team was awful--or should I say, they were awful at returning punts, but good at fair-catching them--but that one unit did not lose us any games.
Offense held us back this year. They played worst when the lights were brightest. In the opener against South Florida, the offense just flat-out choked. I wish we could give the staff a mulligan for the strangest game ever, but last time I checked (I love this expression, because it most definitely means that you didn't check, as I didn't here, because why would I need to check something like this), all of the games still count. Likewise for Michigan. Ditto SC. Stanford? Wash, rinse, repeat. These are all good teams, with the exception of South Florida, but these games were close enough that we could have and should have won them with a little more offense. That was the theme of this season. If one Charles J. Weis was still our fearless leader, I'm sure his stupid cheesy slogan to encapsulate this season and un-motivate the team for next season would be "Coulda, shoulda, woulda." What else can you say about '10? Thankfully it ended a BRUTAL ten years of ND football, although I'm sure the math nerds with their calculators will remind me that the end of 2009 actually marked the end of that decade, and '10 was the beginning of the next decade. Whatever dude; whatever.
2. If it were possible to give Tommy Rees another 15 yds in arm strength or cut 0.2 seconds off his 40 time, which would you pick? Would it change the way you view the QB depth chart?
Premise Challenge! I choose option C, get Hendrix or Golson ready to start. I hate hypotheticals. Let's deal in the concrete. Tommy Rees ain't going get a stronger arm, and he ain't going to get any faster. Twice this season, we thought that our offense was pretty good, only to have everything come crashing down the second an opposing defense realized that they could stop the run by stacking the box on first and second. Our quarterback could not threaten them with the deep ball--let's be honest, he couldn't threaten them with the intermediate ball, or even the short-intermediate ball, or with the intermediate-short ball; OK, so he could only really threaten defenses with the short-short ball--or with his legs, so our offense wilted under the heat. If TR couldn't get the job done against the better teams with the best offensive line and rushing game that ND has had in 15+ years and playmaking pass-catchers like Floyd and Eifert, I don't think he'll ever be able to do anything more than get us into the right protections and plays and distribute the ball inside of a 15-yard box against the Purdue's and Navy's of the world. Is that really so hard to do that Andrew Hendrix can't do it? I thought this offense was supposed to be quarterback-friendly. God help us if we ever need to start a freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Perhaps I'm too hard on the staff. Hendrix just did not throw the ball that much in high school, and Everett Golson--who we musn't sleep on--ain't but about a buck fitty soaking wet. So the coaching staff didn't have great options after Rees, and I think they did their best given the circumstances, though Dayne Crist may prove us wrong next year.
Rees is a pretty impressive guy in that he's nearing his ceiling as a true sophomore. I would expect him to learn to turn the ball over less and possibly to improve his arm strength a little, but I just don't think that his ceiling is much higher than his current level of play. Rees has proven his doubters wrong before, though, so it is only at great peril to your own meaningless anonymous internet-blogging reputation that you write his future off as that of a journeyman backup.
3. ND has missed on a few key recruits over the past 4-5 years. If you could go back an add one guy to each class from '08 to '11, who would it be?
'08--Terrelle Pryor. What? I thrive on drama.
Sweatypants McCheatervest got him. Dang. We missed out on some good subject matter.
'09--Matt Barkley. He looks like Spencer. We could have had a "The Hills" type show based around him. The name? The Bends. Because it sounds like "The Hills" and because that's what it would have felt like watching something like that. Or watching The Hills, not that I would know. Or watching Barkley throw 5 TD's to one pick against ND in two games. I'd take the bends over any of those.
'10--Spencer Ware. Good running back who (allegedly) enjoys the stickiest of the ickies and would no doubt have (allegedly) brought all his sweet hookups to ND. That would have brought some coolness to our program. This squeaky-clean image is so boring. Also, the team wouldn't have been wound so tight, so they probably would have come out looser and beat South Florida and SC. "Dave's not here, man!"
'11--Ishaq Williams. Wait, no, we got him. Stephon Tuitt? Nope got him. Aaron Lynch! No, got him too. No wish list for this year. Alright, I'll take off my homer hat. We could really have used a big-time running back in that class, so... Malcolm Brown.
4. The BCS is a mess. Clearly, every game no longer counts, seeing as you can lose a game at home, not win your division (let alone your conference) and still play for the national title. How do you fix this?
How to fix this? This question could be answered on so many levels. Obviously a playoff would be more fair. But how do we make that happen? I saw this movie Fight Club--and I read the book, so ha, and the book was so much better than the movie #smuglookonface--where this guy Tyler Durden, who'se actually the main character's split personality, SPOILER ALERT (is that supposed to go before the actual spoiler? If so, sorry). Ok, so, this guy Tyler Durden starts these Fight Clubs the purpose of which is ostensibly to make men feel alive again, but the real purpose of which is to blow up all of the banks' and credit-card-companies' servers, so that money no longer means anything and we are plunged back into a techological dark age, or, perhaps more accurately, a post-technology/information age, in which we all have to be men, real men who hunt and fish and provide and live life, and not ineffectual pigmentless spineless cubicle-dwelling weaklings. So yeah, if we did something like that and made money irrelevant, then the bowls that make so much money from not having a playoff would have no reason to want to make money from not having a playoff--because, remember, money no longer means anything--THEN we get our playoff. Isn't it sad that we essentially must resort to science fiction to envision a scenario in which a playoff could become a reality?
Brad Pitt is the solution to College Football's ills. You gonna argue with those abs?
5. Voltaire said that with great power comes great responsibility. Clearly ESPN does not embrace this virtue, since they simultaneously try to (a) objectively cover college football (which is laughable), and (b) hold the television rights to 33 of the 35 bowl games, including all of the BCS games. Since they clearly know nothing about "conflict of interest," what can be done to change/improve things for the overall health of college football.
Who's Voltaire? PREMISE CHALLENGE! The questioner clearly meant to say "Peter Parker's Grandfather." Or The Bible. In any event, I also challenge that ESPN knows nothing about conflicts of interest. While I can certainly understand the belief that no one affiliated with ESPN ever took a journalism class, I think they know what they're doing. Follow the money. They just don't care. "Conflict of interest?" says ESPN. "How quaint. We're printing money over here and this guy's talking about a conflict of interest. What a sweet kid." The question raises a good point, though. The other night I was watching--or should I say that my wife was watching and I was being subjected to--Marley and Me. The main character is a columnist-turned-reporter and his editor keeps saying that he is putting himself in the story. ESPN has gone way beyond putting itself in the story. ESPN, an institution that purports to be journalistic, is firmly in control. Not in the story. Not overtly editorializing--though they do this--but steering the ship. 33 of 35 bowl games? ESPN is not covering college football. It is married to, extremely heavily invested in, and directing the trajectory of college football. What can be done? Stop watching ESPN and ABC, and start a campaign to get everyone else to do the same. Stop spending so much money on college football. Stop buying tickets to the games. Stop blogging about it. Because as long as there's so much money to be made on college football, someone is going to be doing the making. But these are our guilty pleasures, our diversion. We love our college football too much to do anything drastic to save it.