Any way this guy forces some turnovers for the Irish in 2012? I think so. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
We're back with another edition of 5WF. Just 8 weeks until the opener against Navy in Dublin.
You know the drill. Let's get right into it.
Virginia LB Greer Martini committed to the Irish last week, which is especially notable because he has not yet begun his junior year of high school. Let's pretend Notre Dame offers you a scholarship. How would you approach the recruitment?
For sake of argument, there are about three camps you can be in. 1) Like Martini, you can commit to the Irish immediately. 2) You can play out your recruitment for awhile before inevitably committing to Notre Dame (a la Isaac Rochell). 3) You wouldn't necessarily go to Notre Dame and would approach the process without much of a lean towards ND. Maybe you have another way to approach things.
I think I would likely be in camp number 2. You gotta see what's out there, right? Maybe just a little at least. Although, #IrishMob13 is filling up fast, so you might feel a sense of urgency. And the recruiting world is annoying. And who is going to have a better offer for you to play for your dream school? Alright, alright, I'm changing my answer to option 1. I'm committing to Notre Dame ASAP. I won't let you down, Irish fans.
There is some solid speculation that AD Jack Swarbrick tied Notre Dame to the Orange Bowl in seasons in which they have either 9+ or 10+ wins (details are still murky). What would be your reaction to such a deal? Is there another bowl(s) that you would have preferred?
I can't really think of a better option. Having to play an ACC team might suck if their best team makes the championship foursome, but I don't see much of a problem going to Florida, playing on January 1st, and beating the ACC conference champion, especially if only 9 wins is the baseline for getting that tie-in. There are not many bowls with more history than the Orange Bowl, and I assume the Rose Bowl would be out of the question along with possibly the Cotton Bowl after the SEC-Big 12 bowl agreement earlier this year. Would the Sugar Bowl be "better"? Not really.
I think the overall moral of the story is that ND is really really keeping its independence if this deal does end up going down. The Irish have a very real avenue into the championship playoff, and if they fall a win or two short of that, they are automatically going to the Orange Bowl. Not many other schools have a better postseason set-up than that, and if you fall short of 9 wins, well, tough cookies, you don't deserve a great postseason anyway. I suppose you can quibble about having to play an ACC team, but playing good FSU, Miami, Va Tech, or BC (maybe? someday?) squads looks like a fun matchup to me.
Notre Dame only forced 14 turnovers last season, which put them at something like 4,936th in the nation. They need a hefty bump in that total if they want to get into the BCS with this schedule. Who leads that charge for the Irish and ends up with the most forced turnovers in 2012?
This is usually accomplished by a defensive back but not necessarily so. I would imagine the odds-on favorite for this category would be Jamoris Slaughter. Other candidates back there would certainly be presumed starters Bennett Jackson and Zeke Motta, with whoever wins the job at the other corner position as another possibility. Manti Te'o has been noticeably absent in the forced turnover column and could break out in his final season. The Dog OLB looks like an opportune position to both force fumbles and intercept some passes as well, making the Spond/Councell combo an intriguing darkhorse.
I will do the unthinkable and predict right here, right now that Zeke Motta will lead the Irish in forced turnovers. Let's be honest. He has played a lot, but he has struggled massively, most notably in tackling angles but also in his Cover 2 responsibilities. I have a funny feeling that he is that guy that we expect little from but really elevates his game in this his senior season. He has played in every game since stepping on campus and still has the size/speed combo that suits the strong safety position. And while Slaughter will be moved all over the field pre-snap, Motta will be back there, ball-hawking on every play. I'm liking this prediction. Really, I am.
There is yet another camp for top recruits this weekend called The Opening. Six Irish commits (hopefully seven very soon) will be participating, and these camps go a long way towards the popular recruiting rankings. How stupid is that?
Very very stupid. The only good thing is that the top recruits get to compete against one another in one place. It's stupid because it is without pads and the skill position players operate without any line play, which is a pretty big part of actual football. I can't imagine ranking quarterbacks based on 7 on 7 competition (he threw it to one of 4 open guys without any defensive linemen in his face?!? 5 STARS!!!!). How on earth can you rank offensive and defensive linemen doing 1-on-1 drills without pads on? Just run at imaginary stationary quarterback! That will help you in games! And oh man did you see that running back...uh...well...run through an...empty line of scrimmage?
Are there little things you can pick up about players? Of course. I'm sure the 1 v. 1 CB/WR competitions are relatively revealing. They do all the combine drills, which at least allow you to gauge some overall athletic qualities. But most of this summer stuff is just garbage when evaluating football players, and it is so influential for the rankings process. It's very very stupid.
10 of the 17 5 star running backs in the last 4 classes have gotten into significant academic and/or legal troubles, and most of those 10 have transferred from their original school. Are you still angry Notre Dame can't supposedly recruit "elite" running backs?
You really shouldn't be. The staff needs to keep identifying and signing those guys that may not be OMG 5 STAR ELITE but are still very high quality and fit the system and school well. Most of those guys, for whatever reasons, don't profile to Notre Dame. Forget about them. Get the guys that fit. This is more of a PSA than a question, but feel free to respond with outrage or agreement.
That is all for me. Have a great weekend everyone!