1. Let's start off with some hoopy balls talk during this bye week. Five-star point guard Demetrius Jackson from Marian, Indiana recently visited Notre Dame this weekend (again) and will be announcing his decision this Thursday between the Irish and Illinois. Will this budding talent be coming to South Bend?
Yes, I think so.
I'm no basketball recruiting expert but in the world of college football recruiting his behavior---last visit to ND & announcing shortly thereafter---plus being an in-state product strongly suggests he's going to choose Notre Dame.
Whether he does or not, you can rest assured that we'll break down his decision and what it means for the Irish basketball team. If Jackson does choose Notre Dame you can bet CW, alstein, and 4pointshooter will be fist pumping for days.
2. In the One Foot Down Preseason Magazine you chose West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith as your Heisman pick. After three Mountaineer games, how are you feeling about your selection?
Proud would be a good word to describe the feeling, especially after the beating my confidence has taken in the Big E Picks so far this season.
Yet, it's a long season and we've yet to see Smith play against a good defense. He'll obliterate Baylor's defense this weekend but face a stiff challenge against Texas in a couple weeks.
Obviously it's his award to lose at this point. He's already put up gaudy passing numbers (1,072 yards, 81.4% accuracy, 12 TD, no picks) and is on pace for a not-insignificant 300 yards on the ground. If West Virginia can stay in the Top 25 while Geno Smith performs just well enough against Texas, TCU, and Oklahoma he's probably raising the Heisman at the end of the season.
3. Speaking of the Heisman, is Irish linebacker Manti Te'o a true candidate for the award?
There's no doubt that Te'o is a strong candidate for the Heisman right now.
I think it's nearly impossible for him to win the award, but after Saturday's performance I'm really starting to believe that he can be invited to the Downtown Athletic Club.
However, as important and crucial as his integrity is for the award, Te'o still has to keep producing at a very high level. 36 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 tackles for loss, and a whole lot of disruption is great for a middle linebacker but he has to do even better and add some sacks along the way too.
An undefeated Notre Dame wouldn't hurt of course.
4. Notre Dame rushed for 2,085 yards last season but are a little behind that pace for this 2012 campaign. Can the Irish eclipse the 2,000 yard mark by the end of bowl season?
Well, let's break this down a little bit.
Last year ND rushed for 160.38 yards per game and carried the rock an average of 33.31 times per game. The carries have gone up this year (36.75 per game) but the yards per game have taken a fall to 140.25.
I don't think it will necessarily be as pretty or productive as last year, but the Irish should get to 2,000 out of sheer determination from running the ball more in 2012. I don't see the multiple tight end sets going away any time soon and coach Kelly has proven he will go very conservative while nursing a lead and slowly rack up the rushing yards.
I'd like to think that Riddick will improve---he has a pedestrian 3.84 YPC right now---but that improvement will likely be offset by George Atkinson coming down from his gaudy 7.68 YPC.
The real boost to get to 2,000 yards will likely come from Cierre Wood gaining more carries (only 17 carries through 4 games, two of which he was suspended for, ugh) and Golson turning things around and adding something positive to the rushing column.
I thought 250 yards would be a conservative estimate for Golson this year, but through four games he's sitting at -11 so he's probably not going to get there. Yet, he should add something to help the club get to 2,000 total rushing yards.
5. One of the biggest story lines this season (besides the 4-0 start of course) has been the major turnaround in the turnover ratio for the Fighting Irish. The team currently sits at +9 on the season, but where will that number be after 13 games?
Obviously, right now the Irish are on pace to obliterate the modern school record for turnover ratio in a season. Since 1981 we've only seen 7 seasons in double-digit positive turnover ratio and no season over +14.
With a +9 already it's tempting to think the Irish will move past +14 by season's end, but I'll guess the number ends up at +11 on the season---that should put the team solidly in the top 15 nationally.
Quite the turn around from last season, huh?