Spring practice is a slippery animal for any college football fan to get a grip on. You get excited because there is a little bit of real football news that you can latch on to and it is also the first tangible step towards the upcoming season. In reality it is fairly difficult to pull a substantial amount of discernible information from 15 practices and what amounts to an inter squad scrimmage. If the offense runs the ball great in the Spring Game does that mean the running game is better or the defensive front seven is suspect? Hard to say but one could most likely argue either way and one thing is for certain many will. The truth is you won’t really know until some time around the end of September. Despite this like many others, I can’t help but try to come to some conclusions that support my optimistic opinions.
I already had it on the brain after the Bowl Season and got so into the talent piece of the equation that I geeked out on that subject pretty hard. Then when Subway Domer was kind enough to extend an invite to the IBG last week his questions really threw my thinking into overdrive. By the time I was done responding I really had two big questions I was looking to answer this spring and both were spawned by his question about position battles. The first question I had was about the defensive alignment. Was it going to be 3-4 or 4-3 because that would determine who would play with a hand down. The second thing I pondered was whether or not this quality depth I’m expecting to see really there? The first answer is obvious; the second will probably be somewhat muddy for a little while yet.
Charlie announced the 4-3 alignment first crack out of the box at his presser last Friday which quickly cleared up the DE/OLB questions I had. That provided a lot of fidelity on who is competing with whom for what position on defense. Looking at the depth chart itself I came to a few early conclusions on the quality depth piece. There are several somewhat unknown quantities in the soon to be sophomore class that did not see the field in 2008, but just about every scholarship player in that class has a legitimate chance to start or compete for significant time. With McDonald & Cwynar limited this spring they won’t really come into play until this summer/ fall but the other 21 are in the mix right now. In my opinion that in of itself at least partially answers the question. In almost all cases they are competing with talented and more experienced players in the classes ahead of them. That competition lends itself to more rapid development for the entire team and narrows the gap between the ones, twos and in some cases even the threes. Hence, it breeds quality depth that should show up on Saturdays this fall. I’ll take a closer look at the position groups over the next couple of weeks, but after day three things appear to be on track and the arrow is pointing up.
As a side note, I started OFD with some encouragement from many friends and some family that I incessantly engage in conversation with about college football in general. In reality I think they probably just wanted me to post my banter somewhere that they could claim to read it rather than have me crush their in boxes with a never ending series of e-mails. Needless to say in addition to being a life long fan of the Irish I’m a fan of college football in general. I'm one of those guys that often has multiple TV's going on Saturday and DVR's all the ND games so that I can re-watch them another time or two during the week. So for those of you like Dimes that feel I’ve forgotten about your teams and conferences don’t worry, I’ll get back around to waxing intellectual about them a little bit too.