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Irish Blogger Gathering: Adios Big Ten!

The questions for this week's IBG are posed by the true professionals at UHND.

1. The obvious question for the week, how does Notre Dame deal with the loss of Michael Floyd? What wide receiver steps up? How, if at all, does the offense change?

I think we’ll see Coach Weis go to work with multiple personnel groups and formations this week to try and keep the defense guessing. For those members of the fan base that are not huge fans of the multiple personnel groups and the "take what the defense gives you" philosophy this game might be maddening. My best guess is that Coach Weis will use those groupings to spread them out and mix in heavy doses of Armando Allen both as a runner and receiver. He has said he doesn’t want to get into a shootout and by spreading them out he should be able to run and let Clausen pick them apart with short to mid range passes that move the chains and control the clock. As for replacing Floyd specifically Kamara is listed as the starter this week but I expect Parris, Evans and perhaps even Walker and Goodman to get some looks as well. If he does spread them out Rudolph and a couple of those guys will help Tate gain favorable matchups and give Armando plenty of room to run.

2. After seeing three games from Notre Dame in 2009 have your expectations increased, decreased, or remained the same?

Still the same. In the preseason IBG I predicted 10 wins and I think this team is still capable of that. The offense is further ahead than I expected and the defense thus far is further behind than I expected. I still expect the defense to tighten up in short order and if that happens things will fall into place quite nicely. Clausen is starting to look like one of those rare elite quarterbacks that is not only talented but leads his team and finds ways to win games. The game winning TD pass to Tate last weekend was clutch. All that said this trip to Ross-Ade on Saturday still feels a little bit like a trap game mostly due to the emotional roller coaster this team has been on the last two weeks. I really hope I’m way off on that. I know the team and the fan base could use a nice 28 point win.
3. The last two years against Purdue a Notre Dame player has had their breakout game. In 2007 it was Golden Tate and in 2008 it was Armando Allen. Who do you think could have their breakout game against the Boilermakers this year?

I’m going to go with Kapron Lewis-Moore for two reasons. One this defensive line has to come around some time and KLM has looked a little better every week to me. His forced fumble last week was an outstanding play. I think he might be one of those kids that wakes up one day and realizes his potential then turns into a beast. Why not Saturday at Ross-Ade? The second reason is that someone on this defensive line needs to start playing inspired football here pretty quick and spark this unit into action. Why not the young man child that is KLM?

4. How would you grade the three new coaches on this year’s staff based on the first three games?

Verducci- B+ The offensive line has been great so far but they are all very experienced kids that should have figured it out at this point. Next year will be a better indicator for El Duche’.
Alford- B+ Allen looks great so far but I have to think a little of that has to do with the OL playing considerably better than they did his first two seasons. Gray and Riddick are showing some promise as runners but need to improve on the blitz pickup before Clausen gets killed.
Hart- C This probably isn’t fair. I think the defensive issues are bigger than Hart and the DL I’m just not smart enough to quite figure out exactly what they are. I suspect they have more to do with schematics and linebacker play so far but I’ll have to watch a couple more games to crack that nut. Hopefully they get it unscrewed by then. I’ll consult with the Coach and see if maybe he’ll leave a comment with his two cents. The old man knows some D.
5. Your thoughts on Golden Tate’s stage dive into the Michigan State band? Was he trying to avoid running into the band? Was the whole thing intentional? Little of column A, little of column B?

My initial reaction was "There goes 15 yards of field position." Then when they didn’t throw a flag my second reaction was "what are you doing, Floyd just broke his collarbone we can’t lose you on a stage dive!" Fast forward two days. I walked into a hotel bar Monday night and saw them talking about it on PTI. I couldn’t hear what they were saying and it didn’t really matter but I kind of had a change of heart. I’m still more of a hand the ball to the ref and go celebrate with your buddies kind of guy, but it was a huge play and I’m sure he was all fired up. No harm no foul and in reality Notre Dame players all over the news and the internet scoring game winning TD’s is never a bad thing for the program. And for the record if you are going to go overboard with a touchdown celebration stage diving into the opponent’s band is hard to beat.
6. How has your opinion of the Notre Dame schedule changed from how you felt about it in the pre-season?

The first half of the schedule is considerably tougher than I expected it to be. Michigan was better than I expected, Washington is considerably better than I expected, and despite what happened last week USC is still a very good football team. In the second half things still look about like I thought they would before the season started.

7. Should Jimmy Clausen be getting more hype for the Heisman?

I think so but the season is still very young. I think most of the talking heads hitched their wagons to the Tebow, McCoy and Bradford love fest before the season started and with good reason. Bradford is out at this point but the horrible truth is as long as Texas and Florida are in the title hunt Tebow and McCoy will eat up most of the pub. If the Irish win the next three games I could see Jimmy really getting some attention. Big wins coupled with sick stats turns into something that can’t be ignored. I really hope it happens. It would be great for the program and help to simmer the anti-Weis distractions down some.