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Irish Blogger Gathering: Getting Sprung

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The Irish Blogger Gathering is back ya'll!

The questions for this new IBG come from our good friends over at We Never Graduate, so make sure to head on over there to read the rest of the communities' answers once I've blown your mind right here.

Let's dive right in...

1. The biggest story of the spring was the quarterback competition between Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, and to a lesser extent Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson. Crist and Rees donned the red jerseys while the youngins were fed to the wolves with live contact. How would you rate each signal caller's performance in the scrimmage? Then put on the Swami hat and predict what we should expect from each of them this fall and in the long term.

My grades would be as follows:

Crist: C

Rees: C

Hendrix: A-

Golson: B+

As I put on my swami hat I predict that Crist will be the starter in the fall and will stay healthy all season long. Although he may not be the announced backup and although I don’t agree with using two quarterbacks, Hendrix will see the field from time to time, but not necessarily every game.

Long-term it is such a crap shoot that I can’t even begin to understand what is going to happen. Some expect Crist to move on after 2011, but we don’t know what’s going to happen with that situation.

Regardless, I expect Hendrix and Golson to battle it out for the long term. Right now I’d give a slight edge in the long-term scenario to Golson because of his better athleticism and entrance as an early enrollee player, but Hendrix has the physicality that will give him a leg up in the nearer long-term…if that makes sense.

Inevitably someone out of this group is not going to play very much and that bothers me. I know it’s great to have this depth right now but the nature of this situation means someone isn’t going to see the field much, if at all.

If Crist gets hurt early in the fall, I think Rees could see the field again, but after 2011 I don’t think he’ll be in the discussion anymore.

If Crist doesn’t come back after 2011, that opens the door for Hendrix to start for three years, but what does that mean for Golson? Would he be content to only start one year at Notre Dame? Does that even seem plausible given his talents?

The more I think about this the more I think this situation kind of stinks (from a player’s point of view) and I can’t even imagine someone like Gunner Kiel walking into this depth chart right now and the chaos that would be created.

2012 could be the key year because if Crist doesn’t come back whomever starts thereafter is likely to be the long-term answer for the Irish. If Crist comes back for fifth year as a starter, this discussion continues with both young quarterbacks burning precious eligibility.

Is it going to be Hendrix because he sees the field a little bit in 2011 while Golson redshirts? Or does Golson leap frog everybody and leave Hendrix as a permanent second option for the rest of his career.

Again, the depth is great but this is just an uncomfortable feeling for me.

Deep down I’ve always thought Hendrix was going to be the future. I don’t know if it was the fact that he was kind of an after thought to many in the 2010 class and I’ve seen him as a lion patiently waiting in the weeds while being severely under-appreciated, or that he presents the greatest combination of throwing talents with a physical running attack.

With his skill set, rave reviews from the coaches, and performance in the B-G game (our first extended "real" look at him), I just can't see how someone that talented doesn't start for multiple years at Notre Dame.

But Golson just throws a wrench in those plans.

Who knows what the future will bring.

2. Freshman defensive end Aaron Lynch burst onto the scene with seven tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. You might as well have attached his hype and expectations to an Apollo rocket and launched them into orbit they're so high right now. Is he that good or should Notre Dame fans temper expectations like Brian Kelly keeps saying?

I think he is that good and depending on how much playing time he receives, he should be in the discussion for freshman All-American status.

That doesn’t mean I believe he’s going to be an instant star for this team and well-known across the country, but he should have plenty of opportunities to make plays in 2011.

I know some fans think he needs to gain weight, work on his run stopping, or learn the system better, but he appears to me the type of player who is simply too athletic to look bad out there.

In other words, he might bite on a misdirection play, but he’s the type of talent who will still make the tackle even though he was caught out of position for a second.

I don’t think he’ll have a ton of tackles, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to wrack up 5-7 sacks which should put him in the running for All-American status as a true freshman. We don’t really have any stud pass rushers on the defensive line so Lynch should be used a lot in that regard.

3. Pick two players that surprised you this spring--one pleasantly and the other unpleasantly--and explain yourself.

I was pleasantly surprised by Lo Wood.

He was getting good reviews from the coaching staff throughout spring practice, and he showed up and played well in the Blue-Gold Game with a beautiful interception. He makes the cornerback position more stable and not so that the team is completely screwed if one of the starters goes down with an injury.

On the flip side I would say I was unhappy with Dan McCarthy and Anthony McDonald just because they simply cannot stay healthy to make a contribution to this team.

4. Over/Unders for 2011!

Cierre Wood Rushing Yards: 1000

Over

As long as he stays healthy he should get enough carries to break the 1,000 yard mark. He has the potential for greatness.

Jonas Gray Rushing Yards: 300

Under

I don’t see him averaging over 5 yards a carry or getting more than five carries a game. I think Cam McDaniel takes some carries away from him and the team will rely on Riddick out of the wildcat, so that Gray falls short of this mark.

Remember, he has had injury problems, fumbling problems, the coaches still aren't happy with his running style, and he's just barely over 300 yards for his career through three years at Notre Dame.

I would bet many will pick the over because he's slated to be the backup but I doubt he gets there.

Games Michael Floyd Will Miss: 1.5

Under

I think he’ll be out for the USF game and come back in all his glory against Michigan at night in the Big House.

Dayne Crist Passing Touchdowns: 19.5

Over

As long as he stays healthy he should be close to 30.

Games Started by Tommy Rees: 3.5

Under

Unless Crist injures himself before fall or breaks something against USF that is just too many games for me to take the over.

Combined Games Started by Golson/Hendrix: .5

Over

I don’t think Golson has a shot at starting, but the odds are probably fairly decent that Hendrix could start a late-season game.

Aaron Lynch Sacks: 5.5

Over

I already mentioned that six or seven sacks sounds about right. He should be one of the top two sack leaders on the team so I think this is a safe bet.

Victories in ND Stadium: 5.5

Under

I am sure we’ll lose at least one home game. I am very excited for next season and the possibilities of a BCS bowl, but I’m not comfortable enough to predict a sweep at home just yet.

5. This offseason athletic director Jack Swarbrick added two teams to future schedules: Temple and Northwestern. There's a chunk of people who are outraged about the Temple games, but the vast majority approve of Northwestern. What are your thoughts on each of these scheduling moves?

I don’t have an issue with them either way really. We can’t schedule top 10 teams every week and we’re still not putting absolute laughers on the schedule…what’s the problem here?

Temple and Northwestern at least have a pulse and have been competitive in recent years, so it’s not like we’re playing the laughing stocks of the world.

What this shows us is that the Notre Dame fan base will complain about any and everything.

I am glad Swarbrick and Kelly are moving swiftly with a lot of changes that were needed with the program and aren’t concerned with upsetting people who will be upset no matter what they do. I hardly think we need to curse the heavens because of the five games total against Northwestern and Temple.

6. Irish Illustrated senior editor Tim Prister, one of the most respected and longest tenured journalists in the Notre Dame community, had this to say in article following the Blue-Gold Game:

"How would NBCSports.com's Keith Arnold know that "there's a different feeling around Notre Dame" when he's rarely at Notre Dame to report on its football program? Reporters have a feel for the program because they are immersed in it; bloggers take the feelings/opinions formed by those on the scene and make it their own."

You're an esteemed member of the Irish blogosphere. What are your thoughts on Prister's jab?

First, Prister was probably jealous that Arnold got to be interviewed during the Blue-Gold game.

Am I right?

Second, Prister is correct…but only to a point.

It is true that some of the reporters have a better grasp of where a program is currently at, where it is headed, and because they spend time on campus they have better connections to those who "know things."

But how much of a difference is there nowadays between the reporters and bloggers?

Does Prister follow Brian Kelly around 24/7 and keep a daily journal on his thoughts? Is he sitting in on coaching meetings? Is he accompanying assistants on recruiting trips?

Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely connected way more than any of us are, but it’s not like he’s holding the keys to the kingdom with all things Notre Dame football.

Sure, the reporters might find some things out before us bloggers or maybe have a slightly better understanding of certain aspects behind the scenes, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal in this media-driven world we now live in.

It’s not 1962 anymore.

We’re all watching the same practices, more or less talking to the same people who are on campus with inside information, and watching the same games on Saturdays.

For example, let’s say Prister is part of the media in attendance at practice and writes a story about Cierre Wood after interviewing him for a couple minutes. The story is focused on Wood finally understanding the system and looking really comfortable and electric in his role as the number one running back.

By the time that story is published, us bloggers have already watched the practice videos, talked about Wood’s play and potential with fans on message boards, and exchanged an email or two with people who have already talked to some insiders all praising the play of the No. 1 Irish running back.

So we’re not actually on campus, but what has Prister learned that we didn’t five minutes after him?

Are we that clueless and reporters so wise because they get media credentials and lob up some soft questions for the coaching staff every once in a while?

I’m not saying reporters aren’t important because in a lot of instances the information we eat up starts with them, but this information spreads so fast and there are so many different outlets manufacturing and discussing this information that its origins matter not after an hour or two.

One could even make the case that specifically because the reporters are so close to the program that they can become blinded to many things associated with Notre Dame football, whether for good or bad.

As bloggers, we have a wall there which allows us to "keep it real" and say some things we might not otherwise if we were standing in front of the coaches and players three times a week.

In the end, there are positives and negatives to being a blogger or a reporter. I guess reporters are more respected and there’s a lot of envy from us bloggers in the job they do, but that doesn’t make us unaware dolts or even THAT reliant on their information for ideas and thoughts on Irish football.

In a way Prister has a point because sensing a change in the program is such a feeling-based emotion and he’s close to that on a daily basis, but there’s also plenty of fact based evidence that allows the rest of the world to see these changes without the help of reporters.

I just think Prister overestimates his importance a little bit, and in fact I sense a little resentment in this lack of importance in comparison to 30 years ago (or even 10 years ago) in his comments towards Keith Arnold.

*****BONUS TIME*****

Outline what your day will be like from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep on October 22nd, the day Notre Dame faces off against Southern Cal under the lights of Notre Dame Stadium.

Well it would be a lot more fun to answer this question if I knew I had tickets to the game. Alas, it is not a sure thing so my answer will not be very exciting.

If the weather is nice my day will probably include some grilling outside with some friends and following the American tradition of kicking back with some beers and watching copious amounts of football, culminating in the night game against USC.

Hopefully the night ends with us running around like maniacs because we’ve started our own winning streak against the Trojans.

If I do end up with tickets, wow…I’m not sure I’ll make it back to work on Monday.