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Irish Blogger Gathering: The Preseason Edition

Dayne Crist, No. 10
Dayne Crist, No. 10

The IBG is back!

As many of you may or may not know, a selection of Notre Dame football blogs decide every year to host a set of questions each week that everyone from said sites will answer. The first preseason edition is hosted by Her Loyal Sons, so head on over there to see the answers from the rest of the Irish bloggers.


Now, to this week's questions, a collaboration effort from our team:

1. Go to youtube, pick a song that a) applies to your life in some way and b) will serve as the unofficial 2011 Fighting Irish Football Anthem. Extra points if you entirely avoid any band with members born in Ireland. Disqualification for any use of Freekbass. Embed the video for that song in your answers and explain why it’s so fitting under both qualifications A and B.

Eric: The 2011 anthem for the Fighting Irish is "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin.

It applies to my life because Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands and they should be one of yours too. It's also one of the select songs I enjoy waking up to in the morning. Bonham's pumping drums set up my day nicely, I should think.

It is the anthem for Notre Dame this year for a couple reasons. First, in last year's two biggest wins we saw rain fall from the sky against Utah and USC. As Robert Plant warns, "If it keeps on raining the levee is going to break."

This year, the levee is going to break and it's going to result in a lot of pain for whomever get in Notre Dame's way.

After burying players in the turf or scoring a touchdown our opponents will remember, "Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good."

2. Now that you’ve got your unofficial anthem rocking the home office, predict the single biggest play, positive or negative for the Irish, that will occur this season in a Notre Dame football game. Color this prediction with situation, players involved, opposing team, and even weather conditions. It’s the pre-season. Let’s see what your imaginations are doing.

Eric: It's late in the 4th quarter in the Superdome. In a rematch of the 2006 Sugar Bowl, the Irish are taking on the LSU Tigers. Notre Dame is up by four with 1:37 to play. After a long commercial break, LSU lines up in the shotgun to try and convert a 4th and 8 from their own 47-yard line.

QB Jordan Jefferson takes the snap and immediately steps up into the pocket to avoid the pass rush by Aaron Lynch. The Superdome is at a fever pitch with everyone tense and on the edge of their seats. Jefferson pump fakes and decides to take off through a hole in the middle of the field.

It looks as if he will easily pick up the first down, but Jefferson's eyes light up as he sees a blue jersey and a Polynesian tattoo coming at him from his right. Jefferson tries to angle to the left just a few yards away from the first down, but Manti Te'o uses his ridiculous closing speed and comes across the back of the quarterback with a vicious arm chop and fundamental tackle.

Jefferson lands a yard and a half short of the first down, and Notre Dame has won the Sugar Bowl.

Yes, the culmination of the levee breaking for Notre Dame this year ends in New Orelans in 2011.

3. I’m a fan of the cinematic hit, "Kicking and Screaming." I know, it’s a film you all love too. So naturally we’d all like to re-live that moment when they’re playing "Would You Rather." So let’s do so: Would you rather suffer a humiliating loss to Michigan this year, or a humiliating loss to Southern Cal? Why? And stop eyeing that chicken across the street, perv.

Pablo: Painful as it is to imagine, I have to say Michigan. No matter what the relative state of the programs, the Michigan game has been a remarkably unpredictable affair for most of the last decade or so. And I've kinda gotten used to it.

In the second game of the season at the Big House at night, the Irish could stumble pretty badly, but I could still recover after a week of mourning for the quickly dashed fantasy of the dreamed 12-0 season (that kool-aid's tasting particularly good this August). After a big win over MSU the following week, I can move on with somewhat more balanced hopes for a BCS birth -- and victory.

But the sting of 8 consecutive losses to USC has not been entirely obliterated by the cathartic, rain soaked victory at the Coliseum last year. I was at every one of those games, and I don't think it'll be totally out of my system 'til we beat the Trojans at least 2 more times. I'll be there once again this year, and a small piece of me will die if the Irish lose to a Kiffin coached 'SC team in South Bend.

4. Great teams require leadership, and with Notre Dame being the only truly national college football program in the country, a great Notre Dame football team requires national leaders. So pick one. Name a player on the Irish roster in 2011 who will lead the nation in a particular, official NCAA category. Also specify how much he’ll lead the nation by indicating his national rank in that category. Note: You must be predicting this leader to finish at least as high as 10th in the nation in your chosen category. Bonus Points: Don’t pick David Ruffer – the best player on the Irish Roster.

Pablo: Easy answer: Manti Te'o -- tackles. My answer: Manti Te'o -- tackles. I'm gonna go for broke and say he leads the nation in this category, takes home the Butkus Award, and puts no less than two opposing players in the hospital.

The Irish may let my wildest fantasies down, but I expect nothing less than total dominance from Manti this year.

5. You’ve already done more parsing of Brian Kelly’s words than is healthy since he first took a podium in this pre-season. What’s the single most surprising thing he’s said in that time?

Whiskey: "We’re going to play between, a minimum of six, as many as ten freshmen this year," acknowledged Kelly. "The kind of schedule we play and the teams that we play, special teams can help you win games. So, if a freshman can come in and impact- I think we saw that last year with Daniel Smith and Bennett Jackson, Austin Collinsworth- all of them were significant players in special teams for us. If they can help us win, we’re going to play them.

"I think you’ll see us activate DaVaris Daniels. We’re going to activate both backs (George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel). There are a lot of those freshmen that are going to play. It looks like we’re going to keep a lot of those guys on varsity."

I don't know that I would classify any of Coach Kelly's comments thus far as "surprising." As a general rule he is way too media savvy to bust out with his version of "We're going to pound it." But I did find his comments above pleasantly surprising. Over the last few seasons we have been conditioned to assume that freshmen getting on the field means the depth isn't where it needs to be.

I no longer think that is the case.

While the Irish are a tad thin at the wide receiver and running back positions Coach Kelly is specifically talking about players that are literally good enough to get out there and have an impact either on the two deep or on special teams. I take this as additional confirmation that the current freshman class is as good as we all hoped it would be when they signed back in February.

Some of these freshmen getting in there and competing for time in the two deep and contributing on special teams will pay nice dividends in future seasons. It also proves to current and future recruits that you will definitely be able to compete for time. That is a big deal for some elite recruits and could provide a slight assist in landing a few more down the road. In short, I see this as a very good thing.