1. After concerns over this year's offense turning into the 2002 Notre Dame offense, we saw the Irish put up a season high 7.62 yards per play against Miami this week and push the season average to a healthy 5.91 yards per play. Last year's mark was 5.93 YPP and that finished 21st out of all BCS teams---is it possible for Notre Dame to go over 6.0 YPP this season?
After Saturday night's performance, and yes I know Miami's defense is terrible, I definitely think it's possible. There are no South Carolina, or Alabama defenses left on the schedule. The three toughest in Stanford (secondary), Oklahoma (defensive line), and USC (defensive line, depth) all have big enough questions of their own.
If the Irish can at least put up decent performances against those three teams, and a quality effort against BYU (an underrated but untested defense) then they can go over 6.0 YPP this season.
However, this is also means the Irish will have to put up some huge numbers against the likes of Wake Forest, Boston College, and Pitt---something that is definitely possible.
2. Let's switch to the year-round game of recruiting. The focus is narrowing on a collection of 12 to 15 players for 2 or 3 spots remaining in the 2013 class. Without mentioning any big-name wildcards who could come back into the picture, who is your top desired recruit without a verbal?
I'll stay on defense because I think the future is bright with the young players on campus right now (Daniels, Neal, Brown, etc,) and the skill guys already in the fold to go along with the 5 O-line recruits.
You could talk me into an elite defensive back like L.J. Moore, but I want to keep the front seven elite for years to come and I'll take Alquadin Muhammad out of Don Bosco Prep. He's got the size (6'4" 230 pounds) to play Cat linebacker or bulk up into a defensive end and I really think this class needs another linemen on that side of the ball.
He's friends with former teammate Elijah Shumate, he's a good kid, and I think we'll have a great shot at him once his season ends and he starts taking visits again.
3. Notre Dame is still undefeated and thus still alive for a national title. However, the two top teams in the country appear to be Alabama and Oregon. What would that national title game be like?
Best title game ever?
Certainly from a contrast of styles, tradition, and uniforms point of view it would be the most interesting matchup in a long time. And honestly, who wouldn't want to see Oregon's offense go against Alabama's defense?
I want to see this game (if the Irish can't make it of course) because of Nick Saban's recent comments about slowing down the fast-pace offenses for "safety reasons." What a load of bollocks...Saban knows that the Oregon offense may very well be his kryptonite and he wants nothing to do with it today or in the future.
I'd love to see this title game.
4. Notre Dame has 7 games left in the 2012 regular season. Would you mind power ranking the remaining opponents?
Okay, here we go.
#7 Boston College
Just a broken and talent-less team. Terrible coach, 2 and 3-star talent all over the field, and depressing home field advantage. The Eagles will be a shell of a football team when Notre Dame comes to town in a month.
#6 Wake Forest
A southern team playing in Indiana during late-November? C'mon now. Wake has a decent quarterback but not much else on either side of the ball. They were supposed to have the weakest offensive line among BCS teams and that prediction is holding mostly true this season.
There's some danger involved in this team, but then you have to remember Tino Sunseri is their quarterback. I wouldn't be upset with a non-blowout, but the Irish should win comfortably.
They have some really good players on their defense, and that unit overall is pretty stingy. However, their offense is abysmal right now and I don't see them moving the ball too well in South Bend.
More on them Thursday and below.
I'm starting to buy in to the notion that they'll be beaten up by the end of the season. Their skill positions are still scary as heck though.
This isn't a powerhouse OU team of old, but they are absolutely loaded at the skill positions and their secondary has tons of talent. I'd be more surprised with a win in Norman than anything else on this schedule.
5. Give us the biggest strength of the Stanford team coming to South Bend this weekend. What do the Irish have to worry about the most?
Jarek Lancaster, Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas, and Trent Murphy.
That's the Stanford linebacker corps and pound for pound they might be the best in the nation.
Over the past 18 games the above foursome has 279 tackles, 25 sacks, and an absurd 55.5 tackles for loss and that's with Skov missing most of last season with a knee injury. Throw in A.J. Tarpley and that's another 70 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 5.5 tackles for loss.
Stanford's defensive line isn't very big and a clear step down from the linebackers in terms of talent, but if they can eat up enough blocks these 'backers are going to be a huge pain in the butt. As you can tell by the numbers and from watching the previous games with the Cardinal, their coaching staff loves blitz these guys from all over the place and without abandon.