Friday, June 15, 2007

Breaking Down: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Penn State Nittany Lions will take on Notre Dame on September 8, 2007 inside the friendly confines of Beaver Stadium. The Lions will be coming off of a big win (and hopefully injury free win) against a hapless FIU squad and Notre Dame will be one game into their hellish start of a tough season. (games against Ga. Tech and @ PSU and @ Michigan. (Yikes)). Hopefully, Notre Dame will come into Happy Valley 1-0, fat and happy, ready to be beat down, this way the ND hype machine could actually help PSU's strength of schedule.

The Fighting Irish of 2006 had a fine season which included ten wins and a trip to the Sugar Bowl in which they were summarily spanked by the LSU Tigers. However, the 2007 Irish will not closely resemble the '06 squad as 11 players who wore the golden helmets then now wear NFL jerseys. This of course doesn't include the loss of Jeffrey Alan Samardzija who will be pitching for the Cubbies.

Keith Srakocic / AP
Clearly, what will hurt ND's chances the most is the loss of Brady Quinn. Apparently, Weiss has narrowed the list of prospective replacements to three be rattled by a talented and fiery Penn State Linebacking corps. Not to mention, Brady's replacement will be nowhere near as dreamy. Why this is news, nobody knows. Whoever earns the starting spot will be talented but inexperienced. Nor could the next ND QB be as dreamy as the Mighty Quinn. Nor will he have as soft hands.....Right.

ANYWAY, back to the football and away from the sexual misconduct with a minor.

Darius Walker is gone too? Oh man, who does ND have left! Will this be a rebuilding period or a reloading for the talent-rich Irish? I'll try to give you a glimpse of what to expect from Notre Dame in early September.

Notre Dame has yet to choose its heir-apparent to Brady despite all of the hoopla surrounding the process. whoever will be in the backfield for the Irish won't have much experience and he will have a less talented wide receiver corps than Quinn had in 2006. ND will manage to move the ball but it won't be with the consistency the Irish came to depend on last year. My guess is the QB, whoever he may be, will complete about 15-18 passes for about 175 yds and 1 TD. However, he will throw about 2 interceptions and fumble the ball once. This will be more a product of PSU's talent at CB and the pressure coming from Connor and Lee than a lack of talent at the QB position.

Brady Quinn will, of course, be next to impossible to replace. However, the Irish also have to find a replacement for the hard working Darius Walker. Remember, Walker rushed for over 1200 yds, with 7 TDs, while averaging 5.1 yds/carry in 2006. The most likely candidate to replace Walker is James Aldridge who saw limited action last year as a Freshman. Aldridge rushed for 142 yds on 37 carries (well, very limited action) and while he didn't get into the endzone he did average 4 yds/carry. If the Offensive line can rebuild after losing Dan Santucci (OG) and Ryan Harris (OT) to the draft they could have another effective year running the ball. However, I think with Penn State's talent at CB the Lions will simply crowd the line of scrimmage and leave no room for the Irish to get their running game going.

Notre Dames defense is capable of quality outings and also disastrous attempts at something that looks like Defense. Last year the Irish gave up 24 pts/game (PSU only scored 17 against ND last year). However, the Irish lost 5 defensive starters in last years draft. My guess, is that ND's defense this year will be best represented by:

a delicious, hole-ridden, aged, dairy product.

Notre Dame will be outclassed on the road this year by a better, more experienced Penn State football team. Much the same way Penn State was last year. The young Irish QBs won't be used to Penn State's defensive speed and the mistakes they make will be costly.

Penn State: 38
Notre Dame: 20


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