At 1-4, the Irish Can Only Improve
The worst start in football history for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish has made many fans hit the panic button. However, it is important to understand that the Fighting Irish have been knocked down, but not out.
It would take much more then a single 0-5 start to uproot decades of winning tradition and nationwide love for the program.
The poor start can be attributed to the fact that the relatively new coach, Charlie Weiss, who is in his third year with the program, is coaching a team of recruits from both his own recruiting classes and those of former head coach Tyrone Willingham, now at Washington.
This interaction has proved to be unsuccessful because coaches tend to recruit players based on physical or mental characteristics that fit their grand scheme, such as size, speed or playmaking ability.
Willingham’s style of coaching and recruiting differs from that of Weiss, so it is easy to understand why the Fighting Irish are struggling.
The football team as a whole is struggling to find its identity; Notre Dame football cannot seem to decide on the style of play that suits it best and would help it win games.
Notre Dame’s personnel is in the middle of the spectrum, with neither a pure hard-nosed smash-mouth football team nor a finesse passing unit on the offensive side of the ball, where they have had the most problems. The team seems able to compete with its opponents in every aspect of the game, but fail to score enough points to win.
Weiss’s expertise as an offensive play caller has been hindered by uncertainty at the quarterback position. For the past two years, Weiss had Brady Quinn, an experienced and talented quarterback who meshed with his system and led the Fighting Irish to victory. However, this year, the quarterback position has been inconsistent due to lack of experience.
Demetrius Jones, the week one starter, Evan Sharpley, last year’s backup quarterback and Jimmy Clausen, the incoming freshman quarterback have all had difficulty putting points on the scoreboard and sustaining long, successful offensive drives down the field.
Notre Dame seems to have settled on Clausen as the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish, provided that he is healthy. An off-season surgery on his throwing arm and a current hip injury are worrisome for Notre Dame. Clausen’s talent is not in doubt; anyone can see that he has the physical tools and pedigree to be a quarterback at the division one level. The question is how long it will take him to adjust to college football.
The future of Notre Dame football seems to be looking up. Although Notre Dame has failed to win a football game, the team has improved with each game and finally ended the drought by defeating UCLA 20-6 this past Saturday.
It was a lackluster performance; Clausen threw for a measly 84 yards and rushed for negative 21.
According to sources like Rivals.com and ESPN, Coach Weiss has had two highly-ranked recruiting classes and is in the midst of another good year of recruiting.
With this year serving as a chance for the new coach and players to gain experience, and the talented recruits itching to get onto the field, it seems that happy days lie ahead for Notre Dame and its many fans.
Make no mistake; no matter how far it seems the team has fallen, Notre Dame football will rise again.