Well as predicted the Notre Dame fans who read my preview over on Bleacher Report were less than impressed, in fact one of them thinks I should be permanently banned. Just last week I predicted Washington would beat BYU and over 40 Cougar fans thought my pre season analysis of their team was spot on. That didn't mean they didn't hope, or predict a different outcome which is fine.
Notre Dame fans are a completely different breed. The majority of them never attended school there, never have seen a game in person, and even haven't set a foot on the storied campus in Northwestern Indiana. Subway alumni as they call them have no problem defending their favorite school's football team even if they tend to ignore the fact that the current team is rebuilding. You have to admire the loyalty, and it is a big reason why the Irish have their own national TV contract on NBC.
One point of criticism about the article was fair, and that was the fact that I gave little information except for Jake Locker on why I expected Washington to beat the Irish. So I posted a reply which clears that up and hear it is. Since the blog is being nationally syndicated I am going to have to be more thorough, and not take for granted that everyone read the articles leading up to the next one.
Bleacher Report Response
When I wrote the article I expected this reaction from some of the Notre Dame fans. What can I say, I call it like I see it, and I think Notre Dame, Stanford, and Washington State are the weakest teams Washington plays this year.
I pick Washington because they simply have the ability to put up a lot of points on Notre Dame. On the flip side I don't see the Notre Dame offense being able to keep up. It isn't so much an improved UW defense, it is simply lack of faith in the Irish offense. I watched almost every ND game last year, and was just surprised by how bad they were. I know they will improve in 2008, but they have a lot of work to do to catch UW who actually had a good enough offense to win last year if there defense hadn't have been so horrible.
Another item is this preview was written about Notre Dame, not Washington per se, so if you want to read about what I think about the 2008 Washington Huskies visit the blog at http://uwfootball.blogspot.com/ and you will be able to find quite a bit of balanced information in articles written over the past six weeks. Think of this article as part of a continuing series that has been going on for six weeks. this is just the Notre Dame chapter. When it shows up unattached on Bleacher Report I can understand how it may not stand completely on it's own.
As far as Notre Dame in 2008 goes I haven't really read anything different out there in the national media that says anything different than what I am saying. Most people think that a 6-6 finish is possible, but the best years of this program are ahead of them.
I read some interesting posts here regarding the recruiting of Weis, and he has had nothing but extremely highly ranked classes since he arrived at Notre Dame. Recruiting hype however is very subjective, and you really can't figure out how a class will pan out for 3-4 years. Take Tom Lemming for example, everyone knows he is a ND homer who over rates every player ND recruits. Add an extra star, deserved, or undeserved for every player ND recruits.
Rick Neuhesiel had some very highly ranked classes at Washington, and in retrospect it meant nothing because his later classes simply didn't pan out and perform to expectations for various reasons. The current 5th year seniors at Washington were recruited by Neuheisel, and signed by Gilbertson. That class was highly rated and for most intents and purposes it has been a bust. Let me give you another example, Paul Hackett's tenure at USC, you Irish fans remember him? He had highly ranked classes that lacked balance, didn't perform, and he lost his job.
Weis has recruited well on paper, but he has to prove he can win with his own athletes. Remember he did quite well with the kids he inherited, and not so good with his own guys last year. Whose fault was it that he didn't have a QB ready to go after Brady Quinn?
Recruiting is much more than rankings from Scout/Rivals. It has to do with evaluation, and picking the right type of players to fit your system. That is why a team like Boise State went undefeated a couple of years ago and whipped Oklahoma in a BCS bowl game. How many of those BSU players were recruited by the Pac Ten?
As far as this years game goes Washington is going to run all over Notre Dame in Husky Stadium. UW has an impressive veteran offensive line, and that line is deep, and experienced. The Huskies also have one of the best fullbacks in the nation in Paul Homer, this kid is devastating blocker. The skill players are unproven, but they are extremely talented. RB/WR Chris Polk is being called the next Reggie Bush, and RB Brandon Johnson is a very good inside type of runner who racked up 100 yards in the second half against Cal last year when Rankin was sidelined by an injury.
UW is also rolling out a couple of TE's who will play for the first time in 2008 who were rated among the very best in the country coming out of HS. Remember this name, Kavario Middleton, the kid is an animal, and he should be seasoned to make an impact by the time the Irish roll into town.
Let's talk about Jake Locker for a second, this kid is for real and is built like an absolute horse. He is incredibly mobile. His accuracy, and general comfort running the offense has dramatically improved since last Fall. When running the ball he hits like a linebacker, and his speed would allow him to start at RB for most BCS teams. You can't control him, you can only hope to contain him. With the added touch and accuracy he is going to be load to handle for any team he plays against. Locker is one of those rare players who can take over a game, and raise the level of everyone around him.
Finally lets talk about the Husky defense. Do you Irish fans remember a guy named Kent Baer? Were you impressed buy him at all? Probably not, and at Washington he was villifed by not only the fans, but by former players, and coaches. He was simply a bad fit who also lacked the depth and talent to compete in the Pac Ten.
The new DC is former Falcon DC Ed Donatell, and he represents a significant upgrade. He is also arriving at the right time because for the first time since Willingham has arrived UW has depth and talent in the defensive backfield. UW also has one of the better linebacking groups in the conference. The Huskies are solid at DE, and Daniel Teo Nesheim has the potential to leave early for the draft and be first team All Pac Ten. Washington like almost every team in the Pac Ten is rebuilding on the interior, and if you want to pick an Achilles heal for the defense it will be here unless a couple if highly touted recruits can play right away.
Pac Ten Alley
Let's take a walk down the coast to see what the neighbors are up to.
Oregon lost the battle of the helmet clash to Texas A$M
ESPN is having a "Helmet Clash" competition and the Oregon vs Texas A&M round will end today. Oregon leads by a small margin at the time of this post.
California judge lifts the injunction, but the tree sitters winn continue to appeal.
After 19 months and more than 40,000 pages of documentation, a judge ruled to lift the injunction preventing the construction of an athletic center near UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller ruled Tuesday that the injunction will be lifted in seven days, when the judgment officially takes effect. The university has battled lawsuits brought by the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation over the construction of the center and the removal of 44 trees at the proposed construction site since December 2006. Miller postponed the dissolution of the injunction for a week in order to give the petitioners time to file an appeal. The petitioners can ask an appeals court to issue another injunction to halt construction. Not all of the parties may choose to appeal.
Oregon State will be rebuilding it's special teams in 2008.
Heading into 2008, the Beavers lose Serna, lose long snapper Joel Cohen, and still do not have a proven punter on the roster. We redshirted Kyle Harper last year, well, I thought we did, until I looked at this year's media guide and didn't even see HIM on the roster. According to our "two-deep" depth chart, Sean Sehnem is the punter. But there's another guy, Johnny Hekker, who's also listed as a punter. So we'll see how that goes.
Even USC is being shafted by it's Fox regional sports network.
Let's see if we can get this straight: Fox Sports cancels the Trojan Rewind show (30 minutes) and replaces it with a new Monday night show that will devote one-third of its hour to USC (20 minutes). That's progress? And we didn't even include the Pete Carroll press conference show that was also canceled.
ASU wins the Pac Ten in simulation.
IGN writer Bill Barnwell conducted a simulation and analysis of the 2008 football season, conducted on EA Sports NCAA Football '09. It looks like ASU wins the Pac-10, apparently beating USC in the process and clinching a Rose Bowl Berth. Apparently, we lost to Oregon State at Corvallis in the simulation and finished the season ranked 5th. Since I haven't actually manned up and paid the $59.99 plus tax for the game, this is the closest I'm getting to the action right now. Interestingly enough, preseason favorite Georgia goes 7-5 on the year. This would be quite the season if it were actually to happen, even though the Rose Bowl doesn't turn out as we'd all hope.
UCLA talks about the proliferation of sports blogs in the newspapers and how they fail to interact with the fan blogs.
Achilles gave us a lot to think about in his post on blogs and traditional media coverage of UCLA. I agree with many of his points concerning how the newspapers in Southern California still hasn’t figured what to do with blogs. They – as in the main beat writers – who cover UCLA and other major athletic program in town still haven’t shown the ability to understand college football/basketball blogsphere and how to engage it both indirectly (by interacting with us) or directly (by launching their own effective blogs).
The WSU blog contribute's 133 reasons to love the Pac Ten.
With summer flying by and only 40 DAYS until the Cougs and the rest of the Pac-10 kick of the 2008 season, I thought we’d take a peek at how the conference schedules look this year. There are a couple things that jump out at me when I look at the 2008 Pac-10 schedule. First is that the non-conference schedules are looking tougher than in years past. That’s not to say that every school’s schedule is loaded with tough matchups – there are still some real softies on tap – but overall, I’d say the Pac-10 has stepped up the level of non-con competition.
Since nobody is writing about the Stanford football team lets's check in with the band since they are off double secret probation.
Spring Band is the LSJUMB's mercenary faction. Spring Band has no sporting event obligations, so it is free to wander around the Bay Area, playing for birthday parties, weddings, wakes, gun shows, and more. Fine weather (practically guaranteed) and Fun (guaranteed, or your money and Open Bar back) abound. It's an exciting time to be playing an instrument in tacky, awful clothing. We never know what's going to happen. For every game of downhill bowling outside a birthday party in San Francisco (true story), there is getting locked inside the fence during the lunch hour at a construction site (also a true story).
The classy team at the BYU Blog breaks down the Quarterbacks.
Hall returns for his junior season. Hall started in every game last year, and only missed time during a couple of short plays due to injury besides stepping out when games were well in hand. On the year, Hall had 298 completions on 496 attempts, a 60% completion rate. 62% or higher seems to be the real standard of excellence at BYU in terms of accuracy, so Hall has some room to improve. Those passes were good for 3,848 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the year, the #10 season all time for a BYU quarterback.
The Irish Band of Brothers is going to rebut yesterdays preview Notre Dame preview.
Tomorrow I'll post my rebuttal to this piece on why and how the Irish will prevail over the Huskies. So without further adieu, here's John's preview of the Washington game seen through the eyes from a delusional Husky fan. Sorry John I had to put that in there.
Hey, only my wife can call me delusional ;)