Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ranking the Irish | by Pat

In one of the comments for the position preview wrap-up, someone wanted to know where I would place the Irish positions in relation to those of our opponents. I figure this might be good for a few laughs later in the winter, so here we go. Again, I'm not going to consider things like coaching and will try to stick with variables such as talent, potential, depth, and production. So, let the prognosticating begin:

Quarterback - 1. USC ; 2. Michigan; 3. Tennessee; 4. Pitt; 5. MSU; 6. Stanford; 7. Purdue; 8. BYU; 9. Syracuse; 10. Washington; 11. Navy.

To me, the Irish QB position would fit in between Tennessee at #3 and Pitt at #4. I'm sure people will claim that Palko is a better quarterback than Quinn, but at least Quinn's backup Wolke isn't a true freshman like Palko's backup. I'm not sure Wolke's career three handoffs mean much, but it's something. The game this Saturday will go a long way to seeing if this was a wise pick or not. Tennessee deserves a higher slot because Erik Ainge and Rick Claussen are both experienced quarterbacks.

Running back - 1. USC; 2. Michigan; 3. Tennessee; 4. Purdue; 5. Stanford; 6. Syracuse; 7. Michigan State; 8. BYU; 9. Washington; 10. Pitt; 11. Navy.

Right now, I'd put ND between Tennessee and Purdue. While I love Walker, we don't have the depth of USC or Michigan and, right now, Riggs of Tennessee is a better all-around running back. Don't forget Tennessee has All-American caliber fullback Cory Anderson.

Wide Receiver - 1. USC; 2. Tennessee; 3. Purdue; 4. Michigan; 5. Michigan State; 6. Stanford;
7. Pitt; 8. BYU; 9. Washington; 10. Syracuse; 11. Navy.

This is a tough one. We have depth, seniority, and talent, but production has been shaky. I'd love to blame it all on coaching, but at some point players need to step up too. Right now, I'm going to say the Irish receiving corp should go right before Michigan's, but I'm not completely sold. Arguing that we don't have a Breaston-caliber receiver is valid point, but they don't have our depth. Which is more important? Hard to say.

Tight End - 1. USC; 2. Purdue; 3. BYU; 4. Michigan; 5. Pittsburgh; 6. Tennessee; 7. MSU; 8. Washington; 9. Stanford; 10. Syracuse; 11. Navy.

Fasano, Carlson, and Freeman equal a solid #2 ranking ahead of the Boilermakers and breathing down USC's neck. Fasano isn't quite the weapon that Byrd is, and Fred Davis is a great athlete, but I really think John Carlson is going to have a breakout season.

Offensive Line - 1.Michigan 2. USC; 3. Tennessee; 4. MSU; 5. Purdue; 6. Stanford; 7. Pitt; 8. BYU; 9. Washington; 10. Syracuse; 11. Navy.

Hmmm.... First off, I'd probably switch USC and Michigan now given the loss of Jake Long. The Irish have great experience and talent on the front five, but there is a disconcerting lack of depth; especially at the tackle spots. I'll be optimistic and say that ND fits into just barely ahead of Tennessee. Just barely.

Defensive Line - 1. Tennessee; 2. Purdue; 3. Michigan; 4. USC; 5. Stanford; 6. Syracuse; 7. Washington; 8. BYU; 9. Pitt; 10. MSU; 11. Navy.

Talent or depth, depth or talent? I think Notre Dame's front four are just as good, if not better, than USC's. But the Trojans have a little bit better depth thanks to their lights out recruiting of late. So let's put the Irish between USC at #4 and Stanford at #5.

Linebacker - 1. Tennessee; 2. Purdue; 3. USC; 4. Michigan; 5. Washington; 6. Syracuse; 7. Pittsburgh; 8. Stanford; 9. BYU; 10. MSU; 11. Navy.

As of now, I'd put the Irish linebackers between Michigan and the Washingon Huskies. A bit low, but for all their potential, Crum and Vernaglia are unknowns when it comes to game-time production. I'm trying hard not to drink the Irish kool-aid and move them up a spot.

Secondary - 1. Tennessee; 2. USC; 3. Pitt; 4. Michigan; 5. Purdue; 6. Washington; 7. Syracuse; 8. Navy; 9. BYU; 10. MSU; 11. Stanford.

Another spot where being a homer has its pluses and minuses. Another fan would see "loses three starters from nation's next to worst pass defense" and sit us at a table with Stanford. Heck, I did as much in my secondary preview. But I'm rather bullish on the additions of Wooden and Ndwuke to the starting lineup, and expect Richardson to improve on last season's performance. Then again, both backup safeties are true freshman. I think somewhere between #5 Purdue and #6 Washington is fair, but we aren't very far ahead of Washington.

So, there you have it. Any wild disagreements out there?