Saturday, September 15, 2007

Game Day Grab Bag | by Pat

An assortment of news and observations as we head into a battle with Michigan.....

• Of all the trash talking between ND and Michigan fans, some of the more unexpected might have come from starting nose tackle Pat Kuntz, directed towards his very own defensive coordinator.

The Reggie Brooks run in 1992 at Notre Dame Stadium when he was a senior with the Wolverines. Rocket Ismail's two returns at The Big House in Brown's first college game.

All of those plays been showed in the Irish locker room this week.

“From that game, I had a ton of good plays, but nobody remembers those because that’s how life is," Brown remembers of Brooks' run in '92. "It’s a good conversation piece for our kids, because the rub it in my face.”

One of those players is nose tackle Pat Kuntz.

"Me and him, we talk a little trash to each other, fun stuff like that," Kuntz said. "I give him a hard time and he gives me a hard time, but it's all in fun."
• Michigan running back Mike Hart's guarantee of a Wolverine win found its way onto plenty of message boards and newspaper articles. Michael Rothstein's Irish Insights collected up an assortment of current and former player reactions to the Hart quote and while most didn't seem too worked up about the quote (at least publicly), former UM defensive back Marlin Jackson did express some reservation.
"I love my school, but Mike (Hart) can stay stand up there by himself on that limb. I'm going to back away from that boy and say I hope we win and I hope we can turn some things around and start playing better."
• One defensive note that could play out in Michigan's favor: the Wolverine's best linebacker, Shawn Crable, has been stuck playing mostly defensive end the past two games. The reasons as far as I can tell are twofold. Projected starter and highly-touted recruit Brandon Graham has been sidelined with an ankle injury and UM has been forced to line up in a nickel defense against the spread attacks of Appalachian State and Oregon. The defensive backs have been the weakness of the Michigan defense so far this season, so putting an extra DB on the field and having to move one of the best Michigan defenders out of position certainly isn't ideal.

With ND not likely to spread things out as much, and with Graham finally healthy, look for Crable to return to his linebacker spot and be more effective on blitzes (ND's weakness on offense). ND fans like to point out that the offense really isn't as bad as its "worst in Division 1" ranking. Well, Michigan's defense certainly isn't as bad as the 108th in the nation ranking either. Keep an eye on Crable (#2) during the game and see where he lines up. If he's back to his normal linebacker spot, the OL better be ready for repeated blitzes from his spot on the field.

• As to the Demetrius Jones story, he's definitely not with the team, per Charlie Weis:
At 2:30 today, while boarding the bus to Michigan, I was notified that Demetrius Jones had decided not to make the trip,'' Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said in a statement released by the school. ''I have not spoken to Demetrius and can only say that he missed the team bus. Any additional comment would be without all the facts.''
We're still going to wait until more facts come out before spending much more time on this, but if he did indeed leave the program without talking to Charlie first, on the eve of a tough road game no less, that certainly was a less than ideal way to handle the transfer.

• Finally, a very solid article from the South Bend Tribune's Jason Kelly as he easily skewers the latest "Weis versus Willingham" meme featured in many national and regional papers by dim-witted sports writers who go for outrage and controversy first and facts and logic second (if at all).

I'd just like to add to Kelly's piece a little factoid as it relates to the whole "Charlie can only win with Ty's recruits, not his own" rant that keeps popping up. I went back to the opening day rosters for 2005, 2006, and 2007 and counted the number of Willingham recruits who were starting (as opposed to those from Bob Davie or Charlie Weis).
2005 - 12 Willingham recruits starting
2006 - 17
2007 - 13
I'm not doing this to try and make excuses for Charlie or heap blame on Ty. There are numerous things that need fixing on this team and that is all Charlie's responsibility. Likewise, he and he alone is to blame for the lack of offensive production. I'm just trying to add some facts to the mix for the lazy journalists who can't be bothered to spend the 10 minutes it look me to look these numbers up and see that this year's team still features plenty of Ty's players.