Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Turk's Toils | by Pat

There was a pretty revealing hometown article on Pennsylvania native Mike Turkovich in the aftermath of the loss to Penn State. The starting left guard offered up some quotes that will really test if you're a glass half full or glass half empty person. To wit:

“I was looking forward to coming home to my family and friends and putting on a good performance,” the 6-foot-6, 301-pound junior said. “We tried, but we didn’t execute the way that we needed to. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

It’s exactly how things have gone for Notre Dame, which started a season 0-2 for the sixth time in school history. The offensive line, which includes three new starters – including Turkovich – has struggled in losses to Georgia Tech and Penn State. Irish quarterbacks have been sacked 15 times and the team has minus-8 yards rushing through two games.

Notre Dame gained 55 yards on the ground Saturday night, but also lost 55 yards. That was actually an improvement over the opener against Georgia Tech.

“The O-line is only as good as its weakest link,” Turkovich said. “We’re not coming together. We’re not jelling right now. That’s the most important thing for an offensive line, is to jel. That’s what we need to work on this week. We need to get better. Zero yards rushing? It can’t get much worse.”...

“As an offensive line, we knew what we had to do, but it’s a totally different thing executing,” he said. “That’s the frustrating part – we know what we have to do, but we couldn’t do it. Penn State’s defense is a very good defense, but really, I think this loss comes down to us not executing.”
Some might read this as an indictment of the coaching staff's inability to teach linemen how to be linemen. Others will view it as proof that the coaching's fine, but it's the player mistakes, borne largely out of inexperience, that are hampering the offense. The truth is probably a murky mixture of both issues, plus some stellar defenses they've gone up against, plus a few other unknowns thrown in for good measure. One thing's for certain: from here on out, the OL will be scrutinized and analyzed like no other position. That's a good thing in my mind, as closer inspection can only lead to more accurate assessments, and fewer knee-jerk reactions.

By the way, there is a fantastic article today on Irish Eyes that breaks down the Irish offensive possessions in the ND-Penn State game. Well worth a full read.