Posted on: December 22, 2008 5:44 am

How badly did Ty Willingham wreck two programs???

University of Washington fans and alum have now figured out why Ty wasn't working in South Bend.  I thought it's be fun to break down Ty's coaching and Recruiting and get a real sense of how bad it's gone for both teams.  Sarkisian has a long road ahead of him just as Charlie has.

Quarterback - ND - When Ty arrived Arnaz Battle was the current QB. Battle was a good option QB, but didn't fir Ty's system so he decides to take another option style QB in Carlyle Holliday and make him run the west coast offence (hhhmmm).  Finally gets a good recruit in Brady Quinn and is reluctant to send him out there in his freshman year.  Brady wins the battle a few games into the season and really excels under the tuteledge of Charlie Weis.

WASH - Ty gets another incredible QB recruit in Jake Locker, but uses Isiah Stanback in Lockers first year causing a red shirt. Locker comes in his second year and is immediately compared to Tim Tebow West Coast version. Locker has a good RS freshman year to start but his footwork needs work and is not very accurate.  Locker this year had zero time in the pocket, and no one to throw to, no one to rush the ball and went down early with an injury. He will benefit from Sarkisian.

Running Back - ND - Darius Walker - undersized running back that ran with heart. Was unable to bring in anyone else to replace him. Lack of depth at the position hurts ND still, although deptha nd talent are emerging.

WASH - Louis Rankin - Inherited from Rick Neuheisel - Very good back, but once again there is no one else in the stable to replace him.  Washington has no one to run the football, and it created too much pressure on the QB.

Receiver/TE - ND - The one area Ty did OK on. Rhema McKnight, Maurice Stovall, Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, but here's the mistake he never played Jeff Szmardjia. He never thought he'd be a good receiver. Ty's recruting classes were weak after that leaving the receiver stable lacking too, best recruit was David Grimes??? oh dear, Undersized, but huge heart.

WASH - Once again did a decent job, has a good recruit in Kavario Middleton, but won't play him. Middleton was very sought after and never saw the field until too late in the year.  Sark again has his work cut out for him trying to find a weapon for Locker.

O-Line - ND - The Line he inherited from Bob Davie was good and he was able to use his recruits over the span of his career. But after the first year under Ty the O-line seemed to lose the aggression. There was no slobber knocker on the line and the other teams seemed to push the line backwards.  Charlie uses some of Ty's recruits in a zone blocking scheme that worked fine for the first two years because of an experience QB, but we quickly found out that Ty left nothing behind for the years to come.

WASH - Once again Ty destroys what should have been one of the best O-lines in CFB. These guys this year were huge and good. Average 6-5 310lbs, and somehow Ty finds a way to allow the oppsing defences to party on Locker's head.

From a guy that was supposed to run mostly three step drops, and get rid of the ball quickly, to a guy that had is teams looking disorganized on game day and not knwoing what the coach was going to call, why were they running on throwing downs and passing on running downs? Ty is a great man just not a great HC.  He's taken two pretty decent programs and after he's turned them over they have been in absolute turmoil.  Charlie is finally getting to a poitn where they can have real positon battles for playing time and talent at every position. Depth is starting to improve. Washington has a long long way to go, I just hope people will be patient with Sark.

Posted on: November 13, 2008 4:39 am

Returning to find my Irish failing???

Are the Irish as bad as last year? Are they just a young team learning how to win? Is the head coach just a damn good recruiter and not a great game planner?

I am hearing all sorts of questions on the ND message boards, and from alot of die hard fans that seem to be jumping on and off the Charlie Weis bandwagon and for that matter the bandwagon period.

How can it be that the Irish are looking mediocre two years in a row? It's easy, it's called rebuilding. Charlie had to rebuild the entire program from Ty Willingham, right from the players attitudes to the coaches attitudes. Notre Dame was well on it's way to being the laughing stock of the NCAA before Charlie took over and he had a great first year, a decent second year, but as we are seeing the last couple of years is when the rebuilding process has started.  Unlike the pros where you can rebuild in a coaches first year and maybe start winning in the second or third year college is different. You get the previous coaches recruits handed to you and cannot pickup your type of players in free agency or via trades. You have to wait and if the program has had a few off years in recruiting and winning your program will suffer a little in getting the people you want.  Charlie is doing a great job of coaching, he's letting his coaches coach and taking over the offense which he should never have let go anyways, regardless of the horrific year last year.

I have also heard the youth thing is an excuse. I don't think anyone is using it as an excuse as much they are stating that the future looks bright at ND.  The offensive line is the oldest bunch on the field and still are relatively young.  There is also a couple of kids that have very bright futures waiting in the stable for their chance.

As I have stated before in another blog: I will not get down on this team because they are young and still learning how to win football games.  It takes more than just a couple of decent wins and losses for a team to relearn how to win. ND has gone through a couple of seasons of mediocrity and hopefully within the next year or two they will have learned how to win and the growing pains of a young team will have been worked out and the underclassmen will have learned from the upperclassmen how to win and what it takes. Remember Ty Willingham taught a team how to lose and Charlie Weis is trying to do the opposite.

Go Irish.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 30, 2008 12:37 pm

ND game #4, Purdue a Complete Win?

After a short stint in the hospital after surgery and missing the MSU game I am glad to be back on the boards. Now let's talk Purdue.

After seeing the game a few times now and also reading a few things on the message boards and a few blogs, one thing is apparent to me. This team is still in the process of learning how to win games. Purdue game was a more complete game from the offence's perspective. It doesn't matter if they play the best run defence or the worst run defence a decent showing still improves the psyche of the players. Beating up on another team no matter how bad or good they are is still a better confidence builder than beating up on the scout team or your own Dline.

Now to the game:

Offensively: Great game by Jimmy C. No picks, made good decisions with the ball, I also saw that he was looking off the receivers better. I f at the begining of the season you said the offence will go as Jimmy goes, I'd have been nervous, but each week he is showing he can do it and why he was sooo highly rated out of high school. He's got zip on the short passes and touch on the deep. I really think he needs to start looking over the middle a little more for Rudolph because there was a couple of times he was wide open with no one around him for atleast ten yards. The offensive line played fantastic too. Can enough be said about the raw talent of Floyd?

Defensively: This is why it's not a complete game. They gave up too many yards passing. They need to play more bump coverage if they are going to blitz like that because they got killed underneath on crossing routes where the receiver was free off the LOS. The blitz is just a little too slow sometimes and they need to hold up the receivers like Blanton. Blanton was the only guy in the face of the receivers. Crum our leader seemed to miss too many easy tackles too, he needs to wrap up the ball carrier better.

Special Teams: Kicking game is woeful. Punting isn't bad, the coverages are incredible. The return game is starting to look good too.

Overall I give the entire game a B+, but that's only because the offense gets and A++.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 14, 2008 11:28 am
Edited on: September 14, 2008 11:35 am

Notre Dame Game #2, Big Win over UM

To say anything but this is a big win for Charlie Weis and the program is ridiculous. I know Michigan is retooling/rebuilding, but a win over a good defence and a win in which they made things happen for themselves. It really seems as though the first game of the season was the confidence builder they needed.

Clausen had another decent game. His completion percentage wasn't great and he did throw two interceptions, one being and outstanding play by Morgan Trent. He made the throws when it counted which included two td strikes and showed great touch on the deep ball. He never took a sack either when he was pressured and only went to the turf maybe three times.

Hughes and Aldridge are meant to play in that type of game and weather. It was nice to see Hughes have a good game and reinsert himself as the starter and Allen as the change of pace back. How impressive was that straight arm Hughes gave to gain the corner?

Receivers were excellent too. Tate is proving to be a serious deep threat and man can he run after the catch. Floyd, I like that they continued to throw to him he's a huge target and can do stuff after the catch, and Kumara learned a lesson from the SDSU game, and this time went up and attacked the ball for the TD, beautiful catch.

The O-line, here's the most impressive group of the game. Second straight game without a sack, Clausen was maybe taken down three times, they rushed well, for going up against maybe "the best d-line in college football" and a "stout front seven".

The defensive approach to the game seemed to have a bend but don't break mentality. I liked the 4-2-5 defence they employed v. the spread option; however I do question having John Ryan in their at MLB when they have wasy more talented athletes like Darius Fleming and Steve Filer on the sidelines. Brian Smith is an animal. And our two safeties are crazy tacklers. McCarthy is a sure of tackler as you can get.

Special teams were fantastic with the exception of the blocked punt. What more can you say about Mike Anello. Cult hero as Pat Hayden suggested. Someone in the NFL needs to pick that guy up as the next Steve Tasker.

I've heard alot of talk about how this team hasn't improved and how Charlie Weis is not a good coach and fat this, front butt that. You know what though? I'd take Charlie and the toughness he showed over alot of other coaches. He also has a good game plan and his recruiting and playing all those freshmen last year is starting to pay off. This team is a good team that is just starting to learn how to win and if they continue like this thye will be the team to beat again one day.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 11, 2008 4:39 am

Learning How to Win

How does won learn to win? Some people say your born with it and your either a winner or a loser. Some teams just have and some don't. I have a different take on the situation. A winner is not born they are taught. They are taught the necessary discipline it takes to go to the nth degree to win. They are taught how to overcome adversity. They are taught how to be a good teammate and pick up your own players if they are down. Most improtantly they are taught that you win together.

This is what I see going on with many young teams in sports today.

Example#1: Chicago Blackhawks - Last year their number one line had a coupl of kids on it. Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane, and also they were very young across the board. Their season started off miserably and then they started learning they had to play the game for the full three periods. They also learned if they the goalie gave up a bad goal they needed to pick up their teammate by scoring to wipe that goal out. You could also look at the Pitsburgh penguins a team that 2 years ago bowed out of the first round of the playoffs and then last year went to the Stanley Cup Final.

Example#2: Notre Dame - Here's a team that had a horrid season last year. They set all sorts of record of futility. They gave up 58 qb sacks a record and their qb was hit over 100 times. Everyone including myself expected them to come out and destroy a feeble opponent in SDSU and what happened, they eked a win out. That teams confidence and their youth caused them to take an approach of waiting for something good/bad to happen, and then for whatever reason in the fourth q. they decided it was time to make something happen themselves.

We see this in most sports how it takes young teams time to learn how to win, sometimes it's bringing a veteran to help them learn it, sometimes it's a coach taking it upon himself to teach it, and sometimes a team just comes together and teaches it to each other. For whatever reason every team that goes through a rebuilding time needs to learn this skill.  It seems as though the only exception to this learning curve has been teh Florida Marlins who took a very very young team to the world series. But again they did have that vet are their team that knew a little about winning.

In summary if your team is going through one of these phases and is struggling to find it's game be a little patient, I don't think winning is too far off.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 6, 2008 7:50 pm

Notre Dame Game #1

Notre Dame just wrapped up their first game of the season and with mixed results. What everyone has to remember is this is a team coming off a 3-9 season, which is an abomination in the history of ND. They are a young team that didn't have alot of confidence even though they won their last two.

What we saw today was exactly that. A team in transition a team tryong to build a little confidence and a team that was always waiting for something bad to happen ... even Pat Hayden saw that.  I think at half time Charlie talked about exactly that. Nothing good is going to happen unless we make it happen. It took almost the entire third quarter before McCarthy caused the fumble and the team seemed to realize what Charlie was talking about. The confidence started to build and the offense started to move the ball.

Jimmy Clausen after his second interception started to look off the receivers a whole lot better, and stopped telegraphing his throws. He showed good touch on the deep ball and the receivers, Tate, Grimes, and Floyd made fantastic plays for their TD's. The offense seemed to be more confident with Hughes in the game than with Allen in their. They seemed to power forward more. THe biggest thing about the offense was, no sacks were given up.

The defense played really well. They only had the one sack, but they pressured Lindley (who was really poised) into making bad throws. Lindley threw the ball wide of a few receivers, high a few times anf low a few times, and a really bad throw on the interception. McCarthy had like sixteen tackles. But I think the MVP of the defence had to be Sergio Brown, he was absolutely everywhere. Blitzing breaking up passes, making tackles.

Mike Ianello was the unsung hero of the game making play after play on special teams.

What I'd like to see:

1)  A little more imagination on offense. More passing on first down. More patterns than a fade. Maybe a little more Shotgun.

2) Defensively, a little quicker getting off the blocks, the D-line was tied up by their blocks most of the game.

3) WR's Floyd and Tate out wide, Grimes in the slot. Rudolph going down field more.

4) Let Clausen sling it, in the second half he was so much better.

To summarize, this more than anything was a learning experience for a young team and a confidence builder, knowing they can win when bad things happen. Two picks, Two fumbles, giving up 13 point off turnover, and they still win.


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