Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Making a list, checking it twice | by Pat

Charlie knew that Irish fans were struggling having to deal with a BYE weekend right off the bat while all other college football fans got to start this season this weekend. So he was nice enough to give us all something to spend our time over-parsing in the form of a new depth chart. Follow the link for the in-depth list with heights, weights, and such. Here's the quickie version.

Jimmy Clausen
Evan Sharpley
Mo Richardson
OR Justin Brown
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Armando Allen
OR Robert Hughes
OR James Aldridge
Ian Williams
Paddy Mullen
Asaph Schwapp
OR Luke Schmidt
Steve Paskorz
Pat Kuntz
Ethan Johnson
Duval Kamara
Golden Tate
Harrison Smith
Scott Smith
Mike Turkovich
Matt Romine
Brian Smith
Toryan Smith
Eric Olsen
Paul Duncan
Maurice Crum, Jr.
Steve Quinn
Dan Wenger
Thomas Bemenderfer
OR Braxston Cave
John Ryan
OR Kerry Neal
Darius Fleming
Chris Stewart
Trevor Robinson
Raeshon McNeil
Gary Gray
Sam Young
Taylor Dever
Kyle McCarthy
Ray Herring
Kyle Rudolph
Will Yeatman
David Bruton
Sergio Brown
David Grimes
Michael Floyd
Terrail Lambert
Robert Blanton

Some quick thoughts....

If you're counting at home:
  • 12 players in the starting lineup who started against Georgia Tech.
  • 16 players in the starting lineup who started against Stanford.
Here's the breakdown by class of all players listed in this two (and three) deep:
  • 5th Year - 3
  • Senior - 11
  • Junior - 13
  • Sophomore - 13
  • Freshman - 8
The biggest change from last season is at left tackle where last year's starting left guard Mike Turkovich beat out Paul Duncan. Honestly, it's usually a red flag when a guard goes to left tackle. Turkovich definitely improved as a run blocker last season, but how he does against pass rushers is going to be...interesting. Charlie, as you might expect, is confident Turk will be fine.
“(Turkovich had) originally been a tackle then he played guard and he was in at tackle. Going into camp, to be honest with you, I wasn’t so positive that he was going to win the job and he won it convincingly. He did everything well. He showed he can pass block, he showed he could block at the point of attack. He showed he wasn’t a liability when we put him on an island, that we didn’t have to chip help every time he was over there."
Over at the WILL linebacker spot, John Ryan has pulled back even with Kerry Neal. Sort of. In all likelihood, Ryan, who has about 20 pounds or so on Neal, will be the run stopper in the 4-3 look while Neal plays more of a pass rush role when ND works more from a 3-4 look. At the very least it's a sign that Ryan is finally healthy again after playing with a bum shoulder last season and missing the spring.

Your first freshman to crack the starting lineup is....tight end Kyle Rudolph. I think it goes without saying that Clausen is going to enjoy looking for #9 for the next few years.

I don't think it's fair that the SAM and MIKE spots get to hoard all the Smith linebackers. There go my dreams of the all-Smith linebacking corp.

That looks like the most athletic Irish secondary I can remember. It's also sounding like Robert Blanton, and not Gary Gray, is going to be the first CB off the bench.

The full depth chart at the link above lists the special teamers. Of note, Brandon Walker will be handling field goals while Ryan Burkhart will be the kickoff specialist. Armando Allen is the #1 punt returner and kick returner.

Finally, in today's presser, Charlie says the few words that all Irish fans wanted to hear, but won't fully believe until they see it with their own eyes.
“Not to be a hypocrite, but ever since I’ve been here I wanted to be able to pound the football and we haven’t yet, so we’re going to find out because we’re going to pound it. The only way of finding out is to take the big boys up front, to come off the ball and hand it off to those backs because I like all of them, I like all of those backs,” he said.

“You’ve got to keep fresh legs out there at back and keep pounding it and that will help everything get better. It will help the play-action pass, it’ll get guys open on intermediate routes and it’ll help pass protection because people are going to have to worry about stopping the run first.”
Hopefully this is not another case of "Four Horses Running Downhill!" and this year ND does play to their strength on offense. Only 11 more days until we start to find out.