Welcome to the IBG on Subway Domer! The group is getting a little bigger this year and we welcome Mike Coffey (El Kabong) of NDNation.com into the fold. Notre Dame's official blogger,Josh Flynt is moving on, but his replacememnt should be intact in June.
This time around I got the chance to ask the newly engaged Ryan Ritter (NDTex) from Her Loyal Sonsa few questions and he it's obvious that he just kept typing words for words sake- even when just asked to fill in the blank. God bless him.
1. I've gone on record this year, "attacking" our blogger's & mainstream media tactics in covering spring football. Her Loyal Sons did not post a lot about spring football and generally seemed as laid back as a site could be (bravo, by the way). Was this a conscious decision to be careful about posting "hype" and speculation? Give me your general thoughts about spring football. Was this year different than other years? Basically... 'splain yoself.
The main answer here is probably a whole lot less exciting than you hoped: we've been busy, especially the leadership of HLS.
Biscuit has been insanely busy since this time last year and the last two months have been an absolute whirlwind for me with work, doing loads of work on our site in the background, planning my engagement, and now my wedding. Normally, I would be able to have a much larger role in coming up with posts and topics to discuss, but my mind has been elsewhere for most of the spring.
To our staff's credit, they have still been able to push out important news and consistent content despite our hectic schedules and their own.
As far as our thoughts on spring football, I do agree with you that we can get carried away in our observations. Really though, by definition, bloggers are all pretty much fans that get carried away to a point that we are driven to write about it. I think coverage of the limited information that we get is fine as long as we all realize that we aren't really doing analysis per se, but more an open forum to discuss our thoughts and opinions.
Last year, we had loads of story lines that we could cover in this regard. The QB battle was the major story this time last season. We got a new offensive line coach, moved a defensive coach into the offensive coordinator, and there was also some gnashing of teeth with the general frustration of two very underwhelming seasons to start Kelly's tenure.
This year, things are far more definite. We have no doubt with who will be under center for the Irish, and beyond "Alabama kicked our ass because holy crap they are good" it's really hard to be upset over anything last season. To put it another way, we had two elite recruits, Gunner Kiel and Davonte Neal, transfer and it barely caused more than a few ripples of angst.
I guess the best way to sum it up is thank God we all got insanely busy after one of the best seasons the Irish have ever had.
2. I have never been one to just start throwing freshman into the 2 deep- let alone penciling in one as a starter. However... I have to believe that at running back (based solely from the spring glimpse), Notre Dame's best options could very well be Bryant and/or Folston. Your thoughts please and are there any other position groups that seemed like they are in dire need of any of the freshmen that will arrive this summer?
It's hard to really slate any position in "dire need" of freshmen to fill the gaps at this point. I'm more concerned about our offensive line, especially with the departure of Braxton Cave, but really it's hard to judge that unit as they faced off against a defensive line that will be one of the best in the nation again this season. I thought the secondary would show some holes as well, but they did a solid job (even though our QBs helped them out a bit). Even the RBs, who had a rough day showed a few sparks -- in particular I was surprised to see GA3 get the call to gain a tough single yard on 4th down (and dear God, did he pay for it).
So really, I'm in "wait and see" mode. The 2013 class is going to make a huge impact one way or the other.
3. This spring brought us more than just a glimpse at 2013. It offered solid looks at 2014 and beyond. I'm talking about both Notre Dame's schedule announcements with the ACC and Jack Swarbrick's statements about fieldturf and jumbotrons. Please give me your thoughts on the off-the-field events from this spring.
Man, you love to throw several questions into one...so I'm going to throw several answers separated by topic.
ACC Schedule: I love it. My main concern was that we'd get overloaded with good teams one year and overloaded with crappy teams the next. The schedule is a perfect mix and will create a lot of awesome road trips in the coming years. I also love rotating the BC, Pitt, FSU, and Miami games and spreading them out. I think it'll rekindle the rivalries with the schools a bit. Yearly games against them are great, but we have done that with so many teams, I think it can make those matchups stale. This slate should keep things interesting for a quite a while.
NBC Contract: Can't believe you didn't mention this. But then again, there isn't really do much to say than: SEE YOU LATER TOM HAMMOND AND I WILL NEVER MISS YOU.
Field Turf/Jumbotron: I'm not surprised Swarbrick went on record to say that and I'm in the camp that thinks we focus way too much on these topics. However, since you asked, I'll give my honest thoughts on it.
As far as the field goes, ND just threw a ton of money in redoing the entire field last season. It makes no sense to just rip all that out after one season. I think they are seeing how it holds up for future seasons and go from there. Personally, I do love natural surfaces, but I hate them if they can't be properly maintained. That's been my biggest issue with our field in recent years. It's looked like crap far too often which means players are losing footing due far too often when chunks of the ground come up from underneath them. So if this new work fixed that problem, great, it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it doesn't, find a new solution.
Regarding the Jumbotron, I think Swarbrick is using the Shamrock Series to test drive this need. I think the biggest issue in this debate is whether or not ND would "do it right" and an one-off annual shot to mess around with one is a perfect beta program. I liken it to the piped-in music. While I loved the idea, I thought the execution when they first tried it was so unbelievably awful, I wanted it to stop. Since then, they have made gigantic strides, including putting mics in front of the band (which I thought sounded bad last season, but was great in the spring game this past weekend). If a move is made to a jumbotron, ND needs to have it right and have zero doubt they have it right. I think it would be widely beneficial to the program and I think fans would be pleasantly surprised, especially considering the load of digital content FIDM has been pouring out lately. ICONs and interview packages during horribly boring TV timeouts, following by the band pumping everyone back up when the break is about to end? YES PLEASE.
In the end, here is what I take away from this "news": We have an athletic director that understands fans. He knows there is a group that would love to see change and isn't afraid to try new things. On the other side though, he knows there are people that want to preserve ND as is. He's in a delicate balancing act and doing a fantastic job of it right now.
Students Going General Admission: Huge. Mark my words. The student section is always the highlight of ND Stadium's atmosphere and I think this will only improve it. You are going to get huge groups of loud, vocal, rowdy students instead of having them sprinkled around the student section. Continuing to have the sections split up by class is again a brilliant decision.
I predict that we will see a little bit of confusion at first, but once students get used to it, you are going to see the sophomore and freshman sections fill up early with excited and eager fans. The of age juniors and seniors will filter in a bit later, drunk and rowdy as all hell. By now, they should be wise enough to know that the best seats are higher up anyways, so hitting the front row won't matter as much.
It's a great move and I can't wait to see it in action.
Bonus: Fill in the blank: The 2013 "The Shirt" is ____________.
The Shirt is fine.
Design isn't awful and I do love the Kelly Green, personally. Still though, I would love to stick to a color and keep it that way. The thought that sales are better with color changes is an example of not understanding how to market The Shirt. This thing is guaranteed to sell like crazy and if the students would shift the focus to the fund raising efforts of The Shirt rather than its color/design, they wouldn't see a dip in sales in the least. To me, the goal of the shirt has always been to serve as a visible reminder that the students and the fans are behind the said fundraising efforts as well as the football team.
We overthink this waaaaaaay too much.