Dateline: Naples, FL
5. Drive Route 66 with Raz.
6. SEC roadtrip with Raz. See pt. 5.
Quote of the Week - I
"History of the World: Part II
At 96, you've still got it, Mel Brooks.
Quote of the Week - II
Word of the Week
Spring Practice Thoughts
Transfer portal. Honestly, WTF? Allow me to go full Clint Eastwood Gran Torino 'get off my lawn' for a moment...
- Win nearly every critical face off? Check.
- Negate opposing team's attacker? Check.
- Substitute liberally and strategically? Check.
- Optimize your time outs like a mo-fo? Check.
RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)
Let’s say there are six tiers of position groups in college football:
1. Championship level
2. College Football Playoff level
3. New Year’s Six level
4. Above-average Power 5
5. Average Power 5
6. Below-average Power 5
Based on what you’ve seen and heard from spring practice, what tier would you place each of Notre Dame’s 2023 position groups in? — C.
For the sake of discussion, let’s cut those levels down to four: College Football Playoff, New Year’s Six, secondary bowl and “What are we even doing here?” (i.e. 7-5 or worse). Basically, we’re combining the first and second categories — same deal with the fifth and sixth categories.
Here’s what I’ve got:
College Football Playoff: Running back, offensive line, cornerback
It’s not that Notre Dame has the best groups in the country at these spots; it’s just hard to pick out better ones. These positions are populated by the five best players on the team: Joe Alt, Blake Fisher, Benjamin Morrison, Audric Estime and Logan Diggs. Running back almost has too much talent — at least when Diggs and Jadarian Price are healthy. Plus, Jeremiyah Love arrives this summer.
Offensive line should be outstanding with Alt/Fisher and fifth-year senior Zeke Correll at center.
Cornerback is more of a projection with Cam Hart healthy, Clarence Lewis working as a solid nickel and Jaden Mickey/Christian Gray as the fourth option. With USC and Ohio State on the schedule, the uptick in cornerback talent is well-timed.
New Year’s Six: Quarterback, linebacker
OK, hear me out on linebacker. Notre Dame will have three inside linebackers with roughly 3,100 combined career defensive snaps. Few diagnose formations better than JD Bertrand. The staff is now working Jack Kiser on the interior in sub packages, putting one of the roster’s more underrated athletes to better use. Marist Liufau led the defense in snaps last season, and while he didn’t make many impact plays, if he’s the third inside linebacker on the depth chart, the Irish have a strong trio. If Notre Dame can get something from Jaylen Sneed or Nolan Ziegler at rover (a sub player in modern defense), this will be a strong unit.
Quarterback hasn’t shown a ton during spring, although word from inside Saturday’s scrimmage was Sam Hartman was outstanding. Still, neither Tyler Buchner nor Hartman is winning the job this weekend. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that competition go deep into August. Still, this feels like a New Year’s Six group, meaning 10-win talent at the position. Could that rise a tier? Sure. Let’s see it in August.
Secondary bowl: Receiver, tight end, defensive line
There’s room for movement, but these positions feel a bit Gator/Cheez-It heading into summer. Could receiver bubble up to a New Year’s Six level? That depends on the quarterback but also Tobias Merriweather and Deion Colzie making massive jumps.
Defensive line could get there too, but that could take Jordan Botelho repackaging his Gator Bowl and making it a regular thing. Rylie Mills could be a CFP-level tackle, and the defensive line’s interior should be better than expected.
Tight end hasn’t shown enough in spring practice to warrant a boost, with Holden Staes and Eli Raridon (ACL) short of experience behind Mitchell Evans, who’s solid but average by Notre Dame standards. Would going to 12 personnel be a strategic advantage for this roster? It’s not clear with this depth chart.
“What are we even doing here?”: Safety
For starters, Notre Dame is probably looking for a transfer safety after this weekend, which says a lot. Defensive coordinator Al Golden said the Irish “need help” when asked about a transfer/position switch. As good as Xavier Watts might be, it’s hard to get a read on the rest of the position, especially with Thomas Harper hurt. Like receiver last year, safety has a massive amount to prove.
Cocktail of the Week
We match-make two strong personalities - spicy rye and zingy grapefruit - for an unexpected marriage that'll get folks drinking, dancing and dropping old judgments.
Schadenfreude of the Week
|Missed it by... that much.|
Honorable mention to all of the top seeds in this year's college basketball tournament.
|"Bitch, pick a tea already>"|
Fare Thee Well, Linda Lohn. Beloved wife, mother, friend to so many of us. You will be so missed.