Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Year 2 of the Brian Kelly Era

One of my less popular interests, at least amongst many of the people I know, is in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. To call it an "interest" of mine would be a vast understatement. Anyways, I figured that any blog I write would be incomplete without them so I figured I would begin with a review of Year 2 of the Brian Kelly Era.

The first two losses, to South Florida and Michigan, were so horrendously ugly that I think I've permanently removed them from my brain. Dayne Crist was yanked from his starting position at QB almost immediately in the opener and soon thereafter "Turnover" Tommy Rees entered with the same luck. However, the silver lining out of those two losses - that they were mostly due to turnovers - has borne out in the last four games. Against Michigan State, Pitt, Purdue, and Air Force, the offensive prowess that has won games for Brian Kelly at every level of his career finally reared its head. The Rees to Michael Floyd connection is deadly, and Cierre Wood has NFL RB written all over him. More importantly for me, though, is how incredibly the defense has come along. Led by Manti Te'o, the defense, forgetting for a moment the disgustingly bad secondary (mostly you, Gary Gray), has been superb, especially against the run. The next big test looms a week from Saturday at home, under the lights, against USC. The weekend is a perfect test for Kelly, because it will exhibit just how far his football team has come on the field, while at the same time allowing us to transition into what has been an amazing surprise thus far for Brian Kelly - recruiting.

I'll admit, I was skeptical when Brian Kelly came aboard about any skill he would have as a national recruiter. After all, the only time he had spent on the (relatively) large stage was at Cincinnati. Last year, he reeled in a monster class in his first full season, with future and present stars such as Aaron Lynch, Stephon Tuitt, and Ishaq Williams. This year, he continues to do the same, with more future stars on the defense such as Jarron Jones, Sheldon Day, Ronald Darby, and Tee Shepard. More importantly, the USC weekend  is shaping up to be a MASSIVE recruiting weekend for the Irish, with names such as Keith Marshall, Shaq Thompson, and Arik Armstead all scheduled to attend.

All of this breathes excitement for the future of ND Football. I know that we've been down this road before, with the first couple Charlie Weis years, but sometime makes me feel like this is going to be different. First step is to get a win against those Trojans.