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How does the team look this spring compared to springs of the past? Do they look better, have better depth, more talented?
Well, that's a pretty broad question.
If I'm comparing it to the 2007 spring when the lines were really thin and the team eventually finished 3-9, this unit would be more advanced. If I'm comparing it to Lou Holtz's juggernauts in the late 1980s up to 1993, when people like Dorsey Levens (a future Pro Bowl pick who finished college at Georgia Tech) and Reggie Brooks were fourth and fifth team at tailback, they're not there.
The reason last season was so disappointing was when Brian Kelly came here and we looked at the roster and schedule, we thought 2011 would be the best chance for a BCS bid during his first three years.
I can never really evaluate "how they look" until I've seen other teams, or have them compete against other teams fairly equal to them.
I always tell this story about the "how do they look" inquiries. When my colleague Todd Burlage was at the 2006 Fiesta Bowl versus Ohio State, he called me after watching an ND practice and gave an optimistic, upbeat report about how the Irish "are looking good."
The next day, the OSU practice was open and he decided to attend. He called me right after and said, "Holy s---, I feel like I just walked out of a pro camp. I don't see Notre Dame winning this game."
Until you do some comparison shopping ("My momma told me, you better shop around"), it's really hard to evaluate — at least for me it is.
Lou, there's an apt analogy to horse racing (I can always find one). A trainer will really love how his horse is coming into a race, "on the muscle", as they like to say. He will definitely like his chances. However, it's information in a vacuum, because he has no idea how the other nine in the race are training. The moral of the story is you don't go to a trainer (and never a jockey) for meaningful handicapping advice. In the case of watching a football scrimmage, I'm sure you can get something of an impressionistic feel, but as you suggest, it's a limited perspective.
I may not be pretty, but I'm fast.....
POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11
Thanks for the response, Lou. I guess I was wondering compared to Kelly's first two years, if they seem like they are headed in the right direction. Especially the Grace's, Rabassa's, etc, i think there is some really good young talent that could be emerging.
I've done 30 spring practices and never in one was there not good young talent emerging. That's why they are recruited. There is never a spring also where a coaching staff didn't think it was headed in the right direction.
I'm not saying this to be snide, and I hope you don't take it that way because I understand the spirit in which your question was asked. But as we said in another thread, the three most worthless questions ever to ask in this business are: 1) How was the recruiting this year? 2) How is spring practice going? 3) How is the team attitude. It's like a State of the Union address by a President, regardless of party affiliation. No President has ever stated at such a gathering, "Our country is going downhill and our future looks bleak."
Whether it's 1942, 1962, 1982, 2002 or 2012, the replies will always be the same. "We like the young talent we have and are headed in the right direction. It's a process. We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go."
We can give you features, updates, breaking news, injury reports and "just the facts, ma'am" reports during the spring ... but answers about direction can really be measured only when the lights come on and the stage is set during the season.
Im gonna start calling you SAUL(from Ocean's 11) Ham
Thanks a lot. Couldn't give me the Clooney or Pitt character, could you?
I agree that we cannot know. But the great coaches know what they are looking at and they tend to start the season strong because they have made the personnel, scheme, etc. adjustments they needed to make to achieve a certain standard before the season begins. Think Lou Holtz.
There are other coaches who have great reputations for coaching the heck out of their kids during the season. Mike Riley of Oregon State was the head of that class a few years ago.
One of Kelly's biggest tests at ND will be: Can he get his team ready to go 4 and 0? So far, not so good.
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5 Time POTW & 2 Time WPOTW Winner
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