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What I’d Do: Notre Dame

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So I’m going to debut a new feature. I feel like I should do something more substantial than a haiku because I have thoughts on what to do going forward, but I really don’t want to talk stats about that game.

Notre Dame v Wake Forest Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
  • Start Jamie Newman, Redshirt Sam Hartman. Yes, I’m serious. Go with me for a second on this. So I don’t know if it’s a chicken or an egg thing given that we lost Justin Herron, probably our best pass blocker, but Sam Hartman has been running a ton, and while not ineffective, he’s been taking a beating. That said, Coach Clawson has always seemed fond of RPOs in which the quarterback is a threat. Given that Jamie Newman was apparently the projected starter before a preseason injury and it’s clear that the offense we either want to or have to run requires a quarterback who runs a lot, use the bigger body of Newman. Sam Hartman plays with all the heart in the world but he’s just not built to take blows like that over and over again. Keep Kendall Hinton in his current role of all-purpose back (occasional QB, RB, WR, etc.) to best utilize the skills of all of your personnel. Under the new redshirt rules, you can redshirt after playing up to 4 games, and I see very little reason to not redshirt Hartman, let him learn and get stronger, and if Jamie Newman gets hurt, start Hinton at QB.
  • Retool The Defense. If They Can’t Do That, Retool The Staff. So i think I’ve finally put a finger on what I think the biggest problem with our defense is. We play a lot of schemes that presume that a defender will go down with first contact. While generally these types of schemes allow for more pressure and coverage that can allow for explosive plays, the biggest issue is that our defense just cannot finish tackles as well as they should. That doesn’t mean good defense is impossible. Lots of schools with more undersized, speedy personnel can be very good defensively. The solution, then, is to focus more on waiting and making sure guys swarm to the ball to help finish off plays. It’d probably be softer and create fewer tackles for loss, but would provide insurance for defensive breakdowns, be they missed tackles or blown coverages. If the defensive staffers can’t do that, it’s time to look elsewhere. I’m not talking about canning Coach Clawson; it seems he hasn’t been happy with things defensively either, and hasn’t been for some time now.
  • Use What Brought You To The Dance Offensively. Alright, so I genuinely feel our offensive production is quite good outside the red zone. Even today we did a decent job getting yards and moving the chains. The problem is that in scoring territory we stall out. Personally, I think our biggest issue is that we don’t use our athletes enough. They have a lot more room to work further back, but things like slant routes and screen passes will probably work better than nothing but rushes and deep bombs which is what it feels like we do currently.
  • Don’t Lose Sight. For one, there are things this team does well. For another, the 2-2 start isn’t ideal but isn’t as dire as one may think. BC followed by Notre Dame is a pretty brutal 1-2 punch, and even worse, week after next, Clemson comes calling. If we lose to Rice next week, sound the panic alarms, but going 3-3 through this front stretch is not a death sentence, so keeping perspective is important. The back half of the schedule, while mostly on the road, is also much, much easier. Not time to put a nail in the season yet, especially if some of these other changes come to pass.

These are just my thoughts, granted. Am I clueless? Am I onto something? Sound off in the comments, annd #BeatRice (ugh).

On to the next. Go Deacs.

—SF