I'm reading some of the other Notre Dame blogs kind of laughing to myself because I'm reading a lot of the same kinds of crazy rationalizations we made last year.
The gang over at the Blue-Gray Sky offers up their preseason predictions and I'm just wow. They ask their team of panelists to predict each game and then they ask some of them to predict the most surprising win and loss.
Weis owned Bradley? I seem to remember Brady Quinn hitting a few Nittany Lions right in the numbers and was very fortunate to have them dropped. The secondary had three sophomores and a fifth year senior all in their second career starts. Bradley played a soft zone to compensate for their inexperience and Justin King's groin injury. The defensive line had three new starters also in just their second game as a unit. And Paul Posluszny, still recovering from the torn ACL, was running around with big bulky knee brace that he shed later in the season.
This year we'll have three healthy linebackers and a much more experienced and battle tested secondary. The defensive line may still be a problem, but I look for Bradley to be much more aggressive in blitzing the linebackers now that his secondary knows what they're doing. Notre Dame on the other hand will be completely rebuilding their offense. Oops, sorry, I know Charlie doesn't like that word.
There is no reason why Notre Dame can't beat Penn State this year? None? None at all? Did Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight, and Darius Walker all come back for another year and I missed it? Are all of these players that were recruited for a 4-3 system going to perfectly fit into a 3-4 system? Have they already mastered the 3-4? Is the game in South Bend again? Are all of these new starters going to walk right into a 107,000 seat stadium and just play like they're back on the practice field? I think there may be a couple reasons why Notre Dame can't win this game.
Dylan says Michigan will be the biggest surprise win. He thinks beating Penn State will just be an ordinary win.
Yeah. Pot, meet kettle.
They're not all crazy though. Pat thinks Notre Dame will lose to Penn State...though he labels it the most surprising loss which suggests he thinks Notre Dame should be the favorite.
Now add to this what Rakes of Mallow predicts for the Penn State game.
Now I know that last year we all expected great things and it didn't quite work out. But who could blame us? We were coming off of a 12-1 season and a BCS Bowl win. We were going to finally see our highly touted quarterback replacing a guy that was drafted into the NFL as a running back. We were getting Derrick Williams back from the broken arm. We figured the small details like the offensive line, defensive line, and secondary would just work themselves out. Turned out we were wrong. The secondary and defensive lines did work themselves out, but not until midway through the season and by that time we already had three losses.
Notre Dame is going to be breaking in an entirely new group of people at every offensive skill position save tight end. They already had a shaky defense, but now they have a new defensive coordinator breaking in a new system that they haven't recruited the players to play. Penn State returns a lot of proven battle tested talent from last year and the game is in Happy Valley. I know we had high expectations last year, but were we this bad?