Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hawaii Five-O, err, I mean the Warrior 411

Who are these Hawaii Warriors you speak of? Well today will be the first installment of six covering Hawaii's 7-6 season, and leading up to their matchup with the Fighting Irish on December 23rd.

Hawaii Warriors
Conference: Western Athletic
Conference Record: 5-3, T-2nd
Home Record: 5-2
Road Record: 2-4
Best Win: at Fresno State 32-29, OT
Best Loss: Cincinnati 29-24

Head Coach: Greg McMackin, 1st Season

McMackin was named Hawaii's head coach January of this year after June Jones left to take the head coaching position at SMU. He became the 21st Coach of the program's history and served two stints as defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2007.

Prior to joining Hawaii in 1999, McMackin was a defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks for four seasons under former coach Dennis Erikson.

So he's been around for quite some time now. He's a defensive oriented guy, but he obviously doesn't have the weapons on defense to get the job done because this Hawaii team gave up a ton of points this year (27.3). They were 72nd in the FBS in scoring defense, and gave up a lot of points to big name teams.

National Rankings

Rushing: 107th (99.3 ypg)
Passing: 33rd (245 ypg)
Total: 74th (344 ypg)

Definitely a huge drop off from last season's squad that made it to the Sugar Bowl against Georgia.

Rushing: 73rd (148 ypg)
Passing: 54th (203.85 ypg)
Passing Eff.: 64th (126.3)
Total: 59th (351 ypg)

One statistic that pops out that should make Irish fans hopeful is Hawaii's pass efficiency numbers. Being 54th in the nation is alright, but then when you look at the Quarterbacks they faced, it should give Notre Dame some reason they could move the ball down the field with ease through the air.

This season it seems like when the Warriors were on the road they were not a very good team, and even when they were at home they were not as dominate as they have been. Hawaii was 5-2 at home this season, and are 22-4 over their last 26 games. So playing them on their own carpet is not an easy task for the Fighting Irish whatsoever.

Hawaii's pass offense is still pass happy as they threw 452 passes this year. They did give up 49 sacks, which is one of their weaknesses and one of the worst in the FBS. They're still dangerous because they can score a little. Anytime you throw that much in that system you have to be ready for it.

In terms of the start of the year Hawaii lost 14 starters. They had 12 returners, only four on offense (3 OL and 1 RB), and on defense they had five returning starters. They did have three speciality players back, so this was a team that didn't have a lot of key guys back. But this was a program that had been making some noise in the previous years under Coach Jones. So I guess we'll have to give Colt Brennan a lot of credit because he put up some ridiculous numbers in Honolulu.

Now we're going to look back at Hawaii's first two games of the season and get a sense of how their season unfolded.

Their first game of the year was not exactly a fun trip because A.) it was a long trip, and B.) you're playing a powerhouse in the Florida Gators. 90,575 fans, the second largest to witness a Hawaii football game, dropped their fourth season opener in the last five years, 56-10.

Hawaii got off to a good start as they drove down in Gator territory on their first two possessions and held the high powered Florida offense scoreless in the first quarter. But it was all Gators as they scored 56 points in the middle two quarters of the game. The Warriors turned it over six times, including four interceptions.

With so many new faces on the Hawaii roster, the Warriors knew it was going to be difficult. But running into Florida was a tough circumstance for a team that went through some coaching and personnel changes.

Florida scored in four different ways against Hawaii: two by interception, a punt return, a run, and then a couple of long passes by Tim Tebow. One of the interceptions was returned 80-yards, so that was not a good way to kick off the season.

In terms of first downs it was Florida 20, Hawaii 16. But if you look at some of the other numbers - Rushing (24 carries for 60 yards) and Passing (21-of-39 for 181 yards and 4 ints) - that's just not Warrior football in terms of throwing the ball effectively. Florida won the total yards battle, 406 to 231, and when you're minus six in turnover margin you have ZERO chance to win the game.

Another telling stat of the game was that Hawaii used three different quarterbacks.

The best way to remedy a bad start is to schedule Weber State in game two. And that's exactly what the Warriors did as they won 36-17 at home.

After trailing 17-7 at the half, Hawaii scored 29 unanswered points in the second half to secure the win. In this game Hawaii had 305 passing yards, out gained Weber State 438-213.

The comeback was sparked by Tyler Gronkey, the senior quarterback who replaced the starter. So far Hawaii has used four different quarterbacks through two games!

Early on in the season the Warriors had a difficult time taking care of of the football, and that's something that will not win you a lot of games. And that too has been a big problem for the Fighting Irish over the last month and a half of the season.

Both Hawaii and Notre Dame had reversals of seasons. During the beginning, Hawaii was not a very good team, while the Irish came out of September playing very well; minus the Michigan State game. Once the teams got to October, the roles reversed as the Irish began to struggle while Hawaii started to come on strong beating the likes of Nevada, a horrible Washington State team, and almost had Cincinnati beat last Saturday. So that right there should open the eyes of the Irish players and coaches.

We'll continue to go over the Warriors season the next few days with the Oregon State and San Jose State recaps coming tomorrow.

Friday, July 6, 2012

To Cheat or Not To Cheat, is that the Question?

Spygate is just not going to go away anytime soon, as long as, Senator Arlen Specter has anything to say about it. After the latest in the he said/he said, more and more is coming out about Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis' role in the whole scandal.

In a recent article it states,
"An offensive player would memorize the signals, watch for them on the sideline and pass them on to assistant coach Charlie Weis, who would then inform quarterback Tom Brady."

So far no word has come out of university on Weis' implications to situation. Whether this is true or not, I have a few issues regarding this whole spgygate:

1.) Why now? If Matt Walsh had all this information why did he decide to unveil this during the time he did? Why did he keep all these tapes? Walsh's answer was that he was using that for his resume. Okay, I'm not buying that one bit. You mean to tell me, hey here's some of my work that I did for the Patriots. It's me filming signals from the opposing team. Yeah, that I don't understand either.

2.) Cheating, everyone does it, and just not in football either! I don't believe for one second that the Patriots are the only team in the National Football League to do this. How about stealing signs in baseball? I don't see anyone getting all in an uproar about that, do we? We don't see Arlen Specter sticking his nose in that situation because his home state teams (Phillies and Pirates) suck!

3.) Why does it matter to Notre Dame? Seriously, does it really? All we do know is that ND's offense the first two seasons under Weis was amazing. What he did with a team that didn't do much whatsoever under Willingham were setting school records left and right. So saying that Weis got the Notre Dame job because he benefited from cheating is pure and utter bullshit! Obviously he has some offensive play calling skills to produce those numbers with that "lack of" talent all the media said the Irish had during his first two seasons in South Bend.

And we won't rehash last season, because that too was pure and utter bullshit!

In the end, what spygate really is, is one old bag of wind trying to get his last 15 seconds of fame in trying to bring down the best sports franchise in the world. When it is all said and done, Bill Belichick will get some type of suspension, Matt Walsh will look like Brian McNamee (Roger Clemens BFF), and Weis will be part one of the best turnarounds in college football!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Irish Look to Continue to Soar with Rematch Against Marquette

Determination and respect is what fuels this teams success, but revenge and defending their home court winning streak will be the driving force when the 21st ranked Irish (17-4, 7-2) face 16th ranked Marquette (16-5, 6-4) tomorrow in the Joyce Center. Ever since their 26 point loss in Milwaukee, the Irish have been on a roll winning five out of their last six games, including four in a row. Notre Dame has been playing exceptionally well on both ends of the court, and will look to do the same tomorrow.

Marquette, .500 in their last six games, is coming off their first home loss of the season, 71-57 to Louisville last Monday. So the Irish could be catching the Golden Eagles at the right time, while Marquette is getting Notre Dame at the worst possible time for them. The Eagles three guard lineup was deadly from the outside the last time when they connected on 12 treys. This time the Irish will be prepared by showing Marquette different looks.

Although Marquette was hot from beyond the arc, I still like the Irish's chances tomorrow by forcing the Eagles to shoot from the outside. It also didn't hurt when the Irish turned the ball over a season-high 29 times. On the season, Marquette is shooting 35.6% from three point land and are 9th in the Big East in 3 pt. FG's made (6.8 per game).

The Irish will also improve their chances by being aggressive on the boards. Before back-to-back performances of out rebounding their opposition, Marquette was on the losing end seven straight times. Look for an entire team effort led by Big East Player of the Year frontrunner, Luke Harangody and senior captain Rob Kurz to lead the way.

With changing the starting lineup, Coach Brey has seen his team score at will as the Irish are 4-0 and averaging 88.8 points. That's a good thing, because Marquette is the 5th best team in the league holding their opponents to 63.6 points a contest. They also one of the better scoring teams in the conference averaging 76.1 points a game. But with this tradition-rich rivalry, you can throw those stats out the window. Homecourt, the Leprechaun Legion, as well as an Irish team running on all cylinders give Notre Dame the edge.

Look for another total team effort on both ends of the court, with great inside and outside shooting, and minimal turnovers. The sold out Joyce Center will be rocking that's for sure!

Prediction: Notre Dame 85 Marquette 77

Baseline Bits

~ Notre Dame has played Marquette more than any other team and leads the all-time series 76-33. The Golden Eagles have had success in recent years and are 7-3 in the last 10 outings. The Irish were victorious the last time the two teams played at the Joyce Center with Notre Dame earning an 85-73 win last season at the Joyce Center on February 24, 2007.

~ Harangody owns a career-best 18-game double-figure scoring streak, has scored 20-plus points and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in 11 games and has registered a team-leading 11 double-doubles.

~ Notre Dame ranks in the top five of the NCAA statistics in two categories: assists (3rd-19.1) and rebounding margin (8th-8.2).

~ Marquette is currently ranked second in the BIG EAST and 12th in the nation in steals per game (9.52 spg.).

Frozen Four Send Off

Come out to the Joyce Center on today at 5:00pm to give this history making Irish Hockey Team a proper send off.

The team is the first Irish Hockey team in history to make it to the Forzen Four, and we want to give them a lively send-off.

Get to the Joyce Center at by 5:00pm to watch the Irish wrap up their final practice before heading to Denver! You'll hear from Coach Jackson, the Notre Dame Band, and select members of the Irish Hockey team.

Conspiracy Theories: The Kevin White Files

When the media caught wind of Dr. White's soon departure for Duke, I knew everyone and their mother would post on this topic like white on rice. The short list of potential replacements also was going to be debated all weekend long. As much as I like to give my two cents about that, even though I've given my list several times on this blog before and my ideal candidate (Gene Smith or Barry Alvarez), I looked at this situation from a different angle: The Why?

There are plenty of negatives and positives of White's 8-year tenure in South Bend; however, the timing of this situation is rather peculiar. First, the Duke position opened up in April when Joe Aleve headed to LSU. Usually these positions move rather quickly, and with a highly regarded institution like Duke University, this one should have moved at lighting speed, right? Insiders close to the Duke athletic department said White contacted Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke, and the week of May 20th about the vacant position.

May 20th? Interesting date indeed. That was during Notre Dame's current stretch of losing 8 consecutive baseball games and one day from being removed from the Big East Tournament and sealing their fate of missing out on the NCAA's for a second consecutive year. Also that was one week before the latest National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Cup standings came out.

You may be asking yourself, why is the NACDA Cup standings so important? Well, one of Dr. White's main objectives when he first arrived on campus was to strengthen the entire athletic programs. He said during his press conference in 2001, that he will get Notre Dame in the Top 10 annually of the Cup Standings. If you look below here are the standings during his reign:

2001 - 11th
2002 - 13th
2003 - 13th
2004 - 19th
2005 - 16th
2006 - 6th
2007 - 11th
Current 2008 standings (with one more set to go) - 15th

Basically Dr. White guided the Irish athletics to an all sports average of 13 annually.

Those two incidents were the last straw for several influential alums, as Dr. White did not make too many friends after several, not-so-defining moments. The handling of the football, marketing of Notre Dame Stadium (Jumbo-Tron), and the 7-4-1 scheduling, got many at a fever pitch about White. Also being slow on the up keep of facilities didn't bode well for him too!

Some close to the situation, according to South Bend Tribune columnist, Eric Hansen, said this was known about White's fate. As I made several calls to a few sources, one thing appeared to make some sense: White knew the writing on the wall and it was time for him to move on. Whether he was being forced out and to find time about landing another position is up for debate. Remember last month the blurb CBSSportsline's Dennis Dodd wrote about Dr. White and the Pac-10? Coincidence, who knows?

There will be a lot of major players that will be on Fr. Jenkins' list, as he slapped the interim AD tag on current Deputy AD Missy Conboy. Will he go in house and remove Conboy's tag, or will he elevate quick riser Stan Wilcox (current Deputy AD that works closely with Football), or move athletic department staple John Heisler (responsible for media relations and football scheduling).

Maybe he'll go with a Notre Dame man and nab Ohio State's Gene Smith, or Minnesota's Joel Maturi, or SMU's Steve Orisini, or Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham, or Xavier's Mike Bobinski. So many choices for Fr. Jenkins to decide, but this should be his mantra in hiring White's successor. Whom ever he picks to run the Irish Athletic Department, this person needs to make sound and precise decisions that will stay true to ND's rich athletic history, and will help elevate it to make new history!

One thing is now for certain about White and the Notre Dame athletic department: Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a Gift, because it is the Present!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Postponing the Inevitable

Ty Losingham's future at Washington has been put on hold for right now. Since the Huskies arrived in Seattle late Monday, the scheduled press conference has been postponed.

According to the Seattle Times, "Speculation has surrounded Willingham since the Huskies fell to 4-9, dropping his three-year record to 11-25. The Huskies usually hold one on the Monday after the season ends that is just with the coach to discuss the season and look ahead --- and one has been held every year that I can recall except 2004 when Keith Gilbertson had already been fired. A spokesman from the U-Dub Athletic Department said it is being postponed for a day or two because Willingham simply doesn't have the time to do it tomorrow". Sounds eerily strange to me.

I'll try not to look into it that much, but it does make you wonder what the heck is going on in Seattle. Rumblings about Jim Mora, Jr. also have surfaced that he has been on campus talking to the higher ups.

More information to come shortly!