Frank Commentary

After a 33-3 opening loss Irish head coach Charlie Weis will be back to the drawing board today. Three different quarterbacks saw the field. The results for all were pretty much the same.

As bad as Saturday's game was for Irish fans, it has to be much worse for Weis as he now has to fix the problems during a stretch of seven games where the Irish will face a number of teams likely just as good, and in some cases better, than Georgia Tech.

So where does he go from here? I'd suggest he start with three things I think need to be addressed to get the ship righted—at least for the offense.

It first starts with the offensive line. As we learned yesterday, it doesn't matter who you put in behind center, if your offensive line cannot protect the quarterback, or create running lanes for the running backs, you're pretty much dead in the water.

We all knew Georgia Tech had an outstanding front seven. Tech rotated eight guys in their front four and started blitzing the minute they came off the bus. Tech's depth, speed and scheme were too much to handle for an inexperienced Irish offensive line. Should've they played that bad? No, and it truly puzzles me why they did play that poorly, and maybe that's another article altogether, but I do believe what they learned on Saturday will make them a much better unit next Saturday. Will the results be different? Probably, but this unit has so far to go the progress may not be enough to be noticeable.

Somehow, someway, Weis and line coach John Latina have to solve their line woes quickly or this could be a very disappointing season.

More importantly I think Weis needs to choose a quarterback and stick with him starting this week.

The game on Saturday was ugly, but I think it became ugly because Weis had a game plan for one quarterback, Jones, and when that didn't work, he had two quarterbacks with very different styles than Jones, and very few plays he'd practiced all week to call with these two quarterbacks.

This will be a problem moving forward if he plans to keep Jones in the two-deep. If Jones starts next Saturday and struggles again, you'll essentially have a second-team quarterback running an offense designed for another type of quarterback. Same thing would hold true if Evan Sharpley or Jimmy Clausen would start and Jones would be the backup coming in after the starter struggled. I'd suggest this reality probably isn't good news for Jones, unfortunately.

It seems obvious to me that Weis believes his future is Jimmy Clausen. Why? I don't think he would've put him in the game on Saturday if he didn't feel he was ready to compete and possibly win the job this next week. I don't think the plan on Saturday called for him to play at all, but I think the reality of the situation is Weis knows the time is now if he believes Jimmy is the guy, whether Clausen is 100 percent ready both physically and mentally or not.

If Weis truly believes Clausen is the best quarterback, it's time to pull the trigger now and to start building this team around his future and give this offense an identity. You simply can't practice two types of offenses each week and expect to be good at either, especially with an offense with problems in the trenches.

Lastly, I think Weis needs to find two running backs and stick with them. And more importantly, stick with the running game no matter how painful it may look at times.

We know Notre Dame has five quality running backs. That is a nice luxury to have, but none are going to be spectacular if they only get five carries a game. It's seems obvious one is going to be Armando Allen because of his speed and big play ability. I suggest he'll probably choose one of the bigger backs—Travis Thomas, James Aldridge or Robert Hughes—and build the team around one bigger and smaller back. Unfortunately, the best runner out of the bigger backs might not be the best pass catcher or best in blitz pickup, and this is why I think you see so many backs now. Still, I think they'll remain ineffective in the running game until these backs are given a chance to get into a rhythm.

As I mentioned previously, I also believe sticking with the running game is also very important. Weis knows the strength of this offense are his running backs, he needs to stay committed to letting them do their thing. Yes, they need better offensive line play to make that happen, but he'll get his quarterback killed, no matter who he is, if he doesn't have a running game to help him.

This Irish defense will be a work-in-progress all season. They don't have much depth or loads of talent. That side of the ball isn't stocked with five and four star players like the offensive side, so we should expect some struggles. While I wasn't thrilled with the defensive performance, some of their struggles should be expected considering the Irish defense wasn't getting much help from the offense.

Having said all of this, I fully expect to see a much better team next Saturday, I really do. As Lou Holtz used to say, "It's never as good as it seems. It's never as bad as it seems." I believe you'll see a better team next Saturday, but unfortunately "better" might still not be good enough.


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