I usually start these articles with quotes of other teams' fans ragging on us. Then I follow them up with a retort that, at the time, is exactly what I said—or yelled—depending on the day.
Not this time.
There is nothing to defend about this game against Purdue.
Armando Allen's "coming-out party." More incredible play from true frosh Michael Floyd. And now, true frosh and ball hawk Robert Blanton shows what he can do.
In 2005-06, Charlie Weis showed us what he could do as a coach with talent. Now he is just starting to show us what he can do with time.
One year later, look at the "over-hyped" Jimmy Clausen. He makes all the throws, all the reads, and all the plays look easy. I have said that he stares at his receiver a little too hard, but he shut me and all the other doubters up this past Saturday. Check downs, look offs—all the fundamentals appear to be mastered.
That is the Jimmy Pickles that we had expectations for coming out of high school—and to tell you the truth, that was borderline unfair to him. Did we really think an 18-year-old was the next Brady Quinn?
Quinn—who is my all time favorite—wasn't exactly the cat's meow his freshman year. Sure, he didn't lose to Navy, or go 3-9, but he didn't shatter all the records, either.
Also, "Kudos" to Haywood. Funny what sustained drives can do. I love a 60-yard bomb to Tate as much as the next fan, but I want to see Jimmy pick apart a defense and drive the entire field 10 yards at a time. I want to see the improved O-line push the defense back and a RB break for 15-20 yards. I want to see short 3-12 yard routes, run properly, all the way down the field.
I wanted to, and I got to.
I also wanted to see season to season, and now, week to week progress. Now that this team has been playing together, look at the progress. Look at the offensive line, who gave up an absolutely nauseating number of sacks last year.
Look at the receiving corps, who only had three receptions over 20 yards last year.
Look at the team, which already has the same number of wins it did last year.
These are the Irish we know and love, and they are only going to get better. Less than a handful of players are leaving next year—the rest are all freshmen and sophomores!
Remember, when it comes to the key positions, they're all going to be here in 2010. Our National Championship is coming, and soon. I never thought "this is our year," but I know next year is, and probably the year after.
Clausen, Allen, Tate, Floyd, Blanton, Gray, McNeil, Smith x 5, almost both entire lines—they are all coming back!
Before this season began, myself and a huge pitcher of Kool-Aid were screaming nine or 10, maybe even 11, wins this year. I made myself believe it, but I knew it probably wouldn't come true.
I've changed my mind. This team is going to win out, pending wins over PITT and BC, until Southern friggin' Cal, who already has their "Surprising Choke"—which isn't all that surprising anymore—destroys us to make a NC statement.
"OH YEAH!" says the Kool-Aid Man. "Preach on," says I.