Run and Shoot: More questions than answers

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More questions than answers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With the opening of the 2007 season about an hour away for Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, We find that both teams have a lot more questions than answers right now...

For Notre Dame, the biggest question on everybody's mind is who will start at quarterback? Since Charlie Weis isn't saying, I took a survey of fans tailgating in the parking lot to see what they thought.

Most think sophomore Demetrius Jones will be the guy. They feel, with good reason, that the Irish will probably run the ball a lot more this year than they did during the Brady Quinn era, and Jones is a much better runner than either heralded freshman Jimmy Clausen or Evan Sharpley.

There was a pretty strong contingent calling for Clausen to start (many wearing his #7 jersey), but just as many who hope he hardly plays. Both groups used Brady Quinn to support their arguments. Those that want to throw Clausen to the wolves (or more accurately, Yellow Jackets) say it worked out well in the long run for Quinn. Those that hope Clausen sits point to the beating Quinn took as a freshman and want Clausen to be spared that.

Sharpley didn't get much love at all. Nobody thought he would start and nobody thought he should.

One kid is so confused that he had his chest painted blue with a big green ? on it. He has no idea who he is supposed to cheer for.

After surveying the not-entirely-sober fan base, I went to a couple of more reliable sources, Brian Hamilton, the ND beat writer for the Chicago Tribune and the Leprechaun, who I ran into outside of the stadium. They both thought the starter will be and should be Jones. Who am I to argue with that?


The QB quandry isn't the only question for Notre Dame. The defense has been rather porous the last couple of years and a new coordinator has been brought in to try to plug the leaks. Corwin Brown is switching the Irish from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in the hopes of being able to bring more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. However it happens, Notre Dame's defense is going have to make a significant improvement this season if the Irish have any chance of success. The D cannot count on being bailed out by the offense anymore.


The QB isn't the only new starter on offense. All of last year's skill position players are gone except for TE John Carlson, who is among the favorites for the Mackey Award. No fewer than five guys are competing for time at running back, including Travis Thomas, who moved back to offense after a one year sabbatical at linebacker.


Georgia Tech is also replacing a quarterback, and that's probably a good thing. Reggie Ball's career at Tech would best be described as erratic, and Yellow Jacket fans are hoping to finally get some stability in the position. The reins are being turned over to junior Taylor Bennett, who started the Gator Bowl last season after Ball had been declared academically ineligible. Bennett had a pretty good game, completing 19-29 passes for 326 yards and 3 TDs.

A bigger loss for Tech is WR Calvin Johnson, who is now playing on Sundays. James Johnson (no relation) was a reliable sidekick to Calvin last year and now will get a chance to step up and be the go-to guy for Bennett.


While walking around the parking lot, I noticed that there are not a whole lot of Georgia Tech fans here. The band came, although they are in jeans and polo shirts, so I assume they aren't doing a show.

There were a couple of fans who appeared to be lost. One was wearing a Purdue shirt (no, not me) and one wearing a Michigan shirt. The Michigan fan seemed to be sweating more on this hot day than everyone else. Perhaps that 28-17 halftime lead Appalachian St had at the Big House had something to do with that.


Unique Game Day Tradition: While returning to the press box after my sojourn into the parking area, I came across a crowd of people gathered around an entrance gate on the west side of the stadium to listen to the stadium ushers sing "God Bless America." Apparently, they do that before every game.


The prediction: Georgia Tech is more experience and reliable on both sides of the ball right now. In particular, the Ramblin' Wreck defense is a tough draw for a young offense to open the season. GT wins a defensive struggle 17-14.

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