Calling Myself Out
Over the summer, I promised full disclosure and accountability for all published predictions, theories, and random thoughts concerning the 2009 Fighting Irish. Here's a quick update on my pre-season list of 30 official predictions. A few that don't look promising; at least four that are money-in-the-bank; and one which has already proved false (while another unfortunately has come to fruition). Also included is the reasonable plea for one mulligan from IrishEyes subscribers (I'm sure you'll agree). Prediction #1: The Secondary Will Record the Third-Highest Team Interception Total of the last 20 Years. The predicted total (19) is not going to happen, not only because the Irish defense has totaled just five picks through five games, but because the secondary has shown no ball-hawking acumen whatsoever. Prediction #2: DE/DT Ethan Johnson Will Lead the Defense in Tackles-For-Loss Johnson has 3 TFL through five games to rank a distant third behind Darius Fleming (7), and Brian Smith (4). I'd consider him a decent bet to finish second at this point. Prediction #3: The Irish Offense Will Approach 4.0 Yards-Per-Carry The squad currently sits at 4.1 despite the two-game absence of its leading rusher, junior half back Armando Allen. With consecutive solid defenses on tap in USC and BC, the Irish will likely drop just below 4.0 yards-per-carry after seven games, but the team can make headway vs. Washington State at the end of October, leaving a four-game November stretch to determine the prediction's fate. Prediction #4: LB Steve Filer Will Rank as the Team's Most Improved Player Between the Opening Kick-Off and the Bowl Game I'd guess LDE Kapron Lewis-Moore or CB Gary Gray, at this point, but there's plenty of time for Filer. Prediction #5: Raeshon McNeil Will See More Playing Time in the Nickel Defense than Sergio Brown. Not looking good through five games…I mean that both figuratively and literally. For my original reasoning behind predictions 1-5, click here. Prediction #6: Jimmy Clausen Will Boast a 3:1 TD to Interception Ratio Clausen currently sits at 6-1 with 12 TD and 2 INT. I like my chances. Prediction #7: Darius Fleming Will Lead the Team in Sacks Fleming currently leads with two while seven other defenders have each posted one. The sacks/tackles-for-loss prediction will have to be rolled into one next season as the NCAA has trouble distinguishing a sack from a tackle on the quarterback behind the line. Prediction #8: The Pittsburgh Game Will be the Lowest Scoring Contest of the Season Certainly possible, as the Irish have scored at least 24 points in each of their five games to date. Prediction #9: Robert Blanton Will Become the Fourth Irish Player to Record Five (or more) Interceptions Since 1992 Blanton has one (Nevada) and had a golden opportunity for a pick-six INT at Purdue, but the sophomore remains stuck with a single interception through five games. 5th-Year senior Kyle McCarthy (3 INT) has a chance to reach the five-pick plateau. Prediction #10: The Irish Will Exceed 40 Points in Five Games This Season The reasoning was solid, but the prediction won't come to fruition. ND called off the dogs early vs. Nevada (should have been 40+ point game No. 1) and had a shot at a 40-spot with better red zone efficiency vs. Michigan State and Washington. Alas… For the early-summer's deep thoughts concerning predictions 6-10, click here. Prediction #11: Michael Floyd Will Lead the Irish in Touchdowns Scored How about a mulligan? This prediction was spot on prior to Floyd's season-ending injury. Prediction #12: Notre Dame Will Not Escape September Unscathed Easiest prediction of the 30, sadly. Prediction #13: James Aldridge Will Score a Touchdown at Notre Dame Stadium This statistical oddity remains intact, as Aldridge has missed nearly 10 of the team's 12 home quarters to date this season. The senior fullback has four more games to hit pay dirt in The House that Rockne Built. For a review of numbers 11-13, click here. Prediction #15: The Irish Defense Will Yield its Largest Yardage Total of 2009 vs. Nevada Way off base. I simply thought the Wolf Pack would gouge the Irish for meaningless yards in a double-digit Irish victory. Prediction #16: The Irish Offense Will Pile Up its Largest Yardage Total of 2009 vs. Washington State To be determined, and certainly possible, though the 530 yards put up by Clausen, Tate and Co. vs. the Huskies last week is a strong single-game total. Prediction #17: Kyle Rudolph Will Record the Highest Single-Season TD Total for a Tight End Since Ken McAfee in 1977 Rudolph has three touchdowns through five games and without Michael Floyd, Clausen should find the super sophomore tight end for at least three more scores. Regardless, this prediction is money in the bank, as Pete Chryplewicz currently holds the highest single-season total (4) since the '77 season. For a breakdown of predictions 15-17, and a YouTube highlight of the great Ken McAfee click here. Prediction #18: Notre Dame Will Not Lose a Game by a Double-Digit Deficit this Season Looking good, though October 17 and (possibly) January-something are two true tests on the horizon. Prediction #19: The Irish Will Block Six Kicks/Punts, Matching the Highest Team Total of the Decade The number sits at one (and it was a game-changer): Ethan Johnson's block of a Michigan State extra point in Notre Dame's 33-30 victory over the Spartans. Prediction #20: The Notre Dame Running Backs Will Rush for 15 Touchdowns or Fewer Just to show I'm a good sport (and to receive goodwill toward a mulligan for the Michael Floyd TD prediction), I'll count Wildcat QB and wide receiver Golden Tate as a RB. The Irish have rushed for six touchdowns (Allen 3; Robert Hughes 2; Tate 1) through five games. A breakdown of predictions 17-19 can be found here. Prediction #21: Notre Dame's 2009 Season-End Total Reception Chart Click on the link below to view the total breakdown (which includes an interesting prediction regarding Robby Parris that I hope proves false). Prediction #22: Notre Dame Will Score More Than 50 Total Touchdowns in 2009 Again, the loss of red zone machine Michael Floyd killed me here. The Irish sit at 19 through five games. Attainable, but two 6-TD explosions are probably needed. For a detailed breakdown of predictions 21 and 22, click here. Prediction #23: Armando Allen and Robert Hughes Will Share the Load Allen's unfortunate injury gave this prediction new life. Click the link below for a breakdown and definition of "Sharing the Load." Prediction #24: The 2009 Touchdown Chart The only prediction that asked for wiggle-room from the start. Click below to see the breakdown of prediction touchdowns scored in '09. Prediction #25: Notre Dame's Highest Defensive Team Ranking Will (Again) Be Third-Down Efficiency The current highest team ranking for the Irish is in the Tackles-for-Loss category (ND ranks 42nd). It's obviously too early to tell, but ND ranks No. 67 in Third-Down Efficiency after finishing No. 20 last season. An explanation of predictions 23-25 can be found here. Prediction #26: Kyle McCarthy Will Repeat as the Team's Tackle Leader Bingo-Bango… Prediction #27: The 2009 Irish Will Play Eight "Close and Late" Four down, four to go…with one on the horizon next Saturday. For a closer look at predictions 26-27, click here. Prediction #28: Notre Dame's Defense Will Record More Sacks than Last Season's Total of 26 My confidence level is low, though the Irish pass rush has improved in recent weeks (the defense has recorded nine sacks through five games). Prediction #29: Notre Dame's Defense Will Allow 30 or Fewer Touchdowns The Irish D has allowed 13 through five games. Another end zone shutout (are you listening, Washington State) would do wonders for this heavily researched prediction. Prediction #30: Darrin Walls Will Triple His Career Interception Total One down, two to go. A review of the final three predictions can be found here. The "31st" prediction called for the Irish to finish the '09 regular season at 10-2.