If all you read was this blog, you would barely know that it's football season and that football is my favorite sport. You might think that I've not been watching the Colts and Irish as closely as in past seasons. If you do think that, you're wrong. I've been watching very closely. I've just decided not to bore you with game recaps (unless I was at the game) that you can read on any sports site. However, I can't resist writing about football every now and then.
Unranked. 5-2. They should finish 9-3 if they play to their ability. If not, they could easily finish 7-5. Either way, I'm probably more excited about what's going to happen the next two years. This team should be set to make a run at a BCS Bowl next year and will be in the National Championship discussion the following year. They are loaded with young talent and this talent is already playing at a high level. Jimmy Clausen will find himself at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York at least once before he graduates. Freshman wide receiver Michael Floyd might even join him at some point. Golden Tate (fantastic name for an ND player) will remind everyone of Rocket Ismail and the group of Armando Allen, Robert Hughes, James Aldridge, Jonas Gray and Cierre Woods will invite comparisons to the offensive backfields of the Lou Holtz days when we had at least two studs ready to play at any moment.
And the defense. Oh, the defense. We've got freshmen cornerbacks like Robert Blanton who are already contributing and athletic linebackers like Brian Smith and Darius Fleming. All young guys who can make plays and will be able to execute John Tenuta's crazy blitz schemes to perfection.
I can't get too far ahead of myself. They're still a young team and make the kind of mistakes a young team makes. The end of this season will be interesting. They need step up and win big games against Pitt and BC, but the real test will be how they play against USC. Will they get blown out or will they play well enough to have a chance to pull it out at the end? That game will tell us how ready this team is to contend on the national stage.
Injuries. I could probably just stop there. Just about every single key player on this team has been injured or is recovering from an injury. The offensive line has been affected this most by this. The Colts have been trying to patch together a line all year and they haven't been able to open up holes for the running backs or keep the pressure off Peyton Manning - who hasn't exactly been sharp. Plus, Marvin Harrison can't get open.
On the defensive side, Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders has been hurt for all but two games and they've had linebackers dropping like flies. Am I making excuses? No, I'm stating facts. The real problem has been that the guys on the field haven't been able get pressure on the quarterback or stop the run. It's hasn't helped that they've been consistently been committing stupid penalties to keep drives alive.
The announcers for Monday Night Football kept talking about how Monday's game was a "changing of the guard" in the AFC South. It may not quite be that, but that game was definitely a sign that the Colts are coming back down to Earth. They may still have a couple of decent seasons left in them if they can keep people healthy, but don't expect the Colts you've known for the past eight or nine years. Don't count on this team making the playoffs.