Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 5 & 6…
5′ 10″ 195 lbs.
Opa Locka, Florida
Wu Name: Violent Toilet Thing
When Armando Allen arrived at Notre Dame, the fanbase was in a frenzy over the game-breaking speed that the young Floridian possessed. There was a dying need for speed on both sides of the ball, and Armando seemed like just the right fit for Weis’s offense. Some thought that he would be able to step into the role left behind by Darius Walker and perform even better than Walker because of his crazy quick speed. Things weren’t that smooth. Allen took a while to get back to top form after suffering a broken leg during his Senior year in high school, and some insiders believe that only now, that Armando is 100%. Still, Allen led the team in All-Purpose yards as a freshman, and was second in the same category as a sophomore.
I expect 2009 to be a big, big year for Allen. If the offensive line continually improves under new offensive line coach Frank Verducci, that means bigger holes for Allen. Bigger holes will allow Allen to use that speed that has been bottled up for the past 2 years. Armando’s “vision” is also improving under new running backs coach Tony Alford. This was very evident during the Blue-Gold Game and throughout spring practice. Allen should also get a boost from sharing duty with a bruiser back in Robert Hughes. Did I mention that I expect a big, big year from Allen? It could really be a phenomenal year when you also consider that his pass-catching skills coming out of the backfield really took a leap in 2008. Allen is like that really good lead-off hitter in baseball. He could make the whole thing click.
6′ 0″ 190 lbs.
Wu Name: Action-Packed Mentalist
In 2006, Darrin Walls arrived on Notre Dame’s campus with high expectations from the fanbase- and for himself. The Fighting Irish were in dire need of coverage corners after several years of being the “whipping boy” for opposing offenses. Walls didn’t make much noise his freshman year, but he gained valuable experience from the games he played in the most. During the first game of his freshman year, Darrin was asked to blanket all-world wide receiver, Calvin Johnson. He did an admirable job too. He only allowed 2 reception and 16 yards to Johnson in the second half. Walls’ sophomore campaign got off to a decent start when he picked off Penn State QB Anthony Morrelli and returned it 71 yards for a TD. After that, the rest of Notre Dame’s opponents didn’t throw the ball Darrin’s way very often. He still had 9 pass break-ups and he was primed for a big season in 2008. Unfortunately for Darrin and ND Nation, Darrin left school for personal reasons for the fall semester of 2008.
Enter 2009. Darrin’s absence created several things for the Irish. First it established some very nice depth at corner with the emergence of Robert Blanton, Raeshon McNeil improving his game, and even allowing Sergio Brown more reps at Nickel. Second, Notre Dame lost 3 games last year after holding double-digit leads (North Carolina, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh). Great players in the secondary make big plays to win those games and thwart off comeback attempts. I have NO DOUBT, that if Walls was playing- ND would have won at least 2 of those 3. Never-the-less, the Irish secondary was a tremendous bight spot and one of the best units on either side of the ball. With the addition of Walls, whom I fully expect to be the lockdown corner that he is, opponents will fear throwing the ball against ND. Walls should have a banner season, but will our opponents throw at him?