Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ragone Out for Season as Notre Dame 2 Weeks from Opening Weekend

What to do now? Mike Ragone, Notre Dame's projected starting Tight End is done for the year this afternoon after deciding to go forward with surgery on his left knee. Ragone tried to practice on the knee for a few days before deciding to go with the surgery, he will now be shelved for the 2008 season.

To Ragone's credit he did not immediately opt for surgery and practiced on the knee for a couple of days before he felt he was not making any progress with it. With Ragone now out the Irish move from little experience at tight end to virtually no experience there.

The starters role will now be a tossup between Will Yeatman and freshman five star recruit Kyle Rudolph. Yeatman, a junior, enters with more game experience than Rudolph but appears to have a lower ceiling of capability compared to the younger of the two tight ends.

Charlie Weis and company will likely use this as a way to break Kyle Rudolph into the mix a bit quicker than they had planned. Maybe he won't be starting when San Diego State comes a calling in two weeks, but there is no doubt that he is going to see valuable playing time on Saturday's this fall.

Tight End will be another position where the Irish will have gained experience in the coming years. Although Charlie and Co. have recruited the position very well there are still big shoes that have to be filled with the departure of John Carlson.

Carlson, now of the Seattle Seahawks filled the position each of the past two seasons for Notre Dame and parlayed excellent junior and senior seasons into a first day pick in the NFL Draft. Irish coaches hope any of the potential star tight ends on the roster hit their stride quickly.

With Notre Dame still at least a year away from seriously contending for a BCS bid this injury does not hurt as much as it could if it were to happen to a slightly more experienced team. As much as it does hurt to have the starting tight end out for the season there are positives that come along with it.

Yeatman was likely to see the field this year in a backup and fill-in roll while Rudolph likely was going to roam the sideline like we have seen most freshman tight ends do since Charlie Weis took over as head coach. With the injury to Ragone we now will see both on the field a bit more now which could pave the way to more success at the position in the coming years.

Instead of having Ragone gain experience this year and potentially turn into a budding star next fall the Irish will have a deeper rotation now with tight ends in the years to come where they will not lose as much when Ragone comes out of a game.

It may be a tough concept to grasp but this injury to the Irish is not as big of deal as some have made it out to be. It is expected that Ragone will be back and ready to play by spring practice and with Notre Dame rules, will gain an extra year or eligibility in all likelihood.

Obviously Ragone is not going to want to stay out of the lineup next fall as nobody would like to lose their job to an underclassman. Maybe not yourselves but I assume this will make him work that much harder to get back in even better game shape than he was in when the injury occurred.

This sets up a true competition at tight end next year which will only benefit the team. The worst case scenario now comes out to be perhaps our offense loses some lust this fall but next season there will be at least two tight ends on the roster deserving of quality playing time.

Not only will the competition for playing time be great but the potential is also there to run an offense out of more two tight end sets if both succeed the way Irish fans hope they do.

Sure it may be troublesome to think about entering this year but the injury to Ragone will not hurt the team as badly as some think and potentially helps in the future of the Tight End position at Notre Dame.

No comments: