Another week of vulgarity, pulling hair, and sighs from my living room. It has been too long since the Irish have been able to put together a complete game and take a kneel with a comfortable lead.
Charlie Weis' team battled to yet another late-game thriller as the Irish beat the Eagles, 20-16, in South Bend.
Notre Dame now has two deserving Heisman contenders thanks to Golden Tate. He is the best college football player nobody is talking about.
Due to Michael Floyd's injury, Tate's numbers were expected to take a major hit. Instead, they have only become better.
Without him, the Irish would be looking at at least two or three more losses. Tate's performances have been the reason Clausen has even had a chance to lead his team back to victory. His attitude has become something fun to watch every week. He knows he is good and loves to show that, both on the field and with his mouth.
Duval Kumara had a long-overdue contributing game yesterday. Being a consistent chain-mover, Kumara had seven receptions for 60 yards. These numbers do not speak for how well the junior receiver played.
It seems every week, improvement is visible among the defensive front four.
Although they weren't getting consistent pressure, when they did, it mattered. On all three interceptions thrown by the Eagles' 25-year old freshman, the Irish were in his face. Darius Fleming moved to rush end and made an impact by putting heavy pressure on Shinskie.
Fleming's good friend, Steve Filer, also got some reps in while giving the elder some nice pressure. It's good to see No. 46 on the field, as he was a highly-recruited prospect as a senior and hasn't lived up this his hype quite yet.
Ian Williams had one of his best games of his career. Stuffing the run, he made his presence felt as the entire unit let up only 70 rushing yards, good for 2.4 yards per carry. Those numbers going up against a solid offensive line and a very good running back are outstanding. No complaints here.
Yesterday produced the ugliest game the Irish have played all season, but still resulted in a win.
There are plenty of things to point out as far as negatives go, but they all resulted in a 20-15 victory.
Across the Notre Dame community, people are upset over the play of the team. However, would you rather have had them lose for the ninth straight time to a team that rubs us the wrong way consistently, year after year?
With this win, the Irish put another quality win on their resume and will be ranked somewhere between 23rd and 25th going into a fright-fest matchup with Washington State (that means no heart attacks next week, folks!)
I have never seen a football team worse than the '09 Irish in 3rd-and-long defensive scenarios.
Week after week, the secondary allows the opponent's to continue last-minute drives by giving up a 25-yards (or more) pass down the middle of the field. These are the plays that lead to fans like myself throwing things at anything they can reach—including windows.
While were on the topic of the secondary and frustrations, let me discuss the play—or lack thereof—of Harrison Smith. Smith is a great athlete, but not a free safety. Weis needs to make adjustments, as the Irish cannot afford to play a man down each week.
4th-and-17 in their own territory, Shinskie is given time to throw, a receiver is left wide-open at midfield, and the Eagles make the play for a huge gain to put them in great position to take the lead. Luckily, Kyle McCarthy decided to come back as a fifth-year senior and saved his team for what seems like the fifth time this season.
Thank you, Kyle.
If Ben Turk is better than Eric Maust, the Irish have a real problem.
After two games, the freshman punter had been doing a decent job on punts due to his hang-time. Against Boston College, Turk decided to change things up.
His punts went for an average of 32.7 yards on long drives, giving the Eagles consistently great field position. What happened here?
Weis said in his press conference today that he will reopen the punting competition in practice this week. Either Eric Maust will fill back in after being benched for three weeks, or Turk will be motivated by the threat of change.
Make the necessary adjustments, Charlie.
News, Notes, and Rants
— Manti Te'o is the best defensive player on this team. By the time he graduates, he will be the best linebacker in college football. Cross your fingers that he decides to take a summer mission.. or none at all.
— Both Shaq Evans and Deion Walker have been ill the past two weeks. Evans has dressed, but then again, so has Michael Floyd.
— Robby Parris left the game in the first quarter of Saturday's game. He had been listed as doubtful the entire week before being cleared to play. After missing a perfectly placed ball by Clausen in the corner of the end zone, he left and returned in street clothes.
— Robert Hughes was knocked out cold after taking a snap from the Wildcat formation on 4th-and-1. A Boston College safety laid a helmet-to-helmet hit on the 240-pounder as Hughes fell just short of the endzone. Kick the field goal, Charlie.
— Boston College receiver Rich Gunnell is yet another example of poor sportsmanship by a Fredo player. Post-game, Clausen went to shake his hand and praise Gunnell's play, only to be told off by the receiver and received a finger in his face. Clausen laughed it off, pushing him away and jogging back to midfield.
— Floyd's CAT scans will be available sometime next week, and Weis expects that they will come back with good news. The final decision on when he comes back will be up to Floyd.
— Notre Dame is ranked No. 25 in the Coaches Poll. While only a couple bottom-feeders lost (Kansas, BYU, Texas Tech), almost all of the "Others receiving votes" lost (Nebraska, Michigan, South Florida, Oregon State, etc).
The Sagirin Poll has Notre Dame ranked as No. 20, and the Howell has them at No. 25. The Irish also have a fairly competitive strength of schedule ranked as the 19th toughest in the BCS computers.
— Weis' teams are 19-0 when out-rushing the opponent. They are 15-22 when they do not. Need I say more?