The Morning After Irish Insight: Notre Dame vs. Washington State
After plenty of last minute wins, the Irish finally got what Charlie Weis has wanted since their season-opener against Nevada—a blowout win.
The Irish traveled south to San Antonio in order to beat the Cougars 40-14. Although a bit sloppy and constantly called a "workman-like" effort by Pat Haden, Notre Dame came away with yet another win. Nonetheless, the Irish ran their unbeaten streak on Halloween to 15 straight.
Golden Tate is bigger in Texas.
The box score on Sunday doesn't speak for how spectacular Tate was in the Alamodome last night. Notre Dame fans were complaining about paying admission to see a poor game in a neutral site stadium, but they got their moneys worth thanks to the 'ooh's and ah's' of Tate.
The highlight of the night came when Clausen heaved a 50-yard pass to the right corner of the endzone, where Tate and three Cougar defensive backs waited for the ball. Standing at only 5'11", Tate leaped over all three defenders and came away with the ball for six points.
Not only is he the most overlooked player in college football, but he is also the most electrifying.
For a second straight week, the Irish front four find themselves in the "Likes" category. That could only mean one thing.
Darius Fleming, Steve Filer, Ian Williams and Ethan Johnson led the attack as the Irish pass-rushers found themselves consistently putting pressure on the hapless Cougar freshman quarterback, Jeff Tuel.
Thanks to the front four's dominace, everyone else's job was made easier. The linebackers played extremely well. Every play Manti Te'o is on the field, he makes everyone else around him a better player.
"Backup" Running Backs
Robert Hughes has earned plenty of doubters during his three years in the program. However, there is no denying that when the time comes for him to step up, Hughes delivers.
He has earned the right to be the offensive version of Kyle McCarthy, Mr. Dependable. With Armando Allen sitting out in order to be fully healthy for next week, Hughes carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and a score. Fighting for each and every yard, he was able to help control the time of possession for the Irish (40:54) and served as a check-down option for Clausen every time he didn't have an open receive.
And then there is yet another freshman, No. 32.
Coming out of Manville, New Jersey, Theo Riddick looks like the successor to Armando Allen and Robert Hughes. In fact, he may even be given some more carries after giving an opportunity on Saturday. Riddick ran the ball 9 times for 51 yards using a combination of power, speed and finesse.
The penalties are what turned this game from a great game for the Irish into a good win. With all of the momentum in the world and total control of the game, the offensive line still had reason to commit personal fouls.
Eric Olsen was hit with two personal foul calls and got an earfull from Weis. Being an offensive captain and one of the leaders on the team, the Irish cannot afford these penalties from their veterans against the likes of Pittsburgh and Stanford.
Hopefully this is the last we will see of these mental mishaps.
While Ben Turk had a beautiful punt of 52 yards pinning the Cougars on their own two-yard line, he also had kicks of 11 and 19 yards.
Not only did the freshman punter still raise question marks for the second straight week, but long-snapper Jordan Cowart had a bad snap which forced Turk to rush a kick, going off the side of his foot.
Consistency is the key in the kicking game and Turk hasn't quite found that yet. However, that is not to say he won't because he has the leg and he has the talent. The freshman just needs to put the pieces to the puzzle together.
News, Notes, and Rants
-The Irish are ranked No. 19 in the AP poll, 20th in the Harris poll and No. 21 in the USA Today poll. Look for the Irish to be somewhere between 17-20 in the BCS rankings this week.
-Dayne Crist may have a serious injury. If so, it hurts more than anyone thinks. If the rumor of being an ACL injury is true, Crist is looking at a 6-12 month recovery period.
-Weis said in his post game presser that Trevor Robinson's injury was probably just a rolled or sprained ankle. Losing Robinson for any amount of time would be a huge loss the rest of the way.
-Before going to commercial at halftime, Clausen went up to Tate after the hail mary touchdown. In his ear, Clausen mouthed "Money, money, money."
-Robert Hughes needs 6 or 7 touches before he gets going in what seems to be every game. New pregame routine, anyone?
-Jonas Gray may be the odd man out in the future of the running back rotation. He seems very tentative and still cannot hold onto the football.
-Nick Tausch hit his 14th straight field goal, a Notre Dame record. The freshman's value to the kicking game is hard to put into words.
-Navy rolls into the Bend next weekend with their triple-option attack offense. The Midshipmen lost to Temple this weekend, but also took Ohio State down to the wire.
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