Notre Dame-San Diego State: Kool-Aid Glass Is Half Empty
Notre Dame football is under way! The season has kicked off, and there are arguments everywhere about how the most controversial team in the nation performed. "Are we in for another 2007?", "Shouldn't we have beaten SDSU by more?", and my personal favorite, "We just got lucky."
Do not get me wrong: I am just as worried about the Irish as every other fan out there. I believe Jimmy Clausen made some poor decisions, and I did not like the way we ran the offense. I thought the defense did very well and will continue to be a big factor in close games. But this one shouldn't have been close.
Armando Allen came in with a decent punt return and stayed in at the running back position. Allen is a sophomore RB and splits carries with sophomore Robert Hughes and junior James Aldridge.
However, in the beginning, it was all Allen. Why? I have no idea—our "pound it and pound it some more" offense was handing the ball to a scat back for minimal gains.
Again, this same offense that was going to run the football was throwing on first down, gaining two or three rushing yards on second, and forced to throw in a third-and-long situation.
I understand Coach Weis likes to pass, as do I, but call it what it is, Coach—you don't run. I also am convinced that Hughes is a bowling ball and thought we did not utilize him enough, nor Aldridge at all. Again, why?
Allen may be a breakout special teams player, but I do not think he is our first down back, and certainly not our third—but there he was, third and short, IN THE ACE, getting handoffs up the gut and stuffed in the backfield. I do not understand it.
I also do not know why, if we didn't hand off, the passing routes were, more often than not, deep. SDSU doesn't exactly have a top-notch pass defense, so why not crossing routes or button hooks? Why the deep post and fly patterns?
And when we did run them, why would Jimmy Pickles constantly throw the floater? This isn't high school, Pickles—the DBs in college are fast enough to, oh, I don't know, pick off the ball in the end zone! When he threw the ball with a little zip behind it, SDSU couldn't do a thing about it, but again, we fix things that aren't broken, so Jimmy changed it up.
The running game: HOLD ON TO THE FOOTBALL!
Hughes, I don't care what happened to your leg. You have a free ride to one of the most prestigious universities in this great nation for your ability to run up the gut in the red zone and score—so why, pray tell, are you fumbling on the four-yard line?
Allen, that shot you took looked painful, but it obviously was not, because you got right up. Hold on to the ball. It's 13-7, and you break away for 15 yards and fumble the ball back to the Aztecs.
Kamara, don't think for a second that you don't fall into this category. As a receiver your job is self explanatory: RECEIVE! Do not let the ball bounce off of your chest and into the hands of the safety—catch the ball. What is the matter with you?
As far as defense goes, good game. Not too many complaints. In the beginning of the game, Notre Dame's defense was spot on. Three-and-outs for the Aztecs were plentiful.
However, I was angry with the TE over the middle seven-yard passes. ND had a hard time defending that one. I understand that the offense had you on the field way too long, but you cannot allow that to happen. The MSUs, PITTs, and the lot will not falter and go three and out as often as San Diego State did.
Besides all of that, it was a win. We are undefeated, and we beat the team we were supposed to—not by as much as we were supposed to, but I didn't bet on them. The turnovers killed us, which is a problem that can be addressed, and the OL did not give up one sack, which is something even Brady Quinn wasn't lucky enough to say.
The defense tipped more passes than I thought could be, and everyone came together in the fourth quarter. In a week where East Carolina is whooping on ranked teams and Ohio almost beats the Buckeyes, I am just glad we got through.
I am pumped to play DickRod and the Skunkbears of Michigan (sucks!), and I believe that everything we did in the fourth quarter will be game-long from now on.
Also, in Notre Dame's defense, this is a team that has been ragged on and blamed for everything that had happened in 2007. That carries weight, not to mention the fact that if they had lost to SDSU, they never would've heard the end of it. That can be quite a burden.
I think the worst is behind us. We worked out any issues we were still having, and we won our first game. That's more than I can say for half the teams in the FBS.
Go Irish! There's still plenty of Kool-Aid left over.
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