Saturday, October 31, 2009

Notre Dame vs. Washington San Antonio!

It has already started off to be a good weekend in San Antonio for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame as they picked up a commitment from defensive back Toney Hurd, Jr. on Friday. Saturday night brings on one of the least anticipated Fighting Irish contests in recent history as they play in the Alamodome against Washington State.

Neat for those in Texas, sure. For those who like to take in a weekend in South Bend, this is one that can't be spent there yet count as a home game in every other regard. What to expect in the coming hours from the Alamodome?

Washington State is a very talent-deprived college football team. They rank in the bottom twenty of nearly every defensive category, Notre Dame should have no problems moving the football.

Expect the Irish to come out throwing the ball more than usual early on. Notre Dame will be without Armando Allen this evening and Robbie Parris sounds like he won't be able to go, either. Robert Hughes will get the bulk of carries for ND while we should see plenty of Jonas Gray as well.

This is a game that Notre Dame should blow out the competition. Its not that I'm looking past Washington State, its the fact that in all regards the Irish have much more talent.

4 of 7 times this season the Cougars have allowed more than 30 points in a game. In two more they have allowed 38 and 39, Notre Dame will put up points, look for Charlie Weis to try and help Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate out in the area of postseason awards. He will try to let those two both make plays tonight not only to win, but to pad some stats along the way.

Weak preview, I'm well aware. Needed to get something up and had a very very busy week, please don't hate me.

Prediction Time:
Nick (6-1): ND 48 Washington State 7
Mark (6-1): ND 38 Washington State 13

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SaturDame BC 2009

Beating Boston College is a huge relief. It feels like something that should happen every time.

Kyle Rudolph misses Michael Floyd more then Jimmy Clausen does.

Robbie Toma is a surprise right?

Kyle McCarthy as good as he ever was. Let's hope Dan is at least half as good as his brother.

Did anyone see the end of the Iowa Michigan State game? Iowa used all four downs to go for and get the win...

Armando Allen is a consistent if not spectacular back.

I could have sworn I heard Chris Tucker from Friday after Robert Hughes got hit on the fourth and goal play.

Golden Tate is making a case for his own invitation to New York.

Perhaps Notre Dame should make all their baseball players try out for the football team.

Manti T'eo just makes things happen, he's so much fun to watch.

The run defense actually seemed like it was good this week instead of just benefiting from the awfulness of the pass defense, although that helped.

How good was the last touchdown pass from Jimmy? I didn't think that pass was making it past the line backer.

These close fourth quarters are barely fazing me now, I think I'm getting used to them.

So this is what it's like to have a reliable kicker. I like it. Slick Nick Tausch.

Duval Kamara played his best game since his freshman year, more of that please.

The lack of turnovers on offense is nearly as big a deal as causing the turnovers on defense.

That was an atrocious first half, worst of the season at least offensively.

Robby Parris is everything a football player should be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eagles, Possible Let-Down Stand in Irish's Way

A lot of things have happened since the fall of the year 2000. Notre Dame has gone through two head coaches while a third continues to sit on the hot seat many Irish fans have designated for him. The world saw George W. Bush get elected and serve two full terms in the White House, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Heck, the Fighting Irish football team has even beaten USC since the fall of 2000. One thing that hasn't happened since then? Notre Dame has not beat the only other Catholic School in division one college football, Boston College, since November 11, 2000. I was a freshman in high school and saw it with my own eyes that day in South Bend. For those wondering, I have since graduated high school and college and have grown nearly a foot while packing on far too many pounds since then.

Boston College is not nearly as talented of team as Notre Dame is in 2009. This game will be huge in telling how Notre Dame will be in the second half of the season. If they start it with a bang then the BCS is still a strong possibility, if the Irish have major issues or fall against BC, that will be just about all she wrote for Charlie Weis as Notre Dame's head coach.

Many have talked about how poor Boston College has played at times this year, specifically a 48-14 defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech two short weeks ago. As poor as the Eagles have been this is still a team that sits in the drivers seat when it comes to who will represent the ACC Atlantic Division in the Conference Championship Game.

The Eagles bring great balance to South Bend this Saturday, averaging 326 yards of offense a game with 155 coming on the ground and 171 through the air. With the consistent weak showing of the Irish secondary, expect the defensive backs to be tested yet again.

Freshman Dave Shinskie will do the quarterbacking duties for BC, he has passed for 815 yards and 9 touchdowns this season. The freshman has also shown great maturity, throwing only 4 interceptions while playing in all 7 games for Boston College this far.

Shinskie will target Rich Gunnell and Colin Larmond, Jr. who have combined for 39 receptions, 628 yards, and 7 touchdowns. If Notre Dame's secondary fails to show up like has so far this season, it will be yet another game the Irish will have to outscore their opponents instead of bury.

Boston College should also be given respect in the running game as Montel Harris has rushed for 756 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. He could very well be this team's offensive MVP in 2009 but don't expect him to be the go-to-guy on Saturday, BC will try and beat the Irish where Notre Dame is most susceptible.

Boston College has been blown out of the water twice this season, once a 25-7 loss at the hands of Clemson and the other the 48-14 defeat to Virginia Tech. Don't get me wrong, Notre Dame will score their fair share of points this Saturday but this will go down to the wire yet again because of the inept Irish defense.

Yes I expect Jimmy Clausen to have another banner afternoon on Saturday but expect to see more from the running game than we saw a week ago. Grant it USC has perhaps the best run defense in the nation, Boston College has a very average run defense, ranking 39th nationally. The top half yes, but still closer to "average" than "very good".

Linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the Eagles with 69 tackles. The good news for Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame is that the pass rush for BC has struggled this year, picking up 10 sacks so far in 7 games, no player has more than 2 sacks for Boston College.

I don't feel that Boston College can stop Notre Dame when the Irish have the football. I fully expect Charlie Weis to come out running the football early but he won't be afraid to let Jimmy pad his numbers, either. BC will have major matchup problems with Notre Dame's talented targets and if BC at all commits too much one way they will be burned severely the other.

For whatever reason this game scares the hell out of me. Boston College enjoys ruining things. They ruined 1993, they ruined the magical start to 2002, they were responsible for at least contributing to ruining Tyrone Willingham's career at Notre Dame in 2004, they can add to the pile by ruining Charlie Weis' hopes of getting Notre Dame back to the BCS on Saturday.

They can do that but they won't. Irish in another squeaker...

Nick (5-1): ND 38 BC 34

Mark (5-1): ND 34 BC 27

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SaturDame... USC 09

You have to isolate Rudy2.0 at the end of the game.

Remember the Purdue game, run that play again. TWICE!!!!

The running game was virtually non-existent.

John Goodman has to throw a pass out of the WildCat otherwise there is no reason to have him there.

Jimmy did what he had to do in the second half, but the first half was empty.

The defense finally showed up in the fourth quarter.

I knew what USC was running on almost every big play they had. How does Tenuta not know that.

Why is the defensive backfield not able to cover anyone?

Let alone a tight end?

Golden Tate still awesome.

Kyle Rudolph needs the ball.

The offensive line was plainly awful in the first half or three quarters of the game.

On a day when every opponent played well this was the day for the Irish to step up. (Washington late)

Figuring out when Manti T'eo takes his mission is going to be a big deal.

I don't want to hear any what if's about Michael Floyd.

I don't want to hear about twelve seconds either. I'm already sick of it.

John Tenuta is not helping things. At all.

This team seems like they will play a close game with every team ranked from #5 to #65. I don't think that's a good thing.

I'm disgusted with the losses to rivals but I don't think Weis' job is at stake right now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The End of The Beginning

Ryan Williams, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football

After all is said and done at about 8pm this coming Saturday night, the future will be clear. Charlie Weis’ internship will be over. No more excuses of youth, no more excuses of inexperienced coaches, no more excuses about lacking team depth. When Notre Dame defeats Southern Cal this weekend the turn will be complete. The process that Charlie Weis, the alumni, the fans, and everyone associated with Notre Dame football started four years ago will be back on track. The painful Beginning we have all endured the last four years will be over. It will then be time to build again. Build a name, build a reputation, build a dynasty.

Our detractors say we cant live in the past. It is time to build a present. A here. A now. It is time to put Notre Dame back on the map where she belongs. In the elite heap at the top. It is a call to arms for all. The coaches, the players, and I think to an extent, most importantly the fans. It has been said as of late that playing in South Bend offers no home field advantage.

It has been said that Notre Dame stadium is full of an older generation that is content sitting on their hands to watch football. This is unacceptable. Have you ever seen a game at “The Swamp” or the game this past weekend at LSU? There is no sitting. I equate it to the famous line by Tom Hanks back in the day, “There is no crying in baseball”. Well “There is no sitting at big time college football games”. Implore your fellow fans to stand and cheer and put as much effort into the game as we are asking our young men on the field to. No matter their age. And if they are too old, tell them you are sincerely sorry, but you are about to go nuts. And scream and clap and stomp like your life depended on it.

I’ve been told before to calm down because there is more to life than football, and that is true. But not on a Saturday in South Bend. Football is Life. That’s how I’ve always known it and that is what we need to get back to.

Saturday Showdown: USC Comes A-Calling!

We circled October 17th on our calendars immediately following Notre Dame's thrashing of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl last Christmas. Saturday is the day that Irish fans have been looking forward to all season, a day we will learn just how far Charlie Weis and his crew have progressed.

Everyone is aware that Notre Dame has dropped 7 in a row to Pete Carroll's USC Trojans, only being within striking distance late once in those games. A year ago the Irish dropped a 38-3 contest in the Los Angeles Coliseum, a game Notre Dame didn't pick up a first down until the second half. All signs point to the Irish getting prepared to get run out of their own building, right?

Notre Dame sits as a ten point underdog as I write this, that down a bit from the nearly two touchdown spread the game opened up as earlier in the week. How big of an obsticle stands in the way of an Irish victory on Saturday?

Notre Dame Defense vs. USC Offense:

We all know the struggles the Irish defense has had this season, stopping the run will be the biggest concern on Saturday. The Irish rank in at 100th overall in team defense, allowing 403 yards per game. On top of that they have been giving up 29.75 points per game since shutting out Nevada in week one.

USC brings a very strong running team to South Bend, averaging 208 yards on the ground per game so far (good for 17th best in the nation). Matt Barkley, despite being a freshman has been no slouch, putting up 958 pass yards in his four starts this season. The only game he missed was on the road against Washington, the only game USC has lost so far this year.

Barkley has led USC to a come from behind victory in Ohio State this year, a game that kept USC unbeaten at the time. Barkley has gone 63/107 this year with three touchdown passes and two picks.

Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford lead the USC running game that has been the USC bread and butter this year. McKnight has scored six touchdowns while going for 473 yards, Bradford also has a touchdown and 183 yards on the ground this year. The biggest thing for Notre Dame will be slowing down USC on the ground this week, if they can't do that then this will not be much of a game.

The Trojans are also no slouch throwing the ball, putting up 222 yards per game through the air. Barkley will look to Damian Williams as his go-to guy, Williams has 24 receptions for 359 yards and a score this year. Joe McKnight often catches passes out of the backfield and USC will use Stanley Havili with regularity as well.

I am aware how bad the Irish pass defense will be but Pete Carroll is smart enough to make sure the Trojans use their strong point, not only the Irish weakness. Slow down the run and Notre Dame will be in business, I will take my chances against a freshman quarterback on the road (even if he has already won in Ohio State this year).

Right now Kyle McCarthy leads the Irish with 49 tackles. Part of it is the scheme, sure, but if he leads Notre Dame in tackles on Saturday it will mean USC running backs are constantly getting to the second level and picking up 4 or 5 yards with regularity. If Kyle McCarthy leads Notre Dame in tackles by a wide margain on Saturday, the Irish will be in bad shape.

Notre Dame Offense vs. USC Defense

This is where the flash of the game will be seen. Notre Dame's high powered offensive attack with the punishing defense of USC. Can Charlie Weis crack USC? The Trojans bring a team full of superstars on defense, the Irish will not be able to score with quite the same ease we have seen them do so far this year.

USC has allowed just 238 yards a game this season, over 150 yards less than the Irish have surrendered. The Trojans don't lack talent star-power on defense, even in a year after they lost the likes of Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, and Rey Maualuga who are now getting great playing time on NFL rosters. Despite that this defense is still superb.

We have all heard of Taylor Mays by now, the star safety has 28 tackles and an interception for USC but what other stars do we have to be on the lookout for this Saturday?

Nick Perry leads USC with 6 sacks, the defensive end is having a standout season for the Men of Troy. On the other end Everson Griffen has added 4 sacks and 17 tackels total. Linebacker Michael Morgan has 9.5 tackles for loss which is good enough for 7th best in the entire nation.

We all know what Notre Dame has done with the football this year, whether its Jimmy Clausen's hopeful Heisman Trophy run or the new-found running game that has escaped the Irish for some time now.

Notre Dame doesn't have the same advantage in one-on-one matchups against USC like they have had against most of their opponents this season. USC has a star-studded field on defense and Charlie Weis has his work cut out to try and figure out a way to put up enough points on a team that has only allowed 3 touchdowns all season.

I expect to see some Wildcat formation this weekend but don't expect it anywhere near as often as we saw against Purdue. The Irish may try and get to the line quickly and shift to this set, just to try and create confusion with USC.

The jist of Notre Dame's offense will be in finding Armando Allen through the air and Golden Tate on shorter routes, giving him a chance to catch the ball on the run. USC has better tacklers than Washington had two weeks ago but this will very likely be the best chance the Irish have to put together scoring drives, find the teams biggest playmaker and find him enough to open up the threat of Kyle Rudolph.

Prediction Time:

This is a huge game for both teams, if USC can run the table they may have a chance to still play for a national title. Notre Dame is looking to get back to the BCS for the first time since 2006, this win would put them in great position to do just that.

It won't be easy, I don't suspect a shootout either. Notre Dame will change their defense to try and force the Trojans to throw more and beat ND through the air. I don't expect Jimmy Clausen to have a great game, simply because almost nobody would at the collegiate level against this USC defense.

Logic tells me that until Notre Dame can stop someone, they won't be able to compete with best teams in the nation. My heart tells me this is the week Jon Tenuta steps up the scheme and figures out a way to slow the Trojan running game and Charlie Weis finds holes up and down the Trojan defense and ND wins going away.

As much as I hate to, I have to go against my heart...

Nick (4-1) Says: USC 31 Notre Dame 14

Mark (4-1)Says: USC 27 Notre Dame 17

Monday, October 5, 2009

Saturdame... Husky Edition 10-3-09


Golden Tate seems pretty good.

The defense was so good on the goal line because they didn't actually have to wrap anyone up, they just had to stop their momentum.

That being said three goal line stands is a bit ridiculous. Hopefully that's a turning point for the season.

I understand Jake Locker taking the sack in overtime in order to get away from the loud noise of the student section, but it didn't quite work out.

Steve Sarkisian and Locker did a terrible job of running the clock down after the touchdown got reversed. They were snapping the ball with plenty of time on the play clock.

Charlie Weis has done a great job of getting Golden Tate the ball and making the defense react to him instead of him reacting to the defense.

Not a bad job by a freshman punter in a terrible weather condition in his first game.

Field goals aren't going to cut it against USC, but it's nice to know that three points are nearly guaranteed every time Nick Tausch lines up.

Kyle McCarthy sure can hit somebody.

The cornerbacks are not as good as advertised.

Robby Parris and Shaq seem to have moved past Duval Kamara, even if Charlie claims it's because of his knee.

Rudy 2.0. Bigger, faster, stronger. Kyle Rudolph could probably help Mike Brey in the off-season.

I don't understand roll outs near the end zone. Grouping all the receivers together in a small area seems like disaster waiting to happen.

Manti T'eo sure knows how to make an impression.

Were the officials testing out calls they never make just to make sure they still work?

If Washington doesn't get the gift touchdown from Clausen I don't think the game is close.

Kyle McCarthy should have intercepted the ball at the end of regulation, but I guess that's why he plays defense.

I got a kick out of Golden Tate firing his gloves to the Washington sideline because they were wet after making the bobbling catch in the third quarter.

Bring on the bye week... oh and USC.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Irish Rally to Golden Victory over Washington

"What Tho the Odds Be Great or Small, Ol' Notre Dame Will Win Overall"

It isn't supposed to be this hard to win a game, is it? For the fourth week in a row a Notre Dame game was decided in the final minute, this time in overtime as the Irish upstaged Washington 37-30 in South Bend. As well as Notre Dame played late, lapses nearly cost them a win against the Huskies.

We all saw the game, many will argue that Notre Dame didn't deserve to win. Perhaps many think that because the lack of red zone scoring the Irish had on Saturday, leaving plenty of points off the scoreboard. However, the defense stepped up and made six consecutive stops inside the five yard line that allowed for an eventual victory.

My main thoughts from the game:

Golden Tate is a playmaker and a half. He may not have the same NFL potential as Michael Floyd does when healthy, but with the ball he runs hard enough with his body leaving little chance to get two hands on, leaving him very hard to bring down at the college level. Without him the Irish lose this afternoon.

Jimmy Clausen has turned into amongst the most clutch quarterbacks in the country. Sure, his latest comebacks have been against Purdue and Washington but they are comeback victories against BCS conference teams that have kept Notre Dame's dreams of the BCS alive.

Robert Hughes has been the greatest surprise to me over the past two weeks. 8 carries for 70 yards today, including the game-winning touchdown. We also can't forget his two point conversion late in regulation, without that this game doesn't see overtime. He has made us quickly forget who Jonas Gray is...for the time being.

The Notre Dame defense stepped up and made major plays down the stretch to give Notre Dame a chance. With that said, Washington running quarterback sneaks without a running back in the backfield was an awful idea by the Huskies. Sure we complain about the "Bush Push" but reality is that penalty is never called, Sarkisian should have given his quarterback a bit more of a chance at the end zone late.

Golden Tate is a playmaker (see above) but he is going to get a taunting call by the end of the season if his celebrations on first downs are kept up.

This game turns out entirely different without the wet-field. Despite throwing for 422 yards, the wet field/rain got the best of J-C in the first half, keeping his and Notre Dame's first half numbers at a minimum.

Golden Tate had 275 total yards today...think about that for a moment.

Tenuta's defense made a stop when they needed to at most, keeping Washington out of the end zone late, twice. However, they struggle with disguising the blitz. Its easy for an untrained football eye to tell where pressure is coming from, let alone college quarterbacks/coaching staffs.

Robert Blanton one day be a star at Notre Dame but he had a rough afternoon on Saturday.

2-10 on third down today for the Irish, not as bad as USC did against Washington but bad enough to nearly cost ND a win. That number must be better against USC if the Irish hope to pull an upset.

Charlie Weis chose to play more conservatively and not attempt any fourth downs today after taking heat for failing a fourth and long a week ago.

Manti T'eo is starting to show why he is going to be a very special player at Notre Dame. He and Brian Smith had excellent performances.

Was anyone else watching through NBC in Chicago? At the start of overtime the crew for some reason went to a black screen with the peacock on it for two minutes before coming back to the game, only to leave it for two more minutes in order to air part of Access Hollywood. In that time the Golden Tate overtime reception took place, coming back from Access Hollywood all I saw was Tate doing a summer-sault during a replay, I thought for sure he had fumbled as NBC Chicago cut away. Someone likely lost a job over that...

Two weeks to get healthy/ready for USC before the Trojans come-a-calling. USC hasn't allowed a passing touchdown in 2009...time for that to change!

Your thoughts on the game? Feel free to comment here or check out the Domer Sports Report Message Board where Notre Dame talk takes place at all hours of all days!