Clausen Air Attack Grounds Stanford

Opening disclaimer: Youth basketball started here Saturday and my coaching duties prohibited my viewing of the Notre Dame game … other than from my Blackberry. So this post will be a little sketchy on the details and consequently more forward looking. It’ll probably be this way for several upcoming weeks, so please bear with this scribe and feel free to add your own anecdotes and analysis.

Since when does a Notre Dame team throw the ball 40 times while a Stanford team throws it only 28 times? Welcome to the Clausen Era! Jimmy had the best game of his young career, throwing for 347 yards, 3 TDs and no INTs. Not bad, eh? Jimmy was sacked only once, so another great job by the O-line. Meanwhile, Stanford QB Pritchard threw for 2 TDs but had 3 passes picked off and the turnovers were essentially the difference in the ballgame. Credit the Irish D for putting some extreme heat on Pritchard … he was sacked 5 times and when able to get away, he threw a few to our guys. Weis & Co have obviously decided that ND’s offensive identity is to pass the ball and take advantage of the significant, but young talent at the skill positions. With these results, who can blame him?

This ball game was not as close as the 28-21 score indicates. ND jumped out to a big 28-7 lead in the 3rd quarter, but then took their foot off the gas pedal and let Stanford back in it. Brandon Walker came up empty as he went 0-2 in the field goal department. (His batting average this season is actually worse than the Cubs has been vs LA in the playoffs). Walker’s ineptitude combined with ND’s annoying conservative play-calling in the 4th quarter to make the game more interesting than it needed to be for Irish fans. ND again struggled somewhat defending the run, but offset that with a ferocious pass rush resulting in sacks and several poor throws by Stanford.

So the Irish are 4-1 and look forward to what I’ll call a very pivotal game against the North Carolina Tarheels in Chapel Hill. The game should be very revealing and serve as a good barometer for whether ND should be considered a Top 20 team. First of all, it’s a road game. ND was unsuccessful in its only other road game this year (MSU). Secondly, North Carolina is a rapidly improving team with a very nice resume thus far … a 4-1 record including a win at Miami for coach Butch Davis. Third, the Irish have some momentum going. A win vs UNC would make them 5-1 going into an off week before travelling to Seattle at the end of October and unquestionably ranked in the Top 20 … a level most people felt unattainable for ND this year. And 5-1 going into UW also almost assuredly puts ND at the 8 win mark for the season, so this next game against a very tough opponent has a lot riding on it. We’ll see if the Irish are up to the task.

Wally

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11 Responses

  1. ND has the air attack working with Clausen using 7 different receivers. Golden Tate didn’t make his 2nd reception until the fourth quarter. This week Floyd was the guy. Loved the way Clausen used the entire field. A couple of those passes get marked as incomplete, but the reception was made just out of bounds. Those incomplete passes opened up the middle and ND receivers ran wild.

    Gotta be concerned with Matt Turkovich leaving the game injured late in the 4th. Stanford took advantage of that situation and blitzed for their only sack of the day.

    When you consider the Cardinal scored 17 at #15 Arizona State, the Irish defense might be making the necessary improvements. The ‘D’ is becoming opportunistic. They will give a big play here and there – miss a few tackles from time to time – but if they keep getting picks and sacks, they will make up for their shortcomings.

  2. Good points, Casey. One thing I forgot to add … obviously for Irish fans it was another GREAT football weekend because Michigan lost again. Yeeeeeessssss!!!

  3. Almost forgot – not that we needed any tangible evidence to prove this, but after listening to Charlie sing the alma mater, we don’t have to be concerned about the big guy quitting his day job if a spot opens on Vaudeville.

  4. Top 25 is out and ND only received 6 votes. UNC sits at 22. This is accurate in my book. ND still hasn’t beaten anyone. The one team they have played, Michigan State, handled them pretty easily on both sides of the ball. UNC has at least toppled Miami, although not the Miami of old, and now have a top 25 defeat. Technically the UCONN win shouldn’t count as a top 25 win; they did not have their starting QB. Heck, Temple took the Huskies to OT this year!

    Finally next weekend we will have a telling game for ND. I’m confident in the Irish winning this, maybe even in impressive fashion. I’ve seen UNC play way more than ND this season and they’re very good. Their starting QB is out, but the backup, Sexton, is doing fine. UNC has a cavalcade of skills players to split out. Many are young but very quick and agile. All they need is a smart QB to get them the ball and Sexton is fulfilling that role.

    The key for ND will be the O-Line. UNC’s pass rush and D-line is excellent. Their secondary is pretty good, but their LBs are suspect. They are not very good if a run breaks the front line and also struggle in coverage. If Clausen has time and doesn’t succumb to the UNC pressure, he has a good shot with the way they’ve been spreading the field and distrubuting the ball to a host of receivers. Charlie can’t be afraid to run the ball against these guys, and a healthy dose of draw plays might catch those UNC LBs sleeping.

    Heisman Watch:

    1. Chase Daniel MIZZ
    2. Graham Harrell TTU
    3. Sam Bradford OU
    4. Colt McCoy TX
    5. Javon Ringer MICH ST
    6. Mark Sanchez USC
    7. MiQuale Lewis BALL ST

  5. Should we include Max Hall from BYU on the Heisman Watch? The kid has completed 71% of his passes and has 17 tds on the season.

  6. He probably should replace Mark Sanchez. QBs went nuts this past weekend.

    And I almost forgot to congratulate the Clipboard on its 30,000th hit.

  7. Thanks for mentioning it. I should note my appreciation to the community. We are averaging almost 80 views per day nearing 20,000 views overall for 2008.

  8. I wouldn’t take Mark Sanchez off the list yet, but I think you have to include Max Hall in the discussion. The WAC conference isn’t anything to start doing back flips over, but he carved UCLA to pieces and he is making the WAC look like Junior Varsity.

    The one thing that really impressed me about Jimmy Clausen and the announcers did a nice job of pointing it out. In the 4th quarter, Stanford lined up with a blitz. Clausen checked at the line, changed the play and ran a running play to the opposite side – away from the blitz. The play went for a 10 yard gain only to get called back by a holding call.

    But would the Jimmy Clausen of a year ago known to have done that last year? Not so sure.

    Next week’s game should be a great test.

  9. I’ve heard that 30,000 hits is a guaranteed lock for Hall of Fame admission. Congrats!!!

    Rey — Nobody from Ball State is gonna win the Heismann, so you might as well take him off the list. What about the Wilson-Parker kid at Alabama? QB of the #2 team in the country?

  10. Wilson-Parker has 800+ yards and only 6TDs to 2 INTs. He’s good, but he isn’t putting up near the numbers these other guys are. His team is #2 because they are stacked from their front lines to their skill players.

    As far as Ball State…probably not. But the kid is getting it done. It’s nice to see a guy from a smaller school turn some heads and gain a little recognition. It’s a down year so far for big school running backs anyway.

  11. And Ball State is on the AP radar.

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