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.
Filed under: Wally's World |