It’s tough to really get into the X’s and O’s of Saturday’s season finale, but here are some thoughts about an actual football game instead of another post speculating about who might be coaching next season.
- As much as I agree with the decision to let Stanford score in the final minute – Stanford could have killed the clock if they wanted – it was very tough to watch the Irish defense have to lay down against Stanford. It’s really disheartening that its come to letting Stanford score a touchdown just to have a chance to force overtime.
- The OL was improved this year, but it’s hard to justify giving up two sacks on the final drive with max protect against a four man rush.
- If this was Jimmy Clausen’s last game at Notre Dame, he’ll leave with a nice stat line – 23 of 30 for 340 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sadly, the game was very representative of his career at Notre Dame – some great offense that ended up not being enough because of poor defense. Clausen ended the season with 3,722 yards with a 68% completion percentage and 28 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions.
- Golden Tate is ridiculous. Not sure what else to say about him. He’s the second most explosive player to ever play for Notre Dame behind Rocket Ismail as far as I’m concerned. If he doesn’t win the Biletnikoff Award, it will be a bigger injustice than Ty Detmer winning the Heisman over Rocket. In all honesty, Tate deserves to be in New York for the Heisman presentation, but Notre Dame’s November nose dive will make that almost impossible. It’s a shame too. In a year when no one has distanced themselves in the Heisman race, I can’t think of too many players who have been more impressive than Tate.
- Robert Hughes ran the ball well and should have gotten more carries. Sadly, that could be said about an Irish running back most games this season. Hughes averaged 5.7 yards per carry but only carried the rock 13 times. Hughes was a show string away from breaking a long touchdown too.
- Theo Riddick averaged 5.8 yards a carry, but only had 6 carries. Riddick ended the season with 160 yards on 29 carries – a 5.5 yards per carry average.
- Loved the Clausen to Floyd bomb out of the wildcat formation. The first thought that came into my head after watching it was why didn’t we see more plays like that out of the wildcat before now. Other than one failed attempt against Washington, Notre Dame didn’t get Clausen the ball with a chance to throw in the wildcat this year.
- Toby Gerhart is an incredible back, but it was tough to watch him bulldoze through the Irish defense for over 7 yards a carry. Gerhart’s 3 touchdowns gave him 26 for the season. Notre Dame has run for 24 touchdowns as team… in the past two seasons combined.
- The kick coverage and return units were a major weakness. Notre Dame’s plan to play keep away on kickoffs to avoid a big return back fired with excellent field position for Stanford all night. Notre Dame meanwhile averaged just 17.7 yards per return. There weren’t any missed lanes for return men either, there just weren’t any lanes to run through.
- Sergio Brown played the best game of his career with two well timed blitzes that resulted in a sack and a tackle for loss. Brown’s blitzes have been largely ineffective for the past two years, but Saturday he played very well.
- Ben Turk had another good week punting. After really struggling earlier this season, Turk averaged 43 yards a punt and boomed a 53 yarder. Two of his three punts landed inside the Stanford 20 as well.
- Hats off to David Ruffer again. For a kid who wasn’t expected to kick field goals this year, he’s done really well. It’s also a bit ironic that with three scholarship kickers on the team, a walkon has handled all of the place kicking the last three weeks mainly due to injuries (Tausch, Walker). Ruffer finished the season 5 for 5 on fields.
- Manti Te’o finished with 10 tackles and was all over the field again this week. Hopefully Te’o can move over to middle linebacker next season if he chooses not to go on his mission because he has All American written all over him.
- Darius Fleming showed some more flashes of being a real pass rushing threat off the edge this week. Another off-season should do him well.
- Stanford gained 496 yards on Saturday marking the seventh time this season the defense yielded over 400 yards to an opposing offense. Only USC gained more yards (501) against Notre Dame this season.
- Notre Dame lost the time of possession battle 24:44 to 35:16.
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the UHND.com RSS feed .