November 24, 2007 // Notre Dame Football

Initial Thoughts from the Stanford Game

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Offense

  • Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuughes.  Robert Hughes is going to be a heck of a running back for the next couple of years.  Hughes doesn’t go down on first contact and shows some great vision and quickness.  He needs to work on turning a 44 yard run like the one he had in the 4th quarter into a touchdown this off-season to elevate his game.  On the long run all that separated him from the end zone was a defensive back and he got pushed out of bounds.  Once he adds the ability to cut back in and make a defender like that miss he’s going to be a very tough back to handle for any defense.
  • Back to back 100+ yard games with under 20 carries both times is very impressive for a freshman no matter what defense.
  • Jimmy Clausen took a little of a step back today.  I’ve been singing his praises for weeks, but today he made some mistakes he wasn’t making the past couple weeks.  None really concern me because they were all freshman mistakes, but after the last couple weeks I thought we had seen the end of those kind of mistakes for Jimmy.   The interception he threw was pretty bad – he’s got to take the sack there.  On the flip side, he ran out of bounds a couple times for big losses when he should have thrown the ball away.
  • Clausen needs to work on his timing on the deep ball this off-season.  If some of the jump balls were thrown on a line instead of behind the receiver, he would have had over 300 yards passing.  There were some big plays to be made downfield, but Clausen’s accuracy on the deep ball was suspect.  He still completed over 60% of his passes and on the short routes he was dead on.  In the down field passing game, however, Clausen struggled and that is something he will need to work on this off-season.
  • Liked seeing more downfield passing today even if it wasn’t overly effective. We haven’t seen much downfield passing this year so it was a nice change.  My only problem with it was the fact that Grimes was thrown a couple jump balls and that clearly isn’t his game.   Duval Kamara still needs some work on those same jump ball type passes where the QB just hangs the ball in the air and lets the receiver go get it, but he is improving.  Once he learns to use all 6 feet 5 inches of his frame, he will be a tough receiver to defend against.
  • Despite the five sacks, I actually thought the line looked good at times – especially in the second half.  Some of the sacks were a result of Clausen holding onto the ball too long or rolling out of the pocket too early.  Chris Stewart lined up at right guard a number of times and I would be surprised if he wasn’t the full time starter at the position next year.
  • Grimes touchdown was indeed a catch and there wasn’t a single bit of evidence I have seen that would make me think otherwise.  Had the officials called it an incomplete pass on the field, I guess I could live with the replay booth not overturning it, but considering that it was a called a touchdown, I just can’t imagine what the hell they saw to overturn it.  The explanation given by the official sounded like a lame excuse you told in 5th grade for why your homework wasn’t finished.
  • Would have liked to see more of Armando Allen.
  • Only play calling complaint I have is that Weis called almost the same screen on 2 consecutive 3rd and 20 plays.  The first time it worked for a 40+ yard gain.  The second time it was blown up for a big loss.
  • I think the field conditions limited what Weis would call after seeing Hughes and Allen both lose their footing in the backfield a couple times.  In a perfect world, I think we would have seen Notre Dame run the ball more.
  • Fumbles.  Fumbles.  Fumbles.  Too many turnovers. Two fumbles inside the redzone kept this game much closer than it should have been.  Combine those blown scoring attempts with the two rob jobs on the Grimes TD and the INT return and this game should have been over by the start of the 4th quarter.

Defense

  •  Trevor Laws went out in style.  8 tackles was enough to give him the record for tackles in a season by a defensive lineman at Notre Dame and he recorded a sack.  His “personal foul” penalty on the last play of the half ended up negating an amazing touchdown, but it was ticky tack and probably wouldn’t have been called if it wasn’t the last play of a half that the refs probably felt was meaningless.
  • Speaking of that interception return, I was a bit surprised to see Bruton pitch it to Zibby, but it was a down right shame that it was brought back because of a stupid ticky tack penalty that like I said, probably wouldn’t have been called if the Refs didn’t think it was a meaningless play.
  • Zibby went out with a nice game as well.  Led the team with 9 tackles, had a pick, and a nice return.  Would have been great if he could have kept his footing and took the interception into the end zone, but none of the Notre Dame players could keep their footing all night.
  • Raeshon McNeil got his first career sack and looked good on the corner blitz.  Next year’s secondary is going to be fun to watch with McNeil, a healthy Gary Gray, and a couple of talented frosh in Blanton and Slaughter to go along with Darrin Walls.
  • Speaking of Walls, he really improved as the season progressed and played well again today.  He still needs to be more aggressive against the run in fighting off blocks, but he’s played well.
  • The young outside linebackers are also going to be a lot of fun to watch next year.  Between Smith, Neal, and Richardson, the Irish have some real play makers on the edge.
  • Ian Williams held his own again which as I’ve said over the last weeks is a pretty big accomplishment for a freshman trying to play the NT position in a 3-4 defense.
  • David Bruton will be an All American next year.
  • Right now, my only concern for next year’s defense is replacing Trevor Laws.  Across the board the defense should be faster, more experienced, and more talented at every position except Laws vacated defensive end position and that could pose a problem.
  • Considering the offense put them in some poor positions and turned the ball over 4 times, it was a pretty good performance by the defense to only give up 14 points.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the contain on the outside runs – it was a vast improvement over what we were seeing only a few weeks ago.  The defense is still very much susceptible for runs up the middle, however, and that should be on the top of Corwin Brown’s to do list this off-season.
  • Hopefully going more physical in practice from the start of Spring ball will improve the tackling on this defense because there were still a lot of missed tackles out there today.

Special Teams

  •  It goes without saying that this area of the game should be Weis’s top priority this off-season.
  • Stanford and Notre Dame combined to miss 5 field goals with only 1 coming from Brandon Walker.  Walker missed a 44 yarder wide right after Grimes touchdown catch was overturned.  Considering Stanford also missed 4 field goals, field conditions may have been a factor, but we haven’t been kicking field goals on good fields this year either.
  • Kick return game is still not much of a weapon.  There just simply isn’t a wedge being formed at any time.  Weis and staff need to either bring in someone to fix the special teams or stop the special teams by committee approach.
  • Zibby had a nice return and had another one called back but his returns are more of his ability and not the blocking schemes.
  • Note to Charlie – please take some proactive steps to fix the special teams this off-season.

Other

  • Stanford’s grounds crew should be fired.  That field was in TERRIBLE condition.  I have never seen players slip and fall that many times in a game played under sunny skies.  Why the hell was the field wet down at 5am??
  • What the hell is the point of a replay booth if they are going to make judgement calls on what they think happened instead of what they actually see on the video tape replays??  Unless there was some sort of angle that the replay booth had that we did not see on the ESPN telecast, there was NO reason whatsoever for Grimes touchdown to be overturned.

Comments to this Article

  • robert t. gilleran commented on November 25th, 2007 at 9:52 am

    frank,

    1. why not come right out and write it? both the big east ref crew and the pac 10 tech review crew were simply dishonest and that will continue to be the case with every ref crew and every tech review crew until we get the confernces out of the ref and tech review business.

    2. on the grimes td catch, the pac 10 tech review crew had nothing but the espn feed that we all saw. when the espn announcers asked the tech review crew for an explanation, they got none.

    3. was there any real basis whatsover for calling back the bruton, zibby, walls, zibby td- a recreation of “the play” at the stanford/cal game 25 years ago, without the assistance of the stanford band? NO.

    4. there were numerous dishonest calls and non calls by the big east ref crew during the game.

    5. if anyone wants to understand how bad the current ref and tech review systems are, just contact the conference offices and demand information. not one of the conferences will give any information whatsover.

    6. of course, there are other ways of getting that information. we have been gathering film and other evidence since the 2005 season when a pac 10 ref crew stole a victory won by notre dame over usc.

    7.after initially just getting extremely angry and throwing some tvs against brich walls, we acquired the same review tech equipment used by the nfl and broke down hundreds of game films( not with the tv feeds, but with the school film feeds) with the assistance of some experts from the nfl.

    8. the net result of the evidence is that there is not one conference that runs an honest ref or tech review system.

    9. the reasons are simple. there are undisclosed school and conference ties and there are tons of dollars avaivlable from school boosters and the sports books.

    10. the people who run the conferences, not only fail to discipline the crooked refs and tech review crews. they protect and reward them.

    11. for example, try coach stoops of oklahoma and ask him about the 2006 win over oregon stolen from oklahoma by a crooked pac 10 ref and tech review crew. ask him also how he feels that one of those crooked pac 10 refs has now been promoted by the pac 10 conference to the office of pac 10 official in charge in football ref and tech review quality.

    12. also, although the list is very long, try coach leach of texas tech and coach k of louisville who each had wins stolen from them this season by crooked refs and crooked tech review crews.

    13. why would any of these people be interested in the nd/ stanford game? stanford alums or coaches? absolutely no. stanford simply does not operate that way. in fact, a significant number of the members of our informal clean the crooks out of college sports project are stanford grads and dot.com billionaires or millionaires.

    14. the answer to that question is very simple. some of the schools that cheat are correctly terrified of notre dame’s no 1 in the us 2008 recruiting class.

    15. they were simply looking for a weapon to use in their campaign to break up notre dame’s 2008 commit class- an nd loss to stanford.

    16. with respect to jim harbaugh’s dirty tricks with drenching the field, which does not have drainage, with water starting at 5 am, our stanford friends are both emabarrassed and horrified since stanford simply does not do such things. coach harbaugh will be hearing from them.

    17. having driven many crooked judges off the bench all around the us and having taken down in the civil courts many dishonset business people who thought they were untouchable, do we have any difficulty doinf the same with the crooked refs, tech review crews,conference officials, school officials, and with the ncaa.

    18. their soft underbellies stem from the fact that every single one of these people derive their salaries, bonuses, and expense money from publicly traded corporations in which we all own shares.

    19. the discovery process allows us to uncover the other payoffs from which they have illegally benefitted. if any one of these people think that they have safely hidden their money or assets in some offshore jurisdictions or in numbered acconts with sportbooks or in corporations in nevada of elsewhere they are sadly mistaken.

    20. the solution to the crooked ref and tech review crews has been around for some time. the technology has been around for a long time and is not very expensive.

    21. we are under no delusions about the integrity of the current version of the ncaa. however, with full transparency to the public of the backgrounds, financial records, and complaint histories of every single ref and tech review crew and with a new honest ncaa hiring, training, and discipiling every one of them and real time review of every play, the crooked ref and tech review crew problems can be solved before the 2008 season begins.

    22. we have more than enough film and other evidence to shove this solution down the throats of everyone involved in the current corrupt system with economic violence in the courts. if any of them want time for debates and discussions, the answer is NO.

    23. with notre dame and stanford not in any bowl games this season, we are not going to wait until after the bowl games since, aside from liking the buckeyes to win it all( after all, the buckeyes one loss on paper this seasaon to illinois was orchestrated by a crooked big 10 ref and tech review crew), we really have zero remaining interest in college football this season.

    our sincere congratulations to charlie, corwin, and their staffs, to every single member of notre dame courageous never throw in the towel 2007 team,to every notre dame 2008 commit and to their families and high school coaches, and to those millions of notre dame fans all over the world who also never even considered throwing in the towel,

    bob gilleran

    [Reply]

  • bleednd82 commented on November 25th, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    I will agree that the Grimes play was a TD as it was called initially but overturned for no reason at all that I could see. I was at a sports bar and watching the game and I was like “im not worried, that will be a td”. Then poof incomplete? I was mad. Clausen has some arm strength. A lot of arm strength which makes me bery optimistic about going down field next year to Robbie Parris, Duval, Mike Floyd, Golden and probably even Kyle Rudolph. A lot of upside to JC i think. D looked a lot better and Laws will be missed. He will be playing on Sundays. Hope he goes in first 3 rds. Im guessing early 2.
    RoBert Gilleran bashed this website and now is posting on it again? Whats up with that Robert? I thought it was too cricital for you. I dont know about your “conspiracy theories” about the reply techs and the refs. They are human and do make bad calls. It can go either way sometimes, but when it happens to your team it must be a conspiracy right? It made me upset that Grimes TD pass was negated but if I started to think that all games were fixed then I might as well not even watch because the outcome will be decided not on the players performance but how the refs or “replay techs” call the game. Go watch X-Files

    [Reply]

  • Geoff Trowbridge commented on November 26th, 2007 at 7:47 am

    I was also happy to see more attempts to throw downfield. What I didn’t like, though, was the circumstances when the play was called. At least twice during the game, ND got nothing on first down, then threw a prayer downfield on second down, thus bringing up a third-and-ten (which obviously didn’t get coverted). Seems to me that second-and-long is when you need a high-percentage play for medium yardage.

    And what the heck happened to Golden Tate? Kamara is a terrific target in the end zone, but he just wasn’t getting any separation downfield. Tate and West are the speedsters, and yet inexplicably they were never used to stretch the defense.

    Ah, well. Perhaps this offseason Belichick will point out to Weis the things that seem patently obvious to me.

    [Reply]

  • Chris R commented on November 26th, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Bob’s comments aside, the officiating was not the greatest. But why would the Pac-10 put it’s best crew in a game with two teams with such poor records? The thing that bothered me both in this game and the USC/ASU game was that on both sides of the ball the officials allowed helmet to helmet, and especially on the quarterback. We have to admit that the Hit on Stanford’s QB should have been flagged. It wasn’t vicious at all, but by the book…. But if anyone saw the USC game, they blasted ASU’s QB with helmet to helmet and in my opinion that affected the outcome of the game.

    One more comment on the list generated above. When I retire, I hope I have something to do that keeps my mind coherent. Or if I get Alzeimer’s, I hope they keep me away from the computer.

    [Reply]

  • Chris R commented on November 26th, 2007 at 10:32 am

    One thought on the end of the season, Blue and Gold had a good article by Tom Pagna last week. He’s concerned about Weis’s logic in going to the Patriots staff. I partially agree only in that to me, some of the problem could be solved by talking to Ara, Lou, Tom Pagna, possibly players from Lou’s better teams. What made them great? Those non-X’s and O’s hold the key. Weis will get part of the solution from the Pats, but I’d go to ND’s own for the other piece to the puzzle.

    [Reply]

  • Frankie V commented on November 26th, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Chris,

    I don’t think Charlie is going just to talk X’s and O’s in New England. What most people are overlooking is the fact that Bellichick was terrible head coach in Cleveland yet became a genius in New England.

    Weis wasn’t with Bellichick in Cleveland so maybe he’s going to ask Bill what he did differently the second time around.

    [Reply]

  • Chris R commented on November 26th, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Frank,
    Great point. I hadn’t thought of that. As much as I don’t like Carroll, in a way he did the same thing. I have to say, given Charlie’s values outside of football, he is a great representative of ND. I truly hope he finds what will enable him to learn and succeed at ND.

    [Reply]

  • Frankie V commented on November 27th, 2007 at 12:46 am

    If Charlie goes back to fundamentals from day one this spring and raises the intensity level in practice up about 15 notches I think we’ll see a team much more like the 2005 and 2006 squads rather than the 2007 squad come next fall.

    I think Weis also needs to talk to Bellichick about how much more leeway he gave his assistants when he was in New England. In NE he let his assistant coaches coach and didn’t obsess over every detail – something I think Weis might be doing.

    [Reply]

  • Chris commented on November 27th, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Frank,
    It did seem that there was too much to manage and it may have overwhelmed Charlie. What are your thoughts on Latina and possibly an a job offer to Aaron Taylor? I know this hasn’t been discussed, but Taylor seems like one of those guys hanging around and he buys into the Joe Moore method.
    Also, any thoughts looking back as to the Peter Vaas / Ron Pawlus decision?

    [Reply]

  • Chris commented on November 29th, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Frank,
    If you get Blue and Gold Illustrated then read Tom Pagna’s article. While it is critical of Weis going to seek advise from the Patriots, it does point out something that Weis should take note of for his staff. Pagna’s discussion has some key points.
    Any successful coach will seek input from his staff. Will turn the staff into it’s own team, not just a bunch of lackie’s to the boss. Will honor and respect the staff without demeaning the staff members with cursing and swearing. Pagna goes on, you can tell he’s concerned about the leadership component of this coach. We’ll know next year. Anyway it’s a great read.

    [Reply]

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