September 10, 2007 // Notre Dame Football

Penn State – Final Review

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I rewatched most of the game tonight and here are my thoughts.  Also be sure to check out WestCoastIrishFan’s as well as they are very well thought out.

Offense

  • Weis needs to shakeup the line for this weekend’s game.  Duncan’s illegal motion penalties were killers early on and I would be either he or Turkovich are not starting next week.  I don’t know whether Romine is ready to step in for Duncan, but most people didn’t think Ryan Harris was ready in 2003 either and that turned out alright didn’t it?  Right now, I think we’d all do backflips if Romine were to step in and play like Harris did in 2003.   At guard, I wouldn’t mind seeing either Eric Olsen or Matt Carufel get a look.
  • The line just ins’t playing with any sort of attitude.  We need the offensive line to start playing pissed off.  I mentioned Olsen in my earlier point because I remember him talking about playing pissed off when he was being recruited.
  • I was expecting a lot more out of Sam Young this year, but he has not shown much, if any, improvement from last year.
  • As for Clausen, I was very impressed with his ability to avoid turning the ball over or forcing any bad throws.  At the same time, I think he played a bit to cautious at times and had some throws that he just didn’t make.  This is to be expected as he builds his confidence, but at times it looked like the was playing a bit too conservative.
  • Weis needs to let Clausen throw it downfield more.  Too many short dink and dunk passes.  Without the threat of a downfield passing attack, the dink and dunk stuff will only go so far.
  • After getting 3 first downs on the first drive, Notre Dame gained just 6 more all game – one was the final play of the first half and another came via penalty.  Penn State’s defense adjusted to to the ND gameplan, and ND had no counter.
  • I think this offense can be successful with the wide receivers on the roster.  I like what I see from Robby Parris a lot.  He’s learning to break off his routes when Clausen moves around in the pocket and it resulted in the longest pass of the game for the Irish.  Kamara’s got to come down with that touchdown in the 4th quarter though.  Getting over the hump of that first offense touchdown would have at least been something for the offense to build on.
  • Golden Tate is going to be a player.  I loved seeing him get worked into the mix at receiver and his 48 yard catch that got called back was a very nice play.
  • Where was James Aldridge?  Aldridge was supposedly the 1b halfback yet after he dropped the toss he was almost non existent.  If he was taken out as punishment for the dropped toss why the heck wasn’t Thomas for his personal foul which was more costly?  I’d love to see Aldridge and Allen almost exclusively at tailback.
  • Carlson needs to get worked into the game plan much earlier.  I realize he needs to be kept in to block because the line is struggling, but he’s the best weapon we have on offense and needs to get the ball.
  • Notre Dame was 2 for 16 on 3rd down conversions and both of those conversions came on the first drive.  Another example of Penn State adjusting to ND’s gasmeplan and ND having no counter.

Defense

  • Darrin Walls is the real deal.  His interception return is the kind of play ND corners have not made over the last few years.  He’s played a lot of man coverage this year and he is doing an great job.
  • Ambrose Wooden’s pass interference near the goal line was just a bad play.  As a 5th year senior, he’s got to realize the situation and know that the pass is short of the goal line and if he just concentrates on making the stop, Penn State gets 3 instead of 6.
  • Kerry Neal and Morrice Richardson have been the most impressive OLB so far.  Both can rush the passer and Neal has the kind of strength that an OLB needs.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more of these two and wouldn’t e surprised if both were starting by the end of the season.
  • The three starters on the defensive line have been a nice surprise. We knew Laws would be good, but both Kuntz and Brown have been much better than I expected.  Once Derrell Hand comes off of suspension, I think Kuntz will be even more effective since he’ll have someone else behind who can rotate in to keep him fresh.
  • The inside linebackers, especially Joe Brockington played much better.  Brockington turned in a great game  and led the team with 10 tackles.
  • David Bruton could have at the very least broken up Chris Bell’s 51 yard catch in the 3rd quarter which set up one of PSU’s TDs.  Bruton took a pretty bad angle on the play and actually had a chance to pick it off if he took a better angle.
  • Overall the defense turned in a hell of game all things considered.  They just simply wore down in the second half.  Austin Scott may have run for 116 yards, but had the ND offense sustained some drives and kept the defense off the field, I doubt he totals 100 yards.
  • Take away the 32 yard run by Randy Kindlaw on the second last play of the game and Penn State gained just 262 yards of total offense.

Special Teams

  • Derrick Williams punt return completely turned the game around.  It was a great play by a great player, but the special teams need to do a MUCH better job of tackling.
  • Both coverage units gave up long returns which gave Penn State 10 points.
  • Every single one of Penn State’s kickoffs reached the end zone while ND averaged just 58 yards on kickoffs.
  • Geoff Price’s leg has to be tired after punting 9 times.  His average was a very respectable 44.8 yards per punt.
  • Notre Dame’s kick returners are doing a pretty good job, but the up men need to do a better job of creating some seems for them to run through.  Both Allen and Tate have the speed to bust one, but there haven’t been a lot of lanes for them to run through.

Overall Impressions

  •  Beaver Stadium was a great venue for a college game and the Penn State fans were great.  They were all very loud and we stood the whole game other than sitting down in between series and during halftime.   The white out looked pretty great too.  For all the old timers who say that stuff like that and crowd noise don’t matter, tell that to Weis after all of the procedure penalties.
  • This was a game that Notre Dame had its opprtunities in, but just could not capitalize.  I’ll give the Penn State defense all the credit for not allowing the ND offense to dink and dunk its way down the field.  Penn State took away the short passes and the run and dared ND to pass downfield and the Irish couldn’t protect Clausen long enough to chuck it deep too often.
  • Penn State is a very sound team and I honestly think they have the defense and special teams to be a serious contender this year.  They are a QB away from being a serious contender though.  Morelli did not impress me much at all and in all honesty, he made more freshman mistakes that Clausen did.  Based on the other Big 10 teams this year though, PSU could very easily at least win their conference.
  • Notre Dame now has -8 yards rushing on the season.  Do I even need to comment on that??
  • 14 penalties?  Young players will make mistakes, but come on, 14 penalties?  Gesh.
  • I’ve never been pleased with a 21 point loss, but there is plenty to build on for this young team.  Without fixing the offensive line, however, most of the other points are mute.  It all starts up front and right now Notre Dame can’t do much right along the offensive line.
  • Fun stat – Penn State gained 383 yards of offense when they traveled to Souh Bend in 2006 and lost by 24.  Penn State gained 295 yards of total offense on Saturday and won by 21.

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