Welcome to a new weekly column we will be having here on UHND. Every Monday I will be posting an article with my final thoughts on the previous weekends games. Starting next week it should be up earlier in the day Monday beings as this is a holiday weekend, but here goes.
Offensive Line has me a little concerned – With a vertern offensive line outside of freshman starter Sam Young I expected them to be much more capable of picking up the Tech blitz. In the first half, the offensive line was swiss cheese, creating open season on Brady. Quinn took way too many hits in the first half before the line started picking up the blitz in the second half.
Speaking of the second half, the line was great in the last 30 minutes, but their in ability to pick up the blitz and protect Quinn could have easily created a much bigger deficit than the 10-0 lead Georgia Tech built.
Brady will be fine and will rebound nicely – For as bad as Quinn looked at times, he still completed over 60% of his passes for 246 yards and didn’t come close to throwing a pick. Quinn might have held onto the ball too long at times and was not accurate at all in the first half, but he protected the ball and did not turn it over.
For all the hits he took he also didn’t come close to fumbling the ball either. He did not turn in a Heisman caliber performance Saturday, but he also didn’t turn in a poor performance either. He led his team back from 10-0 and managed the game extremely well.
The officials were terrible – The officials were bad on both sides of the ball. Tech fans are complaining about the late hit call on Brady, but Wheeler clearly led with his helmet and made helmet to helmet contact. What about the phantom holding call on McKnight on the first drive? Or the holding called on Santucci right after Wheeler late hit?
All night long the officials were inconsistent and made some bad calls such as when a Tech defender ripped McKnight’s helmet off before the ball got there? There also seemed to be a lot of holding allowed by the Tech wide receivers on some of their perimeter runs and screens that went uncalled.
Weis and Minter’s adjustments won the game – When it began apparent that Notre Dame was not going to be able throw all over Georgia Tech as it appeared they wanted to, Weis adjusted and went to a grind it out, ball control offense. That adjustment tired out the Tech defense and kept Calvin Johnson and the Tech offense on the sidelines. I think the Irish could have definitely scored more points, and should have, but the decision by Weis to grind it out changed the flow of the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Rick Minter and the defensive coaches took Calvin Johnson out of the game in the second half. The All American wide receiver had just two catches after having his way in the first half. Minter also found a way to get some pressure on Ball late in the game and it resulted in back to back sacks by Travis Thomas and Crum.
Irish offense did not perform nearly as badly as some might think
Secondary looks solid… for now – Holding Tech to 140 yards through the air is a major improvement from last year, but I’m going to hold off on saying that this defense is back. Georgia Tech had one receiver that could hurt the Irish. Other receivers dropped a lot of passes and weren’t getting open. They successfully took Johnson out of the game in the second half, but what happens next week when Penn State brings three speedy, established receivers to South Bend? It will be a big test for a secondary who looked to be much improved after week 1.
Strong side linebacker is a concern – Mitchell Thomas did not make a single tackle and looked like he didn’t know where to be at times. He was slow to react and looked very much like a linebacker who’d never played much. Anthony Vernaglia didn’t look much better when he was in and as a result we saw a lot of Tommy Zbikowski playing close to the line in the second half.
This could be a real issue as there isn’t really anyone else to fill in here. One option is starting Toryan Smith in the middle and shifting Maurice Crum over, but that is a lot to ask of a freshman. Weis has him as the #2 middle linebacker already, but Smith is most likely not ready to start. So for now, we are going to have to hope Thomas or Vernaglia takes Saturday and improves their game after seeing what they did wrong on film.