Initial Thoughts: Notre Dame v. USC ’07

That was ugly to say the least, but I will attempt to stay somewhat positve.

travis thomas5Offense

  • I think we saw why Sharpley was #2 behind Clausen most of the year. He looked great in relief against some suspect defenses, but he had the deer int he headlights look most of the game today. I don’t think Clausen would have fared any better though for what it’s worth.
  • Armando Allen ran the ball fairly well when given the chance. He made some decent between the tackles runs and I think we got a glimpse, albeit very brief, of what he is capable of if he is given some daylight to run through. This kid has a bright, bright future ahead of him.
  • I was a little disappointed with the hands of Parris and Kamara today. They had some chances to make some plays but USC defenders did a good job breaking up some catchable passes. Neither receiver had much space to work with though.
  • Liked seeing Chris Stewart get some playing time out there.
  • I think (hope) we will see more of Luke Schmidt at fullback over the final four games. Asaph Schwapp whiffed on blocks most of the day and dropped an easy catch on third and short when the game was still close. USC showed us how valuable a fullback can be in an offense and right now, that’s just one of the many elements this offense is missing.
  • We need to see more of Golden Tate. Tate got behind the USC defense on the first offensive drive of the game and had six with a good pass. Unfortunately Sharpley overthrew Tate by about five yards. After that play, however, we barely saw Tate. He needs to be on the field a lot more because he is a potential game breaker.
  • The offensive line is still missing assignments and letting blitzers run in untouched. There were multiple occasions where two Irish linemen engaged a single USC defender while a blitzer came in untouched to blow up a play.

david bruton5Defense

  • I really don’t think the defense played all that bad even though USC scored 38 points – they just got no help from the offense whatsoever.
  • Kerry Neal and Brian Smith showed the beneftis and drawbacks of playing freshmen at OLB. Both looked great times off the edge, but both also got taken out of some running plays. Both have very high ceilings though and both will benefit greatly from all of the playing time they are receiving this year.
  • David Bruton is a gamer. He pulled up lame with a hammy, but still came back in the second half.
  • I’ve said it over and over this year, but give me 11 Pat Kuntz’s on defense any day. The kid simply plays hard from start to finish and never stops. He had another couple blocked passes at the line of scrimmage this week. If Ian Williams can step into the starting nose tackle next year, Kuntz could be an even bigger force as an end in Corwin Brown’s 3-4.
  • Vidal Hazelton’s touchdown pretty much sums of Ambrose Wooden’s final two seasons. Not sure what happened to Wooden because he was looking great in 2005, but since then has just fallen off.
  • USC really showed us that we need to upgrade our athleticism in the linebacking corps – the USC fullbacks had a field day.
  • This game was very typical from the defense – they played tough for a while, but wore out when the offense couldn’t do anything. Some will argue that our defense is capable of getting 3 and outs as well, but anytime you face a team like USC, you know they are going to score some points. With another year and an infusion of some of the talent in next year’s incoming class, this defense definitely has some potential.

Special Teams

  • We only kicked off once, but coverage on that lone kickoff was terrible.
  • Conversely, our kick return units were poor to say the least. We mishandled multiple kicks and even when we didn’t, there just weren’t lanes there to run through. Weis simply has to make special teams a priority this off-season because we have the return men who can take it the distance if they are given some lanes to run through.
  • Bruton’s blocked punt was a pretty outstanding play – he literally caught the ball right off the punters foot.
  • The kicking game remains to be a problem as the only field attempt was blocked. The NBC announcers said it was a really low kick, but it looked more like USC just getting some great penetration to me.
  • In general, more emphasis needs to be placed on special teams this off-season.

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  1. bob sounds like you should start officiating, put your money where your mouth is, the pac 10 refs do a great job i know most of them, you dont know the proper mechanics of point of attack, many calls will not be called, away from the play , because it dosent affect the play, many variables that you dont know about, join your local highschool association then you will be enlightened

  2. We’ll know next year if Weis is the real deal because just as Holtz knew in 1987, Weis knows exactly where he is and where he needs to be. They need a 10 win season and a bowl win next year or nothing is proven. If they get to that level AND STAY THERE, then all the discussion this year is water under the bridge.

    But here’s my concern. If we assume Weis isn’t the guy, what next? Three bad coaches and a freak show for 13 years don’t make for an attractive program. It could kill the NBC contract which is a good thing. NBC has cursed the Irish with poor non-game time coverage. And with ESPN always bad mouthing Notre Dame since they can’t pimp us like their conferences, that doesn’t help either.
    But can Notre Dame recover without sacrificing it’s overall principals? It’s no good if we figure out how to win with a tainted program like Miami, Ohio St., or USC, etc.

  3. I gotta tell you that I’m very concerned about the coacing staff. ND is losing games and they are no where near to being competitive. We are in the third year with Chalie’s recruits and they are terrible. He has poor judgement on talent and has no clue how to keep the entire team happy about the direction the program is heading. Charlie has lost 4 recruits in the last 12 weeks!!! Gerry Faust was bad, but Charlie Weis si the worst thing to happen to ND since they went co-ed!

    I see a long line of losing teams with Weis in charge. I hate to see this happen to such a great school and I hope he proves me wrong!

  4. DD’s comments sound like a non fan who has nothing positive to root for and never did. Party crashers aside, I’d still like to hear opinions about whether this program can rebound. ND’s the greatest academic institution in the land and sports are an excellent way to augment achievements in the classroom. But the football program hasn’t turned it around from 1994 and doesn’t seem capable of doing so. Does our school become a Harvard? If so that’s fine with me and I can root for a clean program with good kids instead of hoods who’d be in gangs if not for football. I’ll take a losing ND to a winning Florida, Miami, USC, or Ohio St. any day. But I’d like to see Notre Dame play some inspired football because while I love the game of football, I don’t watch the NFL. Were ND to leave the college game to the Florida’s the USC’s, the Miami’s or other corrupt programs, I’d skip watching the D-1 college game too. Frankly watching guys who will either be in the NFL or jail or both isn’t worth my time.

  5. This probably is the worst coached team since Joe Kuharich ran us down hill for a couple of years. No offense, no special teams. I feel sorry for the defense, there on the field all the time. What scares me is loosing to Navy, Air Force, and maybe even Duke. Its to bad you dont get the number 1 pick in the draft with the worst record in College football. Alas, we will still get good recruits, we need solid coaching!

  6. ref’s determined the game? that’s more than a little crazy, but i will say that i think notre dame football will be nationally relevant within 3 years under weiss, which is why you’ll see me in my “believe in charlie” t-shirt

  7. Bob, if that is your real name, I have no interest and especially no power in driving away recruits. I don’t have to because Charlie Weis is in a much better position than I and that may be the only job he is doing well.

    You and Charlie should spend less time on refereeing conspiracy theories, it is counter productive.

    After witnessing yesterdays debacle the arrogant one had the nerve to say that people having fun at ND’s expense better enjoy it now. Or what?

    You talk about ND competing with integrity and they do but when 3 kids transfer and a fourth was considering it Sir Charles basically says that he doesn’t care about backups. He is your role model?

    I can just see the excuses in a couple of years when this bumbling continues. The problem will be lack of veteran leadership do the transfers of some blue chip recruits in prior years, only this time it won’t be Ty’s fault.

    I am enjoying the futility of the Weis regime now and I am quite sure that the future looks just as bright. Your comments also give me a laugh, keep them coming.

    DD, usual suspect with phony ID.

  8. Robert’s comments on officiating aside, this game has me very down about the future prospects of Notre Dame football. I can only think that one of two causes are happening. The first is that Notre Dame is playing clean in a sport that has apparently become so corrupt that even the corruption is a protected. This reflects poorly on our society as a whole and I won’t expound other than to say that our last two presidents, Marion Jones, NBA refs, and the USC/Reggie Bush situation are all examples of cheating that is allowed for long periods of time. Notre Dame will never compete in a sport that demands blatant cheating, illegal payments, substances that the NCAA doctors choose not to find, or hidden practice time.

    So the second prospect what I want to worry about because if prospect one is not the case, than at least there is some hope. But the concern against this hope is that this staff like every other staff since Holtz, can’t put it all together. Davie put some good defenses on the field but never a complete team. Willingham, the same. Weis seems to be following that pattern. The defense looks tough if you can put any kind of offense on the field, but a decent offense gets and tough but not exceptional defense gets you that lucky 9-3 or 10-2 with a bowl loss every 2 to four years. It’s not inspiring and it’s not Notre Dame.
    The inpsiration that Rockne, Leahy, Parsigian, Holtz, and sometimes Devine brought to Notre Dame made fans out of non fans. There’s been nothing since 1994 to do that. Holtz was able to stem the tide with his leadership that went beyond X’s and Os. Tressell brings this to mind. Weis is a great coordinator but can he feel the pulse of the young kids to lead and inpsire them to go beyond what the analysis says they can do? The greats had seasons that defied current wisdom. IF Notre Dame is just formula, than what’s inspiring? Does that make us different or just another football school in D-1A?

    If we go through more of this then maybe we should bow out of D-1A for a while or join the Ivy League. Notre Dame is the richest school in the country and we can put the Catholic’s among the elite’s in America and hold our noses high above the commoners. But academic achievement just to be an elitist is not Notre Dame. We were always about the greatness that could be achieved by the common man. I ask are we still about that?

  9. frank,

    1. another excellent game analysis, along with your story on dayne(moose) crist and anthony mcdonald.

    2. fortunately, notre dame high school is very close to one of my residences in the los angeles area and i have had the opportunity to see them both play on many occasions, as i did with jimmy clausen during his high school career.

    3. obviously, that offseason medical procedure that jimmy had carried with it 2 other burdens, the lack of time to develop chemistry with the receivers and the offense and the inabilty to work out his upper body to develop that upper body strength that brady quinn did in his last 2 years that gave him to ability to shake off would be sacks and to pop right up when he was hit.

    4. jimmy is a tough, dedicated, intelligent, and extremely talented qb. he will hit the weights now that he can and he will be very different next year and later this season.

    5. before the usual suspects come up with their usual vicious attacks on nd players and coaches from behind their phoney internet ids and furnishing usc and the other teams with materials to try to change the verbal commitments of crist and mcdonald and the other nd 2008 verbals and other with nd still in the running, we are going to give you our analysis of the nd/usc game.

    we think that the recruits should have the full picture of what really happened at this nd/usc game and at many other games since 2002, when we began breaking down game films and isolating every bogus ref penalty call and non call, along with tampering with the play and game clocks.

    after all, they know how to break down game film and they have played football long enough to have encountered crooked refs before.

    do they really want to play for teams that obviously much with refs when modern high tech analyses and the pressure from the public are going to put and end to the current ref system and replace it with an all ncaa ref system with full transparency of the background of every ref to the public which, through companies in which we all own stock,are putting up the bilions of dollars necessary to put on these sports spectacles based on the representation to the public that the outcomes of these games are being determined by the players on the field, not by crooked refs?

    6. as always, when i use the word we, i am referring to myself and a group of friends, many of whom, unlike myself, are fans of notre dame only because notre dame,like some other schools,plays the game of football with integrity and refuses to cheat, even if the price of doing so is a season like this one that looks like a disaster on paper.

    7. after the 2005 nd/usc game, we acquired the equipment neceassry to break down game film and the expertise of some people who have had experience with the nfl real timre review system.

    8. we have never been inclined to attack or grade players and coaches of any team that is playing with integrity unless the ref crew received a grade of at least c in their officiating of any game.

    when the officating grades out as less than c, then the score, the stats, and the performance of any of the players in such a game become totally irrelevant since the outcomes of such games were determined by dishonest refs, not by the players on the field.

    9. after breaking down the film of the nd/usc game and comparing notes, we have awarded this all pac 10 ref crew a grade of f, the same grade earned by the all pac 10 ref crew in the 2005 nd /usc game and the f grades earned by a big 10 crew headed by dennis lipski of the big 10 during 2006 both at the michigan/nd game and at the nd/usc 2006 game and the f grade earned by the all pac 10 crew at the 2006 oklahoma/oregon game.

    10. apparently, charlie weis and his staff agreed with our grading of dennis lipski’s officiating since, after breaking down the nd/michigan game tape and sending it to dave parry, the big 10 conference official theoretically in charge of ref quality control and geting no explanation of action, notre dame ended a decades long arrangement with the big 10 to supply the refs for nd’s away games and switched to the big east.

    11. now, we understand why charlie and no one officially associated with notre dame can critize officating too much, no matter how terrible it is.

    12. however, those restrictions do not apply to us.

    by the way, dennis lipski of the big 10 has a long history of dishonest officiating and he is still working in the big 10, as are other refs in the pac 10 and other conferences with similar histories of dishonesty.

    13. the names of the all pac 10 ref crew at the 2007 nd/usc game are listed as head ref. b. o’cain, umpire a. granado, linesman j. warrie,line judge m. feldman, back judge j.freitas, field judge.

    14. right now, we will just give you the highlights of the blatant misconduct of this all pac 10 ref crew, which they and their superiors at the pac 10 conference will have an opportunity to explain their conduct before a judge and a jury.

    15. throughout the game, usc players were holding the nd olinemen and the usc d was guilty of numerous false starts, vitually none of those blatant penalties were called.

    16. during the 1st half, sanchez completed a pass to te davis. davis clearly caught the pass and proceeded to run with it. when davis fumbled the ball and nd recovered, the refs called it an incomplete pass and gave the ball to usc deep in nd territory.
    17. soon thereafter, the refs awarded the ball to usc right near the nd goaline on the grounds that the ball had hit the back of an nd player on a usc punt and gave usc the gift of 7 points.
    18. was there any justification for the call awarding usc possession of the ball on the theory that the ball hit munir prince in the back? very weak, but not completely without justification in the rules if they were equally applied to usc, which they were not.
    19. in any case, but for the completely bogus incomplete pass ruling to save usc from the fumble, that usc punt never would have occurred.

    20. on another play soon after, sanchez intentionally grounded a passand no penalty was called. this same thing happened on several other occassions during this game.
    21. soon after, as one of the most blatant examples of many blatant non called holding penalties by usc for which no penalty was called, john ryan had his shirt ripped off by a usc pass blocker while john was right on target to sack sanchez.
    22.that non called holding penalty gave usc its second 7 points.

    23.soon after, on a usc punt, the same refs penalized zibby for signaling and not making a fair catch when zibby did not raise either arm above his shoulder.

    24. soon thereafter, the refs failed to call an intentional grounding penalty on sanchez whih led to another 3 points for usc before halftime.

    25. in brief, the refs gave usc 17 points before the 1st half expired.

    26. in the second half, the refs awarded the ball to usc on a sort pass to travis thomas when usc player harris hit both the ball and travis’ helmet with his helmet. applying the earlier fred davis bogus incompelte pass standard, this was an incompete foward pass, not a fumble. it was also a non called 15 yard personal foul against harris.

    27. the result was another chip shot 7 points for usc, now totalling 24 points of ref gifted points to usc.

    28. the refs next 7 point gift to usc was the result of numerous uncalled holding penalties- a td pass to hazelton.

    29. next, pete carroll just walks out of the coaching box and onto the field, as he did in 2005 and no penaties were called.

    30. the refs’ next gift to usc was a placement of the ball nearly a yard beyond the most possible point where they ball could possibly have been placed, resulting in a 1st down on a 4th and one play and cheating the nd d out of a turnover.

    31.the next gift was a clear fumble by usc tb johnson which these refs nullified by ruling that johnson was down before he fumbled., a usc defender neary ripped off kamara’s shirt. the refs failed to call pass interference or holding.

    33. the refs then correctly called a facemask penalty against john ryan, while failing to call many much more blatant facemasks penalties against usc players.

    34.with the help of a lot og uncalled holding penalties by many usc players, mcknight did break free for a td run.

    35. when nd actually started driving for a td, the refs did let up for a while until pete carroll caused a ruckus on the sdeline to reming the refs that he wanted a shutout.

    36. the rfs gave him that with a bogus false start call against bemenderfer and a completely phony personal foul against nd after nd recovered a usc fumble.

    37.could usc have won without the assistance of these refs? we will never know.

    38. however, our analysis shows that the poutcome of this game was ref determined.

    39. when charlie referred to notre dame wanting to be like usc, he was being polite.

    40. nd wants to win with integrity.

    41. is there anything that can be done about this crooked reffing in college football? after all, notre dame is not the only victim, by any means.

    42. there certainly is, despite the fact that current ncaa rules prevent charlie weis or anyone directly associated with notre dame from doing so, with the exception of raising the issue at ncaa mmeetings and coaching meetings.

    43. although notre dame will benefit from the intoduction of an honest ref system with nfl stuyle real time review, so will every other school and real student athlete trying to play the game with integrity.

    44. we expect to see the usual nd player and coach bashing by both ignorant or spoiled nd fans and the usual imposters seeking to stir up material to show to recruits and nd players.
    45. we doubt if many people out there have the equipment and personnell with the capacity to do the film breakdowns and analyses that we have been doing for years.
    46. however, nd’ s current and future 2008 verbals know enough about football to know thar our analysis is right on target.
    47. the question is- when all of the usuall nd player and coach bashing apears from nd fans, instead of complaints about the refs, how many of the want to live in a hostile environment like that?
    48. fortunately, they have seen the real nd fans both at south bend and on the road and they know that the real nd fans, who really love nd, do not engage in player and coach bashing.

    have a great day,

    bob gilleran

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