2 Games, 0 Sacks

jimmy clausen 5The best stat of this young 2008 season is by far 0 – as in 0 sacks allowed by the Irish offensive line. After surrendering a NCAA record 58 last season, the Irish offensive line is off to a great start in keeping Jimmy Clausen on his feet this year.

When asked about the improvement of the line Saturday, Weis had this to say:

They’re much better in two facets in particular, much better in pass protection although Jimmy did get us out of a couple. He rolled out, and he’s learning now, he’s growing up, throwing the ball away, instead of doing something stupid, which we might have done last year so they worked together.

And in a running game you’re running against a team that’s giving up a yard a carry. This is a stout defensive front four, and they will continue to be a stout defensive front four all year long. But when they knew we were running it, and it turned into a slug fest, it showed that our guys are willing to go toe to toe with them.

Granted Notre Dame didn’t pass as much as normal Saturday because of the weather, but Michigan came into South Bend with nine sacks in two previous games and last year got to Jimmy Clausen eight times during the 38-0 drubbing in Ann Arbor.  To his credit, Jimmy also avoided a couple of sacks by avoiding the rush and throwing the ball away much better than he did last year.

Still, it is great to see 0 sacks allowed so far even if the running game is not as productive as we all may like so far.

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  1. Rushing the ball when the other team knows you are going to do it and getting 3 yards out of the carry is a good first step in building confidence in your o-line. Michigan was putting 7 people in the box and most plays went forward. The weather made the field conditions even tougher to get tracktion with thier cleats but somehow we moved forward on most plays. I know most of us would have like to see some more explosion by the backs. Hopefully with confidence and maturity this will come. As for throwing the ball in the second half lets not forget Michigan threw 2 interceptions. Smart football is smart football. I would rather run the ball and play the field position game especially if my defense is holding their own. Than risk my lead on a bad pass because the ball slipped out of the QB’s hands or the wind caught it and hung it in the air to long.

  2. I think that the play calling was correct, but reveals that the running game still needs improvement. MSU also did not pass much on Sat. Ringer was almost all of their offense. If the weather is good, ND will pass the ball and should be fine in that category. If it’s raining again, the advantage goes to MSU becuase they’ve already proven they can put yards up on the run. Unless someone jumps out ahead, this game should tell us where the run blocking is and whether we can expect to move the ball on the ground. We’ll need it as teams start to double up on Tate. Anyone think Jimmy should practice a shovel pass?

  3. My only worry is that I see the o-line doing a great job standing their ground, but not pushing the d-line around, and I don’t think we can dominate anyone with the run if our guys can’t move the line of scrimmage forward. Is this a problem I’m imagining?

  4. Frankie V,

    I believe you are correct with your statement. Why pass in a rain storm up by 14? Michigan made the game look sloppy in the 2nd half because they had to pass. I think the days that Chris are speaking about are long gone because college football has changed. I dont think playing “smart” is settling for mediocrity. Its playing SMART. Its good coaching.

  5. Chris,

    It has nothing to do with settling for mediocrity and everything to do with playing smart football and winning games. If Weis had Haywood calling passing plays and Michigan would have gotten a cheap score on a turnover everyone would be blasting him for not playing smart and protecting the lead.

    I sat in the pouring rain Saturday hoping we would just run the ball and force Michigan to beat us and not let us beat ourselves the way Michigan did. You make mention of Michigan not having any trouble throwing the ball – well they didn’t have any trouble turning it over 6 times either.

    Weis did exactly what he should have done Saturday. I’m sure he would have liked to have the ground game be more effective in the second half, but considering the conditions, he did exactly what he is supposed to do.

  6. Frank –

    You miss the whole point here. Set the bar higher not lower – coach for the next drive and the next game regardless of the weather that both sides have to play in. That is what Weis and company need to do and I dare say that is what most true ND fans want to see once again…we need to once more dictate the intensity not react to what the other team is doing and by going conservative you provide the other team with that opportunity. The attitude should be that the other team aint getting the ball back. You want to side with mediocrity – be my guest.

  7. Chris,

    There was no need for us to pass the ball in the second half so having only 11 yards passing in the final 2 quarters during a driving rain storm shouldn’t bother anyone.

    We were never up fewer than 2 scores in the second half so there was NO reason to throw the ball. Michigan wasn’t moving the ball consistency so the staff decided to put the onus on Michigan to score. The result? Michigan turned the ball over another 3 times in the second half. Being conservative during a rain storm like that with a 2 score lead is EXACTLY what I want to see Charlie do every time.

  8. Dont get too happy boys – one game does not a season make – Irish only had 11 yds in the air in the 2nd half and a dire tendancy to go too conservative. MI had no problem throwing the ball w/ a freshman qb. ND needs to play all 60 minutes w/ coaching demanding the next 1st down and the next score in all points in the game.
    Controlling against the run is still an issue – no pressure w/ all the blitzes is also an ongoing concern.

    Hopefully they can continue to build upon some real positives shown thus far however they are yet still a mystery.

  9. Better pass blocking so far is step one. They still caused Jimmy to scramble too much. Hopefully that was more a function of Michigan’s front than lack of progress. Luckily for Jimmy, coach Ron Paulus was the master at throwing the ball away. Jimmy does a better job trying to hang in there for some downfield opportunity. Hope those boys up front can get a little more physical and better at run blocking. We’ll be in great shape then.

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