Initial Impression – Notre Dame at Stanford

It’s tough to really get into the X’s and O’s of Saturday’s season finale, but here are some thoughts about an actual football game instead of another post speculating about who might be coaching next season.

  • As much as I agree with the decision to let Stanford score in the final minute – Stanford could have killed the clock if they wanted – it was very tough to watch the Irish defense have to lay down against Stanford. It’s really disheartening that its come to letting Stanford score a touchdown just to have a chance to force overtime.
  • The OL was improved this year, but it’s hard to justify giving up two sacks on the final drive with max protect against a four man rush.
  • If this was Jimmy Clausen’s last game at Notre Dame, he’ll leave with a nice stat line – 23 of 30 for 340 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Sadly, the game was very representative of his career at Notre Dame – some great offense that ended up not being enough because of poor defense.  Clausen ended the season with 3,722 yards with a 68% completion percentage and 28 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions.
  • Golden Tate is ridiculous. Not sure what else to say about him. He’s the second most explosive player to ever play for Notre Dame behind Rocket Ismail as far as I’m concerned. If he doesn’t win the Biletnikoff Award, it will be a bigger injustice than Ty Detmer winning the Heisman over Rocket. In all honesty, Tate deserves to be in New York for the Heisman presentation, but Notre Dame’s November nose dive will make that almost impossible. It’s a shame too. In a year when no one has distanced themselves in the Heisman race, I can’t think of too many players who have been more impressive than Tate.
  • Robert Hughes ran the ball well and should have gotten more carries. Sadly, that could be said about an Irish running back most games this season. Hughes averaged 5.7 yards per carry but only carried the rock 13 times. Hughes was a show string away from breaking a long touchdown too.
  • Theo Riddick averaged 5.8 yards a carry, but only had 6 carries. Riddick ended the season with 160 yards on 29 carries – a 5.5 yards per carry average.
  • Loved the Clausen to Floyd bomb out of the wildcat formation. The first thought that came into my head after watching it was why didn’t we see more plays like that out of the wildcat before now. Other than one failed attempt against Washington, Notre Dame didn’t get Clausen the ball with a chance to throw in the wildcat this year.
  • Toby Gerhart is an incredible back, but it was tough to watch him bulldoze through the Irish defense for over 7 yards a carry. Gerhart’s 3 touchdowns gave him 26 for the season. Notre Dame has run for 24 touchdowns as team… in the past two seasons combined.
  • The kick coverage and return units were a major weakness. Notre Dame’s plan to play keep away on kickoffs to avoid a big return back fired with excellent field position for Stanford all night. Notre Dame meanwhile averaged just 17.7 yards per return. There weren’t any missed lanes for return men either, there just weren’t any lanes to run through.
  • Sergio Brown played the best game of his career with two well timed blitzes that resulted in a sack and a tackle for loss. Brown’s blitzes have been largely ineffective for the past two years, but Saturday he played very well.
  • Ben Turk had another good week punting. After really struggling earlier this season, Turk averaged 43 yards a punt and boomed a 53 yarder. Two of his three punts landed inside the Stanford 20 as well.
  • Hats off to David Ruffer again. For a kid who wasn’t expected to kick field goals this year, he’s done really well. It’s also a bit ironic that with three scholarship kickers on the team, a walkon has handled all of the place kicking the last three weeks mainly due to injuries (Tausch, Walker). Ruffer finished the season 5 for 5 on fields.
  • Manti Te’o finished with 10 tackles and was all over the field again this week. Hopefully Te’o can move over to middle linebacker next season if he chooses not to go on his mission because he has All American written all over him.
  • Darius Fleming showed some more flashes of being a real pass rushing threat off the edge this week. Another off-season should do him well.
  • Stanford gained 496 yards on Saturday marking the seventh time this season the defense yielded over 400 yards to an opposing offense. Only USC gained more yards (501) against Notre Dame this season.
  • Notre Dame lost the time of possession battle 24:44 to 35:16.
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48 comments

  1. logan 10 years ago

    Some good points here. I agree that Tate should be considered for the Heisman and Hughes should have definitely seen more carries. Riddick will be great, but the fumble at the beginning of the game was costly, especially after a turnover on defense. It is unfortunate that the Heisman doesn’t go to the best player in the nation, but goes to the best player on the best team. Tebow and McCoy aren’t even coming close to the season’s that they had last year, but if the Irish were 10-2 you could almost count Clausen and Tate as locks to New York.
    I don’t necessarily like when ND runs the wildcat though. I think ND actually does better when Clausen sits in the pocket and throws because I feel that is when they are most effective.
    I have been severely disappointed in the tight end Mike Ragone. Coming out of high school he was very heavily recruited and has not played well and made timely drops, they need Rudolph back a 100%.

    -Let me know what you guys think… and if you want check out my blog loganweeks.com/wordpress

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  2. Evan 10 years ago

    now we play the waiting game.

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  3. Tom Carty 10 years ago

    C-Dog’s comment about the “new slavery” in the SEC where black athletes win games but leave without a degree is spot on. Let’s hope if Charlie leaves, whoever replaces him, maintains his dedication to making sure all of his athletes graduate with a great degree.This is the major reason I always hope guys like Charlie succeed. It amazes me that the ND critics covering football don’t see the hypocrisy in building up programs where this sort of abuse takes place. Oh yea, I forgot, it’s Charlie Weiss who is arrogant and doesn’t get the college game. That’s why we are supposed to be delighted when he gets fired.

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    1. Shazamrock 10 years ago

      The thing a lot of people fail to realize is that in order to achieve those high
      academic rates, players must sometimes sacrifice practice time for studing or tutoring.
      When you are missing starters from practice here and there it’s difficult to build contenuity. Classroom work alwas comes first at ND as it should.
      Under CW, you rarely heard of players missing games because they didn’t make grades.

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  4. JDH 10 years ago

    Good riddance and please fire the lion’s share of the rest of the coaching staff. Tenuta’s firing is as important as Weis’s, in my opinion.

    However, I do wish Charlie Weis and his family the best in all their endeavors. He’s a good man who is just not right for college coaching.

    I do not feel the same way about Tenuta. I have heard many times over that he treats his players like crap and is m.o. is to point fingers in the midst of profanity-laced tirades. All the while he absolutely sucks at what he does for a living. But I’ll try to be nicer going forward… 🙂

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  5. Michael 10 years ago

    NY Daily News reporting now that Swarbrick has decided to “go in a different direction” and Charlie is indeed fired.

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    1. Michael 10 years ago

      ESPN just confirmed this report also…

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  6. Alphonso 10 years ago

    I am a Stanford fan and I only watched one ND game all season. It was obvious which team should have won the game and that was ND. Where dd the luck of the Irish go? -it was missing on Saturday. I looked at the schedule/results and it ia apparent the Luck has been missing all year.

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    1. teo 10 years ago

      Yes — we have had bad luck all year. The officiating has been pretty bad. The worst call of the year was in Pittsburgh, in my view, but the calls against Michigan were pretty poor, too.

      The playing has been pretty bad, too. To take a couple of sacks in the final minute was really outrageous. And, it happened more than once this year. We don’t seem to learn. The defensive front has been weak – almost as weak as the secondary.

      In the end, we need to make our own luck. And, that takes a different approach.

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  7. Shazamrock 10 years ago

    Flipping through the TV channels this past week, I stopped to watch Tim Tebow take the field for the final time at the Swamp. Him and his fellow Gators
    have won just about everything there is in college football these past few years.
    SEC Championships, Nation Championships, Heisman Trophys, perfect season.
    Tebow was hugging his coach, shaking hands, waving to fans. The crowd went wild. The band played, players ran onto the field, jumping up and down. Confetti and stremers rained down. Very festive. Looked like a lot of fun.
    Then the thought occured to me. Could one imagine this happining at Notre Dame? It’s been so long. 20 years past.
    You can win a national championship at Florida, or Alabama, or Texas and that would be great for those involved.
    But to win a football national championship at the University of Notre Dame. There could be no better place. It’s the highest peak on the highest mountian. The Champion of Champions. The ultimate in college football achevement. As players and coaches, you are immediately inshrined in the richest of traditions and gridiron lore. A permenant and premire place in a storied history acknowledged by fans world wide, never to be forgotten.
    To win one at Florida is great. To win one at ND is forever.
    Perhaps there is a young, hungery coach out there who invisions the same possibilities. Yes, the price is high. Eternal Glory never comes cheap. But only a place like Notre Dame can offer that kind of a payoff.

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  8. teo 10 years ago

    My grandfather had a wonderful saying: you cannot make chicken salad out of chicken sh!t. With respect to the Irish defense, truer words haven’t been spoken. They plain stunk this year. There are some individuals that are decent, but the defensive line surrendered, the secondary was weak, the formations were predictable and they became progressively worse as the season wore on.

    I know folks are drooling over Jimmy. He had a good year and had us in a position to win every game. It’s unfortunate that we lost 6 of those games. He has to take some of the heat for losing six games. Do you think Tebow would ever have lost six games at Florida? Sure, they have a better defense, but Tebow would have gone bonkers if they’d lost five games in a season. He never would have taken two sacks in the final minute. He needs another year to fine-tune his strengths and work on his weaknesses.

    As for the next coach, I’ll say this again: we need an experienced college football head coach who has demonstrated an ability to win. This year, fortunately, we have a few options and we’re lucky that this is the case. Kirk Ferentz, at Iowa, has done very well over the last several years. Take a look at his bowl record and you’ll see he’s well qualified (but expensive). Brian Kelly at Cincinnati has won nearly everywhere he has coached. I think both guys would come to South Bend. People talk about Urban Meyer, but he’s not leaving Florida and, even if he did, we’d have to wait till January to have him.

    And, then there is Bob Stoops. He’s a great coach. Whether he would leave the relative security of Norman for Notre Dame is an open question. It would be nice. He’s defensive-minded, which is what we sorely need, but he’s produced some great offensive talent. It’ll be an interesting couple of weeks.

    Charlie leaves South Bend in a better place than he found it. We have good offensive talent at skill positions, but we have weak offensive and defensive lines. . . . There’s a lot of opportunity for the new coach.

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  9. SteelFanRob 10 years ago

    Evan,

    Can’t you see, you’re being too negative by stating the obvious. Sure you’re logic is sound. But who cares about that. Don’t hurt people’s feelings by bringing up good points like that! We’re supposed to be happy that we’re 6-6. You see, Evan, a true ND fan enjoys sitting back and watching his team lose. So long as we’re not “negative,” you see. We just need to be happy losers, waiting for Santa Claus and later the Easter Bunny to makes us feel all fuzzy and warm about ourselves and ND football.

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    1. nepachris 10 years ago

      now your being an ass. sorry for seeing some good in this team with no real head coach. maybe i will focus on all things negative in life and state the obvious to appease the likes of you. so here’s a start, there is no santa claus or easter bunny kids! your parents lied to you!

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      1. SteelFanRob 10 years ago

        nepachris,

        Why are you taking this personally? Don’t bring my parents into any of this. That’s what a true ass does! So are you admitting you’re one of those “fans”?! Look, as far as I’m concerned, what good can be said about CW or this team so pales in comparison to what went wrong this season and for the last 3 that I don’t see the validity of your point. What’s the use of settling for mediocrity? I’m sure there are Cubs fans out there every year (for the last 100 years) who always find the bright side of being lovable losers. Is that what you want for ND football? If so, stop calling yourself a fan. Lie I said, I found very little to get excited about after losing 4 in a row in a year that was supposed to end with a BCS bowl. But then again I have standards. If you like where we’re at, then go cheer for BC!

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      2. nepachris 10 years ago

        i take it personally because you stated “I’m not saying you’re one of them, although I could be led to believe that based on some of your comments.”
        “Don’t bring my parents into any of this. That’s what a true ass does!” read what i said. it was not directed at your parents.
        who said anything about settling for mediocrity? i have standards as well, suprising, huh? i had expectations for this team as well this year, but that all went out the window with navy. my point is we all knew a coaching change was coming after that, so why bitch and moan about a lame duck coach and all the negativity that was already swarming these kids for 3 weeks. i chose to enjoy watching this team and some of the players that are gone after this season. that is not settling. that is just how i chose to find some good in a dismal season. what is wrong with that? with all the crap we have to put up with in everyday life, i see nd football as an escape from it all on saturdays. i cannot and will not focus on all things negative surrounding this program right now, esp. considering that it will not change things. i hope you understand that because no matter how much bitching we do, we are not the ones in charge.

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