Well if all it took was a billboard, then someone get me the phone number for Lamar advertising. It’s true though, the 2009 version of the Fighting Irish came out ready to play. A huge difference from Domer teams in the past. Coach Charlie Weisshowed off his teams depth, new attitude, and explosiveness.So, what a better time to be critical and get some ideas down.
Offense-Lot’s of weapons. Jimmy Clausen looked like he’s got complete control of the offense. He hardly had any pressure on him all day and was able to step into and deliver some very clean footballs. His best throw resulted in a touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in the first half on a 3 and 9. He hit the 6 foot 6 TE high and outside, only where he could get it. I mean that guy hit 9 out of 10 in the first half.
The O-line seemed was able to grind some meat and run the football. Which they’ll need for their next few Big Ten opponents. I saw several occasions when Sam Young was fired up, finishing blocks and telling people about it. This is the kind of attitude people have wanted in a Notre Dame Football team for a long time. We’ve wanted that “it,” we’ve wanted that swagger. Today, they had it.
The wide receivers and running backs showed that they can and will make big plays. Golden Tate and Michael Floyd made their case for being one of the best receiver tandems in the country. This will surely get better, as teams roll coverages toward Floyd, Tate will get one-on-one coverage more often. The best part is, the Irish have about 5 viable targets for Clausen at that position, so he’ll be able to spread it around.
Defense-There is a small concern for me here. The defense gave up 153 yards rushing at a 5.3 yard per carry clip. That’s not gonna get it done against Michigan’s spread option, USC’s power attack, or even Navy’s triple option. At times the defensive line got a little manhandled. Vai Taua had close to 120 yards rushing himself. Particularly Ethan Johnson, who usually can hold his own. A few times he was caught on roller skates or giving up leverage. The Irish will have to get some additonal depth at the front four in order to keep fresh and make plays. Sean Cynwar did see some playing time late. Johnson, Williams and Cynwar would be a nice lineup to rotate in and out.
The secondary did a good job, picking off Colin Kaepernicktwice and keeping the clamps on him. Kyle McCarthy led the way with an INT and several tackles. The defensive backfield is the most exciting position for me at NotreDame right now. They are easily 7 deep on guys that can step in and play. It’s that kind of depth and athleticism that will allow ND to shape up tons of different schemes, coverages, and blitzes in John Tuneta’sscheme. It’s that same depth that can get them to double digit wins, or at least close.
Best of all with this win is that Weiss got to play some of his highly touted Freshmen and Sophomore talent. Dayne Crist was the signal caller for most of the 4th period. Shaquelle Evans, Theo Riddick, Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter,Deion Walker, Manti Te’o, and Kapron Lewis-Moore all saw extended time. Good news for the Irish faithful. That time is so valuable as the season goes on. That is the kind of time that helps get big plays in tight games when the money is on the line.
Overall the Irish took a nice step forward in week one. They have a first class opponent in Michigan next week, who is cominf off a thrashing of Western Michigan. Its shaping up to be another great week for college football.