Did you expect a different outcome? How many games in the history of Notre Dame VS. Navy ended up being a close game that the Irish somehow managed to survive in the last 15-20 years? More than we care to admit, and one less than we would have liked (2007).
Toryan Smith. If you would have asked me who the most likely surprise defensive player would be in the game this week, I would have probably listed off a list of 6 or 7 guys- and Toryan Smith would probably not be anywhere near that list. What a game from the junior linebacker from Georgia! This is what Irish fans have been hoping that Smith would do for the last few years. The Irish were struggling to keep any kind of momentum and after a blocked punt, Smith plucked the ball out of the air and ran to the endzone with a dive worthy of the excessive celebration penalty that it received. When asked about the play in the locker room, Toryan gave this fantastic quote:
"They always say act like you've done been there before, but I acted like IHe played that way all game after he came in for injured starter Brian Smith early in the game. Toryan tallied up 10 tackles and helped the Irish defense stuff the Navy offense and hold them to their lowest rushing output in over 2 years. Smith did what we all knew he could do, and that was stuff the run. His weakness has always been his speed and pass coverage. I have a feeling that this second life that was granted to Toryan will be a blessing to Irish fans and his play over the next couple of weeks could effect the lineup in 2009. Just watch.
ain't going back."
Players are in some pain. That was a hard hitting game. The Fighting Irish suffered two HUGE injuries with both Michael Floyd and Brian Smith out for the remainder of the regular season with knee sprains. After watching the play of Toryan Smith, I am at least a little optimistic that the defense will maintain its high level of play. However, with Floyd out of the lineup, the offense might struggle to come up with the big play that propelled the Irish earlier in the season. Golden Tate and Mike Floyd were a difficult tandem to stop, but with only Tate as the lone deep threat, don't look for too many deep passes downfield. Both of these losses shouldn't impact the Syracuse game as much as they will impact the final game of the season when the Irish travel out west to play Southern Cal. That is when the offense and defense will suffer from the lack of speed brought on by both B. Smith and Floyd.
What the hell is wrong with Jimmy? Clearly there is something wrong with Clausen. The answer is probably a little more complex than just saying that he is only a true sophomore and compare his stats to Brady Quinn's sophomore year. I think it is a multi-headed monster that includes these statements which I believe to be fact:
- Clausen's ankle injury may be more severe than what is being reported. Clausen tweaked his ankle in the Washington game if I remember correctly. It is his right ankle, which is his back foot when he is throwing. After rewatching the Purdue game and the Navy game today, I see a huge difference in his throwing mechanics. Clausen's accuracy derives from his great throwing form. This is absent. Most of his throws have been too high and his back foot may be the cause.
- The 7 man zone coverage is killing our routes. Jimmy is throwing into double and triple coverage because in a 7 man zone, it is possible to cover each receiver with 2 or more defenders once they get past 15 yards. Teams do this because our running game is not that dangerous.
- Clausen is simply trying to do too much. This is where the interceptions are coming from. He has to just take what is there and he failed to do so against Navy in the first half. Even the scramble is proof, when he took a huge hit instead of sliding. He is a competitor and is struggling with himself in trying to pull in the reigns.
These are only a few reasons, and by the way- he is still only a true sophomore.
The last 5 minutes. I am not going to get too in depth with the last five minutes, but I am going to defend Weis- a little bit. The Irish were sitting on the 2 yard line with their second team in the game threatening to go up 34-7. Charlie Weis did not fumble the football, Jonas gray did- a freshman. Everything else means nothing if we hold onto the ball and score a TD or even just a FG to go uo 30-7.
Clearly there was some mistakes by Weis with his fourth down decision around the 50. Clearly. But his decision to have the second team defense in after the failed attempt is not a mistake. One of the biggest problems with the 2007 team was not just that it was a young team, but they had no game experience. When you are up 27-7 with only a few minutes left- you put in your second string. BTW- the long pass that was ruled complete at the 1 (catch or no catch) was because a starter let his man get deeper than him. How does Weis move McNeil back, when Raeshon KNOWS he has too be the deepest man? The onside kicks were horrendous. Regardless of what direction the ball went after Parris batted it, I thought he had a decent shot at recovering the ball. Then Parris gets blown up on what should have been a penalty on the 2nd kick- which by the way was about as perfect as an onside kick can be. This is a coaching problem, and one that I'm sure will be addressed this week and every week after. The 4th timeout? Ask someone else. I read it was legit and Navy only used 2 up till then. Like I said, ask someone else.
Some quick hits to end this thing. Here are a few tidbits that I would normally go in depth with, but I am way too tired to keep writing:
- The run game looked efficient. ND outrushed Navy. Let me say that again ND OUT RUSHED NAVY. Our line finally realized that Navy was giving up 50 pounds per man. The backs looked good with their cuts and vision. Yeah.
- The offensive line STILL looks horrible on a speed rush on the outside. Young and Turk dropped the ball a few times. This may never get fixed. I did notice that TRob got beat on the outside when Young took the inside guy and TRob took the outside. Someone tell me why they do this style of pass blocking. Please?
- Mike "The Dictator" Anello is still kicking ass on special teams. He blocked the punt that Toryan Smith returned. He also got away with a hold when he grabbed the punter's leg and took him down after the ball was recovered. He kicks ass.
- David Bruton is everywhere, but how many interceptions has he dropped this year? He had two more against Navy. At least he is making good plays on the ball, but will someone put some stick-em on his gloves. Please?
- Brandon Walker is now known as " Ca$h Money Findlay Bomb Dropper." It's a long name. But he has come a long way this season with his accuracy. He has a cannon for a leg and as long as he stays level -headed, he may win us a game with his leg this year.
- The Irish are bowl eligible. Yeah.