I know what you're thinking. Why bother, right? The game is over a week old, it's been discussed to the max, and I didn't even bother to post a Bagpipe Monday or wish all of you a Happy New Year. By the way- Happy New Year. I suppose I could just walk away from this post, but I feel that this game was too important and was dismissed by the main stream media as just "another bowl game".
It wasn't just another bowl game and it deserved a little more attention before the New Years Bowls and BCS Bowls started. I'm not going to throw out a bunch of stats in this post or write too much about particular plays (because I'm positive that you already know these things by heart) but I will write some shit that I need to say- if only to just put it on the record.
Jimmy Clausen is the shit. Get over it. Clausen was just a true sophomore this year. Jimmy was plagued with the same tag as another former Irish quarterback in Ron Paulus in where they both came in as a life-altering quarterback that should win a Heisman while playing at Notre Dame. These expectations are overwhelming- but they are expected as the Notre Dame QB. The difference is that Jimmy has been expected to turn the program around and catapult it back into a national power overnight.
Clausen certainly has his flaws and they are pointed out on a regular basis by flamers and talking heads alike. He had a tendency to lock on to a WR and his decision making under duress has been suspect. But, when you are running for your life behind a rabbit fence instead of being protected by a brick wall- you have to to get rid of the ball. Sometimes that means knowing where you are going to throw the ball before it is snapped and also trying to force a great play when your running game is bested by a group of lingerie models.
In this game, Clausen was perfect. He had incompletions? All I saw were a few passes that were dropped. Clausen was 22 of 26 for 401 yards and 5 touchdowns with 0 interceptions and he didn't attempt a pass after the 7 minute mark in the third quarter (that stat was too good to not mention). It is quite apparent that Clausen is a different QB than Quinn. Clausen is a lot more brash and cocky as he plays well, and almost an isolationist when things aren't quite going his way. Quinn was poised and a vocal leader in almost any situation. It will be interesting to see how Jimmy evolves as a leader on the field in 2009 as I am certain that he will continue to improve as a passer. Did you see those throws? Even when he didn't have to put the ball on the money because the defender was burnt, he hit the receiver in stride. The TD pass to Tate at the end of the half was insane. Jimmy Clausen is insane. Hmm- ICP. Insane Clausen Posse (T-shirts will be available soon).
You stay awesome Golden Tate. Those were the words of The Subway Alumni Show- and how true they are. Tate smashed a few records of his own in the bowl game as he racked up 177 yards and three touchdowns while averaging almost 25 yards a reception. As bad as he toasted the Warrior secondary, and as good as Clausen's throws were- he has another player to thank... Michael Floyd. Floyd had a less than average day catching the ball, and in fact, he had the least productive day statistically than any other player on the Irish roster that caught a football- 2 receptions for 17 yards. But the difference of having Floyd on the field as opposed to him on the sideline with a knee brace is one of epic proportions. Even Tate had to admit that Floyd helped draw coverage away from him and helped open up the passing game. These two players will enter the 2009 season as one of the best WR tandems in college football- if not the best. They will draw all kinds of coverages and looks from opposing defenses, and not only will they keep producing because of their playmaking abilities to go and get the ball, but they will open the rest of the offense up for players such as Allen, Rudolph, and three guys that will see their first action on the field in Shaq Evans, John Goodman, and Deion Walker. You stay awesome Golden Tate.
I want what ESPN is smoking. Or for that matter, what the main stream media is toking as well. First, Irish fans were blessed to have Andre Ware and Dave Pasch announce the game. They may of thought themselves to be comedians covering a football game, but the joke was on them most of the time. Forget the fact that they were butchering names on a regular basis as we should be used to it with Tom Hammond and Pat Hayden calling the Notre Dame home games, but the way they tried to entertain us was almost unbearable- even if you were as drunk as I was for the game. The Golden Shower is a classic moment and it is even funnier as they were not trying to be funny but clever. They waited until after the series was over and came back from a commercial break. How they thought that was a good idea is astounding. The Christmas names were laughable only because of how eager they were to use them after a couple of weeks of waiting.
As if the game announcing wasn't bad enough, the commentary by Corso and most of the other talking heads at ESPN was criminal. After most of them picked Notre Dame to lose to Hawaii due to the Warriors being faster and more athletic, they took the blowout win that Notre Dame had and turned it into a big fucking joke. It's not like the Irish left Hawaii with another bowl loss or even a close win- they fucking demolished the Warriors. Fucking demolished them. With the young roster that ND has this year, for them to end this ridiculous bowl losing streak and put themselves in a good position to have a great season in 2009. I wasn't looking for them to crown Notre Dame as a national title contender in 2009, but for them to treat it like a joke is just another line of jokes that has been coming from that network. FYI- In 2001, USC went to the Las Vegas Bowl and lost to Utah. They then proceeded to go to 7 BCS games while winning an AP title in 2003 and a BCS title in 2004. I'm just saying.
Mike Anello for Heisman. Did you see how average the kickoff coverage team was without Mike Anello. Notre Dame ended the year ranked #1 in kickoff coverage and with an injured Anello on the sideline for the Hawai'i Bowl, they allowed more yardage per attempt than in any other game this year. It is unbelievable how much Anello means to that unit and how good of shape they are in next year with Anello scheduled to return.
Speaking of special teams, Amando Allen finally broke a kickoff return for a touchdown, 96 yards. Not only have Irish fans been waiting for Allen to return a kickoff, but anyone. Notre Dame hasn't done that since Vontez Duff returned a kickoff for TD against Navy in 2002. It was almost just another blown chance for this unit as Allen stumbled right before he blew past the kicker. It should also be noted that Allen caught two passes for 59 yards and a touchdown as well.
It should not be forgotten that Golden Tate not only had a monster day receiving, but he also had a punt return for touchdown called back for a roughing the kicker penalty. It was a remarkable play that could of gave ND 56 points and maybe it would have thrusted Tate into All-American status in 2009. It didn't count, but it was fun to watch.
- The team played with a lot of passion and determination. Did you see Grimes getting fired up and getting in the faces of the Hawai'i defenders? Where was that these past 4 years?
- The running game was still dreadful, but it was effective as it loosened up the defense. that is all we can really ask for with this offensive line. Hughes looked very powerful and productive when he ran downhill. Coaches take note.
- I didn't say anything about the defense yet, but they played very strong. The 8 sacks that ND had put Hawai'i on the top of the list for most sacks given up in a single year... passing ND from 2007.
- Ethan Johnson and Darius Flemming were figured to be big contributors for this game, and they produced like veterans.
That's it. I'm too tired and too hungover to continue. I will have a lot of stuff on the site about recruiting and about the roster and depth chart from now until the start of Spring practice. The number of posts may decrease slightly as I have returned to the hell known as work, and I am getting ready to be a first time father in February, but i assure you that the content will still be palpable... somewhat.
Happy New Year !
Sergio Brown is pretty pumped about the game, and the future in 2009. Brian Smith is just amazed.