I am a day late on this due to my travel schedule yesterday...
So, after having a couple of days to chew on this win the only thing that I really came away with is that the USC - ND rivalry is alive and well!
I do not know what the future of Charlie Weis is but his players did find find a way to dig down deep and make this game interesting. But there is a difference in the ND fan base. From what I have read in numerous spots the fans are happy they didn't get blown out which begs the question...Since when is not getting blown out OK?
On the postgame walk from the press box to the interview room, weaving through throngs of exiting Notre Dame fans, this is what I heard over and over and over again:
At least we didn't get blown out.
Not exactly "Play like a champion today'' or "Win one for the Gipper,'' is it?
That, however, tells you just how far Notre Dame has fallen. Its once-fickle fan base, who used to demand not only victories but lopsided victories that covered the spread, has been reduced to finding solace in outcomes like Saturday's dramatic 34-27 loss to USC at Notre Dame Stadium.When it comes to facing the best college football program in the country not named Florida, it's enough now for Notre Dame to avoid abject embarrassment. It's enough to look like the Irish belonged on the same field with mighty USC, something that wasn't the case in lopsided losses the past two years. It's enough to take the Trojans down to the final play, the final second.
Sounds like a moral victory to me...
I think you have to lay this right at the feet of Charlie Weis. Once again a coach talking smack without having ever won anything dumbs down the fan base when they have been crushed the last few seasons. The fans are powerless over Notre Dame football. They have no say in the future of this team, all they can do and watch and hope that it gets better SC dominated this game on offense for most of the game but their lapse in judgment on defense with stupid penalties and their taking the foot off the gas in the second half let ND get back into the game.
Yes, Jimmy Clausen made some great plays like the TD pass to Tate but he was under pressure a lot on Saturday so while there was some great theater at the end of the game, the fact remains that SC's lapse in execution and bone headed penalties gave ND a breath of hope.
It is clear that there is still some holes on the ND defense and there were some holes on the ND offensive line that resulted in five sacks so while Weis continues to grab top talent it becomes more and more obvious that he has a hard time coaching them up. The ND O line has been together a long time and they still slow as hell.
Who knows if Weis survives at the end of the season but you can now hear the rumblings that it is time to cut him loose. There are calls that Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly has to replace Charlie Weis. I doubt that will happen...But you can see things are not well in South Bend. Heck, Pete Carroll is already thinking about 9-in-a-row!
As for USC it is hard not to like what we are seeing with Matt Barkley.
Barkley played a pretty good game even with the pick he threw that gave ND some life it is hard not to be impressed with calm demeanor. The running game is still a bit of a concern, you can see how we miss Stafon Johnson. The Oline is doing a great job at giving Barkley the protection he needs but there are some plays where they aren't blowing open the holes like we need to see to let the running backs run wild.
The passing game is coming along nicely with Damian Williams and Anthony McCoy the most important targets that Barkley has. RoJo still needs some time to get back in sync and Brice Butler is starting to emerge.
The defense played great but the secondary does concern me a bit. Taylor Mays needs to focus more on making the play than making the hit. I am not seeing him as a top 5 pick just because he is hard hitter with speed. He was late getting over on the Tate TD and it was his responsibility to catch the ND player sitting on the sideline on the fake FG. I know that they play is outlawed in the Pac-10 but as a senior safety on this team that is his job. I would agree that his being flagged for those penalties was crap but that second penalty involving Parris does not get called if he simply wraps him up and takes him down instead of going for the big hit.
Was it just me or did KeTo look like he was giving TOO MUCH cushion to the ND receivers? I know PC likes to play the bend don't break defense that keeps everything in front you but it just seemed that there was too much room in front.
The D line was great! they got pressure on Clausen and the slow ND O line all day. Yes, there were some bone headed penalties on Griffen, Jackson and Horton but it is hard to criticize them because they have played so well. Same goes with the LB's Galippo has really become one of the leaders on this team, his stop on 4th and goal was a key defensive play.
SC still has some issues but I think they are coming together. I think a scare like this one sometimes gets players to take a second look...it will be interesting to see ho the team responds against Oregon State.
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Here are some links that you may have missed from over the weekend...