It really is hard to describe last nights game against Notre Dame.
The biggest fight the Irish put up was in a pre-game tussle when the two teams met in the tunnel before pregame warm ups.
You could almost see it coming when Clausen threw his first pick...you just knew he was going to try and test the USC secondary. He wanted to probe them to see if there was something there...the only thing there was Cary Harris. I don't think anyone was worried about the defense shutting down ND with their decided "schematic advantage" the question was would the offense do its thing.
Mark Sanchez threw a pick on the second play of SC's opening series...a mere moment after ESPN announcer Mike Patrick praised Sanchez with some great stats. True to form he shook it off on the next series and away the Trojans went. What I thought would happen did happen...with SC running the ball the only the Irish could hope to stop it was to bring the safeties up but all that did was open the passing game and Sanchez for the most part took advantage of it. The real head scratcher to me though that even with the adjustments made by Weis and Co. SC was still running the ball effectively so it was discouraging to see Steve Sarkisian call 2 consecutive swing passes to McKnight in the second quarter. for a loss on both plays. I don't know if they were trying to work out some kinks or if they were just playing cat and mouse with ND but there were some plays that just made you shake your head. There was the end around to Damian Williams that was stopped for a loss, that raised an eyebrow... all they had to do was run it up center field.
Penalties were light in the early going but they reared their ugly head and cost Stafon Johnson 2 scores. One was a block in the back on his punt return the other was a holding call on O'Dowd that pushed the Trojans back which then resulted on Sanchez's 2nd INT of the night. One interesting penalty that came on the Johnson punt return was a call for excessive celebration....someone will have to explain that to me.
Damian Williams had another great night as did Patrick Turner. Stanley Havili ran a great wheel route that went for 39 yards before he was taken down, he also appeared to have suffered a minor ankle sprain on that play and he did not come back in the second half.
I was concerned that O line was not giving Sanchez the time he needed as I saw the pocket collapse a few more time than I would have liked. Sanchez had pock presence most of the time but he was sacked a few times- one from behind that saw the ball knocked out of his hand but was thankfully knocked out of bounds by and Irish defender. There was also another pass to Anthony McCoy that was taken out of his hands but it was determined that the Irish defender didn't have control of it as he went out of bounds so at times the offense looked a little anemic.
ND really never knew what hit them...they defense would stingy but they couldn't get a handle on how to defend against USC's offense. SC would eat up chunks of yards at a time always moving forward.
The speculation around Weis's tenure at ND is already being speculated upon. As I have noted in the past he only has himself to blame. His treatment of ND officials, prospective recruits and boosters will not earn him any sympathy. If ND is hold Weis to the same standards as Willingham or even Davie then he is a good as gone. I think that's a good thing, ND needs a coach that can do the things need to make ND respectable again while also building a network of supporter that would bend over backwards for their coach. Weis has done nothing but burn the bridges that a program like Notre Dame thrives on to be successful. You know its bad when noted Weis apologist Joe Theismann is even scratches his head in disbelief.
Weis' dwindling core of supporters could now fit into a Corvette.
As recently as last year, Joe Theismann was Weis' attack dog. Remember when former Irish lineman Bob Kuechenberg called Weis an "ogre," "abusive" and "unnecessarily arrogant to the Notre Dame family" in a Boston Herald article?
Theismann countered: "Bob's ... full of it. He's flat wrong."
Last week the former Irish quarterback, on a Blue & Gold Illustrated radio show, called Notre Dame's performances against Navy and Syracuse "very disturbing."
And you wonder why Theismann is pretty nonexistent in pro football these days...he chastises a former ND alum in support of an arrogant overrated blowhard. Who needs that, I'm not the biggest Kornheiser fan anymore but I can now see why he did everything he could to get Theismann out of the MNF booth.
Like it or not SC needs a respectable ND on the field if for no other reason than to keep this storied rivalry going.
So, this chapter between USC and Notre Dame is closed and USC turns its focus onto ucla...there can be no let downs like 2006. A loss next Saturday sends SC to the Holiday Bowl.
There is still a lot of football to play...