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The Notre Dame Offense - The False Positive

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One of the things that many pundits and and observers have said about ND this season is that they seem to look much better on offense. Well, they should shouldn't they? I mean with Charlies Weis' "decided schematic advantage" is anyone really surprised that Notre Dame is supposedly better? I mean with a number of stellar recruiting classes under his belt coupled with said "decided schematic advantage" I am sure we are surprised that it took so long...

Check out these interesting comments from Pete Carroll from yesterdays OCR...

USC coach Pete Carroll said Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is playing his best football, and that is reflected in Clausen being the top-rated passer in the nation (179.25).

But it’s the development of the players around Clausen that has made the Fighting Irish’s offense so effective, Carroll said.

"There’s no one guy you can stop now," Carroll said.

"This is a very good attack. That’s why they’re averaging 30 points per game. They’re giving everyone fits."

Notre Dame (4-1) is 27th in the nation in scoring at 32.6 points per game. The Irish are 10th in total offense (470 yards per game).

Well, OK...

I didn't expect Pete Carroll to say anything different...why give the Domers any billboard material.

But the devil is in the details...Looking strictly at USC's defense going against ND's offense.

Here is a brief synopsis of the teams that ND has played.

Record: 4-1

Week 1: Beat Nevada 35-0. Nevada has a 2-3 record having beaten UNLV and La Tech and lost to Colorado State and Missou (31-21). Nevada is getting better but certainly weren't prepared for the first week.

Week 2: Lost to Michigan 38-34. Michigan's defensive line is small. Michigan is now 4-2 having lost the last two games to Michigan State and Iowa. Michigan is a year away but is starting to get RichRod type athletes.

Week 3: Beat Michigan State 33-30. Could easily have lost this game. Michigan State is 3-3 having beaten Montana State, Illinois and Michigan and has lost to Central Michigan, Wisconsin and ND.

Week 4: Beat Purdue 24-21. If you have watched Purdue, they are a really bad team and got smoked by Minnesota yesterday. Purdue is 1-5.

Week 5: Beat UW 37-30 in OT. UW should have won the game. UW is 3-3 having beaten Arizona, USC and Eastern Washington and lost to Stanford and LSU.

There are some bad or average defenses on this list so while ND is 4-1 it is not like they played some top competition. Yes, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat but lets not get carried away, they need some late drive heroics to beat Purdue and UW (UW in OT) so it is not like we are seeing a dominant offense. I didn't see the MSU game so I am not sure how that game shook out outside of the score.

As I said yesterday, I expect ND to play lights out in the first half of the game just because of the rivalry factor and playing at home but you can't play on emotion for 60 minutes...that takes a tremendous toll and could wear them out quickly. I expect SC to methodically do its thing. The defense WILL get pressure on Clausen and force him to make his throws early. I expect the front seven to have some success stopping ND's average run game. ND has not played a defense like this at all this season.

One person that plans to make his presence known to the Irish is USC LB Chris Galippo...

Galippo, a third-year sophomore, visited Notre Dame as a high school junior, touring the campus with a group of highly rated prospects that included current Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen and USC tailback Marc Tyler.

Galippo said Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis was so intent on getting an oral commitment from Clausen that he neglected to speak to Galippo or even shake his hand.

"I came back home and committed to SC and then he gave me the call and said, 'We wanted you. You can start,' " said Galippo, who played at Anaheim Servite High. "I'm like, 'Ah, it's all right. I think I'll go to SC.'

"Even if he had talked to me during the visit, I would have come [to USC]. But it would be nice to at least get a handshake."

I guess the Super Bowl rings on Weis' fingers blinded him form seeing Galippo standing right in front of him.

Typical Domer Arrogance...

Whatever it takes for Galippo to get himself fired up is fine with me.

The Match-up I really want to see is when ND call's their infamous fade routes. Anybody think Taylor Mays could have a feast on those plays? It will be interesting to watch. ND will try to set up the pass to establish the run. You can see where they will probably try and take advantage of some of our schemes in the secondary. ND won't try to run on SC early as they have done a pretty good job on containing better backs than ND has.

The other interesting thing to watch is the #1 sack defense going up against the #62 sack's allowed offense...SC is going to bring the wood early and often and let secondary do their thing. They will keep the ball in front of them in their typical bend don't break defense early on and not give up the big play. Then they will make their adjustments and clamp down.

Our friends at Rakes of Mallow attempt to turn the tables on USC using some of the same logic as well.

That is fair and that is fine...

The difference here is that SC has had much better production out of their recruits and Barkley is light years ahead of where Clausen was a sophomore. Yes he is a freshman who has struggled a bit but he did OK in two crazy stadiums at the Shoe and at Cal. The SC team that takes the field on Saturday is going to be vastly different then the one that took the field in Seattle. Some ND fans want to point that game as the benchmark because both teams have played UW but the comparisons should stop there.

I get it about stats, you can make them say anything you want but they do show tendencies. Weis for all his jawboning since he got to South Bend has not lived up to expectations with his players while Pete Carroll keeps feeding the machine. USC's return on their investment has been far greater than Weis' in his five years at ND.

USC has for the most part played the tough schedule year in and year out and SC has to play in the Pac-10. Some years the Pac-10 is up and some years it is down but there is no avoiding anyone. Sure ND has made the effort to schedule teams that at one time were good and who will be good again like UW and and UM but gone are the days when ND would schedule some pretty tough teams almost every week.

USC vs. ND is still the best inter-sectional rivalry in all college football, but it is even better when BOTH teams are at their best!

Bye the way we have seen that Domer Arrogance in the past too...

It is going to be a fun game!!