Monday, September 06, 2004

The Weekend in Review


I'll avoid any emotional rants, and instead just go with a position-by-position breakdown.

Quarterback: 26-47 for 265 yards doesn't seem too bad, but it was. Brady Quinn didn't throw downfield until he absolutely had too. Last year, Quinn got a visit from Joe Montana, who told him not to be afraid to dump it off to his safety valve when necessary. Well, either BYU's secondary was in our receiver's back pockets all day, or Quinn was afraid to take a chance. Or maybe it was just playcalling. I for one don't even want to guess.

Running Back: Eleven yards. George Gipp's career per-carry average was 9. Gary Godsey can get 11 yards by falling down. Travis Thomas and Jeff Jenkins had more receiving yards than rushing yards (28 and 10, respectively). I know we were behind, but we still should have been able to run on that team. Somebody, anybody, please step up and hold onto the football.

Fullback: Rashon Powers-Neal had 4 catches for 24 yards. The sure-handed Josh Schmidt had no catches. RPN had 1 carry for 0 yards, but that was when he lined up as the only back. The fact we had only 11 yards on the ground implies the fullbacks weren't blocking too well, and the fact that we constantly had to pass on 3rd and 4th and 2 also doesn't speak well for our fullbacks.

Receiver: Ty was free with his substitutions at wide receiver, but that only seemed to lead to a lack of consistency. Rhema McKnight was quiet for much of the game (of course, you can only run that screen so many times successfully). Matt Shelton was only used on an ill-advised go pattern from deep in ND territory, then never seen again. Carlyle was nowhere, and Jeff S also didn't have a catch - although Jeff did have one or two forced his way. On a positive note (perhaps the only one), we may finally have found a use for Maurice Stovall. He has trouble going downfield and outjumping someone for the ball, but give him a screen pass and some open field, and he'll use his large frame to break tackles and make something happen. Let's just hope they continue to use Stovall in this role.

Tight End: Another small bright spot, as Marcus Freeman and Anthony Fasano combined for 7 catches and 88 yards.

O-Line: Read my last sentence under Fullbacks, and remember that BYU only has a front 6 instead of a front 7. OK, so the confusing blitzes are difficult, but the Irish line should have been able to out-muscle the Cougars on the ground.

D-Line: Weaver, Cambell, Hilliard, and Roberts these guys aren't. Justin Tuck showed up, and Trevor Laws helped out (they combined for 10 tackles and 3 sacks), but that was about it. You didn't hear Budinscak or Abiamiri's names called all night, and there was a reason - Kyle had 2 tackles and VA none.

Linebacker: As was the case with most of the team, you could tell this was the first game of the season for these linebackers. Goolsby looked silly on an early TD run, but later settled down for 11 tackles (and the team's only pass breakup). BHoyte played hard, got in the backfield, and was at least near every play when it finished. Derrek Curry played a decent game as well, but I still hate watching this group in pass coverage.

Safety: Well, unless BYU picked the exact perfect times to throw deep (in other words, blitzes when 0 or 1 safeties were assigned to play deep), the safeties flat out were not doing there jobs. Quentin Burrell was supposed to be a bright spot for this secondary, but he looked out of place on those deep routes. Maybe it was just playcalling - I have no clue.

Cornerback: Michigan's offensive coordinator must be licking his chops right now, knowing that he can throw deep on the Irish all day long. Judging by quarterback Chad Henne's performance on Saturday, they have someone who can easily do it, too. Carlos Campbell played extrememly well as a tackler, but he was exposed on the deep routes. Preston Jackson secured a spot on the Packers with his TD pick, or at least he proved he's a little better than Clifford Jefferson. Other than those two, ugh.

Kickers: DJ (Ellen LOOVES him) did what he needed to do. For some reason, I can only remember seeing Carl Gioia kick off once. When his only job is to kick off, though, he probably should be doing better than kicking it to the 12 in a high-altitude stadium.

Punter: You can't really blame DJ too much for anything he does, since this is supposed to be Geoff Price's job. DJ did shank 1 or 2, but he also had a clutch 51-yard punt late in the game and ended with a 40.8 average.

Kick Returners: Chase Anastasio, this week's winner of the "Guy You'd Least Expect was a Wide Receiver/Kick Returner if You Saw Him in the Streets" award, had 1 return for 40 yards. He's no Julius, but that's pretty good.

Punt Returner: Ugh. Moving on.

Special Teams: Blocking Matt Payne would have been the only way to stop one of his punts. The Irish gave up just under 10 yards per on punt returns, and just over 10 yards per on kick returns, so I'd say they did a decent job. Plus, there was the 40 yard Anastasio return.

Other Ramblings

  • Last week, I quoted The Backer about Vontez Duff being cut by the Bears. I was preparing to retract this, as it was not the case at the time. However, Duff was a victim of the final roster cuts this weekend.

  • How bad have things gotten for the Yankees? Well, not very bad, comparatively, but besides that 22-0 drubbing by the Indians the other day (yahoo), the Yankees also tried to ask for a win by forfeit after Tampa Bay was late to their game on Monday. You have the best record in the AL, Tampa Bay is in last place, they're late because of a friggin' hurricane, and you're whining about a forfeit? This kind of stuff makes me want to punch a wall with my non-pitching hand.

  • Speaking of non pitching hands, at least Kevin Brown heeded the advice of Bull Durham when he didn't use his pitching hand to punch a clubhouse wall the other day. Great job, moron.

  • The 22-0 game is easily one of the top moments in the Cleveland YHC Chapter's existence. Others include the 1948, '54, '95, and '97 teams breaking consecutive World Series streaks of the Yankees, and Billy Traber being a John Flaherty blooper away from a perfect game against the Yanks.

  • Schedule strength in college football. I was going to go into a huge rant today about this - why, when Notre Dame is the only team playing a tough schedule, is it ND's fault for doing this, instead of everyone else's fault for playing pansies? And how can small-school athletic departments sleep at night letting their kids get beat 62-0 just to make a few thousand off a national power with a packed 90,000 seat stadium? As I said, this rant would have been longer, until I read an article this morning by the man himself, Jason Lloyd. In a rare non-tOSU column, Lloyd explained that Kevin White is looking to drastically reduce the quality of teams scheduled beginning with the 2009 season, assumedly the first season that isn't completely booked as of right now. (Insert your own NDNation-esque "that's if he still has a job in 2009!" quote here - I won't do it.)

  • Random football thought: Notre Dame has way too many tight ends. Their O-Line is young and inexperienced. Billy Palmer is known for his run blocking and not his receiving. Why not have Palmer pull an Andy Heck (former ND footballer, not the 14 year old brother of Dominic's former roommate) and move to tackle? Then again, I'm paid to make databases, not coach a D1 program.

  • The Indians have lost in Cliff Lee's last 8 starts after a great start with him on the rubber. Most people are calling his rookie season a failure, but that's not the case. Lee is in uncharted waters in Innings Pitched. Since the team is still rebuilding, and the playoffs are out of the question anyways, why not keep marching Lee out there, so he can build up his stamina for future years, when we'll need him in September and October? Sure, he suffers this year, but it should (hopefully) pay off for him and the team in the future.

  • Cheers to Dave for noticing this one, because I didn't think there was a chance. Ichiro is quickly closing in on the record for hits in a season. The record, 257 by George Sisler has stood since 1920, which was the very nativity of the live ball era. I never paid much attention to ESPN's hype of this, because for a while, I didn't think it was possible. "He needs at least 2 hits a game for the rest of the season - there's no way that happens," I thought. But, here we are with 26 games left for Seattle, and Ichiro only needs another 33 hits to tie the record. That's completely doable. And, when it happens, I hope Ichiro gets all the respect and attention he deserves for topping an 84 year old mark. So what if Seattle is in last place? So what if it's not a glory power stat like home runs or strikeouts? This guy knew his role, did his job well all season, and didn't give up when things started to go poorly. Go for it Ichiro, and make your country and the Sisler family proud.

  • Congrats to WVU running back Kay-Jay Harris for setting a Big East record (go figure) with 337 rushing yards against ECU.

  • I didn't watch much college football this weekend, as it usually makes me sick to my stomach following a loss by my team, but I did catch a great non-call by a referee. "There is no flag for a block in the back, as the player missed the block." Good, good.

  • This story I already told Dave and Ellen, and they loved it. My cousin (not the infamous one) was given a two-stroke penalty for using his cell phone during a high school golf match.
  • Finally, we have our own reluctant TV star in our midst, as Mike's picture is featured in a new spot for Notre Dame. Mike, I'm just glad it's you and not that Elvis guy.

Great Quotes and Moments from Ellen and Dave's Visit to Ohio

  • "I'm lauging because he reminds me of me when I'm excited." - Ellen, while Kanka's dog Harry was howling at her

  • For my money, Dave and mini-Kanka are the greatest Bocce combination around.

  • "I now know more about Zelda than I ever wanted to." - Dave, after mini-Kanka rambled for 20 minutes about Zelda for Nintendo 64. You're right, Dave, my brother probably should have a weekly guest column as our video game correspondent.

  • "They weren't 'he's an idiot' stories, they were 'he's crazy and I'd never try that myself' stories." - Kanka, after Dave finally met my Infamous Cousin and explained that I've told Dave many stories about him.

  • "You would have loved Kanka's church, there were so many cute old people there." - Dave to Ellen

  • Dave had quite an experience meeting my 86 year old grandma (who told him WAAY to much about my grandpa's health problems), but unfortunately he was never willing to try my mom's cheese ball, made of many varieties of cheese and intended to be spread on crackers. Maybe next time.

  • Ellen, I do appreciate the brownies, but unfortunately my sister decided to take a full plate back to school with her, leaving the remaining 5 members of my family with the plate that was already half finished. Dah.

  • Just think - Ellen will get to see me again this Friday! I know I can't wait, but I do have two columns to keep me busy in the meantime.