Sunday, October 17, 2004

ND 27, Navy 9

Quarterback: Brady Quinn didn't do much in this one. Then again, he didn't have to -- and that's not always a bad thing. Quinn did go 11-20 for 130 yards.

Running Back:

Courtesy AP/Bill Kostroun
Well, it may be safe to say that Ryan Grant is back to his 2002 form. Coming of a 2 touchdown game against Stanford, Grant had 2 more touchdowns and 114 yards against an overmatched Navy team. Marcus Wilson proved that he can be a decent outside threat from time to time by scoring on a 33 yard run. Of course, with proper blocking and two healthy legs, anybody should be able to run around the outside for a decent game. Darius Walker had a bit of an off game with only 26 yards. Walker isn't hitting the holes as hard as he was against Michigan. He'll get that back with time. With two good options at running back, we can afford to let the freshman have an off day once in a while. In garbage time, Travis Thomas and Jeff Jenkins combined for 24 yards and no fumbles - a moral victory for Thomas.

Fullback: Well, they didn't touch the ball, but they blocked well this week. That'll happen when you're a fullback.

Receiver: The leaders were Matt Shelton and Rhema McKnight with two catches each. Shelton had a 30 yard grab in the seam, and added 10 off of a screen pass. Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija combined for 2 catches and 19 yards.

Tight End: Well, Notre Dame carries 6 tight ends, and apparently they're each taking turns when it comes to playing the games. This week, it was John Carlson with 2 catches for 17 yards. Anthony Fasano also added a catch for 18 yards.

O-Line: It was a good day for the Irish line against an undersized opponent. Notre Dame had 204 net rushing yards. There were only four plays that resulted in negative rushing yards, and none of them were sacks.

D-Line: The line combined for 33 tackles, including sacks by Greg Pauly and Derek Landri. Landri also added a fumble recovery. In case you didn't notice, Justin Tuck lined up as an outside linebacker across from Derek Curry for most of the game. This 3-4 look is something Kent Baer hasn't shown before, and it was very effective against the option. Tuck did drop down into a 3 point stance on obvious passing downs. It is nice to have such a versatile defensive end, and I'm sure Tuck's time as a linebacker during his skinny freshman year helped.

Linebacker: It was a big day for the Irish linebackers. Brandon Hoyte led the team with 16 tackles, followed by Mike Goolsby with 12. The "chain gang" had sacks all around - Corey Mays had 2, and Hoyte and Goolsby each had one. And boy were the sacks huge - it wasn't until the fourth or fifth designed pass play that Aaron Polanco was able to drop back without getting sacked.

Safety: It's normally the strong safety who has a big day against the option attack. Tom Zbikowski did have a decent game with 8 tackles. But it was Quentin Burrell who flew o the ball, ending the game with 11 tackles, including .5 behind the line of scrimmage.

Cornernback: Well, when the linebackers won't let the opposing QB get passes off, the corners don't have to do much. Trust me, this isn't a bad thing. Dwight Ellick and Preston Jackson had a tackle each.

Kicker: Bobby Renkes is proving he has a stronger leg that Carl Gioia, wind or no wind. Renkes had two touchbacks, and pinned the Midshipmen deep all game. DJ (Ellen loves him, and probably told him so this weekend) had field goals from 47 and 20 yards out.


Courtesy AP/Bill Kostroun
Is DJ the only guy who can tackle on special teams? Well, no, Maurice Stovall and Chris Vaughn have made nice plays this year, but it's nice to see your kicker get in and make a nice form tackle. DJ averaged 41 yards on 4 punts.

Kick Returner: Justin Hoskins had returns of 16 and 22 yards, and a fumble. Nothing special, yet, but blocking always helps.

Punt Returner: Carlyle Holiday had 3 returns for 1 yard. When you're not blocking the gunners, I don't think there's anyone who can get a good return off.

Special Teams: Well, see the above for my thoughts on our return teams. As for our coverage teams - they're playing very aggressive football as of late. This can be a blessing and a curse. Everyone's swarming to the ball, which has resulted in very short returns for the opposition. However, if the Irish leave their lanes to fly to the ball, they can still give up some big returns.

It's NSS meeting time again this week, so I'll see you Thursday morning with the Weekend in Review. Just in time for next weekend to start, hooray.