Sunday, November 07, 2004

ND 17, Tennessee 13

Quarterback: Well, it wasn't much, but it got the job done. Brady Quinn was only able to put together one touchdown drive en route to a 12-23, 118 yard performance.

Running Back: The running backs are nothing if not consistent. Should we just chalk up Darius Walker for 70 yards and Ryan Grant for 50 every week? Again, Walker's numbers have fallen off a bit from the Michigan game (plus, 32 of his 70 yards were on one carry), but he's young and will get better as he and the line grow together. Besides, isn't 21 carries for 120 yards a decent day for a running back? Meanwhile, Marcus Wilson and Travis Thomas combined for 20 yards on two receptions.

Fullback: Not much here. RPN had a one yard carry and a reception for 3 yards.

Receiver: Rhema McKnight was a steady performer, with 4 catches for 35 yards. Maurice Stovall had two receptions, one of which was for 12 yards on ND's only touchdown drive.

Tight End: Anthony Fasano's great hands turned what was otherwise a bad pass into a touchdown. He had only one other catch besides his TD, and John Carlson added a reception for 3 yards.

O-Line: ND gave up 3 sacks and had a combined 46 rushing yards in the wrong direction. Again, not great, but not too bad considering Tennessee's attacking style of defense.


Courtesy AP/Wade Payne

This game was won by the front seven of ND. Derek Landri and Kyle Budinscak had this hit that caused the game-changing interception, but it was Justin Tuck's consistent play - 8 tackles and two sacks - that also made a difference for the Irish. Congratulations to Tuck for claiming ND's all time sack record for himself in this game.


Courtesy AP/Wade Payne

It was Gary Godsey who Beat Purdue - twice - and it was the ND linebacking corps who beat Tennessee. Mike Goolsby lead the team with 14 tackles and had that game-changing interception. Right behind Goolsby in tackles were Brandon Hoyte (he loves his mama) with 11 and Derek Curry with 8. Each added a sack, and it was Hoyte's that forced Erik Ainge out of the game. But that wasn't the only big hit Hoyte had (ah, alliteration) - BHoyte had big tackle after big tackle, including a Noi-esque stop on a key third down play.

Safety: The missed tackles showed more than the made ones for the secondary in this game. OK, let me stop myself there. I won't single someone out for one mistake when there was at least one - or more - good things he did do during the game. I'll also add that Tom Zbikowski led the secondary with 7 tackles, including an assist on that key fourth down stop.

Cornerback: It was again Preston Jackson's time to shine. In addition to 6 tackles, Jackson elevated for a key breakup of a touchdown early in the game. Out of everyone in the stadium and watching on TV, he was probably the only person who knew he could leap high enough to get a hand on the ball.

Kicker: He only had to march out there once, but DJ added clutch insurance points with a 39 yard field goal late in the game. Meanwhile, Bobby Renkes averaged just under 60 yards per kickoff (that'll get you to the 5 yard line) and had a touchback.

Punter: DJ probably spent a long time in the sauna after this one, and he deserved it. In the role of punter as a weapon, DJ had 10 (count 'em, 10!) punts for a combined 398 yards. His long was 52.

Kick Returner: Communication, it's a good thing. Fortunately, only one of Tennessee's 4 kickoffs didn't result in a touchback.

Punt Returner: It's too little too late, but Carlyle Holiday looks like he's finally starting to figure out how to return punts in the formation he's being given. He had two returns, each for 9 yards.

Special Teams: In a word, solid. Punt returners were held to a respectible 24 yards on three returns, and kick returners had 32 on three returns. It helps when you give the other team's offense a long field to start with, doesn't it?