Wednesday, September 21, 2005

MSU 44, ND 41

Quarterback: On a positive note, Brady Quinn had 487 yards passing on Saturday. On a negative note, Brady Quinn had 487 yards passing on Saturday. Quinn put his name near the top of the record book with his 60 pass attempts (Terry Hanratty, 63, 1967), 33 completions (Joe Theisman, 33, 1970), and 487 yards (Theisman, 526, 1970). But, you'd rather see Darius Walker put his name in the record book, as that would have been an indication that the Irish were able to establish the run.

Running Back: Walker did end up with 116 yards, but most of those came after MSU dropped into a soft zone in the second half. Walker was held to under 50 yards in the first half, often stifling him at the line. He was also held to 24 yards on 5 receptions, as the Spartans seemed to have the dump-offs and screens scouted very well. Rashon Powers-Neal was listed as the second-string halfback for this game, but he ended up without a carry.

Fullback: With RPN at halfback, Asaph Schwapp made his debut at starting fullback. It was a debut he'd rather forget, however. Schwapp rushed 5 times for -1 yards, and lost a key fumble on the goal line.

Receiver: I've been told to tell you that Mo Stovall is a god, but I have never been one to push my religion on others. Despite a mistake here and there, including a hold that nullified a Walker TD run and a few drops, Stovall did have a great game. Stovall ended with 8 catches for 176 yards and 1 TD. He came in with much hype, and was criticized heavily for not living up to it. However, for one game, he lived up to most of that hype, asserting himself as a reliable option on third and long, and by finally becoming a deep threat who can catch the jump ball. This could be seen as a breakout game for Stovall, but the pessimist in me says he'll be back to his old ways. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, though. Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija continued to be a fantasy stud with 96 yards and 3 TDs, while Matt Shelton had 6 catches for 87 yards. In Rhema McKnight's absence, freshman David Grimes made his first collegiate reception for 11 yards.

Tight End: Anthony Fasano had another Anthony Fasano-like day, 7 receptions for 93 yards.

O-Line: This may have been the first bad game by the line. But, considering how they've been playing, that's not too much of a put-down. As stated above, Walker did have trouble running between the tackles in the first half. Also, Brady Quinn was sacked three times and hurried several more times.

D-Line: Once again, the defensive line was heavily criticized for their lack of a pass rush. The team was only able to sack quarterback Drew Stanton once, and that sack came from cornerback Mike Richardson. Victor Abiamiri had seven tackles, including two for a loss. But, other than that, the line didn't do much. It was interesting to note that, when going to a nickel set, the Irish removed defensive end Chris Frome in order to keep all three linebackers on the field.

Linebacker: As stated above, all three linebackers remained on the field for nickel sets. This makes sense, as this position is supposed to be the strong point of this defense. Once again, Brandon Hoyte led the team in tackles, with Maurice Crum and Corey Mays hot on his heels.

Safety: Again, again, the Irish are really playing two strong safeties with no free safeties. There's not much positive you can say about the secondary when the opposing quarterback throws for 327 yards and 3 TDs.

Cornerback: See above. I don't want to think about it any more.

Kicker: DJ Fitzpatrick did all you could ask of him. He made from 48 yards, which I believe is a new career high, before missing from the same distance. When the game was tight, he also took over kickoff duties, and he made a 44 yarder in overtime.

Punter: DJ had an average day punting. He averaged 40 yards on 4 punts, with a long of 50.

Kick Returner: It was another average day for Notre Dame's kick returners, as Justin Hoskins and Brandon Harris combined for 86 yards on 4 returns. Unfortunately, at the school of Tim Brown, Rocket Ismail, and Julius Jones, the fans expect a lot more than "average."

Punt Returner: Tom Zbikowski returned two punts for a total of 22 yards.

Special Teams: Notre Dame's coverage teams got good work in, and they gave up nothing big. MSU averaged 20.8 yards on 6 kick returns and 2.0 yards on 3 punt returns.