Sunday, September 25, 2005

ND 36, Washington 17

Quarterback: It's hard to find negatives when your quarterback completes 68% of his passes for 327 yards and no interceptions. That's exactly what Brady Quinn did on Saturday, as he picked apart the Husky secondary. Quinn also got the deep passing game on track, completing a 52-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Jeff Samardzija.

Running Back: Washington's front seven was able to stop Darius Walker in the backfield a few times, but in the end Walker was just too much. Notre Dame's starting halfback ended his day with 128 yards and a touchdown in just over three quarters of work. Walker's 128 yards were a personal best, and his fourth straight 100 yard game is a new school record. Walker was replaced by Travis Thomas. Those who remember Thomas' problems with fumblitis early last season were no doubt happy to see him almost singlehandedly march down the field for 52 yards and a touchdown. Thomas was sure to secure the football every step of the way. After Thomas' score, Jeff "Don't Call Me John" Jenkins picked up 4 yards on 3 carries.

Fullback: Rashon Powers-Neal returned to his familiar spot at starting fullback this week. Lined up at fullback and halfback, Powers-Neal rushed 9 times for 30 yards and also caught 4 passes for 28 yards.


Courtesy AP/John Froschauer

Three players on the Irish offense had "stat sheet stuffer" days. Quinn and Walker were the first two. Predictably, Jeff Samardzija was the third. Samardzija, highly praised but not highly used by Ty Willingham, picked up 164 yards in the air, including the aforementioned 52-yard TD bomb. Oh yeah, he also was credited with a breakup on a Washington Hail Mary pass. Maurice Stovall contributed 34 yards on 3 catches at the other receiver position.

Tight End: It was another day at the office for Anthony Fasano, as he picked up 66 yards on 6 catches. John Carlson added once catch for 15 yards.

O-Line: It wasn't a perfect day for the offensive line - Washington did make 8 stops in the backfield, and there was a short period of time when Darius Walker couldn't get anything going. But, you can't argue with the final results - 560 total yards of offense. The only sack of the day came when Jeff Samardzija couldn't find anyone open on a flanker reverse pass. Little is known about Bob Morton's ankle injury, but Charlie Weis said that Morton may have been available to return if the game had still been in doubt.

D-Line: It was another relatively quiet day for the Irish defensive line. Victor Abiamiri and Derek Landri had two of the team's three sacks.

Linebacker: Eight tackles, 3 for a loss, and one sack. Like Fasano's performance, it was just another day at the office for Brandon Hoyte. Corey Mays added a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Safety: You may or may not have noticed, but Chinedum Ndukwe had a big game on Saturday. The safety had seven tackles, including one in the backfield. Ndukwe also forced and recovered a fumble.

Cornerback: Ambrose Wooden led the team in tackles for the second time this year. I'm not sure that that's a good thing. I am sure, however, that his drive-killing end zone interception was one of the major turning points of the game.

Kicker: There was a fourth Notre Dame player with a stat sheet stuffer game, and it was kicker DJ Fitzpatrick. Despite a blocked extra point, Fitzpatrick still ended the day with 11 points. DJ made field goals from 25, 39, and 25 yards.

Punter: Being your team's kicker AND punter is easy when you only have to punt once per game. Still, Fitzpatrick's lone punt went only 33 yards.

Kick Returner: There was only one kick return by an Irish player in this game. David Grimes went 31 yards on that return.

Punt Returner: Tom Zbikowski had two punt returns in this game, one for 5 yards and one for 26.

Special Teams: Notre Dame's coverage teams were once again solid, giving up an average of 15 yards on 5 combined returns.