Monday, October 24, 2005

ND 49, BYU 23

Quarterback: Assault on the Record Book, Part I: Brady Quinn set three records on Saturday. Quinn's six touchdown passes breaks his own record set in the MSU game (5). His 287 yards in the first two quarters are the most in any half for the Irish. With 20 TDs on the season, Quinn has already bested Ron Powlus' 19 in 1994. And then there are the records Quinn is on pace to break:

attempts, season266456353Quinn '04
attempts, career9411141969Powlus '94-'97
attempts / game38.038.029.4Quinn '04
completions, season175300191Quinn '04
completions / game25.025.016.6Terry Hanratty, '68
completion pct, season65.865.861.6Kevin McDougal, '93
pass efficiency, season161.9161.9161.4Bob Williams, '49
passing yards, season235240322753Jarius Jackson, '99
passing YPG, season336.0336.0242.9Theismann, '70
TD passes / game2.862.861.73Powlus, '94

In addition, Quinn is on pace to finish second in lowest interception percentage (.015 to Matt Lovecchio's .0080 in 2000). And, while he may never top Joe Theismann's 526 passing yards in a game, he already has performances 2-5 (or is it 2-6? shouldn't I be doing this research?), and may finish with 2-10.

Running Back: Infamously, ND rushed 21 times for 11 yards against BYU in 2004. This year, they rushed 23 times for 64 yards. Take away one sack, two screen passes that counted as runs, and the nine clock-killing runs at the end of the game, and ND ran 12 times for 21 yards. Taking it a step further, and again keeping those few plays out, ND ran 31% percent of the time last year, and 23% percent of the time this year. Not an incredibly huge difference. The difference, actually, came in Quinn's pass accuracy. Last year, BQ went 26 for 47, or 55%. This year, Quinn was an astounding 32 for 41, 78%. By the way, Darius Walker ran 7 times for 17 yards, while Travis Thomas ran once for -3. The biggest play by a running back was Walker's 37 yard reception on a misdirectional screen pass. Of course, if you're a fan of the finer points of football, you could count Walker's many blitz pickups as the best plays by an Irish halfback.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp spent the fourth quarter as the short-yardage halfback. That's a position he'll have to get used to in Rashon Powers-Neal's absence. Schwapp gained 27 yards on 8 carries, with all carries going for positive yardage. Ashley McConnell added one carry for 3 yards.


Assault on the Record Book, Part II: Mo Stovall set records for pass receptions in a game, 14 (besting Jim Seymour's 13 in 1966), and TD receptions in a game, 4 (six people had 3 - most recently Tom Gatewood in 1970). Jeff Samardzija's 11th TD reception this season tied Derrick Mayes' record set in 1994. He also extended his record for consecutive games with a TD. This game also marked the first time two Irish players had 10+ catches in the same game (Samardzija had 10). Now, let's take a look at the records Samardzija is on pace to break:

rec yards, season75012851123Gatewood, '70
rec TD, season111911Mayes, '94
rec TD / game1.571.571.14Seymour, '66

Is it just me, or is Samardzija starting to make catching the football look easy, in an Omar Vizquel way? Well, isn't that the point? (Oh, Matt Shelton and David Grimes each added a catch for 8 yards.)

Tight End: Another solid day for Anthony Fasano, with 5 catches for 55 yards.

O-Line: ND couldn't get the run game going, but then again Charlie Weis had little desire to try. The line held BYU's swarm of blitzers to just 1 sack, which is rather impressive considering they often didn't have any tight end or back help out of 5-receiver sets.

D-Line: On campus this weekend, I saw quite a few t-shirts sporting the phrase, "Play Like Ronald Talley Today." That turned out to be good advice. Playing for Chris Frome, who is now out for the season, Talley had 7 tackles. That's one more than Frome had for the entire season. Talley also added a sack. The youth on Notre Dame's defensive line is finally starting to step up as a whole. Trevor Laws led the team in tackles with 9. Derek Landri had 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Victor Abiamiri had only 4 tackles, but he also had 1.5 sacks.

Linebacker: It was business as usual for the Irish linebackers. Brandon Hoyte had 7 tackles, adding another 0.5 to his tackles-for-loss. Maurice Crum and Corey Mays combined for 7 tackles. This may have been Mays' first quiet day of the season, and that's meant as a compliment to him.

Safety: Tom Zbikowski and Chinedum Ndukwe each had 8 tackles. Zbikowski, a week after scoring ND's first special teams TD of the season, scored the team's first defensive touchdown when he jumped in front of a short out and returned it 83 yards.

Cornerback: It's times like this when I wish I had the time, resources, or motivation to go back to the tape. Ambrose Wooden is second on the team in tackles. I noticed that, at one point, he let his receiver catch a pass and then went for a tackle. Ah, I said, maybe that's why he's had so many tackles. Then again, he didn't have any safety help behind him on that play. So, like an outfielder who eschews a dive to avoid letting the ball go by him, Wooden did the smart thing on that play. Meanwhile, Mike Richardson continues his solid season. Along with 5 tackles, Richardson caught his third interception of the season, tying him with Zbikowski for the team lead. I'm starting to notice a pattern with nickleback Leo Ferrine. He gave up one touchdown, but he played well for the rest of the game. Not bad for a guy playing his first season. Ferrine had 6 tackles.

Kicker: DJ, who's now on a first-name (or first/second initials) basis with Notre Dame stadium, made all 7 of his PAT attempts. Can't ask for more than that.

Punter: DJ's 5 punts averaged 44.2 yards, with a long of 51.

Kick Returner: It wasn't always pretty, but David Grimes had 3 returns for 62 yards, while DJ Hord added 2 for 24.

Punt Returner: You can't take all of them back. Zbikowski had returns of 6 and 9 yards this week.

Special Teams: Nathan Meikle averaged 11.8 yards on 4 punt returns, which is rather respectable. His long was 22. Breyon Jones returned 7 kicks for an average of 21.7 yards, with a long of 25.