Monday, November 21, 2005

Notre Dame 34, Syracuse 10

Quarterback: It was "another bad day" for Brady Quinn: 56.8% completion rate, 270 yards, 2 TDs, and a 135.89 pass efficiency rating. Yes, he was forcing things early in the game. But, are we becoming spoiled? Here's how often Quinn topped these stats last season (12 games played):

21 completionstwiceBYU, Purdue 26
56.8% completionsonceBC 60.6%
270 yardsoncePurdue 432
2 TDstwiceWash 4, Pitt 3
135.89 efficiencyfour timesPitt 164.06, Wash 157.95, Purdue 142.58, Or St 136.47

It's amazing how a subjective opinion of performance level can change from one year to another.
Plus, kudos to Marty Mooney for his 16 yard completion to fellow senior Michael O'Hara. Most coaches would have chosen to run on a 3rd and long that late in the game, and conceded the punt. But Charlie Weis wanted to keep the offense on the field, and he wanted to give Mooney a moment he'll never forget. Hey, it's great to be a walk on running back, because you know you'll get a carry or two on senior day. But, the receivers often go into senior day knowing they'll get to do little more than run decoy routes and block. So, it was nice for O'Hara and the other senior receivers to get some "real action."

Running Back:

Courtesy AP/Darron Cummings

Sure, Syracuse has a terrible run defense. But, that shouldn't take anything away from Darius Walker's day. He ended up with 123 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 3 catches for 14 yards. I don't care what the guy sitting behind me in section 5 said - this offense was not "boring." Charlie was simply trying to kill clock and not run up the score. Memo to That Guy: Kevin Rogers and Bill Diedrick are gone.
Jeff Jenkins added 4 carries for 5 yards.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp did not touch the ball in this game.

Receiver: Jeff Samardzija had another big day - 7 catches for 80 yards and a TD. But, it could have been even bigger. Samardzija joined in Quinn's early struggles - Quinn's throws were a little off, and Samardzija didn't have his normal spectacular hands to bail the QB out. Still, again, it's all relative.
For the seniors, Mo Stovall had 3 catches for 91 yards and a TD, Matt Shelton had 3 catches for 62 yards, and Michael O'Hara of course added one catch for 16 yards.

Tight End: John Carlson had two catches for 8 yards, and Anthony Fasano added 2 for 7. Oh yeah, Carlson also had three special teams tackle. That's a pretty good day for a guy who backs up Anthony Fasano.

O-Line: The offense put up 420 yards, including 134 on the ground, and Quinn was sacked only once. The seniors who saw playing time on the line were David Fitzgerald, James Bent, Scott Raridon, James Bonelli, Bob Morton, and Brian Mattes.

D-Line: Senior Derek Landri had the biggest day of any lineman - 5 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss. Victor Abiamiri and Trevor Laws each added half a sack.
Seniors: Brian Beidatsch had two tackles. Casey Cullen had one, and the special teamer got to scrimmage from the defensive line as well. Nate Schiccatano, whose ND career surely didn't go as planned, had one tackle for a loss. Dan Chervanik had a hit on the quarterback.


Courtesy AP/Fort Wayne J-G

Corey Mays' 10 tackles were twice as many as any other Irish defender. He had 3.5 TFL, including 2 sacks. Half of Brandon Hoyte's 5 tackles came in the backfield.
Senior Anthony Salvador had a great day with 3 tackles. Joe Boland added a quarterback hit.

Safety: Chinedum Ndukwe had four tackles. The interesting thing was that, in a three receiver set, he would often play up on the slot receiver while Mike Richardson dropped back to safety. Tom Zbikowski added two tackles. Senior Jake Carney saw significant playing time on the punt coverage team, often helping cover a gunner. Carney had two tackles.

Cornerback: Leo Ferrine just had the highlight of his young collegiate career. Coming in for a "banged up" Mike Richardson, he swooped in when Syracuse passed to their fullback out in the right flat. The ball bounced off of the diving back's body and right into Ferrine's hand. Sixteen yards of green later, and Ferrine helped to start the Irish to pull away from the Orange.
Ambrose Wooden had 5 tackles, while Richardson added 4 tackles and two pass breakups before leaving the game.
For the seniors, Brandon Harris had a tackle, and Rich Whitney III had a nice pass breakup.

Kicker: It was a rough day for DJ Fitzpatrick the field goal kicker. His first field goal attempt, a 39 yarder, caught the wind and sliced wide left. His second attempt was blocked by an impressive Syracuse rush. DJ was able to recover to convert from 44 and 29 yards.

Punter: DJ punted 3 times for 124 yards. That's a 41.3 yard average, with a long of 28 yards. Two of the three punts landed inside the 20.

Kick Returner: DJ Hord and David Grimes each had a kick return in this game. Hord's went for 16 yards and Grimes' for 23.

Punt Returner: Tom Zbikowski had three punt returns for a combined 22 yards. His long was 14 yards.

Special Teams: Chase Anastasio was credited with two blocked punts in this game, although he thinks the first was simply a shank that he got close to. Notre Dame gave up 5 yards per punt return with a long of 7, and 18.5 yards per kick return with a long of 29. Finally, since this is the "special" category, it was special to see all 34 seniors get playing time in this one, either on offense, defense, or sprinkled in on special teams over the course of the game. Coach Weis knew he could have held Syracuse without a touchdown in this one, bue he also knew that playing the seniors was more important than anything.