Monday, October 13, 2008

North Carolina 29, Notre Dame 24

You'll have to forgive me (and correct me when necessary), since I didn't get to see this game. Ohio State-Purdue was on at the same time, so ND-UNC was blacked out in my area. Because apparently Ohioans don't like the Buckeyes and need to be forced to watch them. Right. I also wasn't able to get the game to come in on the radio, although chances are the stations carrying ND would have been overrun by the OSU game as well.

This is what I was able to cobble together from ESPN's gametracker, texts from my sister to my dad, and the final drive video on (Oh, and the one play they accidentally showed on ABC before switching to OSU-Purdue.)

Quarterback: Sophomore with promise. That's Jimmy Clausen season in a nutshell. Clausen threw for 383 yards, scrambled when he needed to, and showed great poise on the final drive. However, he also had three second half turnovers, two interceptions and a lost fumble. This is a young team, no doubt. But the Irish were minus-five in the turnover battle and still took a top-25 squad down to the final gun.

Running Back: The gameplan called for twice as many runs as passes, and that showed on the opening drive. Still, when the Irish did run they ran effectively. Armando Allen ran 11 times for 60 yards, a 5.5 yard average. James Aldridge had a day to remember, finally picking up his first career touchdown. Aldridge finished with four carries for 23 yards, a 5.8 yard average. Robert Hughes added four carries for 12 yards, a 3.0 yard average. Perhaps most impressively, outside of Jimmy Clausen's sacks, Notre Dame's running game only had one yard listed in the "loss" category in this one.

Allen also came up big in the passing game again, gaining 47 yards on a team-leading seven catches. Hughes added one catch for 15 yards.

Receiver: Once again, Michael Floyd and Golden Tate racked up yards on deep passes. Floyd finished with six catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, while Tate had five catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Mired in a disappointing season, Duval Kamara stepped up with five catches for 58 yards, including a couple on that final drive. David Grimes added four catches for 19 yards.

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph had three catches for 30 yards.

Offensive Line: The AP writeup gives the line credit for giving Clausen time to throw most of the time, and the team did gain 472 yards. However, Clausen was sacked four times.

Defensive Line: Pat Kuntz added another sack to his tally. He and Ian Williams each finished with three tackles, while Justin Brown added two. Brown also had a quarterback hit.

Linebacker: Maurice Crum had a fairly productive day, recording five tackles a pass breakup, and two quarterback hits. But pass breakups and quarterback hits are "not quite" stats, because they're not quite interceptions and not quite sacks. Take that to mean what you will. Brian Smith added three tackles and a quarterback hit.

Safety: North Carolina did in fact keep the Irish safeties busy. David Bruton led the team with eight tackles. Harrison Smith added six tackles, one for a loss. Kyle McCarthy had four.

Cornerback: Hakeem Nicks stepped up for the Tarheels, catching nine passes for 141 yards. I'm going to guess he was covered by Raeshon McNeil, who recorded six tackles, more than the rest of the Irish corners combined.

Kicker: Brandon Walker made his lone field goal attempt, a 42-yarder. But it was the field goals he didn't attempt that were perhaps the difference in the game. Facing fourth and seven from the North Carolina 27 with more than 10 minutes left in the game, the Irish decided to go for it instead of kicking a field goal that would have brought the score to 29-27. Had Walker made that one, he would have set himself up to be the hero on the final drive.

Punter: This was indeed a wild one, as Eric Maust only needed to attempt one punt. It covered 35 yards.

Kick Returner: Someone please fill me on in the squib kick at the end of the first half. I do know that number 25 fielded the ball, ran five yards, then fumbled. Notre Dame's roster and ESPN's game tracker say that number 25 is freshman Jonas Gray. But the box score says it was Gary Gray, who normally wears number 4. I'm assuming the box score just confused the two Grays?

While Armando Allen has taken most of Notre Dame's kickoff returns this year, Golden Tate was the main man in this one. I have to wonder if that was a coaching decision on Notre Dame's part, or if UNC consciously chose to kick it away from Allen. Tate had four returns for 92 yards, with a long of 29. Allen had two returns for 23 yards, with a long of 12.

Special Teams: Mike Anello had two tackles, and Notre Dame was near its season averages when it came to kick and punt coverage.