"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Largest Crowd EVAH
So I made an "Inside the Box Score" post last Sunday and it was reasonably well received, so let's do this again.
First, the link thingy:
Last week, I mentioned that I was going to be paying attention to the 2nd quarter this year, as we routinely lost the 2nd quarter last season. Jamiemac picked up the theme by making the 2nd quarter score one of his prop bets. A quick glance at the box score shows we won the 2nd quarter 7-3, and after the rough first quarter, that was huge in keeping us in the game. Look a little deeper, though, and you'll see that we ended the 1st quarter with Denard's first interception, giving the Irish a short field to start the 2nd quarter. This was a recipe for disaster last year. Instead, with the Irish starting at OUR 39 yard line (you almost don't need a 1st down to get in FG range) our defense stiffened and forced them into a 3 and out. Three plays, 2 yards, after getting 140 yards on 17 plays in the 1st quarter. That stopped their momentum enough to keep us in the game.
Other items of interest:
* Net yards per kickoff: ND 49.3, UofM 45.3. This was much improved over last week when WMU had a 15 yard per kickoff advantage over us. I did go back and watch our first kickoff last week, and it appeared that Woolfolk was playing the deep safety on the kickoff. The guy who is supposed to run down the returner if said returner gets through the first line. If Woolfolk has the best combination of speed and tackling on the team, I can't fault them for playing him there. It really shouldn't be that much of an injury-risk, but this is football, and those things happen. The kickoff disparity COULD HAVE been huge at the end as the Irish started their last drive on their 39, while we started at the 20. I thought it was going to take a miracle to go 80 yards in 23 seconds (after the first incompletion) and that is exactly what Denard and Gallon produced on the 64 yard play. It called to mind the AC play against Indiana. Instead of going Hail Mary, you throw a 20 yarder and get YAC.
* Gallon and Smith, two players who receive more than their fair share of criticism, combined for 4 receptions, 104 yards receiving, and 2 TDs. And they handled the punt and kick returns flawlessly.
* We had 22 players show up on the defensive statistics section, similar to last week. Although a lot of last night's seemed to be special teams or from our turnovers. It was nice to see our leading tackler be a LB, but the next two were safeties. BWC didn't record a tackle, but he showed up in the box score for recovering a fumble, and he showed up in the box score indirectly by forcing an ND holding penalty. Which leads me to this:
* Penalties: ND 9 for 75, UofM 9 for 82. After a 1 penalty game last week, and a good start to last night's game, we started racking up the defensive penalties, some of which were actually earned. I think those refs throwback hats were a size too small, but I'm not one to complain about officials.
* First downs: ND 28, UofM 16. How the F did we win that game? Oh yeah,
* Turnovers: ND 5, UofM 3. Gotta win the TO battle. Apparently, UofM's stat sheet is crediting the Irish with a fumbled kick return on the last play. And,
* Yards per play: ND 7.1, UofM 9.0. I guess you don't need many first downs when you are averaging 30.7 yards per completion. ND was playing break-but-don't-bend. They stuffed our run (except for Denard) and matched up one-on-one with Hemingway, Gallon, and Roundtree. We played a mixture of defenses, sometimes blitzing (ouch on the upcoming RPS numbers) sometimes doubling Floyd, but generally giving different looks. I couldn't keep track of how many times the play clock got down to 1 second for ND. At one point, I screamed at the TV, "Hey REES, you are not Peyton Manning, snap the damn ball." They ended up using a lot of timeouts and I think that helped us out.
* Attendance: 114,804 (yes, they put the attendance in the box score.) I believe that's a record of some sort. While I was watching out here in Southern California, my brother and his wife were rocking with the students in section 29. He reports that the pom-poms sucked, and I'm generally not a fan of the pom-pom, but I think they looked good last night.
* The referee's name (what don't they put in the boxscore?) was T. Tomczyk, the same as my uncle before his last name was Americanized. After last night, I think we can agree, Notre Dame has been Denardized, AGAIN!