I really liked the pompoms as well. Made the stadium look awesome on TV and it also seemed to energize the crowd... Great job by the entire department for yesterday's game.
Inside the Box Score: Game 2
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!
Pom-Poms were awesome, stop being old people, the atmosphere was what this stadium and fan base needed.
A true "old person" shouldn't even be mad about the pom-poms. We've given them out for big games many times in the past (typically for OSU). In fact, in past years the pom-pom would be waiting for you on your seat. Yesterday you had to actually go get them.
Agreed. I usually am not a fan of pom-poms but I actually regretted not getting one after my whole section (34, row 33!) and the student section went crazy with them. My girlfriend and sister loved them as well.
Lots of people hated the pom poms! People who thought they were too cool for them and Irish fans. I loved them.
3rd down defense. Last week WMU was 6-11 on 3rd down. Last night ND was 8-14. This has to improve by the MSU game. This was one of the biggest problems the defense had last year. I know last night there was a few times in the second half I was really glad Kelly decided to run on 3rd down rather than throw.
The offense was bad on 3rd down last night also but I am not nearly as worried about that as the defense. MSU could be a nightmare if it isn't corrected by then.
Correction - ND was *6 for 14. I refuse to believe that Michael Floyd caught that 35 yard reception in bounds and I refuse to believe that BWC held a pulling guard.
Damn, less than 50% 3rd down conversion rate AND they doubled our time of possesion. Means we got RPSed a lot but when matched up we held our ground.
"Held" in quotes because he was the one flagged for holding as he was being chop blocked. Another ridiculous call. I don't know, if someone was diving at my knees and I started to fall, I might reach out for something to break my fall, too.
I hope this doesn't turn into a pom-pom thread, but like I wrote, I think they looked good. I like how the Stadium lights skim the crowd.
P.S. Happy 1 year MGoAnniversary to me.
Was when people waved them too high and they got in the way of your view. Otherwise the pom poms were legit.
In the 4th Quarter with the pom poms and 7 nation army blaring it looked awesome.
The reason our RBs only had 10 yards was because ND was stacking the box all game. Even Kelly said, "Our goal is to make DR throw the ball"
Thus, our boys up front were out numbered (and manhandled) on run plays, and to have free guys available to blitz... but then put our WRs in position to get open and torch the D which they did quite effectively in the second half when they decided to stop dropping the ball or when Denard stopped having visions of TacoPants dancing in his helmet. I do not think we will see Defenses make this same mistake again, which will open up running lanes.
As for our defense, I love the scheme Mattison is using. It seemed that Reese was constantly having to check and recheck at the line, getting them dangerously close to a number of Delay of Games. When we face teams that do not have a dominant WR like Floyd that a QB can just heave it up to, that will be to our benefit and should lead to more turnovers. I also liked that our LBs finally have learned to cover TEs. It seemed that #25 was in the hip pocket of their TE when he was making tough catches... as opposed to being completely wide open with no one around like last year. For the thinness/inexperience/talent deficiencies this D has, they played above themselves yesterday, especially given how crappy the Offense played in the first half.
Not a perfect game, but a great win that both builds momentum while giving some great film to teach from the next two weeks and should prep the boys well for what they will face big ten teams.
You know what I think would be an interesting statistic, although I may be alone here, but the YAC from game to game or even compared to last year. Just to see if it's improved or is improving. I feel like we've been pretty good at keeping the YAC low for opposing WR's so far but maybe I'm just dillusional. I don't see where it could be looked up though.