Weis' halftime speech
He told his guys their mistakes were the only reason they had not already put the game away. That is not a 100% unreasonable assessment of the first half, but...functionally stupid. You hear that, you think, "it's true, we're a lot better. We'll pull away easily once the penalties stop." What Notre Dame needed to hear was something to keep the fire there. Something like "we're only up 3--this is their stadium and to leave with with a win we will have to wrench it from them with the fight of our lives." ND could not have looked more listless on our opening 3rd quarter drives. There was no fire; it was like they did think the game was easily in hand, and the scoreboard would inevitably catch up to reflect the superior play. Instead things changed in the 3rd quarter. We started to outplay them.
underrated kid. And to begin with an
aside, one of my favorite Mgoblog diaries ever was the one a few weeks back
where someone broke down the joy of watching Odoms block out in front of a long
run in the game at Minnesota. Great
insight, great story, so true. It made
me appreciate his Denard block that much more the following week...Well if you
watch the Stonum kick return TD you will see that for the second straight week
our longest big play run was sprung by a monster block from tiny Martavious. There was a guy in Stonum’s lane. Odoms--the other returner back deep--kept his
eyes fixed, timed his break perfectly, and hurled his whole body into him. He was frozen in place. Stonum was past them both, made the one cut he needed, and ran free. Great block, good fundamentals, huge heart. Is he not Wermers' type of crowd? Who would not want to play next to a guy with that kind of enthusiasm and selfless guts. He is a less featured player this year, but you don't see him Clemonsing on us, and I don't expect he ever will. He doesn't block like a guy that would mope. I love that kid.
He also made two huge catches in the final drive. Forgotten now, he made a ridiculous grab with a man draped all over his back on a critical 3rd down. [EDIT: multiple posters have already pointed out the same stuff for Odoms--apparently he is not forgotten; good for our fans].
see him have a great game at Michigan.
He made a huge catch down the sideline when it was 0-0, and provided the
perfect bookend with the decisive TD.
That dig route was a thing of glory.
Route running matters. So does a
QB with accuracy and timing. That play
looked easier than it was.
Ouch. Honest appraisal demands at least one negative observation. I don’t want to be mean, so I will not go
into details, but wow. If you ranked all Big 10 linebackers on a two factor scoring system of (1) decisiveness and (2) ability to not get washed out of an interior run play...he would not torch the competition. If you want a
microcosm of Ezeh's performance, locate him on the final ND touchdown run. Suffice to say that is not where you want to
find your inside LB on a power running play.
Cissoko (& rest of D)
On the more-maligned Cissoko: I have more sympathy for him. He
was playing NFL talent, injured, in one of his first career starts. Yes he was beat several times. But he continued to stay fierce and confident
even when the action on the field made this seem mildly irrational. That is a good thing...On the rest of the defense I have no major comments. The pass rush was poor, but the holding was
ubiquitous. The pass yards were high, but
the receivers were other-wordly. I thought Warren was excellent. I am not going to fault him for standing in the same vicinity when Floyd finally landed after catching a ball 10 feet up in the air...I am glad Stevie Brown once again made a big play. I am almost starting to feel guilty for blaming him for everything that when wrong in my life in 2008...and who was that safety?? I am glad that at least he knew he was on
the team, so he knew to show up beforehand and put on a jersey and
Charlie's decision to pass
I do not like Weis. His next-day whining is just the latest example of everything wrong about him--not a winner, not a leader, self-indulgent, doesn't think ahead, name drops Tom Brady when his name should be kept holy and sacred, etc. I do not like the guy. But I don’t think the late-game passes were as dumb as everyone now says (with the
benefit of hindsight and their spectacular failure). In that moment, with ND having a chance to win the game with
a first down or two, and our secondary having been abused the way it had...are you really telling me you weren’t praying for 1 yard
runs up the gut? That you weren’t
terrified when Clausen launched one deep?
The stadium held its breath, and not in a 'something great's about to happen' kind of way. It was a 'dear god no' kind of anticipatory silence. You want to make plays that make your opponents feel that way.
Based on the way that game was going, I do not blame Weis for wanting to
try to win with the ball, rather punting away and pinning his hopes on stopping a pretty-good offense using 4 downs with
nothing to lose. I would want my coach
to do the same. As for the type of pass,
Brian makes a great point, it may not have been wise. But the other way to look at the lobbed fly pattern
is that while calling any pass was aggressive, calling that particular one was
relatively conservative. There was no time in the
pocket, no risk of a sack/fumble. High
likelihood of a catch or interference call.
On that first pass Warren just made an outstanding play. On the second, Evans just wasn’t looking
for the ball. If Floyd was was still in that 3rd down pass may have sealed the game. And
just like that Weis is a genius--blah blah blah, say the pundits, he didn't sit back, he played to win, trusted his guys, etc. You see my point. Throwing was not stupid strategy in my opinion. Although I think a
play-action pass to Rudolph would have been a surefire death nail. Thank god he didn’t call one.
There is not much for me to add. We all saw the same things. What a joy to watch someone who can (1) see our
open guys and (2) get them the ball.
What a strange sensation to watch a QB in a winged helmet drop back, see
the pocket collapse, see him sprint for his life, and be envisioning anything other
than impending doom. By the final drive,
the blitz was breaking through our line and I was having what must have been
the same internal reaction as Tate--no big deal, is somebody open downfield? I have watched several QBs that could scamper
away from a pass rush and keep scanning downfield. I’ve never had the pleasure of cheering for one. It is great.
As terrific as Tate was, Minor and Graham remain our proverbial Peters. Upon those rocks we will build our football
team. Graham, unfortunately, was swallowed up by the jersey
seizing spiderweb of ND behemoths all day--tough labor for him. Minor, though, was able to break through. No one thinks he was 100% healthy. But who could tell he wasn’t when he had the ball on
Saturday? He started each half with
powerful, assertive runs that exploded into the ND backfield. He got us rolling, gave us confidence. Gave us a lead at the start of each
half. Matthews got to celebrate the game
winner. Stonum got conference accolades. Tate has enjoyed a season’s worth of press
adoration the last 48 hours. Minor did
his work quietly, particularly in light of all of the wildness that came
after he made his strongest contributions. But he was
huge. Passing picked up in the second
half after our running game finally began to look threatening at its beginning. Minor did that. Great game from a big-hearted player.
I won't lie--I really like the guys on this team.