Observations on the MISERABLE loss to the Irish, 20-28!

1-Obviously, we are NOT a good football team and we are especially weak offensively. We lost this game for several reasons, but primarily because we had a 3-0 turnover advantage that led to 9 points off turnovers that we let the Irish turn into a 4-4 draw (I'm including the blocked punt as a turnover) a 9-0 point advantage turned into a 17-21 advantage for Notre Dame. We lost our poise, and our heralded receivers: Edwards, Breaston and Avant gave away the ball to the Irish.

2-Our running game was non-existent. Our offensive line is especially weak, and we also allowed two sacks and several pass knock downs at the line of scrimmage. I'm so sick of the stupid fans who were so emphatic about Jerome Jackson starting, and that he is so much better than Underwood. Jackson can't block huge defensive ends or linebackers blitzing and rushing the quarterback. All teams need a variety of backs: Big Backs and Speed Backs. It is too bad Underwood got his "clock cleaned"; however, Jackson is not the answer. Jackson is also a good reserve to be used in a backup role. Regardless, no backs could have gained much yardage with our pathetic offensive line. We gained 56 yards in net rushing in 30 attempts. Jackson had 32 yards in 15 attempts. Rembert had 23 yards in 4 attempts. We are weak at the running back position as well as the offensive line.

3-Henne did not lose this game, and he was 25 of 40 for 240 yards with 1 TD and 1 pick that was given up by Edwards on a dropped pass. What was not counted or kept in the statistical sheet was all the drops by his receivers. Yes, the #1 receiving corps in the nation! Edwards did have 12 catches for 129 yards, but no TDs and several key drops. Breaston had 5 catches for 42 yards, but was covered in a great game plan by Mattison in his crossing patterns. Avant had 3 catches for 30 yards, but his fumble was a definite backbreaker. Massaquoi, Ecker and Dudley had one catch each.

Our offense was forced into 8 punts, and we were only 6 of 18 in 3rd down conversions. We had only 296 yards in 70 plays. In the end, we had four red zone opportunities (3 in the first half and only one in the second) for 16 points; they had four (one in the first half and three in the second) for 21 points.

4-Special Teams self-destructed again! A blocked punt, a fumble on a punt return led to two Irish red zone opportunities and two touchdowns. Finley was bad in the second half, he had a short punt and then the block. Our punt coverage team is atrocious; Holiday looked like some type of All-American punt returner with 7 returns for 70 yards and created a huge field position adavantage in the second half. The only saving grace was Rivas nailing 4 of 4 field goal attempts and our kickoff coverage team was good.

5-The defense kept us in the game for 3 quarters, but looked pathetic in the 4th quarter. The Irish converted all three red zone opportunities in the second half for 21 points, and the game. The most striking statistic in my mind were no sacks. The second most striking statistic was that even though the Irish had only 135 net rushing yards, they were able to establish a running game (while we didn't) and they rammed home two rushing touchdowns as a result. Notre Dame was only 3 of 13 in 3rd or 4th down conversions and possessed the ball 5 minutes less than us, but they converted their red zone opportunities in the second half created by their special teams on our defense. Our defensive line is really bad; the Irish blocked us in rushing and pass blocking situations. Walker finished with 115 yards in 31 attempts with 2 TDs.

Brady Quinn is not a good quarterback, but completed 10 of 20 for 178 and 2 TDs to go along with 3 picks. Stovall led the Irish with 5 catches for 82 yards, McKnight had 3 catches for 42 yards, Shelton caught the bomb for a 48 yard TD and Powers-Neal had the final 8 yard TD pass. Another statistic that doesn't show up is how these receivers blocked our backs in the red zone in the second half so Walker could score.

6-Hats off to the Irish! They outplayed us! We were outcoached by their coaches especially by Greg Mattison, their defensive coach and former Michigan coach. They kept their poise, we didn't. They earned and deserved the win, we didn't. Any team trailing 12-7 entering the 4th quarter who goes to a 12-28 advantage deserves the win. This game was eerily reminiscent of the game we lost there two years ago since we also lost the lead and a huge turnover advantage. Goolsby led their team with 14 tackles (wish we had a solid Middle Linebacker like him).

In the end, their offense outplayed our offense, their defense outplayed our defense and their special teams outplayed our special teams. There was no "luck of the Irish" to win this game, and although home field advantage helped, they simply out hustled us, out conditioned us and out played us.

We must re-group and improve next week against San Diego State and then prepare for a low-scoring game against Iowa. The team needs to use this game to help establish leadership since we didn't have much of that on either side of the football in the 4th quarter today.

Observations on the first half with the Irish, 9-0!

1-Henne is only 10 of 16 for 112 yards due to the lack of support by his receivers with at least 5 drops. We have three red zone opportunities for three field goals, but are only 3 of 9 on 3rd down conversions with only 7 first downs. We only have 145 yards in 35 offensive plays; our offense is definitely weak this year. We had a 6 minute time of possession advantage.

2-Running game definitely needs improvement with only 33 net yards; we have 19 attempts for 43 yards. Hart lead us with 17 yards in 4 attempts while Jackson has 11 yards in 10 attempts after Underwood went out. Rembert was the second back in, but Jackson has played the most and Hart has been the most impressive adding an 8 yard screen pass reception.

3-Braylon Edwards has five catches for 64 yards, 3 drops and a holding penalty for not too memorable of a first half. Even his 45 yard bomb was questionable, but I think a good call. I like the play call by our coaches to come back with a bomb after the successful bomb completion against us.

4-Special Teams have been solid! Kickoff team has stopped 3 returns for little gain, two at the 15 after good kicks by Neinberg. Punt coverage allowed 10 yard, 14 and 26 yard returns by Holiday; however the long one was called back by a penalty. Finley averaged 46 yards on three punts. Rivas hit three field goals so overall we can't complain too much about our special teams; they have done the job, and this is why we are leading (plus our outstanding defense).

5-Defense has been solid forcing Irish into 3 punts and two turnovers on the picks by Curry and Mundy while limiting them to 1 of 6 on 3rd and 4th down conversions. The goal line stop at the one was a backbreaker for the Irish, and a stupid move by Willingham. Curry made a touchdown saving tackle on McKnight, and his pass break up led to the pick by Mundy to go along with his early pick that helped us into a red zone opportunity and score. We have 6 points off turnovers caused by the defense. Shazor leads the defense with 6 tackles. The Irish get one red zone and come up empty. They had 25 offensive plays for 126 yards; this includes 48 net yards in rushing. Quinn is 5 of 9 for 78 yards and two picks. Neither team has a sack. Goolsby leads the Irish defenders with 8 tackles, and Notre Dame has nailed us with 3 tackles for loss while we have two against them.

6-Second half will be dictated on how we come out offensively. If we can create another red zone and go up 16-0 or 12-0, it will help the defense. If they stop us on 3 and out, anything can happen. Hopefully, our defense will continue the sound effort until our offense has more time to jell.