Notre Dame vs. USC – Second Half

Kickoff out of bounds…yuck!!!

1st down. Booty deflection. Chauncey’s bell is still ringing. Gables starts the second half. Gets five on 2nd down. 3rd and 5. Complete for 1st down to Fred Davis. Big play for SC. That’s Booty’s first completion of record in awhile. 3 wide – play action…comeback route for a first down. Power I. First time in a long time. Play action…bomb to Jarrett in the end zone. He’s behind the defense – and the ball hits Jarrett on the leg. Good defense – a little obstruction by a guy who was beaten by a double move. Gables gets 6 on 2nd down. 3rd and 4. USC has got something going here. Pass on 1st down, run for 5+ on 2nd. Gables again on 3rd down for about 3 and half. Run blitz, nice move by Gables. 4th and 1 and there goes Chauncey…First Down.

Just heard that SC has lost 3 fullbacks this year. Lucky for ND. When he’s in the game, he kills. Sick catch on the sideline by Jarrett. 1 hand – no cradle…1 hand to the ground! Yowza. 1st and goal. That was quick. Time out USC. They’d better not lose this lead. Timeouts will be precious if they’re trailing late. Of course, 28-10 would look nice after the first possession of the half. I’m thinking Steve Smith on a slant or Jarrett again – anywhere (slant, fade, whatever).

Jarrett on an in route…laundry. Pass interference. 1st and goal at the 2. TD USC. Chauncey again. Power ball. 28-10.

ND gets the kickoff return out past the 20. Grimes brings it out. 9:40 and ticking. Delay to Walker for 17. I think SC is doing a good job of ignoring this play. They are not getting sucked into defending the draw at the expense of other plays. It’s the only run call that has gained yards for ND. No tosses are working. No counters, no dives, no traps – nothing. Dump to Darius and he’s swallowed by about 7 linebackers. 3rd and 6. Tick tock. 46 yard line. Sacked back at the 35. ND is going to have to punt here – and then get a stop. SC found a rhythm on the last drive with the run and pass. Down at the USC 21.

USC has this game under control. They don’t need to take chances and they don’t have to play conservatively. They can be powerfully aggressive and bring the weight down on ND. 1st down – run for 3 yards…Power I with 3 wide. Flare screen to Smith…gain of 6. ND absolutely stuffs USC on 3rd and 1. Big play. Bad punt. 41 yard line for ND. Rema McKnight owes ND a few plays. He’s gotta do something. Split wide left with Samardzjia…lots of pressure from SC. Quinn pulls it down and runs out of bounds for 1 yard.

2nd down and 9…Quinn hits McKnight deep. Nice catch. That was about a 40 yard play. Good job Rema. Nice play to David Grimes…big play on 1st down. Gain of about 7. 2nd and short. I’m looking for Big Jeff. So is Brady. He dropped it. Great defense by #7 for USC. Jeff seemed to jump too soon for the ball. Great play by both players and a nice throw. 3rd and 3 – another draw. Not this time. 4th down for Charlie Weis – again. I wonder if folks in South Bend would prefer to have 9 points from field goals right now?

3:24 in the 3rd quarter. It’s close. Quinn sneak or fullback dive? Problem is that Darius is not a pile mover. Weis changed RBs. Good move. Didn’t make it. Did Not Make It!!! Did NOT Make It!!!! Did NOT MAKE IT!!!! DID NOT MAKE IT!! Bullshit spot. Ain’t no way in hell that guy made it. No way. Good move by Weis to get a bigger guy out there. USC challenged the spot of the ball. This could get overturned.

The gamesmanship between Carroll and Weis is worth the price of the ticket in this game. This is excellent stuff. Review was upheld. Don’t know about that. What I do know is that USC has only 1 timeout remaining – and they better not need it at the end of the game.

Incomplete on 1st down. ND’s drives in this game have been uneven. They haven’t been smooth – they’ve been punctuated by a single big play – and then they’ve had to run alot of plays in the red zone with limited success. 3rd down…here we go. Go to Rema!! Power sneak…didn’t make it. 4th and 2. This gimmicky shit is not working. Got it Rema on 4th down. Good job. There ya go, Rema. Gotta give the homeboy (not my home) from LA a shot. 28-17. They’re still in the mix.

From where I’m sitting, USC is not delivering the SMACK DOWN that Michigan handed out. You could argue that ND is better now than they were earlier in the year, but whatever. ND routinely kicks Michigan’s ass early in the year – even when Michigan is much better than they are at the end of the year. This year, the Wolverines were head and shoulders better than ND. USC will need to pull away in order to vault over Michigan (I hope).

Gables is dragging ND’s defense. Big run after a nice pass to the tight end. SC’s rhythm: pass, run, run or pass. Jarrett again. First down. That rhythm is KILLING ND. Double move Steve Smith gets behind the defense and drops a touchdown. 2nd and 10…ND is finally ready for Gables. 3rd and long. Quick quarter. Lots of running. That should help ND’s stamina.

The next drive would be another great time for SC to resume their middle blitzes against ND. Quinn is sucking wind after having run so many plays on that last drive. If they can stop ND from making a single big play and force them to drive the length of the field, they could get a few sacks and possibly a pick off the pressure. Damn, Steve Smith dropped a touchdown…how rare is that?

Speaking of pressure and sacks…good job ND. 2nd and 16. Here comes Gables again. Gain of 3. 3rd and 13 from the ND 32. All day to throw – and “Mama, it’s that man again.” Jarrett makes a tremendous catch. 2 hands – hollah!! First down at the 15. SC’s backs are STONING the ND linebackers and safeties on blitzes. SC holding penalty. 2nd and 20 at the 25. USC just used its last timeout. Ok, fellas. I guess you really were not worried about losing that lead.

That timeout didn’t do too much for ND. SC runs a draw of their own. ND stuffs it. Lotta huffin’ and puffin’ on that ND line. FG is good. Two touchdown lead. 31-17. USC is not getting those style points – even though they look like the more powerful team.

Better ND kickoff return…out to about the 30-yard line. Four wide. Dump to TE – four yards. Left tackle moved early. Did they catch it? Alrighty, then. 2nd and 11. LB in deep drop deflects middle pass. Bob Davie says ND may have 5 first rounders on the squad (credits Willingham). Corner blitz, LB blitz. Come to daddy! There is the sack. 4th and 15. Delay of game on the punt. “Back ’em up. Hup, easy back ’em up. Please let the abstract embellish on the cut.” SC gets it at their own 43.

There are so many possessions in this game that rightly should have ended with ND field goals instead of failed 4th down conversions. 1 effort was converted for a touchdown to McKnight. I can’t recall the other off the top of my head, but ND really needs a kicking game. It’s not a given that USC would have scored 31 points if ND had a stronger kicking game. Weis is giving up field position because of this weakness in the team. He’d better ask Bobby Bowden about the pain and anguish of not having a decent kicker.

Gables is back – and he’s getting scarier. I think that huffin’ and puffin’ on the D-line is about to become a problem. They better regroup in a hurry. It’s a wrap…Jarrett, one more time. 43-yards. No pass rush. Wide open receiver. 6 points. 37-17 and awaiting the extra point. Nope. no good.

USC’s power offense is essentially running the ball up the middle and throwing over the top. This looks familiar. It looks alot like Michael Hart up the middle and Mario Manningham over the top. I suppose it also looks like Antonio Pittman up the middle and Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn, Jr. over the top. In any event, it’s football at its most simple.

Ok. They just showed a replay of Jarrett’s last touchdown. ND shouldn’t be on the field if they’re not going to bother covering the best player on the field. And now the wheels are coming off. 1st down – false start; 2nd down – incompletion. Referee bailout! ND’s wide receivers are being fitted for dresses at Vera Wang. Personal foul. I think they’ll go in for a nice chiffon.

Big hits by the USC DB’s in this game. If I’m an NFL scout, I’m thinking Jeff Samardzjia’s stock is going through the floor. He’s not open. He’s not getting separation from the DBs. He’s not catching balls. He’s not going to shine at the next level unless he’s in the right system. He’s very good, but he’s not looking like Gonzalez or Ginn or Manningham or Jarrett or Johnson. He finally caught one against a linebacker on a crossing route.

SC has its style points now. It’s 37-17. They can’t let ND get two late touchdowns to close the gap. Samardzjia caught another pass on a crossing pattern against the same linebacker. If he could beat a DB, I’d be happier. Just missed a TD in the middle – too much company. 3rd down run gets stuffed. It’s 4th down again. Time out ND. Whatcha got Charlie? Another referee bailout…uncatchable ball and a little mercy from the striped shirts. Fade to the corner. 2 penalties…12 men and interference. I don’t see the interference. I saw the 12th man though. 1st and goal at the 2 – loss of 3. Back that shit up, son! 2nd and goal. Where is Samardzjia???????

Sack of Quinn – and another penalty. Facemask. 5 yarder. Coulda been 15. Still 2nd and goal. Quinn is ballin’, but he’s not getting alot of help. TE drops it in the end zone. He’s a replacement, but gotta catch it. Quinn is 19-40 for 230 and 2 Tds. Where is Samardzjia??? Oh, there he is. It only took all night – AND HE PUSHED OFF!!!!!!!!!! 37-24. Does ND have time to score again and get at some of those style points? Well, all I know is that 37-24 at home is not 47-21 on the road.

Scratch that. USC is truly getting after it. The onside kick didn’t go too well. The kick was picked up by #10 and returned for a touchdown. Who is #10? Brian Cushing – from New Jersey. I saw him on cable TV a few years ago – simply awesome. Came to SC as a linebacker – moved to Defensive End…plays special teams and returns an onside kick for a touchdown. Damn. Oh, he’s a sophomore.

3 more minutes of ND agony. I wish the national media and those PHUKS who run the bowls would put ND out of their misery and let the people see some other teams in a big game. If Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl, these bastards better not get anywhere near Pasadena. Nice deep throw, better catch off the bg hit. If Quinn ever gets that Tony Romo – quick release thing going, he’s gonna be “Uh Oh!” Ok, these ABC guys are talking far too much about UM-ND in the Rose Bowl. That’s not going to be a good game.

Samardzjia’s lucky he pushed off against that corner. SC’s guys are simply superior tonite. ND turns the ball over for the last time. “Mama, there’s that OTHER man again.” CJ Gables around the left side. Tick, tock. 1 minute left.

ND is getting “mercy ruled.” Back up QB is in the game for USC. Take a knee OR run a toss for 15 yards. Game over. ND’s done.

USC 44, Notre Dame 24.

I like UCLA’s chances next week. They have the talent and the knowledge to get the job done.

I’ll say one thing…I’m wondering about the extent to which Charlie Weis had his “skill position” players ready to play this game. Walker fumbled. McKnight had three drops in the first half. Samardzjia had a couple of drops and was unable to get loose without impersonating another big, slow guy (Michael “Pushoff” Irvin). Quinn was mostly sharp and had the biggest run of the game. ND simply doesn’t have the ballers to run with the big dogs. They do not play many tough teams – and in the last two years, they’ve been throttled by each of them (Ohio State, Michigan, and USC). Of course they beat Michigan last year (sans Michael Hart – big deal) and probably should’ve beaten USC at home (but didn’t). It all sounds familiar. If Notre Dame does not make some hay on the recruiting trail, this will continue. Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, USC, LSU, Florida, and Texas are making moves. ND better get it in gear. Rivals.com ranks them at #13. I suspect that if they’re unlucky enough to draw an SEC team with a passing game, they’ll get undressed again. It’s just too cold be naked in Indiana this time of year. Good luck Charlie, you’ve got 9 years to make i thappen.

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