Run and Shoot: Notre Dame's Regression Hits A New Low

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Notre Dame's Regression Hits A New Low

Even at his most optimistic, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis can't have imagined it to be this bad. Since moving on from Franklin Township High School in New Jersey 19 years ago, he's been considered one of football's greatest offensive minds.

(This is the kind of season it's been for Charlie Weis and Jimmy Clausen)

But Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, things hit rock bottom in a loss to USC.

The night's biggest cheer from the Notre Dame section in the Coliseum occurred at 7:20 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. That's when James Aldridge ran for 15 yards through the middle of the USC defense. It was a loud and thorough cheer. But be assured, it was a loud and thorough mock-cheer. That’s because that run collected first down No. 1 of the game for the Irish on the last play of the third quarter.

That was nearly all the Irish fans had to cheer about, as USC went on to a breezy 38-3 win on Saturday night.

At that point in the game the ugly truth was right there in black, white, cardinal and gold, USC 31, Notre Dame 0. The yardage was even uglier: USC 360, Notre Dame 38. And first downs was 17-1, you know who.

"USC is the team you have to look at when you look at playing for championships." A defeated Weis said in the post-game press conference. "If you ever want to be a championship team, you have to beat a team like that."

Or, in Notre Dame's case, you have to actually be able to not embarrass yourself against them first. With tonight's loss, the Golden Domers have now dropped seven straight games to the Men of Troy, by an average of four touchdowns. And it's not just against these guys. Since 1999, ND is 1-15 against teams ranked in the Top Five.

It just wasn't supposed to be this way.

Charlie came to South Bend hailed as THE guru. The mad man behind the Oz-like curtain that made Tom Brady so unflappable on those New England Patriots Super Bowl teams. But even with All American prep stars like Jimmy Clausen leading the way, the guru's charges have been rendered punchless.

Going against the top defense in the country tonight only meant that matters were going to get worse. The Irish had 20 offensive snaps in the first half for nine yards. Clausen had tossed two picks and been thrown for 19 yards in losses. To make matters worse, the running backs corps of Armando Allen, Robert Hughes and James Aldridge had 13 net yards.

In other words, game, set, match, and who knows, maybe even Notre Dame career for the eggman. Yes, you've heard all the rumblings over Charlie's job, especially after last week's terrible 24-23 loss to Syracuse, another game where the offense didn't show up when it needed to.

"You can’t really correlate this with last week" Charlie asserted. "This was a championship level team and I think you saw the discrepancy between these two teams tonight. So comparing the Syracuse game to this USC game is like apples to oranges."

And right now, Notre Dame is rotten fruit by either comparison.

It didn't start out that way, Weis led the '05 and '06 teams to two of the most prolific passing seasons in Irish history, finishing one and two in the UND record books for passing yardage behind the strong arm of Brady Quinn to Jeff Samardzija. With those guys setting the pace, the Irish scored 440 points on the season, the most in school history. And everybody remembers how valiantly his charges played in that near-win over the vaunted SC team of 2005, a 34-31 loss that ended in the controversial Bush Push.

But tonight, the only controversy to those sarcastic Domer fans was that there was no semblance to the glorious output of those teams. The Irish ended the night with 91 yards of offense, eight punts, four first downs, three points and no clue how to fix it.

"He (QB Clausen) was under duress on fundamental pass plays." Weis sputtered. "I could understand being under duress with seven or eight guys coming at him. But they were doing it by rushing four guys. We had no answer for it."

Clausen affirmed that, while also being a deflector for Coach Weis.

"They have one of the fastest pass rushes we’ve ever faced." Clausen said. "But Coach Weis was not the reason we lost today. It was the guys on the field."

Try getting that past those Notre Dame fans that clapped vigorously after the last play of the third quarter.

(Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick gets barraged by media members wanting to know Charlie Weis' future in the bowels of the Coliseum. The tight-lipped A.D. would say "nothing has been decided" and "They will meet and make evaluations at a later date.")


Everybody wants to fire Charlie Weis because of his win-loss mark being the same as Willingham and Davie. But I want to fire him for the exact reasons you just gave: because he's NOT worth a damn as an offensive play caller. He's not worth a damn as a recruiter or leader either.

It's time for Weis to do the right thing and resign. for the good of future Irish teams.

Well put. I can't believe people thought he was such a genious after playing a close game with USC in 2005. Now look at how horrible his offense is. Not good Charley. He deserves to get fired.


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