October 20, 2007

Trojan dominance complete

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame tried to avoid the shutout, but came up short. USC won 38-0 and looked like a BCS contender for the first time in a month. While the team and band celebrate in the corner of the field, the Notre Dame band is playing the Notre Dame Victory March, which sounds a lot more pleading than it does confident these days.

This was a defeat of historic proportions for the Irish...

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Rough crowd - what's left of it

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A Bronx cheer went up from the student section when Armando Allen rushed for a first down a moment ago. It was Notre Dame's first first down of the half.

Hey! Where's everybody going?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame fans have begun streaming for the exit with just under 12 minutes to go and their team trailing 31-0. This is yet one more thing I have never seen before, but Notre Dame hasn't been 1-7 before either. At least not in my lifetime.

Make that 38-0 on a Joe McKnight run off tackle. Now, you'd think the place was on fire.

And the hits just keep on comin'

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The third quarter was yet another disaster for the Irish, starting with the fumble by Thomas and ending with a generous spot by an official that gave USC a first down.

When USC had the ball, they ran it down their throats and threw it over the top. On defense, they delivered hit after hit, especially on Evan Sharpley, who was sacked three times, including one where nose tackle Sedrick Ellis jumped up and landed on Sharpley's shoulder pads.

USC outgained Notre Dame 130-0 in the quarter.

The Trojans seem pretty committed to the ground game right now, so Pete Carroll may have called off the dogs.

Between quarters, a Delta jet flew low, right past the north end of the stadium. It was close enough that we could see what the passengers were eating (peanuts). I don't remember the stadium being in a flight path before.

Smashmouth football in the passing game

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - You might not think a 48-yard touchdown pass qualifies as smashmouth football, but this one did. After two tough runs up the middle, Vidal Hazelton was left uncovered down the left sideline and caught the ball around the 25. He cut back inside, stiff-armed one defender, spun, stiff-armed another defender and dove into the end zone for the score. USC now leads 31-0 with most of nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Hazelton, by the way, is one of two #7s that started for USC today. The other is CB Cary Harris. Did USC retire all their numbers?

Big hittin' early

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Trojan defense came to hit in the second half. On the first play after the kickoff, they gang-sacked Evan Sharpley, which was the second sack of the day for USC. On the second play, Cary Harris stuck Travis Thomas hard right after he caught the ball, causing a fumble, which USC recovered. Two plays later, it was 24-0.

Which reminds me that I need to make a slight correction to an earlier report. I said USC had two sacks at halftime, but the official stats only show one. One of the plays I assumed was a sack is a rush for negative yards in the stats. On that play, Sharpley dropped back to pass, was flushed from the pocket, scrambled and tackled two yards short of the line of scrimmage. In the pros, that's a sack, but I guess it isn't in college.

More of the same for ND

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - USC drove down for a field goal with 11 seconds left in the half to give the Trojans a 17-0 lead at the break.

Evan Sharpley hasn't been living up to his name in the first half. He was 6-16 for only 41 yards before USC conceded three underneath completions at the end of the half. As those numbers indicate, he hasn't been terribly accurate. He's faced some pretty good pressure, even though the Trojans only have two sacks. He seems to be rushing throws even when he's not under fire, which is not terribly uncommon phenomenon for quarterbacks facing a lot of heat.

Not surprisingly, Notre Dame isn't getting much going on the ground either. The Irish only have 22 yards on 10 carries in the first half. They are playing today without James Aldridge, who hurt his leg last week.

After a rough start, Matt Sanchez has acquitted himself reasonably well for USC. He's 18-32 for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

The Trojan band is on the field. Nobody cares because the Song Girls are out there too.

What's a fair catch?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Tom Zbikowski waved off his teammates on a punt that was going to bounce short, but when it hopped right to him, he grabbed it and took off running. The refs stopped the play though saying he called for fair catch.

I wonder if we got the same refs they had at Connecticut last night. There, a UConn player called for a fair catch, caught the ball and ran it for a touchdown while Louisville's players stood there in shock.

You wouldn't think the fair catch rule would be so difficult to enforce.

Methodical march

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Time for the Trojan band to break out that march. That's what their team just did to the Irish - march down the field. They 79 yards in 10 plays for a 14-0 lead.

Up until this drive, the Notre Dame defense had done a decent job of getting off the field. USC would get a first down or two, but eventually, the drive would stall.

Notre Dame's offense is also doing a good job getting off the field. The Irish only have 51 yards and two first downs with just under 4 minutes left in the half.

-15 yard punt, no return

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame made its own break in the punt game on a play I haven't seen before. David Bruton broke through the middle and, while diving to make the block, actually caught the ball right after it came off the punter's foot. That set the Irish up at the USC 29.

However, because this is Notre Dame, they went three-and-out, giving up a sack along the way, and then their field goal attempt was blocked.

USC has now sacked Sharpley twice and hit him hard a few other times. Still, I've seen worse pressure on ND quarterbacks this year than he is getting today.

Unluck of the Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A USC punt turned into the first big break of the game when a punt hit Notre Dame's Munir Prince in the back. Vincent Joseph pounced on it at the Irish 6 for USC and one play later, Sanchez hit TE Fred Davis for the score.

USC is having success throwing the ball in the flats and getting the receivers one-on-one with the Irish linebackers and DBs.

A big kick return by freshman Armando Allen has the Irish faithful excited and the offense in Trojan territory.

Trying too hard to get McKnight involved

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - USC's second offensive possession was going great until the Trojans tried a little too hard to get freshman Joe McKnight involved. Three plays had USC in Irish territory, but then they like up McKnight at tailback and gave it to him twice on runs between the tackles, which he kind of shied away from. Notre Dame wasn't fooled at all. He lost three yards on those plays and USC was eventually forced to punt once again.

While USC was on the field, Evan Sharpley was warming up behind the Notre Dame bench, which you don't usually see someone who is already in the game doing unless they're checking for a potential injury.

Another thing you don't usually see is two guys who play a lot wearing the same number. McKnight wears #4 for USC, but so does starting strong safety Kevin Ellison.

USC off to rocky start

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - About the only thing the Trojans offense did right on the first possession was not turn the ball over.

After a good kick return set them up at the 42, a run by Chauncey Washington went nowhere and then Matt Sanchez was forced to call a time out because his formation was wrong.

That was followed by an incompletion, a false start penalty and a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 15.

Sanchez brought them to the line to go for it on fourth down and when USC lined up, Notre Dame was still scrambling to get guys in position. Instead of snapping the ball and falling forward for a first down, Sanchez delayed and by the time he got the ball snapped, Pete Carroll called USC's second timeout from the bench.

Then, they punted.

That's not exactly the kind of start you want on the road against a fired up and undermanned opponent.

Please have your pencils and scorecards handy

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - We've just been given the lineup changes for USC. Baker is out, replaced by freshman Butch Lewis. Also, Brian Cushing will start at LB after missing five games with an ankle injury.

Our pregame ceremony included half a dozen parachutists landing on the field...

Continue reading "Please have your pencils and scorecards handy" »

USC injury update

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - RB Stafon Johnson was out with the team during warmups and participated in the drills. OT Sam Baker was nowhere to be seen.

USC-ND Pregame Thoughts

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - When these teams last met here in South Bend, USC came from behind to beat the Irish 31-28 when Matt Leinart completed a fourth down pass to Dwayne Jarrett for 61 yards, which set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Leinart that is now known as the "Bush Push."

Getting that close to the Trojans now seems like a pipe dream.

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October 13, 2007

Five straight over ND...now, is BC legit?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Head coach Jeff Jagodzinski had just watched his team win its fifth straight game against Notre Dame and its seventh this season. But apparently no one wanted to talk about his Boston College Eagles.

"How about some questions about our guys?" Jagodzinski said, after answering five straight questions about Notre Dame players. "Our guys played pretty good tonight."

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Touchdown, then not, for Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Having a first down and a fourth-down touchdown called back on back-to-back plays is never easy. But for Notre Dame it may have ended any chance of upsetting No. 4 BC.

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I-90 Awash in Maroon and Gold

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Boston College fans, far from fanatics, are notorious for showing up late in the first quarter, if at all, for never traveling to bowl games, and for general lethargy when it comes to putting effort into supporting its perennially successful athletic program.

But if there's one game you can guarantee every Boston Irish Catholic is willing to get up for, its Notre Dame.

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Irish holding on to hope

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Some silly BC penalties and a big fourth-down conversion have Notre Dame within reach of BC, despite a 13-point deficit. Evan Sharpley has looked solid aside from several dropped passes, and now has ND threatening.

More breathing room...for now

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Matt Ryan connected on three passes, including a heave while being decked that barely fell into the arms of Kevin Challenger, who snuck in to put BC up 27-14.

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No. 4 in Trouble

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Three minutes ago, Boston College looked like it would be the sixth team this season to hang a lopsided loss on Notre Dame. But with 8:52 left, an interception returned for a touchdown has the Irish right back in it.

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Sharpley in, ND gets in end zone

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - One Jimmy Clausen second-half pass was enough for Charlie Weis. The coach put in backup Evan Sharpley and all of a struggling Notre Dame offense was downright efficient on a 64-yard drive, ending in a 19-yard pass to Asaph Schwapp.

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Callender for Heisman?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - There was some enthusiasm in Notre Dame Stadium as the second half began. A BC three-and-out. A poor punt. All the Irish needed now in this battle of Catholic colleges was an offensive resurrection and maybe an upset of No. 4 BC would not be out of the question.

One tipped pass later, and that hope is fading.

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No Surprises in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - After BC linebacker Jolonn Dunbar leveled a sliding Jimmy Clausen, Charlie Weis was livid. "How could there not be a penalty on a hit like that? What play was the ref watching?"

Sadly for Weis, those aren't the only questions he needs answered after a first half that saw his team held to just 79 yards and fall down 13-0.

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Knee Leads to TD

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It started with a knee, and it ended with an inch.

Those were the odd bookends to BC's latest touchdown drive, putting the Eagles on top of Notre Dame 13-0.

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Kicking Woes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - One of the biggest wins in BC history - not to mention the biggest losses in Irish history - came on the foot of BC kicker David Gordon when he knocked through last-second field goal to knock of No. 1 Notre Dame in 1993.

But the kicking game isn't working quite as well for the Eagles today.

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O-Line U Coming Back

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Matt Ryan is the star, the running backs have piled up huge numbers so far, and the defense has given up almost nothing.

The unsung heroes thus far have been the five guys up front for the BC offense. Matt Ryan has rarely had a Notre Dame defender within two yards of him, and the holes in the running game have been gaping.

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Quick start for BC

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - BC fans worried about a letdown for the No. 4 ranked Eagles got some early relief in the form of a 52-yard run and a quick 6-0 start.

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Revenge in South Bend?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In 1993, a last-second Boston College field goal ended then-No. 1 Notre Dame's undefeated season. In 2002, BC came into Notre Dame stadium against yet another undefeated Irish squad, then ranked No. 4, and handed the Irish a 14-7 loss.

But in 2007, it's Boston College that is ranked No. 4, is undefeated, and comes into South Bend as 12 point favorites.

It goes without saying that the Irish would love to return the favor today that the Eagles have handed them so many times in the past.

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September 15, 2007

Final recap

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Well, the game's over, and boy was Michigan happy tp have this rivalry matchup turn out this way.

The Wolverines won 38-0 and held the Fighting Irish below 100 total yards with a more than solid performance from the defense. Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor said after the game that the whole defense as a unit was out to prove a point that they could compete up to the level they set for themselves.

Michigan pressured Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen all day, whether it was off the blitz or just from the front four. Add in three turnovers forced and the Wolverine offense didn't have to do that much.

But Mike Hart did. The senior guaranteed a win and came out with a vengence. He racked up just under 200 yards on the ground, taking the pressure of freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett, who managed a pretty solid game. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr wasn't about to make Mallett be the hero, and Hart gladly set the pace.

This was just the kind of win Michigan needed with the Big Ten schedule starting and Penn State coming to Ann Arbor next Saturday.

Clausen sitting

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Jimmy Clausen has taken a seat on the Notre Dame sideline, and he's probably OK with the decision.

Evan Sharpley came into replace the freshman, and his first throw was almost intercepted while his second was thrown under heavy pressure from the Michigan front four.

The Wolverine defense isn't done putting its imprint in this game. John Thompson made a fanatastic tackle to stop Armando Allen on a third-down run for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame's day can be summed up in two stats. Negative 52 rushing yards and 22 total yards.

Hart rushing up the chart

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Hart used his last carry of the third quarter to pass Tyrone Wheatley on the all-time rushing yard chart.

On a five-yard scamper, Hart moved into 3rd on the all-time leading rusher list and will most likely enjoy the fourth quarter from the sideline.

Running back Brandon Minor replaced Hart immediately after the rush.

End of the 3rd quarter, Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0.

The first wave of the season

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - With six minutes left in the third quarter, the Michigan student section has decided the game is over. They've started the wave.

It's the first time this season the Big House has seen the heralded wave, usually started in the third quarter of blowout games.

Ryan Mallett just complemented the wave with a touchdown strike to Mario Manningham, open in the back of the end zone. It was a 13-yard pass that finished off a 79-yard drive.

Michgan 38, Notre Dame 0.

Still searching

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Notre Dame's first drive of the third quarter looked promising. Until Jimmy Clausen met Brandent Englemon.

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Halftime recap

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan has looked completely dominant in the first half of this game.

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Michigan running up the score

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ryan Mallett threw a perfect strike to Adrian Arrington in the corner of the end zone to give Michigan a 31-0 lead heading into halftime.

The five-yard strike punctuated a Wolverine drive dominated by Mike Hart running over, through and around the Notre Dame defense.

Mallett's looked impressive in his first start of the season. Most of his throws have been sharp and on target, and he sure has enough confidence in his ability as seen by his celebration skipping after the touchdown throw.

Halftime. Michigan 31, Notre Dame 0.

Never would have guessed that kind of dominance.

Finally, some positives

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - It had been a while, but Notre Dame finally got some positive yards.

With two minutes left in the second quarter, the Fighting Irish have mustered nine total yards and have negative 39 rush yards.

Opposite the Golden Domers, Michigan running back Mike Hart has more than 100 yards on the ground, marking the 22nd time he's gone over the century mark in his Michigan career. He's now tied with Anthony Thomas in that category.

Michigan's driving right now with under a minute left. The Wolverines are on the Notre Dame 11 yard line. Another post might sooner than later.

Lloyd bringing some fun

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - With 11:42 left in the second quarter, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr tried a trick play, much to the delight of the crowd.

Ryan Mallett threw a swing pass to Adrian Arrington who tried to hit Mallett rolling out on the opposite sideline. Mallett slipped and couldn't corrale the throw.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Wolverine defense forces another turnover. Middle linebacker John Thompson picked off Jimmy Clausen. Clausen forced a throw down the middle under heavy pressure from the Michigan front four.

The defensive line is dominating the Fighting Irish. The front four all got to Clausen the play before the Thompson pick.

What, cheers in the Big House?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The student section can finally smile. It's finally getting to watch Michigan dominate an opponent.

The Wolverine offense is running smoothly, even with a freshman behind center. Ryan Mallett looked sharp on the latest Michigan touchdown drive. He hit Mario Manningham over the middle on a strong throw off a bootleg, and he took a moment to smile after the completion.

Mike Hart finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to extend Michigan's lead to 17-0.

Still tenacious

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan defense wants to prove a point today.

The unit just caused another turnover. Wolverine linebacker Chris Graham hit Armando Allen with helmet on ball and forced a fumble that Michigan cornerback Brandon Harrison recovered. The Graham hit left Allen kneeling on the ground for a few minutes after the play.

It's Michigan ball at the Notre Dame 37 at the end of the first quarter.

Michigan adds to lead

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Wolverines are piling it on early. Maybe they're a little upset about all the criticism they've received this year.

Running back Mike Hart scored on a 2-yard touchdown run as Michigan turned a Notre Dame turnover into more points.

The Wolverines are up 10-0, and the Michigan defense looks like its found a little bit of the attitude from last season's unit. Plus, they're playing the Fighting Irish, who haven't scored an offensive touchdown this season.

Turn of tides

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren came off the corner on a blitz on second down of Notre Dame's second drive and forced and recovered a Jimmy Clausen fumble at the Notre Dame 20.

An impressive start for a maligned unit.

A fast start

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis was looking to exploit the Michigan defense with a spread offense look on the first play of the game.

He put Armando Allen back at quarterback, and he fumbled the snap back to the 1 yard line. From there, Michigan's defense held strong with Shawn Crable deflecting a Jimmy Clausen pass to force a punt.

The Wolverines drove it to the Notre Dame 22 yard line, and Jason Gingell hit a 39-yard field goal to give Michigan a 3-0 lead.

About to begin

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - There's just under 10 minutes until gametime, and the student section in the Big House has yet to fill out.

Other news. An F-16 flyover will take place during the national anthem.

Linebacker Shawn Crable warmed up with the defensive line and not the linebackers. I guess he'll spend a majority of game snaps in a three-point stance.

Cornerback Johnny Sears is on the dress list but not the field. Instead, Doug Dutch, a former wide receiver, took his place as second-string corner.

A Cloudy Start

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - It's about an hour before kickoff, and the Michigan-Notre Dame game isn't living up to its hype. The classic rivalry isn't mustering any national attention, and on campus, it feels like just another game.

Maybe the two teams have their winless records to thank, or maybe most of Ann Arbor has already given up on the season. Regardless, the stadium's pretty empty, the clouds are out and the temps are in the mid-50s. It's perfect weather for football, but it's yet to be determined if these two teams can put all together.

It will be interesting to see how much Michigan coach Lloyd Carr opens the playbook for freshman signal caller Ryan Mallett and how well his counterpart Jimmy Clausen will perform in the Big House.

September 08, 2007

Nittany Lions Dominate In Happy Valley

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Beaver Stadium was being referred to as the "White House" and if we continue with that theme then on Saturday night Penn State linebacker Dan Connor was the Commander in Chief.
Connor anchored a stingy Penn State defense that led the Nittany Lions to an impressive 31-10 victory over Notre Dame in front of 110,078 fans, the vast majority of which were wearing white.

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Insult To Injury

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Today was not Jimmy Clausen's best day. He orchestrated a successful drive late in the fourth quarter but threw an interception in the endzone to stall the drive. Penn State's Justin King secured the interception. There is under six minutes to go in the game.

Fans Pack the "White House"

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Today's attendance was announced as 110,078, the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history. The vast majority of the energetic crowd wore white to the game.

Icing On The Cake

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State adds to its lead with an Austin Scott touchdown run that culminated a 10-play drive. The Nittany Lions now have a commanding 31-10 lead with 7:40 remaining. There is little hope for Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame.

Price Is Right

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Geoff Price, Notre Dame's punter, is becoming a familiar face for the Beaver Stadium crowd. Notre Dame goes three and out again and Price came on to punt for the ninth time tonight. The Irish have shown no ability to move the ball on the Nittany Lions whatsoever.

End Of The Third

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Time is running out for the Irish. They start the fourth quarter down 24-10 and Penn State has the ball in Notre Dame territory.

Starting To Pull Away

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A 1-yard touchdown leap by Austin Scott gives Penn State its biggest lead of the game. The Nittany Lions now lead 24-10 with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter. The touchdown was set up by a beautiful 51-yard pass completion from Anthony Morelli to receiver Chris Bell. It is still early but the way Notre Dame has been struggling on offense, this 14-point lead may be insurmountable.

Irish Settle For Three

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Notre Dame's offensive woes continue. Given amazing field position the Fighting Irish could only muster a field goal. Penn State now leads 17-10 with 8:16 left in the third quarter.

Back In The Game

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Just like that Notre Dame has a glimmer of hope. Punt returner Tom Zbikowski, who has already forced two fumbles today, returned a Penn State punt to the Penn State 7-yard line. Can Clausen and Notre Dame capitalize?

Nothing Doin'

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Notre Dame is stuck in reverse. The Fighting Irish could not answer Penn State and for the seventh time tonight were forced to punt. Once again, Notre Dame went three and out.

Jump Start

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Nittany Lions quickly added to their lead with a 37-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly with 13:13 left in the third qaurter to give Penn State a 17-7 lead. The field goal was set up by speedy kick returner A.J. Wallace who returned the kickoff 68 yards, much to the liking of the Penn State crowd. Notre Dame will have to get busy if it wants to come back against Penn State.

14-7 At Half

For the first time tonight the rowdy Penn State student section can sit down - because it's halftime. They can relax happy knowing that their Nittany Lions have a 14-7 lead at halftime despite three turnovers.

Continue reading "14-7 At Half" »

Dropping the Ball

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - For the third time tonight, Penn State has turned the ball over. This time Anthony Morelli fumbled and gave Notre Dame the ball at Penn State's 44-yard line. The Penn State defense has forced Notre Dame to go three and out twice in a row and Clausen has been constantly pressured in the pocket.

Lions Take The Lead

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State takes the lead with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Morelli to Jordan Norwood. Kevin Kelly kicked the extra point to make it a 14-7 Nittany Lion lead with 6:37 left in the half. Morelli and the Penn State offense seem to have relaxed and settled into a groove. Can Jimmy Clausen and Fighting Irish answer?

Pick Six

STATE COLLEGE, Penn - The Irish strike first. Notre Dame cornerback Darrin Walls returned an Anthony Morelli interception for a touchdown with 8:23 left in the first quarter. The Fighting Irish steal momentum and take a 7-0 lead. Prior to the touchdown, Notre Dame got the ball first and drove down the field with ease but kicker Nate Whitaker missed a 50-yard field goal. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen looked steady in his first drive and completed five passes but they were all of the screen variety and he never looked down the field. The Beaver Stadium crowd contributed to a false start call on the first play of the drive.

Penn State-Notre Dame Preview

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - We are about 15 minutes from kickoff in Happy Valley and there is a truly electric atmosphere inside and outside of Beaver Stadium. A raucous crowd of well over 100,000 fans is expected and legions of Penn State fans wearing white for the "white out" of Beaver Stadium have already begun to take their seats and cheer. The hostile atmosphere does not bode well for Notre Dame's true freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who is making his first career start. The venue couldn't be much tougher for Clausen and he will also have to deal with Dan Connor, Justin King and a tough Penn State defense.

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September 01, 2007

One team is ramblin', the other's a wreck

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - We started today's coverage with several questions that have been answered. However, today's 33-3 thrashing of Notre Dame by Georgia Tech has left us with some new ones...

Continue reading "One team is ramblin', the other's a wreck" »

Grade A Choice

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Tashard Choice picked up another 59 yards on the latest Georgia Tech touchdown drive. The drive ended with Choice going up the middle 7 yards for the score. Choice now has 196 yards and 2 TDs on 26 carries.

This followed a three-and-out by the Irish, during which Sharpley was hit hard once on a sack and after he threw on another play. The Irish offensive line is having a lot of problems with Tech's blitzes in particular. It seems like Sharpley is having to dodge three or four guys every time he drops back.

Irish on the board

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Evan Sharpley started the second half for Notre Dame and was pretty efficient leading the team down the field for what ended up being a disappointing field goal.

Sharpley, when given time, threw the ball well, completing 5 of 6 on the drive. He converted two third downs and a fourth down on the drive. He even completed a pass after fumbling on a fake handoff.

Running the ball still isn't working because Tech is getting great penetration against the Irish line. That's what makes the final play call of the drive so baffling. On 3rd and inches at the 2, Notre Dame handed off to Travis Thomas off tackle and he lost four yards. That play lost yardage the previous two times they ran it on that drive. That forced ND to take the three points.

I expect we'll continue to see Sharpley as long as it's still working.

Georgia Tech right tackle AJ Smith injured his elbow and is out for the game.

Bennett trying to keep Irish in it

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Taylor Bennett's accuracy issues are keeping Notre Dame's fading hopes alive. When he saw Greg Smith open in the end zone, he got so excited that he overthrew him by 15 yards. That's the second time he's done that today. On the next play, a short pass to a wide open James Johnson only got about 3/4 of the way there.

Tech ended up settling for the fourth Travis Bell FG of the game and leads 19-0.

Ugly half for ND

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - If the first half is any indication, it could be a long year for Notre Dame.

Demetrius Jones was ineffective at quarterback. He only completed 1-3 passes for 4 yards and had only 28 yards rushing on 12 carries.

The switch to Sharpley worked for two plays, which were completed passes for nine yards. After that, he took a beating on some delayed blitzes that the line didn't pick up.

In fact, Jones was under a lot of duress when he tried to pass also. Notre Dame's line is being bamboozled, and sometimes just manhandled by Georgia Tech. The Irish weren't even pretending to mount a passing game in the first half, but the run wasn't doing much either.

When the Irish have done some good things, they have shot themselves in the foot to make up for it. The most egregious error was Brown's penalty and ejection after the Irish stopped Georgia Tech on third down. That turned out to be a seven point mistake.

Tech was also very committed to the run early, and that is still the bread-and-butter for the Yellow Jackets. Tashard Choice had 16 carries for 110 yards and a score in the first half and he's been the best player on the field by far. Choice has now gone over 100 yards for the eighth straight game, a Georgia Tech record.

The Jackets will be without safety Joe Gaston in the second half after he went out with an injured hamstring. CB Jahi Word-Daniels left with a head injury and may yet return.

The only thing injured on the Irish sideline is their pride. We'll see what they have in the second half, which will start with Tech receiving the kick.

Trying to get sharper

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Evan Sharpley has entered the game at QB for the Irish with 2:38 to go. Notre Dame wasn't even attempting to mount a passing attack with Jones in the game, but with the two-minute drill on, it was time to switch.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Justin Brown of Notre Dame was just ejected for a blow to the head after the play. Brown, a senior, committed the infraction after the Irish had stopped Tech on a 3rd down play. The guy sitting next to me just said what I was thinking: I wouldn't want to be Brown in practice this week.

Two plays later, Tashard Choice goes around end 22 yards for a TD. GT leads 16-0.

My how things have changed

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With 8:50 to go in the half, Notre Dame has just completed its first pass of the game (on only two attempts). Brady Quinn's records appear to be safe.

Ringing the Bell

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Notre Dame defense stopped Georgia Tech all the way out at the Irish 23, but Travis Bell hit his 3rd FG of the game to make the score 9-0.

In spite of a bad case of greasy fingers, Jones is still quarterbacking the Irish.

Line of the day

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Following the play-by-play on the internet, the last fumble by Demetrius Jones read like this:

"D. Jones rushed up the middle for no gain. D. Jones fumbled. D. Jones recovered fumble and returned for 12 yards"

It was recovered by DJ Jones of Georgia Tech and returned to the ND 45.

A flag on the play was picked up because the ref who threw it meant to throw his beanbag, but grabbed the wrong thing.

Getting some answers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - One quarter in and we're getting some early answers to our questions.

ND starting QB?: Demetrius Jones. He's been the only one out there so far.

Can ND replace other skill position players?: So far, not much happening in the running game and the passing game has been a big zero.

Is the Irish defense better?: It's been a wall from its own 10-yard line in. The other 90 yards are still a problem. Tech has had three series and on the first play of those series, they have a total of 55 yards and five plays of double-digit yardage.

How about Taylor Bennett: He got off to a slow start, but completed three passes on the last drive. He missed two possible TD passes though. One he overthrew badly and one he threw to the wrong guy.

A blocked FG attempt has kept the game 6-0 at the first quarter break.

Passing on passing

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Both teams have decided to stick to the running game so far. Each team has attempted only one pass and neither was completed.

Tech took over at Notre Dame's 48 after a shanked punt and, just like last time, marched right down to the Irish 10 before stalling and kicking a field goal.

Highly touted freshman QB Josh Nesbitt came in for one play on that drive. He faked and handoff and ran up the middle for no gain.

The Yellow Jacket's offense has more a a rhythm so far. Notre Dame is struggling to get anything going and the crowd is pretty much out of the game.

This one counted

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The second time Jones dropped back to pass for the Irish, he panicked in the face of the rush and got careless with the ball. Jamal Lewis knocked the ball loose and Tech recovered at the Irish 32.

Tech RB Tashard Choice went for 22 yards on the first play, putting him over 2000 for his career. He is the ninth Tech RB to reach that mark.

The Irish defense stiffened after that play forcing Tech to settle for a FG and leads 3-0.

Someone behind me is struggling with the "No Cheering in the Press Box" rule. Actually, that implies an effort to comply, which isn't really happening.

After further review...

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -The fumble was overturned by replay, so Notre Dame kept the ball, and as expected, Demetrius Jones led the Irish onto the field.

The review gave those of us in the press box to catch the end of the App St-Michigan game. I think the replay ref was watching that game too.

Is there something going on here?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - We're sitting in the press box at Notre Dame completely oblivious to what's going on beyond the glass because we all have our faces pressed into our computers tracking Appalachian State's upset attempt of Michigan. I think this game is about to start, but nobody here cares.

We thought we were about to find out who the Irish QB would be, but they fumbled the kick, so Tech starts at the ND 29.

More questions than answers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With the opening of the 2007 season about an hour away for Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, We find that both teams have a lot more questions than answers right now...

Continue reading "More questions than answers" »


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