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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Irish Stand Up to Huskies

posted by John Vannie
Notre Dame’s defense rose up late in the game to give Jimmy Clausen and the offense a chance to come back in a 37-30 overtime victory against the Washington Huskies. The Irish stonewalled quarterback Jake Locker in three goal line series to rescue the team from certain defeat, while Robert Hughes’ touchdown in overtime finally silenced the upset-minded visitors. Clausen’s 422 passing yards, 244 of them to Golden Tate, and five field goals by Nick Tausch led the attack.

Washington closed out a see-saw first half with a 40-yard field goal by Eric Folk for a 17-16 lead. Clausen had surrendered seven points when his backward screen pass to Armando Allen hit the ground and was scooped up by Desmond Trufant and returned 17 yards for a touchdown. Clausen later scrambled out of the pocket and hit Golden Tate, who broke several tackles on his way to a 67 yard score. Tate finished with nine receptions and 244 receiving yards on the day.

Notre Dame squandered a few chances to reach the end zone, but Tausch was perfect throughout. The Irish tried to regain the lead in the opening series of the third quarter, and it appeared they were on their way when another reception by Tate covered 77 yards to the Husky two yard line. Three unsuccessful plays later, an excellent scoring chance became Tausch’s fourth field goal.

Trailing 19-17, Locker quickly drove Washington to paydirt for a 24-19 lead and was back in striking distance as the third period came to a close. Notre Dame jammed Locker on a third down sneak from the one, and Ethan Johnson beat the Husky left guard and stuffed Locker one play later to give the ball back to the Irish.

Hughes helped his team get out from the shadow of its own goal and later rumbled 37 yards to the Husky seven, but once again Notre Dame could not find the end zone. Tausch connected again and cut Washington’s lead to 24-22 with 12:23 remaining in regulation.

The Husky ground game started to click as Chris Polk ripped off runs of 19 and 16 yards to bring his team back to the red zone. Polk appeared to score a few plays later from three yards out, but he was ruled down at the one yard line. Washington could not punch it in as Toryan Smith made a key stop on third down. Coach Steve Sarkisian ordered a field goal, but Notre Dame’s Ian Williams was called for roughing the snapper on the attempt and the personal foul gave the Huskies another set of downs from the two.

The penalty call appeared to be marginal if not completely fictitious, but Sarkisian took the field goal off the board and the Irish dug in once again. As time ticked away and the Irish apparently headed for a nine point deficit, it appeared they had run out of late game miracles. Once again, the defense rose to the occasion. The Huskies were stymied by a false start and a touchdown saving tackle by Kyle McCarthy before yet another sneak by Locker went nowhere.

Washington took the field goal this time for a 27-22 lead, but Notre Dame was still breathing with three minutes left. Clausen wasted no time in moving into scoring position. The Heisman candidate zipped passes to three wide receivers before finding tight end Kyle Rudolph in the end zone from 12 yards out. The comeback was completed and the Irish led 30-27 when Hughes would not be denied on the two point conversion. He had help on the play from guard Chris Stewart, who used his considerable bulk to move the pile across the goal line.

Clausen’s only error was that he left 1:20 on the clock for the Huskies after his clutch scoring drive, and Locker took full advantage. The key play as Washington raced against the clock was a 37-yard strike to James Johnson that brought the ball into field goal range. Folk hit the tying points with just six seconds left and the teams headed to overtime.

Notre Dame took the ball first and Clausen immediately hit Tate for 22 yards to the three yard line. Hughes burst through moments later and the Irish drew first blood. Locker could not answer this time as the Irish were all over him and his receivers. Kerry Neal recorded a sack between a pair of incompletions. A desperate fourth down pass was broken up when McCarthy and Harrison Smith clobbered D’Andre Goodwin, and the jubilant Irish players poured onto the field.

Now at 4-1, the team will take a well-deserved week off before USC comes to town on October 17. Notre Dame fans also need a rest from a month of heart-stopping finishes, since a penchant for close games appears to be anything but coincidence this season. There were nearly 1,000 yards gained and plenty of great plays on both sides, but the multiple defensive stands by the Irish will be remembered for years to come. Each team had missed opportunities in the red zone and other costly mistakes, but the overall play was not sloppy despite intermittent rainfall.

Let’s review the answers to questions that helped determine the outcome:

Will the Irish defense contain Locker sufficiently to get off the field on third down? Generally speaking, the Irish did a good job. Locker kept a drive alive on the first possession leading to a score, but the rush kept him contained thereafter.

Can Notre Dame’s offensive line keep Clausen from getting substantial pressure? The Huskies managed to make Clausen scramble quite frequently, but his mobility was much better this week.

Will Washington find its running game against the Irish front seven? Yes. Polk ran 22 times for 136 yards and the Huskies outgained the Irish on the ground.

Will the Irish special teams be able to contribute in the scoring column? Tausch scored 17 of Notre Dame’s 37 points.

Can Crist put points on the board if he plays substantial minutes? Dayne sat this one out as Clausen was needed on every Irish snap.

Will a backup wide receiver help Irish fans forget about the loss of Michael Floyd? Robbie Parris and Shaquelle Evans pitched in with six catches for 80 yards.

Can Notre Dame put away the Huskies before the fourth quarter? No – Washington was still breathing after the fourth quarter.

The Irish defense needed this effort to build a measure of confidence before the Trojans come to town. There were still far too many instances of poor tackling, but a few players made strides. Manti Te'o recorded ten tackles in a starting role and Brian Smith made plays from the middle linebacker position. Ethan Johnson had perhaps his best game as did Kerry Neal, and Gary Gray stood out at cornerback.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good summary.

There are some definite things to work on, but overall, I was impressed with the offense. The OL did a good job playing physical, exemplified by the 2 point conversion, which was PURE heart.

Clausen, again, had a solid day. Golden Tate was an absolute force. I'm scared to see how good this offense would be with Floyd still in there.

The defense is getting better each week. I was glad to see them get some pressure on Locker and force the fumble. And that hit at the end of the game? McCarthy LAID THAT GUY OUT! I don't like to see anyone hurt, but he knocked him out cold. So I'm happy to see ND playing physical. Good job McCarthy.

Beat SC!

10/04/2009 03:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Irish did exactly what they had to do to win this game against a far better Washington team than many gave them credit for being. I believe the real story rests in the fact the Irish didn't give up, and the defense was tremendous when it was needed. Weis deserves credit for much of this.

10/04/2009 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arrrrg. I can't take this anymore. Too close for comfort.

10/04/2009 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When considering good defensive play, I thought Kapron Lewis-Moore also had a pretty good game.

10/04/2009 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger AJG Jr. said...

Why does noone care that once again, Pac-10 refs tried to stick it to notre dame? that has to be the first time all season throughout all of college football that "roughing the snapper" was callled. HOW do you make that call? after a goalline stand???? you're going to make up bogus penalty? a lifetimes worth of kudos to the Irish D for finding the legs and heart to defend their goal 3 more times.

10/04/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous OC Irish said...

Regarding officiating, I was just waiting for a "pushing" call after Hughes' gusty rumble for the 2-point conversion. Then I remembered they don't make call that in our house. Phew!

10/04/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am happy with the "W." But I am not delusional. Our defense -- despite the goal line stands -- is really not any better. The bottom feeders of the Big 10 and PAC 10 have torched us. Frankly, we had our best defensive game against Nevada and it has been all downhill from there. Poor tackling and poor fundamentals made an average Washington RB look like OJ Simpson. We better get better over the next two weeks or USC is going to bring us crashing down to reality. Not to mention about three other future opponents. We either improve quickly or this still has the potential to turn into a very ugly year.

10/04/2009 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Scranton Dave said...

AJG, probably cause the Irish won such an emotonal game, people kind of forgot that call. The Pac 10 refs are just as bad if not worse than the Big 10 refs. That call was blatant cheating just like some of the calls in the Michigan gameand the play where Floyd was hurt. Good W, but the D needs to be better to beat USC. Go Irish

10/04/2009 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a very good column on the game, very factual and reported in deatail. I took one thing from this game that I am so glad was evident, there were several examples of the inteligent, nasty football team that we have been hoping for. Mcarthy,Smith, Williams, Manti, Smith, Neal, Stewart, Olsen, all have shown ferocity and that nasty effort. Great show! CW is getting this whole thing put together nicely.

10/04/2009 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger DMW said...

One should mention the complete lack of coverage that kept Washington's drives going.

And again the OT would continue if the WR didn't miss the 3rd down pass when wide open.

10/04/2009 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that we finally learned two things about this team...one, they dont quit...two we have a field goal kicker...

for the first part...I'm very proud of this team and how they fight and claw...they remind me of a tough irish street fighter who scraps and claws and never backs down...You have to love this team..

Seriously...we are one play and several bad calls from the mich game from being ranked no. 4 in the country....we all know we were robbed in the mich game..

If we can just hold on til floyd comes back for the Pitt game...we can run the table go irish

Irish Mike

10/04/2009 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the officiating.
After the roughing the center call (???) one fan at Hennessey's in San Diego said "Upon further review, the Huskies win!"

10/04/2009 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pac-10 refs were bad, and helped out UW. But, overturning the Polk touchdown, and not even reviewing the 2 point conversion where the guy was sitting down before he fell over the line, is pretty bad too. I'd say the latter is worse and the refs benefited the irish more than the huskies, but still think ND earned the win with the way the D-line held them and the way the o-line protected clausen.

Clausen looks good, but I can't tell if it is because he really is, or if because the o-line gives him ten years to throw the ball.

10/04/2009 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The roughing the snapper was b.s. but the refs essentially gave us the game. Check the two point conversion. I am 100% certain that Hughes was down before the ball crossed the plane. Thank goodness it wasn't reviewed. I'm not sure about the polk reversal - it didn't look like a touchdown to me, but the evidence looked far from indisputable. The calls in the Michigan game didn't really cost us the game...now Michigan State on the other hand...

Our guys played their hearts out and I'm very proud of them, but we got lucky with a non-call that proved decisive.

On an unrelated note, how sweet is it to see Sarkisian and Holt screaming for an assisting the runner penalty and being denied. That's karma b*tches

10/04/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 - the Washington touchdown was a touchdown and should not have been reversed.
2 - the 2-pt. conversion was not a conversion since his knee was down and should have been reviewed and reversed.
3 - the game is over and we get the big fat W!!!
4 - Congrats team and CW on month of hard fought and "scrappy" finishes...last year the operative word would have been "crappy" but this team has the IT factor.
- dorfND90 - GO IRISH!!!

10/04/2009 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree there were some bad calls, but you guys sound like a bunch of idiots...the refs were from the Big East.

I am happy with the defensive stands inside the 5 yard line, but what about the rest of the field. We tackled very poorly AGAIN and didn't finish drives. We should have won by 2 TDs

10/04/2009 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

umm...the refs on the field were pac-10 and the replay booth refs were big east. before calling people idiots, do some research. when we(nd) go on the road, we take big east refs for the field and the home team uses their replay refs. when we are the home team, the visitors bring their conference refs for the field and we supply big east refs for the replay booth. the only exception is when notre dame goes to michigan, because it is in the contract for them to have big 10 refs at home. and when michigan comes to south bend, there are big east refs.

needless to say, these refs tried to decide the game for themselves rather than let the teams decide it. calls went both ways and points were taken off the board for both teams. this is another example of why we need ncaa refs with no conference tie ins. i hate the nfl but we need a ref union like theirs if there is going to be any hope for refs in the future.

10/04/2009 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to bring bad news, but ND has squeaked by 3 teams with losing records. They now face 6 of 7 teams with winning records (Five of which have 1 loss). Get ready for a 7-5 send off for the Chuckster.

10/05/2009 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know what your talking about. This team will win at least 10, if not 11.

10/05/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Washington beat USC but, now they are no good : (

ND fans are worse than ND haters.

10/05/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:04 on 10/5:

What happened to our easy schedule filled with incompetent teams?
If 6/7 remaining teams have winning records at this point in the season, it will be interesting, but you will be proven wrong in your assessment of the season and what happens to Charlie. He will be back next year when the Irish are ranked in the top 5. When the final review is written on this season, the Irish will have played 9-10 teams with winning records, and I believe at least 7 will play in bowl games. An easy schedule?

10/05/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you freakking kidding me..... How do you guys not win every single game you play when you have the refs int he Bag for you.... Its a joke playing you guys.... Pol;k is a td your homer ref in the review booth overturns it? What? The two point conversion HIS KNEE IS DOWN.. your homer ref in the review box does not even take a look at it.. if you guys dont go 13 - 0 there is something wrong with you.... Man its hard watching when the game is already determined....

10/05/2009 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The booth Big East officials beat the field Pac-10 officials in overtime.

10/05/2009 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for the past few years we have been asking coach weis to turn his recruits in to winners. I have come to believe that his recruits are turning Coach Weis into a true ND coach..I have the feeling that this team has ability to make history when they realize how good they are. 71 yr fan.

10/05/2009 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Michael T. Heider, P.A. said...

Didn't the Irish start in the top five under Weis once already? Not to bring up a sore subject, but this guy is the Peter Principle brought to life. Give me half his salary and I could get close to 1-13 against teams who finish in the top 25. At least some underprivileged kids could use the extra money for tuition.

10/05/2009 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Scranton Dave said...

The refs have it in the bag for us? How bout that roughing the snapper call? How bout TDs taken off the board by replay against Michigan and Michigan St? How bout a ridiculous celebration penalty on Allen vs Michigan? How bout several phantom holding calls and how bout not calling tackling out of bounds late hits by Michigan St when they were called against us? Go post on your own teams message boards moron.

10/05/2009 08:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm as happy as any fan that ND is 4-1 but they still can't seem to just lay the wood on a foe. I know it's easy to say but if Holtz was the coach ND would have pulverized Washington by at least three scores.

It's a little disconcerting that they yielded 170 rushing yards to a Wash team that is one of the worst rushing teams in NCAA. Does this mean USC will get 300?

ND is far from bad but they do have some weaknesses they must shore up to have any chance at beating SC. Sometimes I think the only way for ND to regain dominance over SC is for Pete Carroll to leave or for Urban Meyer to become ND's head coach.

10/06/2009 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Vannie, I know it's a little off topic, but not really. My son wants some ND football cards for the 2009 team. Where can I find them? Thanks.

10/07/2009 03:49:00 PM  

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