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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tate Leads Irish Romp

posted by John Vannie
Golden Tate's leaping reception of a Hail Mary touchdown pass capped a dominant 30-7 first half, and Notre Dame coasted to a 40-14 victory over undermanned Washington State on Saturday in San Antonio. The Irish improved to 6-2 on the season as they outgained the Cougars by 592-206.

Both teams started slowly as Notre Dame settled for a field goal on its opening drive and was forced to punt moments later. Meanwhile, Washington State did not record a first down on its first three possessions. Tate provided a spark late in the first quarter when he exploded for consecutive runs of 10 and 33 yards out of the Wildcat formation. Jimmy Clausen followed with a scoring pass to Duval Kamara and the Irish were in business.

Notre Dame led 16-0 when Tate capped another long drive with a 16 yard burst, and later stretched the lead to 23-0 before the Cougars finally got on the board with a pass from Jeff Tuel to Jared Karstetter. Clausen tried to move his team into scoring territory in the final minute of the half, but penalties plagued the Irish as the clock ticked down and the band assembled on the sidelines.

Clausen refused to take a knee, however, and managed to reach midfield with seven seconds remaining. The play call was a Hail Mary pass in the end zone to the triple-covered Tate, but the heave was perfect and Tate was literally up to the task. The junior outfought the defenders for the ball as they fell to the ground in a heap. When the officials unscrambled the players and looked at the replay, the touchdown was confirmed and Notre Dame led by 30-7.

The Irish were driving for a third quarter score when Clausen was tripped and reinjured his aching turf toe. Nick Tausch converted a field goal for a 33-7 advantage and Dayne Crist came in at quarterback to finish the game with 18 minutes remaining. Notre Dame’s defense continued to play well and Washington State rarely threatened to cross midfield. An interception by Robert Blanton put an immediate end to the one possession where Washington State started in good field position.

Crist looked rusty at first, but he rifled a deep post pass to John Goodman at the ten minute mark of the final period. Goodman took the pass in stride and completed a 64-yard score. Unfortunately, this was the high mark for Crist as he suffered a knee injury on the next series and did not return. The Cougars scored again against the Irish reserves with a few minutes left for the final margin of 40-14.

Other notable performers on offense included Clausen, who was 22 of 27 for 268 yards on an assortment of crisp, intermediate passes. Robert Hughes ran for 139 yards on 24 carries and Theo Riddick pitched in with 51 yards rushing. Kyle Rudolph also enjoyed his best game in a month for Notre Dame with six receptions. Armando Allen and Robbie Parris were held out due to previous injuries and guard Trevor Robinson joined Crist as a casualty in this contest when his ankle was rolled in the first half.

Defensively, the line dominated the Cougars and allowed only two of 11 conversions on third down. The Irish recorded five sacks and had two interceptions, the second by nose tackle Ian Williams on an intended screen pass.

Let’s review the questions that helped determine the margin of victory:

Will Notre Dame reach 200 yards rushing, given that the Cougars allow an average of 215 per game? Yes, they ran for 255 as Tate, Hughes and Riddick impressed behind solid line play.

Will the Irish defensive line take advantage of a weak Washing ton State front line? Absolutely. The Irish did not have to blitz and were constantly in the Cougar backfield.

Can Tuel become the latest freshman quarterback to have remarkable success against the Irish secondary? Tuel was only 12 for 23 for 104 yards and two interceptions.

Will Notre Dame’s special teams take advantage of their counterparts? Not really. Punting was poor once again and kickoff coverage was uninspired. The Irish return game did not materialize, either.

At what point will Charlie Weis have the luxury of removing Clausen from the game? That decision was made for him when Clausen limped off the field late in the third period.

Will the Irish enjoy a +3 or better turnover margin? They won this battle 2-0, but it was more than enough against the hapless Cougars.

Notre Dame will now turn its attention to the option attack of the Naval Academy before a high stakes road trip to Pittsburgh. Clausen will continue to play despite the problematic toe, and other starters such as Allen and even Michael Floyd may join him. Robinson may sit out the Navy game in order to be ready for Pitt, but Crist’s injury (knee) looked the most serious. The Irish are fortunate to have Evan Sharpley in reserve if needed.

On the defensive side, the team continues to improve against lesser opponents, but at least the overall health of this unit is good. Notre Dame fans could reflect back on losses to beatable Michigan and USC squads, but a successful November will lessen the sting of those lost opportunities.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently "hanging" with Southern Cal is not a huge achievement.

11/01/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was disappointed when Riddick got the corner on a second half run. He shows good quickness and vision but that play showed he doesn't have another gear. That's ok, but I'm no longer expecting a TD in the return game; just get it to 35.

11/01/2009 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thia should quiet all the haters. We dominated them. Who says we are not BCS bound? The defense is finally gelling and will be stout the rest os the season. Can't wait to face OSU in a bowl.

11/01/2009 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree that hanging with Southern Cal is not a huge achievement. For this program, it represents a huge step forward and I say this notwithstanding the fact that I believe Brian Kelly should be the coach of this team. Oregon may be the best team in the country, and Masoli may be the player of the year. While the Ducks' beatdown of the Trojans was impressive, bear in mind Southern Cal was without their starting tailback, starting tight end (who torched the Irish)and numerous others, and Barkley had a poor night.

11/01/2009 08:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has got to be the longest season ever. There are 4 games left, of which 3 will be tough. 9&3 would be good. 10&2 would be nice but the losses are vs losers like USC & Mich.

11/01/2009 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quiet the "haters"? Who might they be? Because we "dominated" WSU? Can't wait to face "OSU in a bowl?" Who is OSU anyway? OKie State? Ohio State? Oregon State? This is what ND football has degenerated to. No National Title. No BCS Championship Bowl! Just a meet with "OSU" whoever they might be!!! Go Charlie. Give this guy a 50 year extension now!

11/01/2009 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beating this WSU team shouldn't "quiet" anyone. It's nice to win, but this win proves very little.

11/02/2009 03:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on guys, can't you enjoy a great win for a moment. Always the debbie downers.

11/02/2009 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fox Sports thinks the Irish still have a shot at a BCS Bowl, likely the Fiesta.


After watching the Ducks' beatdown of the Trojans, I think a bowl game with those guys would be an incredible shoot-out and great send off for Clausen.

11/02/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one can be upset that we did exactly what we're supposed to do: Beat a bad team handedly.

I find it hard to be too happy, however, b/c Crist's knee injury looked really bad. I hope he's ok.

11/02/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie is hinting that Crist's injury may not be as bad as first thought.

11/02/2009 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

The title "Tate leads" brings up a great point that was made by Bryan Driskell in Irish Sports Daily: Golden Tate needs to sto jawing and taunting so much, and when his inexperienced QB short hops him on a couple throws he needs to be supportive and not throw a mini-tantrum

11/02/2009 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous GamecockTony said...

"...and great send off for Clausen."

Jimmy isn't going anywhere, IMO.
He came to ND to play for a championship and all signs point to next year's team doing just that.

11/02/2009 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most impressive thing about the Irish win over WSU was the offensive line play and the defense. Clausen and Tate are so consistent that you just expect them to excel in every game.
The defense and the offensive line, on the other hand, have been gradually improving. That is important because championships are won with great defenses and good offenses. Ask the coaches and fans from USC and Florida.

11/02/2009 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger IRISH STING said...

Irish Sting says; It's Navy week so get ready for who has the football. This game will show how much improvement we have as we end the season with some good teams. In the past they tripped us up so how will it be this year? If they go 2 and 2 with the talent we have, YUCK! 3 and 1 or 4 and 0, will make for Wait for next Year.
0 and 4 goodbye Charlie hello Brian Kelly.

11/02/2009 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He came to ND to play for a championship and all signs point to next year's team doing just that."

Um, no. He came to ND because he thought Charlie was the best guy to get him to the pros. That's what Jimmie said, I'll take him at his word.

It's a business decision, pure and simple. Don't think it's not. This is not Rudy trying to get into the game, this is millions and millions of dollars. Jimmie is as gone as the setting sun.

11/02/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what if Charlie promised to give Jimmie the millions he would lose by not going pro next year?

Could he do that? Why wouldn't this work? Then we could win the NC and it's a win-win for everyone.

11/02/2009 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't demean Debbie Downer. I used to date her for Christ's sake!!!

11/02/2009 10:32:00 PM  

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