Sep 6, 2009, 8:02 PM EDT
(The Good, The Bad, The Ugly will be a weekly Sunday feature that will put the previous week’s game to bed.)
This is my final wrap up post on the Nevada game. I think as Notre Dame fans, it’s time we turn the page and begin preparing for the big showdown with Michigan in the Big House. That’s not to say that the game yesterday is something we should forget. It isn’t. It’s something that we tuck in our wallet, maybe like that twenty-dollar bill we found in the laundry basket, something that puts a little extra spring in our steps and reminds us that things might be looking up…
I don’t think anybody could be asking for more today. The Irish should be making a leap up in the top 25, and another dominating performance this weekend could propel the team into an echelon where people might stop thinking Lou Holtz is nuts.
Here we go with “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
The opening play was a great sign of what was to come. The Irish came out attacking, looking to get a large chunk of yardage. The throw wasn’t there, Clausen didn’t force it, the offensive line held its ground, and Jimmy turned the play into something positive. From then on out, the offense was clicking. Mister Michael Floyd was one bad dude. Golden Tate’s catch down the sideline and his elusiveness was apparent any time the ball touched his hands. Kyle Rudolph’s catch on 3rd and 16 for a 19-yard touchdown catch was awesome (although he’s going to get a tongue-lashing for his ball security on his first catch). The fact that Notre Dame out-rushed the vaunted running game of Nevada was also a huge plus.
The defense was also exemplary. Anytime you hold a team to zero points is a great thing, and the first shutout of the Charlie Weis era was against a team known for its explosive offense. Forcing three turnovers against a veteran Nevada offense is a great sign of things to come from this Jon Tenuta/Corwin Brown collaboration.
Finally, the preparation for this game was phenomenal. Notre Dame only committed three penalties for 35 yards, didn’t allow a sack, and looked crisp. As Weis said, “it went pretty much like clock work.”
It’s hard to find anything too bad about yesterday, but the fact that Vai Taua ran for 114 yards on 18 carries has me a little worried. The Irish most likely won’t be tested by a power running game next weekend in Ann Arbor, but the need to stop the run will be imperative if the Irish want to beat a team with a power running game like Michigan State.
Seeing James Aldridge go down also has to be classified as bad news, although Weis sounded pretty optimistic about the injury when talking about it to the media.
“He bruised his shoulder,” Weis said. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything major. But we’ll have to wait until I see the doctors tomorrow after, you know, we’ll see him today and see them again tomorrow and they’ll tell me where we are.”
The Nevada Wolf Pack. It’s hard not to feel bad for Nevada and its coach Chris Ault, who was apologetic to Charlie Weis yesterday during the post-game handshake.
“As I told him, I’m sorry we didn’t give him a better game so we could see what his ballclub is like.”
It’s tough to tell if Ault’s Wolf Pack were overwhelmed by a better team, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the game, or a combination of both. In the end, the Wolf Pack walked away with an appreciation of the experience, even if the game was a let down.
“”Great experience,” sophomore running back Vai Taua said. “At the end
of the day, that’s what we have to look at. It was a great experience
and we won’t get another shot like this so I’m going to enjoy it.”