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The good, the bad, the ugly: USC

Oct 18, 2009, 10:00 AM EDT

Waking up today, it still feels the same way. Another heart-breaker against the hated Trojans, and Irish fans have to be wondering when this losing streak will come to an end. I haven’t rewatched the game yet, but I can’t stop thinking about three or four close plays that the Irish secondary almost made on some of Barkley’s tight throws. While visions of Anthony McCoy galloping down the field with haunt the Irish faithful, it was the near misses and almost interceptions that still get at my gut.

As usual, here’s the good, bad, and ugly from Saturday’s loss to the Trojans.

THE GOOD

The spirit of the Irish has to be something that people feel good about. For Irish fans, there had to be a moment in the 4th quarter that was bordering on despair. How can this be happening? How can Notre Dame still be losing by 20 points to the Trojans after five years of Weis? Yet even though most in the stands or in front of their TVs didn’t believe, the Irish did, and they mounted a rally that could’ve been… well, you know. Sorting through the stats, a few things jump out at me. Notre Dame had 6 more first downs than the Trojans, but couldn’t match the massive chunks of yardage that the Trojans were piling up. Jimmy Clausen played courageously, running for his life and still having a great day at the office. But a loss is a loss. Taken as a single entity, I’d argue this game was a good loss (if you believe in those). Yet looking at the totality of it all — eight games and running — and people start getting antsy. If there’s a good, the Irish offense, the heart of both units, and the fight of the team have to be at the forefront.

THE BAD

Schematically, Notre Dame’s passing defense is broken. Matt Barkley had ALL DAY to throw in the pocket, and USC’s ability to create space and throwing lanes on the field just left the Irish secondary hanging out to dry. It feels like a broken record, but Jon Tenuta refuses to hide his intent with blitzes, and the Irish continue to get crushed because of this. Never was this more evident than Damian Williams’ second touchdown reception. It is no secret that USC is dependent on the play-action passing game and rolling the quarterback out, yet for much of the first three quarters, Barkley picked up huge gains on high-percentage throws that had the Irish defense befuddled. Coming into today, the Trojans were only converting 28 percent of their 3rd downs. Today, USC went 6 for 13 — many of those plays huge gainers. While Notre Dame held USC to 3.7 yards a carry, it was the big play in the air that beat the Irish.

THE UGLY

What does Notre Dame need to do to get past the Trojans? The Irish must feel like their luck has to be ready to change, and for a while it seemed like it was. Fumbles were being recovered, clutch 3rd and 4th down conversions, including an epic catch by Robby Parris on a 4th and ballgame that got him a well deserved ovation as he was helped off the field after a horrific face-masking penalty contorted his body into a very scary position. Even the additional play at the end of the game — one last second to get into the end zone and get the chance to take the game to overtime or go for the two-point conversion and play for the win. Can you imagine the place in Irish lore this come-from-behind win would’ve had? Can you imagine how long you’d talk about Weis’ decision to go for 2 and the win, or an overtime thriller? There’d be t-shirts selling in the bookstore for years. That’s what hurts the most for Irish fans. One more stomach punch against the Trojans, another year of listening to the taunts and jeers of Southern Cal fans, and another 13 months before the Irish have to travel to Los Angeles and face a team that will then have Matt Barkley playing in his second full season. There was no better time for the Irish to walk away victorious, and that’s the part that has to hurt the most.

Somebody pass me the Advil. 

  1. kinganthony - Oct 19, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    It is a sad day when Notre Dame fans are happy because their team didn’t lose by double digits. Is being close to USC every 5 years good enough? Ask yourself why your expectations are so low.

  2. dan ergas - Oct 21, 2009 at 9:44 AM

    listen kid, nd fans and team alike arent “happy” with losses to anyone or by any amount. we know our team hit a very low point 2 seasons ago. from that point to present has been a very positive trend. you would like to think that notre dame needs the university of southern california to validate their program. its just the opposite. even in notre dames down years we’re the only school that could go anywhere and draw. we laugh at “you haters” for your insecurity and jealousness.

  3. John - Oct 21, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    You are kidding right? a loss to BC in 2008 17-0 a loss to sc in 2008 38-3 and let us not even talk about syracuse in 2008! Positive trend? Palease daddy!!! The ship is sinking and kinganthony is right on the money! You are accepting mediocrity and you seem to like it!! ND will never be good again until that all you can eat brunch is replaced by a coach that has energy and can motivate period. ND’s D has sucked up all the air this season and after 6 games this slug of a coach is finally getting around to holding them accountable? Clock mgt is CW job and it has now reared it’s ugly head twice this season and both times ND losses! How the hell can you expect this team to achieve great heights when it is their coach who has a real knack for putting them in great postion to Lose!!! Stick a fork in old chuck turn him over he is DONE!! Pitt will crush ND this year and not need four overtimes to do it! If this is what you call real progress Gramps I feel sorry for you.

  4. dan ergas - Oct 21, 2009 at 5:35 PM

    john, your sophmorish attempt at ripping cw and the irish all the while hiding behind your pitt “homer banner” is again laughable!!
    now if youve been posting on this blog for awhile you might have seen some of my posts. i have wanted to see weiss run out of town 2yrs ago. i still dont think hes the answer. i dont have the authority to hire or fire at nd. i am just a fan and rebuted the statement from above, that said we fans were satisfied with moral victories. the FACT of the matter is that from 2yrs ago to present they have made progress. am i satisfied? hell no! can they play and compete in div.1 college ball? hell yes! will you come on to this blog when nd beats your pitt team? i doubt it , sonny
    go irish!!!

  5. SOCAL NATION - Oct 22, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    Dan, the bottomline is scoreboard. Once again the cryin’ irish lose to the better team and the better coach. Next year’s result will be the same. Deal with it!

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