Twenty-four hours later, the victory feels the same. The Irish did what they needed: they took care of business.
The Irish piled up 592 yards of offense, 255 of it on the ground, and the Irish took a 30-7 lead into half and cruised to a 40-14 victory.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly against Washington State.
Let’s give a round of applause to the depth chart. The Irish got everyone that was healthy on the two-deep into the game, with the exception of the Armando Allen, Bobby Burger, and Andrew Nuss (who I swear I saw playing with the second unit up front). Anytime you can get everyone into the game and get some live-action reps, you’ve got to be happy with what happened.
While Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen have put a season-long reserved sign on their seat in the good section, here’s a tip of the cap to Robert Hughes. Hughes had 24 carries for 131 yards, and added 51 more receiving yards on four catches. 181 yards of all-purpose yards is a nice evening at the office for the bruising runner who looked plenty nimble. It’d be wrong not to mention Nick Tausch as well, who set a Notre Dame record when he made his 14th consecutive field goal.
I’m struggling to find anything to categorize as bad, but the Irish effort in the 3rd quarter was certainly… lacking. I’ve also got to say that Eric Olsen certainly didn’t play his best game as a Notre Dame center, committing two personal fouls and absolutely whiffing on a screen pass block that would’ve allowed Kyle Rudolph to walk into the end zone on a nifty play-call by head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish made it two consecutive games with 8 penalties, which needs to be a point of emphasis this week, as the Irish play a perennially disciplined Navy squad that will need Irish mistakes to capitalize on.
The injury to Dayne Crist. Nobody wants to see the future quarterback of the Irish potentially hobbled with a season ending knee injury, especially if Jimmy Clausen leaves early for the NFL. Not to look too far ahead, but that’d leave the Irish empty at quarterback for Spring Practice, and would significantly delay the developmental gains Crist would get working with the returning receivers and running backs (which hopefully include Golden Tate).
From the sounds of it, Weis is more optimistic today than he was yesterday, but we won’t know anything until the MRI takes place Monday.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that it’s not as bad as we originally thought it was,” Weis said Sunday evening. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed on that. He was tested, and the knee was a lot more stable than we thought it would be. There’s a chance it will be better than we thought it would be, but we’ll wait for the test.”
It bears mentioning that Evan Sharpley’s decision to return for a fifth year, even though it was clear that he wasn’t the backup quarterback to Jimmy Clausen anymore, is a huge safety net for the Irish. Having someone like Sharpley, who understands the offense as well as anyone else on the roster, gives Notre Dame the ability to run it’s core offense, which looks to be expanded with the return of Michael Floyd.