Next Please

What do you take from Notre Dame's 34-10 sluggish victory over Syracuse? You might want to crumple it up and forget it like I do with many of my stories. It certainly wasn't pretty; it wasn't impressive, it wasn't convincing, but it was an important win because it moved the Irish to within a step of a BCS invitation.

From the opening three-and-out series until the final seconds ticked off the final game in Notre Dame Stadium in the 2005 season, the Irish offense failed to hit stride against a very average Syracuse defense. Thankfully the Notre Dame defense did what it was supposed to do, by shutting down a very bad Syracuse offense.

One player that was ready to play was defensive tackle Derek Landri. Since the USC game, where he spent all afternoon in the Trojan backfield, Landri has average nearly six tackles a game and he's been one of the primary reasons the Irish defense has played so well . He continues to beat the offensive player off the ball, often redirecting a running back, and often times Landri is the player along the defensive front that creates the most pressure on opposing quarterback. He doesn't get near the credit he deserves, and he's been one of the consistent bright spots on the Irish defense all season.

On offense, the line never really got going. If you're going to dominate an inferior opponent, your offensive line needs to open gaping holes in the defense. For the most part that didn't happen on Saturday. Often times Darius Walker would get to the hole only to find one or two defender zeroing in on him. The Irish did seem to have some success running right at the Orange defense, but more often than not Weis decided to get Walker to the corner and let him find his hole.

To compound matters quarterabck Brady Quinn struggled more than he had all year, and he admitted as much in his post-game press conference. Quinn completed just 57 percent of his passes for 270 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He admitted he didn't have a great game, or even a good game. I think I recall him using the word "worst." To a large extent this team wouldn't be where it is now without Quinn. I do suspect Miami's quarterback, Kyle Wright, would trade his 14-of-31, 201 yards, one touchdown and one interception performance with Quinn if he could. My point is, it happens, and it will happen to even great players like Quinn--thankfully it happened against Syracuse.

There isn't one spot you can identify as the cause of Notre Dame's sluggish performance against Syracuse. It was a team effort to be sure, but the players on this team won't look back in 15 years and say "and remember the Syracuse game of 2005?" Things like this happen. Teams come out flat, and they under perform. Irish fans should be okay with this, because while Notre Dame hasn't played a complete game since the USC game, their margin of victory since that loss has been by more than 22 points per game.


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