That was my conclusion and I'm sticking to it.
Now remember that I didn't say the Irish would/could beat about anyone. I just said they could play with anyone. But to be honest, I think they could beat a lot of these top 10 teams if they play as efficient on offense as they did on Saturday.
I must admit I had a smile was on my faced as I watched No. 3 USC melt down at Oregon State. The loss probably won't help ND in the long run, but it sure made me smile.
While the Trojans mounted an impressive comeback, I certainly saw an undisciplined and suspect team. The Trojan offensive line was the biggest surprise. They looked very average compared to recent USC lines. The once vaunted Trojan defense also showed a number of holes and were on their heels most of the game. The one bright spot for the Trojans was the play on John David Booty, who I thought had an outstanding game despite the loss. Unfortunately for the Irish, it looked like USC finally put it all together on offense during their spirited comeback.
I spied a very suspect Longhorn defense. No. 5 Texas gave up 519 yards passing and many, many big plays. How Texas Tech lost this game (cough, Mike Leach, cough), I'll never know. Seriously, this game was given back to the Longhorns and they certainly didn't deserve it. But I will say I was impressed with Colt McCoy and the Longhorn offensive firepower. Surprisingly, McCoy and the offense were supposed to be the weak link, not the defense. It certainly looked the other way around on Saturday.
No. 7 Auburn was caught once again with their slip showing. Down 10-7 at the half against Ole Miss? Are you kidding me? The 2-7 Rebels are not a good football team, and the Tigers rebounded to eek out a 23-17 win. Wow, exciting stuff!
No. 8 Tennessee needed 17 points in the fourth quarter to outlast a very average South Carolina team. The Vols were out-gained 395-325 and needed the help of three Gamecock interceptions to limp to a victory. Again, not an impressive win.
No. 9 Florida punched in another Florida-like performance. They won but didn't win many hearts in doing so. 319 total yards of offense doesn't impress anyone. The Gators could only muster 88 total yards in the second half. But the real tragedy was watching the Georgia offense. No, the Florida defense isn't that good. The Bulldog offense is that bad. Who likes watching the SEC? It must be the most boring brand of football known to man.
But what I was most excited about was watching the Irish play a complete game on offense. It wasn't the flashiest performance, but it was definitely a solid day at the park.
I'll take 176 yard rushing every week. We didn't see massive holes, but this same Navy team shut down an impressive Rutgers rushing attack just two weeks prior.
Brady Quinn was very efficient and might've added a few believers in his Heisman campaign.
Yes, the Irish defense looked lost for a bit, but that's what the option does to most teams. They did play very well in the second half once they settled down. The Irish defense surrendered just 72 total yards in the second half and dealt yet another second half shutout. It sure would be nice to see that in the first half as well, but maybe I'm getting greedy.
What Irish fans should be most pleased with is to know Weis is the head man running the show for Notre Dame. I watched bad coaching decision after bad coaching decision on Saturday. Poor clock management, coaches getting too cute, coaches getting too conservative….coaches giving the game away.
The Irish might not be a dominant team, but they are a very well coached team. How do I know? The Irish play disciplined football.
The Michigan game would be the one exception and they were completely demolished because of it.
However, if you throw out the Michigan game, the Irish have turned the ball over just three times in seven games. They haven't given up a big play on special teams all year. After a rough start, the Irish have averaged just 4.75 penalties per game. In the last five games the Irish have surrendered an average of 4.6 points per game in the second half.
If a team never turns the ball over, if a team doesn't shoot themselves in the foot with costly penalties, if a team doesn't make mistakes on special teams, they're going to have a great chance to win a lot of football games.
Some would suggest the Irish haven't played anyone, and I'll admit they haven't played a great team other than Michigan. But Saturday showed that these other top 10 teams have holes and are just as suspect as the Irish….some more so in my eyes.
What really should excite Irish fans is to know Weis won't likely lose many games by errors he'd make in coaching decisions. When it comes to crunch time, the end of the game, the final drive, that's when Weis is at his best. His teams will be disciplined and they won't beat themselves often. But it's so important to have the right guy at the end of the game, and I'm a big believer in Weis at the end of the game. I'm not sure there's anyone better.
Watching this team can be frustrating, but no more so than watching many other teams in the top 10. The most exciting thing to think about is what will happen when Weis has the elite players of college football. Weis along with the very elite athletes…..now that is something to smile about, and Irish fans should see that very soon.
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