And it didn't go the way head coach Charlie Weis would've liked it, either. I can promise you that.
Once again, let's look at the good, the bad and the ugly. We'll start with the ugly first as I'd rather end on a positive note. This team is 9-1. One has to be positive about that.
Up 33-3 early in the third quarter, the Irish had the chance to put the game away and sit back and watch the young guys play. That didn't happen. What did happen was typical for this Irish team. Yes, they won, but they didn't step on the throats of the opposition when they had the chance to put the game out of reach.
Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not…..at least not in this game. But what happens when Mark Root turns into Dwayne Jarrett or Ted Ginn? That 20-yard reception turns into 60-yard score, and USC and Ohio State are scoring touchdowns instead of field goals.
The thing that really bothered me about this game is the Irish didn't successfully defend a pass all day. No, the Falcons were not perfect throwing the ball, but the Irish secondary didn't make a single play on the ball on a passing play all game.
This was not Matt Leinart, Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. This was Shaun Carney to Mark Root and a host of others. I mean no disrespect to the Falcons, they made plays, but they're not the same caliber of athlete as the Trojans mentioned above. What's more alarming is Air Force made more plays on the ball in the passing game than the Irish.
For an Air Force quarterback to finish 14-of-17, for 205 yards and two touchdowns is almost embarrassing. Yes, the threat of the option makes you very susceptible to the pass, but not on third-and-nine, and Carney was completing those as well.
Notre Dame had six penalties. That's about all that's left to complain about. Ha!
There are too many things to mention, but we should mention most of them.
Attitude: I was very impressed with the attitude of this team coming right out of the gate. This team wanted to dominate and came out ready to play on both sides of the ball. It took the Irish just :54 seconds to score, and another 1:24 to get the ball back after forcing a three-and-out in their first series on defense. The Irish then marched down the field quickly again (3:11) to extend their lead 14-0.
Brady Quinn: I'm just not sure you can ask a player to play any better than Brady Quinn has played since the first half of the Michigan State game. He hasn't been perfect, but he's been about as perfect as you'll ever see a player play in college football. While he didn't have amazing stats on Saturday, his accuracy was outstanding, and he almost looks like a machine with how efficient he's become as a quarterback.
Offensive line: Yes, Darius will get a game ball as well, but this unit was BLOWING up the opposition. You can ask those in attendance watching the game with me, I haven't smiled that much in a game since those great Joe Moore lines of yesteryear.
Little things: Charlie Weis and the Irish are going to win A LOT of football games at Notre Dame because Weis's teams do all the little things. Most important, they don't turn the ball over and they didn't again on Saturday. They also didn't give up any big plays in special teams, although they did get a few kicks blocked. The most important thing is to not beat yourself, like they did against Michigan, but that was an anomaly and certainly not the norm for a Weis-led team.
Darius Walker: It always amazes me how "fast" Walker looks when given some running room.
Chinedum Ndukwe: Anytime you end up with 22 tackles, you played well. And most important, "Nedu" didn't miss many tackles, if any. The guy played like a champion, and it was clearly obvious he was asked to do a lot on Saturday.
The Great Warrior: Yeah, I'm going to throw this out there because I know my man won't disappoint me against USC. Nobody wants to beat USC more than this guy. Derek Landri is as good as Chris Zorich. Yes, I said it. He's the best interior D-lineman since Zorich, and he might even be able to top him if he can get into the backfield like I think he will against USC. The guy has just played outstanding football this year. Note: That Laws kid is pretty good, too—come back Trevor, please!
Young guys: Anyone get the feeling that John Ryan and Toryan Smith are going to play a lot of football for the Irish next year? I especially like what I see when No. 90 gets on the field. And those minutes were quality for both he and Smith.
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