Frank Commentary

The Irish did what they had to do on Saturday--dominate Army. In fact, the Irish have done what they had to do all season after their inexplicable loss to Michigan at home in the third game of the season. The table is set and the Irish now have a shot to do something remarkable--at least in my eyes.

Senior day saw a solid performance by the Irish on Saturday, and the Irish will now head into Los Angeles to take on rival USC for a shot (cough) to play for the National Championship. Notre Dame played well for the most part yesterday. Let's take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from Saturday.

The Good

Defense: The Irish defense played outstanding on Saturday allowing just 150 total yards, 1.6 yards per carry and just 2.6 yards per play—about half of those yards came with the second string in the game. Army could do absolutely nothing against the Irish defense.

Derek Landri: I should just make him a permanent member of this column. Seven tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one blocked kick. I said last week that Landri is as good as former Irish great Chris Zorich. Zorich stepped it up a notch in big games. The Irish will need Landri to do the same next weekend to have a chance to win in the Coliseum.

Offensive Line: 6.3 yards per carry. What more can you say? They were very good all day, except on fourth down.

Brady Quinn: Yes, Quinn threw a "what were you thinking" on Saturday, but what's really been impressive to me lately is Quinn's accuracy. He's thrown every pass right on the money the past few games, and that will be important next week. Man, this kid is good.

Darius Walker: I'll tell you what: Those 162 yards on the ground came much harder than they did against Air Force. Walker had a number of impressive runs on Saturday, and he continues to be money in the passing game when Quinn needs him. He'll also need a big game next weekend for the Irish to beat USC.

Rhema McKnight: Belitnekoff finalist Jeff Samardzija usually gets all the headlines, but McKnight has been money this season. His two touchdown grabs were outstanding, giving Rhema 14 touchdown receptions and 58 receptions on the season. Not bad for a guy coming off an ACL injury. Congrats to McKnight on a fine season.

Red Zone: 5-of-5 with five touchdowns. The Irish continue to be outstanding in the red zone.

The Bad

Kickoff coverage: It seems the Irish have one facet of special teams where they struggle every week. This week it was kickoff coverage, and they definitely struggled. Army averaged 60 yards per kickoff return and were just a shoestring tackle away from breaking both returns for touchdowns. I'm sure this will be an area of focus all week. Hopefully the time spent here won't spring another hole somewhere else.

Little things: The Irish committed nine penalties and also had two turnovers, fumbling twice, losing one, and the Quinn interception. I guess if it's going to happen, no better time than against Army. Still, that's very uncharacteristic of a Weis-coached team.

Poor start: I don't think anyone would've thought the Irish would've been shutout in the first quarter against Army. The offense played poorly in the first quarter before finding their stride the rest of the way.

Fourth down: 0-2 on key fourth down plays. I really have no idea why the Irish couldn't push Army off the ball when they needed to. Hopefully that will be fixed by next weekend.

The Ugly

Mark May: I can't find anything ugly from the game, but May is definitely ugly.


Irish fans better get used to the idea that Notre Dame, no matter how bad they might beat USC, won't get a shot to play for the National Championship. The media has already decided that in case you hadn't noticed.

If the Irish win against USC, it won't be good enough for anyone else. Even if the Irish were somehow able to blow out the Trojans at home, the voters will just say USC isn't/wasn't that good.

But I'll take a win against USC any day of the week. The Irish must get that monkey off their back, first and foremost. If Notre Dame can beat USC, that's good enough for me. If the Irish can finish off the Trojans, and win a bowl game, that's a National Championship for me. Top Stories