Irish Drop The Ball Against Air Force

SOUTH BEND - The question was asked several times on Saturday. Coming off a two-touchdown performance against Navy last weekend, and putting together a nice freshman season, where was Notre Dame receiver Duval Kamara on Saturday against Air Force? The 6-foot-5, 222-pound Hoboken, N.J., product did not play a snap in the 41-24 loss.

"He had some academic issues that didn't get resolved until the end of the week," head coach Charlie Weis said. "Therefore he missed significant time in practice, and I'm never going to be hypocrite when it comes to academics, academics are always going to take the forefront. He understood it very clearly that that's the way it was going to be."

Kamara came into the game tied for second on the team with Robby Parris with 24 receptions. His 232 yards was good for third, and his three scores still lead the Irish.

David Grimes, who began the season as a starter, but was injured five games ago against Purdue, returned to the starting lineup in Kamara's place. The 5-foot-10, 177-pound junior was quarterback Jimmy Clausen's favorite target, catching six passes for 67 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

"I thought I could've played a lot better," Grimes said. He returned to the lineup two weeks ago against USC. "I caught a few balls but I also dropped a few balls."

Grimes wasn't the only one. The Irish (1-9) must have dropped over a half dozen balls in the loss to Air Force (8-3).

"It was very, very surprising," Weis said. "It was very surprising and they were all over. It's not like you sit there and say it's just one person. I mean, there was a number of them. It was disappointing."

A few of those drops killed drives, as the Irish were trying to mount a comeback.

"We pride ourselves as receivers in catching the ball no matter where it's placed and there are no excuses," Grimes said.

***Tight end John Carlson had four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. The fifth-year senior now has 94 career receptions, passing former teammate Anthony Fasano by two for second on the program's all-time list. Ken MacAfee is the all-time leader with 128.

Carlson ranks third all-time in yards at 1,006. He'll have a chance to catch Fasano, who has 1,102 career yards. MacAfee is safe at the top with 1,759 yards.

***Chris Stewart entered the game at right tackle late in the second quarter. The Irish went on a seven-play 50-yard scoring drive, completed by Carlson's two-yard reception from Clausen.

The 6-foot-5, 339-pound Stewart mainly dominated the guy across from him while spelling Paul Duncan on the series.

"Well, we've been playing him for the last few weeks now," Weis said. "We've been playing him more and more. You know, as Chris knows, I think that he was a guard that we moved out to tackle so he feels much more comfortable run blocking then pass blocking. And he knows in his future if he wants to be an every-down player and play all the time, we've already had these talks about if he wants to get himself in position to be a starter here, that's the area where he's going to have to work on."

***With the two first-half fumbles, one of them brought back for a touchdown to put Air Force up 10-0 early, Notre Dame has fumbled 22 times this season, losing 12 of them. The Irish only fumbled 13 times last year, losing seven. The Irish are fast approaching the 2002 team which fumbled 28 times, losing 15 of them.

***Freshman running back Armando Allen's nine-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, a swing pass cutting the score to 34-24 with 7:56 remaining, was the first score of his career.

***Though all six sacks were not the fault of the offensive line, Clausen was battered around quite a bit by an Air Force defense that came into the game averaging two sacks per contest. And while the Irish basically abandoned the run in the second half, and sacks to its toll on the rushing stats, Notre Dame still only gained just 58 yards rushing on 38 attempts.

"I can't tell you exactly (what happened), or give you a straightforward answer," sophomore guard Dan Wenger said. Led by Clausen's 246 yards passing, the offense gained 304 yards. "If I knew the answer, I'd let you guys know. It's something that I can't really evaluate when we're out there. And seeing certain things and doing certain things, even from the sideline, I'm not going to sit here and criticize anyone, I'm not going to do anything like that."

***Fifth-year senior John Sullivan left the game late with an injury. Weis indicated that the center was okay afterwards. He also said that he saw freshman tight end Mike Ragone on crutches. That's was all he said about that situation. Top Stories