SOUTH BEND -- For the second straight week, Notre Dame came out throwing the ball, but the idea of throwing to set up the run was basically turned into passing to set up the pass.
Jimmy Clausen threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, while Notre Dame gained just 83 rushing yards on the day, 23 of which came from Harrison Smith on a fake punt in the third quarter.
Of the Irish's first 14 plays, nine were designed passes and three of the runs came in short yardage situations. Clausen was 16 for 21 for 221 yards and a pair of scores in the first half and once Notre Dame established the threat of the pass, the Irish continued to air it out.
Armando Allen finished the game as Notre Dame's leading rusher with 33 yards on nine attempts, but through three quarters, Smith was Notre Dame's leading rusher by virtue of his 23-yard run on that fake. Luckily for the Irish, Clausen was on his game.
"If he weren't having a good day, and he was getting some help now too, but if he weren't having a good day, our point production would have suffered dramatically," said Weis. "But he was having a good day."
STILL A COMMITTEE?: The running back-by-committee approach seems to have ended with Allen's breakout performance against Purdue. While Weis said earlier in the week that Allen had virtually been the team's number one back since the opener, Allen is now proving his worth on Saturdays.
None of the Notre Dame backs were productive on the ground, but Allen's speed is a weapon that neither Robert Hughes nor James Aldridge bring and it is making it difficult for either of them to get many touches.
Allen had just the 33 rushing yards, but he did have a rushing touchdown along with seven catches for 66 yards and another score.
"It shows the versatility that we have in our backs," Allen said of his performance catching the ball. "There's not a point in the game when you have to take a back out, you can throw him at receiver. It kind of opens up a lot of things."
Hughes gained 14 yards on eight carries, while Aldridge had 9 yards on five attempts. Clausen actually rushed for 16 yards on three scrambles, but a 12-yard loss on a sack put his official total at four yards.
KICKING STILL A QUESTION: Sophomore kicker Brandon Walker continued his season-long struggles, missing a 41-yarder toward the end of the half and a 46-yarder two minutes into the fourth quarter, which would have basically sealed the game.
The Notre Dame staff opened the competition between Walker and Ryan Burkhart up after the Michigan State game and it sounds like that could happen again.
"I didn't think they were inconsequential, even when the first one was missed. I thought it gave us a chance to go up three scores at the time. You're up 14, it gives you a chance to go up 17 right then," Weis said. "I thought about it the second one, whether or not to kick it or just to go ahead and go for it. But I figured I got to find out. Now that we saw that happen, we'll review the bidding here in the next 24 to 48 hours."
NO HAND FROM HARBAUGH: Clausen attempted to shake Jim Harbaugh's hand after the game, but Harbaugh either did not see him or ignored him.
Harbaugh said that he never saw Clausen through the scuffle that occurred after the final whistle.
"There was a lot going on. I was right in that big pileup. I was just trying to separate the players at that point, get our guys into the tunnel. That was my objective," Harbaugh said. "A lot of people were right there, he might have been one of them. There was a lot of stuff going on, a lot of taunting, a lot of chatter back and forth. My main objective was getting our players off the field."
But witnesses found it hard to believe that the Stanford coach did not see him and Clausen was non-committal about his thoughts.
"He's a great guy, a great coach. He recruited me a little bit. I was just going up to him trying to have good sportsmanship, say good game," said Clausen. "He obviously either didn't see me or didn't want to talk to me."
McCarthy led all players 14 tackles, including seven solos, to go along with an interception. Kuntz was marked down for just three tackles, but he did have a pair of sacks, an interception, a pass breakup and he recovered a fumble on the last play of the game.
"It's really satisfying, especially coming off the field after a win," McCarthy said. "Not only a win, but the specific things he talked about, we did well. We had five sacks and he's an offensive lineman, so that's a little bit embarrassing for him, but the stats and the score speak for themselves."
NEITHER SIDE HAPPY WITH REFS: Harbaugh and Weis both had complaints about the officiating. Harbaugh took issue with a muffed punt by Allen that was recovered by Stanford, but the Cardinal were called for catch interference.
"(We) got a couple really bad calls go against us. That's what I saw from the field anyway. It's hard to imagine that people don't know football any better than that. That's why I feel bad for our guys because they played their hearts out and they came up short," Harbaugh said. "The punt, maybe I'll be swayed to think differently after I see a replay, but from what I saw on the field, I still can't get over that. That was a really bad call. Should have been a fumble, our ball, picked up, ran back for a touchdown."
Weis was irritated that the refs started calling Clausen for using a double-cadence in the second half after not making those calls in the first half.
"They came back in the second half, and the first play out of the box, exact same procedure we ran every play the first half. He called a penalty. I called him over and said, ‘How can you call a penalty on that?' He said, ‘I warned the quarterback.' I said, ‘The last time I checked, I'm the head coach. If you want to warn somebody, you warn me. I'll talk to the quarterback and you talk to me.' That's exactly what I said," Weis said. "I don't necessarily disagree with what the call is, I disagree with the mannerism in which it was handled. Because we did the same operation for 30 minutes and I had no knowledge that he was about ready to call a false start penalty for the quarterback giving a hard count and us not snapping the ball."
SACKS VS. 3rd DOWN: This week, the Notre Dame coaching staff talked about putting more of an emphasis on getting off the field on third down rather than sacks, but against Stanford the Irish coaches had to be pleased with both.
Notre Dame came into the game with just one sack through four games, but recorded five sacks for a loss of 48 yards against the Cardinal. The Irish also held Stanford to a 22.2% third-down conversion rate (2 of 9), to get off the field.
TATE'S TOUCHES: As should be expected from now on, Stanford did their best to keep the ball out of Golden Tate's hands, which continues to open up the rest of the field for Clausen. With all of the attention paid to Tate, Clausen was able to find Allen and tight end Kyle Rudolph open in the middle of the field for large gains and Michael Floyd and David Grimes on the edges.
Tate had three catches for just 30 yards, but Floyd had another career day with 115 receiving yards and so did Rudolph with 70 receiving yards and a score. Allen and Grimes each had seven catches apiece to give Clausen plenty of passing threats.
FRESHMEN FACTORS: Floyd got his third straight start against Stanford along with Rudolph. Trevor Robinson also saw some action at both guard and tight end. Defensively, Ethan Johnson, Robert Blanton and Darius Fleming all got on the field. Fleming recorded Notre Dame's second sack of the season and also played on both kickoff and kickoff return while Jonas Gray and Steve Filer were on the field for kickoff return. Filer was also out there on the punt return unit.
OTHER TIDBITS: Notre Dame won the coin toss and just as the Irish did the first two times they won the toss this season, they elected to defer to the second half… For the second straight week, Rudolph handled the primary tight end role almost exclusively. Robinson came in and played some tight end in short yardage situations and Steve Paskorz also lined up as a move tight end on similar occasions… The officials reviewed David Bruton's interception on the game's opening possession, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field…The Irish offense has run almost exclusively no huddle the last couple of games. As Weis pointed out during the week, the Irish are not running a hurry-up offense, but outside of a few situations, Notre Dame does not huddle up between plays.