Postgame Notebook

The notebook looks at the seniors' final home game, Brandon Walker's ride and how the Irish need to be feeling mentally before they head out to Southern California. Also, a look at the days of Mike Anello and Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey.

During the week Charlie Weis was asked about getting the chance to play seniors like backup quarterback Evan Sharpley in the final home games of their careers. Needless to say that did not happen and Weis said that nobody felt worse than he did about that.

"First of all I feel miserable, absolutely miserable for the seniors," he said. "I feel sick to my stomach. Everyone that's a Notre Dame fan takes these losses personally, just like they feel good when you win. But right now I feel just absolutely miserable for the seniors."

David Grimes had a career day with seven catches for 83 yards, but he was clearly emotional after the game.

"It's frustrating," he said. "We had our chances to make plays and we didn't. Not to take anything away from Syracuse, but we had our chances to put this one away."

Fifth-year senior Maurice Crum, Jr. did not want to go out like this either.

"Every loss hurts," he said. "This one has something added to it because of the situation."

Grimes said the team will try to forget about this game by playing well in the regular season finale and then in the bowl game.

"We definitely have two more opportunities," he said. "We didn't want to leave our home field feeling like this, but we can still salvage something. It's my duty as one of the leaders of this team to get this team back up and ready for next week."

SPEAKING OF SC: Weis was happy to have a bye after the tough loss to North Carolina and the Irish responded with a blowout win over Washington. But the Irish did not have a bye after the difficult defeat to Pittsburgh and they played flat and lost at Boston College.

Not only do the Irish not have a bye next week; they are facing their toughest opponent of the season in Southern California.

"I said there's two ways you can do it. ‘You got USC coming up next weekend, you can wallow around and sit there and feel sorry for yourself. If you do, you'll go out to L.A. and they'll humiliate you,'" Weis said. "‘That's your choice. Your choice is what are you going to do about it.' We'll find out on Monday morning when we come back to work."

Weis is not concerned about all of the players having something left in the tank, but wonders how many of them will.

"I'm not worrying about Mo Crum. Are you worrying about Mo Crum?" he asked. "In the team it's not just the Mo Crums of the world that make the difference. How many guys go into a game expecting to win every time you play out there?"

California native Jimmy Clausen knows how dangerous the Trojans can be but expects the Irish to be ready to win.

"You've got to think that way every single week," he said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, but you've got to think that way."

Weis said that the Irish had better follow their quarterback's line of thinking.

"If you don't go in with that mindset then you're asking for a massacre," he said.

WHICH WAY WILL WALKER GO?: To describe Notre Dame kicker Brandon Walker's season as a roller coaster would be like calling Saturday's loss disappointing.

After missing six of his first seven field goal attempts, no player heard more criticisms through the first half of the season than Notre Dame's sophomore kicker. The Irish coaching staff put his job on the line more than once and even brought in a kid out of the student body to compete with him.

But Walker flipped everything around and came into this game having made nine of his last 10 kicks, although the one miss was a crucial overtime kick in the loss to Pittsburgh. Still, Walker had to be considered one of Notre Dame's most consistent performers, especially after drilling his first two attempts against Syracuse.

But Walker missed three of his next four tries and they were key. The first one was not his fault as it was a bad hold and the next two were from 49 and 53 yards in the freezing cold, but either virtually wins the game for Notre Dame.

"Both of them have a chance to ice the game," Weis said. "I thought he hit the ball well both of them, just the ball came up short."

It will be interesting to see if Walker can forget about this game and move on to the next like he did after Pitt or if he reverts back to his early-season struggles.

BRINKLEY'S GOOD, BUT BAILEY'S BETTER: Antwon Bailey certainly stepped up in a big game on national TV. The true freshman from Maryland led all runners with 126 yards on 16 attempts as he became Syracuse's workhorse in the second half.

The worst thing that Bailey did all day was underthrow a receiver on a trick play in the second quarter.

It was Bailey, not Syracuse's number-one back Curtis Brinkley, who carried the Orange to victory. The Irish defense bottled up Brinkley for 44 yards on 17 carries, although he did have a score. But Bailey had the first touchdown in the fourth quarter and set up the game-winner.

Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson joked that Notre Dame missed out on him.

"He's a talented young football player, a true freshman, one that I think has got a great career ahead of him on top of his 3.5 GPA and his 1190 SAT," Robinson said. "I don't know why Notre Dame wasn't talking to him, he was down at St. John's Baptist in D.C."

ROBINSON RISKS: Notre Dame expected to see a lot of risky plays out of the Orange with Robinson's fate already sealed.

The Orange ran a trick play to start their second drive with Bailey taking a direct snap and pretending to run a sweep before throwing a pass to a wide-open Dan Sheeran. Sheeran was all alone behind the Notre Dame defense and the play would have gone for a touchdown but the ball was underthrown and Syracuse had to settle for a 25-yard gain.

Robinson chose not to go for it on two fourth-down plays in Irish territory in the first half. Syracuse missed a field goal on its first possession, but connected on the second try.

Robinson called for a pass on 1st-and-goal from the Irish inch-line in the second quarter, which was not risky, it was just plain dumb.

INJURIES HURT IRISH: It is clear that the Irish offense misses freshman receiver Michael Floyd dearly. While Grimes stepped up to make plays, neither him nor any other wideout on the team can take the burden off of Golden Tate like Floyd does.

The Orange were consistently shading a safety over the top of Tate and most of the times that they did not Tate caught touchdowns. Clausen will need to prove that he can move the offense with underneath passes in Floyd's absence to open up things for Tate.

Notre Dame was also without starting linebacker Brian Smith and cornerback Terrail Lambert. Asked how much it mattered after the game, Weis said it mattered a great deal.

"You mean three of our starters?" he laughed before saying that he was impressed with the way that receivers stepped up. "You're always going to miss guys like Michael Floyd and Brian Smith in a game like that and Terrail. These guys have been starters for us for a long time, you're always going to miss them."

ANELLO AGAIN: Seems like every game former walk-on Mike Anello is making big plays on special teams, probably because he is. On Saturday, Anello forced a fumble, blocked a punt and had three tackles, but not of it mattered to him.

"We lost the game and that's all that really matters," he said.

IN'S AND OUT'S: The weather did not play much of a factor aside from cold temperatures. There was no precipitation and the only snow in the area was in the stands, although the student section did its best to spread it around... Both teams used the Wildcat formation on offense although the Orange used it more often and more effectively. Notre Dame lined up in the Wildcat once in first quarter with Allen gaining three yards. But Syracuse snapped the ball to Bailey numerous times with great success… Crum became the ninth player in Notre Dame history to record 300 career tackles… The Irish honored Notre Dame alum and World Series champion Brad Lidge at halftime.


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