One Man's Opinion - ND review

Prior to the start of yesterday's game, I had two major questions. First, would USC be able to shut down the vaunted running attack of the Fighting Irish. After all, just the week before, the Irish runners demolished the Pittsburgh Defense and ran for over 300 yards. Second, would my personal losing streak while attending the SC-ND game live in South Bend ever end? After all, I had been there five previous times yet I had never seen my Trojans win one.

Prior to the start of yesterday's game, I had two major questions. First, would USC be able to shut down the vaunted running attack of the Fighting Irish. After all, just the week before, the Irish runners demolished the Pittsburgh Defense and ran for over 300 yards. Second, would my personal losing streak while attending the SC-ND game live in South Bend ever end? After all, I had been there five previous times yet I had never seen my Trojans win one. After watching the first two Irish possessions, I was not reassured one bit. They were going through the Trojan Defense like a hot knife through butter and nobody seemed capable of stopping them and certainly nobody looked liked they could tackle Julius Jones. However, as has been the case many times in the recent past, the SC defense bent, but never broke and as it turned out, ND did not score after their initial two drives. As for the second question, the obvious answer is yes, the personal streak is over. I now know what it is like to take the trip back to Chicago from South Bend as a winner. And if weren't for the very poor imitation of an interstate system leading back into Chicago, the ride might have actually been pleasant. And even better, I now know what it is like to go back to the airport and see that sick look of despair that was on the face of every Notre Dame fan I saw. I had seen it far too many times on the faces of those who wore the SC hats. But not this time. Yes sir, I liked that just fine.

When reviewing this game, there are so many positives that it is almost impossible to know where to start and who to compliment first. The offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders. It is almost as if Norm Chow had been listening to some of the behind the scenes whispers and answered each and every question in a most definitive manner. First, it was amazing that Mike Williams played very little if any significant role in SC's first two drives. The Trojans demonstrated that they indeed have many many versatile and potent weapons and now the Fighting Irish and the entire nation know that as well. We had all been just waiting and chomping at the bit to see Reggie Bush get into space and show his incomparable speed. Well yesterday he did just that. He made a great cutback and kaboom, he was off to the races. From my seat up high, it was obvious that the ND defenders had the angle but that did not help one bit. He blew by them all. And when he went into the game as a wideout, I pointed it out to my buddy and we were cracking up. We said that if Leinart sees the obvious mismatch, we are there. Well, obviously Matt Leinart did see just that and he threw a perfect strike to Reggie and the rest is history. We also wanted to know if anyone else would ever get the passes thrown their way. Well, they did. Steve Smith caught a ball and Greg Guenther caught a touchdown. When Big Mike Williams was utililized it was almost as if he was toying with the Irish defenders. He was his usual unstoppable self. And then of course there was Keary Colbert. Even though he had one of the few drops of this game, there was a great display of catches and Notre Dame had no answers for just about anything Chow threw at them.

About now, people are probably wondering about Matt Leinart and his role in all this. Well, 26 for 34 and over 350 yards says it all. I can't imagine that anyone could find fault in his game. Once again Chow is demonstrating that he can bring a kid with no real experience and have him playing like an all world guy in seemingly no time flat. In only his seventh start, Matt put on a record type of display. I guess nothing is ever perfect, but the first three offensive possessions by the USC offensve and Matt Leinart were as close as we might ever see. Three starts from their own 20 yard line and three 80 yard drives. It was amazing and I can't recall seeing that in the past. This offense, may I even dare to say, was and perhaps is, as potent as the machine that finished last season. And I should not fail to mention this is being done without either of their two top tight ends, Alex Holmes and the budding superstar, Dominique Byrd. Combining that with the fact that the top four backs are all freshman and one sophomore and it is even more amazing. To add more worries to the opposition, the role that the talented Brandon Hancock is playing is increasing every single game. And one should not forget Whitney Lewis. I suspect that televison viewers were unable to see the literal panic on the part of the ND defenders when Whitney came in and split out far to the right. After all, the Irish had already been burned by Reggie Bush as a wideout and now they had another stud out there that they had no idea how to counter. The Irish backs and backers were jumping around and displaying their uncertainty in a very uncharacteristic way. They were just shell shocked. It should also be pointed out that for the vast majority of this game, the Trojan Offensive line just handled a strong Notre Dame unit so as to give Matt Leinart lots of time and to open enough holes for the runners to gain over two hundred yards on the ground. Terrific overall job.

With all of this positivity, was there anything negative. Well, of course there was. We had a punt, (perhaps the only punt of the day) blocked. We also had poor kickoff coverage on a couple of occasions. I also wondered about those 3 and 1 calls that lead to nothing good. Being the paranoid sort I am, I was not so secretly worried about another of those miracle Notre Dame comebacks when Lendale failed to get the first down on fourt and 1 early in the fourth quarter. Of course, we all know that there was not to be a comeback and the rest is history, but I sure would have liked to see a more aggressive offensive call, especially considering that the brilliant gameplan and open attack is what had gotten us there, so to speak. I also felt that since Booty was playing, it would have been nice to see him throw the ball, though I am well aware that is a now win situation. Teams that pile it on or are perceived to be doing such usually live long enough to learn that things like that come back and haunt a team. There was also a rash of holding calls that seemed to start when Jacob Rogers went out and there had to be a sudden, unplanned changeup of the lineup. Of course, that too passed with time.

How about that defense? They sure settled down and were very very tough. Darnell Bing made some monster hits and Udeze, Patterson, Cody and Nazel also made their share of hits. It was if something went off in their heads and they stepped it up to another level. Frostee is quick as lightening and Ramsey was also quite sharp. Of course, we have to credit the staff and players for adjusting. Similarly, it will be nice to see the Defense come out and take control from the outset. It is asking alot, but it never hurts to ask, does it? I also thought Sart really strated to bring it in a big way after a bit shakey of a start. And poor Grootegoed. Even in warmups, he looked very uncomfortable trying to play. He is one tough kid, but injuries are injuries. All told, they were dominant after the first two possessions.

What can anyone really say about the coaching staff. This staff brought a team into the House that Rockne built and totally massacred the Fighting Irish. This SC squad scored more points in South Bend than any of its predecessors. In fact, only Purdue has scored more points (51) against the Irish than this SC team. To my knowledge, no SC team has ever handled the Irish back to back in more convincing fashion than the last two teams coached by Pete Carroll. I will not question Norm Chow again. When the team is ready for what he has, he uses it and he masters the art of destroying defenses. SC rarely plays close games these days. They just smash their opponents. We wondered about Chow and a new qb here at USC. No more to wonder about is there? The defense really brings it when it has to and the team is very business like. Terrfic job by this USC coaching staff.

So what now? Well, thanks to the Bruins, the Trojans now control their own destiny with regards to the Rose Bowl. If SC wins out, they can go to the Rose Bowl. We needed somebody to beat Cal and UCLA did that. We saw that Udub beat the daylights out of Oregon State. Terrific, they found themselves just before we play them. Actually, who cares? The Trojans and the staff know that they need to come to play each and every game no matter who the opponent. At this particular time, there are few, if any teams in American College Football that beat the USC team that showed up in South Bend Indiana yesterday. Some will disagree, but I just can't see many teams shutting down this SC machine when it is well oiled. I can't say for sure what will happen for the rest of the season, but I do like the fact that we have a shot to go back to the Rose Bowl if we win out. Great job Trojans.


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