MMQB Report - Notre Dame review

A standing ovation with loud cheers and hollering greeted coach Pete Carroll for his report today to the MMQB luncheon. People were very expressive about how highly they regard the job Pete is doing. During the question and answer period several questions began with flowery compliments and one man asked Pete how many more years he had on his contract. As you know, I can't quote Pete but I can tell you that his answer was quite clear that he expects to be with us for many years.

The victory against Notre Dame last Saturday, 34 – 31, was very well documented by Pete's tape presentation of key plays. He began with special teams. Clearly the use of Oscar Lua, Thomas Williams and Scott Ware on the kickoff coverage team made a great improvement. We also looked at the final kickoff with 3 seconds left and Pete told some humorous stories about questions he received while he was preparing the kickoff coverage of the squib kick. We also looked at the excellent punt inside the 20 by Tom Malone who has added the Aussie style of kicking the ball on its point. That has the effect of causing it to die when it hits the turf.

The defensive plays were numerous. One statistic that I had not been aware of is that ND's rushing average was only 2.9 yards. Clearly they made the most of the QB draws in crucial third down situations. The defensive player with the most plays on this tape was Keith Rivers. He had an interception, recovered a fumble, had a sack, and several other key plays from Keith were shown. Oscar Lua had several highlights as well with tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Darnell Bing had several of his plays shown. One was an excellent open field tackle and another was the fumble he caused with his down field tackle. The other safety, Scott Ware, was shown making three great tackles including the leveling of their TE who came over the middle only to be helped off the field.

Travis Tofi got a call as did Lawrence Jackson, and Frostee Rucker. Sedrick Ellis had several tackles shown. Actually I think ND's running average was so low because we caught them for so many losses.

The offensive plays were a highlight tape for Reggie Bush. All three TD's were shown with emphasis on fine blocking and of coarse Reggie's great moves. Fred Davis and Chris McFoy continue to block very well. LenDale's TD was shown and I'm always surprised to see that LenDale went wide following David Kirtman's lead. I never seem to pick that up in the game.

Matt had several key pass completions to both Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett. My favorite however, was the completion over the middle to Dominique Byrd where he sprinted up the sideline and Jarrett leveled two Domers with one block.

Pete showed the QB sneak by Matt with 4th and 1 on our 19-yard line. Frankly it did not look like we made it with much to spare. One of my pet theories is that there is a lot more yardage available by running outside the Tackles if we would only try that more. Therefore, I was pleased to see the slot-around by Reggie that made over 20 yards.

Then Pete said, "That's all we have" and the place exploded. "Oh" he said, maybe you would like to see the last two minutes to laughs and general applause. We looked at the TV replay of the last 2 minutes with all the close ups of Pete and Charlie. I enjoyed every shot and every moment.

The question and answer period was full of compliments for the coach. My impression of Pete's take on the game is that he felt we overcame a significant home field advantage for ND. There were a few questions about ND's coach and Pete was complimentary and gave enough inside information to make me believe that Pete knows Charlie's game very well.

There were questions about why certain players were not used more but I couldn't find any newspaper quotes to legitimize replicating his answers. I was planning to ask Pete whether the long turf played a role in the game but someone else beat me to it. His answer was very complete and basically was that he didn't think so.

We apparently tried 3 screen passes but none were successful, each for a different reason.

A question about the Washington game was asked and Pete gave an answer that indicates that he is taking the game quite seriously, knows that we have issues that need to be improved and is not about to rest on our 6-0 record. A redshirt question was asked and he said that several players would have to make decisions this week on whether or not to redshirt.

The meeting was adjourned a little early and Pete went back to work.

Personal Note: I went to the game and I'm still drained. I think it is impossible to adequately describe the atmosphere in Notre Dame's stadium. Even though we had around 15,000 Trojans in the stands, the noise level in favor of ND was a significant factor. In the final two minutes you could not be understood by anyone around you so things on the field must have been difficult.

We were in the Trojan section, top level, looking right between the goal posts toward touchdown Jesus. Right behind us, two ND rooters took their seats and even though they were surrounded by Trojans, they gave their players as much support as we gave ours. When it looked the darkest and ND was driving for their last go-ahead TD, their cheering and celebrating was particularly galling.

In the final 5 minutes, the emotional switches, with us scoring to regain the lead, then them scoring, then Matt's pass to Jarrett that stopped with his tackle right in front of us, brought everyone's emotions right to the surface. The noise was deafening. Then the false sense of loss when the clock incorrectly ran out and the Irish poured onto the field. Then another chance and the deafening noise again, just like we did to Cal last year, only louder. On the QB sneak, I thought Matt was stopped, then he twisted in for the TD right in front of us. All of a sudden the mighty 15,000 Trojans were the only one's making noise.

I turned around to the two ND fans and said, "THIS is the way it used to be. Welcome back, great game". There was a look of disbelief on their faces. They said, "great game, it IS the way it used to be, we'll see you in LA next November" and we shook hands.

I hope I never see this series end.


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