Trojans Speedy Recovery Ails Fighting Irish
What could have been a close game was turned into a rout at Notre Dame Stadium as the Trojans handily disposed of the Fighting Irish 38-0. Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis told his team they can go home for fall break with a victory over the Trojans (and go home with pride) or lose to the Trojans and hide in their homes for a week. It seems the Irish chose the latter.
Many records and notable marks were set in this game. 38-0 marked the largest margin of victory ever for the Trojans over the Irish. It also represented the first shutout by the Trojans since 1933. The Fighting Irish were not shut out at Notre Dame Stadium since 1960. Almost desperately, the Irish chose to wear throwback green and yellow uniforms that the 1977 Irish team wore. Evan Sharpley got the loss in his first start for the Irish.
On the USC side of the ball, this was Mark Sanchez' first away game and he came away with an almost perfectly directed ball game. Sanchez impressed, going 21-38/235 yards and no interceptions. The current six-game winning streak over the Irish is the longest for USC in the history of the match-up.
Trojans Coming Out Party Continues
Mark Sanchez continued to demonstrate his abilities as a quarterback and continues his assault on the starting role. Quarterback John David Booty has been nursing a broken finger for the last two weeks, and Sanchez has filled in admirably. Sanchez looked more comfortable in his second start and had command of the game from start to finish.
Running back Joe McKnight continues to show why he is so highly thought of by Coach Pete Carroll. McKnight broke off a 51-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter.
There appears to be an endless supply of offensive linemen who can play big-time ball in the Trojan lineup. While linemen keep falling off due to injury, replacements have been up to task. Matt Spanos/Kristopher O'Dowd have relieved each other, Butch Lewis and Tiny Malu have stepped in for injured players, and Carroll proclaimed this week, "We started the year off with 14 linemen and are down to 7 this week." The level of play has not dropped off as the Trojans dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Linebackers have done the same. Various injuries to Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Thomas Williams and Rey Maualuga have not stopped the effectiveness of the group. Kaluka Maiava has performed brilliantly for the last few weeks and Luther Brown contributed today.
Recovering from Injuries
For the first time this season, Brian Cushing played most of the game without a noticeable limp. Rey Maualuga who suffered a severe hip pointer and did not practice most of the week made a miraculous recovery and played well in this game.
With two weeks off and possibly a third, John David Booty should be well recovered from the broken finger before he sees the field again.
Pete Carroll claimed that many have returned from injury this week and he looks for more to return next week.
The Pete Carroll Parade is on a Roll
For nearly each of the last seven years, Pete Carroll's defense usually doesn't get rolling until the second half of the season, culminating in invincibility by the end of the year. This team seems to be on track. For most of the last seven years, the defense has looked vulnerable at the beginning of the season, then starts clicking by mid October and is invincible in the month of November. Don't look now, but November is right around the corner.
The offense, save Matt Leinart's second year has followed the same pattern. Sputter-sputter in September and October and High Octane by the time November rolls around. There's something in the air here, and it looks like vintage Pete Carroll.
The Tough Part of the Schedule Looms Large
Before getting too excited about a victory over the helpless Fighting Irish, the tough part of the schedule is right around the corner. Next week it's Oregon at Autzen Stadium, then Oregon State followed by California away then Arizona State and UCLA. Not an easy schedule by any stretch of the imagination. Each team will present problems and UCLA may just be the toughest game of them all.
Like Groundhog Day – It's Happening Again
In "Groundhog Day," the Bill Murray-Andie MacDowell movie, Murray lives February 2nd over and over - it's Groundhog's Day. This is a little premature, but it's happening again. Yes, a win over hopeless Notre Dame should not be taken too seriously. But then again, it happens every year, teams fall hard against the Trojans in the second half of the season. Nevermind the opponent.
Matt Leinart's first season: Trojans stumble at the beginning of the year. Leinart wins big over Notre Dame and UCLA and collects his Heisman Trophy on their way to an AP and Coaches Poll consensus number one. Snubbed by the BCS Computers, USC win the AP Championship anyway, trouncing Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
Leinart's second season: Trojans go undefeated but are underdogs to the Oklahoma Sooners, out-manned, they say. So the Trojans demolish the Sooners for an undisputed BCS Championship.
In 2006, John David Booty's first season: the Trojans stumble and are left for dead. They recover in time and are one victory away from the BCS Championship game.
Fast-forward, 2007, the Trojans stumble they look mortal. They look downright awful. Umm, don't look now, but it's Groundhog Day, again. And again.
Just Living the Dream
It's Pete Carroll time. It's winning time. It's war-time. Hey – We're Just Getting Started.