Dawg Blog - Notre Dame

Here's the Dawg Blog for Notre Dame vs. Washington, Saturday September 24, 2005

40 minutes to gametime: Tyrone Willingham is hoping that his team's emotion and intensity doesn't spike. Well, it just spiked big-time as his team met up with each other in the tunnel - probably the most intensity and energy I've seen out of a UW team in at least three years. Right now it's a battle of stretching, the Huskies on the west end and the Irish on the east. Willingham and Charlie Weis just shook hands and seem to be chatting away amiably. But it didn't last long.

35 minutes to gametime: The recruits have really come out in force today - at least 50 strong. The coaches have clearly targeted this game as one of their 'red-letter' games for more reasons than one. Jake Locker, Cameron Elisara, Ryan Tolar, Jeff Jack and Kennedy junior Nate Williams are just a few of the players seen on the sidelines.

15 minutes to gametime: The band is on the field and the atmosphere feels a lot more like Husky games of old - yet the phenomenon of the late-arriving crowd continues to plague Husky Stadium. Too bad. Hasn't stopped the student's section, as they were here early.

10 minutes to gametime: The flag ceremony - fantastic as always.

5 minutes to gametime: The square outside of Hec Ed is packed and the crosswalks are still packed. FIVE MINUTES TO GAMETIME! Boy, UW fans truly run on their own schedule...

4 minutes to gametime: The Huskies come out first, a little surprising. Figured they would want the extra buildup. The UW captains are Brad Vanneman, Manase Hopoi, Isaiah Stanback and Dashon Goldson.

2 minutes to gametime: The Irish come out of the tunnel to chorus of boos and cheers, seemingly in equal parts. Irish lineman Bob Morton is basically trying to kill his teammate on the ND sideline in an attempt to psyche himself up. UW wins the toss and take the ball.

Gametime: Husky Stadium still looks somewhat empty, but the folks in purple continue to fill up seats. By the end of the first quarter, the stadium should look pretty full. Not sure if it's considered a sellout, but I'm sure it's close.

12:58/1st: Four straight passes right out of the gate and a first down. Foreshadowing?

11:12/1st: Time for a replay. And the refs got it right, Chambers wasn't down, kills a beautiful drive by the Huskies right out of the gate. Now the Husky defense needs to make their stop.

9:21/1st: It's coming too easy for the Irish. They are getting a HUGE push up front, and Washington has no answer for them. This isn't Idaho.

6:44/1st: Lobendahn loses his hat, the Irish make a mistake. Can UW hold them to three?

5:53/1st: ND makes an uncharacteristic mistake and botch the hold on a 42-yard field goal attempt. The fans seem to be in their stands and the noise is where it should be.

4:50/1st: Looks like the Dawgs are going to live and die by the air. UW has a chance to pin the Irish deep again and make a special teams blunder of their own. ND gets the ball back barely in their own territory.

2:32/1st: Mateaki coming again with a big stop but they need to continue to make plays in and around the red zone. The Dawgs are showing a lot of blitzing, but Quinn shows remarkable cool.

:30/1st: Some more red zone stops allow the Dawgs to keep ND to only three, but between the 20's they are getting crushed. Quinn does not look like he's going to be thrown out of his element today, even in front of a hostile crowd.
10:45/2nd: The Dawgs continue to ride Stanback's arm. Shackelford and Ellis making great catches for their QB right now. If Isaiah just had the foresight to tuck it and run, he'd be playing flawlessly. As it is, he's waiting much too long for things to try and develop.

9:52/2nd: Knudson connects from 27 to tie things up. Right now for Willingham, Lappano and the UW offense, it's a matter of 'what could've been'. If the Dawg D can continue to bend but not break, the offense has shown signs that they can definitely move the sticks against Weis' defense. Another great kickoff by Knudson.

8:20/2nd: Another key third-down stop goes wanting. As good a player as Evan Benjamin is, he's not the best guy UW has in space.

6:30/2nd: Baer isn't buying the Weis trickery. Okoebor gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, spoiling another chance at a third-down stop. Looks like the Dawgs will need to come up with some more red-zone magic.

4:47/2nd: Darius Walker is having a field day on the Washington rush defense. But another ND special teams snafu keeps the Irish in single digits. We'll see if that ends up being a factor. The ND flag people went on the field turf, earning a very loud chorus of boos.

4:30/2nd: Welcome to the world of Division-One football Marlon Wood! The 69-yard hookup with Stanback has sent shockwaves through Husky Stadium.

3:35/2nd: And just as quickly, the stadium is totally deflated by a Stanback pick in the end zone. We'll see if that kind of play is a back-breaker, as it has been before. The Huskies have basically taken 14 points off their board. Stanback almost seems afraid to run, an irony I thought would never happen with him. Very strange. The ND fans sense the change and are yelling, 'Let's go Irish!'. The Husky fans need to respond in kind.

3:12/2nd: You could see it coming, the UW defense, already on the field quite a bit, are starting to break down. Halftime can't come soon enough for Willingham.

2:38/2nd: For a TV game, this game has gone really quickly. A total of three penalties in the game. Washington really needs to suck it up right now, another Irish touchdown right now would be disastrous.

1:01/2nd: Another hold by UW's defense. They are to be commended for hanging very tough despite giving up a truckload of yardage so far (248 total).

:20/2nd: Nice to see Kenny James back in the lineup, and having a bigger back in there provides immediate dividends.

Halftime: For a home game, Washington is getting NONE of the calls. You could have made a case for two PI calls on the last two plays of the half. It's hard enough for Washington to overcome the difficulties playing a team like ND presents - I'm starting to feel like Frank Leahy in '49.

Second-half kickoff: With luminaries like Mario Bailey, Dana Hall and Jay Berry on the sidelines, the Huskies need to pull a little of their '91 magic. Jim Krieg is also on the sidelines. Both teams come out and there's still a minute-plus to go before second half starts. Weis is taking his time as he strolls across the field turf. The Irish get the ball back, so we'll see if the Washington defense was able to charge after the 20-minute respite. I don't think anyone would be surprised to see Notre Dame's holder getting a few reps in before the second half starts.

13:20/3rd: Did Matt Fountaine really have ND's first completion of the second half? Moot point now, the Irish are driving, just like they have all game long...

11:44/3rd: Great backside push and jump from the 5-foot-11 Lobendahn. Good thing, because if he doesn't get a hand on it, the play scores. And Lobendahn makes another big play and the Huskies get the ball on downs. Turning point? One thing Lappano knows is that his air attack also has to get some first downs in order to get the defense some rest. Will they go to the dink and dunk to eat up some clock? Down only nine, time isn't a factor.

10:45: Just saw the replay on the apparent PI on Robert Lewis. Nothing. Phantom call. And then Stanback continues to hold onto the ball for way too long.

9:26/3rd: Chance to get some mo back with an ND fumble on punt return, but no luck. And Washington's defense is really starting to lag with missed tackles. Only so much you can ask them to do.

7:55/3rd: Weis rolls the dice again on another 4th down and came up short again. Washington's offense really needs to come up with a big drive. 71,473 just announced as the ball goes to UW on downs. 6:48/3rd: Even when Louis Rankin makes a play, he seems to still have way too much hesitation in his running style. I'm surprised James hasn't played more. They need a guy right now that can get positive yardage.

5:49/3rd: You knew it was just going to be a matter of time when Stanback's number would be called. A great call by Lappano and great execution. And then James makes the one mistake the Huskies can't make. I feel like a paraphrase of Jason Gesser's quote is really appropriate here - Washington is killing themselves in the foot.

4:56/3rd: Benjamin is bailed out by a poor Quinn pass. To say this is the third-down play of the game for the Huskies' defense is a massive understatement. 3rd and 14 has to be handled...

3:58/3rd: And the Irish convert it with the help of a Spiderman-like catch by Maurice Stovall. The Dawgs have fought gamely, but right now feels like the dam is going to cave in at any time...

2:48/3rd: No two ways about it - the offense has dropped their drawers today. They had to play flawless ball to even make it a contest and have done just the opposite. And the real shame of it all is that ND has really not stopped the Huskies. They've just been playing steady, unspectacular ball. But it's been more than enough against a Washington team that can't get out of it's own shadow without tripping. Watching a game like this is almost more excrutiating than a blowout because Washington is playing their hearts out and really aren't overmatched at all.

:50/3rd: Another drive that encapsulates Washington's offensive issues - a HUGE pass play to Craig Chambers followed up by four very ineffective plays. The consistency just isn't there today.

End of 3rd Quarter: With 397 yards through three quarters, ND is doing anything they want to. You can just feel the floodgates are about to open wide...

15:00/4th: There's someone playing the ND fight song in the east end zone and their fans are digging it. Looks like the crowd at Husky Stadium has already given up.

14:02/4th: Lobendahn is out of the game and Rashon Powers-Neal is taking it to the beleagured UW defense. At this point, it's safe to say they have run out of gas, but they haven't stopped playing - not by any stretch.

12:00/4th: Huskies definitely not getting any grace from the officials. Roy Lewis' PI was that, but it was a bang-bang play and could have been a no-call too. One thing is for certain - UW is not making their own luck today. It all resides with the Irish.

11:32/4th: Now I'm thinking the refs get a spiff every time they pull cotton...was wondering if Weis would try a third crack at 4th down, but took the easy three.

10:39/4th: Master call by Lappano and all Shackelford has to do is throw it straight in the air for 6. If that play isn't a microcosm for today's efforts offensively, I can't think of another. Russo and Robert Lewis could have FAIR CAUGHT their passes, as open as they were. Absolutely no recognition of how to make a play offensively, a total collapse.

10:10/4th: I've got an idea for Willingham (which he rightly won't use), but I think the entire offense should run 100 gassers while the defense watches. The O had a chance to really make a difference today and actually went backwards after a really promising start. Humbling, to say the least, and especially on a national stage. Kudos to Lappano for a master game plan. Too bad games aren't won on paper. The rout is most likely on and it's a shame, because the Dawg D deserved a lot better for their play.

8:48/4th: And you knew is was coming. Szmardjia gets the payoff for a HUGE day with a 52-yard bomb for six. The casual football fan is going to see the stats and the score and think Washington got slaughtered. Too bad. Does DuRocher come in now for some valuable back-up time? Boy, looking at the folks that are filtering out of Husky Stadium by the gross, you'd think they have some important gardening to do or something. Sad.

6:06/4th: Isaiah finally gets it, calls his own number and scores, but the referees decide to take away the points after review. Ironic to say, but I wonder how differently this game would have turned out if he had been more selfish. Also good to see Corey Williams catch a pass - he's been the invisible man this year. The 'Whose House, Dawgs House' chant can hardly even be heard anymore...

6:01 Give the walk-on, Palaita, some props for bulldozing ahead for six.

2:26: The Johnny DuRocher era at Montlake begins with a screen and then a bomb to Chambers for 6. Meaningless? Maybe, but the sophomore from Bethel turned his first opportunity into six.

Post-game: Weird to be on the field watching Willingham hug his former teammates while his current team shuffled to their sideline. Very uncomfortable, it seemed.

Dawgman.com Top Stories