Posts Tagged ‘John David Booty’

Get Dirty!

Friday, October 19th, 2007

You probably already know this, but the LA Times is reporting that Mark “Dirty” Sanchez is going to be the starting quarterback on Saturday for the Trojans of Southern Cal, in place of the injured John David Booty. Sanchez, a redshirt sophomore, was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school but has seen little game action since coming to SC, his most newsworthy accomplishments having come - ahem - off the playing field. Starting in place of Booty last week, Sanchez had a tough first half against a less than dynamic Arizona defense, but completed 11 of 15 passes for a very Clausen-esque 74 yards in the second half as the Trojans narrowly avoided their second straight upset loss.

It’s hard to think that this is anything but good news for the Irish, as we all remember what happened last time Corwin Brown’s defense faced an inexperienced backup:

Put that together with a beat-up SC offensive line (All-American tackle Sam Baker will be out, as well as guard Alatini Malu), and one can only expect that by the time the game draws to an end, Evan Sharpley won’t be the only quarterback wearing a green jersey.

Sweet dreams tonight, Mark. The nightmare begins Saturday, 3:30pm EST.

I got your Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse right here …

Get your hate on

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Hollywood is a breeding ground for a–holes
Wallets get as big as Reggie Bush’s
Skinny girl, eat some more food
Muscle man, you look like a f–king freak

Hollywood is a nice place for the weekend
Not a place for a nice person to live
Football star, no one likes you
How’d ya learn to be so f–king mean?

Take me home to sweet South Bend
Big women at the ‘Backer
This Saturday (YEAH)
Come and see the Irish win

LET’S GO!

- NoFX, “San Francisco Fat” (censored and otherwise tweaked)

Perhaps it’s a bit of Post-BC Fatigue Syndrome or maybe some general exhaustion after a 1-6 start, but the Irish netroots have been surprisingly quiet about tomorrow’s showdown against SC. But while I can’t speak to the mood on the team or around campus, I can tell you that there’s no shortage of excitement on tap around my own home:


(Gear courtesy of bamfshirts.com)

That’s right folks, it’s FREAKING SC week! And all we can hope for is that Saturday’s game goes as badly for the Trojans as their plane flight into the ‘Bend:

USC’s football team, coaches and staff endured several terrifying minutes as their chartered flight to South Bend plummeted amid a severe thunderstorm, forcing the pilot to abort his first landing attempt.

USC sports information director Tim Tessalone told The Associated Press on Friday that some passengers were thrown from their seats by turbulence as lightning cracked around the storm-tossed aircraft about 9 p.m. Thursday.

“It was a little bit of a roller coaster drop there for a minute,” he said. “We had some people fly out of some seats. Everybody is fine, but it was a frightening little dip there.”

The pilot aborted the approach and circled around the storm before landing without incident about 20 minutes later to the relief of the shaken team and the spouses of some staff members also on the flight, Tessalone said.

Safety Taylor Mays said he was screaming.

At their hotel, senior defensive end Lawrence Jackson said he was going to see the team trainer because a Popsicle stick had pierced the inside of his mouth during the drop.

“That was terrifying,” fullback Stanley Havili said. “I thought I was going to die.”

Quarterback John David Booty said, “It wasn’t the worst flight I’ve ever been on, but it was definitely the biggest drop.”

Saturday’s weather report, unfortunately, calls for clear skies and temperatures in the low-70s, but not to fear: the playing field at ND stadium has once again been populated with miniaturized leprechauns with tiny little dart guns, with clear instructions to attack Trojan players and Trojan players only. (Oh, and Pete Carroll, too.) Good luck running wild in the midst of that, jagoffs.

Speaking of running: as the Irish pass defense begins to get the credit they actually deserve (that’s right, Bob Kravitz, you are an ass), and the USC quarterback situation still up in the air [EDIT: Not anymore. It's Dirty Sanchez, baby!], it’s worth taking a quick look into the question of whether the Irish have a chance to slow down a Southern Cal (yeah, I said it again) running game that currently ranks 24th in the nation at 198.2 yards per game.

For comparison’s sake, here’s what the Irish have done against the run so far this year, together with their opponents’ averages and national rankings in rushing offense:

One thing these numbers reveal is that part of the reason the Irish run defense has looked so bad, especially on paper (ranked 93rd overall, giving up 186.7 yards a game), may be due to the fact that so many of the teams ND has played so far have simply had terrific running attacks overall: by the numbers, Tailback U’s splenderrific ground game is only the fourth-best the Irish will have faced this year. Moreover, a quick comparison between the season-long rushing averages for ND’s opponents and the yards they gained on the ground against the Irish reveals that in only three of seven games have ND’s opponents gained more rushing yards than usual.

A closer look at the numbers for SC’s ground game reveals a similar situation:

The Trojans, in other words, have not exactly played a bunch of run-stoppers: and while they’ve exceeded their opponents’ averages for rushing yards allowed in all but one case (the loss to Stanford), there’s definitely reason to take a bit of hope from these numbers.

If the Irish can continue to build on their (relative) defensive successes from the past few weeks - note that if we factor out the 52-yard run on BC’s opening drive, their rushing average drops to 3.52 yards per carry on the day - and hold the Trojans under, say, 160 140 rushing yards tomorrow, I have to think they’ll have a shot. This is, of course, predicated on continuing to defend the pass well and so keeping SC’s rather mediocre 57th-ranked air attack (that’s only 232 yards per game) under wraps, perhaps forcing a turnover or two, and (here’s where it gets unlikely) also showing some signs of freaking life - and perhaps doing less stupid crap - on offense against a Trojan defense that has been nothing short of dynamic thus far, having given up more than 250 or so total yards only to Nebraska. (A few hopeful statistics, though: SC ranks only 86th in the nation with just ten forced turnovers, 55th with twelve sacks, and 86th with 33 tackles for a loss.) Whether the Irish can pull this off, especially without James Aldridge, is naturally the biggest question going into gameday, though if ND can force Saturday’s matchup into the same kind of game they played two weeks ago against UCLA - and that UCLA played against USC last year - we may get to see the Pete Carroll Face once again:

Ahh, good stuff, that.

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow morning with some injury updates on both teams and perhaps some more thoughts on the game.

I’ll take it

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

Like OCDomer said (as well as Pat, I guess), a win is a win is a win. Even if it did come against a third-string walk-on freshman quarterback and a coach who did his best Karl Dorrell impersonation by running the ball only four times and asking said walk-on freshman to throw the ball constantly after falling behind by two scores despite the fact that there were over fifteen minutes left on the clock. And even if the Irish did manage only twelve first downs to UCLA’s twenty, and 140 offensive yards to UCLA’s 282. A win is a win is a win. And to be quite honest, it feels like a bit more than a win when it comes on a day that we get to see this face:

Good stuff. Oh, and by the way - Trojan fans, I got your “Booty for Booty” right here. (Word is, he prefers that kind anyway.)

Anyway, here are some thoughts on the game.


The game ball goes to …

I know the easy thing to do here is to go with Maurice Crum Jr. (seven tackles, one sack, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and a touchdown), but doing so would indicate that he actually had a better game than, say, Trevor Laws (five tackles, one sack, two pass breakups, and an all-around great job of being a pain in the butt), which in my mind is hard to say. Plus, there were two plays in the first half - eight-yard rushes by Joe Cowan and Kahlil Green, respectively - when he whiffed pretty badly on his tackles. But no question that Crum played a great second half and largely redeemed what has been a mediocre season for him so far.

In my mind, though, credit needs to go to the defense as a whole, rather than to any one or two individuals: Pat Kuntz, for instance, led the team with eight tackles and also had two pass breakups, Joe Brockington had another solid game with six tackles, and Tom Zbikowski showed some signs of life with five tackles, a sack, and a beautiful strip to force a fumble. These guys were bouncing around the field like I haven’t seen them do in years - they actually looked to be enjoying themselves. Kudos to Corwin Brown for the job he’s done in bringing this unit around.


By the numbers

Offense:

  • I already noted that the Irish had only 140 total offensive yards on the day. But that’s a bit of a misleading statistic, since the average starting field position for Notre Dame’s four scoring drives was the UCLA 27-yard line. If you don’t have far to go, you’re not going to get many yards. That said, five three-and-outs, a turnover on downs, and a drive that started at the opponent’s twelve and resulted in four yards and a field goal, do not a good offensive day make.
  • If we take out the yards lost on UCLA’s three sacks and the kneel-downs at the end of the game, Notre Dame ended up with a somewhat respectable 81 rushing yards on the day, which is right at UCLA’s average for the season (though that number includes sacks, of course). James Aldridge netted 52 yards on his 22 carries, and Armando Allen provided a nice change of pace with three carries for 19 yards. Not good enough, to be sure, but also not disastrous against the Bruin defense.
  • While Jimmy Clausen completed 17 of his 27 passes, they netted only 84 yards - an average of 3.1 yards per attempt. Clausen didn’t make any awful mistakes, but there were some times when he held on to the ball too long, and he didn’t look very good throwing the ball long downfield. Each of John Carlson (six catches for 38 yards), Aldridge (three for 18 yards), and Duval Kamara (two for 20 yards) had a nice day, but this passing game is going to have to do a lot more if the Irish want to beat Backup College or the Spoiled Children.
  • While time of possession was evenly divided in the first half, Notre Dame held the ball for 20:15 after halftime.

Defense:

  • As mentioned above, UCLA totaled 282 offense yards on the day, more than double the production of the Irish. 193 of those yards came through the air, on 16 completions - an average of 12.1 yards per completion, and a clear sign that the Irish pass defense has got to tighten up. The Bruins netted only 89 yards rushing, but that that number jumps up to 140 if we discount the yardage lost on Notre Dame’s five (!!) sacks. Still, though, all these numbers look really good against a UCLA offense that averaged 199.4 rushing yards and 225.2 passing yards coming into yesterday’s game.
  • After recovering three Bruin fumbles and intercepting four passes, the Irish defense now ranks ninth in the nation with 19 forced turnovers on the season. They also rank fourth in total pass defense (and 22nd in pass efficiency) and 41st overall defensively.

Mistake-free football

Well, not quite. We saw some pretty awful tackling at times in the first half, and there were a few times when our offensive linemen got toasted by the UCLA pass rush. There were some bad penalties, too: Raeshon McNeil getting called for a block in the back on a Zbikowski punt return a bit before halftime, pushing the Irish back to their own 30 instead of enabling them to start from midfield; Toryan Smith handing UCLA a first down on a bad pass interference penalty just after the half; Eric Olsen picking up an awful personal foul penalty that turned 3rd-and-9 into 3rd-and-24; and TWO holds called as Aldridge broke a nice run on 3rd-and-eleven near the start of the fourth. The Irish also failed once again to convert in short yardage, as Clausen’s fourth-down sneak attempt with ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter went nowhere.

But there’s no doubt that there was a major improvement in this department: my list of “inexcusables” was less than half as long as it was last week, and UCLA’s complete offensive incompetence more than made up for ND’s handful of errors.


Worth noting:

  • Leo Ferrine, David Grimes, and Dan Wenger all made the trip to Pasadena, but sat out the game with injuries.
  • Justin Brown returned after missing the past two games, though he didn’t impact the box score.
  • Robert Hughes didn’t see the field, nor did Matt Romine, Ray Herring, or Morrice Richardson. Chris Stewart made the trip to Pasadena, but didn’t end up playing. This was also the first game all season in which Evan Sharpley didn’t play.
  • Geoff Price replaced Eric Maust as Notre Dame’s punter, and averaged 40.3 yards on nine punts, with three downed inside the twenty yard-line.

All in all …

There’s no doubt that this team is improving, on both sides of the ball. If we take out the Michigan game, Notre Dame’s margin of defeat dropped constantly up until yesterday, from 30 points against Georgia Tech, to 21 against Penn State, to 17 against Michigan State, to 14 against Purdue. Notre Dame’s offensive line seems to have turned a corner since the debacle at the Big House, and the Irish defense has given up a total of 208 rushing yards the past two games after yielding an average of 232.8 yards in the first four weeks. Suddenly the possibility of making it to a bowl game doesn’t seem as utterly far-fetched as it once did.

Accomplishing that, though, will require pulling off a huge upset against Fredo or the Condoms. Look for the Notre Dame campus to be energized this coming week, and the stadium to be jumping when the Eagles come to town. The monkey’s off their back - now the Irish just need to keep on improving from week to week.