Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Sunday, September 17

Bright Spots Amidst Depression

Okay, say you’re really, really depressed right now -– which puts you in synch with the one billion Notre Dame fans world-wide. You’re looking for something positive from the Michigan debacle, which likely cost the Irish any chance of a national title –- losing that bad at home almost certainly negates any advantage you get from an early loss –- and cost Brady Quinn a chance to win the Heisman.

Now, if Ohio State’s Troy Smith throws four interceptions in a loss to Michigan or Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson fumbles four times in a loss to Nebraska, Quinn might slip back into the picture. But, realistically, that ain’t happening.

Anyway, there were two bright spots in Saturday’s game. First, and most obvious, was punter Geoff Price averaging 51.9 yards on his seven punts. He had a long of 59 yards. He nailed two punts inside the 20-yard line.

This was no surprise considering he entered the game averaging 48.0 yards a punt. What was surprising was that he punted almost as many times against Michigan and he did total in the first two games (eight). That’s indicative of the Wolverines’ stout defense and Notre Dame’s surprising offensive inconsistency.

That brings us to left tackle Ryan Harris, who coach Charlie Weis praised today as having a good game against Michigan. Not a perfect game, but good enough that, if his teammates had duplicated his effort, the Irish would have rushed for more than four yards, done better than 2-for-14 on third-down conversions and, in short, actually had a chance against the Wolverines.

They get to redeem themselves Saturday night at Michigan State in a game that probably will end around midnight. No matter. Notre Dame has to win. If it doesn’t, well, no sense in depressing you any more than you already are.


Blogger Chad said...

Michigan exploited what Ohio State exposed in the Fiesta Bowl last year - the fact that the secondary cannot contain teams with speed on the outside. Notre Dame appears to have trouble when facing an opponent witth good team speed. Both Michigan and Ohio State had speed on the outside and a quick aggressive defense.

I think the game on Saturday could be good or the Irish in that top deffensive recruits might look at going to Notre Dame as a chance to put them over the hump for a National title. Notre Dame already has the top offensive recruit signed, and if Weis can get a couple of cornerbacks or a good safety, I think it might be enough to bring it home.

Certainly, Notre Dame needs more than just a cornerback or two to bolster team speed, but it would be a step in the right direction.

September 18, 2006 9:23 AM

Blogger Pete DiPrimio said...

Chad: You're right about the secondary speed, although to be fair, not many teams will be able to cover Michigan's receivers. They are big time. Still, the Irish need to continue upgrading this position, and it would help to get more pressure on the quarterback. That's going to be tough with MSU's Drew Stanton, who is very mobile and runs almost as well as he throws. It could be a tough, tough day for the defense, so the offense had better be dialed in.

September 19, 2006 3:42 PM


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