Saturday, September 10, 2005

Charlie Weis & a Guy Named Brady...

No, not Tom Brady - Brady Quinn. The kid who just led the Irish to a 17-10 victory over #3 Michigan at the big house in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

While the Irish offense was impressive (the opening drive was once again reminiscent of the Patriot offenses that Weis managed in New England) - it was the defense that was surprising and probably the most important component of the victory (apart from the always important turnovers, of course).

The Irish defense controlled the line of scrimmage and took away the Michigan running game from the get-go (while they had a few big break-away runs, for the most part Michigan was generally frustrated when they tried the run), which forced them to rely almost completely on the pass attack throughout the game (and Henne couldn't get anything going on this front either).

On the other side of the ball, the Irish had a balanced offensive attack (140 yards passing/107 rushing), and were as comfortable on the run as they were in the pass. Darius Walker is a creative runner (although one wishes that at times he would quit trying to be too creative and just run for forward progress) who is a significant improvement over Ryan Grant from last year.

If these first 2 games are any indication, this balanced Irish offensive attack will give opposing defenses fits this year.

One final note on the game: Even though the Big Ten refs were trying their best to gift wrap the game for Michigan with 2 terrible calls toward the end of the game (the first - a Michigan fumble at the goal line that wasn't called by the refs on the field, and the second - a called fumble against ND), the replays reversed both calls and kept the playing field even on 2 critical turnover calls in Notre Dame territory.

While the season is far from over, one wonders whether this season will be just as much of an indictment of Ty Willingham as it will serve as a validation of Charlie Weis.

Regardless of the final verdict pronounced on Willingham though, it appears that Weis is one hell of a coach.

I have been a ND fan since I was a kid, and I've been going to home games since the 1st grade since my dad gets tickets to all of the home games every year and he graciously gives me at least 2 tickets every year (as of this writing I have 2 tickets to the Tennessee and BYU games this year).

Even so, I'm a realist and I fully expected Notre Dame to lose this game - especially after Pitt got beat by Ohio yesterday (which called into question the quality of the Irish victory against Pitt last week) and especially because Michigan is notoriously difficult to beat at home.

Nevertheless, this was one quality win that should catapult Notre Dame into the top ten.

We'll just have to wait to see how the polls turn out Sunday evening.

I love football season.