Monday, September 26, 2005

Notre Dame 36, Washington 17

It wasn't a pretty win, but it also wasn't nearly as close as the score suggests.

The Irish defense struggled all day to contain Washington's passing attack, giving up over 400 yards passing. Maybe this secondary isn't as far removed from the horrible unit of last year, but they were effective in keeping Washington out of the end zone. The Irish held the Huskies to only a field goal until late in the game, during garbage time, when Washington was able to put up two scores. The Irish rush defense was stellar, holding the Huskies to only 41 yards on the ground. Also, the defense is showing a real intensity in the red zone, garnering two more red zone turnovers this week, a fumble recovery on the 1-foot line, and an end-zone interception. The Irish also forced a tunover on downs and another fumble inside their 40. The Irish defense 1st string didn't give up a touchdown, but did give up plays of 39, 69, and 49 yards.

The offense moved the ball all day, but sputtered early in scoring position. The first drive, which started at our own 1-yard line (see the picture below for a related story), ended with a muffed field goal attempt. The second drive ended with a field goal from the 7, after failing to punch it in after a first and goal on the 7. Finally, our third drive resulted in a touchdown (although a botched XP). Our final drive of the first half sputtered again, resulting in a 39-yard field goal.

After turning the ball over on downs inside our 30-yard line twice to start the second half, the going was much smoother for the offense. The next four drives were TD, FG, TD, TD, including a beautiful 52-yard strike to Samardzija, who is quickly establishing himself as an All-American receiver.

Notre Dame finally punted the ball for the first time with seconds left on the clock, the final play of the game.

Special team were inconsistent this week. A botched field goal and extra point, and a fumble on a punt return (which we recovered) marred the effort. High points were a nice looking 31-yard kickoff return by David Grimes, and a blocked punt by Chase Anastacio.

Overall, the team was sloppy, but good enough to give the reserves a couple of series. If the Irish expect to win next week at Purdue, they need to improve their pass defense and pass rush, but Purdue's pass defense is even worse than ours was last year, and what was the nation's best rush defense the first two weeks against weak opponents for Purdue gave up over 300 yards to Minnesota, who has a similar caliber rushing attack to our own.

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