Monday, October 24, 2005

Re-writing the Notre Dame record books

Brady broke the all-time records for touchdowns in a game and in a season, Stovall broke the all-time record for TD receptions in a game, and Jeff "The Shark" Samardzija tied the record high for touchdown receptions in a season.

Oh, and for those that are counting, Brady has 2,352 yards on the year to date, just 401 behind all-time leader Jarious Jackson - at his current pace, Brady will beat that mark by over 1,200 yards at season's end.

And its not all passing. Despite having some less-than-stellar performances the past couple of games, Darius Walker is still on pace to finish the season with nearly 1,100 yards, which would place him in the top 10 seasons in the history of Notre Dame. And, lest we forget, he's a sophomore. Only Autry Denson and Allen Pinkett have had sophomore years as prolific.

And the weakest part of the schedule is still ahead. This team still has four more games to play. And of those four, three of them have losing records, and the toughest opponent (Tennessee) has a .500 record right now (they'll likely be 4-3 when they coming limping into Notre Dame Stadium).

This team has plenty of time to pad their stats for the post-season awards, and I wouldn't be surprised if Brady starts to get even more Heisman cred late in the season with the numbers he'll put up. However, barring an injury or horrible case of fumblitis (and possibly even despite anything that happens) Reggie Bush will win the Heisman.

My predictions for post-season awards (through this week):

Heisman Memorial Trophy (Player of the Year)
Reggie Bush, USC
Runner-up: Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
Invited: Matt Leinart, USC; Vince Young, Texas; Maurice Drew, UCLA
Snubbed: DeAngelo Williams, Memphis;

Maxwell Award (Player of the Year)
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
Runner-up: Reggie Bush, USC

Walter Camp Award (Player of the Year)
Reggie Bush, USC
Runner-up: DeAngelo Williams, Memphis

Davey O'Brien award (Most Outstanding Quarterback)
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
Runner-up: Matt Leinart, USC

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (Outstanding Senior Quarterback)
Matt Leinart, USC
Runner-up: Brodie Croyle, Alabama

Doak Walker Award (Best Running Back)
DeAngelo Williams, Memphis
Runner-up: Maurice Drew, UCLA

Fred Biletnikoff Award (Best Receiver)
Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame
Runner-up: Dwayne Jarret, USC

Fred Mackey Award (Best Tight End)
Garrett Mills, Tulsa
Runner-up: Anthony Fasano, Notre Dame

I am a big football geek, but I don't have any way of determining the best offensive lineman awards or any of the defensive awards, as I don't have time to watch that much game tape. And I didn't feel like figuring out the Groza Award for best kicker.

Notre Dame 49, Brigham Young 23

As I predicted, this wasn't much of a contest. Notre Dame came out a little flat, and weren't really able to stretch their defensive muscles until the second half. The offense, however, looked good pretty much all day.

Coach Weis, as he is apt to do, surprised me once again. Sometime towards the end of the first series, I was beginning to wonder if we had even dressed a running back. The game started in a 5-wide formation, and Darius didn't come into the game until very late in the drive. Weis bumfuzzled the opposing defenders with a series of three-step drops, quickly punching them in their soft spots. Their befuddlement only increased as the game wore on, and at one point, the defense was so confused that they let Jeff Samardzija into the end zone a good 7-10 yards behind EVERY defender. Needless to say, Brady found him for a TD.

The biggest surprise of this game was the breakout game of Maurice Stovall. He suddenly developed All-American hands and some wicked speed during his runs after the catch.

The defense, after a slow start, settled down, and developed some momentum at the end of the game, culminating in an 83-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tom Zbikowski.

I've lost count of how many red-zone interceptions the Irish have recorded this year, but at this point, it's well past luck, and well into habit.