Notre Dame took care of business on Saturday as the Irish dominated the Washington Huskies in all facets of the game, winning 33-7 for its first win away from home this season.
Irish gunslinger Jimmy Clausen connected with standout true freshman WR Michael Floyd less than three minutes into the ball game for a 51-yard touchdown reception. Floyd, who recorded his third 100+ yard performance, showed off his speed and athletic ability as he evaded the Washington secondary en route to the endzone.
Golden Tate scored a few minutes later on an end-around to extend the ND lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. "I think we let up once we had them 14-0," quipped Tate after the game.
Two quick scores were more than enough support for a swarming Irish defense that created headaches for Washington QB Ronnie Fouch all game long. The Irish D finished with 4 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, and prevented the Husky offense from crossing the 50-yard line until late in the fourth quarter.
Harrison Smith finished with 2 sacks, totaling 21 yards, but provided even more of a spark on special teams. Late in the third quarter on a 4th and 13 from ND's 37 yard line, Smith took a direct snap and scampered 35 yards. The Associated Press had the following to say about the play:
Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who exchanged a handshake and appeared cordial with Willingham on the field after the game, said he wanted to run that play late in the first half but the clock ran out on him. His team had practiced against a certain look he planned to exploit on Washington's punt-return unit. It was heavy on defenders outside, setting up for a return. That left Smith free and "excited," the linebacker said, in the middle.Asked if he thought about what the perception of such a play would be coming with a 24-point lead on an obviously overmatched opponent, Weis said: "No. It's the third quarter. ... It's not 50-0. I'm not that type of guy. ... We yanked guys at the start of the fourth quarter. Their only touchdown at the end was against guys who never play. No, that's not our deal."Given the current landscape of the game, with teams racking up inordinate amounts of points in hopes of earning "style" points with voters, it is refreshing to hear Coach Weis openly admit his opposition to such tactics.
The Husky offense never get off the ground, amassing a measly 124 yards and earning only 9 first downs. Moreover, the only Husky points were scored when the game had already been decided and Notre Dame had removed its first-teamers.
On the other side of the ball, the Husky defense was trampled over by Notre Dame's running attack all night long. James Aldridge scored a career-high 2 TDs on 13 carries 84 yards rushing, Armando Allen added 62 yards on 15 carries, and Robert Hughes added 19 yards on 4 carries.
True freshman RB Jonas Gray received his first game action on the offensive side of the ball (he has appeared on special teams in several games) and gained 61 yards on 9 carries.
Irish kicker Brandon Walker booted two field goals, a welcome surprise from his performance leading up to the game. Walker's improvement, however, didn't stop Coach Weis from testing out walk-on David Ruffer, the newest addition to the Irish roster. Ruffer misfired on an extra point attempt in his only game action.
Overall, this was the perfect game for Notre Dame to have scheduled coming off of a bye week. Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham looked stoic throughout the game as he watched what was likely one of his last few games as a Husky employee. For a very thorough take on Willingham's coaching abilities, take a look at this gem from the fine folks at NDNation.
Next up for the Irish: Pittsburgh on November 1 at 2:30 EST on NBC.