Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Despite the pathetic attempt of Stanford OL Chris Marinelli to pump up his team, the Irish managed to defeat the Cardinal 28-21 this past Saturday on a weekend that celebrated the 100th Birthday of the greatest fight song ever written: The Notre Dame Victory March.

Notre Dame was led by Jimmy Clausen, who set a career high in passing yards for the second straight game. In all he finished with 347 yards on 29 of 40 passes and 3 touchdowns. His play throughout was impressive, especially his increasing ability to check down his receivers to find the open man instead of trying to force a play to happen. He has shown marked improvement since the start of the season, let alone last year.

True freshman Michael Floyd turned in his second straight 100 yard receiving game, hauling in  5 catches for 115 yards and a beautiful 48 yard TD pass courtesy of second quarter connection with Clausen.

Kyle Rudolph snagged his second TD pass in as many games, but the biggest takeaway from his play was his increased blocking ability. With Will Yeatman's fate still up in the air after a run-in with the law several weeks ago (he met with the University officials earlier today to plead his case) it is refreshing that the drop off in skills is not as great as many perceived it to be. ND would obviously prefer to have both available, but it is refreshing to know that Rudolph is a suitable back up option (keep in mind that both Rudolph and Yeatman were behind the injured Mike Ragone at the beginning of fall camp).

The Irish D played well against the pass but performed miserably against the scampering trees. Three first half interceptions of Stanford QB Tavita Pritchard helped set the stage for a commanding 21-7 lead at the half. 

A recurring theme throughout the weekend was the sheer lack of class exhibited by Jim Harbaugh and his band of fighting trees. A report from a sophomore band member revealed the overzealousness exuded by the Cardinal prior to kickoff. DT James McGillicuddy and WR Doug Baldwin were among the several Cardinal players to taunt the Notre Dame Band as the team entered into the locker room. I bet they also enjoy taking lunch money from little children and clubbing baby seals. Spineless.

As childish as the Cardinal players were, they were undoubtedly inspired by their fearless leader Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Late in the second quarter the Cardinal punted away to Armando Allen, who signaled for a fair catch. Nate Wilcox-Fogel of the Cardinal got in the way of Allen and the ball caromed off Wilcox-Fogel's shoulder, onto Allen, and was scooped up by a Cardinal player who ran in for what Harbaugh thought was a TD. The officials, however, ruled that Allen was interfered with (and rightfully so), setting off a tirade from Harbaugh. As any four-year old denied of what he/she wanted would behave, Harbaugh put up quite the stink: he stormed onto the field almost to the middle of the field, screamed at the referees, and threw his hat in the direction of the fans sitting behind the Cardinal bench. Potty-trained? I think not.

For the first time in awhile ND put up a fight and did not back down all weekend. Pat Kuntz put forth one of the best defensive efforts I've seen in the last few years. During the Friday pep rally, Kuntz addressed the idiotic remarks from Marinelli. In typical Kuntzian fashion, he ripped off his suit during his speech, stating "something doesn't feel right... I just don't feel like I'm myself." Kyle McCarthy came up to the podim during Kuntz's speech and asked how Kuntz would react to Marinelli's comments during the game. After a long list of hypothetical ways McCarthy proposed to handle the situation, Kuntz concluded his speech with "I'm gonna rip his head off, Go Irish!"

Kuntz owned up to his pep rally declaration, finishing with 1 tipped ball, 1 interception, 2 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. The fumble recovery occurred on the last play of the game, after which Kuntz spiked the ball. Stanford did not take kindly to Kuntz's enthusiasm and tempers flared. Here's a good look at what transpired as a result: end of game fight.

  • "Pac-10 officials have reviewed video of the play and it is apparent the Stanford player covering the punt impeded the Notre Dame player attempting to catch it. The call was correct. NCAA playing rule 6-4-1 states in part 'A player of the receiving team within the boundary lines must be given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the kick.' Even though the player attempting to catch the kick was bumped by his teammate, he still attempted to catch the kick and was impeded by the Stanford player. The rule places the onus on the kicking team member to avoid impeding the opportunity to catch the ball."  ~ Jim Hansen, Pac-10 Commissioner
  • "I got pushed out of bounds and Kyle McCarthy was mad at me because I didn't pitch it back to him. I figured we might as well just let me spike it out of bounds." ~ Pat Kuntz, Notre Dame DL
  • "There was a lot of talking going on between all of us. It was just a battle. I have to give them credit. They are a good team and they are a very improved team from last year, just like us. Good luck to them in the rest of their season." ~ Pat Kuntz, Notre Dame DL

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