hawaii notes

• re: Clausen -- awesome game by him, best of his career I would guess. However, I have to say that no throw he made really "surprised" me. We've seen Jimmy have other good games, even earlier this year (Purdue, Stanford). To tell you the truth, I was more surprised earlier this year with his long throws against Michigan, etc -- that was the first time they let him loose to throw down the field since he's been at Notre Dame. Against Hawaii, it was more like, "Good to see Jimmy return to form" rather than, "Where has this guy been all season?"

• It could have been me, but I thought we had at least one different run in the game. There seemed to be something that was a bit quicker. More of a quick trap or something. It was to Hughes.

• For a guy who had a fumble recovery and an interception, Bruton wasn't so hot. Two bad missed tackles and the roughing the punter penalty.

• Watching Sergio play, I really couldn't help but think that we were improving at just about every position on defense next year...even though we're losing Bruton. I know that sounds crazy, but he has really come a long way. Lambert, Crum, Justin Brown, even Kuntz...you could argue that their replacements next year will be even better.

• Best screen game we've seen in a long time. Seeing Chris Stewart out on the perimeter is scary.

• Next year we need to use 2-TE a lot, with Tate as the receiver in it (like we did against MIchigan). He single-handedly will take two players (corner and safety) out of the defense. We should be able to go deep a lot, and it should open up the running game. Also, imagine the play action to the TE from that if the safety is shaded over to Tate. Oh my.

• Next year it's also going to be unfair when we send out Floyd, Tate, Walker, and Rudolph and have them run four verticals. It's really going to open the underneath for screens and dump-offs. At the same time, if a defense is anything but cover 4, Clausen should be able to find the open guy.

• Was this the first time where we consistently burnt teams down the middle with the TE? Did that force Hawaii out of their cover 2?

• Couldn't help but look ahead to '09 during the game-- what is ND going to do on defense? How do you get Fleming and Neal on the field together? How do you get Sergio, Hayseed (he's going back to FS, right?), and McCarthy on the field at the same time? How do you get Blanton, McNeil, and Walls on the field together? For the first time that I can remember, we have more than 11 good
players on defense. Wow.

• This game should finally put the "ND has no team speed" myth to rest.

• Someone noted that ND's final sack gave Hawaii 59 sacks for the year. That means ND no longer has the record for most sacks in a single season. I had checked the sack numbers before the game and they were listed at 49, which means they should have 57 now and be one short of ND's record.

• I thought Greg Alexander was a dead ringer for Joey Fatone.

• Still had trouble on the stretch runs. Did any of them gain yardage?

• Another screen to TE. Another loss.

• ND largely didn't retaliate when Hawaii took cheap shots. (no wonder they lead the nation in penalties)

• Sergio Brown's excessive celebration penalty was silly, but it was funny to watch him the rest of the game just walk off the field after the subsequent big plays like he was walking into a library. And Tate formally shaking hands with linemen after scoring gave me a laugh. The refs look like hysterical ninnies when they clamber all over a player who just scored, trying to shush him.

• Golden Tate can not be stopped.

• Nice to see Haywood get the gatorade bath sendoff.

• Fleming's sack against Hawaii was nearly the same as his other one against Stanford. He looped inside and ran right through the arms of the guard trying to slow him down. Man on a mission.

• Am I the only computer nerd who noticed the small CRT monitor next to Charlie in the booth from the 1970s?

• I think Jonas Gray is going to be a good one. He's a hard runner.

• The TE screen may have lost yards, but it also (sorta) netted 50+ yards against Syracuse, as a bullshit penalty wiped it out. But I thought it took too long to set up, and Clausen didn't really sell the first fake well enough.

• #62 was the worst cheap-shot artist of all the Hawaii guys. He had two personal fouls, I think.

• I think Charlie and the other players in the postgame talking about the bowl practices and the attention to detail in the passing game is insightful. They essentially had a two week tune-up.

• That waterslide clip, and the luau shots, etc...it really was the first time I think I've ever seen candid shots of our guys having fun. There's no doubt that they do have fun from time to time, but you just never see it. But this situation was different: you never, ever, have the opportunity where you can take a full breather for a couple of weeks, finish exams without practice interruptions, hit the islands, have some fun, get recharged, and then go out and play. The importance of all that cannot be overstated. I think ND can be a stifling environment, from the academic pressures, to the "no-fun" rules (especially this year, with the Yeatman situation), to snowballs and boos and everything else. And the high expectations. Mix in a coach who claims that "all coaches are miserable" (which isn't true, of course) and what you've got is culture where everyone is just tight, tight, tight, all the time. It's like baseball players who tense up and can't hit in the postseason. So I can't applaud enough the decision to get out to Hawaii for this game, and especially to mix in some fun. I think these guys needed some balance, and I think this was just the thing.

• I guess there was part of me that thought that the bowl game would provide some semblance of clarity about this team that we really haven't had since the Penn State '06 game. And to be honest I'm now more confused than ever. Weis whole business-like NFL-ish approach has yielded a scattershot, inconsistent, at times laughable team....so they go to Hawaii and hit the water parks and luaus and they set all kinds of offensive bowl records. Makes perfect sense.

• I enjoy the irony that the "worst ND recruiting class in school history" tag is side by side with "the class that broke the bowl drought."  Makes me smile.  Those kids can go out feeling good about themselves.