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Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen

Notre Dame vs USC report card

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Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen

Grading the Irish. The table was set for the Irish- appetizer, entrée and desert. They were practically bending over to be seated for a date with destiny. But their arch-rival guests pulled their chairs back and the whole team fell loudly to the floor: Left only with a sour taste in their mouths.

Offense:

It’s difficult to win any game when your defense gives up five touchdowns. The offense didn’t have such a terrible outing against the highly touted USC defense. They compiled 367 total yards including 285 passing yards from Clausen.  Also, a new playmaker emerged Saturday, Mr. Robby Parris.  If the senior receiver could keep that going for the rest of the season, the offense will be that much more dangerous. 

But when the game was in the balance, the Irish offense sputtered. They had three tries to get in the end zone from four yards out and all attempts failed. Two of the three plays weren’t even close either.  

Give them credit for continuing to play hard when they were down big in the fourth quarter and for finding Golden Tate down the stretch. He continues to amaze. Grade: B.

Defense:

Their Achilles heel all season long. The Irish D was embarrassed for over 500 total yards, 380 of which were thrown by freshman Matt Barkley. They let up a whopping 13 yards per pass and it was easily USC’s best offensive output of the year.   

The first half actually wasn’t so bad, but the first three USC possessions of the second half resulted in three touchdowns for the Trojans. There weren’t getting to Barkley enough, and the one time they did in the second half, he threw a sixty yard beauty to his TE Anthony McCoy. 

Gary Gray did make a key interception in the fourth quarter, but other than that, the defense was laughable. Not sure how they get much better from here on out.   Grade: D

Special Teams:

Punter Eric Maust did an awesome job throwing a fake field goal pass to a wide open Robby Parris. It was good see the trickery by the Irish coaches. Just wish we saw a little bit more.

Tausch was held without a field goal attempt for the first time all season and they’ve yet to make a big play with their kick return game. They even put Tate back there with freshman Theo Riddick but neither could break one. Grade: B

Overall:

Like I’ve said, it was all there for the Irish. Coach Weis still doesn’t have a signature win, nor does Jimmy Clausen. All the pessimism could have vanished from South Bend with a few more breaks. But hey, there’s always next year…to make it nine in a row.

Grade: C 

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