Guest SirJohn Posted October 7, 2005 Share Posted October 7, 2005 From the Cicago Sun Times ****************************** Notre-damus says USC's run is done October 7, 2005 BY JIM O'DONNELL STAFF REPORTER t SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Eight days from today, Notre Dame will record one of the greatest football victories in its history. Charlie Weis and his amazing Wee Patriots will beat No. 1 USC at Notre Dame Stadium and end the Trojans' 27-game winning streak. Benjamin Disraeli said, ''A consistent soul believes in destiny.'' Wee Willie Keeler added, ''Hit 'em where they ain't.'' Weis himself -- the new ''Guru of the Goog'' -- noted: ''Every defense has weaker players. The more you spread the defense, the easier it is to attack the weaker players at their most vulnerable -- where they have no help.'' That philosophy is the essence of the new green magic Weis has been weaving in South Destiny, Ind., this fall. Injecting the program with the stealth of the Riddler trying to boynap Robin, Weis has guided his troops to march over three then-ranked opponents: Pittsburgh, Michigan and Purdue. And save for a few lapses by the Guru himself against Michigan State -- lapses that can only bolster and help the Irish in their preparation for USC (4-0) -- Notre Dame would be a perfect 5-0 while awaiting USC. Asked Monday what play or offensive sequence he wishes he could get back this season, Weis replied: ''We lost to Michigan State, so I could think of three things that come to mind right off the bat. Obviously, we throw the interception for a touchdown. We fumble the ball on the 1-yard line, and we get the ball turned over to us at the end of the game with an opportunity to win it in regulation. I'd take any of those situations again right now if you want to give them to me.'' Few of the wee faithful would. That's because any real Irish melodrama can't reach its culmination until imposting bits of trial, truth and tribulation have dramatically increased the theatrical slope to an ultimate redemption. That midseason redemption will come for Weis and his storied program on Oct. 15 against USC. And here are seven reasons why: Timing USC is ripe to be taken down. The Trojans lack the all-field depth and talent of their back-to-back national championship teams, and the current edition has been taking a significant pounding each week as the bull's-eye game on every opponent's schedule. All-cosmos quarterback Matt Leinart, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, took a ferocious cheap shot last Saturday at Arizona State, one that eventually required seven stitches to his chin and forced Pete Carroll and Co. to become heavily run-reliant in their 38-28 comeback win. For only the second time in 30 starts, Leinart failed to throw a touchdown pass. Also, the USC secondary is splintering. That alone is enough for the eyes of Weis to get as wide as the tarmac at Shannon. Safety Kevin Ellison suffered a serious knee injury against Arizona State and is questionable for the rest of the month; cornerback Terrell Thomas is already gone with torn knee ligaments suffered against Arkansas three weeks ago. The Trojans' pass defense ranks 92nd nationally. That's only slightly upstream from Notre Dame's 112th-ranked unit. Trojan hubris They talk a massively big game in the USC locker room, which is appropriate considering their accomplishments but dicey in light of the path ahead. ''It's amazing to me how mentally tough we are,'' guard Fred Matua told media after the Arizona State game. ''This team will go through hell and back before it takes a loss,'' linebacker Oscar Lua said in a line that is already under consideration for Frank Gifford's All-Time Best 'SC Quotations -- with foreword by Marcus ''Driftwood'' Allen -- if Lua can back it up through victory in the Rose Bowl. The best championship team, the late George Allen once suggested, is one that shows its pride in its play and keeps it braggadoccio behind closed doors. That ain't the Trojans. Now the one thing Weis and staff must root for is a smooth USC victory over Arizona on Saturday -- one that would leave the Trojans smug, smiling and smarm-filled as they arrive in South Bend next weekend. Taking a punch Tucked inside the tatters of Notre Dame's overtime loss to Michigan State was a remarkable resiliency: The Irish came back from a 38-17 deficit in the second half against a keenly potent offense to tie the game. Neither time nor probabilities were on the ND side. Yet the Irish stoppers somehow overcame expectations, found a new core of resolve and blanked the explosive Spartans for the final 20 minutes of regulation. They also almost won the game with a safety during the closing minutes. Resiliency on both sides of the ball is essential for Notre Dame against USC. The Trojans' offense, like Michigan State's, will shock and awe. Offensively, there is no reason the Irish can't keep pace and pounce on the pre-emptive window when it comes along. Defensively, if Notre Dame can halt as few as three or four drives by the Trojans, that could be enough to make the difference. Especially in a game in which the over/under on combined offensive yardage should open for speculation around 1,0271/2. Vatican turnovers Both teams own positive turnover margins: USC plus-seven; ND plus-six. But it is the nature of the Irish takeaways that leave students scrambling to the Paul Newman/Rocky Graziano ''Somebody Up There Likes Them'' handbook for cosmic interpretation. Of the Irish's 12 takeaways this season -- seven fumbles and five interceptions -- eight have occured inside the ND red zone. That means eight times in five games, opponents have been knock-knock-knockin' on Charlie's door and have come away dry. The lead gate master is safety Chinendum Ndukwe, who has accounted for five of the 12 takeaways -- four fumble recoveries and one interception -- including three in the red zone. All four members of the Irish secondary -- Ndukwe, Tom Zbikowski, Mike Richardson and Ambrose Wooden -- have at least one interception. ''And none of those turnover numbers include the touchdown-saving tackles that have made them possible,'' Weis said. "That's becoming another trademark of this defense.'' Time of possession One of the oldest maxims in the game is that ''a good offense should work overtime to keep a bad defense off the field.'' ''Bad'' is an argumentative word in summarizing the ND defense, but the ball control of the Irish offense has been undeniably first-tier. Despite its overt reliance on spread-and-thread-passing, the ND offense holds a margin of nine minutes per game in time of possession -- 34:30 to 25:30. Crafting frequent respites for the defense will be essential if the Irish are to upset USC. The Wizard If Weis celebrates a seven-year anniversary under the Golden Dome, this statement will be retracted. Until then, there is no reason to believe that he has dropped anchor in South Bend. A cynical over/under would be 2-1/2 years; his son will begin high school in four, always a logical point for a commited family man such as Weis to move on. All of that said, Weis has noted that each game, for a coach, is like a job interview. As a solo artist, Weis never has been a head coach on as grand a stage as he will be when USC visits the hallowed ground of Rockne, Leahy, et al. Weis is also smart enough and spiritual enough to know that every man has a limited number of moments to achieve and flourish or fail and trod on. Weis and his supreme football intellect have no intention of failing against a fellow like Pete Carroll, whose failure with the New England Patriots set the table for the final NFL ascendancy of Weis on his destined path back to the campus of Our Lady. The universe The Intelligence Behind College Football works in strange and wondrous ways. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In the gloamin' inside Notre Dame Stadium approaching the wee hours of Oct. 15, Good-Time Charlie ain't gonna have the blues. Especially when offensively consistent souls continue to believe in destiny. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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