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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/01/2007 07:51:00 PM

Saturday Observations Part II

Evan Sharpley
Notre Dame quarterbacks faced heat all day from an aggressive Georgia Tech defense.
Finally, I understand why Charlie Weis wanted to keep the identity of his quarterback a secret. Someone might have charged the coach with reckless endangerment.

We knew Notre Dame’s young offense would endure some growing pains this season, but I did not anticipate anything as gruesome as Saturday’s 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech. It didn’t particularly matter who Weis put behind center -- all three candidates, starter Demetrius Jones, Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen, saw action -- because Notre Dame's offensive line was utterly helpless in trying to stop the Jackets’ defensive front. The Irish managed an abysmal 121 total yards, and 25 percent of their plays in the first half netted negative yardage.

The phenom Clausen did provide a few brief glimpses with some throws he made upon finally entering in garbage time, but it’s always deceiving to read too much into a team’s performance once the outcome is in hand (Arkansas fans spent an entire season last year waiting for Mitch Mustain to replicate his “magical” drive late in a 50-14 loss to USC.) Although the NBC broadcasting crew seemed to back Clausen, I don't think we’ll see him starting next week at Penn State. If he was healthy enough to play, than it stands to reason Weis would have put him in sooner if he felt it could have made a difference.

I’m guessing Weis realized going in his line could be a potential disaster, and he doesn’t want to risk crushing his young QB’s confidence by throwing him to the wolves. Jones and Sharpley may have to serve as sacrificial lambs in the early part of this season.

∙ In this week’s Mailbag, I posed 10 questions I wanted to see answered this weekend, one of which was, “How good is [Boston College quarterback] Matt Ryan?” Answer: Really, really, really good.

With a new offensive coordinator, Steve Logan, who has no reservations whatsoever putting the ball in the air early and often, both the now-healthy Ryan and the Eagles themselves looked like a whole new team in Saturday’s 38-28 win over Wake Forest. Ryan’s numbers: 32-of-52 for 406 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. The Eagles also have a big-time playmaker in cornerback DeJuan Tribble, who picked off three Riley Skinner passes.

∙ Illinois nearly pulled off a huge comeback and would given third-year coach Ron Zook a much-needed momentum-builder against Missouri, but Tigers QB Chase Daniel was simply too much for the Illini, going 37-of-54 for 358 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-34 win. That said, the Illini’s 429-yard performance -- much of it coming with backup QB Eddie McGee at the helm after Juice Williams got knocked out -- was not a good sign for Missouri’s rebuilt defense.

∙ I’ve been saying all summer that, with all due respect to Steve Slaton, QB Pat White would emerge as West Virginia’s more viable Heisman candidate this season by finally becoming a true dual-threat. Saturday against Western Michigan -- a team that’s been almost universally picked to win the MAC this year -- White posted some pretty impressive numbers: 10-of-18 for 192 yards and two touchdowns; nine rushes for 98 yards and another two scores.

He and Slaton both sat out the fourth quarter of a 62-24 snoozer. That’s when much-anticipated freshman RB Noel Devine entered the game, rushing eight times for 46 yards and a touchdown and catching a 19-yard pass. Here’s guessing he’ll be seeing earlier action soon.

∙ So much for those doomsday scenarios regarding Wisconsin post-John Stocco. Replacement Tyler Donovan was a cool 19-of-29 for 284 yards, three TDs and no INTs in a 42-21 win over Washington State.

∙ I caught a lot of flak from Virginia columnists (though not so much Cavaliers fans) when I placed Al Groh on top of my annual worst-coaches list this summer. I wonder if any of them are starting to reevaluate America’s least productive $2 million coach in light of this score Saturday: Wyoming 23, Virginia 3.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |


Posted: 9:27 PM   by Sean
Is it even possible for a I-AA team like say i don't know Appalachian State to be ranked?
Posted: 10:32 PM   by Tom
Quite right about ND hardship: no offensive line. This is something the team has been carrying for the past two years and it does not seem to get any better.
Evan Sharpley should be, for what we saw on today's game, the QB for the season with Clausen as back up.
Demetrious Jones should be made a running back/wide receiver where I think he would have better chances of being successful and useful for the team.
Posted: 10:36 PM   by The Dude
Wyoming 23, Virginia 3.
For a team that was supposed to be the "ACC's most improved"...UVA certainly didn't start it out on the right note. Al Groh certainly needs to get more serious about his job...heck I could motivate a decently-talented ACC team to score 3 points on the road, and only ask for two-hundred dollars, much less two-million. As a student at a university who also has one of your 'worst coaches' picks (see: Thomas Bowden), I hope for more success Monday night than the incredibly poor performances we've seen out of the mediocrity (See: Virginia, NC State, Wake)in the ACC this week.
Posted: 11:04 PM   by Steven
I can't wait now for Notre Dame to come to UCLA. Seeing how bad they are, and how much the Bruin players will have revenge on their minds, that October game will be a blow out. Nothing better than to see Notre Dame get put in its place.
Posted: 9:44 AM   by jeff
sm--When are we going to stop hearing what a genius charlie weis is? He is the king of the blowouts. ND's last 4 losses have all been by 30 points or more and this team looks dreadful.
Posted: 2:07 PM   by Chad
How low will the media lower the bar for notre dame and still be able to refer to Charlie Weis as a "genius?" Weis is really giving all the geniuses out there a bad name. How many big games have they won since he's been there? ND's coach is as overhyped as their program is. Weis probably has the name "Tom Brady" tattooed on his heart to show to recruits because that's basically the only selling point the guy has.
Posted: 2:16 PM   by Chad
Here's a transcript of the general media portrayal of Charlie Weis.

August 31: "If Notre Dame wins 7 games this year, Weis is a genius and should be coach of the year."

September 2: "If Notre Dame wins 6 games this year, Weis is a genius and should be coach of the year."

December 1: "Notre Dame won 5 games this year, but winning their last 4 in a row (check the schedule) shows how the team is progressing under the genius that is Weis. They should be pre-season top 10 in '08."
Posted: 8:37 PM   by Michael
Actually, the App State upset is EXACTLY like Hoosiers. Forget the movie version- Milan High School had lost in the finals the year before, in 1953. In 1954 they went to the final game again and won. They didn't come out of nowhere- they had a great program, much like App Sate. This isn't to take anything away- it was a great victory by each program, but the comparison to Hoosiers is very apt.
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