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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.
9/08/2007 09:30:00 PM

Saturday Observations Part III

Jimmy Clausen
Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen could not get the Irish into the end zone.
AP
BATON ROUGE, La. -- By now, it’s fairly obvious that it doesn’t matter whether Notre Dame starts Jimmy Clausen or Joe Montana under center – its offense is going nowhere fast. The Irish managed just 144 yards against Penn State (though they did cut their number of sacks in half from last week). Give Clausen credit, though: For a true freshman playing on the road, with no protection or running game to help him, he largely avoided mistakes, throwing his only interception late in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, one of my main concerns about Penn State coming into the season appears to be valid. Austin Scott is a very average running back, and it showed as he pounded out a respectable but hardly overwhelming 116 yards against the same Irish defense that allowed 265 rushing yards to Georgia Tech last week. The Nittany Lions, just like last year, will have to ride their defense to most victories.

∙ Another week, another scary performance by Florida QB Tim Tebow, who completed 18 of 21 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns in staking the Gators to a 49-7 halftime lead over Troy. He also ran for another 83 yards and two touchdowns on the night.

∙ This is why you should never read too much into one game: Georgia’s offense, so crisp last week against Oklahoma State, was highly erratic against South Carolina, save for RB Knowshow Moreno (14 carries, 104 yards). QB Matthew Stafford (19-for-44, 213 yards, one INT) wasn’t helped any by his receivers, however, who returned to their 2006 habit of dropping open touchdowns. But give credit to Steve Spurrier: He used to drive Georgia bonkers with his Fun ‘n’ Gun offense; now he’s doing it with his defense.

∙ I don’t know if Texas QB Colt McCoy is suffering from a sophomore slump, or he just doesn’t have the same quality supporting cast, but he certainly doesn’t look like the highly efficient quarterback of last year in throwing two first-half interceptions against TCU as the ‘Horns fell behind 10-0.

∙ LSU and Virginia Tech have just kicked off below me – no more blogging on other games until Five Things We Learned tomorrow.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |

Comments:

Posted: 10:36 PM   by MikeSC
Well, Spurrier has shown that his team will play to the level of its competition. This is the same team that struggled against Wofford last season yet had Florida dead to rights later in the season. They are a mysterious team.

And I'm thinking LSU might have a really solid claim for the #1 spot. They dominated Virginia Tech more than I thought anybody could.

And the ACC, clearly, is not a real good conference right now. BC might end up winning as they probably have the best QB, but nobody else has done a heck of a lot.
-=Mike
Posted: 11:53 PM   by Linus
Boy, it's a good thing that LSU-VA Tech games isn't close, because there have been some questionable calls. Especially that roughing the passer one. Protect the quarterback, but not at the expense of the game. It wasn't a late hit, it wasn't helmet to helmet, Herbstreit and Musburger said it was "high" but come on, it was square in the shoulder pads. What, the defensive ends now need to aim for the QB's legs to avoid a penalty? You sure you like where that's going, Kirk?
Posted: 11:57 PM   by The Dude
As a student at an ACC school (although an avid VT-hater), I have to say the whooping LSU is administering to Tech is almost hard to watch for the sake of the conference. Personally I felt Virginia Tech's team was highly overrated coming into this season. After week 1 my assumptions were proven right after the lackluster win over ECU. This week they've been proven more right than even I wanted them to be. The ACC's main problem is obviously it has quite a few good teams, but nobody has been able to climb that ladder and assert themselves. As the season wears on, I will be intrigued to see which of the 3 best-looking teams in the conference (Clemson, Georgia Tech, Boston College) are able to sustain their winning ways and fight for ACC supremacy...which I guess these days is like seeing who has the most ferocious chihuahua...
Posted: 12:57 AM   by Ox.
Oh, you missed a great game, Stewart.

South Florida beat Auburn at home tonight. USF should've won before it went to overtime... their dang kicker *missed* three field goals and had another one blocked.

Whew. Good day for the Big East.
Posted: 2:26 AM   by Frank
Stew, did you actually watch the PSU game? Scott wore down ND in the 2nd half, and also had a 45-yard carry called back for holding that happened on the other side of the line. Add that and he's over 160 yards. Is that immpressive enough for you?
Posted: 3:59 AM   by SasQuatch
Stewart,

Ah, Clausen did not get intercepted until late in the game.

Great! Another reason for the media to honor contracts and follow Notre Dame Football!

Let's hope that the team gives us real reasons in the future . . I think they are 0-2 right now.

Of course, they MAY have a chance in the game against the "big house team" this week!

Hey . . someone has to win, right?
Posted: 8:08 AM   by horsecoder
I agree that the ACC hasn't had much to talk about this early in the season (e.g. Miami getting crushed by #5 Oklahoma, #9 VA Tech smeared by #2 LSU, Virginia in week 1, UNC beaten by East Carolina, etc.) Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Boston College seem to be rising to the top in the ACC. Wake Forest almost beat #16 Nebraska. I believe GT will be pretty good this year especially with the many experienced players returning. We'll see next week.

I still think the SEC needs a few more non-conference games with relevancy to make a domination determination. LSU looks great. Florida is pretty good. Perennial favorites such as Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. look average.
Posted: 8:55 AM   by SOS
So many times do you deny your obvious dislike of Penn State, so many times do you stick your foot in your mouth. Stewart, anyone who watches Penn State football knows what JoePa and company are going to do against a lesser foe. They play tough defense and play things close to vest offensively. This is what they do. It should not be surprising the the offense did not put up huge numbers. Anyone familiar with this program knows this. You obviously do not. You do your best (most of the time) to hide your bias but eventually your own words are your undoing. They give you away every time.
Posted: 11:26 AM   by Sungopher
I wonder which BCS bowl game the Irish go to this year? Obviously with them its not about wins and losses. Its about the dome baby. JUST LOOK AT THE DOME!
Posted: 1:00 PM   by Michael
I have to agree with a previous post. I don't want to sound like an idiot who accuses you of bias, but it seems that you might have a small one against Penn State.

So what if they didn't match the rushing output of Georgia Tech the week before. Penn State doesn't have a running back the same calibre of Tashard Choice.

However, Penn State still rushed for 164 yards and dominated the game. They might have had less yards than the Jackets, but they dominated the game the same way GT did, with a stifling defense.
Posted: 1:51 PM   by bluegold95
I'm a Notre Dame fan, so I watched all of yesterday's game. I've always had a ton of respect for Coach Paterno and Penn State.

I don't think that it is biased or unfair to question Austin Scott and the PSU running game. Scott had 40 yards in the first half on 11 carries, and one of those was an 11-yard gain ending in a fumble.

ND's defense is average, at best. I think it's fair to question how Penn State will manage against tougher teams. Although, it looks like Wisconsin and Ohio State may be their only tests this season.

Penn State had every possible home field advantage against a young ND squad, and took most of the game to put the Irish away. Contrast that with the performance of LSU. If I were a poll voter, I'd still have a lot of questions after what Penn State showed against FIU and ND.
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