Game notes: Another close call for Fighting IrishPublished 10:45am Sunday, October 4, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Another game, another close call for Notre Dame.
Outside of their lopsided win over Nevada in the opening game, the Fighting Irish have been in four games that were decided by a touchdown or less.
Removing the tarp
Around 11 a.m., the Notre Dame grounds crew removed the tarp covering the playing surface.
A mix of sun, clouds and rain met the grass, which looked to be in great shape.
All eyes on Clausen
It wasn’t tough to see whom Irish fans were watching run out of the tunnel. It appeared that all eyes were turned to Jimmy Clausen and his now infamous toe. Prior to taking a snap in the actual game, Clausen did not appear to have a limp as was present during pre-game at Purdue.
Unlike last against the Boilermakers, Notre Dame running back Armando Allen was not relegated to the sidelines. The Irish running back was pacing the sidelines like a caged animal prior to the start of the game. He would later leave the game after re-injuring his ankle.
It didn’t take long for the officials to make themselves known in the game as on Washington’s second play from scrimmage, a replay was needed to decide on whether or not the Huskies fumbled the football.
The call was reversed and Washington maintained possession at the Notre Dame 46-yard line.
Impressive first drive
Jake Locker and the Huskies made the most of their second chance and drove the ball down the field and scored on a quarterback draw from six yards out to score first and quiet the Notre Dame crowd.
Great start, sort of
The Fighting Irish decided to go with an end around on its first offensive play. Allen hands the ball to Golden Tate, who then carries the ball well into Washington territory for the longest run of his career. Allen followed that up with a long run to put Notre Dame inside the Huskies’ 10-yard line.
Notre Dame unfortunately has to settle for a field goal after sputtering offensively.
Tausch on a roll
Freshman Notre Dame field goal kicker Nick Tausch connected on his sixth straight field goal to cut the Washington lead to 7-3. Tausch missed his first career collegiate kick, but has been perfect every since.
Running a trick play out of the Wildcat formation not only got Clausen sacked, but he came up limping. He followed that up though with a strong throw for a first down.
Manti seeing action
In his most extensive action of the season, freshman Manti Te’o made his presence felt early and often in the opening half for Notre Dame.
All day to throw
Notre Dame’s offensive line did a good job in the first half of giving Clausen all day to throw the football. It also opened up some huge holes to run through.
Settling for field goals
Notre Dame was unable to dent the end zone through the first quarter and a half, settling for three field goals to take a 9-7 lead.
In a season filled with great plays by Clausen, the decision to try and throw the football to a well-covered Allen turned out bad for the Fighting Irish. Clausen’s ended up throwing the ball backward and it was picked up by Washington’s Desmond Trufant and returned 17-yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Trufant, a freshman, is the younger brother of Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant.
The Fighting Irish responded to the miscue by using three plays to score and reclaim the lead. Clausen, after scrambling out of the pocket, hit Tate for a 67-yard touchdown in which he broke a trio of tackles.
It was an ugly end to an entertaining first half with both teams committing turnovers. The final seconds of the quarter ended up going in favor of the Huskies, who kicked a 40-yard field goal to take a 17-16 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Trufant isn’t the only play with family ties playing for Washington. Inside linebacker Trenton Tuisosopo is the cousin of former Huskies Marques Zach Tuisosopo.
Another great start, sort of
On the first play from scrimmage to start the second half, Clausen hit Tate for a 77-yard gain down to the Washington 2-yard line. The Huskies rose to the occasion and forced Notre Dame to settle for a 21-yard field goal his 10 straight made kick.
Timely time out
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian called a time out after the Huskies got a first down following Notre Dame’s field goal. He apparently saw something he wanted to make a point about. Whatever he said to his offense, it worked; Washington methodically worked its way down the field to take a 24-19 lead.
Finding the holes
Once again, the Notre Dame defense is giving up large chunks of yardage in the second half. Washington has been able to move the ball both through the air and on the ground.
Key goal line stand
Just when it looked like the Huskies were going to pull away from the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame came up with a goal line stand to keep Washington from scoring. They stopped Locker twice on quarterback sneaks from inside the 2-yard line at the end of the third quarter.
The Fighting Irish would have to repeat their goal-line stand, twice, in the fourth quarter to keep Washington from going up two scores.
Huskies a mystery
Many in the press box wondered a loud how Washington could have been winless in 2008 and lost so badly to Stanford last week.
One of the reasons Washington is improved this season is it has 11 freshmen or sophomores listed on the two-deep chart.
Five is not enough
Tausch tied a Notre Dame record with five field goals in the game. The Fighting Irish, however, couldn’t use a field goal at the end of the game. It needed a touchdown to beat the Huskies.
Creative time keeping
Washington scored with 2:52 remaining in the game according to the scoreboard clock. However, officials moved the clock back to 3:04, giving Notre Dame 2:56 to work with for a final game-winning drive. The officials repeatedly put time back on the clock during the contest.
No defense allowed
With more than over 700 yards in total offense, one can easily forget about the defensive plays that kept the game close. Notre Dame was able to keep Washington out of the end zone on a couple of occasions, while the Huskies forced the Fighting Irish into five field goals.
One play makes all the difference
Finally, on fourth and 20, the Notre Dame defense stepped up and separated the ball from Washington receiver D’Andre Goodwin on what would have been a first down and extended the Huskies chances of scoring in overtime.
- By SCOTT NOVAK