Thanks to Dorrell just like last year, there is not much excitement around a game, that many of us had circled on our calendar when it got scheduled during Donahue's later (mediocre) years in Westwood.
I am as fired up about UCLA taking on an 0-5 Notre Dame team, as I would get for a pre season games against San Diego State. As we have mentioned multiple times, a victory in this game will mean "nothing" in terms of the big picture take on UCLA football. A blowout win in this game will not erase the stain of the debacle in Salt Lake City. And considering we are more than 20 point favorites, anything less than a blowout win, will be considered as a huge let down in BN.
And if you just take a cursory look at the numbers, you'd realize what a mistmatch this game is on paper. Still with all that out of the way we have Dorrell and Notre Dame no matter will always be Notre Dame, when it comes to college football. There is no way UCLA should lose this game. And if somehow Irish manage to break their winless streak, that will most likely be one of the final nail in Dorrell's coffin at the Rose Bowl.
So with that in mind lets take a look at the Notre Dame D:
|Bruin Offense||07 Rank||Per Game||Irish Defense||07 Rank||Per Game|
|Rushing Offense||27||199.40||Rushing Defense||107||210.00|
|Pass Offense||60||225.20||Pass Defense||7||145.80|
|Pass Eff. Offense||63||122.61||Pass Eff. Defense||60||121.31|
|Total Offense||39||424.60||Total Defense||52||355.80|
|Scoring Offense||39||32.40||Scoring Defense||96||33.20|
Looking at these numbers, the obvious note that stuck out to me was the Irish pass defense that is ranked number 7 in the nation. It wasn?t making any sense to me. So I emailed CW our SBN colleagues who runs the wonderful Irish blog ? Rakes of Mallow ? to see if he had any answer. CW fired right back with this explanation:
But if Bell is not completely healthy, and Dorell?s joke WCO scheme is resorting to same ole same old run up the middle crap in first and second down, it will once again create a lot of pressure not just on Olson but on the offense in 3rd and long situations.
I know we sound like a broken record here, but it would be nice to get Olson to throw some medium range passes (15-20) yards on second and third downs to get him comfortable or perhaps to get him to roll out and move the pocket.
If there was a time for the UCLA offense to get clicking in all cylinders, and work out all of its kinks by playing mistake free and balanced offense, this is the game to do it. Moving on to the Irish offense.
You think the Irish defense numbers are mediocre, take a look at their ?offensive? stats, stacked up against our much hyped defense.
|Bruin Defense||07 Rank||Per Game||Irish Offense||07 Rank||Per Game|
|Rushing Defense||16||88.80||Rushing Offense||119||30.40|
|Pass Defense||100||272.60||Pass Offense||106||164.40|
|Pass Eff. Defense||56||119.40||Pass Eff. Offense||100||107.39|
|Total Defense||55||361.40||Total Offense||118||194.80|
|Scoring Defense||56||24.60||Scoring Offense||118||9.20|
Well just going by sheer numbers Notre Dame offense has been a disaster. Their offensive line has been a total mess which has been unable to open up holes for any kind of credible running attack, while not providing any protection for their embattled and inexperienced quarterbacks.
5 games into this season Notre Dame has given up an astounding 29 sacks on pace to break last year?s mark of 37 sacks.
However, despite their troubles, the Notre Dame offense has shown some sign of life notably in their passing game against the Boilermakers:
WR Golden Tate, a true freshman, had three catches for 104 yards and a touchdown against Purdue, and that doesn't begin to describe the degree of difficulty of some of those receptions. He made a leaping snag in the end zone for a 25-yard score in the fourth quarter. Earlier, he had catches of 36 and 43 yards. Looks like he needs to be on the field more. He is the first freshman at Notre Dame to get 100 receiving yards since Derrick Mayes (two catches, 100 yards) against Pittsburgh on Oct. 10, 1992.
"We've got an interesting situation developing at quarterback for ND. Sharpley has come in and he looks tremendous. And the players are responding to him."
Setting aside the silly notion that the other Irish players played harder for Evan Sharpley, Ware's comments still didn't jibe with what I was watching. Sharpley was definitely solid in relief, but was he a stark improvement from Jimmy? Up until Clausen came out of the game (for the last time), my impression was that he hadn't been playing so poorly.
Anyways I think it is safe to say the entire BN is expecting a defensive Bruin domination on Saturday. The win over hapless Oregon State has reignited the Walker hyper machine ? again. From the LA Times today:
"That is very admirable that he takes the blame, and I respect him for doing it," Taylor said. "But I can't let him. If we don't miss two tackles on that [last] play, we win the game."
Indeed, the Bruins were so passive at the end of that game it actually accented how aggressively they had played the rest of the game.
A reputation was born.
"If all you do is run, they load up the box," said Oregon State Coach Mike Riley, whose team was limited to 248 total yards Saturday. "If you try to beat them passing, they'll blitz you to death. You can't be one dimensional."
That attack strategy was honed in the NFL, where Walker spent nearly a decade as an assistant learning from Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick and Joe Gibbs.
If UCLA defense really has gotten it groove back, then it should not only beat Notre Dame, it should DOMINATE their offense, holding them to single digits, and then come out and beat up the Cal offense two weeks from Saturday.
The fact that UCLA?s defense given its edge in talent and experience should dominate the Irish is not the question, the question is whether Walker will be able to deliver against teams like Cal, WSU, Arizona, and Oregon ? that do not run conventional NFL offenses. If Walker's D delivers against those teams, then he will be worthy of the hype which he hasn't live up to at this point of the season.
Bruins need to deliver a dominating win this Saturday, and anything else will be considered as let down. We will have more on Irish through the week.