Best. Photo. Ever.

I think we have a front-runner for BrendanLoy.com Photo of the Year 2006:

Heh. That would be Mike Tran, the Irish Bruin, who was rooting for UCLA, being forced to do pushups after Notre Dame’s go-ahead touchdown. I don’t want to speculate about which finger it is that he’s sticking up, since it’s blurry enough that I have plausible deniability, but uh… yeah.

I don’t mean to gloat, though. It sucks to lose a game in such heartbreaking fashion… and there but for the grace of God Matt Leinart and Dwayne Jarrett go I. :)

Anyway, here are my videos of the game’s incredible ending. The first one is the go-ahead touchdown; I basically went nuts after the Irish scored, so the video is rather chaotic. If you get motion sickness easily from watching videos, you may want to refrain. :) The second video is Mike doing pushups, and the third one is the game-ending sack and the clock hitting 0:00.


source file


source file


source file

It was great to experience a dramatic, last-minute win at Notre Dame Stadium that I could celebrate with the crowd, instead of against them (as in the USC game last year). And, major kudos to Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and the rest of the team for an awesome final drive.

That said… Notre Dame did not impress me at all today. The Irish ARE NOT a Top 10-caliber team, and Brady Quinn IS NOT a Heisman-caliber quarterback. I love the Irish, and as such, I’d love to buy into the hype like everybody else. But I honestly don’t understand how anyone can watch this team play and conclude that they’re the #8 team in the country.

Yes, they play well in pressure-packed late-game situations (see, e.g., MSU and now UCLA), and yes, that’s important, but it’s not all there is. Playing consistently well throughout the course of a 60-minute game is the measure of a good team, as opposed to an okay team that’s just barely skating by and earning flukey wins… and throughout the course of a 60-minute game, the Irish look for all the world like a middling Top 25 team that should maybe be ranked around where Arkansas, Rutgers and Boston College are ranked.

Likewise, playing consistently well throughout the course of a 60-minute game is also the measure of a good quarterback, and while Brady Quinn always ends up with decent-to-good numbers — and he’s really, really good at two-minute drills — when you watch him play throughout a game, how can you honestly say this guy is Heisman material? Maybe the Brady Quinn of 2005 would have been Heisman-worthy, if he was up against this year’s weaker field of contenders instead of last year’s all-world trio of Bush, Young and Leinart. But this year, his flaws have been exposed time and time again. He underthrows or overthrows receivers on a regular basis, even when he’s not under that much pressure, hitting their feet or throwing over their head; when he throws short-yardage passes (which he does a bit too often for my tastes, even at times when something bolder seems appropriate), he sometimes throws the short passes too hard or too inaccurately to be caught; he’s either not mobile enough or doesn’t have good enough instincts to deal effectively with blitzes that get through the offensive line; and he doesn’t seem to have a killer instinct until he sees that the clock is under 2:00. Brady, why can’t you play the first 28 minutes of each half like you play the last 2 minutes? Why?? You have the talent… you have the potential… use it!! But they don’t give Heismans out on the basis of talent or potential, they give them on the basis of performance, and Brady Quinn’s performance this season is not Heisman-worthy in any way, shape or form. Sorry, but it’s true.

Anyway, getting back to the bigger picture: the notion that Notre Dame is the third-best one-loss team in the country (behind Texas and Auburn) is laughable. You’re talking about a team that got crushed by Michigan at home; would have lost to Michigan State but for a truly epic Spartan choke job; won by decent margins against Purdue and Stanford, but let those weak teams hang around for far too long; and just barely beat UCLA at Notre Dame Stadium. And we’re supposed to believe they have a chance against USC at the Coliseum??

In a way, it would almost be better if the Irish were to lose to one of the service academies (which I think is very possible, BTW — Navy has looked quite good this year, Air Force almost won at Tennessee, and Army almost beat Texas A&M and looks like a classic “trap game” for the Irish, the week before USC), so that they would end up 9-3 after the loss to USC, and thus play in the Gator Bowl instead of a BCS bowl… because I’m afraid if they make the BCS, they’re not going to be able to end their seven-bowl losing streak. Does anyone honestly think this Notre Dame team is likely to beat an Auburn, or a Florida, or a Cal, at a neutral site in a bowl? I’ll be rooting for them all the way, except against the Trojans, but color me very skeptical. Notre Dame has impressed me exactly once this season, against Penn State. I don’t understand why this year’s team is so much worse than last year’s team, but it is.

Oh, well. Today was a very fun win, regardless. GO IRISH, BEAT NAVY!

65 Responses to “Best. Photo. Ever.”

  1. BK says:

    So, if ND isn’t a top ten team, does that mean that you don’t think USC is either?

    Just saying . . .

  2. CHRIS DREWRY says:

    GAY? FINE BY ME!!!!!

  3. Brendan Loy says:

    Mike, I think you meant “F U C L A” … my blog software must have cut off the end of your comment. :)

    BK, there is one rather significant difference between Notre Dame and USC, and it’s the number in the loss column… and another significant difference is that USC’s early struggles are far more understandable, given that they’re a young, inexperienced team, such that one would expect them to be much better in November than in September/early October, whereas the Irish are an experienced, senior-laden squad… but that said, I do think USC is also overrated, at least to the extent they are ranked ahead of Michigan in some polls. The Trojans should be #3 at best. But not in the top ten? There aren’t enough undefeated teams to fill out the top 10 ahead of USC, and I don’t think USC has been sufficiently unimpressive that they should be behind one-loss teams. On the contrary, today’s Cal-Washington and Oregon-Wazzu games make USC’s recent close games look a lot more respectable. And those early wins against Arkansas and Nebraska look pretty darn good now that the Razorbacks are winning the SEC West and Nebraska is looking like the front-runner in the Big 12 North.

  4. Ken says:

    I suspect that Michigan will move up to #2 in the BCS standings this week. With their 8-0 record, they have now played 2 more games than USC and the computer polls are sure to move them up over USC this week. The schedules are interesting this year. When tOSU and Michigan play on Nov. 18 it will be their 12th and final regular season game. But that day USC will only be playing its 10th game (against Cal) and will still have 2 more games to go. Fortunately for USC, those final 2 games are against opponents that USC has beaten a combined 11 times in a row.

  5. BK says:

    Brendan, I agree with you–to a point. I agree that USC’s unblemished record differentiates them from ND. However, when you say “I honestly don’t understand how anyone can watch this team play and conclude that they’re the #8 team in the country,” aren’t you focusing on the quality of the wins and not the record?

    Expanding on that point, look at USC’s history this year: wouldn’t you agree that their two most impressive wins were the first two (Arkansas and Nebraska) in September? It seems they’ve actually been playing down to their opposition their last four games(see unimpressive wins against Arizona, WSU, UW, and ASU). It doesn’t seem like this unexperienced team is getting better.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that USC has been far from impressive, as I agree ND has. Do you think USC could beat Auburn, Florida, or Cal the way they have been playing as of late? I would say no.

    As always, just my $0.02, and because I hate SOUTHERN CAL. ;)

  6. PenguinSix says:

    Navy’s QB was injured last week and a rookie will start against Notre Dame.

    As it is, the whole season will come down to SC. What will you be doing if ND trumps the Trojans? Something more original than push-ups or wearing a sweatshirt methinks. Maybe we should come up with a poll for ideas.

  7. yea says:

    “Brady Quinn is not a heisman-caliber quarterback”

    you say that in reaction on today’s game? he through for 300 yards, 50% completion percentage and 2 TDs, and ran a game winning drive to save the season. does he need to be part in running up the score to be a heisman qb? ucla constantly ran delayed blitzs all day, and he took an absolute pounding, yet still managed to keep his composure and not making any big mistakes. just so we are clear, i dont think brady quinn is gonna win the heisman, but to come right out and say hes not heisman caliber based on today, doesn’t make much sense to me. brady had a few bad throws, but took an absolute pounding and still put up good numbers against a tough defense.

  8. Brendan Loy says:

    Yea, I say that in reaction to watching him play all season long, not just today. His overall quality of play is just not that good. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing, to the point that I’d say, “Wow, this is the best player in America.” The guy doesn’t throw even the ball that accurately! He’s constantly overthrowing or underthrowing his receivers. He’s been doing that all season, and not just because of pressure. I realize I’m a bit spoiled by Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, but c’mon. A few really good drives does not a Heisman season make! I was totally on the Brady Quinn bandwagon coming into this season, and was always arguing against Becky, who has been a skeptical all along. But after watching every game this season, I’m totally on board with Becky’s interpretation.

    As for this business about UCLA’s tough defense… yes, they are a tough defense… but there are certainly tougher ones out there… and if Brady Quinn is a legit Heisman contender, he should be able to stay on his game against even tough defenses. You’re right, he put up pretty good numbers, but just good, not great. And, forget the numbers for a second, just watch him play. Time and again, he underwhelms… and then pulls out a great final drive… but throughout the game, he was underwhelming, as he underthrew and overthrew etc., and not always becomes of pressure. That’s been his pattern all season. And he just didn’t have the sort of “holy crap, this guy is amazing” field presence of a Leinart or Palmer. Not even close.

    BK, I’m focusing on the quality of the wins, yes, but I’m also not suggesting that Notre Dame should be ranked behind a bunch of two-loss teams (as having USC out of the top ten would have been behind a bunch of one-loss teams). Basically, at this point in the season, I’m saying, let’s look at the one-loss teams and compare their quality of wins to one another… and I don’t see how ND’s play makes them the #3 one-loss team by any stretch of the imagination.

    USC probably would not beat any of the teams you mention right now, no, not the way they’ve been playing. But until they lose a game, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt in the polls, especially given how tough their schedule has been. And I make no apologies for the Wazzu win; after today’s Oregon game, it’s clear that the Cougars are legit. Likewise, UW is a good team this year, and played really well against USC. Nobody is looking at today’s close game against Alabama and suggesting that it means Tennessee is overrated… I look at USC’s conference battles basically the same way. The Pac-10 is a very competitive conference this year, moreso than anyone expected.

  9. Jeff says:

    Brendan, I think you are right, up to a point. What I think gets lost when you consider teams like Notre Dame and USC is that EVERY team they play is viewing that game as the most important of the year, rivalry games excluded. So on the one hand, this was a great victory by the Irish over a team that played, what seems by far, their best game of the year. On the other hand, UCLA is probably the 4th or 5th best team in the Pac-10. So how does one judge this game? It’s tough.

    I’m a huge Cal fan, and today we had our toughest game of the year (aside from the Tennessee debacle), an OT win over Washington. Listening to ESPN tonight, this was a disappointing performance by Cal. Having watched the game, I think it was our greatest performance, and one that will propel the team with momentum towards the November 18 showdown with USC.

    Overall, I would agree with you that the Irish are a bit overrated. But they are winning the games they are supposed to win, which is harder than it looks, as Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham can attest.

  10. Rebecca Loy says:

    Jeff, with 5 interceptions against Washington’s second-string QB, absolutely that was a dismal performance. I do agree that it’s tough for these kids to get up emotionally for every game with equal fervor, and I do think Washington is a good team, and I believe Cal is as dangerous a team in college football right now… but you simply can’t have those games at home. I see the ASU game exactly the same way for USC, with the exception that USC is dealing with an unbelievable amount of injuries and ASU had a bye week to regroup before playing us.

    As for fUTLA, with the right coach, these guys could be a very good team, but with Karl Dorrell, they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Michigan State. Look, those two teams are solid teams and Notre Dame owes no apology for beating those two teams, but be honest: MSU and fUTLA have very mediocre coaches and will always be middling teams — exactly the kinds of teams Notre Dame should be wiping the floor with if it truly wants consideration as a national title contender.

    Also, this business of fUTLA as a solid defense? Isaiah Stanback picked them apart in Seattle, and Oregon was never truly threatened in Eugene. In South Bend, Brady Quinn should have picked them apart today. Really though, the message of today is that Notre Dame’s offensive line is incredibly inconsistent, Brady Quinn is too inaccurate to be an elite QB, and Notre Dame can and will be shut down by a solid defense… if they can figure out how to cover the Shark (a truly unbelievably dominant player who deserves far more Heisman consideration than BQ). With all due respect to fUTLA, their defense is not even close to being in the same class as LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas of the past few years — teams that got ripped by Pac-10 offenses like ASU and USC.

    Charlie Weis may say 9-3 ain’t good enough, but a 9-3 team is exactly what Notre Dame is and will be unless and until Jimmy Clausen turns out to be everything Ron Powlus and Brady Quinn weren’t.

    [Andrew on Becky’s computer…]

  11. Anonymous says:

    Brendan,
    In regards to your “Brady Quinn IS NOT a Heisman-caliber quarterback” comment.

    Was Carson Palmer a legitimate Heisman caliber quarterback? Did you actually watch him play? Probably not, since Trojan Fan hadn’t really jumped on the bandwagon until the very end of Palmer’s career.

    Carson Palmer (2002 season)
    309 Completions, 63.1%, 3,942 yds, 33 TDs, 10 INTs

    Brady Quinn (2005 season)
    292 Completions, 64.9%, 3,919 yds, 32 TDs, 7 INTs

    Brady Quinn (2006 through 7 games*)
    176 Completions, 63.4%, 1,951 yds, 18 TDs, 4 INTs
    *Including the hardest portion of ND’s schedule

    And if you want to talk about Matt Leinart?

    Matt Leinart (2004 Season)
    269 Completions, 65.3%, 3,322 yds, 33 TDs, 6 INTs

    Also, during Palmer’s stellar Heisman campaign he lost two games. Including a horrendous performance against Kansas St. in which Palmer went 18-47 (Yes, that is 38%) for 186 yds. But, I doubt you remember that game. Not sure if you were even a Trojan fan yet.

    So according to the statistics, if Brady Quinn IS NOT a Heisman-caliber quarterback than Carson Palmer WAS NOT, and MAYBE NOT even Leinart.

    I guess the one intangible separating Brady Quinn from his USC counterparts is the one intangible statistics cannot measure, i.e. his ability to stay poised, be a leader, perform well in Hurricane-like conditions, beat all odds, and orchestrate amazing come from behind victories…. oh wait….

  12. DrawingDead says:

    I’m glad that you said today’s close game with Alabama wasn’t a sign that Tennessee is overrated, Brendan.

    It’s really hard in a blood-feud style game, such as Alabama-Tennessee to take anything from the game in either direction. If it’s a blowout one way or the other, it’s because the other team is really, really bad.

    Didn’t get to see the ND game today, but the times I’ve seen Quinn this year (GT, UM, MSU, Stanford), he didn’t look like a Heisman quality QB. He’s simply not the dominant force that the Heisman requires, IMHO. It’s not just on wins and losses, it’s a symbol of the one athlete who was truly heads and shoulders above all others in the quality of his game. This year, there are some guys who probably fit, but none as strong as in years past, I think.

    At any rate, it was a great day for me. BUCK FAMA! GO VOLS! BEAT THE COCKS! (Is that going to get through the filter?)

    Oh yeah, BTW, my St. Louis Cardinals put a good old fashioned National League beatdown on the Tigers tonight, too. Sweet.

  13. Jeff says:

    Well, I can accept that, but maybe in the end the “quest to be the best” has gotten a little out of hand. All I know is that 5 years ago, Cal was 0-10 and got its only win by squeaking out a victory over Rutgers in a makeup game that had been postponed by 9-11. Today, we are 7-1, ranked in or near the Top 10 depending on what poll you look at at, and beat a team that we lost to for over 20 straight years. So for me, it was a great win, dismal performance or not.

  14. Brendan Loy says:

    What I think gets lost when you consider teams like Notre Dame and USC is that EVERY team they play is viewing that game as the most important of the year, rivalry games excluded.

    Granted… I absolutely agree. But I’m not sure how it’s relevant. That was true last year, too — Notre Dame is always Notre Dame — and yet the Irish looked MUCH more impressive in their games against weaker opponents (Stanford excluded) than they have this year against GT, MSU, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA. As Andrew says, these are “exactly the kinds of teams Notre Dame should be wiping the floor with if it truly wants consideration as a national title contender.” Having one or two unimpressive wins is fine, but MOST of your wins against inferior competition should be impressive. At some point you have to stop offering excuses and just prove that you’re as good as you claim to be, if you really want to be an elite team. Will we soon be hearing about how Notre Dame’s squeaker comeback win over Navy/UNC/Air Force/Army is forgivable because it’s the biggest game of the year for those teams? C’mon. If we can’t win BIG against Purdue/Stanford/UCLA caliber teams, we’re not as good as we think we are. It’s ridiculous that people are talking about Notre Dame’s “stunning” comeback win over UCLA… how is it “stunning” for the Irish to win at home against an unranked .500 team from the conference that everyone loves to hate, the Pac-10? What’s “stunning” is that the comeback was necessary in the first place.

    Anonymous/Nick, you can throw statistics at me all you like (as well as insults, even though you know perfectly well that I was a USC fan all four years I was there, during most of which they were terrible), but when I watch Brady Quinn play, I absolutely do not see a Heisman-caliber quarterback. He often comes through in the clutch, yes, but why does he so often look so crappy on the “easy” plays… in the middle of the field… in the middle of the game? Why so many 3-and-outs and short drives today? They don’t show up on SportsCenter or GameDay Final, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, and they are the reason Notre Dame was unable to put this game away early, as they unquestionably should have been able to, given the relative strength of both teams. As Andrew says, Brady should have been able to pick UCLA’s defense apart, if he’s as good as you think he is. If Brady played better throughout the bulk of the game, these “clutch” endings wouldn’t be necessary — which they shouldn’t be, against a team like UCLA.

  15. Rebecca Loy says:

    Anonymous, this is Andrew again on Becky’s keyboard. You can cite the statistics all you want, but the comparisons to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart just don’t fly. That Kansas State game you cite? There were only about ten dropped passes that day, putting USC in a hole and forcing Palmer to force passes late in the game when the offense went one-dimensional in catch-up mode. Not to mention, Kansas State in 2002 vs. fUTLA in 2006?!?!? Next.

    The other thing to consider is that in 2002, USC had the most difficult schedule in the country, hands down. Now, you will never see me sneer at Notre Dame’s schedule, but ND is far more likely to win the Commander-in-Chief trophy this year than even sniff the top five most difficult schedules.

    As for Matt Leinart being compared to BQ, puhleaze. Leinart was lights-out in three straight years. BQ? Not so much. Matt Leinart never had a poor game his senior season and absolutely dominated the toughest defenses he faced in his career: Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia Tech, and the rest of the pretenders.

    The fact is, Brady Quinn has been the beneficiary of two of the biggest choke jobs by two mediocre opponents. That’s not a Heisman resume. All-American? Sure. High draft pick? No problem with that. But Heisman? No thanks.

  16. Anonymous (Not Nick) says:

    Quinn did have 300+ today. He wasn’t perfect by any means. Does “pick apart” mean 85% comp. for 600 yds and 7 Tds?

    And did you or did you not watch Palmer against KSU? I remember the game vividly and Palmer looked much much worse than Quinn did today.

    But, I guess you and your USC cohorts know more than the NFL scouts/draft experts.

    http://www.espn.go.com/melkiper/

    But why should we listen to Mel, its not like he does this for a living.

  17. Brendan Loy says:

    I did watch the KSU game, but I don’t recall “vividly” how Palmer looked. Fact is, there was zero Heisman hype surrounding Palmer at that point, so I wasn’t watching his individual performance all that closely; I was just rooting for the Trojans to win. However, accepting for the sake of argument that you are correct that Palmer “looked much much worse [that day] than Quinn did today,” that’s still only ONE GAME, specifically USC’s worst game of the season. Quinn looked today the same way he has ALL SEASON, which is to say, good but not great, certainly not Heisman-worthy.

    Mel Kiper’s opinion is entirely irrelevant, because we’re not talking about anybody’s NFL prospects, we’re talking about who is the best player in college football RIGHT NOW. Those are two very, very different questions. Andrew acknowledged as much above: “High draft pick? No problem with that. But Heisman? No thanks.” Using NFL Draft analysis to prove a player’s Heisman credentials is like using a movie’s rating from a bunch of snooty critics as a predictor of how well it’s going to do at the box office (or vice versa). The two things are both interesting and worth discussing, but there is not necessarily any direct correlation between the two.

    Oh, and my apologies for wrongly assuming that you’re Nick. I just thought you might be him because he’s fond of the “Trojan Fan” stereotype.

  18. steele bleau says:

    A Heisman Quarterback doesn’t lead his team to their school’s most embarrassing loss in 50 years at home (vs. Michigan). A Heisman Quarterback doesn’t lead come from behind wins against the #87 UCLA Bruins at HOME, or the #55 Spartans. On top of that, Brady Quinn hasn’t EVER won a big game. Never won a bowl game, never beat USC, but hey at least he beat Michigan last year (during their worst season in 30 years), and he’s handsome as all heck. If you roll like that.

    Carson and Leinart are definitely not on the same Heisman List as BQ. Palmer with back-to-back bowl wins and Leinart with back-2-back national championships, are the first differences that spring to mind.

  19. Jeff says:

    Don’t get me wrong – I agree with you that Notre Dame is not one of the best teams in the country right now, if best is defined as Ohio State, Michigan, USC or even Florida. But I think you’re overreacting. In the past, the Irish’s great teams have ALWAYS had games during the season that a neutral observer might tab as “less than impressive.” Back in the really old days when I would watch Lindsey Nelson narrating “Notre Dame football” on Sunday mornings, it seems that they were always pulling one or two out of the fire against a team like Missouri, or Air Force, or Navy, or whomever. What has made the Irish special over the years has been their ability to win nearly all of those games, putting themselves in a position to make a difference in the games that really matter – USC, Alabama, the bowl games…

    So enjoy it! It’s not as if Gerry Faust is the coach or anything like that…

  20. Brendan Loy says:

    Palmer with back-to-back bowl wins

    Actually, Palmer only won one bowl. His junior year, which was Pete Carroll’s first year, the Trojans started 1-5 but finished strong and made it to the Las Vegas Bowl… only to lose 10-6 to Utah.

    His senior year, of course, they went 10-2 and crushed Iowa in the Orange Bowl, and were arguably playing better than any other team in the country by the end of the season… but alas, they lost twice in September, so while they might well have won an 8-team playoff, they had no shot at the national title with Miami and Ohio State both undefeated (albeit against much weaker schedules than the one USC played that year). Not that I’m bitter. :) Nevermind that I’m pretty much certain the Trojans could have beaten either the Hurricanes or the Buckeyes by the end of that season…

    Jeff, maybe you’re right, maybe I’m overreacting. But, as I said, it isn’t that just Notre Dame has “had games during the season that a neutral observer might tab as ‘less than impressive.'” It isn’t just about “pulling one or two out of the fire.” If that’s all it was, that’d be fine, it wouldn’t shake my confidence — just like the Stanford game last year didn’t shake my confidence. But the thing is, IMHO they’ve only looked like a championship caliber team, or even a Top 10 caliber team, in one game all season (Penn State). They looked like crap against Michigan and for the first 3 1/2 quarters against Michigan State, and they looked just okay, occasionally good, but certainly not great, against Georgia Tech, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA — the latter three all being teams they should have been able to blow out, putting the game away before halftime. Again, if they hadn’t blown them ALL out, that’d be okay, but not blowing ANY of them out? (I realize they ultimately beat Purdue by 14 and Stanford by 21, but they let both teams hang around far longer than a Top 10 team should be expected to.) In other words, Notre Dame looking like a great team (as opposed to merely a good team) is the exception, not the rule. If it were the rule, and there were one or two exceptions, that would be different. But I just keep waiting for Notre Dame to impress me, and they keep not doing it. Thinking back to how they looked last year, and comparing it to this year, it couldn’t be clearer to me that this team, for whatever reason, just isn’t as good as last year’s.

  21. Anonymous (Not Nick) says:

    Brendan,
    Sorry about the bandwagon comment. A wrong assumption I guess.

    USC Ave. Home Attendance
    1998 60,899
    1999 57,515
    2000 57,339
    2001 57,744
    2002 66,853
    2003 77,804
    2004 88,833
    2005 90,812

  22. Brendan Loy says:

    Yes… lots of USC fans are bandwagon fans. I’ll never deny that fact. It comes with the territory of being a team in L.A.

    I’m just not one of those fans. :)

  23. David K. says:

    It seems they’ve actually been playing down to their opposition their last four games(see unimpressive wins against Arizona, WSU, UW, and ASU). It doesn’t seem like this unexperienced team is getting better.

    Ummm, except UW and WSU aren’t the mediocre teams that everyone outside of the Pac-10 seems to theink they are. We almost beat Cal, ranked #8 in the country today with our BACKUP quarterback who threw 5 INT’s. And sorry but WSU is also a solid solid team, maybe they aren’t top 10, but they aren’t bottom feeders either.

    What I think gets lost when you consider teams like Notre Dame and USC is that EVERY team they play is viewing that game as the most important of the year, rivalry games excluded.

    In all honesty, i don’t think this is as true as it might have been in the past. Sure when USC was riding their streak and were competing for the national championships i’d agree that every time felt it was one of their most important games, and sure i think that given how both teams are doing this season that teams consider those games important, but not anymroe than they would against Michigain, Florida, Texas, i.e. other undefeated and one-loss teams.

  24. Ed says:

    Sorry, David, but teams that have no real hope of BCS status routinely make a trip to South Bend their in-season bowl game. I was reading in the L.A. Times this summer that UCLA was runnig specific plays and practicing specific defenses for ND. In the past weeks, I read they were still installing ND plays during preparation for Rice.

    It is a plain fact that ND gets an optimal effort from more of their opponents, absent unusual circumstances, than any other team. USC gets similar treatment.

    If the UCLA team that showed up in South Bend yesterday was the one that went to Seattle and Eugene, the Bruins would be perfect in Pac 10 play tonight.

    How is Stanford in the game late in the game in SOuth Bend, but blown away by an inferior ASU? Simple. Attitude.

  25. Brendan, by this logic you could easily say that USC didn’t look like a championship-caliber team last year, as they routinely had to pull victories out of their asses when they came out flat in the first half.

    As for Quinn, it seems abundantly clear that he requires a true sense of urgency in order to perform at his maximum. Leave him a margin for error and he will make errors; but when he needs to make the plays, he makes them. If I were Charlie Weis, I would run a no-huddle offense on every snap for the rest of the season; it seems that in every game the O comes out lethargic and he has to implement the no-huddle in order to change the tempo and whip them into shape.

    Also, the offensive line needs to get much better in a hurry. Quarterbacks seem to perform better when they don’t spend nearly the entire game flat on their asses or rushed into throws. UCLA did have a tremendous defense, but BQ needed time to pick them apart â€â€? as he did in the game-winning drive, when max-protection blocking schemes were installed.

    And screw the Heisman. It’s overrated. Between Michigan State and UCLA, he’s already the Joe Montana of this generation.

  26. NDLauren says:

    I think the problem with the Heisman this year is that really and truthfully, there’s not one guy who stands above the rest. Yes, you can look to undefeated Ohio State and say, oh Troy Smith, he’s the QB of the undefeated team, he should win. But is he the total reason they have been winning? No. It’s guys like Gonzales and on occassion, Ginn, who have come to his assistance. There’s not one guy who in my mind stands out above the rest. Last year, even as an Irish fan, I could say that Reggie Bush and Vince Young were heads and shoulders above everyone else, and Reggie deserved it more than Vince. This year, I can’t do that.

  27. Rebecca Loy says:

    Kansas State in 2002. Was that the game when Mike Williams kept dropping all his passes? I remember that. Could you imagine Quinn if da shark got butterfingers like that? Yuck.

    And Anon, when you’re looking at those statistics, I wonder how Palmer’s numbers would look if you took out the worst game of the season against Kansas State? Do the same with Brady’s worst game and get back to me.

    “He’s already the Joe Montana of this generation.” Ha! Yeah. Sure he is. I think I might hold my tongue on such dumbass commentary until Quinn takes a scratch at playing in the NFL. I mean, if he’s as good as Palmer and Leinart, he should be playing on Sundays within a few years, eh?

    BK, “it doesn’t seem like this inexperienced team is getting any better.” Ain’t that the truth? Well, to a point. This inexperienced team keeps getting injured and remaining inexperienced! Really, how many teams could survive having 23 players injured? And we’re not talking about Joe McSucky who washes jock straps. We’re talking about Hancock, Lua, Havili, Jarrett, Powdrell and Pinkard. Imagine ND playing without Ndukwe and the Shark.

    That being said, I wouldn’t offer it up as the sole reason that USC hasn’t been winning as spectacularly as in years past. JD Booty has struggled in his last two games. The secondary has been working out some major kinks. The defensive line vascillates between stellar and powder puff.

    But at the end of the day, USC keeps winning. I think that the coaching staff has to be a bit amused at all the commentary to the effect that the Trojans aren’t very good. You can’t be better than undefeated.

  28. Brendan Loy says:

    It is a plain fact that ND gets an optimal effort from more of their opponents, absent unusual circumstances, than any other team. USC gets similar treatment. If the UCLA team that showed up in South Bend yesterday was the one that went to Seattle and Eugene, the Bruins would be perfect in Pac 10 play tonight. How is Stanford in the game late in the game in SOuth Bend, but blown away by an inferior ASU? Simple. Attitude.

    Blah, blah, blah. If Notre Dame’s tendency to win unimpressively this season can be explained away by the opponents’ “attitude,” then how did they have seven — count ’em, SEVEN — true blowouts last year, where the opponent was never in the game after the third quarter? Please see: BYU, Tennessee, Navy and Syracuse (in consecutive weeks at home); Pitt, Washington, and Purdue (on the road).

    As I keep saying, I’ll give a team one or two or three “off” games where they pull out a close win that shouldn’t be close. USC in ’04 had Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA; I don’t count Cal because Cal was legitimately good. USC in ’05 had Arizona State and Fresno State; I don’t count Oregon and Notre Dame because, again, those were legit opponents. (Fresno State was also pretty legit, notwithstanding their utter collapse since then, but that game was at the Coliseum and the Trojans, outside of Reggie Bush, didn’t look too sharp that day, so I’ll let USC take at least part of the blame for that game being so close.) Notre Dame in ’05 had Michigan State (a loss) and Stanford. But those are the exception, not the rule. The rule, for a truly elite, Top 10 or championship-caliber teams, should be blowout wins over inferior opponents… excuses be damned. I’m not just talking about large margins of victory in the final score, I’m talking about games that were over midway through the third quarter, if not sooner. USC in ’04 also had Colorado State (49-0), BYU (42-10), ASU (45-7), Washington (38-0), Wazzu (42-12), Arizona (49-9) and, dare I mention it, Notre Dame (41-10). USC in ’05 had Hawaii (63-17), Arkansas (70-17), Washington (51-24), Wazzu (51-13), Stanford (51-21), Cal (35-10) and UCLA (66-19). And, as I mentioned, Notre Dame in ’05 had Pitt (42-21), Washington (36-17), Purdue (49-28), BYU (49-23), Tennessee (41-21), Navy (42-21) and Syracuse (34-10). Those teams looked damn impressive in those games. (If I’m remembering incorrectly, i.e. if any of those games were close deeper into the second half that I’m remembering, please correct me.)

    Notre Dame this year has had precisely ONE game like that: Penn State. That’s it. The last three games, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA, were perfect opportunities to get 2 or 3 wins like those impressive ones I just mentioned, but instead, the Irish played down to the level of their competition and let them stay in the game well into the fourth quarter, if not the final minute as in UCLA’s case. Like I said, what bothers me is that it’s the rule, not the exception, at this point. If the Irish can rack up four consecutive truly impressive blowout wins against the service academies and North Carolina, perhaps I’ll change my tune. But to date, Notre Dame simply has not proven that they’re a Top 10 team. Top 10 teams, including the Irish last year, make a habit of crushing inferior teams. Notre Dame has not been doing that. I don’t get why this is so hard to understand.

    Brendan, by this logic you could easily say that USC didn’t look like a championship-caliber team last year, as they routinely had to pull victories out of their asses when they came out flat in the first half.

    You’re talking about the three games that preceded USC-Notre Dame: Oregon, ASU and Arizona. And you know what? I was very worried about USC at that point. They weren’t playing like a championship-caliber team at that point. But then they got better. They were a different team after they left South Bend. Will Notre Dame get better? It’s certainly possible. But what I’m saying is that, they need to get better, because they are not a championship-caliber or Top 10-caliber team right now. So we need to scale back the hype machine until they get better — and if they simply skate along with, at best, moderately impressive wins over their next four opponents, they certainly won’t deserve the high ranking (probably #5 or #6) that they’ll inevitably have as they head into L.A.

    Oh, and also, let me remind you that although USC looked less-than-impressive at this time last year, they also hadn’t lost yet, which is kinda significant. I’m much more inclined to give a team the benefit of the doubt when they’re 6-0 than when they’re 6-1, with the loss being an incredibly humiliating home loss to Michigan. And yes, I know Michigan is a great team, but if Notre Dame is legit, they should have at least made it a game! That Michigan debacle put the onus on the Irish to prove they deserve any sort of praise, and they haven’t met that burden with the lackluster wins that have followed. However, just as I predicted, many Domers and much of the sports media have already forgotten the lesson of the Michigan game — “we drank the Kool-Aid again” — and are once again drinking the Kool-Aid. It’s pathetically predictable, really.

    Look, guys, I know you like the Irish. I like the Irish too. But please, can we be realistic, for once about how good this team is? They’re good, but not great. They’re not championship caliber. If they go to a BCS bowl, they’ll very likely be the less talented team in the bowl, and they’ll need to play much better than they have this season in order to win that game.

    Remember what you thought about the Irish after the Michigan game? Well, none of that has been disproven! Well, except maybe one thing. If you thought this team had no “fight,” no “heart,” etc., that’s been disproven. But if you thought they had various crucial weaknesses that had been exposed… if you thought they had been vastly overrated to start the season… if you thought Brady Quinn was looking more like the Brady of old than the Brady of ’05… if you thought the offense wasn’t “clicking” like it did the previous year… if you thought Charlie Weis’s genius was looking a wee bit less overwhelming… that’s all still true. Miracle wins over Michigan State and UCLA (two teams that we should have beaten easily) and lackluster wins over lowly Purdue and Stanford have not disproven the lessons of the Michigan game. They’ve just caused many of us to forget them.

  29. FAS says:

    Ask a racer. Ask any real racer. It doesn’t matter whether you win by an inch or a mile.

    Winning’s winning.

    Ohio State won 4 games in 2002 with late 4th-quarter “how the hell’d they pull that off” moments, including one that was gift-wrapped for them against a 4-7 Illinois team that they still couldn’t finish off until overtime.

    Yet I don’t see anybody saying “Ohio State, sorry, you just weren’t that impressive, you didn’t look like a top-caliber team.” Maybe USC would’ve beating the Buckeyes in January ’03, but ‘SC lost that chance when WSU beat them in overtime.

    The Irish aren’t going to be playing for the national championship this season (deservedly so), but stop pretending that they have 2 tough games scheduled – USC & Michigan – and that everybody else on the schedule is a creampuff they should whip by 35 every weekend. Georgia Tech, unless they lay another egg against Miami, will win their division in the ACC and possibly go to the BCS. Penn State, UCLA, Purdue, & Navy are all going to bowl games. That’s seven bowl teams on the schedule, two of them (potentially three if the Yellow Jackets steal the ACC title) going to the BCS. And Michigan State (amazingly) & Air Force are not out of the bowl picture either. So Notre Dame could potentially have played a schedule that featured NINE bowl teams. Even when justly conceding that going to a bowl isn’t exactly synonymous with being an excellent team, the Irish aren’t struggling to beat Buffalo and UL-Lafayette. These are legitimate Division I-A opponents.

    And hell, Air Force was a 2-point conversion away from beating Tennessee IN KNOXVILLE. That must mean the Vols are nowhere near a Top 10 team either, right, since they’ve had not one but now two games against unranked, “vastly inferior” competition at home come down to the final minute. They’re ranked ahead of Notre Dame, so they’ve got to be as overhyped as the Irish are!

  30. Patrick says:

    Brendan,

    Brady’s performance yesterday was not un-Heisman like. The stagnant offense was a result of the total ineptitude of the offensive line who were patently incapable of picking up and adjusting to UCLA’s myriad blitzes. Brady was beaten up and given that he didn’t throw a single interception and led a game winning drive, I’d say he did remarkable well…even by Heisman standards. The only mistakes Brady made were to take sacks rather than throw the ball away when he was clearly outside the pocket and several yards deep.

  31. Mike T says:

    NOTRE DAME IS WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE! THEY WERE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!

  32. Brendan Loy says:

    Look, I have no problem with you guys disagreeing with me, but will you please pay attention to what I’m saying? I’m said about a thousand times now that I’d have no problem with Notre Dame having a few closer-than-they-should-be wins, what bothers me is that it’s the rule, not the exception. As such, pointing to Air Force’s near-win at Tennessee as proving that the Vols have “got to be as overhyped as the Irish are” makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, considering the Vols have absolutely crushed all the other teams they should have absolutely crushed (33-7 over Marshall, 41-7 over Memphis, 51-33 over Georgia) and have also had an incredibly impressive 35-18 win over a very good Cal team that’s far more objectively praiseworthy than anything the Irish have done this season. The Vols’ resume this season is PRECISELY the sort of resume I’m suggesting is par for the course, and not enough to cause concern: a bunch of impressive wins coupled with one or two unimpressive ones that are the exception, not the rule. Again: PAY ATTENTION.

    Ask a racer. Ask any real racer. It doesn’t matter whether you win by an inch or a mile.

    That’s true in a race. It’s not true in college football, because polls decide championships in this sport. Therefore it is absolutely essential to compare who’s winning races by an inch vs. who’s winning them by a mile. How else are you supposed to compare a couple dozen one-loss teams to one another? You look at who they lost to & how, and you look at who they beat & how. The “and how” part of that analysis means it DOES matter whether you win by an inch or a mile.

    Yet I don’t see anybody saying “Ohio State, sorry, you just weren’t that impressive, you didn’t look like a top-caliber team.�

    Actually, people absolutely were saying that about the Buckeyes during the season. But because OSU went undefeated, they earned the benefit of the doubt, and they won the championship fair and square. If Notre Dame was one of two undefeated teams in college football, they’d have the same opportunity. As it is, they’re a one-loss team — with one utterly humiliating home loss in which they looked TERRIBLE; seriously, has everyone else completely forgotten about that game?? — and they have to be compared with teams like Texas, Auburn, Florida, Cal, Tennessee, etc. And sorry, but they just don’t measure up. I’d love to be able to say that they do. But they don’t. Just as people would have said about Ohio State in ’02, if they’d lost a game. I guarantee you Ohio State would not have been one of the highest-ranked one-loss teams that year, if they’d lost a game, because as you say, their wins were unimpressive.

    Also, if you want to cite examples of where a team ultimately overcame its unimpressive wins and proved itself, I can cite a counterexample… UCLA last year. They were 8-0 and ranked in the Top 10, but four of those wins were flukey close calls against inferior competition. The Bruins keps skating by and skating by… until finally they were exposed by Arizona, and they destroyed by USC.

    Which example will Notre Dame follow? It’s not self-evident that it’ll be the Ohio State example.

  33. Brendan Loy says:

    The only mistakes Brady made were to take sacks rather than throw the ball away when he was clearly outside the pocket and several yards deep.

    The “only” mistakes? So, repeatedly throwing the ball at his receivers’ feet, even when not about to be sacked, isn’t a mistake? So throwing a pass to Darius Walker three yards behind the line of scrimmage when he clearly had two defenders coming straight for him and thus was not going to have any chance to gain yards, is not a mistake? So throwing a five-yard pass to Carlson (I think it was Carlson) so damn hard that it was nigh uncatchable, is not a mistake? Sorry, but claiming that Brady had a near-flawless performance yesterday (or any day this season) is ABSURD.

  34. Brendan Loy says:

    About Notre Dame’s schedule: yes, they’ve played a tougher schedule than most… though it’s a BIG stretch to call Stanford a “legitimate Division I-A opponent” this year… but again, compare them to last year’s schedule. They played “legitimate Division I-A opponents” last year, too, and against the teams of Purdue/Stanford/UCLA caliber, they won easily. This year’s team has repeatedly shown it’s unable to do that.

    Again: if they can “turn it on” and really impress against the service academies and North Carolina, I’ll consider changing my tune. Will you consider changing yours if they continue to come out flat, let those teams stay in the game deep into the second half, etc.?

    Oh, and while I don’t deny that Georgia Tech is a good team, saying that they must be really good because they might win the ACC is like claiming that someone is really tall because they’re the tallest person in a group of midgets. The ACC sucks this year. And Tech got owned by Clemson last night.

  35. Patrick says:

    Brendan,

    It is standard procedure for a quarterbacks to throw the ball at his receivers’ feet when they’re well covered and he doesn’t want to throw a pick but wants to avoid a sack. Given the constant blitzing, it’s not surprising to have seen this at all. The same thing goes for the Michigan and Georgia Tech games.

    Furthermore, Brendan, don’t manipulate my words. I did not imply that Brady made “absolutely, positively, NO mistakes whatsoever” outside of taking the sacks. No quarterback ever plays mistake free football. Even a USC/Leinart homer such as yourself can admit that. My statement was to say that Brady’s only egregrious mistakes were his repeated failures to throw the ball away when necessary to avoid a huge loss of yards.

  36. Brendan Loy says:

    I find it somewhat ironic for you to call me a “homer,” when I have repeatedly shown that I am perfectly capable of criticizing USC when they deserve it, whereas you’re totally buying into the ND hype here. Anyway, as I keep saying, I’ve seen numerous times, both yesterday and throughout the season, where Brady had time and still underthrew or overthrew his receivers. It’s been happening all season. It’s not just when he’s throwing it away — i.e., when “he doesn’t want to throw a pick but wants to avoid a sack.” I’m not stupid; I understand that quarterbacks sometimes throw the ball away. But what happens far too often with Brady is that he’s actually trying to complete a pass, under mild pressure at best, and he’s still unable to throw the pass where he needs to. The guy just is not that accurate of a passer, except in the occasional spectacular two-minute drive, when he seems to turn into a whole different quarterback.

    It takes a real “homer” to blame Brady Quinn’s inaccurate passing, which is one of the main reasons these games against inferior opponents keep being so close, entirely on the offensive line. Yes, the O-line needs to improve. But so does Brady Quinn. And considering that he’s a senior, I’m thinking he’s about as good as he’s going to get. Which isn’t nearly good enough to even merit serious Heisman consideration… except that he plays for Notre Dame.

  37. Brendan Loy says:

    P.S. No quarterback ever plays mistake free football.

    No… but Heisman-worthy quarterbacks come a lot closer to it than Brady Quinn has this season.

    As I said: last season, I think he was a lot closer to being Heisman-worthy. Unfortunately, Bush-Young-Leinart was perhaps the best trio of college football players competing for the Heisman in history, so he didn’t have a chance. This season, the field is a lot weaker, and I think the Brady Quinn of ’05 would win in a walk. But the Brady Quinn of ’06 isn’t nearly good enough to win it, and the only reason he’s still in the race is because of the reputation he built in ’05, plus the golden helmet on his head and the “ND” on his jersey.

  38. The rule, for a truly elite, Top 10 or championship-caliber teams, should be blowout wins over inferior opponents… excuses be damned.

    Have you given any thought to the fact that Charlie Weis and the team . . . don’t care about the margin of victory? Purdue and Stanford had no chance of winning their games against Notre Dame, regardless of what the score was at halftime or at the end of the 3rd quarter. They were not winning. And the team, and Weis, have more important things to worry about than whether Brendan Loy thinks they’re overrated because they “only” won by two and three touchdowns respectively than by 40+.

    Just as Charlie proclaimed there’s no such thing as a “good loss” after USC stole their win last year in South Bend, he announced at his press conference that this was not a bad win: “I’m not going to feel miserable about this win, I promise you.”

    Quoth Lou Holtz: “The expectations here at Notre Dame can change a little bit as you go along. When I first started, everybody said they just wanted us to be competitive. That first season in 1986 we went 5-6 and lost five games by a total of 14 points. But people said, ‘No, when we said competitive, we meant we want you to win.’ So the next year we went 8-4 and played in a New Year’s Day bowl. But they said, ‘No, when we said we want you to win, we meant win them all.’ So the next year we did win them all. We went 12-0 and won the national championship. But they said, ‘No, you don’t understand, we meant we want you to win big.’ That’s the way it goes at Notre Dame.”

    And Andrew, I meant BQ was Joe Montana in the sense of Notre Dame legend, not NFL Hall Of Famer.

  39. Patrick says:

    Brendan,

    I said it once and I’ll say it again. Brady’s miscues this year are largely attributable to the ineptitude and inexperience of the offensive lines. It’s harder to throw complete passes when rushed and it’s similarly necessary to throw the ball away or at a receiver’s feet when rushed. Call the play un-Heisman like if it suits you, but how about at least dignifying the FACT that Brady’s teammates on the offensive line are making it dramatically more difficult for him to complete a pass and move the offense down the field?

    Now, to address some of the more asinine things you’ve just said…

    I have repeatedly shown that I am perfectly capable of criticizing USC when they deserve it, whereas you’re totally buying into the ND hype here.

    First of all, you are not “perfectly capable” of criticizing USC. An occasional soft criticism does not demonstrate perfect capability. For example, let’s look at your nonchalant, dismissive reaction last winter to Leinart’s utterly classless and demonstrably narcisisstic and unsportsmanlike statement that USC was better than Texas immediately after losing to the Longhorns. Your reaction was to deflect the criticism by saying that Vince Young’s admittedly unsportsmanlike conduct in saying he deserved the Heisman was worse (I personally find the behaviors roughly comparable). Brendan, your USC loyalties are as transparent and unwavering as my loyalties to Rick Santorum. If you can’t recognize that this diminishes your capacity to properly criticize the Trojans, then your loyalties are more blinding than even I realized.

    Brendan, I completely resent your comment that I’m “totally buying into the ND hype here”. Have I not explicitly, repeatedly, scathingly criticized the offensive line in this thread? I think the words and phrases like “ineptitude”, “patently incapabale”, and “stagnant” sufficiently demonstrate that I’m not “totally buying into the ND hype.” I think the offense has been poor all season, and I’ve made no bones about saying it. Furthermore, don’t even get me started on our 1-AA Defense. I’ll admit my loyalties and that my perception is often colored by those loyalties, but I’ve demonstrated no more incapacity to criticize ND here than you have for USC generally, and for you to say otherwise is simply self-aggrandizement. Indulge yourself if it makes you feel good about yourself.

    I’ll close by saying that I don’t think the poor offensive play has been entirely Brady’s fault. I think he played poorly against Michigan and in the first half against Michigan State. Otherwise, he has been good if not great considering the bum-rush of linebackers and defensive linemen in his face as a result of our weak O-Line.

  40. Anonymous says:

    “The rule, for a truly elite, Top 10 or championship-caliber teams, should be blowout wins over inferior opponents… excuses be damned.”

    I guess we should revoke Ohio State’s 2002 National Championship by that formula. Championship-caliber teams win games, and the reason ND is not one is because they have a loss, not becuase they aren’t blowing out inferior opponents.

  41. Ed says:

    Brendan – I am in complete agreeance with the essence of your position. ND has regressed and BQ is a head case. It is stunning to see how he performs when he doesn’t have a chance to think, and when he has time to think.

    The 4th down conversion to Carlson he threw would have been an interception in the NFL. He has always been late with the football. Last year, it didn’t matter since he could just throw jump balls to Mo Sto.

    My point was to refute David’s (and countless others) assertion that ND does not get everyone’s absolute best shot each week. ND endures a greater effort week in and week out than any other school. Having said that, it is inexcusable they do not utterly blow out Syracuse, Navy, MSU, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA since the Tennessee game last season.

  42. JP Losman says:

    This is against the same two opponents thi year (Penn State, and Mich State)
    Brady Quinn
    Passing: 45/73 606yds .616 8 TD 1 INT
    Rushing: 14/4 0 TD

    Troy Smith
    Passing: 27/44 349yds .613 3 TD 2 INT
    Rushing: 11/28 0 TD

    If Brady wins out till USC and puts up good numbers in those games, then goes out and beats USC
    and has some solid numbers in that game, he will be first or second in the Heisman voting.

  43. Patrick says:

    Amen, JP. Brendan can claim that he “love[s] the Irish”, but it’s just lip service. By saying that “Brady Quinn [b]IS NOT[/b] a Heisman-caliber quarterback”, his unevinced statement is “Brady Quinn is not as good at Matt Leinart.” It’s really comparing apples to oranges in my mind. Matt Leinart had a fantastic offensive line and a once-in-a-generation, [i]Heisman[/i] running back. Brady simply does not have those luxuries and, as such, we cannot make an accurate comparison. Football is an 11-man sport, not a one-man sport. No one can say with certainty whether Matt Leinart is a better quarterback than Brady Quinn or vice versa. One certainly had more success than the other while in college. However, as Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torreta, Eric Crouch, Josh White and countless others can attest, that’s not indicative of one’s overall skills as a quarterback.

    That said, Brady is clearly an NFL-caliber quarterback, and the supposed failures to which Brendan points in no way mitigate the strengths that every NFL scout has already seen. If Brady deliberately throws the ball at his receivers feet in the face of a blitz one too many times to qualify for Brendan’s personal “Heisman meter”, it won’t make one damn bit of difference in the final tally, in the NFL draft, or in the NFL.

    I find it odd that Brendan would even use such a term as “Heisman-caliber” to describe a quarterback. As history shows us, it’s not always about the quarterback’s quarterbacking skills. We’ve seen countless “system quarterbacks” win the Heisman trophy who weren’t even “NFL-caliber” quarterbacks (Gino Torreta, Danny Wuerrfel, Josh White, Andre Ware, Charlie Ward). These players win the Heisman trophy because they play for dominant teams that overcome whatever undetectable weaknesses their quarterbacks possess. The net effect is that you oftentimes have NFL-caliber quarterbacks who are not on Heisman-caliber teams and accordingly don’t take home the trophy. Brady appears to be one such case. Brendan’s criticism, in my opinion, is misplaced. He needs to look at the supporting cast.

  44. David K. says:

    Patrick,

    as a result of our weak O-Line

    Maybe they are playing weak, but there is no excuse for why they should be.

    ESPN has a nice write up about the Notre Dame O-line (and the other positions) from this summer here

    Center – Sullivan SR
    From the article:
    Sullivan has started 20 games the last two seasons and is on the watch list for the Dave Rimington Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding center in college football. Sullivan started the last seven games at center in 2005, while making appearances in all 12 games. He blocked for the Irish offense in a record-setting season that saw an average of 38.2 points and 489.1 yards per game. Sullivan led the offensive line in paving the way for running back Walker to eclipse 100 yards in seven games, as well as not allowing a sack in games against Purdue and Navy.

    Left Guard – Santucci SR
    Right Guard – Morton SR
    From the article:
    To fill that void, Weis has a pair of guards with tons of experience in seniors Bob Morton (6-4, 292) and Dan Santucci (6-4, 290). The pair has made a combined 39 starts and will form a solid, all-senior interior of the O-line, along with Sullivan. Morton is versatile too, having started games as both center and guard.

    Left Tackle – Harris SR
    From the article:
    Harris (32 career starters entering 2006) is a special player, a guy who started for four years and who opened up holes for Julius Jones, now a star with the Dallas Cowboys, and then for Darius Walker.

    Right Tackle – Young FR
    From the article:
    Replacing departed right tackle Matt LeVoir, who started 36 games over three seasons, is another concern for Weis and his staff. Prized freshman recruit Sam Young (6-7, 292), a Parade and USA Today All-American out of Coral Springs, Fla., is probably the long-term answer there, but it’s hard to imagine Weis throwing him to the Yellow Jackets, Nittany Lions and Wolverines right away, so look for either senior Brian Mattes (6-6, 285), a career backup, or sophomore Paul Duncan (6-7, 292) to be the opening day starter. The question is: Can either hold off Young, and if so, how long?

    So how exactly do you characterize that as an “inexperienced” line as you yourself call it?

    Brady’s miscues this year are largely attributable to the ineptitude and inexperience of the offensive lines

    And if they are so inept, how is it that Charlie Weis is still the genius you think he is?

    Face it Patrick, Brady Quinn is a good quarterback, but he is not a Heisman quality quarterback this year.

  45. Brendan Loy says:

    Brendan can claim that he “love[s] the Irish�, but it’s just lip service.

    That’s nice, Patrick, real nice. Because we have a disagreement over a substantive issue, an analysis of the Irish’s strengths and weaknesses, you conclude that I don’t really love my second-favorite team? I don’t understand why you’re making this personal. (First you called me a “homer,” which inspired my rebuttal that you’re “totally buying into the hype” — which I retract, I apologize, I was frankly just annoyed that you had said my opinions were not just wrong but based on homerism — and now you say my ND fandom is “just lip service.”) This isn’t a personal thing, we just need to agree to disagree on Brady Quinn’s Heisman-worthiness.

  46. Patrick says:

    David,

    Sam Young, a freshman, blew so many blocks yesterday that I lost count. He simply was not picking up blitzes. Watch a replay of the game, the penetration came largely from the right side. I got sick of watching #44 the DE/OLB in the backfield. With a freshman starting on the line, I have qualms about calling them “inexperienced.”

    As for the rest of the line’s “experience” (which you have astutely proven), it is not something upon which you can counter a claim of “ineptitude” or patent incapability to handle UCLA’s myriad blitzes. The line was simply dominated in every phase of the game (save the last 62-seconds) and appeared utterly without recourse to the onslaught of UCLA’s linebackers. Walker’s 51 yards on 35+ carries also shows the overall effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the offensive line.

  47. Patrick says:

    That should say that I have “NO qualms” about calling the line inexperienced.

    Also, I would add that I found Weis’ play-calling abysmal. With the incessant blitzing, he should have called slant after slant after slant to Samardzija and dump after dump after dump to Carlson AND NOT screen after screen after screen to Walker. I have no reservations about saying that Weis was absolutely outcoached.

  48. Patrick says:

    Brendan,

    By “lip service”, I only meant that you were relying on your second-rate loyalty to Notre Dame to validate your criticisms of the team (by second-rate, I mean only second to your loyalty to USC, of course). I did not intend to suggest that you truly do not care about the Irish. That said, my statement was vague and you have my apologies for insinuating something that I did intend and that is clearly untrue.

  49. Patrick says:

    One last thing, Brendan…

    The “USC/Leinart homer” comment was really meant to be taken only in jest. I don’t find the word offensive and would readily call myself an “Irish homer.” If it offended you, I’m sorry. I did not mean any offense.

  50. Brendan Loy says:

    Apologies accepted. :)

  51. schultz says:

    so USC’s six point wins over washington and washington state impressed you?

  52. Brendan Loy says:

    Schultz, I’ve addressed the USC issue already. I’m not going to repeat myself.

    Patrick, I was thinking over what you said last night, and I must say, I find your interpretation of my reference to my Notre Dame loyalties somewhat odd. How would mentioning my loyalty to the school “validate [my] criticisms of the team”? Shouldn’t my criticisms be able to stand or fall on their own merits? Do I really strike you as the kind of person who uses such cynical diversionary tactics to evade the necessities of persuasive logical argumentation? Er, maybe you shouldn’t answer that. :) Hehe. More to the point, is anyone realistically going to be convinced by “I’m an Irish fan, so if I criticize the team, it must be true?” I can see how that might work, to some extent, in politics (and admittedly, I have occasionally gotten linked by InstaPundit and others as the “token Democrat criticizing Democrats”), but in sports, I don’t think being a fan of a team and then criticizing that team has quite the same rhetorical effect. In any event, you’ve got my motivations all wrong. The reason I mentioned my loyalties to ND was simply because I suspected some people would jump down my throat for criticizing the team, since I’m a Trojan and thus susceptible to the “he doesn’t really care about the Irish” line of argumentation, at least from people who can’t wrap their minds around the concept of dual loyalties. So I was pre-emptively reminding people that I actually do like the Irish, and my criticisms of them is no more proof of disloyalty than it’s disloyal for, say, a died-in-the-wool Stanford fan to point out that the Cardinal totally sucks this year, or a die-hard Michigan State fan to say, “Hey, wow, that choke job against Notre Dame was really awful, huh? We kinda suck.”

    With regard to the term “homer”… like I said, I accept your apology… but just by way of explanation, I guess I think of the term “homer” was being somewhat more derogatory, having a somewhat more negative connotation, than you do. To me, a “homer” isn’t just a fan, nor even just a fan whose opinions are influenced by his loyalty to the team, but rather a fan who is blinded by his loyalty, so that his opinions shouldn’t be taken seriously because “he’s just a homer.” I don’t think either you or I fit into that category. But you obviously have a somewhat different definition in mind, if you “would readily call [your]self” an Irish homer. So, I think that’s where we went off the rails in this discussion.

    Anyway, I have FedTax reading to do. Stupid Fall Break being over.

    Go Irish!

  53. Patrick says:

    [/i] I mentioned my loyalties to ND was simply because I suspected some people would jump down my throat for criticizing the team, since I’m a Trojan and thus susceptible to the “he doesn’t really care about the Irish� line of argumentation, at least from people who can’t wrap their minds around the concept of dual loyalties. [/i]

    Brendan, that’s precisely my point. Your “I love the Irish” line seemed to be a way of deflecting potential criticism rather than a genuine statement of loyalty. I think we can both agree that you were making bold rather bold, [i]negative[/i] statements about Notre Dame and that the “I love the Irish” line was not a stand-alone expression of loyalty. It immediately followed rather harsh statements (phrased as facts, in bold, all CAPS text) that the team and its star player are overrated. Following such statements with “I love the Irish” doesn’t, to me, say as much that you love the Irish as it does that you want people to find you entitled to make such criticisms as an Irish fan. Hence, because the statement had a largely unevinced purpose, I made the lip service comment…which itself was overly vague and could and has been miscontrued. In the end, I suppose your loyalty is genuine, it’s all a moot point anyway.

    As for the “homer” comment, I don’t have much more to say. I just don’t perceive the term to be as pejorative as you do. It doesn’t have a dictionary definition (I checked), but I have always understood it to refer to someone who is blindly loyal to a particular team. I see you as blindly loyal to USC given that that no matter how well or how poorly USC performs, you will always root for and support the Trojans. The same could be of my support for Notre Dame. That said, the term “homer” is often used when someone can’t see past their own loyalties to objectively evaluate either one’s team or one’s opposition. I remember saying after the pathetic defensive holding call on the punt at the end of the game that the refs were “total Pac-10 homers” (a comment I will stand by tooth-and-nail). Hence, the term does carry pejorative weight, but I think it depends on context and one’s inflection and intention behind saying it. I simply did not mean it to be taken the way that you’re taking it, Brendan. If you want me to retract it, fine, no problem. I didn’t mean much by it anyway.

  54. Brendan Loy says:

    Patrick, there’s no need for you to retract the comment. I accept that you “simply did not mean it to be taken the way that [I’m] taking it,” and I already accepted your apology. I was just explaining where I had previously been coming from in taking more umbrage than you expected.

    Following such statements with “I love the Irish� doesn’t, to me, say as much that you love the Irish as it does that you want people to find you entitled to make such criticisms as an Irish fan.

    Not, that’s not right. Anyone is “entitled to make such criticisms” — being an Irish fan is not a prerequisite for criticizing the Irish — so I wasn’t seeking an entitlement. In fact, I wasn’t seeking to change people’s opinions of my criticism itself, AT ALL. I was simply seeking to preemptively reject the homerish (my sense of the word) response that, because I’m criticizing the Irish, therefore I must not be a true fan. I think the difference is fairly clear, so I don’t see how my explanation of my motivation proves “precisely [your] point.” Trying to grant a criticism false legitimacy by claiming I’m especially “entitled” to make it is certainly not the same thing as trying to fend off false charges that the criticism, whatever its merits, means that I’m not actually fan. It was my fandom that I was defending, not my substantive point.

  55. Kyle says:

    Basically, Brendan, I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, even to the point where too many ND fans are too wrapped up in thinking this is a great team. They have not proved that at all. The one thing that does bother me, not to harp on the negative, is that you can just call BQ a not-accurate passer. I just feel like if that was really true, there’s no way he could have the stats he does. If, in your mind, he didn’t make “all the many” mistakes you say, wouldn’t that make his % like 70? 80? Right now its around 60% and a lot of yards, and no matter what you subjectively may feel, you don’t get those types of number if you are just not a good thrower. I’m not saying he’s playing as well as last year, but seriously, our O-Line is like a sieve. They are TERRIBLE. And yet he somehow finds a way to put up good numbers and win ball games. Not Heisman worthy. Granted. But not “a inaccurate passer.” That just doesn’t match the numbers. If he was inaccurate all the time, that would carry over into the numbers, and so far, it hasn’t. Also, even if he’s not hurried on that particular throw, he STILL is hurried because I’m sure his confidence in the O-LINE is very sketchy. At least mine is. That being said, I don’t think ND has proven it can be in the top 10 either, but I think ur reaction against BQ is more a reaction against the false hype, and not as much a reflection of reality. He’s a very good QB with a terrible O-Line.

  56. Ted says:

    Just a couple of things to add here. There’s too much Brady Quinn hate here, especially for a game in which the O-Line had their worst game of the season. From where I was sitting it was clear to me that Rhema couldn’t get off the line and the time it took for the plays to develop, he was already in trouble. I think it’s amazingly unfair to all of a sudden throw him under the bus and call him overrated. There are a few things that I think that people overlook when talking about the team’s performance. Most importantly, is that no matter who is on the other side of the field, we’re going to get their best game simply because of the color of our helmets. I don’t care who UCLA had lost to before, or how they’ve been playing earlier in the season, when they see us on the schedule they’re coming ready to play, and they did. As far as Notre Dame not being a top ten team, this couldn’t be further from the truth, but unfortunately college football isn’t about winning, you need style points as well. I’m not saying they deserve to be any higher than where they are now, but look back to an Ohio State team that won it all in 2002. Illinois took them to OT, they beat Purdue, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Cincinnati by less than a touchdown. That was a team that somehow just seemed to win when they needed to. Now had we somehow beaten Michigan, we’d be #2 and all would be right in the world, but we’re still a good team with a lot of season left. If we can run the table and the right teams lose, we could be playing in Glendale. If Troy Smith bombs against Michigan and Brady takes USC out by the woodshed, the trophy will be his.

  57. Patrick says:

    Ted,

    We would also need the Big East Undefeateds to cancel each other out. That means WVU losing at Louisville, Louisville losing at Rutgers, and Rutgers losing at WVU. Hopefully it happens. I don’t see Rutgers passing ND if they remain undefeated, but Louisville and WVU are both ahead of us in the BCS and simply have to lose if ND is to play in Tempe.

  58. Patrick says:

    Also, we probably need additional losses from Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, and, most importantly, Texas. I don’t Texas is going to lose. A lot of things have to fall in place and I just don’t see all of them happening.

  59. Ted says:

    I agree, we need a miracle and I gigantic vaulting in points if we can beat an undefeated USC team. Such a flawed system.

  60. Steve says:

    Not many bigger ND fans out there than me, and I’m worried about the program. The offensive line is offensive and the savior of the line, Sam Young, is still young. They are not explosive enough, quick enough, strong enough or nasty enough. That’s the difference between a shaky 6-1 record and a very comfortable 7-0 record and a #2 ranking. They just can’t pick up a blitz and even have trouble with 3- and 4-man rushes.

    Quinn is still all-world and an NFL superstar someday, but no QB shines his brightest with constant pressure. It’s tough watching all these great skill players struggle because of poor blocking.

    The defense is not slow, like last year’s, but the scheme breaks down on slants and zone transactions. I blame that on coaching, not athletes. The second half of the UCLA game showed that applying constnat pressure to the opposing QB can make up for lots of scheme and coverage lapses. UCLA gained 75 yards in the second half. That’s saying something mainly because we had given UCLA reason to have confidence going into the second half. Holding down a team with confidence is impressive defense. The coaches need to remember that pressure if we hope to play with an elite team in a BCS game.

    I wonder if opposing defense coordinators have mapped out all of Charlie’s pass routes given his tendencies in certain situations (3rd and more than 5 to go), which would explain the great coverage even when Quinn had time. It seems DBs are covering our guys very well. Either we have suspect speed at receiver or the routes are easily covered. And why isn’t Quinn rolling out more when other teams’ front four are doing such a good job of penetrating? Opposing defenses have correctly figured out that Charlie’s only counter to tough pressure on Quinn is to toss a screen, which is almost always easy to see developing. We need more slants and sideline jump balls for our tall receivers in those situations.

    I know it’s heresy to question Charlie, but the guy is smart enough to be looking for answers right now too.

    Finally, my main concern. Quinn leaves next year and so do most of our superstars. Clausen is going to be a year away from playing at his capacity. The offensive line needs to get bigger, faster and meaner.. IT’s a tall order. I think it’s this year or wait a few more years. And the intervening years still MUST be good enough to sign recruits.

    Lots to worry about with a 6-1 team, but, hey, that’s the high expectations we all have.

  61. mikes1160 says:

    Irish Trojan,

    Nice work – liked your video from last year’s USC game, if not the conclusion.

    I disagree with your analysis of the Irish. USC struggled against Washington and Arizona State. There is no perfect team this year. If the Irish OL was up to snuff, Brady wouldn’t be on his rear end five times a game nor having to short-hop passes.

    Charlie will take the W, but he has to be furious about the OL’s performance. This will change (I hope) And we will be ready Nov 25

  62. A.J. says:

    Brendan,

    All I have to say is that you better hope that Quinn doesn’t pick apart your precious Trojans on November 25th.

    I’m not saying he will (though I, as an ND fan, believe that he will), but if he does, your postering will look pretty foolish.

    Brady absolutely is a heisman caliber quaterback. Many things make a difference in how QB’s play game to game. Could it be that UCLA chewed up and spit out the ND Oline? When a QB has been hurried or knocked down or sacked on seemingly every other play, it is admittedly more difficult to get into rythem.

    The game was a microcosm of ND’s entire season. When your Oline gets beat off the line on 80% of your plays, it is more difficult to establish a solid running attack, which makes it more difficult to establish a solid passing attack.

    And, absolutely, I believe a Heisman winner should have the poise to win games when their back is up against it. 80 yards, in 62 seconds, with no time outs remaining… that is an unbelievable comeback whether it’s against Sam Houston State, UCLA, or your beloved Trojans.

    Go Irish, Go Quinn!

    Beat the Trojans and win a BCS game and end this ridiculous discussion.

  63. David K. says:

    I believe a Heisman winner should have the poise to win games when their back is up against it. 80 yards, in 62 seconds, with no time outs remaining… that is an unbelievable comeback whether it’s against Sam Houston State, UCLA, or your beloved Trojans.

    Necessary yes, sufficent no. As Steve above points out the Irish are a shakey 6-1 and could very easily be 4-3 right now if not for some help from MSU and UCLA late game failures. Quinn’s game ending drive was great, but it was helped by the Bruins idiotic defensive play calling (when does prevent EVER work??) Quinn is a great quarterback, i’ll give you that, but honeslty he was better last year, the whole team was better last year, and given the number of returning players they had, there really is no excuse for the step back they have taken this year.

  64. Timugen says:

    David,

    If you actually knew what you were talking about you would realize UCLA was NOT runnning a prevent defense on that last drive. Just because you play Madden and run a prevent on late drives when you’re in the lead doesn’t mean every REAL football coach does that automatically in similar situations. Look at the last play. UCLA came out in a nickle package (with a whopping 5 DB’s), had the strong-side corners protecting the sidelines (watch a replay and you’ll notice they even line up with their hips rotated toward the center of the field), the other corner covering THE FLAT (which the last time I checked you don’t really care about in prevent), the linebackers were playing a mid-zone to clean up the receivers that the strong-side CB’s would presumably send their way, and 4 on the line.
    This defense is clearly intended to force the play to the middle while at the same time preventing (don’t let that word confuse you) the short dump-off to the flat. Is this a relatively conservative defense? Yes. Is it anything even close to a prevent? No way. Call it a “clock-killing” defense, if you will, for it’s attempt to force the pass to the interior, but it in no way is it a prevent. A prevent is designed to ensure that in no way can a player get behind your coverage…no matter what.
    To make this a prevent, you would, at the very least:
    1.) Not waste one of your DB’s covering the flat…send him back
    2.) 4 down linemen? yeah right…pull one of those guys and put in another DB
    3.) Run softer coverage instead of trying to force receivers to the middle (which will potentially get you burned)
    4.) Depending on the personnel, sub in your smaller, faster linebackers

    This was clearly not a prevent defense, but I think it was actually a good call by Karl. Running a prevent is a shaky call when you’re up against (i)two big receivers who can win a jump ball more times than not, and (ii)a very talented open-field runner in Shark who could possibly catch the ball in front of half of your defense and procede to make them look silly on his way to the house. Yes, Shark did some nice open-field running after that catch, but it was nonetheless not a prevent defense.

    So if I think it was a good defensive call, then why did it break down? One simple reason. The oft-maligned-on-here Brady Quinn. The pump fake. At the time of the pump, 83 had three defenders around him (one LB slightly in front of him and on him like glue, and two other defenders very closely following). Quinn pumps, the LB makes a play for the ball that isn’t coming, picks the other two defenders in the process, and Shark continues on into open field. It was a thing of beauty; just watch it on a replay.

    The moral of the story?

    “Quinn’s game ending drive was great, but it was helped by the Bruins idiotic defensive play calling (when does prevent EVER work??)”

    Next time you get a feeling like you know something insightful about the game of football, go pick up your PS2 or XBOX controller instead of posting something on here that so glaringly exposes your ignorance when it comes to analyzing a football play.