A few unconnected thoughts on the Pittsburgh game:
Giving credit where credit is due. As the (deserved) encomiums to Charlie Weis pour in, let's not forget the men who made last night possible. Thank you to Philip Purcell, Patrick McCartan, and Fr. John Jenkins for displaying the courage to do what was right in the face of certain media backlash.
The best will play. According to und.com, the following freshmen (or, to use the distasteful term favored by most other schools, "true freshmen") played in last night's game: David Bruton, Paul Duncan, David Grimes, Joey Hiben, Pat Kuntz, Asaph Schwapp, and Michael Turkovich. That's almost half of last year's recruiting class. Dig the meritocracy. Current recruits should also notice Weis's propensity to give early playing time to those who have earned it.
Speaking of recruits... Darrin Walls and Richard Jackson were scheduled to take official visits to Pitt this weekend. I hope they made it in.
Faulty comparisons. Prepare yourselves for a season of media comparisons between Charlie's first year and Willingham's first year. (References to the nadir of ND football in 2003 will conveniently be omitted.) Certain columnists and talking heads have already attempted to compare Charlie's victory over Pittsburgh to Willingham's victory over Maryland. What these comparisons conveniently omit is Notre Dame's inability to score an offensive touchdown in Willingham's debut. Or the following week. In fact, it was not until the closing seconds of the fourth game of 2002 that Willingham's team scored its sixth offensive touchdown of the year. The sixth offensive touchdown of Weis's first year came halfway through the third quarter of his first game. "Night and day," indeed.
Who are you? Rashon Powers-Neal and Asaph Schwapp combined for ten carries (eight for RPN and two for Schwapp). While not all of Powers-Neal's carries came from the fullback position, I do believe last night was the largest role we've seen for the fullback since the salad days of Donut Jim, if not earlier. It may be too early to invoke the memory of Marc Edwards running wild over an undefeated Southern Cal team, but it was great to see the fullback make a return. This would also seem to indicate a newfound confidence in the offensive line's ability to get a strong initial push. Then again, we were playing Pittsburgh.
You can take the Wannstache out of Miami, but you can't take the Miami out of the Wannstache. Pittsburgh TE Erik Gill started - hell, was a captain - despite being charged with driving under the influence, recklessly endangering another person and driving a vehicle at an unsafe speed. It's not Pitt's fault that Gill drove drunk. However, it is Pitt's fault for failing to respond to Gill's DUI in proper fashion. Why didn't they? The answer may be found in an Ivan Maisel piece on Wannstedt from earlier in the week.
"[Pig-Faced Satan] and I talk once a week," Wannstedt said. "He's been the biggest influence on me professionally."And finally... Much will be written about Weis's debut. However, the best summation probably came from the man himself:
"I think by halftime the players started to realize they're better than they thought they were."And there you have it.