Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Clip Show '06 - Top 10 | by Pat

The runners-up have been revealed; now for the cream of the crop. Paul from Classic Ground walks us through the list.

10. Bombing Navy
Notre Dame scored on all of its first-half possessions on its way to a 43rd consecutive win over Navy. On third and 18 in the first quarter, the Irish made it 10-0 with a 36-yard pass from Brady Quinn to David Grimes. Quinn scrambled to buy time, and Grimes made a spectacular diving catch in the left edge of the end zone. The catch was the first career touchdown for the wide receiver.

9. Lyons with a “Rudy” moment
Like Mooney-to-O’Hara in last year’s Syracuse game, it is probably a safe bet that Coach Weis’s favorite plays versus Army involved senior walk-on and “show team” regular John Lyons. Lyons, a running back from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had not logged a second of playing time before seeing the field in the closing minutes against the Black Knights. Lyons rushed for 4 yards and 10 yards, respectively. Commenting on Lyons and the other players that got into the game late on Senior Day, Weis said: “I wanted to give John Lyons a carry...but I think the most important thing for me was to make sure I got the guys, you know, try to get those guys on the field to at least be part of that experience.”

8. The Shark glides past Mayes
Against North Carolina, All-American wide receiver Jeff Samardzija had six catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown, a 42-yard pass from Quinn, was his 23rd career touchdown catch, breaking the school record set by Derrick Mayes in 1995. Coach Weis on the record: "I think it's pretty amazing that he accomplished it really in a year, year and a half.” Samardzija, commenting on his accomplishment: “If your teammates come over and give you a hug and say good job, it doesn't matter how many it is or what happened. If your teammates are in there with you having fun, that's all that counts."

7. Laws blocks it and Lambert returns it
DTs Trevor Laws and Derek Landri emerged as kick-blocking monsters during the 2006 season. Against Air Force, Laws blocked an Air Force field goal attempt in the second quarter. The ball was scooped up by CB Terrail Lambert, and Lambert sprinted 76 yards for the touchdown. The 10-point swing on the play put the Irish up 27-3 over the Falcons in Colorado Springs.

6. “Rabbit-out-of-the-hat play”
The Irish opened a 28-7 lead late in the second quarter against Purdue with a fake field goal. WR Jeff Samardzija, the holder on the field goal unit, picked up the ball and ran untouched for a 5-yard touchdown. According to Coach Weis, the touchdown was the result of coaching and preparation: “If they don't have the look, call timeout and we'll go out and we'll kick the field goal. But fortunately we had the look that exactly was the one we practiced on...and it worked.”

5. “Room service fumble recovery”
The Fighting Irish went into the locker room leading 20-0 over Penn State at halftime. The Nittany Lions received the second half kickoff, and 3 plays later found themselves down 27-0. On third and 2 from the Penn State 28, QB Anthony Morelli ran an option play to the right. Unfortunately for Morelli, he was sandwiched by Irish LBs Travis Thomas and Maurice Crum Jr., and coughed up the football. The ball bounced nicely for S Tom Zbikowski, and he returned the fumble 25 yards for the Notre Dame touchdown. Joe Paterno on the Irish score: “I felt we had a chance until we screwed it up real quick in the third quarter.”

4. One hand catching
TE John Carlson surfaced as an important part of the Irish offense in 2006. On the last play of a 12 play, 77 yard fourth quarter drive, Quinn rolled right on first-and-goal and found Carlson in the end zone. Carlson stretched out and snared the ball on a diving, one-handed catch. Coach Weis on the game: “The offense I thought was fairly meticulous. It's not about scoring 50 points; it's about how you feel about how you're playing.” Weis also had a comment about Carlson’s one-handed snag: “"That was phenomenal...I thought the ball was overthrown, to tell you the truth. Of course when he came to the sidelines I said, 'Two hands, please."'

3. Run-pass check
In the opening road game, at night, against Georgia Tech, Quinn led the first of many late-in-the-half or late-in-the-game touchdown drives this season. After a Tech field goal put the Yellow Jackets up 10-0 late in the second quarter, Quinn engineered a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive. With no timeouts, and just 16 second left in the half, Quinn scored on a quarterback draw from the Tech 5. Weis downplayed the “risky” or “gutsy” nature of the playcall: “It was a run-pass check with me. When you go to the line of scrimmage, if it was bring the house, which I thought there would be a good chance they would be bringing the house, we would have been throwing the ball. But he goes to the line of scrimmage. You can very clearly see that they were in a zone coverage where they were going to double receivers. There was going to be two high safeties and no one in the middle. The only guys that could end up possibly making a tackle on him were the mike linebacker on the tight end, and the will linebacker over on the X. There was a big cavity in there...It really wasn't that risky based on what the look was.”

2. “The Irish have come from behind…”
In a monsoon rainstorm, in East Lansing, the Fighting Irish were looking at another painful loss to Michigan State. Trailing 37-21 entering the fourth quarter, the Irish rallied and Terrail Lambert made two miraculous plays to help lead Notre Dame to a 40-37 victory. First, Lambert intercepted a Drew Stanton pass and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown with 2:53 remaining in the game. On the next Spartan drive, Lambert sealed the Irish win with a crazy interception as he pinned the ball against the back of a supine Spartan receiver. For his play, Lambert earned the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week from the Master Coaches Survey.

1. “Against all odds, the Irish come back!”
From the AP article: “Brady Quinn threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija with 27 seconds left to give 10th-ranked Notre Dame an improbable 20-17 comeback victory over UCLA on Saturday...It appeared as though Notre Dame had squandered its last chance to win when Quinn was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Notre Dame 35 with 2:25 left. But the Irish held UCLA to three-and-out to give Quinn one last chance. Because the Irish...were able to stop the clock twice with timeouts during the Bruins' short series, they got the ball back with 62 seconds left. Quinn hit Samardzija with a 21-yard pass and David Grimes with a 14-yard pass to move to the UCLA 45. He then threw the TD pass to Samardzija, who cut inside safety Dennis Keyes at the 20-yard line. Keyes managed to knock Samardzija off balance, but the Notre Dame receiver kept his feet and made it to the end zone.”

And there you have it. Again, special thanks go to our friend Nevin for pulling the clips. You can check out more of Nevin's excellent work, including highlight reels and special video features, at Notre Dame Football Videos.