Thursday, October 25, 2007

Odds and Sods - Late in the Week Edition | by Pat

Parachute. It was fun to see the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Demonstration Parachute Team, the Black Daggers, parachute their way into Notre Dame Stadium prior to kickoff of the game and deliver the game ball. Still, I couldn't help but notice the ND grass claim another victim as the final parachuter caught his left foot in the turf during his landing and spent the second half of the game on crutches with a walking boot on his foot. In a way it made complete sense that in such a miserable season where nothing is going right, even a Special Ops soldier with hundreds of career jumps still managed to get himself hurt on what I imagine was a relatively easy jump with perfect weather.

Airport Song. Jay and I were joking before the game that maybe Southern Cal's rough flight into town would result in a Trojan team that had reordered their lives, put football in perspective and would blissfully enjoy another wonderful day on Earth rather than straining to make that extra yard or finish off that block. And for a second there, they kinda did. On their first possession the Men of Troy went three and out and overall they punted on six of nine first half possessions. But the second half was a different story as the Trojans only punted once more on their way to 21 points and the blowout win. The Irish on the other hand reached double digits for the second time this year (PSU being the other) with 10 punts.

What You Wish For. Going back on previous statements that he always wanted the ball to start the game, Charlie actually deferred on Saturday. Some fans had been calling for such a move for most of the year, and it was a sort of mini-big deal to see Charlie change his mind like that. Despite a 36-yard return by the Trojans, ND did a great job forcing a three and out and getting the ball right back. Of course the Irish offense failed to do much when they got the ball -- after receiving the kickoff to start the second half, the offense promptly fumbled on the second play.

One Man Wrecking Crew. Amid many down notes, the play of David Bruton continues to be a bright spot. In addition to one excellent pass breakup where he baited SC QB Mark Sanchez into throwing a slant, Bruton added "punt disruptor" to his already sterling special teams reputation. Last seen in 2006 looking completely lost as Dwayne Jarrett galloped to yet another touchdown, Bruton's play has been impressive and steadily improving as the year has progressed. Look for him to have productive games against Navy and Air Force in the coming weeks.

Great Escape. If one play sums up the 2007 season, it just might be Vidal Hazelton's 48 yard weaving catch and run through missed Irish tackle after missed Irish tackle. Overall, the Irish defense has been doing a better job of wrapping up this yea. But on that play, it was almost comical to watch the ND defenders tripping over themselves as Hazelton zigged and zagged his way into the endzone for the score.

So Long. No sooner was I thinking that a third straight class of ND students were going to be graduated without a single victory over Southern Cal during their stay on campus, that I noticed a steady stream of Irish fans starting to file out of the stadium. Keep in mind this was the third quarter. I can't quite remember ever seeing the stadium start to empty out that early before. Of course, no one can remember losing to Southern Cal by 38 points before.