Sunday, November 16, 2008

Odds & Sods: Down to The Wire Edition | by Mike

Too much ain't enough. Once again, the Irish failed to play a complete game. Fortunately, the team's dominance of the third quarter was so thorough as to make up for three lackluster quarters. In an upcoming post, we'll break down the fourth quarter breakdown, but the Irish also disappointed in the first half.

Ground on down. Navy's furious fourth quarter comeback attempt obscures the extent to which the Midshipmen offense had been shut down prior to that point. Navy entered the game second in the nation in rushing, averaging 308 rushing yards per game. The Irish defense held Navy to 172 rushing yards, their lowest total since a 2006 game against Rutgers where the Midshipmen had no answer for the in-game loss of their starting quarterback. The Irish defense also held Navy to 1 of 13 on third-down conversions. While he's had a relatively quiet season to date, Ian Williams had a great game and his play was a key in disrupting Navy's running game.

Take five. Irish running backs rushed for 220 yards on 44 carries, or a 5.0 yards per carry average (Aldridge - 5.0; Hughes - 4.9; Allen - 7.5; Gray - 2.3). While I'm certainly happy with 5 yards a carry, I would also expect an offense that is averaging 5 yards a clip to generate more than 20 points. Until the Irish offense can cut down on the turnovers, scoring will continue to lag behind yardage.

Walken. Brandon Walker made both of his field goal attempts against Navy - field goals that ended up providing the winning margin. After his rough start to the season, Walker has converted 9 of his last 10 attempts.

Hurt. The injuries are starting to mount for the Irish. Starters Chris Stewart and Terrail Lambert missed the game with injury. Brian Smith and Michael Floyd left the game with early injuries and did not return. Kerry Neal and Dan Wenger left the game with an injury but returned later, and Jimmy Clausen missed a play after getting speared by Clint Sovie. The most significant injuries appear to be to Floyd and Smith, both of whom may miss the remainder of the regular season.