After last night’s dramatic victory over USC, I’m sure you’re eager to read and discuss the game and the Notre Dame football team as much as possible. I know I am. I stayed up into the wee hours of the night, reading every game story, every column, every comment about Notre Dame and the Fall of Troy.
My gift to you, dear reader(s) (goddamnit, I hope its plural) is that I delved into the never-ending stream of stories and picked out the best ones for your perusal.
But before we get to the links, allow me an aside on the wonderful play of Brian Smith and be sure to click the link to Wes Morgan’s fantastic feature on Smith.
Before the season, I was furious with Coach Kelly for taking Smith out of the starting lineup. Last season, he was our best defender, and that’s including Te’o. Nobody could convince me Darius Fleming and Carlo Calabrese were better than him all of the sudden.
With Calabrese injured for the Utah game, Smith finally played the majority of the snaps and he’s quickly proven me right. Smith had 10 tackles and two pass deflections against Utah. Last night, Smith was all over the field. I haven’t been able to find defensive stats for the game yet, but I do know Smith was largely responsible for getting the offense the ball back before the half when Rees engineered a 37-second touchdown drive. Smith stuffed Stanley Havili on third down and short, then knocked down Mustain’s pass on fourth down to secure the ball for the Irish. Smith and Te’o anchored the defense, stuffing the run and forcing Mustain to beat them–he didn’t.
Enough of my Brian Smith rant though, on to the links!
The Subway Domer, SubwayDomer.com: Divine Mandate:
God finally got that phone call from the Vatican, and it gave us a divine mandate. A promise worthy of a triple rainbow after a flood. A victory over our enemy. It was never supposed to have been a loss- because divine providence declared otherwise in Notre Dame’s 20-16 win over Southern Cal.
I will get into a lot more of the particulars in the Hangover post this upcoming week, but before I do, I want to give some Subway Domer love to three players:
Wes Morgan, ESPNChicago: Like Irish, LB Smith Finishing Strong:
“I didn’t know how to take it,” said Smith, who had 71 tackles last season. “But hey, [Kelly] says he’s a Brian Smith fan now and that’s all that matters.”
Nine games into the year, injuries had taken their toll on both sides of the ball. Safety Jamoris Slaughter missed considerable time, nose guard Ian Williams was lost for the remainder of the season and inside linebacker Carlo Calabrese was struggling to get back on the field. Smith was inserted next to Te’o in his absence, starting the last three contests and salvaging a senior campaign in the process.
Smith now has 41 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one interception and three pass breakups. Not to mention a healthier perspective.
Wes Morgan, ESPNChicago: Tommy gets tough for Irish:
There he was, baby-faced Irish quarterback Tommy Rees, leading Notre Dame to a victory at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time in 10 years.It wasn’t pretty — not with the true freshman responsible for all four Irish turnovers in the 20-16 win — but it got the job done.
And, in doing so, Rees looked more like some famed Irish quarterbacks of old than the 18-year-old he really is.
“Tommy, he may look like he’s 15 years old, but he plays like a veteran,” said sophomore linebacker Manti Te’o. “He’s very poised out there and he has good composure. With the guys that he has around him, he does a great job.”
Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune: Notre Dame notes: Bowl fate clearer, not settled:
That said, the Irish’s postseason fate seemed to clear up fairly significantly with the 20-16 win over the Trojans. The path seems relative clear to the Dec. 28 Champs Sports Bowl, but there is no provision to automatically send Notre Dame to that game now that it has that seventh win.
Asked if anything is near settled with the Irish’s bowl fate, Swarbrick flatly said, “Absolutely not.”
“It’s not about us having a preference,” Swarbrick continued. “It’s about us working with all of our partners and coming up with the right solution.”
Bob Wieneke, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame football: Ready or not, here comes 2011:
Yes, there will be feel-good storylines that would accompany a bowl victory. And should that bowl game result in a loss, there likely would be feel-good stories about how the team was able to play in a bowl after a tough regular season.
But let’s not kid ourselves. The bowl bid was as much about getting a jump-start on the 2011 season as it is about putting a period on the 2010 campaign.
With the regular season in the history books, it’s time to take a position-by-position look at what that 2011 team may look like.