September 03, 2006

The Early Irish Report Card

14-10. It's a win.

For just under two quarters in Atlanta on Saturday night I saw a scared, happy-footed Brady Quinn. It was BQ, the Ty Willingham version. The end stat line looks amazing compared to the feel of Saturday night's game. 23-for-38, 246 yards. Quinn made big throws in the second half when they were needed and the Irish benefitted from dim-witted Georgia Tech playcalling.

14-10. Time for Mr. Positive and Mr. Negative.

Mr. Positive: "You have to like the Irish ability to be stone-cold killers when it matters. Slant pass to McKnight on a pivotal third down, a great catch by Jeff Samardzija when the Irish needed to move the ball from deep in its own territory. Fourth down dive by Quinn to ice the game. This team plays exactly like the New England Patriots. They just win."

Mr. Negative: "The book might be out on how to slow down the Irish offense. Good line play and speedy, active linebackers doom the Irish offense. The receivers are good, but not speed demons. The moxie is there, but the talent is still a notch below the USCs and Texas' of the world."

Mr. Positive: "But they won. In gut check time this team has a great mentality. Yes, Rhema missed a ball on third down that ultimately resulted in a missed field goal. However, when the Irish got the ball back, they closed the door on the Jackets. And, the DEFENSE. One big pass to Calvin Johnson down the sideline is the only blemish on an otherwise solid effort."

Mr. Negative: "How much were we worried about the GT offense? Reggie Ball has never completed more than 50 percent of his passes in a year. The Jackets didn't score over 30 points against teams not named Duke and Wake Forest. Reggie Ball got plenty of runs over 10 yards. This defense didn't get a real test in the Jackets."

Mr. Positive: "14-10, Irish win. Now we return home and face the Nittany Lions. The Kid Morelli comes calling and Penn State is bringing a ton of youth into Notre Dame Stadium..."

Mr. Negative: "...yeah but they return the heart and soul of the defense, Paul Pozluszny and for what its worth, Joe Pa knows defense."

Mr. Positive: "All that aside lets wrap this up by saying one thing about our Domers... they might have the flash of the passing offense and Weis' reputation for game calling but when it comes down to it, they are a power running team that wore down Georgia Tech and will need to do the same thing against Penn State."

Mr. Negative: "I might agree with that."

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.