Some improvements were made between the Georgia Tech and Penn State games, but not enough to result in a win. Notre Dame brought in a new quarterback and started a new running back, Armando Allen. The main problem with this game: the offensive line, of course. The Irish gave up another nine sacks, and the offensive line committed countless holding and false start penalties. Most of those came from Paul Duncan, the right tackle. The good thing about the penalties is that discipline will fix that. The sacks are a different story. It is NOT Clausen's fault. If you watched the game, then you would have noticed that Clausen avoided another five sacks using his surprisingly outstanding mobility. Needless to say, Duncan will find himself on the bench. It isn't a lack of talent. It's just a lack of experience. Sam Young and John Sullivan are the only starters from last year, and they have done adequate, which is all you need to do when Jimmy Clausen is your quarterback.
The most embarrassing part of the game was not the 31-10 win for Penn State, it was the disgusting actions by Travis Thomas. After Graham Zug's helmet was ripped off, Travis Thomas repeatedly punched him in the face. When I saw the replay, I almost threw up. The punches were absolutely henious. He could have seriously hurt the defensless Zug. If I were Charlie Weis, I would have already stripped Thomas of his captaincy and given it to a more worthy candidate like Trevor Laws. For someone who is suppose to be the leader of the team, Thomas was a disgrace to the University of Notre Dame du Lac. He shouldn't see the field at all for the next four games.
Even though Notre Dame lost by 21, some improvements were shown. The running game, to be honest, is not as bad as people say. I'm definitely not saying that it is good, but if sacks count as rushing yards, then rushing stats will always be a joke. Rushing yards should only be on running plays. Sacks should go against passing yards. If you take away the sack yardage, then the Irish would have around 120 yards.
The score of this game could have easily been 31-21. If Zbikowski would have stayed in bounds and scored on the punt return, and if Robby Parris would have caught the great pass to him, then this would have been an entirely different game. The Irish are not as bad as people say. How can you expect a team led by three terrible draft classes, along with an inexperienced O-line to beat two top 15 teams? The Irish's schedule is killer at the beginning of the year. Their first cupcake is their tenth game. They would be lucky to win 3 of their first games. I'd like to see some other teams in the country to start off with this schedule. They wouldn't have the benefit of playing Samford, Florida International, or Youngstown State. Next week, the Irish will face Michigan, who will look quite different on offense. Chad Henne, the four year starter, will miss this game due to injury. Instead, a high school phenom, Ryan Mallett, will take over. The Irish and Maize and Blue are very similar this year. They have both underachieved, and they have both very little to make fans excited about their next game. On Saturday, we will see which team is more poised to make a comeback.
Notre Dame is overrated by Irish fans and the media. That isn't their fault. When you are the greatest program in football history, that tends to happen. However, the Irish are underrated at some points. Face it haters, Notre Dame will not win 2 or 3 games. They will go to a small bowl game and face a small school. Give these guys some time to grow. Once the line gets experience, most of them have the talent to do some great things. Don't count out the Irish yet.