OCTOBER 23, 2021: Notre Dame Fighting Irish v. USC Trojans
OCTOBER 23, 2021
Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
We can now say “bye, bye” to the bye week. This space has frequently posited that a bye week is only significant for an extra week for an injured player to heal. If you buy into that opinion, then you should be thrilled with the return to the Irish line-up of Michael Mayer, who actually has had three bye weeks to recover as he spectated during the Virginia Tech game. Yes, Michael is saying “bye, bye” to the bench, and “bye, bye” to any would-be tackler.
But, will the bye week be enough for Chris Tyree to say “bye, bye” to his turf toe? If he does, then might there be a “bye, bye” to the Trojan kick-off unit? Probably not, as their kicker, Parker Lewis, is really good at putting the ball in the endzone. Apparently Chris is a game time decision, but if Tyree cannot tryee, then look for Logan Diggs (#22) and C’Bo Flemister (#20) to be involved.
And watching those Parker Lewis pigskins sail over the goalline, look for Matt Salerno (#29) who, if the kick is short, will, at most, raise his right arm to point to the night sky, as if to say “there it is”. Is that not a “fair” assessment to “catch” what he will likely do?
Matt will not likely be seen doing this!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishnes; it was the epoch of belief,; it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . . .
And so began Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”. And, now “A Tale of Two Teams”.
It was the best of times (’66, Irish 51, USC 0; ‘77 Green Jersey Game!), it was the worst of times (USC Coached by Pete Carroll); it was the age of wisdom (Irish Coached by Knute, Frank, Ara, Dan, Lou and now Brian), it was the age of foolishness (USC Coached by Pete Carroll); it was the epoch of belief (’64 Ara’s Irish Turnaround); it was the epoch of incredulity (USC Coached by Pete Carroll), it was the season of Light (’89 Tony Rice-a-roni with the winner), it was the season of darkness (USC Coached by Pete Carroll); it was the spring of hope (every year for the Irish), it was the winter of despair (USC Coached by Pete Carroll); we had everything before us (’05 win under Weis . . . , well almost), we had nothing before us (’05 Bush Push, Coached, of course, by Pete Carroll); we were all going direct to heaven (Irish win again), we were all going direct the other way (USC Coached by Pete Carroll) . . . .
The 2021 Trojans enter Notre Dame Stadium under interim Head Coach Donte Williams. Except for the COVID-canceled 2020 game, the Irish and Trojans have played every year since 1945. The Trojans have weapons, they have athletes, they have skills, BUT they do not have consistency nor cohesiveness.
Kedon Slovin (#9) is the Trojan Quarterback. He played pretty damn good in Notre Dame Stadium in 2019. That was his freshman year at USC. He stepped in when the starting USC Quarterback suffered an injury in the first half of USC’s opening game of the 2019 season. Kedon nearly engineered an upset of the then #9 Irish with a passing stat line of 24-35 for 255 yards and 2 TDs. Far from a slovenly Slovin performance! His favorite receiver in that game was Amon St. Brown, an Irish recruiting target with whom Kedon connected for 8 completions for 112 yards and 1 TD.
By the way, if you do not recall, let us remind you that the Trojan Quarterback who went down making Kedon the successor was a sophomore who had started all of his USC Freshman year games as a 17-YEAR OLD!!!!! That young man is a “bulldog” of a player. Who is he? J. T. Daniels, now a Georgia Bulldog.
This year’s primary target is Drake London (#15) (He being the “Who Dat?”), a 6’5” wide receiver who is AVERAGING more than 10 completions per game. With his height, this former USC basktball player can get up and above most defensive backs for contested balls. Marcus Freeman will have to scheme how best to use 6’4” Kyle Hamilton.
Remember this! If at 9:15 PM, which should be early in the second half of the game, there have been more than six 9 to 15 completions, the Irish lads will likely be in trouble.
That 2019 Irish/USC game also saw one time Notre Dame commitment, Markese Stepp, step up with 10 carries for 82 yards. Stepp is still carrying the pigskin although not for the Trojans as his venture into the transfer portal led him to become a Cornhusker.
While the transfer portal taketh away, it can also giveth. Deposed USC Head Coach Clay Helton obtained 9 inbound portal players, 8 from Power 5 teams, 6 with significant playing time at their prior schools, and 4 alone from the Texas Longhorns. Of course, this directional shift from the Lone Star State university to the Golden State university is not a one-way path.
The most impactful of the inbound has been former Texas Running Back Keontay Ingram (#28) who left the Longhorns with nearly 2,000 rushing yards and who has rushed for 419 yards on 74 carries (5.66 average) for USC and with 14 pass receptions for 88 yards (6.29 average).
This tome could have been titled “A Tale of Two Drakes”. London has been chronicled, but now we turn to the best USC defender, Drake Jackson (#99). Sort of a hybrid Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Drake left the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum following the Trojan’s October 9 loss to Utah in a walking boot. The bye week should enable Drake to be available to rake the Irish QBs.
As for the Irish, was the increase in rushing yardage (185 yards) and performance against Virginia Tech, baby steps to significant improvement
or just a mirage?
We shall see if the insertion of the size and athleticism of Joe Alt (#76)
and the size and strength of Andrew Kristofic (#73)
will provide continued improvement.
While Irish fans should not expect Kyren Williams to repeat Tony Jones, Jr.’s 176 yard performance on 26 rushes against the Trojans in the 2019 game, that 2019 individual total will be exceeded by the 2021 Irish team rushing total.
That win also featured Ian Book passing for 165 yards which the Coan/Buchner/Pyne combination (it says here it will be only the Coan/Buchner combination) will pass with ease (YES WITH EASE!!!). And that game also featured field goals of 43, 45 and 52 by Jonathan Doerer (#39).
Forget that missed extra point against Cincinnati, Doerer is a doer!
For those of you who live in the “world of minutia” (or as some might suggest “really stupid, unimportant crap”), just think about this. Every Irish fan remembers with joy the Head Coaching stint of Ara Parseghian. We suspect that few Irish fans know that the Notre Dame Quarterback in the very first Irish/Trojan game (we will not say the year because it is an Irish Trivia Question for today) was Ara Parisien.
And, with that bit of “critical” information, the prediction . . .
Notre Dame 34
Here are your Irish Trivia Questions for this week.
The 2021 Notre Dame/USC game will be the 92nd between the schools. In what year was the first game between the two teams? Who were the head coaches for those two teams in that game? Which team won that first game? Which team has won more of the matchups?
Here are your Irish Trivia Answers from last week.
The Irish colors are Blue & Gold. There have been occasions when the “lads”, as Coach Frank Leahy referred to his players, were adorned in green uniforms. Can you pick which of these games was the first time the Irish wore Green:
1921 v. Iowa at Iowa City, Iowa
1942 v. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Stadium
1963 v. Syracuse in Yankee Stadium
1977 v. USC at Notre Dame Stadium
Only one player has won the Heisman Trophy while playing for a team with a losing record. The record was 2-8. Can you name the player? Paul Hornung (Okay, that is a gimme!!) Can you name the player who was the Heisman runner-up that year? Johnny Majors And, for a real tester, can you name the player who finished 5th that year but who many consider should have won it that year? Jimmy Brown That player, who won 10 varsity letters in college, was recognized as the best college football player of all time in ESPN’s list of the top 150 players of all time recognizing College Football’s 150th year. For more of a challenge can you name the four sports in which he lettered? Football, Lacrosse, Track & Field, and Basketball
And, our hearts forever . . .
I See, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, CBRC and Charles Schwab among more than 30 others!!