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Irish surprised by USC’s fake punt

Joe Hettler | Tuesday, November 30, 2004

With a comfortable 34-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter Saturday, Southern California coach Pete Carroll surprised Notre Dame by calling a fake punt with the Trojans facing a fourth-and-three at the Notre Dame 39-yard line.”We’ve been looking for a chance to do that for weeks,” Carroll said. “Finally the right opportunity showed up and we were able to execute the play perfectly. We’d like to have run it earlier in the season, but the right situation never came up.”Irish defensive back Mike Richardson was called for defensive pass interference, which resulted in a 16-yard penalty. The Trojans scored on the next play when Leinart found receiver Jason Mitchell for a 23-yard touchdown.After the game, Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said he did not fault USC for calling the fake punt.”That’s their call,” Willingham said. “It was a good play on their part. I thought we were in pretty good position. I have no problems with them doing that.”Palmer grabs first career touchdownOn Notre Dame’s first drive of the game, the Irish faced a fourth-and-one at the 1-yard line. Who did the team throw to?Billy Palmer.The fifth-year senior tight end scored on a play-action fake to put the Irish ahead 7-0. It was Palmer’s first career touchdown, third catch of the season and fifth reception of his career.”It was definitely a good experience,” Palmer said. “Obviously I wish the outcome of the game would have been different, but it was definitely a thrill. I’m happy the coaches had the confidence to call the play.”Parish gets start, gets picked onFreddie Parish figured USC would throw his way all game Saturday, in the sophomore’s first-career start. He figured right.The Trojans threw nearly every pass on their first several drives to Parish’s side.”At the beginning I felt they were coming at me, but I had no problem with it,” a visibly dejected Parish said after the game. “Bottom line, I should have stepped up. “They gave me the opportunity that I had been asking for – it was time for me to put up or shut up, and I didn’t make enough plays.”Parish, who hadn’t played the cornerback position since junior year of high school, said the coaching staff helped him get ready for USC’s outstanding passing attack throughout the week.”[I] had to learn as much as possible, and I think [the coaches] prepared me well,” he said.Fitzpatrick punts wellD.J. Fitzpatrick wasn’t supposed to let Trojan star returner Reggie Bush catch the ball on punts and kickoffs on Saturday.Mission accomplished.Fitzpatrick boomed eight punts for a 43.9 average, including a long of 59. More importantly, Bush did not return a kickoff or punt during the entire game.”The kickoffs we tried to kick them high and to the right and I don’t think he had a return on kickoffs,” Fitzpatrick said. “Punting the ball, we wanted to keep it away from him, put it on the sidelines and put enough hang time on it so he has to fair catch it. I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”Gameday captainsThe captains were running back Ryan Grant, linebacker Mike Goolsby, defensive end Justin Tuck and wide receiver Carlyle Holiday.