Laura Myers | Monday, October 6, 2008
Another week meant more career highs for Notre Dame.
Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen and freshman receiver Michael Floyd set personal bests for the second week in a row by connecting five times for 115 yards. Clausen had 29 total completions for three touchdowns and 347 yards, a career best, in Notre Dame’s 28-21 win over Stanford.
The Irish (4-1) eclipsed their 2007 win total only five games into this season with the victory. Clausen said it’s time for the comparisons to stop.
“Last year was last year. We’ve moved on. This is a different team than last year,” he said.
On third down late in the second quarter, Clausen launched a pass from the Stanford 48-yard line that Floyd pulled in for a touchdown. He followed that in the third quarter with a 41-yard reception that set up a touchdown for freshman tight end Kyle Rudolph.
The 48-yard reception was the longest in Floyd’s short career and Rudolph’s five catches and 70 yards were both career highs.
“[Clausen] had another game without an interception on a day that when Stanford got down they were bringing it. They were bringing double safety blitzes. They were just dialing it up there at the end. I think he really stood tall,” coach Charlie Weis said.
Clausen had plenty of help from his teammates on the other side of the ball.
Stanford received the opening kickoff and moved the ball 45 yards before a false start by offensive tackle Chris Marinelli stalled their momentum. Two plays later, quarterback Tavita Pritchard threw an interception to senior safety David Bruton.
Marinelli became the object of controversy last week after he made comments degrading the Irish football team and Notre Dame in general. He added a jab to Notre Dame’s defense, saying that the blitz-happy defense only had one sack on the season.
The motivated defense sacked Pritchard five times Saturday.
“When anyone bashes Notre Dame and our defense like that, they’re going to pay for it,” senior safety Kyle McCarthy said. McCarthy finished the game with a team-high 14 tackles.
The Irish followed the interception with an 80-yard drive capped by a 21-yard touchdown reception by sophomore Armando Allen.
On Stanford’s next possession, the Cardinal were once again threatening, quickly advancing 45 yards before a false start by offensive tackle Ben Muth moved them back five yards. Two plays later, Pritchard threw an interception to senior defensive end Pat Kuntz.
“Before the play we were calling it out, saying watch the screen,” Kuntz said. “I thought he wasn’t going to throw it near me, but I ended up being right in front of it, so I had to catch it or else it would have been bad for the rest of my life.”
Along with the interception, Kuntz had a tipped ball, a fumble recovery and two sacks.
“I think that he was more juiced than he normally is for this game. He was more motivated. Not that he isn’t always motivated, but he was really ready to go,” Weis said. “I think he played hard in the game and was disruptive for all four quarters.”
Despite the extra motivation, the Notre Dame defense gave up 108 rushing yards to Stanford in the first quarter alone. But the Cardinal were only able to pick up 53 more yards on the ground through the final three quarters.
“(The defense) got a beat on what they needed to do to slow them down, because in the first quarter we weren’t slowing them down very much,” Weis said.
Stanford opened up the second quarter with a 14-play, 95-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7. After that, the defense settled in and the Irish began to pull away.
On the very next drive, Armando Allen ran four yards into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game – another career high. Allen finished with 33 yards rushing, 66 yards receiving, and 54 yards on kick returns. His seven receptions were also a personal best.
Stanford put together a comeback with two Pritchard touchdown passes, but it was too little, too late.
Senior punter Eric Maust pinned the Cardinal inside their own 5-yard line and the defense came up with one final stop to secure the win.