Turnovers kill Notre Dame’s chances
Chris Hine | Monday, October 13, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The outcome might have been different for Notre Dame had the Irish not committed five turnovers on Saturday. Irish coach Charlie Weis said turnovers were No. 2 on his team’s top 10 list of things to accomplish in Saturday’s game.
“[It was] after ‘Can you win on the road?’ They seem to go hand-in-hand,” Weis said.
Notre Dame came into the game with a +5 turnover rating for the season. That margin vanished as North Carolina didn’t commit one. Notre Dame’s -5 margin in Saturday’s game was its worst since Nov. 2, 2002, a 14-7 loss to Boston College
The streak is over
Jimmy Clausen’s interception at the beginning of the third quarter, which was returned for a touchdown by Quan Sturdivant, was his first pick in 132 pass attempts – the second longest streak in Notre Dame history behind Brady Quinn (226) in 2006.
No Tate, no problem
Dangerous North Carolina receiver Brandon Tate exited in the first half because of a sprained right knee and did not return, but Hakeem Nicks was more than willing to fill Tate’s shoes – Nicks ended up with 141 yards on nine catches with one touchdown.
Nicks has eight career 100-yard games, one of those coming in 2006 against the Irish when he caught six passes for 171 yards.
God – a Tar Heels fan
Since Notre Dame is a Catholic university, it’s only natural to assume the Irish may have a little extra help from above when they take the field, But if you ask Tar Heels running back Shaun Draughn, the Almighty was wearing Carolina Blue.
“We always have a chance, always.” Draughn said. “With God on your side, you never know.”
In 2007, Notre Dame had only six passing plays over 30 yards. So far this season, the Irish have 11, seven of those to Golden Tate.
Brandon Walker nailed his only field goal attempt – a 42-yarder to give Notre Dame a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. Notre Dame faced a fourth-and-seven on the North Carolina 27-yard line and Weis elected to go for it.
He said after the game he thought Notre Dame needed a touchdown, given North Carolina’s ability to run the ball and eat up clock.
“I thought we needed a touchdown. It had nothing to do with the field goal kicker [Brandon Walker] … Obviously, I put the kid in before, so it’s not about him, but I … was concerned that they were getting in that 2-tight formation and pounding us, and I was concerned with them being able to run out the clock.”