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Weekend leftovers

We’ll know much more about the Irish offense in the next day or so, and I’ll share some thoughts on that later today. But until then, here are some observations, thoughts and leftovers from the weekend that was. Overall, it’s never disappointing to win a game by almost 4 touchdowns, but if I’m the Irish coaching staff, I’d still let everyone know there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Here are some thoughts and observations from the weekend:

* Reading the Spokane Spokesman-Review, I found some interesting quotes from the game, most of them with a Wazzu flavor. The theme of the evening was the “incredible bulk” of the Notre Dame offensive line.

“It was all up front, we were just out-physical-ed,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “That was probably the first time this year where we got that ‘physical-ed.’”

Yet the highlight of the story was a quote from quarterback Jeff Tuel, who was asked about the play Golden Tate made at the end of the first half.

“We feel confident, we’re two scores out of the game - we feel like we’re going into the half and they throw the Hail Mary and then it’s just kind of like, ‘Holy cow,’” Tuel said. “We were just kind of in shock. It definitely took a little bit of momentum away from us.”

As incredible as that moment must have been for Notre Dame going into halftime, that had to be far more devastating for the Cougars.

* I noticed pretty early that the Irish looked really quick on the artificial surface of the Alamodome, and apparently Charlie Weis did as well. He specifically thought the loss of Armando Allen could be absorbed by adding the electric speed of Theo Riddick into the rushing attack, and for the most part he was correct.

“This is a fast track here, this is a low surface astroturf, so it’s a very fast track and I thought Theo would thrive,” Weis said.

While the speed of the field played into Riddick’s success, I’d argue that it was even more important for the defensive front seven, where Notre Dame very clearly out-athleted Wazzu with players like Darius Fleming, Kerry Neal, and Steve Filer. Manti Te’o looked even more explosive out there, as well as Ethan Johnson.

I think it’s only a matter of time before the football program realizes that it might make sense to try and do something about their home field, especially if they’re going to be recruiting the type of athletes that they now have a plethora of.

* In his comments last night, Weis was happy with the performance of the first defensive unit. As a whole, they only gave up 109 yards of total offense, and zero explosive plays in the passing game.

Before we discount the performance and point to the woeful Cougar offense, it should be mentioned that Tuel threw for 354 yards against Cal last weekend, so maybe it’s a sign that the Irish defense might be putting things together.

* Once again, Charlie Weis claimed that touted freshman wide receiver Shaq Evans isn’t in the doghouse. While Evans played some Saturday, he’s still is far from a regular spot in the rotation, and doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to the field.

“He’s not in the doghouse. I’ve heard this several times in the last few weeks about him being in the doghouse,” Weis said. “As a matter of face, the last week and a half, he’s actually practiced better and better and put himself in a position to get significant time.

“He’s in a position to go ahead and play in the multiple wide receivers sets and the guys that are playing ahead of him are playing too good really to take out. I’m not looking to take out guys just to take them out. When it came time for substituting, when his group was in, we were in more two-wide sets than three-wide sets.”

“I promise you, may God strike me dead, there’s no doghouse for number 11. I never lie to you guys, I try to be evasive as I possibly can, but I’m not lying to you. There’s no doghouse.”

This is a great reminder for all the recruitniks out there, that you really don’t know what you’re getting until the freshman actually strap up the pads. Especially with kids from football hotbeds like Southern California. Shaq Evans and Cierre Wood were two of the highest touted skill recruits in the class, and guys like Theo Riddick and Robby Toma were after thoughts to those that follow that kind of stuff. (I even remember reading a messageboard where someone openly questioned why a guy like Riddick would want to even play running back, when he’ll most likely transition to cornerback.)

Also, the play of Duval Kamara has done more to keep Shaq off the field than any misstep he could’ve taken off the field. Duval may never become the explosive jump-ball, deep-threat many hoped he’d become, but he’s certainly becoming a dependable third option, that will continue to make plays when you-know-who comes back.