Big Ten: Sam Young
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
For a guy who starts off an answer by saying, "I have to be careful when I say this, I have Big Ten officials coming in this week again [for the Michigan State game]," Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis seems to have a tough time holding his tongue.
Anyone who watched the Notre Dame-Michigan game Saturday could see Weis wasn't pleased with the men in stripes. And when asked about the officiating at his Sunday news conference, Weis couldn't help but criticize several calls.
|Matt Cashore/US Presswire|
|Charlie Weis was less than thrilled with some of the officiating in Saturday's loss.|
"That game left a lot to be desired," he said.
Weis started off by addressing an out-of-bounds ruling on a screen pass to Armando Allen that cost Notre Dame a touchdown.
"I still haven't heard anyone tell me there's any evidence of Armando stepping out of bounds," Weis said. "The way I thought the rule is supposed to be, it's supposed to be conclusive evidence. I'm perturbed at that call."
Weis also took issue with a holding call against Fighting Irish tackle Sam Young.
"It's one of those tic-tac calls that I'm talking about," Weis said." But what happened, on the play, the defensive end, we chip defensive ends, so we chipped him. I'm not sure it was with an extra tight end or a fullback, but we chipped him and knocked him inside of Sam. So when he knocked him inside of Sam, Sam now has him. He goes to throw him to the ground. If he just pushes him to the ground, they probably don't call it. Hands in the air, throws him to the ground, that's what they called."
There was also a timing issue after Michigan scored the game-winning touchdown.
Weis thought there should have been 11 seconds remaining in the game, but the clock went down to 9 seconds after a kickoff that went through the end zone.
"First it went from 11 to 10," he said. "Then I complained it went to 9. It went from 11 to 10 to 11 to 9. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything. Maybe we'd have one more second, throw a Hail Mary. Their answer to me was they thought that Theo [Riddick] tipped the ball in the field of play on the kick which would then start the clock. If he did, which I couldn't really tell whether he did or he didn't, so I'm going to take their word for it that that happened."
Weis said he sent in several plays to the Big Ten office but didn't file a formal complaint against the officials (he never does). He also seemed perturbed that the sideline officials didn't help get him get the referee's attention when he needed it.
Since Notre Dame is an independent, Weis won't face any discipline for his comments. But as he mentioned at the start, another crew of Big Ten officials is coming to South Bend this weekend.
You can bet they read this.
A Big Ten spokesman told me the league had no response to Weis' comments.
"Am I happy with the officiating? No," he said. "But you certainly don't want to do that, because then you're saying, 'The only reason why we lost is because they blew these couple of calls.' Most Notre Dame fans would say, 'I can't believe they made those calls. I can understand why they made 'em.' That being said, that's a never ending problem you're talking about.
"We're an independent so we're not really in a conference. We're affiliated with Big East officials. When you're playing interconference matchups, I'm not the guy who sets the rules. Whatever they are, they are."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
|AP Photo/Carlos Osorio|
|Jimmy Clausen was 24-of-41 for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in Notre Dame's 23-7 loss to Michigan State.|
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The wackiness of the Michigan State-Notre Dame rivalry often leaves the losing team feeling bitter and angry.
Notre Dame was steamed after an overtime loss in 2005, and Michigan State never recovered after blowing a big lead against the Fighting Irish the next year.
Notre Dame's 23-7 loss on Saturday at Spartan Stadium stirred different emotions. The defeat was definitive, and though the Irish had their share of chances, there were fewer "what-ifs" and widespread disappointment.
"We didn't deserve to win," head coach Charlie Weis said. "We had a chance to win the game, but we didn't deserve to win."
Teams that deserve to win run the ball effectively. Notre Dame didn't. Teams that deserve to win stop the run. Notre Dame didn't stop Javon Ringer enough.
Teams that deserve to win convert in the red zone. Notre Dame failed on its only two chances.
"Across the board in that locker room there were a lot of people that felt accountable," said Weis, who stood the entire game on the sideline in obvious pain after tearing two ligaments in his left knee last week. "Really, it all starts with accountability. If the players feel they're part of the problem, usually you can fix it. But they have to feel they're part of the problem. They weren't guys that were in the tank. They were guys that were really, really disappointed."
Notre Dame came here 2-0 largely because of its opportunistic play. The Irish converted Michigan's miscues into points and emerged with a heartening win last week.
But many of the same problems that plagued the team last season surfaced Saturday. The offensive line allowed its first three sacks of the season and quarterback Jimmy Clausen was under constant pressure.
Remove a 24-yard end around by dynamic wide receiver Golden Tate and Notre Dame finished with minus-8 net rushing yards. Running backs James Aldridge, Robert Hughes and Armando Allen combined for just 30 rush yards on 15 carries.
"They shut us off up front and we just weren't able to get anything going," tackle Sam Young said.
Notre Dame essentially abandoned the run after halftime, operating mainly from the shotgun with no backs and four or five wide receivers. The strategy clicked at times as Clausen found a groove with Tate (5 catches, 83 yards) and promising freshman wideout Michael Floyd (7 catches, 86 yards, TD).
But repeated mistakes plagued the unit, which didn't score until the first play of the fourth quarter.
"We always talk about, 'Make a team one-dimensional,'" Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. "Well, they came out and tried to establish the run game against us early in the game. And the second half, [Notre Dame had] probably three or four rushes on draws on third down and 12, and I could care less if they gain 11, to be honest with you.
"If you're an offense and you've got to throw it every down, you're in trouble."
The Irish showed signs of promise, especially from Tate, who made the play of the game in the fourth quarter when he took a hit from cornerback Ross Weaver, kept his knee off the turf and then cut back to convert a third-and-18.
Floyd had a crucial fumble but displayed tremendous athleticism, and the defense got solid play from linebacker Brian Smith (10 tackles, TFL, forced fumble).
"We fought today," Tate said. "I don't think we ever gave up. They just came out and played a little harder than we did."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- This probably needs a disclaimer, so here it is.
Michigan won't go 3-9. Michigan won't have the nation's worst rushing offense for most of the season. Michigan won't go three plus games without scoring an offensive touchdown. Michigan won't allow a nation-high 58 sacks.
But from a pure personnel standpoint on offense, there are some obvious parallels between what Michigan lost after last season and what Notre Dame lost following 2006. And unlike the Fighting Irish, the Wolverines are adjusting to a new coach (Rich Rodriguez) and a new system. That should be a good thing, given the conservative play-calling and wasted talent of recent seasons, but it's still something to consider.
Here's a position-by-position look at the two offenses, who was lost and who returned.
WHY MICHIGAN WILL BE BETTERMichigan returns more at running back and should be able to field a stronger group of wide receivers to help the new starting quarterback. The biggest key for the Wolverines will be developing the offensive line. Notre Dame's primary error in 2007 was not emphasizing physical play up front in the preseason. Michigan has made strength and conditioning the focus of the winter, spring and summer. The Wolverines should see it pay off this fall. Though both teams lost record-setting playmakers and Rich Rodriguez historically struggles in his first season at a new school, Michigan should adjust easier.