T I C K E R
Painful loss for Irish
By Malcolm Moran and Andrew Bagnato
Tribune Staff Writer
September 10, 2000
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E-mail this story
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SOUTH BEND, IND. -
After the most dramatic moment of the four-season Bob Davie era at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish suddenly confronted an ominous reality just two games into their season.
A series of injuries sustained during the 27-24 overtime loss to top-ranked Nebraska could complicate Notre Dame's preparation for a pivotal meeting with Purdue on Saturday. The pass-dominated Boilermaker approach, directed by quarterback Drew Brees, presents a 180-degree switch from the power-dominated Nebraska offense.
But with senior defensive end Grant Irons out for an indefinite period with a separated right shoulder and senior cornerback Brock Williams dealing with a sprained anterior cruciate knee ligament, Notre Dame's preparations for Purdue could be hurt.
The beginning of the end of the painful 1999 season came during the second game, the 26-22 near-miss at Michigan. A sprained big toe quarterback Jarious Jackson sustained became the first of a remarkable series of injuries that ruined Notre Dame's limited depth.
Javin Hunter, a junior split end, suffered a concussion against Nebraska, but could play against the Boilermakers. Joey Getherall, who sustained a back injury, also was listed as day-to-day.
Timing: That hot button of the Internet age—clock management—appeared in the parking lots and in chat rooms soon after the Irish chose to let the final 67 seconds of regulation time pass without mounting a serious threat.
But if there was any dispute within the Notre Dame dressing room of Davie's decision to play for overtime, the Irish were not expressing it.
"Personally, that's not my call," said Jabari Holloway, a senior tight end and captain. "It's the coach's decision. I have nothing to say about that."
Getherall, a senior flanker, supported the decision.
"I'm not going to question our coach," he said. "That's our coach. You have to be behind him, 100 percent."
Arnaz Battle, the junior quarterback who struggled throughout a 3-for-15 passing day, agreed with Davie's thinking.
"We didn't want to have another turnover on the other side of the field, where they could kick a field goal," Battle said.
Even with the hindsight of the overtime loss, Davie was firm in his assessment.
"I think without question it was the right decision, to put that game into overtime," the coach said. "I would do the same thing 10 out of 10 times again. We have a quarterback who has completed three passes on the day. Several other passes were batted. I wanted to get that game into overtime and give our team a chance to win.
"The first play we ran a shuffle pass. The second play we ran quarterback draw. We tried to let our quarterback do what he did all day and that's beat them with [his] legs. They had their timeouts left. I did not want to put that football in the air right there."
Easy for him to say: Nebraska coach Frank Solich said he understood why Davie decided to let the clock run out after getting the ball at his own 30-yard line.
"A lot of times when you're up in the stands, you're looking at it the opposite of how the coach is," Solich said. "In overtime, everybody starts off even. They had a long way to go. They hadn't been driving the ball on us.
"The last thing you want in that situation is a turnover."
Passing chances: Can Nebraska win a national title without throwing another pass? It seemed a legitimate question after the Cornhuskers completed only seven passes for 103 yards Saturday.
By contrast, Nebraska rushed for 274 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.
"Maybe we needed to throw more," Solich said. "However, we have a great runner in [quarterback] Eric [Crouch] and power tailbacks that are not going to be stopped every time. When you go into a game of this magnitude, you stick with the game plan. You try to establish the run and then go with it."
Said Crouch: "We're going to run the ball, and we're going to make sure you know it, so that when we throw it, we're going to put somebody in a bind."
Dictionary, anyone? A van with Nebraska license plates had this scrawled in soap on a side window: "Kill the lepricon."
Fourth and inches: Nebraska has won eight straight games. … The Cornhuskers are 42-6-1 as the No. 1 team in the AP (media) poll. … The victory evened the Nebraska-Notre Dame series at 7-7-1. The schools meet again next Sept. 8 in Lincoln. Nebraska never had won in South Bend before Saturday.
Tom who? Solich has beaten five straight ranked opponents. Solich, a former Cornhuskers running back, is 23-5 in three years at the helm. Four of the losses came in his 1998 rookie season.
Best in long run: Julius Jones' 100-yard kickoff return was Notre Dame's longest since Clint Johnson's 100-yard return against Stanford in 1993. The last Irish return for a touchdown came on Jarious Jackson's 40-yard run on a Pittsburgh onside kick in 1997. In 1911, playing on a playing field of 110 yards, Alfred Bergman had a 105-yard runback that ended at the Loyola 5-yard line. Joe Savoldi's 1930 run against Southern Methodist was the other 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. … Notre Dame is 0-3 in overtime games. The Irish lost in overtime to Air Force and Southern Cal in 1996. Nebraska is 3-0 in OT. … For a fourth consecutive season, a Davie-coached Irish team won its opening game and lost its second game. Two of the previous losses in the second game of the season under Davie came against unranked teams; Purdue in 1997 and Michigan State in 1998.
Copyright 2000 The Chicago Tribune