USC and Notre Dame was anything but pretty, but somebody had to win. On this night in South Bend, it was Notre Dame finding a way to the end of a 14-10 victory.
Notre Dame took a 14-10 lead in to halftime, with Tommy Rees tossing two touchdowns in the first half for the Irish. USC’s Cody Kessler passed for 201 yards but no touchdowns and was intercepted once. The defenses took control in the second half, with both teams pitched a shutout after the break.
USC cost themselves 95 yards due to 11 penalties in the game. The Trojans have ben prone to penalties this season, entering the night averaging 7.2 penalties per game (99th most in the country). The offense failed to get any jump out of the gate the way they did a week ago when Ed Orgeron made his head-coaching debut with the Trojans as the interim head coach.
The Trojans lost their star receiver, Marqise Lee, in the first half. He did not return to the game after appearing to hurt left knee, which was already sore heading in to the game. On USC’s final play on offense, Nelson Agholor also took a shot that could be a concern, although he walked off under his own power after being tended to by the medical staff on the field. Agholor took a shot to the back or ribs while leaping to make a catch on fourth down.
Notre Dame’s defense continues to play well, and that should continue moving forward this season. The Irish completed an undefeated season last year largely on the strength of their defense. That is once again the strength this year. It may not be as good last year, but it is good enough to give the offense enough of a chance to win some football games.
USC will look to get back in the win column next week with a home game in conference play. USC hosts Utah next week before hitting the road for two games against Oregon State and California.
Notre Dame will hit the road with a road game at Air Force next week. The following week Notre Dame hosts Navy. At 5-2, the Irish still have a path to a potential BCS berth but it appears to be a slim shot at best. Notre Dame must win out to get to 10-2, but the only ranked team remaining on the schedule is Stanford in the finale. It may be too late for Notre Dame to catch up to the BCS party, but if we see more weeks like this weekend and last, there could be a number of upsets to help them out.
Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.
According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out. The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.
From the Herald & Review‘s report:
…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.
The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.
The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.
With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.
On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.
Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.
After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.
Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.
Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster. The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.
He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception. Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.
The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American. While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.
Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.
Earlier this week, Brad Lambert added a longtime Power Five assistant to his Charlotte coaching staff. Not long after, he has added another.
The 49ers announced in a release that Keith Henry has been hired by Lambert as his running backs coach. The 49ers’ coach at that position last season, Damien Gary, will shift to wide receivers.
Henry and Lambert (pictured, left) were on the same staff at Wake Forest, so they have a previous working relationship.
“Keith brings a lot of experience to our program,” said Lambert in a statement. “Having coached on both sides of the ball, he brings an added dimension of a defensive perspective to our offense. We’re really glad he’s coming on board with us. He’s a North Carolina native who’s played in North Carolina and has recruited for many, many years in North and South Carolina. That will be a huge benefit to our program with the relationships he’s built over the years.
“He’s been very successful and been a part of winning football at Ohio, Wake Forest and Catawba.”
Henry spent 11 seasons with the Demon Deacons (2001-11). He coached on the defensive side of the ball for the first 10 years before spending his final season with the ACC school as special teams coordinator. His last job on the offensive side of the ball came as wide receivers coach at Ohio in 1996.