Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Few Quarterbacks

Did anyone see the Notre Dame-Purdue game Saturday night? I didn't get around to watching it until last night, but I'm glad I did. As a fan of good college football, I enjoyed myself very much, and as a fan of Notre Dame football, I felt even better. I knew that Notre Dame had won the game, and I had heard some talk about how it was "an exciting finish," but I didn't know it was that exciting.

Notre Dame went into the 4th quarter leading 17-7, but soon it was 17-14. Starting Notre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen had come out of the game after the 1st quarter on account of a bad case of turf toe, but with Purdue charging down the field, it was time to put him back in. Notre Dame stopped the Purdue drive, but got little out of their own next possession. When Purdue got the ball back, they drove it down the field and scored, leaving only 3:41 left on the clock. The next part could've been a movie or something (except there's already a movie about a Notre Dame football player). Clausen headed back out onto the field and the whole team seemed re-energized. Limping and favoring his right foot between plays, Clausen went 6 of 9 for 69 yards and a touchdown. The drive was excellent. It came down to a 4th and goal from the 2 with 0:24 left on the clock and Clausen fired it in Kyle Rudolph for the score. If I'd been watching the game live I probably would've jumped up out of my seat, but as it was, I just smiled.

Clausen showed just how much of a leader he is on that team. Not just his play, but his presence helped elevate his team for the win. Clausen looked smart, sharp, and determined on that game winning drive. He currently has the 4th highest quarterback rating in the Nation.


Have you heard the name Ryan Mallett floating around this season? Before last Saturday's loss to Alabama, Mallett had the highest pass rating in the Nation. Now he's only 29th. His team's only played three games, but Mallett's racked up 877 yrds and 7 TDs. When I heard the guys on SportsCenter talking about Mallett, the name sounded so vaguely familiar... like I'd heard it before. And then I remembered (you may already know this)!

Mallett played at Michigan two years ago. As a true freshman, Mallett started 6 games and played in 10 games while starting QB Chad Henne was hurt. When Rich Rodriguez took over for long-time Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, the prospect of Mallett getting the start in Rodriguez's spread offense looked slim. So, what did Mallett do? He left. Mallett sat out a year (long enough for his name to slip back in my memory) and is now starting for Arkansas. Mallett's 6'7" and 240 lbs., so besides just being taller and able to throw over defenders, he's also a challenge to take down. I look for him to rebound from last week's loss and keep putting up great numbers the rest of the season.


Speaking of Michigan Quarterbacks, I just want to give a shout out to Tate Forcier. I talked about him a bit in reference to their last minute win over Indiana last week. Forcier is a true freshman who loves pressure (I'm not just saying that - he said so himself) and responds dang well to it. And he's got real grit (is that the right word?). Forcier bruised his shoulder during the 4th quarter of last week's game, but when it came time to step up, he stepped out, forgot about the pain, and put together an amazing game-winning drive. Twice. The video shows him on the side-line wincing just from someone giving him a congratulatory slap on the shoulder, but out on the field, you wouldn't have known otherwise. There was question about who would win the starting job at Michigan this season, but his his play the last two weeks has taken that question out of the minds of a lot of people. Next week at Michigan St should be a great game to watch.

No comments: