Breath a deep sigh of relief Irish fans, we finally won one!
This will not be the season where we break the record for most consecutive losses by an Irish squad. This will not be the season where we go winless, and — no — this will not be the season where we go to a BCS bowl game, but right now, who cares! Our Fighting Irish capitalized on the mistakes of a third-string, redshirt freshman, UCLA quarterback to beat the Bruins 20-6, in Pasadena.
It’s about damn time this season that a redshirt quarterback was the reason the Irish won a game and not the cause for demise as Bruin quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, subbing for the injured in the first quarter Ben Olsen, tossed four interceptions, consistently giving the Irish great field position.
The game ball most deservedly goes to Maurice Crum, Jr., who had the game of his life with two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown), two interceptions, and was often near or at the front of the tackling mob. Indeed, it was the inspired defensive play of the Irish that shut out the Bruins in the second half and is the reason this game was won.
For their part, the offense kicked a couple field goals, and Jimmy Clausen ran a QB sneak from the one-yard line putting the Irish up 13-6 with 1:03 left to play in the third. More importantly, the offense didn’t lose this game. Clausen didn’t throw an interception, was sacked "only" three times and the offensive line handled the Bruins defensive front allowing running back, James Aldridge to carry the ball 22 times for 52 yards, chewing up the clock.
Make no mistake, there’s still plenty to be unhappy about. The feeble Irish offense was only able to muster 140 yards total offense. The running game is absolutely anemic and Clausen has yet to attempt anything deep, sticking to a very conservative passing pattern. Until the running game is able to establish itself, Clausen won't be able to stretch out the field and the offense will continue to be a no-show come game time.
But right now and for the rest of the week, none of that matters. The Irish have their first win of the season, the monkey is off their back, and I’m suddenly feeling optimistic about future contests. Not overly optimistic mind you, no delusions of running the table for the rest of the year, but at least now I feel we might take one or two more before this year is over.
Party on South Bend, it's been a good while coming!