Oct. 27, 2000
NOTRE DAME,Ind. – The pieces are starting to fall into place.
First, Notre Dame wiped out the myth that it could not compete with the big boys. The Irish could be 7-0 at this point if it were not for two pesky plays. The Irish took the Huskers into overtime but fell just short, 27-24.
A missed step prevented the Irish from sealing the victory against the Spartans. Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker hit Herb Haygood on a 68-yard pass, upsetting the Irish, 27-21.
While the two losses do hurt, Davie and Co. should relish in the thought that to this point no other team has played the Cornhuskers closer. The next closest contest for Nebraska came against Missouri and they lost by 18.
Another piece fell into place when Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie proved to the doubtful, his masterful skills at coaching. He took an unranked team with one of the nation’s toughest opening stretches and had it go 3-2. During that stretch, Davie proved he could devise a strategy to win despite losing two of the team’s best players in quarterback Arnaz Battle and defensive end Grant Irons.
Last week, Notre Dame another piece fell into place when the Irish secured their first road win since the goal line stand against Boston College in 1998. Davie’s squad not only proved it could win in a hostile environment but proved it could dominate. The Irish ground attack rushed for a season-high 227 yards against the Mountaineers.
Now is the time to add another piece. Saturday’s game against Air Force provides quarterback Matt LoVecchio a chance to make a name for himself. The freshman provides consistent results game-after-game but has yet to post the big numbers.
He is undefeated when he starts at the quarterback spot but he is not a potent threat. His piece of the puzzle will not be an easy one to obtain.
The Falcons are not pushovers by any means. Air Force’s defense against the pass is ranked 52nd. Yet the Falcons come to Notre Dame pretty beat up. They still do not know if linebackers Corey Nelson and C.J. Zanotti or if tackle Zach Johnson will play.
With the questions which surround the Air Force defense, now is the time for LoVecchio to seize the opportunity. Nothing would be more beneficial for the freshman or his team than to prove themselves a threat in the air. Saturday’s game is an opportunity for the freshman to add his piece of the puzzle.
A strong performance against the Falcons might give the Irish the extra juice to finish the season 9-2. The ability to attack on the ground as well as in the air are two crucial elements to make this season successful.
LoVecchio needs to add his piece to the puzzle. With his piece in place, a 9-2 season is well within in this team’s capability not to mention a BCS bid.
Saturday is a chance for the freshman to step up to the table and put his piece place, proving his ability not only as quarterback but as leader of this team.