USC-Notre Dame: A Well Placed Bye Should Have The Trojans Sitting Pretty


Let me start this article off by expressing my sincere affection for Notre Dame fans.

Now, before you go off and accuse me of being facetious and sarcastic, let me set you straight.

I mean it.

Notre Dame fans are some of the classiest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, both on the net and off of it.

Knowledgeable and passionate, fans of the Fighting Irish exhibit their unabashed love for their team week in and week out.

But its not only that, they are also a giving sort. Once I wrote a rather insulting article about Lou Holtz, the ex-Notre Dame coach and beloved Fighting Irish Icon.

Instead of showering me with insults, the barrage I experienced was the many thoughtful responses and even a couple of offers to join them for a tailgate party prior to the game should I be able to make it back to South Bend for the game.

Can you believe that? Classy, classy people.

In fact, they are such giving people that one of their most fervent supporters, a fine writer who covers Notre Dame football here at B/R, gave me the idea for this article.

This writer extended an offer for me to review his latest piece which examined the various effects that the USC-Notre Dame bye weeks would have for each program.

After reading the article, which was well written, objective and fair, it suddenly occurred to me that I could shed additional light on the benefit of the bye week for the Trojans so that fans of the Irish could better prepare for what is coming in two weeks.

Being a “giver” myself, I am happy to oblige, and in doing so, I hope I don’t deflate those Irish hopes that are riding so high right now.

First, my Irish friends, forget what you have seen from the Trojan offense so far.

With a true freshman quarterback who got hurt in the second game, against Ohio State, and who keeps getting better every week, the bye week will allow the Trojans to further hone Matt Barkley’s considerable game and at the same time, his shoulder should be 100% healthy by game time.

Every week, young Mr. Barkley gets better and Pete Carroll recently said that Barkley is as good as anyone the Trojans have had at the position which includes two Heisman winners and a total of five quarterbacks in the NFL.

Hyperbole? Sure, but you get the idea. The kid is really, really good.

If a completely healthy Matt Barkley doesn’t throw fear into Irish fans hearts, the return of Ronald Johnson should.

Rojo, as he is called, was hurt in the spring game and has been on the mend all year long.

Now he returns and with him comes the Trojans long passing game.

Johnson is the Trojan version of Michael Floyd, the Fighting Irish’s very talented wide receiver.

He will stretch the Irish defense opening up opportunities for Damien Williams (13 receptions for over 220 yards in the last two games) and tight end Anthony McCoy in mid-range passing game.

While Ronald Johnson will be back and ready to give Notre Dame nightmares, Michael Floyd will miss the game due to a season ending injury.

But that’s not all.

Armond Armstead, the Trojans defensive tackle that was so fast and talented that Pete Carroll moved him to defensive end and made him a starter, is back too.

His return allows Pete Carroll quality depth along a defensive line that has seen the emergence of Nick Perry, the PAC-10’s sack leader.

Nick Perry was hobbled by a knee injury, which severely limited his effectiveness against Cal.

These two weeks off will do wonders for Perry’s health.

Wait, there’s more.

USC’s defense, which once again is rated top five nationally, has been missing monster linebacker Malcolm Smith and his very capable backup Jordan Cameron, for the last two weeks due to ankle sprains.

They will both be back too.

There are other factors that the Trojans will benefit by these two weeks off also, such as reshuffling the defensive backfield by returning Shane Horton to his safety position (Horton filled in for Smith at linebacker and did a fantastic job), thus providing stability to the unit.

There are other benefits that this bye week brings the Trojans but I don’t want to pile on.

Suffice to say that I feel this bye week benefits the Trojans more than it will the Irish.

I expect to hear from Notre Dame fans telling me why I am wrong and how this extra week of preparation will give the Fighting Irish an advantage.

These fans of the Irish will craft well reasoned arguments and deliver them to me in a thoughtful, concise manner because that’s who they are and what they do.

Which is why, as I celebrate another Trojan win on October 17, I will feel a bit of angst that my happiness will be a result of Notre Dame fans disappointment.

Somehow, I think I will get over it though.