PITTSBURGH – Notre Dame hired Charlie Weis exactly for this. The innovative and imaginative offense. The confused looks on the faces of the opposing defense. And, yes, all those points on the scoreboard.
Brady Quinn ran Weis’ Patriots-perfect offense like a college version of Tom Brady, leading touchdown drives on five of underdog Notre Dame’s first six possessions Saturday in a 42-21 rout of No. 23 Pitt that was over by halftime.
The anticipated matchup of two former NFL coaches turned college head coaches – Weis, the former New England offensive wizard, vs. Dave Wannstedt, a one-time defensive coordinator and the former coach of the Bears and Dolphins – was as big as mismatch as the final score.
Pitt’s defense, effectively the same as that which allowed nearly 420 yards per game even while going 8-4 last season, had no answer for Quinn’s Weis-designed five-receiver sets, screen passes to running backs, and throws to big tight ends isolated against small cornerbacks.
Except for one interception, Quinn couldn’t have run the Irish offense much better while going 18 of 27 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, one to running back Darius Walker for 51 yards on the first score and another to Jeff Samardzija for 19 yards. Notre Dame outgained Pitt 502-323, helped by a 275-103 edge in rushing largely accumulated after building a big lead.