December 2, 2013 // Notre Dame Football

Duranko’s Digest: What did we see against Stanford?

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Notre Dame Stanford 2013

Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Prince Shembo (55, center) holds up his arm for a huddle before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A powerful Stanford team defeated the Irish 27-20, concluding the Irish season at 8-4. The fulcrum of the game was Stanford’s outrushing the Irish 261-65. Out there among the eucalyptus trees in Google’s manger, Stanford is know for producing great software. But there was nothing soft that would wear down the gallant Irish stop troops. The Anvil chorus was Tyler Gaffney running behind= a massive veteran offensive line, the best the Irish had seen since Bama. It was fortified by folks like Josh Garnett disguised as a tight end, more tight ends and fullback types. And the counterpoint to the Anvil Chorus was the whimsical grace notes offered by the runs of Kevin Hogan.

Overmatched in both trenches, the Irish tried to steal the game, but some old sins were repeated, with Stanford scoring their first TD on a coverage bust by a Notre Dame safety. And when the Irish were trying to accomplish a miraculous, Auburnesque comeback, two interceptions were thrown. All four Irish defeats this year had two common elements:

(1) a busted coverage or woefully missed tackle by one or more safeties
(2)at least two interceptions thrown by the Irish

The tilt started promisingly enough with the Irish marching the opening kickoff to the Cardinal Tree Three, Brindza getting the field goal for the only Irish lead at 3-0. Then in a seven minute span Stanford scored two touchdowns, the first after an Alphonse and Gaston pantomime by #41 and #2, the second on a pounding Stanford drive. All seemed lost, but the Irish came off the ropes and managed a field goal just before halftime to close the gap to 14-6 at intermission.

Stanford punched in another, but its final, touchdown early in the third stanza for a 21-6 lead. Again, all seemed lost, but the gritty Irish fought back with two third quarter touchdown passes, sandwiched around a Stanfor field goal. The first was to senior captain T. J. Jones, the second was to Davaris Daniels, and the Irish were within miracle view of the upset, trailing just 24-20 as the fourth quarter began. But the Irish mustered only 17 yards total offense, a sack, and two interceptions in the fourth quarter, for the 27-20 final.

SO ENDETH THE SEASON.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR NOTRE DAME?

Next season begins with the bowl game. Last year at this time, Notre Dame was idle, waiting for Alabama to go through the motions defeating Georgia in the SEC championship. 2012 was about 2012. Fans were pricing tickets for Miami.

It’s different this time, and 2014 begins now. We don’t yet know the bowl site, date and opponent, but the 2014 future is now.

THE 2014 ROSTER

Before the season we postulated that the 2013 roster would, throughout the whole depth chart, be deeper and more talented than the 2012 roster. “Next man in” is like New Hampshire’s motto “Live free or die” It’s nice to say but you hope you don’t have to back it up. Deep ladles of young second and third string players were scooped up and used this year. Our next postulate is that, with this 2014 recruiting class (we concede that with the exceptions of Justin Brent and Andrew Trumbetti, the commits have not sighed or submitted academic and enrollment paperwork) the 2014 roster will be yet deeper and more talented than the 2013 roster.. We’ll ignore redshirts and just look at the 2010 class. It is a low bar to replace it with better talent.

Notre Dame’s 2010 recruits:

Never participated (mortality/morbidity):(3)

  • Matt James
  • Cameron Roberson
  • Tate Nichols

Left for other programs(3)

  • Spencer Boyd
  • Derek Roback
  • Chris Badger

Perfect attendance, but no impact (2)

  • Bruce Heggie
  • Luke Massa

Never quite got there(4)

  • Alex Welch
  • Andrew Hendrix
  • Justin Utopu
  • Lo Wood

STARTERS(9)

(It is melancholy to note that of the 9 players who started, four of them, Nix, Lombard, Smith and Spond were not in uniform yesterday. C’est la vie!)

Key subs(2)

  • Kona Schwenke
  • Kendall Moore

Please note how many of these players get drafted, this year or next. The incoming class, recruited after 2009-2010′s transition process is stronger deeper, more athletic.

ADMIN BUILDING INTRIGUE

Golson’s getting back in. Right? Right!!!?????!!!!!

SPRING INTRIGUE

We never know when injury will strike, but these three areas look like fun battles in the Spring,

SAFETY – we must improve dramatically at safety, and there are players to work with. Should wind up with an effective three deep, but something’s got to give.

ILB - Carlo and Danny leave, but the cupboard is not so bare as the chicken littles suggest. Who can the coaches trust to start next to Grace, and who are the preferred backups?

OL – this will be a donnybrook, with Martin and Watt leaving, Lombard recovering, and Nick Martin out for the Spring.  The studs that came in with Elmer: McGlinchey, Montelus, McGovern and Bivin will be jockeying for playing time and possibly entrenching themselves in the starting lineup. Wally Pipp references will abound.

Spring non-intrigue

No matter what, we will have a quarterback with at least some mobility from this point until Blake Barnett’s senior year.  Remember this-we’re right next to 8-4, but we’re not a year removed from 12-0.

Go Irish!

Comments to this Article

  • Rich commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Thank God this season is over. I’m so tired of seeing Rees underthrow, overthrow or get intercepted at a crucial point in the game. 8-4 and who did they really beat? The only really good team was Michigan State and when you lose to Pitt, that really says something about your team. They were simply mediocre! The score of the Stanford game really didn’t tell the story. One thing for certain, Rees is done, and whoever takes his place, Golson or Zaire, will be better then this year’s edition. With Daniels and Robinson back, along with Tarean F., the offense should be good. Now if they can find a few good men to play “D” and “O” lines we will hopefully out do the 8-4 of this year. let’s hope, if they get a bowl invite, its not against a SEC team. No matter who they play, except maybe pathetic Rutgers, I might have to bet against ND! Perish the thought. GO IRISH!

    [Reply]

    SteelFanRob replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Don’t bet for or against the Irish!

    But I agree that ND isn’t a lock to beat anyone. I sometimes really wonder if ND could beat some of the better FCS teams. The way this O looks at times, its poor RZ play, untimely TOs, lack of consistency running the ball, you have to wonder. Not to mention that the D is soft and lack play-makers. Finally, another year with very little from the not-so-special STs units at ND. Will BK go out and hire a proven STs coach already!

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  • AlabamaDuck commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I am afraid that Tommy Rees threw away his chance at the Heisman on the second interception.

    [Reply]

  • Jack W commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Rich -I agree totally on Rees he was not even adequate at best. ND would win at least half the games we lost with EG in there. I could never understand why Hendriks was never given a chance. Not only was Rees ungifted as a QB he was always so slow getting the play called. We burned 2 or 3 time outs per game and got countless false starts due to his slow calls at the line. No matter who is the starter next year it will be an improvement at the position.

    Our defense was horrible but that, I think, was due to injuries. Nobody is talking about Diaco being a head coaching candidate next year, which is a good thing. Maybe Tuitt will return?

    Final note…I’d like us to play a PAC 10 team in the bowl.

    [Reply]

  • Michael the Archangel commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Good post, duranko.

    But I’d hold off on proposing our bowl game being the start of next year;
    until a new leader emerges at QB, it’s still the same-ol-same-ol
    with limited potential or opportunity to be much more than we currently are,
    or have been, with Tommy at the helm- a great reliever, but never a ready for prime time starter.

    I never saw this team quit; but as early as Temple, then reinforced at Michigan,
    I never believed we had the potential
    this season to be among the elite, where this amount of talent belongs,
    especially with our predictable limited offense
    and the too numerous to mention critical injuries to far too many of our stars.

    [Reply]

  • Mike commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Regarding BK’s unnatural loyalty to TR — I feel like a parent who has to take the dangerous thing out of the child’s hand because the child can’t determine on their own that the thing in their hand is dangerous. TR being gone accomplishes that for BK.

    I’m also glad to see Carlo Calabrese gone too. He makes plays here and there but he fails to make plays all the time. Time after time I see him knifing in and missing a tackle or missing the ball carrier entirely or just getting there too late. Time after time I see the back of his jersey trying to chase the ball carrier after a big gain up the middle. I understand that he’s supposed to better against the run than against the pass — I have to cut him some slack on pass coverage. But for a guy who’s supposed to be a run-stopper, he sure lets a lot of guys go right by or right through him.

    Jaylon Smith has been a huge bright spot for ND this year. I can’t wait to watch him for another 2-3 years. The young core of WR’s also did well this year. Jarron Jones gave us a glimpse of how good he could be. I hope he continues to build on that.

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  • cousinnap commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    OK TR IS GONE – TIME TO STOP BASHING HIM – WAS HE A TOP NOTCH QB – NO – REMEBER IF GOLSON WAS STILL THERE AND KIEL TO BACK HIM UP HE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE #3 QB – THE IRSH WENT THE YEAR WITH A #3 QB – WHEN THEY GAVE HENDRIX THE LITTLE SHOT THEY DID HE LOOKED LESS COMPETANT THAN REES – YES A LOT OF UNDER THROWN AND/OR POORLY THROWN PASSES – AND INT’S AT THE WORST TIMES – BUT HE WAS THE BEST WE HAD – THE REAL PROBLEM WAS THE LACK OF CONSISTENT PLAY BY EITHER LINE AND THE MISERABLE TACKLING BY THE SAFETIES – THAT WAS PATHETIC – THE DEFENSE REALLY SUCKED MOST OF THE YEAR – THAT IS WHERE THE IRSH HAVE TO STEP UP – GET A DOMINATING D
    IN ORDER TO BE ONE OF THE TRUE TOP TEAMS YOU HAVE TO DOMINATE YOUR OPPONENTS NOT JUST BEAT THEM – THE IRISH DIDN’T EVEN DO THAT LAST YEAR
    THE OVERALL FUTURE LOOKS GOOD BUT SOME SERIOUS PLACES TO STEP IT UP

    [Reply]

    JDH replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    It’s better to not use all caps. And I think it’s ok for fans to still talk about their frustration with Rees and whomever else, especially considering the 2013 regular season just ended less than 48 hours ago. And Rees really isn’t gone. We still will see him start against Rutgers, NIU, James Woods Elementary school or whatever team we’ll face in a few weeks.

    That being said, I continue to believe the future is bright with Golson back…

    [Reply]

    Damian replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Agree about Rees. I give him credit for not quitting on the team. But the INT at the worse times will be his legacy, overshadowing his time with the team. He had some good games, but there will always be that But. But he threw interceptions at the worse time in the games.

    His role last year was probably perfect for him. A reliable back-up that could pull you out of scrapes, but not a start to finish 12 game starter.

    I do find it laughable when people say BK should have put Hendrix in. He got some chances. He is a poor passer. Great on his feet, but that’s it. You know, there still are worse things than Rees. He’s not the worse QB ever to walk the Earth.

    Rees was really the only option once EG was gone.

    If EG comes back and is improved from 2012, I’d expect to see a different record. ND needs to work on special teams, and rediscover what worked in 2012 on the defense most of the year. BK also has to have more patience in the running game.

    If next year is another 8-4 record, BK will likely need to look at replacing some assistants.

    A bowl win, if nothing else, would give the team some confidence leading into next year.

    The Blue-Gold game should be interesting, esp. if EG is playing. It will also be interesting to see the development of Zaire.

    [Reply]

    Mmclaug580 replied on December 4th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I would also add that Hendrix seemed to trip over himself a lot too. How stupid did G Kiel feel all year watching the team he should have been QB’ing struggle with poor QB play? Not to mention the year EG spent. I sure hope this year has burnt a hole of desire to dominate into his belly!!

    Mike replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Actually the O-line did good this year. They gave up very few sacks despite having an immobile QB.

    One of the reasons the running game struggled was due to the opposing defenses stacking the box and daring TR to beat them over the top. That’s why he had so many long completions particularly against lesser competition but had a low completion percentage.

    [Reply]

  • HJ Prendergast commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Good read Duranko,
    With the schedule next year and the lack of experience, Another year like this is not out of the question. Go Irish

    [Reply]

  • BJ commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    as long as kelly is here we go no where. waiting for godot.

    [Reply]

    mar replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    ditto

    [Reply]

    john replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:14 am

    It’s to bad his self appreciation doesn’t match reality. So many of us really wanted him to be the guy but so far as someone brought up recently, he’s proven to be an 8-5 kind of coach with the anomaly of last season. I see very few adjustments and almost zero flexibility and creativity each and every season.

    [Reply]

  • duranko commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    thanks HJ. The experience question is interesting. There are some areas where we don’t have much: left side of OL, ILB, DL.

    But in other areas, we have much more experience than the average college team: RB, TE, OLB Safety and now with Lombard, Hegarty, Hanratty, Martin, Elmer and Stanley, there’s some experience to work with on the OL.

    If Golson comes back he’s a senior with a full year starting.
    At WR, Daniels and Brown have been at it for a couple of years, and this year, Onwualu, Prosise, Fuller and Robinson broke their maiden. That’s more experience than the average WR corps.

    [Reply]

    jeff replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Duranko

    What is the deal with Chris Brown WR? He played very little this year and this is a guy who was expected to break out this year.

    [Reply]

    duranko replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    jeff, I feel that Chris Brown is still an athlete learning to be an outstanding receiver.

    in 2012 he was a one-trick pony, just the fly pattern.

    This year, he struggled with consistency and separation, and, frankly, guys like Prosise, Robinson, Fuller and Onwualu (A Daniel Smithian blocker) ate up his playing time.

    But, let’s look at an analogy. When NBC did the feature last year before the Miami game, Niklas and Daniels were identified as two struggling players. Now, a year and a half later, look where they both are.

    It’s a big Spring for Brown; in addition to the aforementioned, Torii Hunter
    will be in the mix competing, and Justin Brent is physically mature for an incoming freshman.

    Brown, with Fuller, has “Elite” speed.

    And there’s one other factor, Jeff, that’s tough to quantify. While I decline to criticize the ddeparted, chemistry (similar reads) between the qb and the receivers ratchets your passing game up. Hopefully that can improve in 2014.

    [Reply]

  • Jack commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Here is what I can’t understand:

    1. Bennett Jackson and Mathias Farley were returning starters. They looked horrible this year. Was it that Zeke Motta was the person holding the secondary together? It is a shame that these two returning letterman couldn’t step up and become leaders on the back end of the defense.

    2. The consistancy of the offense was a problem. ND relied on the hot hand of Tommy Rees. Against inferior competition Rees was amazing and against good teams he usually threw a pick to lose the game. BK never understood that a running game could have taken Rees out of the equation.

    3. The games ND should have never lost were Pitt and Michigan. ND was a better team and should have easily beat both those squads. Again BK abandoned the running game for the arm of Rees.

    4. This team was going as well as Tommy played. In college football a Great QB is worth two additional wins a year. Tommy is not a great QB and lost two of the games that should have been won but costly redzone picks, turnovers and missing receivers.

    5. Finally Stanford and Oklahoma were games ND could have won. They missed a playmaker at QB and a leader on both sides of the ball to will them to victory.

    The problems next year will be as follows:

    1. No inside LB
    2. Who will step up in the secondary
    3. Is Golson coming back or will it be yet again another red shirt freshman playing.
    4. Can the D-line be a force.

    [Reply]

    fred menkens replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Jack, You took the words right out of my, and every other ND fan. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Excellent analysis, Jack. Well done, sir, well done. Kudos!

    [Reply]

  • BJ commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    HOW CAN WE WIN WITH THIS GUY. HE REFUSES TO RUN THE BALL. THE DEFENSIVE BACKS ARE TOLD TO PLAY TEN YARDS OFF THE LINE. BEND NOT BREAK, IS A SYNONYM FOR COACH JOB PROTECTION AND A SURE RECIPE FOR GIVING UP,30 PTS A GAME. AND WE WERE RANKED 69TH AGST THE RUN??? NO SPECIAL TEAMS EXCEPT FOR THE PLACE KICKER EXTRAORDINAIRE. AND ASSISTANT COACHES, THAT DONT GET IT DONE, Ara got it done with pagna and yonto, KELLY lucked onto gunnar and then sentr him packin. its a nighmare. and two players dont make the trip because they are late for a team meEting. what does that tell you. its out of control. SWARBRICK SHOULD BE SCREAMIN ABOUT GETTIN WHAT HE PAID FOR, PERFORMANCE.

    [Reply]

  • Mike Sullivan commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Aaron Lynch also.

    [Reply]

    Jack replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Aaron Lynch was an idiot. I am glad he isn’t on this team, he didn’t have what it took to stay at ND. He is really tearing up the conference he is in with sub par teams.

    [Reply]

  • Ray Ivan commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Well if you remember Holtz sent Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks home before USC in 1988 so Kelly did the right thing. We will be fine the recruiting has picked up although the next senior class is a little weak, the junior class is good . We will have outstanding freshmen and sophomore classes and golson makes up for the only rated good junior class.

    [Reply]

  • Jack commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I am going to make a prediction right now, Golson gets turned down to return to the University. Why is this taking so long, at another school this would have already been announced.

    [Reply]

    jonny replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    nahhh, i dont see it.

    then it would be embarrassing to both him AND the university.
    i assume it was already been decided months ago. if the answer was going to be “no” i feel like someone would’ve gotten into golson’s ear and whispered not to try. that way everyone saves face

    [Reply]

  • Storespook commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Durango, actually agree with a lot of your points. One more game with the fair hair wonder boy at QB. I will not miss the T/O using audibles, over throws, under throws, slow footed, red zone picks, etc. Golson has not been confirmed he is being allowed back and QB for 2014 may be uncertain. I would to see more devotion to a running game. FOLSTON is a bear of a back. I also hope we devote time to SPECIAL TEAMS. As we hopefully prepare for the Stay Puff Marshmellow Bowl (whatever no name low level piss bowl we are offered) lets use those practices wisely and hopefully Kelly doesn’t go interview with a NFL team, you know, not a REPEAT like last year.

    [Reply]

  • BJ commented on December 2nd, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    urban meyer 25-0 in two years, kelly 36-15 in four, no comparison

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    Drivetrain replied on December 2nd, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Urban has not played near the same schedule. The schedules don’t compare either.

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    fxm replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 1:21 am

    The fact that Urban is a better coach is not debatable. But, one wanted the job and the other didn’t. And, one does benefit from a very weak schedule and due to sanctions did not have to compete against the bully he ran away to Ohio to escape. And, If he beats MSU, let’s make sure they don’t lose to FSU by 50 points before we anoint him as anything.

    [Reply]

    duranko replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Meyer INHERITED Braxton Miller
    and Carlos Hyde. INHERITED.

    Compare legacies.

    Simply, and further, Meyer coaches thugs. I have been close to the Michigan/Ohio State series for a long time and have attended four of the games. The rivalry was fierce, but honorable. Especially in the Bo/Woody ten year war. But no fisticuffs.

    Sure enough, in a mere two years Meyer trashes tradition and turns it into a brawl with his offensive linemen, instead of being ashamed of his stupidity and lack of discipline, walks off the field flipping the bird to the Michigan fans. Under Meyer, honor is dead, thugs are in. Soon, the Will Hills will arrive.

    And one other thing, fxm, I believe you nailed it. And
    I will state it less subtly.

    NICK SABAN DROVE URBAN MEYER OUT OF GAINESVILLE.

    nO IF

    [Reply]

    C-Dog replied on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I agree. Meyer seems to play that saintly card, but look at the rotten apples he’s coddled. You are good to point that out.

    Frankly, I like Dantonio this week and feel like he runs a cleaner program. He may be a better coach. We’ll see.

    Carl3 replied on December 6th, 2013 at 2:46 am

    I believe ND offered Will Hill.

  • Bruce johnson commented on December 3rd, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Lou was 37-11 in his first four years comparable to Kelly’s record but then we were on the cusp of a national championship every year for six years without a few rocket clipping penalties a series of being the very best the very best and I forgot that bcl field goal. We all just want that. Kelly will have to learn to adapt change and grow for that to happen. He has the chance of a lifetime.

    [Reply]

  • Jerry Seppanen commented on December 3rd, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    The defense always plays soft with the safties 10 yard back out of the
    play. It worked last year because of Teo. How BK handles the running backs
    is a disgrace. It will hurt recruiting RB. 8-4 next year.

    [Reply]

  • fxm commented on December 3rd, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    We could not run the ball this year, TR’s limitations play out in that realm as well. However, Look at the size and skill of Elmer and Stanley. Additionally, Let’s see if Monteleus at 6’4″ 340 lbs. with a rumored explosive first step can help us start pushing people around like Stanford and Wisconsin. Obviously, if Golson or Zaire can add that element that gets people off balance that will help. And please, I like him for a role, but let’s stop this weird desire for Cam to be the starting back. Let’s have Folson and Bryant please.

    [Reply]

  • Sheldon commented on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    FXM- THANK YOU SIR!!!

    [Reply]

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