September 3, 2011 // Notre Dame Football

Initial Impressions – South Florida 23, Notre Dame 20

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South Florida Bulls cornerback Kayvon Webster (6) recovers a fumble in the first quarter of play to run back for a touchdown in game action. The Bulls of South Florida defeated the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame by the score of 23-20. (Photo - Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

Yikes.  What an ugly way to start a season that 24 hours ago appeared to have so much potential.  Notre Dame stumbled out of the starting block today with one of the sloppiest performances we’ve seen (outside the 2007 season) in a long time.

I’ll have more on this game – especially at the quarterback position where I was dead wrong all summer apparently – but for now, here are some notes broken out by offense, defense, and special teams.

Offense

  • It became crystal clear that the offense moves the ball better with Tommy Rees than Dayne Crist.  Crist looked sharp on the first drive, but after that he was just off.  He started the game 6 of 8 but finished just 7 of 15 including one horrible and costly interception.
  • For as good as Rees looked at times in the second half, he still forced a couple throws and needs to protect the ball better.  The pick coming out of the second weather break just can’t be made.  He had Eifert one on one with a small corner on a wheel route down the sideline, but still forced the ball into double coverage to Floyd.
  • Rees also needs to keep the ball in the field of play and let Floyd go up and get it.  His pass on the 2-point conversion was just a bad pass.  He is very accurate and has good touch so he’ll improve over time on that throw.
  • Overall the offense moved the ball up and down the field but couldn’t score points.  Notre Dame had over 500 yards of offense, but its first three trips into the redzone all resulted in turnovers.
  • Way, way too many dropped passes.  Some of the drops could have been avoided with some improved accuracy or a little more touch from Crist, but at the same time, if a receiver gets both hands on the ball, he’s got to come down with it.
  • My apologies for apparently jinxing Theo Riddick with all my talk of a breakout season.  Riddick had a lot of chances to make plays in the passing game, but just couldn’t come down with catches he has to make.  He’s got 11 games left to make up for today so not all is lost.  Tony Alford is going to need to do a great coaching job with Riddick this week to get his head right as NBC showed him on the sideline several times looking distraught.
  • Note – it is entirely too early to give up on Riddick at WR.  He showed more than a little promise at the position last year and was in a position to make plays today as well – he just didn’t come down with them.
  • TJ Jones had a couple key drops as well – none bigger than his dropped touchdown in the second quarter.  Jones didn’t seem to like the throw too much but it hit him in the check.  He simply has to make that catch.  Jones also had a pass hit him in the head/shoulder inside the 5 yard line which resulted in one of the 5 Notre Dame turnovers just because he ddin’t look for the ball.
  • On the interception that hit Jones in the head, while Kelly was laying into him, Rees tried to take the blame and protect his wide receiver.  In a game with not much to like, that was one thing I did like to see.
  • Cierre Wood was a major bright spot.  He looked fast, elusive, and much more powerful than a year ago.  He topped 100 yards for the first time in his career and that was with Notre Dame abandoning the run in the second half while playing catchup.
  • Notre Dame doesn’t have a short yardage back right now.  If I am Brian Kelly I try a couple linebackers out at tailback for short yardage this week because they don’t have a big back capable of moving a pile on a 3rd and 1.  I noticed both Steve Filer and Carlo Calabrese in the game early as a lead blocker – it might not hurt to give one of them some carries in practice this week.
  • Jonas Gray continues to have ball security issues.  His fumble on the first drive set the tone for the game.  It’s a shame too because some of Gray’s later runs looked pretty good.  At this point though, how much can Kelly rely on him?  It might not be too long before we see Cam McDaniel and/or George Atkinson.
  • Michael Floyd was a beast in the second half.  Even with USF double teaming him, he found ways to get open. He ended up with a career high 12 receptions and scored two touchdowns to add to his school record for receiving touchdowns.  He also moved past Jeff Samardzija into first place in the all-time receptions list.
  • Tyler Eifert had a pretty good game as well and showed why he is on the Mackey Award watch list.  Eifert is a matchup problem for almost any defense and it looks like he is going to be a favorite target for Tommy Rees.  If Eifet holds on to the one drop he had from Crist in the second quarter, there wouldn’t have been anything to really critique from his performance.
  • The offensive line played pretty well.  Both Rees and Crist had time to pass most of the time and there were lanes for the running backs to run through while the Irish were still running the football.

Defense

  • Overall, this was a solid performance from the defense, but when Notre Dame needed a big stop in the 4th quarter, they let USF march down the field for a 14 play drive that ate up over 5 minutes of the clock and ended with a touchdown that pushed the USF lead to 16.
  • Defensive line played pretty well, but didn’t get too much pressure on BJ Daniels.
  • Didn’t like any of the delay safety blitzes at all.  By the time Harrison Smith got to the line of scrimmage that ball was already long gone.
  • Speaking of Smith, he didn’t have a very good game.  He looked more like the 2009 version of Harrison Smith – not the end of the 2010 season version.  Not only did he rack up back to back personal fouls at one point, he also tried to deliver a huge hit on a pass he could have easily picked off if he kept his head up and went for the ball instead of the hit.
  • The one unit that scared me a little on the defense was the secondary.  Saw a number of bad angles taken and a whole lot of really loose coverage on key plays.
  • Despite some of the struggles, the defense only gave up one offensive touchdown despite the offense turning the ball over 5 times.
  • Notre Dame failed to seal the edge on a number of zone read runs by Daniels.  With Michigan and Denard Robinson on the schedule next week, that is very concerning.
  • Louis Nix looked very solid on the reps he got and played hard until the very end blowing up a running play on South Florida’s last drive.
  • In a game full of huge mistakes and mental errors, one of the biggest that isn’t being discussed much is Ethan Johnson’s personal foul in the 4th quarter.  That penalty allowed USF to run off two extra plays and an extra minute and a half of game time.

Special Teams

  • Mike Elston is going to be a busy man this week because special teams were down right dreadful most of the game.
  • Ben Turk shanked his firs two punts before rebounding a little later in the game.  Still, he punted five times and had a long of just 41 yards.
  • Theo Riddick never looked comfortable fielding punts out there today.  He muffed one punt and nearly muffed another two.
  • David Ruffer’s miss was really a killer.  Had he connected there, Notre Dame is within 6 points and still has the momentum.  That miss really took a lot of wind out of Notre Dame’s sail and got USF fired up.
  • One bright spot here was kick coverage.  The coverage unit, led by Bennett Jackson, looked very strong.  Kick return unit, however, still looks like a work in progress.

Comments to this Article

  • I_Make_Obvious_Observations commented on September 3rd, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I hate the way Brian Kelly screams at his players when they make a mistake. He humiliates them on national tv and looks absolutely psychotic while doing it. What high school recruit would want to play for a coach who shows up his players and acts like a lunatic on the sidelines? He needs to show more leadership and stop acting like a bratty child

    [Reply]

    ripperduck replied on September 4th, 2011 at 1:46 am

    BK will never be considered State Department material. and I can see why anyone would be taken aback by his response. But the last time I can think of a WR not looking for a pass is when Clausen hit Floyd in the back because Floyd was busy doing something else besides looking for the ball. It’s inconceivable that TJ would be so distracted that he would have been looking for a pass on a called pass play. BK went nuts but to his credit it was in scope of the stupidity of the players actions. If he had gone nuts for something not as bad, I could see the point. But the remarkable ineptness of the player was met in kind by BK’s rage….

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    David replied on September 4th, 2011 at 10:19 am

    If TJ caught that ball, he would have scored. There was nobody in front of him and the goal line. And these are not babies and this is not Junior High Football. Don’t let the sensitivity that our society is in right now carry over to the football field. You think Lombardi would say, “Oh it’s ok buuud. Don’t worry about not looking for the ball on a called pass play you could have scored on. We’ll eventually get the ball back” They deserved to be yelled at like that for the mistakes they were making.

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    irisheye62 replied on September 5th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    David: I AGREE WITH YOU. BK NEEDS TO BE IN THEIR FACE OR GIE THE GLARE -( sort of like Pat Summit does to her Lady Vols) Our Irish can play better-period. South Florida won–but Notre Dame beat themselves and it deserves IN YOUR FACE attitude. As for players losing composure–this is NOT GOLF! THis is NOT First Grade-it is FOOTBALL!! Play for real-and kick and some ass!
    Period!

    Reggie Dunlop replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    When the head coach looses his composure like Kelly does every time something goes wrong, how can the players be expected to maintain their poise? I believe Kelly is a good coach, but these temper tantrums are just embarassing.

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    Mike replied on September 4th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I have to agree with you on this! i noticed that at the begining of the second half, Rees looked like he had the inspired drive to pull off the come from behind win, but after Kelly degrated him for a mistake, i seen the courage and fight leave Rees’s face. Kelly needs to control his temper, correcting and pushing a player to better their performance should not involve a childish tirade..

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    ballgame3cc replied on September 4th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Couldnt disagree with you more, this isnt JV, these kids are there to win games, and Rees looked cool and relaxed while Kelly was screaming at him, unlike Crist who argued and tried to explain, Rees just shruggled it off, good to see it doesnt bother him.

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    Alan Ryan replied on September 4th, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Coach Kelly will lose the team if he continues with his ridiculous ranting at players in public over mistakes. I agree with others who have called him an embarrassment to Note Dame.

    I coach team building and Kelly’s behavior is the opposite of what works best to create a unified team. Praise in public . . . coach (not scream at team members) in private.

    Has Notre Dame made another error in hiring a head coach? I hope someone in authority brings him into line before he loses the team.

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    Bill J. replied on September 5th, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I agree with you. When coach Carroll was at Southern Cal he never treated player like a lunatick, if player made a mistke he took him aside and told him what he thouht and patted him on the ass.I guess that kind of worked, seeing that USC won how many national
    championships.
    You can’t lead by fear, you just cause more mistakes.
    Don’t get me wrong, the coach has to the right crtisize mistakes,but not to humiliate him on national TV

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    JDH replied on September 6th, 2011 at 10:57 am

    It seems like the argument here is one of 2 extremes:

    Kelly should yell like that because the players deserve it and it will toughen them up. OR He shouldn’t because it’s embarrassing and does no good.

    I think it’s shades of gray. Look at how Lou got in kids’ faces. He ripped them then built them back up. Kelly is out of control, turning beet red, spewing F-bombs for millions to see. Is that really what a player needs? As a former D1 athlete, I can tell you that would not have motivated me. Yelling and getting in faces- fine. Out of control spitting and swearing- grow up. Not what a good leader does.

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    Teo replied on September 6th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I like it. I think it’s necessary to scream at 18-22 year olds, many of whom have inflated egos and need to be disciplined. Could he do it in a better way? Probably. But this idea that because he coaches a “Catholic” university, he should be reserved is crazy.

    It’s big-time college football. Most of the players won’t make it to the NFL but dream of winning national titles for the Irish. They need to be pushed.

    [Reply]

    JDH replied on September 6th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Really? So Notre Dame “OUR MOTHER” and screaming Fbombs at kids go hand in hand, uh, because it’s “big-time college football”? Then what other behaviors does “big-time college football” justify?

    And the destruction of egos that are too big generally should happen in the office and on the practice field, not on game day.

    [Reply]

  • A Fan commented on September 4th, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Kelly looked likea complete A$$ hat yelling at those kids. What an A$$

    [Reply]

    NS replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:26 am

    What exactly should he do when they allow passes to hit them in the head instead of trying to catch them, or throwing terrible passes into the end zone behind receivers that result in an interception, pat them on the head and tell them everything is going to be alright?

    The players were making stupid mental mistakes over and over and over again in the worst possible places. If they want their egos massaged for screwing up, they should get off the field.

    Look, I don’t want BK to be yelling at his players any more than you do, but they DESERVED IT. They were making stupid, boneheaded mistakes that were, for the most part, avoidable. Dropped passes, personal foul penalties, missed reads, etc.

    I’m glad to have a coach that expects more from his players and voices his displeasure when he doesn’t get it.

    [Reply]

    spiceyirish replied on September 4th, 2011 at 2:38 am

    18-22 yr olds are young adult, not kids.

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    DublinOHIrish replied on September 4th, 2011 at 9:09 am

    A Fan,

    Let me make it perfectly clear. If Brian Kelly, who has only coached one losing season in 20 years cannot make Notre Dame a winner in the next 2 to 3 years, the program is DONE. All of this crap goes away. NBC, independance, the blogs, the magic that is ND. These kids are given every advantage and opportunity to be successful, but to only give it away because of their lack of attention. If they cannot handle being yelled at because THEY screw up, then THEY and the whole ND program is nothing more than Northwestern. Get on board, or get ready for the ultimate fallout of ND football.

    [Reply]

    JDH replied on September 6th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    It’s not about the players being able to “handle” being yelled at. It’s about whether or not Kelly’s style of out of control screaming, spitting and Fbombs actually do anything. I would submit to you that they don’t. Some of those players on Saturday deserved to get their asses handed to them. But Kelly being out of control only shows his players that, well, he is out of control. Not a good thing for a “leader” to convey.

    [Reply]

    Shazamrock replied on September 6th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Kelly’s sytle or Willingham’s style?

    I’ll stick with Kelly.

    They say there is a fine line between Passion and crazy.

    I saw it in Ara (though not very often) and I saw it in Lou, And Woody Hayes, and Bo, and all the great ones who wore their emotions on the outside.

    Of course Woody’s career ended when he over-stepped his boundry, went on the field during a play, and took out an opposing player who was running down the sideline.

    Passion or crazy? It’s a fine line.
    (He did win a hell of a lot of games though)

    JDH replied on September 7th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Why does it have to be Kelly’s style vs. Willingham’s style? How about Kelly’s style with a little less out of control Fbombing? That would be just fine.

  • JDog commented on September 4th, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I give Bryan Kelly kudos for not walking off the field during the game. 3 turnovers within 5 yards of the end zone made because of mental lapse. Ball security should be number one objective in the red zone. 2 errand passes and a running back that doesn’t hold on to the ball on the yard line. I don’t think dayne is to blame, his wide receivers didn’t help him out with the drops. Dayne needs to just stay poised an cool. Can’t force it if it’s not there. Also, why did we abandon the run with wood when we were near the end zone? Just run it with him and no picks should happen.

    [Reply]

    NS replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Same here. Seems like folks forget all of the facemask-grabbing Lou Holtz used to do. I was shocked that T.J. Jones saw the field after letting that pass hit him in the head. Is John Goodman that terrible?

    Dayne isn’t entirely to blame, but it’s getting to be increasingly obvious that he just doesn’t have the mindset to play QB in major college football. The moment something goes wrong, he gets the “deer in headlights” look, his confidence plummets and he forgets to lead. Rees may not have the prototypical height, weight, arm strength, pedigree, whatever- but he goes out and competes. He runs the offense well and lets his teammates make plays.

    If Crist starts next week (or ever again, barring injury) I’d be stunned.

    [Reply]

    bC replied on September 4th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Yes, and this all reflects poor coaching

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    Fred M replied on September 4th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Absolutely to that!

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  • chris commented on September 4th, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Crist what !!!
    I have said all along that Crist was lost much of the time last year & always has accuracy problem. Kelly’s first mistake for 2011 was picking Crist as the starter. Bottom line, Kelly will move on without him.
    As for the other QB, Rees, he moved the team better. However, he has a habit of throwing INT & has too much limitation.

    My prediction after game 1: Kelly will start Rees & have the younger QB come in as change of pace. (however, both Crist & Rees are not the long term answer for ND.)

    recommendations for Kelly:
    1. Time to get the younger QB ready.
    2. Riddick should not be allowed to field punts. He is lost & not comfortable.
    3. Jonas Gray- how much can Kelly rely on him? time for the prepare the freshman runningbacks.
    4. Ben Turk – the punting job should be open competition after game 1.

    As for Michigan game next week & hate to say it, but I see a “lost” already.

    [Reply]

    ballgame3cc replied on September 4th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I agree with #1 (tough to get Golson in when ur down 16 before you blink)…and dont kno if I would use golson against Michigan, they see a QB like that every day in practice….Shoelace…

    #2 Agree again put Goodman back there and let him fair catch them all.. at least he catches them, Riddick never even got under one i can remember at least three he came running up and dove to catch them..??? why dive to catch a punt… call Poison and let it go.

    #3 Gray has to be done, he had two rushes on the first drive and tiptoed around the backfield on both, fumbling the second… he is supposed to put his head down and run into peoples backs not look for holes and wait…Cant play if you cant hold onto the ball son.

    #4 Brindzaaaaaaaaa

    [Reply]

  • Chi-town Copper commented on September 4th, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Watching college gameday wrap up on espn right now they remarked how Alabama also had 5 turnovers….but still managed to beat Kent State. Auburn was down 2 scores to Utah State with 2 mins left but managed to pull out the victory. Bottom line, these two programs refused to lose to far inferior opponents. After thinking about it ND had 5 turnovers (3 in the red zone). They missed a field goal, they punted bad giving SFU great field position, and dropped a bunch of passes. Still, they had over 500 yards of offense and only allowed 1 offensive TD. I dont know how much blame to put on coach Kelly but he at least made the switch to Reese and showed some emotion out there unlike prior coaches who were more like statues. Now that i’ve had some time to think about it i believe after this first game they might pull it together and play to their potential. I agree with prior posters that Goodman should be given a chance to field punts, we should give Cam McDaniel a couple plays a game at RB, and that the punting slot should be wide open

    [Reply]

    sdouglas replied on September 4th, 2011 at 8:51 am

    As bad as things were yesterday, I’m still glad ND has the guts to play someone on opening weekend who is not a patsy. USF was a bowl winner last year and will no doubt appear in a bowl again this year. Better to find all the faults now instead of week 5 or 6.

    [Reply]

  • Evan commented on September 4th, 2011 at 2:12 am

    My thoughts: sorry if they run a little long.

    Quarterback
    -Dayne Crist, obviously, was not what any of us expected. It is quickly becoming apparent, unfortunately, that he is a supreme talent with little mental toughness to complement it. It’s sad because he is such a legitimately nice person, is hard-working and committed, and has an absolute cannon, but the accuracy and particularly the poise are not there. During the course of the first drive, I was almost euphoric, thinking, “he finally gets it!” Could not have been more wrong.
    -Tommy Rees threw for 296 yards… in the second half. Granted, some of those figures are inflated by desperate attempts to engineer a last drive after his second interception essentially squashed any slight chance of victory, but clearly he is the man for this offense for the time being. That said, he threw eight interceptions with only four starts last year, so the trend is becoming a bit troubling.
    -I am not particularly optimistic about what this position presents heading into next week simply because of the environment that quarterback will walk into. If Tommy Rees thought the Coliseum was a less than comfortable place to play last season, he has another thing coming. I live in Ann Arbor, and the stadium glows every night with maize and blue; it looks almost like a nightclub. The new boxes and scoreboards not only have people excited, but they actually help to box the sound in. Combine that with a nighttime start that promises hundreds of thousands of drunk and disorderly wolverines, and this will be the nation’s quietest 100,000 no longer.
    -I really thought we would see Golson on some sort of gadget today, perhaps lining up as a wide receiver or taking a couple of snaps in a Tebow-esque set that is run-focused but offers more potential to pass than your traditional Wildcat set. Perhaps next week.
    -The future of this position lies with Golson or even Hendrix, I believe, and not Rees. Don’t get me wrong, he was extremely impressive today, but both Golson and Hendrix offer superior arm strength and mobility. I appreciate Tommy Rees for his moxie and his quick release and touch, but the dual-threat facet of the spread offense is the missing cog in what should be an otherwise explosive offense, assuming that they limit turnovers.

    Running Back
    -Cierre Wood was extremely impressive and was poised to have an absolutely huge outing if the Irish hadn’t had to chase the lead despite severely outgaining USF. He didn’t break any real big ones, but often seemed one big block away from a big play. He’s shifty; he’s powerful; he has vision. Very promising.
    -Jonas Gray, on the other hand, should not be getting the ball so close to the goal-line. I don’t like to judge players in this regard but everything I hear seems to imply that perhaps he hasn’t been as focused as he could have been in the past, and his fumbling problems are probably a direct result. His two roles, at this point, are as our goal-line back, a role not well-suited to a fumbler, and as a change-of-pace back, a product of our lack of depth at that position. Both of those roles, however, I believe can be better filled…
    -Remember when Manti Te’o suggested early in camp that he be allowed to have a few reps as a goal-line back? Doesn’t seem crazy to me. Like Frank said above, Steve Filer and Carlo Calabrese are both viable options also. It would seem a better solution than to have Gray, whose career has been marred by fumbling problems, fill that role.
    -The lack of depth at running back seems the perfect excuse to me for Kelly to cut his losses on the Riddick wide receiver experiment and move him back to his natural position, where he showed considerable promise as a freshman. It would take some adjustment, but no doubt he would be a more dynamic back than Jonas, who often just puts his head down and plugs ahead.

    Wide Receiver
    -Floyd was Floyd. I thought he had a preposterously quiet twelve-catch, two-touchdown day. He was truly impressive and I am confident he will have an even better game next week as he’s flanked by Michigan’s Pop Warner secondary. A note on Floyd: Crist never seems to look his way enough (two first-half catches), and Rees looks his way too much (several incompletions, his second interception, and the failed two-point conversion were products of his insistence on forcing the ball to Floyd). There has to be a happy medium.
    -I disagree with the author: the plug should be pulled on the Riddick experiment. When his position was changed I had grand visions of him becoming Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame version of Mardy Gilyard. However, all he’s proved in a year and a half is that he is a dynamic player whose hands, and even sometimes his head, can sometimes betray him. I really do think he ought to be moved back to running back, where the need is greater. Toma could fill the role adequately enough, with some help from Goodman, whose size and speed have always been tantalizing.
    -I’m not convinced that the TJ Jones debacle was all his fault. I know that Kelly reacted as if it was, but Rees did try to tak the blame, and for a two- or three-yard pass that ball was absolutely gunned. I haven’t seen replay yet to see how close he was to getting his head around, but that was my impression at the time.
    -Eifert looked good, even though I’ve been quite spoiled by Notre Dame’s slew of recent talents at the position. The one “drop” where Crist threw it behind him was excusable, in my mind.

    Offensive line
    -For the most part, they played very well. Nuss had a costly hiccup and there was some typical first-game sloppiness, but they opened up holes for Cierre Wood’s great day and they gave both Crist and Rees all of the time that they could possibly want to throw and more. The blocking was perhaps the most consistent aspect of Notre Dame’s performance all day.

    Defensive line
    -I honestly could not tell you if Kapron Lewis-Moore or Sean Cwynar had played today or not. Both were nearly transparent.
    -Ethan Johnson, on the other hand, was active, although he missed a few frustrating tackles. Most frustrating of all, though, was the personal foul that essentially cut Notre Dame’s chances of victory in half by extending that fourth-quarter drive. I was upset at the call just because I felt like we had done the same thing, right or wrong, just the previous play and in many throughout the game, and they hadn’t once flinched. Still, not smart, especially when South Florida really wasn’t trying to do anything other than burn some time.
    -Big Louis Nix was very active. I’m still surprised at how massive he is but also how swiftly he moves every time he runs pursues a back trying to take the corner. I understand that he probably cannot go for sixty minutes, but he is a real luxury to have.
    -Aaron Lynch isn’t ready. They subbed him in pass-rush situations, but when South Florida would run anyway, he was run right out of the picture and was absolutely bullied. Notre Dame played a lot of zone today and Daniels was getting rid of the ball quickly, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to have him on the field. He’ll contribute this year and maybe even this month, but he needs to be given the opportunity to attack a drop-back passer with a more aggressive man coverage behind him.

    Linebackers
    -Manti Te’o didn’t have one of his most visible outings, but you don’t worry about a guy like him. If there’s a play to be made, he makes the play.
    -I never saw the full explanation on starting Dan Fox over Carlo Calabrese, but I’m not sure agree. Not only does Fox’s ‘Fabio’ haircut drive me nuts, but he missed a couple of tackles in the first half at the line of scrimmage and whenever Calabrese came in he seemed to play a role in blowing up run plays by taking on blockers and filling gaps. People forget that eight games through last season, he was probably our second-best defensive player.
    -I thought Darius Fleming played great. He sniffed out a few screens and got to Daniels once, even USF’s quarterback wasn’t often holding the ball long enough for real pressure to be applied. Having observed today’s performance, I would money on him to repeat as Notre Dame’s sacks leader.
    -Where in the world were Prince Shembo and Danny Spond?!

    Secondary
    -I am not Bobby Diaco’s biggest fan. I’m tired of him playing so much zone, especially when we have very good cover corners, decent depth, and South Florida’s quarterback showed no ability to throw down the field accurately. I would rather get burned long once a game play press man coverage than have receivers simply slip into gaps. It seems to me like receivers rarely run routes against Notre Dame anymore; they just find a void in the zone where the quarterback can deliver the ball.
    -Harrison Smith’s back-to-back facemask calls were very harmful, obviously, but other than that I think it’s probably hard to judge his performance. His ball skills weren’t exactly on display, as BJ Daniels rarely threw except bubble screens to the flat or underneath routes. His best games last year came against guys who tried to drop back and go deep; USC and Miami are perfect examples. He’s better suited to opponents like Michigan State and Stanford than he is a USF or a Michigan.
    -Gary Gray and Robert Blanton were good for the most part. Again, they can’t be blamed for consistently giving irrationally large cushion and overusing the zone offense.
    -Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta both made mistakes: Motta missed a tackle that led to a first down in the first half, and Slaughter failed to pick up a crossing route in the second. Both were costly and kept alive drives that would eventually end in points.

    Special Teams
    -Bennett Jackson and Austin Collinsworth are a blast to watch. Tons of energy, both as gunners and as return men. I would stick with those guys on kickoff.
    -As for Riddick as the punt returner, he’s perfectly capable. His struggles today were mostly mental, I think. The drop led to the muffed punt, the muffed punt to the close calls and awkward fair catches that followed. All of that should be sorted out by the time next week rolls around.
    -Ruffer missed a field goal he never should, and never will again. I felt really sorry for him.

    Coaching
    -My point on Diaco has already been made.
    -Coach Kelly should really tone down the temper tantrums. He looked like he was going to burst an artery all game long. I understand the frustration, but he routinely took off his headset to belittle an individual player, beet red in the face and absolutely steaming. He cusses like a pirate! Last year, I always thought he was too hard publicly on Crist. Then, when Dayne went down and Tommy Rees was the new starter, he essentially held his hand and walked him through the last four games, keeping himself much more composed. That’s the better method. Among the top 10 teams in the country, there is only one coach that could really be considered a hothead (Nebraska’s Bo Pelini). The rest– Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Chris Petersen, Jimbo Fisher, Chip Kelly, Les Miles, etc. — they are all much more composed than Brian Kelly is. I know that Holtz was fiery, and that all great coaches have a streak, but Kelly threw four to five legitimate, head-bursting, explicit tantrums today. It is possible to motivate without looking like an asshole.

    Final thought
    -We had 508 yards, they had 254. That’s exactly 2:1. As Brian Kelly said, turnovers will do that to you. That said, we moved the ball plenty and the defense did its job. If Tommy Rees can handle the atmosphere, I think we are well-positioned to bounce back at the Big House next week.

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  • spiceyirish commented on September 4th, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Special teams for Notre Dame is a joke.

    Ben Turk was so bad that he should wear a paper bag over his head this week with “Notre Dame Punter” written in the front. Theo Riddick handling of the punts were elementary at best. His body is unstable with his legs going in twenty different directions as the ball drops into/out his arms. The blocking on special teams is terrible too. Not engaging and many of the players look confuse on who to pick up. It doesn’t help that Bennett Jackson is a north-south runner who runs just as fast as William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Come on Bennett, all it takes is one move and your gone. Again he has very below average blocking.

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  • jack commented on September 4th, 2011 at 2:57 am

    tommy is the answer

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  • jimbasil commented on September 4th, 2011 at 4:43 am

    The Ethan Johnson Personal Foul needs addressing. H.Smiths face mask penalties were terrible for timing sakes but it looked more like he was making tackles too high and Daniels ducked his head into the play to get a facemask call. I don’t think Smith was intentionally trying to get at the facemask. However, the facemask on Riddick by the USF player should have resulted in that player being tossed from the game. That was a deliberate takedown foul that could have injured Riddick.

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  • D-Train 65 commented on September 4th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Let’s try and restore some perspective to this result. USF a team picked by some media to win Big East (yes I know its not the SEC) they are not Missouri St, Akron,Florida Int. et al so let’s give them some credit. We lost because we turned the ball over 5 times had a TD called back due to a holding penalty and had 4 personal (undisciplined)personal foul penalties. Wood 100yds plus in a half and Gray a nice game “except for allowing ball to be knocked out of his hands on goal line” Floyd 150 plus yds and several other receivers (3) with multiple catch games.If Gray goes in and second drive with interception ends with a TD UND probably up 14-0 and if Riddick doesn’t fumble to give USF field posit. for field goal then we have an entirely different games. Does that mean “ignore” errors know. Should Kelly on national TV go “ballistic” No it does not present a good image for school or to future recruits. Real kick and punt returners need a “macho” attitude to returning kicks not an “I hope I don’t mess this up attitude” Ben Turk cannot kick in a game PERIOD find another Punter. Crist can play but cannot keep WORRYING about losing the job Just play positive and “lead by example” and become more of a Brett Favre/Tom Brady persona on the field and in the huddle. Win next 4 games and smash USC at home and the only thing anyone remembers about this game is the BAD WEATHER. One game does not a season make. Remember how everyone felt after Tulsa/Navy games last year and what happened after that. Hey 11 games left go 11-1 and you might still play in Fiesta Bowl.

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  • lester diamond commented on September 4th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Jonas gray’s “fumble on the first drive set the tone for the game” I’d say it set the tone for the season

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  • Brad commented on September 4th, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I’m sold on Rees. I wasn’t until yesterday, but Crist’s potential upside and tangible don’t mean anything without the mental part. The offense just seemed more confident with him out there.

    Riddick should be done returning punts. I’d rather watch Goodman fair catch every time. Turk is terrible and Ruffer just cant miss that FG, ever.

    Overall, I think the defense played well. Nix looked like a beast to me.

    Did anyone else think Floyd should’ve had that inside kick. He ran past it.

    I don’tthink Kelly should turn purple, but I’ve got no problems with him yelling. Stop babying these kids. When players dont execute something you’ve worked on in practice, it makes you very upset.

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    Teo replied on September 6th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Yes — Floyd ran right by the ball. He had a shot at it. Too bad. Regardless, too many penalties; too many dropped passes; too few stand-out plays; way too many turnovers.

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  • Earl commented on September 4th, 2011 at 7:40 am

    OK Lester, guess there isn’t any point in tuning in to any of the coming games. The season is ruined. The sky is falling. Jesus.

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  • Frustrated Irish Fan commented on September 4th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I’m seeing the Irish go 0-3 maybe 0-4 to start the season. This was a pathetic performance by the offense and special teams. Only bright spot was the defense, but seemed like they always had to make a stop or big play. Just sick of getting so hyped for 8 months and getting let down time and time again. Hopefully ND can get it figured out or next week could get ugly.

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  • mhagg commented on September 4th, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Well here we go again! Ranked 16th, BCS talk, all the hype, blah, blah, blah. Not sure what they were thinking. Many of the top 25 real college football teams won their openers as they should of. Nope not us. Congrats to Dayne for his knee rebilitation but he still stinks as a college QB. Rees should have been named starter and time to work in some reps of those freshman. The entire team reacts so much better with Rees at QB. yes we need a Robert Hughes type back for those 3rd and 1’s. Jonas Gray, yeah start giving those freshman running backs some reps. Defense not bad but fed off the the demise of the offense in the 1st half. Penalities, there should be some serious running this week!

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    Backtobcs replied on September 4th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    That’s what I told my girlfriend too, I would make sure the players ran for 2 hours Monday, hit drills, u name it, I’m sure some people out there think those things are beneath players at this level but I think that’s nonsense, sometimes you have to have consequences for stupidity, there’s talent there, it’s obvious but when guys look lazy and undisciplined some good old fashioned remedial exhaustion therapy can work miracles….

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  • TFS commented on September 4th, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Lester and mhagg, you got it right. The game was over after Gray’s fumble. What a great opening drive. Five minutes of promise for a great season, gone in a split second. I don’t think I can take another season of the same.

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  • Bruce Johnson commented on September 4th, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Brian Kelly is a disaster. Everyone knew that Rees was a winner. yet, he went with Crist. The guy was totally freaked out and panicked. The team quit almost immediately. This is not the notre dame football I knew. The team is uncoached. Penalties for delay of game, face masks, its all reminiscent of vince lombardi’s quote. “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” no duranko or conjars or rudys here. we need a new athletic director, one that takes more than ten days to find a coach for a team that had once competed every year for the national championship. tragic in every way.

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    Teo replied on September 6th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Kelly is fine; his kids just played poorly. Too many dropped passes. Way too many penalties. Too many turnovers. But things will be fine. Relax. We’ll beat Michigan. We’ll beat them soundly. But it’s going to take 11 guys on both sides of the ball playing their best game.

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  • firekelly commented on September 4th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Brian Kelly is a joke………..those players are a joke, and thats his responsibility to have them prepared. They were clueless and looked like fools out there. Kelly looked even dumber cussing them out. If that is the best ND can do, end the football program.

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    IrishChan replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    WOW?! Were calling for a new coach & a new AD? lol

    Calm down! It’s gonna be ok….

    Kelly is a football coach & football coachs yell. It’s a part of the game.

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    ballgame3cc replied on September 4th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    All of one game into year 2 and theres a firekelly user name…wow…..remember when there was a firegenechisik.com site before he ever coached a game.

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  • George commented on September 4th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Newsflash: Harrison Smith was NEVER any good. He had a few gimme interceptions against a pathetic Jacory Harris in the bowl game. Thats not quite enough to make up for every other game he’s ever played. He has a nice size but cannot play at this level. Too slow and horrible decision making.

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  • bob commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    As bad as the football was, the behavior of Coach Kelly is unacceptable under any football circumstances to this ND alumni and current father. This would not be tolerated in any worthwhile work place and not be acceptable in the armed forces. Contrast Skip Holtz’s reaction to his team’s equally important gaff. These young men are not adults. They are students who may or may not have certain capabilities and are developing. It would not be acceptable for a premed professor to publically humiliate a student for a test gaff about human pathology. I will let the AD know that my contribution to the Sorin society and athletic program is in jeopardy as a consequence of this boorish behavior.

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    David replied on September 4th, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Have you ever been in the military? I am in the military and trust me, if we do something stupid like the team was doing yesterday/last night, we get that and more. It’s part of the game and it’s “contributers” like you that are killing college football as a whole. You should have ZERO say in what goes on with this program! It’s starts and ends with the head coach. If you don’t like it or understand it, you obviously were not an athlete in high school. Get back to your chemistry experiment buddy!

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    IrishChan replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Agreed. I’ve served for 13 years & can tell you that the little sissy’s that are coming into our services is a result of them being breast fed their whole lives.

    There is yelling & cussing in football! Deal with it.

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    bob replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    20 years US Navy/trauma surgeon,member 1975 Orange Bowel Champions,captain 1977 ND Lacrosse team,all league football and lacrosse catholic conference long Island. Is that enough?This is classless and not representive of ND. Ara never behaved that way. Are you ok with that.

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    I_Make_Obvious_Observations replied on September 4th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    That scream you all just heard was the sound of bob ripping David’s balls out. The only thing that would have made it better was if bob ended his comment with, “now go home and get your f***ing shine box.”

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    JDH replied on September 7th, 2011 at 9:32 am

    HAHA! Indeed it was. I thank David for his service, but I’d also submit to be careful-you never know who you might be talking to.

    Ron replied on September 7th, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Please do not compare the military to a freakin football game. In the military people die sometimes for stupid mistakes. It’s that simple. Shame on you!

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    jack replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Bob,

    Completely disagree with your analysis. I coached in the inner city and my players craved discipline. They expected me to be up one side and down the other when they made mental errors. I see nothing wrong with getting ten pounds of someones ass when they screw up. When my players moved to the varsity coach, he didn’t address their mistakes the way I did and the kids blew him off. BK needs to now a day later explain to the players that type of play is unacceptable and they are now moving forward, but make no mistake they need an ass chewing with some of the stuff that occured on Saturday. If you coddle these players they will quit.

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    bob replied on September 4th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Humiliation has never been demonstrated to work as a teaching tool for behavioral change IN PUBLIC. Once again,contrast Skip Holtz’s response to the 12th man gaff and BK. Before blaming , you should get all the info. Tommy rose to occasion by accepting his contribution to the play. Have you ever been wrong about what happened on a given play,only to change you mind on review of game film?

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    joey d replied on September 4th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    bob,
    I’m pretty sure the players did a very good job of humiliating themselves inside the ten yard line yesterday. The players are participating in a very violent game, I would hope some loud talking shouldn’t bother them that much. Everyone involved in the offense is to blame, including the coach.

    In an unrelated comment: Ethan Johnson is terrible!!!!!

    JDH replied on September 6th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I agree with you Bob. Getting in a kid’s face is one thing. Kelly acting like a train coming off the tracks shows a total lack of leadership.

    And comparing “motivations” in college football to “motivations” in the military are apples and oranges.

    Shazamrock replied on September 6th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I didn’t see it as humiliation, or lack of control, or lack of leadership, or poor coaching, or passing blame.

    I saw a dedicated and passionet coach who strives for excellance and perfection from himself, associate coaches, and players, in everything that they do.

    That’s what he gets paid to do.

    Stand there like Ty Willingham with arms crossed not saying a word, and everyone yells he’s a terriable coach. Fire him.
    Get in yor players faces, yell at them, and agian, there are always those who scream, he’s a terriable coach.

    It’s big time college football for christ sake.
    If your are a ND player and can’t take getting yelled at by the head coach on national TV,then you better join the twiddly wink team, or go play golf.

    This tree hugger BS is for the birds!

    If I had a “free ride” scholarship to play for ND, I would fully exspect to get yelled at for screwing up.

    If a coach told me “that’s OK son, you’ll do better next time” I would transfer the next day!

    JDH replied on September 6th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Oh and for everyone who thinks Kelly’s behavior was “just fine”, he apologized for his own behavior today on the radio. He admitted it was out of line and he needed to do a better job of policing it, especially when on camera. AGAIN, IT’S NOT THAT HE WAS YELLING AT PLAYERS. IT’S THE OUT OF CONTROL, SPITTING, FBOMBS ALL OVER NATIONAL TV THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. Some people here really have difficulty understanding a nuanced argument.

    Shazamrock replied on September 7th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I think everyone who was watching was concerned about Kelly going a bit over board.

    My “argument” or concern,is with those hypocrits who, on one day complain, and go on and on that ND needs a head coach with fire and passion, and not some dead fish or lame- duck patrolling the sidlines. Then the next day, when the Athletic director finds just such a coach, hires him, and one game into his second season they complain that he is too intense and is out of control.

    That sometimes happends with an intense, passonet coach.
    In fact, sooner or later it is bound to happen. But its that intensity that makes him successful. So you accept the good with the bad. It’s called being human.

    I like Kelly, I’ve said so many times,and I stand by my statement wether he works out or not.
    I give Kelly a lot of credit for standing up,and admitting his faults, mistakes, that he was wrong, and is going to change. (Hopefully his players will be a big part of that change.)

    But the fact is, there is just no pleasing some people here. They aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about and play both sides of the fence in order to do so.
    They want it all… and life just doesn’t work that way.

    JDH replied on September 7th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I like Kelly too and I’m not playing both sides of anything. I like passion and expect discipline and accountability. Again, it’s an argument of degrees, not kind. There are plenty of highly-successful coaches out there who are very intense and passionate but don’t feel the need to act like Kelly did, regardless of the circumstances. Being a leader requires you to act like one. I played a D1 sport in college and know what it’s like. I’ve had different kinds of coaches. The one you respect and will follow into hell is the one that demands your absolute best and is not afraid to rip someone up, then build them back up. The one you hate and think is a baffoon is the one who demands discipline and leadership but shows none. It’s called situational awareness.

    I like Kelly too. I like his passion. I stand by my comments. On Saturday, in those certain instances, he was out of line, did not represent the University by spewing Fbombs in the face of his QBs, and it accomplished nothing.

  • Backtobcs commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Ok so just stopped at service plaza in Ohio for the 10th time so the girlfriend could pee. We were walking back to the car and one of the players dads saw my ND shirt and asked if I was at the game said yea, and he was fired up, he said he could have killed his son (not riddick) for being out there cheerleading on the field instead of laying people out, said they were putting too much on riddick to make all the plays, and he was in total agreement with my sentiments regarding short yardage situations (ie 3rd and goal on the one, hey let’s go shotgun and spread it out) put the ball in Wood’s hand and jam the damn ball down their throat…. Just thought ide share because it was really cool, sorry to withhold the players name but Ide rather respect his privacy, he seemed like a great guy and it made my trip. Thanks

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  • david lammermeier commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Team does not have fighter instinct. Good teams seem to find a way to beat inferior teams despite turnovers. Very disappointing opening game. Suspect Skip Holtz will be coaching ND someday. He and many other coaches do well with less recruiting options than ND has so it must be the coaching that is the problem. Why is it that ND defensive backs play so far away from the receivers and allow opposing team to make 3rd and long completions. It happens all the time since I have been following ND football. 2 defensive backs will be around the receiver and watch him catch the ball and them tackle. Very aggravating to say the least.

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  • Bruce Johnson commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    For more than two decades, Notre Dame has neglected its greatest teaching instrument-its football team. At one time the team’s success made Notre Dame unique. You learned that on any give day you could rise to the challenge and beat anything, no matter what the odds. Everyone learned Rudy’s lesson: you never ever give up. You learned about teamwork and that people who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society. The team’s striving for incredible excellence permeated everything at Notre Dame. Every graduate believed that in his life he could take all those lessons and apply them to politics, to public service, to his family life and his faith.

    But two decades of neglect have put all that the University stands for in jeopardy. Who could not watch dumbfounded as the University let one athletic director hire one loser after another. The first an assistant coach- you never ever hire an assistant coach for the toughest coaching job in the nation. He then tried to hire the rambling Irish wreck, who was not even much of a coach, and didn’t even vet him properly. It was a huge embarrassment for the University. To save face he hires another, whose uniqueness as a black head coach makes him initially immune from criticism; but ultimately he is not a great coach. Finally, he tries to buy a big time professional coach, whose waddling across the field is an embarrassment to all great athletes. Even more embarrassing watching him yell at Brady Quinn on national TV. In the end the players gave up on him. The result was the worst football season in a forty years year. Someone was a completely poor judge of men.

    We get a new athletic director who says maybe Notre Dame might win a national championship one day. Hardly a commitment to excellence, when at one time the team fought for the national title every year. Then he hires a new head coach from a second rate football school in ten whole days, hardly an auspicious beginning.

    If you want to be the best, you take time, you prepare, you find the best coach in America. Even then the odds are long.

    It becomes quickly apparent the new offense is some quick start gimmick. There is no Joe Montana, Jerome Bettis, Rocket or Larry Conjar. The defensive coordinator the new coach brings allows the opposition 25 points a game on average. There are no shutouts. They lose more games in half a season than Ara Parseghian lost in four years. And this coach too humiliates his players on national TV by yelling at them. Such a lack of dignity and grace under pressure. Imagine, John Wooten, having ever having done such a thing. If they had been coached and trained properly, there would have been no need to yell. He is clearly over his head.

    Even worse the new athletic director says the new coach is like a great corporate ceo. I am reminded of the JFK quote: “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it till now.” The team’s integrity has been sold: a new plush stadium, a TV contract, Notre Dame sports productions, mass marketing of tee shirts, autographs; even a commercial where the sacred fighting Irish leprechaun is used as a prop. Shades of the gecko. Notre Dame football has become a business, not an instrument for learning, self sacrifice, excellence or teamwork.

    Imagine how the players must feel. I saw one crying as they left the field after the Navy debacle. When I was there you never ever criticized the team. That was gospel. I do not do that now. But, many of the best players in the nation believe Notre Dame has lost its will. And go somewhere else. Jimmy Clausen left early and I heard him say on national TV; he never lost a game until he came to Notre Dame and they went 3-9. And he was a great quarterback.

    Something is terribly wrong. Not just football, but the University’s acceptance of this bumbling toward pathos. Vince Lombardi said it this way: “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” This failure, this acceptance of failure, this benign neglect affects all the University does and the way it presents itself to the nation.

    Father Hesburgh once said: “ My belief is and always has been that the University ought to do everything, academics, athletics, you name it in a first rate manner.”

    But, the athletic director, the University’s President, the Board of Trustees and the Fathers have accepted something less.

    Unless that changes, what set Notre Dame apart and above, Duke, Yale or Harvard or Stanford, was its belief in itself. At one time the University’s team was an inspiration for poor and middle class kids all across the country, and no other school had such a faithful feeder system or a subway alumni. No other school had such a rich legacy. No other school had Notre dame’s true grit, or its indomitable spirit.

    America’s greatest President Franklin Roosevelt knew the value of spirit:

    “It is not enough to clothe and feed the body of the nation, and instruct and inform its mind. For there is the spirit and of the three, the greatest is the spirit. Without the body and mind, as all men know, the nation could not live. But, if the spirit of America were killed … the America we know would have perished.”

    Our spirit, our legacy is at risk.

    I have been hard. Dale Carnegie teaches us that genuine appreciation and seeing things from the other fellow’s point of view are the keys to personal success. All the efforts of every member of the Notre dame family are appreciated and we can see that many of these people did their best and often above their best. But, another coach said it this way: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

    Its time to regain our legacy of winning and make sure that the spirit of Notre Dame never perishes. Where is the commitment, the leadership?

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  • Fred commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Wow…the first half was truly amongst the most horrid I have ever seen a Notre Dame team play. I was watching the game by myself and yet screaming at the TV for the team to do the little things like, DO NOT GET STUPID PENALTIES (listening Smith?); no turn-overs, especially in the red zone (cost us the game), et. al. But what truly stuck out to me was how badly we were out-coached in this game. It was apparent that Crist was not the answer and that Reese needed to be in there. Unfortunately, that decision came after a 2-hour rain delay. I think that NBC put the Utah game from 2010 on TV to show Kelly that Reese should be the starter. I also loved (sarcasm) the call where on 3rd and long, where we ran the ball up the gut instead of trying to get something positive at the end of the 2nd quarter. A truly pathetic performance. One last note, the announcers had ZERO to discuss to whet the appetite of the ND fan. They were forced to talk on a number of occasions how large the freshman recruiting class is. Ugh…..

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  • jack commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:30 am

    The doom and gloom I am reading from fans is unwarranted. Did the offense choke inside the 20, yes, but let’s look at some positives.
    1. ND controlled both lines of scrimmage.
    2. They held their opponent under 300 yds and one TD
    3. They moved the ball at will.

    Now I don’t think they will turn the ball over 5 times a game. I do think everyone was drinking the koolaide and now it is time to focus on what went wrong and fix it, but I don’t think we are as bad off as everyone thinks we are.

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    IrishChan replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Agreed. It was the 1st game of the season. Still not excusable to make the errors that they made but they can now settle in and prepare for next week.

    Give it 24 hours then move on.

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    firekelly replied on September 4th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    lol…..WOW, that would be great if we got points for all those things!!…However, YOU DON’T!…It was an extreme embarassment!!….an absolute humiliation. That team has no business even being on TV. In fact,it would save all us Alum some humiliation if they just took them off the air. Kelly has no business there at all. Might as well have BOZO the CLOWN coaching ND. HE’s clueless and then blames his kids because he didn’t properly prepare them. He should be looking in the mirror for the moron that lost the game.

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  • Fred commented on September 4th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    There were some positives from the game, I will give you that, but I am most concerned how the coaching staff appeared to be out-coached in many situations. Yes, they moved the ball at times. But, yardage means squat unless you can score. Even special teams were horrid (fumbles, missed FG, etc.). Someone had better ream out the coaches along with the players. It was a total team effort to lose this game. They only lost 15 times in over 100 years in their home openers prior to losing to South Florida.

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  • jack commented on September 4th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Ever since I have been on this board it is the coaches fault. Lets look at the players they are the ones on the field. I can tell you what to do, but if you don’t execute it is not the coaches fault. I think this is a wake up call and the players and coaches will respond. It actually one half of football that they played horrible in. They will rebound and BK prepare them. I can bet if they rattle of 6 wins in a row everyone will say BK is a genius.

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  • tommy651 commented on September 4th, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    i don’t know if i should be discouraged or encouraged by this game. if their was a mistake you could make in a football game ND made it. yet they were still in the game and might have won it.

    with crist its not just the mistakes he makes it when he makes them. it seems when the team starts to come back from being knock on their heels(in this game there own doing)he does something that completely lets the air out of thier balloon. i think rees even if he has less talent is a better player.

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  • Paul Geary commented on September 4th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Bruce Johnson’s comments above are right on target. What we need is his words put into corrective action at ND. Accepting less has become pervasive at ND since Father Ted’s Presidency.

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  • SOUTHCAROLINAIRISH commented on September 4th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Man…this is sad…so much doom and gloom, and the sky is falling. Fire everyone…the AD, the coaches, the team, the Board, take the rest of the year and find a new everything…I haven’t heard or read this much nonsense in a long time.

    Put the blame for the loss squarely where it belongs…the players made mistakes, and it cost dearly….but in the end, the team didn’t quit. They lay down on Crist, and though he may be more talented than Rees, he’s not the leader that Tommy is. Even watching him on the sideline, it was apparent that he was out of it. Move on.

    Considering the teams performance, I too am surprised that Kelly didn’t walk off the field. With good reason, he went ballistic on more than one occasion. He had to do something that would wake the team up.

    What happens now…there were positives from yesterday…the running game, Floyd, Rees, the defense by and large. Get every mistake you made yesterday out of your system, step back, rededicate, and move forward. The season is not lost. Those of you who are calling for BK’s head…cool down…this may not be the year of the next national championship, but that is coming soon. Support the team. Go Irish.

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  • ballgame3cc commented on September 4th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    another random thought…you kno what else I love about Rees, he throws the ball over the middle… he hits the TE in space and routes inside the hash marks. Crist seems to throw everything to the sideline, long throws for short gains to the sideline. Its nice to see a QB understand our TE is a mismatched against any LB or DB hes too physical and athletic (Which i say year after year no matter who steps in)… just a passing thought

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  • TR55IRISH commented on September 4th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I never bought into all the hype this off-season that this was a top 25 to start the season. I think this team could maybe go 8-4 this season and be a bit better then last year, that is if they can actually finish a drive off was shocking to see the mistakes they were making in the redzone. Tommy “TOMMYGUN” Rees is the starting QB for this team no doubt Crist has all the talent in the world but hes so hot and cold feel bad for the man with all the injuries and stuff. I would love to see Hendrix get a series or two just to change things up great compliment maybe to Rees. I hope they red shirt Gholston but I guess that all depends on the season. Im not one to call out a player but Dan Fox was really lost out there yseterday , I really like Carlo Calabrese next to Mantai. I dont think they are as bad as they looked but not as good as some were saying in the pre season. Its early im as big a fan of this team as anyone but im a realist too lets see what happens.

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  • nathanrmarshall commented on September 4th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Its funny how people are ready to throw Crist under the bus and say he looked like a deer in headlights or doesnt have it mentally or his INT was more costly than Rees’ 2. After the INT Crist got the Irish in a makeable 3rd down situation on the next drive and hit Riddick in the hands for the first and he dropped it. Then on the following drive after a penalty Crist makes the throw, sure it was a little behind Eifert, but he has got to make that catch as it would have been another first down. He bounced back and the receivers didn’t do their jobs and now he is branded as mentally weak and is benched after 30 minutes of football. BK completely mismanaged the qb situation, he panicked and now he cannot go back to Crist no matter what. A guy he said would hopefully be the starter for 13 weeks got a half and then yanked when most of the blame should be put on the receivers and special teams.

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  • cav commented on September 4th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I’m reading a lot of doom and gloom and it may be justified. However, I think this is another reason why ND needs to think about a conference. Oregon got hammered by LSU yesterday and they still have a shot at the BCS because they still have a chance to win their conference. ND loses a game and it’s like the world has come to an end.

    I just saw on ESPN that Oklahoma and Texas are thinking about joining the PAC-12 or what they were calling the Pac 16. Brian Kelly took Cincy to 2 BCS games because he won the conference championship. I love ND being independent, but it really limits them on their bowl options and it doesn’t give the kids a chance to win different types of championships, which is why we are hearing BCS or bust this year.

    As much as I would like to think that ND is still special in college football, it just seems to me they are falling behind.

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  • Rob commented on September 4th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Brian Kelly has every right to be mad. The team played as poorly as it could possibly have played. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would be looking for signs that Theo Riddick and/or Dayne Crist were paid to throw the game with how they played. That being said, I have a problem with the way Kelly is shown on the sidelines. Look, I am a teacher of teenagers, and I have coached them/been around them for nearly 10 years. While there are some situations where yelling is unavoidable, you can’t tell me that putting your arm around one of these kids and coaching them up won’t work either. He’s embarassing himself. I was embarassed, as a lifetime ND fan, to see the head coach of my football program continually shown acting like that. Its too much. It started last year, and hasn’t stopped. Tone it down a little coach. You want your players to play better, coach them up instead of ripping them up.

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  • cabodrinker commented on September 4th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    rob is right. if i want to watch a temper tantrum i will hang out in the toy department at walmart. instead i can catch one everytime ND doesn’t score thanks to coach kelly. i will go to my grave saying brian kelly is one of the most overrated coaches in football. ND is not the mac or the big east. he keeps cussing out the players when they come off the field, they will tune him out and we will be looking at a lot worse than 0-3.

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  • Bruce Johnson commented on September 4th, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Imagine what the rocket or tony rice would have thought of this debacle.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq1PXq2egMg&feature=relmfu

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  • carl commented on September 4th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Crist is taller… has a stronger arm… he is faster… he has a better looking girlfriend… However Rees wins ballgames period… Rees higher completion percentage equals an offense that is consistent.

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  • Bruce Johnson commented on September 4th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    things have changed so much, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-MEt60Y0f8

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  • CoachCT commented on September 4th, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    First of all, thanks to everyone. I’ve enjoyed your comments, amusing and informative. Hopefully, some of you will share that sentiment about mine. Im gonna work from least to most important(as I see it).

    Personell changes:
    KR: Collinsworth and Bennett. Collinsworth ran as hard as he could into the coming traffic. Riddick is fine, but if he will instantly come off the field for a play afterwards, why even have him out there when there is no trade off. Stress ball security and end that discussion, barring injury.

    PR: Cam McDaniel. Yesterday was obviously very nerve wracking to watch a Punt(which is why some of us were hoping for even a deep pick on 3rd, as much for field position/morale as for not having to worry about Theo). When we heard Kelly’s post game saying that Theo just has to figure it out and we “dont have a waiver wire”, it does have me worried about a certain stubbornness. I initially thought that, it was just a tough one, that people make mistakes(more on that in a second) and THAT was his mistake. But upon reflection last night(what remained of it) and today, Theo just did not seem at all comfortable judging the flight of the ball. He staggered, changed speeds and direction alot, he made everyone nervous around him. Some people are just not centerfielders, they are third basemen. On the positive side, Cam Mcdaniel from his interviews seems to have moxie to come in and play. Watch his youtube. He is a solid punt returner that settles under the punt well, has a decent “shake” to him. A very poor man’s Golden Tate. He will secure the ball like Goodman and have the ability to return it similar to say a Troy Wilson(1986). He wont take it to the house, but he will get you a handful of 20 yard returns.

    Punter: If Brindza can do it, I see no reason why to not try him. We are struggling there. It is in Turk’s head that he will shank.

    FG: Give the kid a break, he missed 3 FGs in his last 20 some odd attempts.

    ILB: Calabrese should see the bulk of time. Better reads, shoots the gap. Has better potential for tackles for a loss. Even on the TD, he was right there. And before we run away from that very TD that pushed it for all intents and purposes out of reach, I have a small complaint there. And no one has mentioned it here, making me feel that I wont be met with agreement, but the PInt call against Gary Gray to me was extremely suspect at best. There wasnt incidental contact there. I feel that that call was made only because it was UNDERTHROWN and b/c GG didnt TURN HIS HEAD(I dont know why it isnt stressed in every HS and college in the land to every CB that the chances of PI being called drop by 85% if you just TURN YOUR HEAD!! Heck, you can hipcheck and run him into the band if your head is turned, to the inside preferrably). So, even though there wasnt advantageous seeking contact, because his head wasnt turned, he looked guilty as charged, your honor.

    NT: Nix was sensational. So much faster than I envisioned. I mean, I know they “know what they are doing”, but that guy need to play. He will soon be occupying two people’s attention.

    QB: It gives me great pain to say this, but I feel that Dayne Crist is not the starter. For all of you coaches or ex coaches out there, at WHATEVER level-youth to pro, there is a certain emotional attachment that is difficult to let go of. He has worked through two injuries, is such a high quality person and not to mentioned talented. And before I give an opinion to start Rees, let me add that we all know Crist didnt play THAT bad for crissakes. Was it his fault that Gray fumbled? That Eifert dropped the 3rd and 11 for a 1st down? That Jones dropped it in the 2nd quarter? And when you talk about the crucial INT, yes, an ill-advised pass, no doubt. But why, Coach Kelly? Because your offense, to its credit, stresses matchup problems horizontally in order to gain one vertically. And while this is great for 80-85 yards of the field, do you think the opposition was all that worried about having a smaller Theo Riddick matched against a taller Lattimore on the 7 yard line on a VERTICIAL SEAM ROUTE? So, while the throw shouldnt have been made, lets not say thatCRist was terrible. Having said this, as a Crist admirer for who he is and what he stands for, we needed to have something go well in the first half and actually score, even if it didnt have his fingerprints on it. The panic set it, and from our sideline we seemed like we down 4 TDs after that INT. Things just dont click well with him. Neither Crist nor Rees is the QB of the future at ND under this coach. Funny thing is, do not be surprised to see Crist on Sundays, as early as next year.

    Coach: Bob, you had some good points and most or all of us respect your service to the country and you have some fabulous accomplishments of note. And the counter arguements of “these are young men, dont coddle them” are compelling also. I personally lean towards the not showing a player up in public. Certainly not for a PHYSICAL mistake. But the reasoning isnt necessarily because of the optics of recruiting prospects, the “image” of Notre Dame(Im a fellow alum, but gimme a break, its why people hate us) or that a kid shouldnt have to listen to that in any venue. As a former Varsity football coach of 6 years and basketball coach of 9, I feel that it is two things: 1) losing your composure which only feeds the sense of panic making it about the coach’s emotions and 2) it is simply just bad business. Meaning, people dont perform well with fear as a backdrop for physical mistakes. I for one, never berated a kid for missing a Free Throw. Or even a layup. Missing a selfish girlfriend-in-the-stands Dunk(especially when you cant even do it in practice) at a critical part of the game, that will get you out of the game accompanied by a cold stare. Ethan Johnson’s PFoul was much more deserving of castigation than Dayne Crist’s INT. Brian Kelly IS in fact a CEO. He does not possess that Lou charm. And if I could dine with either Brian KElly or Gerry Faust, thats a no brainer for me. But for now, its hard to argue that he has brought in significant talent, has the general direction of the program pointed well. A few tweaks here and there, and we’ll be sniffing around the top slot in Novemebers soon enough.

    And BTW, we’re winning this Saturday night. Strong feeling here. And any Michigan people reading this, feel free to write me at cftvideo at yahoo.com Im a black hole at pick em.

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  • Damian commented on September 4th, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    These are the games that make me wish college football had a preseason game or two. I imagine some of the problems we saw yesterday can be cleared up in another game or two. I almost wished ND was unranked starting the season. It’s almost a jinx to start the season ranked. USF is a decent team, but because ND was ranked, everyone talks about what a big upset this was. I thought it was a very winnable game for ND, but at the same time, USF isn’t exactly Little Sisters of the Poor.

    Re: Brian Kelly getting in players faces, I think people forget the Lou Holtz years. He wasn’t exacly touchy feely with his players, unless facemask grabbing and screamint are touchy feely. You’re playing Division I-A football. You are getting a free ride to a top university and a great education. Sorry if the coach gets into their faces when they screw up (In the players defense, they probably would be the last to complain about being yelled at on the field).

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    fxm replied on September 4th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    How come USF, with more replacement parts didn’t have these mistakes? Less penalties and no turnovers. He can T-off on the kids but he may want to look in the mirror. His team was completely unprepared. He better get a grip or 0-3 is a big hole.

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  • john commented on September 5th, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I think Lou helped skip with the offensive game plan. Our strength is in the middle of the field – DL < TAO< Hayseed. SFU ran 75% of their plays at the corners runs or passes so our best D players had difficulty getting near the ball. As for our offense – it was anything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. Jonas' fumble was a bad call . His foward frogress was stopped and he was being pushed backwards.(very slow whistle).

    Changes for next week – Start Reese, Good back to punt returning (Riddick just couldn't judge where the ball was coming down. If Turk punts like that again he cant play. We need to see what George Atkinson can do. If Michigan attacks the corners give the backups a chance.

    Crist looked like a deer caught in the headlights after that first drive. Even Kyle Rudolph said so at the half. He needed a coach to sett;e him down not one screaming in his face on national TV.

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  • Bruce Johnson commented on September 5th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    jack swarbrick and brian kelly record, 2 seasons, 8-6, and we have not even begun to play the tuff guys, compare ara parseghian 10 years (1964-1974): 95-17-4 (.836), 1.7 losses per year average, another kevin white disaster. my god where is father jenkins?

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  • Joe Schulz commented on September 5th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Trying too hard is a tough thing to deal with. The initial fumble was trying to score when he was stood up. Smith’s two facemasks were from closing too fast and trying to grab something. Unfortunately pressure is part of the game and pressure to win is all about playing for Notre Dame. The thing that bothered me most was the absence of leadership on the offense during the first half. Somebody needed to calm the troops and motivate some determination. It did not happen. It can’t come from a wide receiver and it didn’t come from the quarterback. Tommy has leadership. Let him play.
    Two other thoughts: 1. Brian Kelly is no different than any other winning coach. He DEMANDS performance. He is NOT a nice guy. Nice guys do not win in football. 2. Dayne is a nice guy. He will be a successful businessman because he is both nice to deal with and intelligent. Unfortunately, as far as I am concerned, he is now fourth string.

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  • D-Train 65 commented on September 6th, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Cannot believe the negativity from some of these comments. Let’s see a guy misses the second FG of his career. 2 fumbles and 3 int’s and a TD called back due to a penalty. Several drops of passes that would have allowed important first downs to keep drives alive. Played a team some are picking to win the Big East (a cupcake conf I hear you say well the Big East teams went 8-0 for the weekend How did the SEC and Big 10 teams do?)All of this “adversity” and we lost by 3 and people want BK fired along with the AD. We want Diaco gone as Def Coord along with T Riddick, J Gray and D Crist. Hey Take a DEEP BREATH people. One game does not a season make. Yes BK needs to learn that you want athletes to understand that mistakes are not acceptable but does anyone really believe that kids like Crist, Gray, Riddick et al go out on a Sat with the express intention of making a mistake that can lose UND the game Of course not. They are 18-21 year olds trying to be the best they can be and like all of us at times the Master Plan has a few bumps in the road. Coaches need to understand that you will gain more from talking to a player “quietly” about a fault/mistake rather then making it into a spectacle for national TV audiences That is more about a persons ego the proper man-management skills. I have coached boys and girls and mens and womens teams for 46 years. I discovered many years ago what a guy like John Wooden seemed to know from the beginning eg Players respect the coach who respects them then the “tyrant” who takes his temper out on them THey will play harder for a coach whose respect they are seeking to earn then for a coach who rules by fear and abuse. It is from adversity I found the real strengths and commitment from the teams I coached. Each individual is unique the truly GREAT coaches learned that early on. Every kid cannot be treated the same. The real challenge is to find what button to push to make a kid MAXIMISE his/her potential. The ‘parts of the whole when pulling together in one direction provides opportunity for success not a team of individuals”. Great coaches like Wooden provided Inspiration in the midst of Adversity. The old adage You need to keep a cool head when all those around you are losing theirs” seems applicable in Coach Kelly’s moments of great stress. I used to keep a small bible in my pocket during games somehow the feel of it in my hand often reminded me to hold my tongue in moments of great stress. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves as coaches if we would want our children to see us acting out our frustrations or in fact would we deal with our own children in the manner some coaches deal with other peoples children. The real legacy of a Notre Dame education should be more then about whether or not the football team won or lost a single game. JW died at 99 and most of his players stilled called him Mister even though many of them were in their 50’s and 60’s. That is an indication of the respect they had for him no only when they played for him but years after. As for winning he seemed to do pretty well for a man who coached with Christian values and spoke to all his boys as if they were his own. Hmm perhaps some food for thought for all of us.

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  • Shazamrock commented on September 6th, 2011 at 8:18 am

    That first turn-over was really upsetting. Not because Gray fumbled. He got ganged up on by 3 USF players. Two held him up while the third stripped the ball. Pretty tough situation for any running back.
    That is where at least one other player from the ND offense should have the kid’s back. Get in there and keep defenders off him. Help push the pile. I don’t like when one of our guys gets ganged up on and no one comes to his aid.
    I watched the replay a couple of times. At first, it looked like a “bang-bang” play.(and maybe it was) Then it look like too many guys gave up on the play too early. Whatever the case, lets all hope a lesson was learned and it doesn’t happen agian.

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  • Bruce Johnson commented on September 11th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    For more than two decades, Notre Dame has neglected its greatest teaching instrument-its football team. At one time the team’s success made Notre Dame unique. You learned that on any give day you could rise to the challenge and beat anything, no matter what the odds. Everyone learned Rudy’s lesson: you never ever give up. You learned about teamwork and that people who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society. The team’s striving for incredible excellence permeated everything at Notre Dame. Every graduate believed that in his life he could take all those lessons and apply them to his career, politics, to public service, to his family life and his faith.

    But two decades of neglect have put all that the University stands for in jeopardy. Who could not watch dumbfounded as the University let one athletic director hire one loser after another. The first an assistant coach- you never ever hire an assistant coach for the toughest coaching job in the nation. He then tried to hire the rambling Irish wreck, who was not even much of a coach, and didn’t even vet him properly. It was a huge embarrassment for the University. To save face he hires another, whose uniqueness as a black head coach makes him initially immune from criticism; but ultimately he is not a great coach. Finally, he tries to buy a big time professional coach, whose waddling across the field is an embarrassment to all great athletes. Even more embarrassing watching him yell at Brady Quinn on national TV. In the end the players gave up on him. The result was the worst football season in a forty years year. Someone was a completely poor judge of men.

    We get a new athletic director who says maybe Notre Dame might win a national championship one day. Hardly a commitment to excellence, when at one time the team fought for the national title every year. Then he hires a new head coach from a second rate football school in ten whole days, hardly an auspicious beginning.

    If you want to be the best, you take time, you prepare, you find the best coach in America. Even then the odds are long.

    It becomes quickly apparent this year there is something wrong. The defensive coordinator the new coach brings allows the opposition 58 points in two games. They are 8-6 under Swarbrick and Kelly. They lose more games in a season than Ara lost in five years. And he humiliates his players by yelling at them on national tv, what a lack of patience and dignity under pressure. Imagine, John Wooten, having ever having done such a thing. If they had been coached and trained properly, there would have been no need to yell. He is clearly over his head.

    Even worse the new athletic director says the new coach is like a great corporate ceo. I am reminded of the JFK quote: “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it till now.” The team’s integrity has been sold: a new plush stadium, a TV contract, Notre Dame sports productions, mass marketing of tee shirts, autographs; even a commercial where the sacred fighting Irish leprechaun is used as a prop. Shades of the gecko. Notre Dame football has become a business, not an instrument for learning, self sacrifice, excellence or teamwork.

    Imagine how the players must feel. Every game is a coaching debacle. When I was there you never ever criticized the team. That was gospel. I do not do that now. But, many of the best players in the nation believe Notre Dame has lost its will. And go somewhere else. Jimmy Clausen left early and I heard him say on national TV; he never lost a game until he came to Notre Dame and they went 3-9. And he was a great quarterback.

    Something is terribly wrong. Not just football, but the University’s acceptance of this bumbling toward pathos. Vince Lombardi said it this way: “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” This failure, this acceptance of failure, this benign neglect affects all the University does and the way it presents itself to the nation.

    Father Hesburgh once said: “ My belief is and always has been that the University ought to do everything, academics, athletics, you name it in a first rate manner.”

    But, the athletic director, the University’s President, the Board of Trustees and the Fathers have accepted something less.

    Something has to change, now. What set Notre Dame apart and above, Duke, Yale or Harvard or Stanford, was its belief in itself. At one time the University’s team was an inspiration for poor and middle class kids all across the country, and no other school had such a faithful feeder system or a subway alumni. No other school had such a rich legacy. No other school had Notre dame’s true grit, or its indomitable spirit.

    America’s greatest President Franklin Roosevelt knew the value of spirit:

    “It is not enough to clothe and feed the body of the nation, and instruct and inform its mind. For there is the spirit and of the three, the greatest is the spirit. Without the body and mind, as all men know, the nation could not live. But, if the spirit of America were killed … the America we know would have perished.”

    Our spirit, our legacy is at risk.

    I have been hard. Dale Carnegie teaches us that genuine appreciation and seeing things from the other fellow’s point of view are the keys to personal success. All the efforts of every member of the Notre dame family are appreciated and we can see that many of these people did their best and often above their best. But, another coach said it this way: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

    Its time to regain our legacy of winning and make sure that the spirit of Notre Dame never perishes. We need an athletic director and a coach that know how to win. God protect us all.

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