September 14, 2010 // Notre Dame Football

(Not So) Initial Impressions – Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24

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This week’s initial impressions is coming a little late.  The UHND crew was in South Bend this weekend for the game and a lack of internet and some travel snafus have delayed my normal posting.  With all that said, here are some thoughts on the Michigan game.

dayne-crist-michigan

Dayne Crist has been impressive after his first two starts and is showing that his future is very, very bright. (Photo - Icon SMI)

  • It goes without saying at this point, but Notre Dame is in serious trouble if Dayne Crist misses any more time this season.  Both Tommy Rees and Nate Montana looked very over matched and Brian Kelly admitted later that he needs to do a better job preparing the backups.  Hopefully we won’t have to find out if he’s done a better job at that again this season.
  • Back to Crist, I think it’s hard to be any but impressed with his performance so far this year.  Here’s a kid who had 20 career pass attempts before this year who had to learn and entirely new offensive system all while recovering from an ACL injury that happened just 10 months ago.  He had one bad decision on Saturday, but other than that he was very sharp and threw for 277 yards despite missing almost half of the game.
  • Now, all of that said, Crist is still a work in progress and I think he and his coach would agree with that.  He needs to work on his accuracy – especially when throwing to the end zone – and needs to learn the intricacies of the position, but it’s very clear after two games he has a very bright future.
  • Armando Allen isn’t becoming the back everyone thought he would be – the big time home run hitter – but he is developing into a better all around back than most felt he could be.  He’s running harder than ever and is going to have an opportunity to put up some big numbers this year.  He’s already on pace for over 1,000 yards and he hasn’t exactly been the focal point of the gameplan either week.
  • Allen’s 29 yard run was a career long and it would have went for a lot more if Michael Floyd would have sealed the edge.  Floyd whiffed on the block though and the hole closed.
  • Cierre Wood had a disappointing day, but we’ll see more games like from Wood as he continues to develop.  Backs like Wood,potential home run threats, are many times all or nothing and Wood will experience some growing pains until he gets more time in the weight room.
  • Michael Floyd needs to be involved in the game plan much, much more.  Floyd was barely heard from until the very end against a secondary he should have been able to terrorize.   The last two weeks Floyd has put up solid numbers but it hasn’t felt like he’s being focused on in the game plan.
  • Freshman TJ Jones is going to be a playmaker, but needs to learn to hold on to the ball until he’s well into the end zone.  Jones touchdown could have easily been called back because he toss the ball into the end zone before he crossed the line.  Luckily no one from Michigan picked up the ball.  More importantly, luckily the ball didn’t go out of the end zone either.  Had the ball went out of bounds, not only would the touchdown been taken off the board, but Notre Dame would have also lost possession of the ball.
  • A lot of NFL scouts had to take notice to Kyle Rudolph being able to race to the end zone and hold off a defensive back.  Heck of a play by Rudolph.  He is just a match-up nightmare for almost any college defense and needs to be targeted early and often every week.
  • Very surprised we didn’t see more of Theo Riddick this week.  There was a lot of talk about how well he’s locked down the slot receiver spot, but after two games Riddick has just 4 catches for 52 yards.  Kelly needs to find a way to get Riddick the ball in hands in space.

Defense

  • Denard Robinson made some highlight reel plays, but it’s hard to fault the defense for allowing the 87 yard scamper at the end of the first half after all of the time they spent on the field.  Robinson is an outstanding athlete who is going to make plays if given that many opportunities.
  • Carlo Calabrese has to be the nicest surprise on the defensive side of the ball.  For all of the talk of his lack of speed and suspect coverage skills, Calabrese has shown that he can play plenty fast.  He had another 10 tackles Saturday to go with 9 last week.  That puts him on pace for 114 tackles this season which would be 43 more than last year’s leading linebacker tackler (Brian Smith, 71).
  • Calabrese’s partner in crime at inside linebacker isn’t too bad either.  Mant Te’o paced the Irish with 13 tackles and was all over the field again this week.  The great thing here is Te’o still has a lot of room for improvement.
  • Safety depth was exposed.  Jamoris Slaughter is going to need to be on the field a lot this year once he’s back from the injury.  Hopefully Wayne Lyons saw the lack of depth at safety for the Irish first hand.
  • The defense is definitely better this year, but it’s still a work in progress.
  • Have not been too impressed with the play of the outside linebackers after two games.  There was a lot of talk about the depth at OLB with Darius Fleming, Kerry Neal, Brian Smith, and Steve Filer forming a formidable unit on paper, but after two games none have really stood out.
  • The defensive line didn’t get enough pressure this week to slow down Robinson.  The key to shutting down a quarterback like Robinson is getting a great push from your defensive line to give the linebackers some more time to pursue.
  • After getting 4 sacks in week 1, Notre Dame didn’t record a single sack Saturday and had just two tackles for loss – that’s not going to cut it against an offense like Michigan’s.  Had the defense gotten some negative plays on first down it could have put Michigan in down and distances outside their comfort zone.
  • Saturday showed that Notre Dame still does need to upgrade it’s speed and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball.  The situation isn’t as dire as Kirk Herbstreit would have you believe, but it does need to be addressed through recruiting – especially in the front 7.

Special Teams

  • With the offense sputtering as much as it was on the first half without Crist in the game, a long return sure would have been nice.  Unfortunately the return game was very quiet.
  • Ben Turk had a solid day punting with 4 of his 8 punts getting pinned inside the 20, but his punts just don’t seem to have all of the leg behind them that they did towards the end of last season.  Turk started off slowly last year too though.
  • Coverage units were solid again this week.

Coaching

  • While I didn’t agree with Kelly’s decision to go for the touchdown at the end of the first half, that wasn’t my biggest beef with the coaching in Saturday’s loss.  Why Kelly didn’t call a timeout after Michigan converted their 3rd down to the 2 yard line with less than a minute just made no sense whatsoever to me.  Had Kelly called the timeout, there would have been an additional 15 seconds or more on the clock when Notre Dame got the ball back.
  • Kelly hasn’t been under the media scrutiny that he’ll experience at Notre Dame before so it will be interesting to see how he handles this week and bounces back Saturday.
  • David Ruffer connected on his only field goal attempt and now has hit all 9 field goals he’s attempted in his career.

Comments to this Article

  • nepachris commented on September 14th, 2010 at 4:41 am

    2 things that i will say:

    1. when armando muffed the pitch that one time, he scooped it, turned up field, targeted a UM player, and absolutely leveled him, knocking the UM players helmet off and gaining 5 or so yards when it could have been a big loss. that to me is toughness.

    2. tyler eifert catch was hilarious. the safety came up to make a big hit and bounced off of him so hard that i couldn’t stop laughing.

    yeah it sucks to lose to michigan, but you can see the difference in this team. it just goes to show how married we are to dayne to have a good season. plus the safeties have to stay healthy so we can get some nickel/dime packages out there. i just don’t think our olb’s are quite ready to be relied on in coverage. we do have speed, just not “denard” speed. we will get there.

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  • Shazamrock commented on September 14th, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I have said this before, even though Dayne Crist only threw 20 passes prior to this year, he was a Charlie Weis QB. Now Charlie may have his short commings, but developing top notch QB’s isn’t one of them.
    Crist spent over 2 years under Weis’ guidence. Now as the starter, his QB skill and leadership is self evident.
    We did learn that ND has the ability to come from behind. That’s a good thing to have under your belt going into the meat of the season.
    I would hope that after expierencing Denard Robinson, our defense will be much better prepared for the Navy option and their running QB this year.

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  • MJS commented on September 14th, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Perhaps if Floyd would stop dropping passes he’d be a bigger target in the passing game….

    Despite the fact that robinson had 500+ yards, i thought the defensive improvement was pretty outstanding – we couldve lost by 50 in a game like that last year.

    I hate to be a what if guy, but this couldve been a completely different game if crist hadn’t been hurt. That rees interception COMPLETELY changed the game

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    irishspartan replied on September 14th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I agree with your defense statement. A player like that is gonna get his yards, and he’s going to score. They held him scoreless for 29 minutes of that second half…what i would give for it to have been 30 minutes…

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  • Chris commented on September 14th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    hummm so to sum it up then we need to catch better, throw the football better and run better. Sounds about right. Who would have thought Floyd would have a problem hanging onto the ball? Who would have thought BK would pass on the field goal at the end of the 1st half with a proven kicker in Ruffer and put the pressure on his backup QB to put a strike in the endzone? In the end even with Michigans final drive by taking the field goal at the half – Ruffer comes in again and boots a 37 yard FG w/ 6 seconds left and we win like we should have. Who would have thought?

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    John replied on September 14th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    When BK passed on the field goal at the end of the half I sent a text to everyone I know and said that shows we have another coach who DOES NOT understand the game is 60 minutes long and IT WILL COST US THE GAME. Well sure enough Michigan misses a couple of field goal attempts just like they did last week and it cost us the game. The jury is still out and he is much better than Weiss; however, this is ND and I don’t understand why Jim Harbaugh or Chris Peterson were not given the full attention they deserved. I simply do not believe ND could not go out and get one of those two brilliant coaches. I am going to say this now so ND nation will know I made the prediction ahead and not after the fact. Stanford will loose only once this year and unfortunately it won’t be to ND secondly, Boise ST. will go undefeated again and because $ rules College football they will be left out of the BCS title game again.

    Go Irish,

    John

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    What? replied on September 15th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    One loss and you’re calling for the coaches head.

    Kind of pathetic, no?

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    NDFan replied on September 19th, 2010 at 12:11 am

    now it seems a bit more reasonible, No?

    NDFan replied on September 15th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    how did it cause us the game we still lost by 4 and im kinda sure a field goal is only worth 3 meaning we would have lost by 1….go to a math class

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    onehipdad replied on September 18th, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    With the FG, we’re down one when we kick the FG to win the game 30-28.
    YOU do the math, fool…

  • Evan commented on September 14th, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Going for the touchdown at the end of the first half cost the game…. the score would have been 28-27 with a field goal to win it at the end, but instead Dayne threw it out the back. Tough loss…. but this team will be better for it, and it will start in east lansing this weekend.

    AA is a different back this year, more physical for sure… Jonas looked good on the carry and Cierre will be a good back. There are a lot of bright spots on the team, and this coach will make it happen.

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    Idrese replied on September 14th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Really your starting QB is knocked out the game your backups are playing like shit. you get a break with a long pass down to the oppisitons 3 with 3 seconds left in the half a chance to make it a one score game despite the fact that without your D you’d have been out of the game no one would be saying anything had they scored.

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  • jack commented on September 14th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    No loss is a good loss. Again we gain the lead and defense doesn’t hold. The problems from last year have not been addressed to many explosives (term used by last regime), to many missed assignments on defense and to many yards surrrendered by defense. If this would have been Weis people would be asking for his head. Kelly is doing a great job in recruiting addressing the deficiencies of the prior regime, but every game is going to be a track meet. You are only as good as your 2 deep and there are holes in our two deep that need to be addressed. I applaud the effort which would not have happened last year and like the comments from Kelly, now I need to see excecution and not blown assignments.

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    Collin replied on September 14th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Now hold on there, did you watch the second half? Go back and check the total yards gained by Michigan in the second half and specifically check how many rushing yards Robinson had. It’s well under 100. Our defense held its own. You can’t be on the field 35 minutes and not be expected to give up atleast one big play.

    They were very good and will definitely shut some teams down this year.

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    Idrese replied on September 14th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    exactly the didn’t score until that last drive, other than the big run and the touchdown after the Tommy Ree’s INT the d was solid and stopped this from being a blow out even with our offense leaving them out there.

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    jack replied on September 14th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Collin,

    I understand where you are coming from but enough is enough. The defense has to play 4 quarters of football. They were absent in the 2nd quarter which lead to a 21-7 lead at half-time. Kelly himself stated we missed assignments. If this team is truely better than last years team the defense needed to hold that score at 7-7 when the offense fails to move the ball. That is what made Lou’s teams great and that is what is needed now. It is no difference if our D goes in the tank in the 4th or 2nd they need to step up and not be the weak link of this team.
    I want to see a game saved by the defense not won by the offense.

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    Lil-skipper replied on September 15th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t want to hear about the poor defense being on the field too long. This team is supposed to be in great shape, this year. This game is called football, whatever it takes to win, which also means playing defense, as hard as you can for as long as you can, to win the game regardless of who you are playing. If you have to shut them down, on the last drive , then that is what you must do. NO EXCUSES

    teo replied on September 16th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Wait, Robinson had less than 100 yards in the second half? Wow! What a freaking performance! Bring out the trophies for these guys.

    Seriously. I never thought we’d celebrate a defense that held a quarterback to less than 100 yards in a half of football.

    Michigan did everything it wanted with the game on the line. That’s not a good sign for our defense. It appears that things are going in the right direction but we’re not there. We’re not. We’re arguably a bit better than we were last year but we’re not there.

    We give up too many yards.

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  • Collin commented on September 14th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    QUOTE: “Why Kelly didn’t call a timeout after Michigan converted their 3rd down to the 2 yard line with less than a minute just made no sense whatsoever to me. Had Kelly called the timeout, there would have been an additional 15 seconds or more on the clock when Notre Dame got the ball back.”

    I think Kelly needs to add another situation to his 49…
    When there is 20-some seconds left on the clock and you are returning a kick, run until you are going to get tackled and get down for goodness sake. You could argue that we could have had 1 if not 2 more chances at the end zone had Riddick gone down instead of fighting tackles for zero gain and wasting 4 or 5 seconds.

    I know these are young kids, but you have to be thinking about these things.

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  • brandon commented on September 14th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Even though Rees threw an interception in the game, I would still rather see him in than Nate Montana. Hopefully Nate does not get the opportunity to play anymore. Right before the half if the pass was not terrible to a wide open TJ Jones we would have had a td but instead he had to fall out of bounds and then we get no points.

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  • Chris commented on September 14th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Wood needs to be in the game in the 2nd half. The kid needs more touches, he is explosive and elusive and a home run threat – more so than Allen who while improved a bit is always still a step away. BK pulled Wood against Purdue for the fumble on the ko return – didnt see him at all in the 2nd half. Again – a loss that didnt have to be. Bitter indeed! I am still reeling from this one because we had a chance – a couple in fact.

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  • Menotti commented on September 14th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Maybe I’m a little too reckless, but I agreed with Kelly’s call to go for the TD at the end of the 1st half. Granted, we might have had the chance to win at the end of the game had he kicked the field goal, and granted that he had a very inexperienced backup chuckin the rock up, but I doubt the majority of us would’ve criticized the call had it worked. It would have been a huge momentum changer to start the 2nd half, it wouldn’t have mattered in that situation if Montana threw an INT, we’ve got Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph out there — piss on accuracy, just throw it up in bounds for goodness sake, and it was a statement that the coach trusts his players even when they’re playing like jr high kids out there. As a coach, you can’t be too quick to lose trust in your players, especially the back-ups who are unlikely to see playing time as it is. Those players know they’re time is limited as it is, so when they have a chance to play, the last thing you want them to have whirring in their head is “I can’t make ANY mistakes at all because coach will pull me ASAP if I do; I gotta be perfect.” Young and inexperienced players will likely be thinking that stuff anyway, so why reinforce that mind state? Kelly’s good at developing all levels of talent and this is likely why: he communicates that he trusts his players and that they’re going to have more than just one play to show him what kind of player they are. I’ve personally had two baseball coaches in college that formed their opinions of their players’ characteristics based on very limited observances, and they definitely conveyed the message that they didn’t trust us at all by doing so. They honestly would pull you after one mistake if you weren’t one of their “players” and often times didn’t look at what you were doing correctly when you didn’t make a mistake. Thus, even though Kelly’s call didn’t work, I love the fact that he gave a guy like Montana, whose probably going to be a career back-up at ND and was making a bunch of mistakes as it was, a chance in a big situation to show Kelly what he could do. That’s how you develop players: give them opportunities to learn when you can, experience to build on, and positive and critical feedback after they perform. Kelly’s known for his player development without having the creme de la creme when it comes to talent, so I still like the decision even though it didn’t work. Weis was way too arrogant too often in games, so maybe those memories are why some of us aren’t too happy with Kelly’s decision on this one (just speculating on that last one, though, not pointing the finger).

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    Evan replied on September 14th, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Paragraph’s please….

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    Neil replied on September 14th, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Understood the original comment completely, and agree for the most part. Maybe a new paragraph @ “Kelly good at developing all levels ….. he communicates …..”

    He’s positive while most of this tripe is somewhat less at best.

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  • John commented on September 14th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I like Kelly and see improvement with this team. However, I hated the decision to go for the TD at the end of the first half. For a moment I thought Charlie Weis must have been on the sideline. That was reckless playcalling.

    I also question his decision to have Tommy Rees throw a pass (flee flicker nonetheless) down the middle of the field on his first pass of his college career. I like Rees though and think he has a lot of potential.

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    Joe Keane replied on September 15th, 2010 at 9:27 am

    At this point in the game you have no idea if Crist is playing again. You’re down two scores, you have to believe your opportunites for touchdowns are limited, 3 points with your 2nd or 3rd string QB’s is not going to cut it. The decision to go for the TD was absolutely the right decision, Nate didn’t execute on the play. That’s not Coach Kelly’s fault.

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    Bill Meehan replied on September 15th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Boop F#@%ing Boop.

    You hit the nail right on the head there bud.

    As soon as the pass was caught I turned to my friend and I said: We don’t know if Crist will be back. We haven’t had opportunities like this since he went out. We have to go for it.

    That said, I’m an armchair quarterback, and hindsight says I was wrong. But given all the factors again, I think I’d make that decision 100 times out of 99. (that’s not a typo).

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  • Chris commented on September 14th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Also still a big BK fan but this game was a major mulligan! Welcome to Irish football fans BK! I also considered briefly his decision to go for the touch at end of second half but NOT w/ a backup QB at that point. Had they made it, a field goal was still the better option plus a lift to the team a bit of confidence for Montana had he needed to return and POINTS out of a drive. BAD BAD decision that literally cost the game. I sure hope BK hasnt already begun changing his coaching strategy since arriving at ND – he better find his mojo cuz thats what got him here in the first place! GO IRISH!

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  • HURLS commented on September 14th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I hate-like-hell to mention this, but has anyone coinsidered that we were out-done on Saturday? Again, it really hurts to say that. Or this: maybe the WolverWussies were better? (ouch!)

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  • Big Mike commented on September 14th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    The play of the cornerbacks was dismal. They were positioned too far off the opponent, apparently fearing getting burned by the long pass. This cushion allowed the Michigan receivers to take 3-4 steps off the line of scrimmage and turn for the ball, with the cornerback sprinting up, not to defend against the pass, but to tackle the receiver who already had the ball. ND needs much tighter coverage from its DBs overfall to remain competitive against good opponents.

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    Evan replied on September 14th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Is this the corners fault or the DC?

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    jack replied on September 15th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I disagree in the defense the Irish play the corner is responsible for a zone which is the deep section of the field. They play with a cushion because we have OLB’s that should be dropping into those areas and picking up the flats and five yard dump offs. Diaco’s defense is not a bump and run defense it is a zone defense. The OLB play needs to step up. Also the one TD pass the corner passed the receiver off to the saftey. The saftey Zeke Motta got suck up in to the back field on the play. I think the defense blew key assignments which resulted in big plays. They need to remember their keys and do what is asked of them not anymore or less that is how this defense works.

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  • natureboy commented on September 14th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    you’re right. their best player played better than our many good players. we knew what was coming and shouldn’t have let him beat us. give credit and all that.

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  • shawn commented on September 14th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    on michigans game winning drive i said it a million times and i’ll say it a million more times prevent defense it prevents you from winning period go irish beat old sparty spartan

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  • FXM commented on September 14th, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    The fact that we almost won is torturing everybody instead of making us feel pretty good. I do feel a little shell-shocked by the numbers put up on our D, but we all knew there was one guy who we can not lose to injury and it happened. Put Crist out there for the other 40% of the game and we have close to 700 total yards of offense.

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  • svenghali commented on September 14th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    What exactly makes anyone think Cierre is a home run threat besides outrunning a bunch of walk-ons in the spring game?

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    Chris replied on September 15th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Svenghaki

    Woods had at least 60 yrs on few plays against Purdue before fumbling the kick off return at the start of the second half which put him on the bench for the rest of the game. The kid has burst! Keep the kid in for a few quarters and you will forget about Allen in short matter.

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  • spiceyirish commented on September 14th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    It still comes down to the line of scrimmage. When Dayne Crist left the game in the first half, I felt the offensive line let the team down. Tommy Rees and Nate Montana were not given the benefit of a run attack because the run blocking was so poor when they were in. This also stems to Michigan loading the line to stop the run, because Rees and Montana were in the game. In effect, passing was really ineffective because they were in a lot of 2nd and 3rd and longs.

    Big plays still haunt the defense. I know Robinson is on a roll right now, but ND made his life a little easier by giving up the big plays to the receivers.

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    Bill Meehan replied on September 15th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Part of the shoddy running game is because UM knew as soon as Crist went out we were going to try and run the ball. They also correctly assumed we weren’t going to have the backups run it, so they crashed the backs.

    It was very similar to what we saw against Purdue, where it was hard at times for the backs to get yardage until Crist demonstrated that he could (and would) run on them.

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  • Neil commented on September 14th, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Love the contradictions in the first two paragraphs of the original article.

    I sincerely hope none of our coaches or players read ANY of this useless crap. Keep doing your thing, Coach. You are a winner and ND soon will be. Period,

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    Frank Vitovitch replied on September 15th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    It’s not really a contradiction. I just wanted to point out that Crist is coming along about as good as could be expected, but that he’s not close to a finished product yet and has work to do. Considering everything working against him this season – experience, new scheme, injury – he’s done very well.

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  • Patrick commented on September 14th, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    JONAS GRAY>>>

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    Patrick replied on September 14th, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    JONAS GRAY will be an exceptional back and he is an nfl caliber.. aa is a good college back

    TEO gave up that 89 yrd td by getting blown ten yrds downfield and getting block into harrison smith…

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  • Patrick commented on September 14th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    D. Robinson didn’t complete ONE pass over a defenders head, it was all underneath stuff he completed.. I felt sick hearing maydock talk about his 40 passes.. the were 5 yrd hitches and a slant pass over the middle with no lb’s.

    you have to make running qbs pass deep…. they can’t

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    irishspartan replied on September 15th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    When he tried going over the top, he overthrew his receiver by ten yards…still…in college, apparently the 5-10 yard throws are enough to win.

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  • westcoastirishfan commented on September 15th, 2010 at 1:31 am

    1) thank you for calling out the DL. They did well, but I blame Diaco for last weeks’ scheme. The brick wall approach doesn’t work against the spread. The runner is looking for one seam and he is gone. Stunts that would have put some defenders in the backfield would have forced more adjustments by Robinson. There weren’t enough levels for Robinson to get through before he was gone.

    2) Floyd…been saying it for over 2 years. The kids is a phenom but he gets lazy and tries to pin the ball against his pads. If that continues, it’s going to cost him millions.

    3) Weis never seemed to learn. I’m anxious to see how Kelly grows from last week. There isn’t a conference title to chase at ND, you shoot for the top or go home disappointed.

    4) If an offense scores 24, the team should win. Defense wins championships. ND won’t get to where anyone wants it until the defense is allowing no more than low teens.

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  • Cav commented on September 15th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I think I know what the problem is for ND. They need to fire all the coaches and let all the people from this site coach the team because we would always make the right calls and always have the right players in. We know a lot more about this game than a 20 yr head coach that has won over 70% of his games.

    A lot has been made about the field goal and Kelly said he didn’t even consider it because he had no idea if Crist was going to come back and he didn’t know if his team would be this close to the goal line again.

    When you have a limited amount of practice time, it’s hard to focus on getting the back-ups ready when your starter has only thrown 20 passes in his career. I think Kelly has done a great job at getting Crist ready to play QB at ND. I believe he will install a package that Rees and Montana can run should they be needed again.

    This defense, while not where it needs to be, is improved over last year. The spread that Rich R uses is very difficult to defend when he has a QB that can run it and he has found one that can run it. With that said, our defense did a great job for the most part considering the amount of time they were on the field.

    Let’s not forget that ND outscored Mich 24-7 when Crist was in the game. If he doesn’t get hurt, ND probably wins this game and Robinson doesn’t get as many touches to look like someone from a video game.

    While I’m disappointed they lost, I’m pleased with where this program is heading. Kelly currently has a Top 10 recruiting class with the potential to make it a Top 5. He will get players that fit his system and he will be successful. Even if we would have brought in Harbaugh, Peterson, or whoever else is on the saviour list, they would still have in-experience at QB and lack of depth in the defensive backfield.

    Rebuilding this program is going to take time, but with all I’ve seen so far, I don’t think it’s going to take as long as people think.

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  • Tommy Irish commented on September 15th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Lets face it. Our Irish met a tough opponent in Robinson. Without him, this game isn’t even close.

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    Lil-skipper replied on September 15th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Going into this game (ND/MICH)I listened to all the so called experts, and none of them gave ND a snowball’s chance in hell to win it. Now after the game, I watched them rip ND even more. What’s even worse, they didn’t even want to acknowledge the fact that ND wins this game, if Crist is able to play the whole game. What’s with this national media? It’s all right to predict who will win and who will lose but for pete’s sake to puposely put a blind eye to all the facts, including that ND was 2 scores down and then came back to take the lead, makes me believe that these so called experts wouldn’t have changed their tune one bit if ND would have won. How stupid are they? or better yet how much money did they bet against ND.

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    NDFan replied on September 15th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    what kind of comment is that???without peyton the colts r nothing. without kobe the lakers r nothing. u cant just say that cause it makes no sense

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    FXM replied on September 15th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    He was a tough opponent, for us. But it is not like he is going to be playing QB on Sunday (though maybe Wr or CB) and wait and see what Ohio State does to him,let alone what a good SEC team would. I am not down on our team, but we have to get the type of athlete on the D side we have on the offense. Unfortunately, we had three of them inked in the last few years, Omar hunter, justin Trattou, and Chris Martin. All verbals to us that are on the Gator roster.

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  • Poz commented on September 15th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    The loss last week reminded me so much of the last couple of years. We score late and the other team marches right down the field to win. I said it to my buddies when we scored with 3 min left that there is too much time left and i hope Mich scores with enough time left for us to come back. I think BK is the guy, but he lost his cool last weekend and seemed frustrated and defeated when Crist went out.

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  • Josh commented on September 15th, 2010 at 11:55 am

    All the QB’s need to work at throwing to the back of the end zone and not the bleachers. Use Rudolph’s and Floyd’s height to the team’s advantage.

    Also, the defense had a lot of blown assignments. One outside linebacker seems to be in a lot of those. Secondary better figure out how to defend 3 wide receivers on one side. Michigan exposed the lack of coverage a few times for big gains.

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  • SteelFanRob commented on September 15th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    IF it’s true that the coaching staff didn’t know that DC was coming back into the game, then going for the TD makes some sense. (But can anyone really say for sure that the “not sure if Crist would return” statement isn’t post facto rationalizing by BK and his staff?) I’m not saying BK’s decision made total sense because taking points ALWAYS makes sense. How many times does a missed extra point cost teams games? Or settling for FGs instead of TDs? Or taking points off the board (e.g., a made FG refused because of a penalty, only to then turn the ball over on downs or a turnover or miss the FG on the same drive after the penalty)? Or not taking a sure 3 and then end up losing by 1 or 2 points at the end? I’ve seen enough football at all levels to say that passing on points or leaving points on the field — and off the scoreboard — is a killer and costs games. This isn’t hindsight; it’s more a matter of football logic.

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    Bill Meehan replied on September 15th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    SFR,

    Live, going into half-time interview Kelly stated he wasn’t sure if Crist would return.

    I took that to mean that at that point in time, he didn’t know if Crist would return. And not that he was covering his ass for the just-missed TD opportunity.

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    SteelFanRob replied on September 16th, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Bill,

    My point exactly. If there was even the most remote of a possibility that Crist could come back (BK didn’t say he was sure he WASN’T returning), then you take the freakin’ points before the half and go in with both points and momentum! His decision only makes sense if he knew for sure DC WASN’T coming back at all in the 2nd half (he DIDN’T know this for sure, obviously). Like I’ve said, Bill, football logic 101 dictates never leave points off the scoreboard unless you absolutely have to.

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  • Lil-skipper commented on September 15th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    What’s lost in this argument, is the fact that Notre Dame wins this game without any last 2nd first half field goal. All they had to do was make (1) one stop, at the end of this game. The defense lost this game. Not BK Unfortunately they will lose more of these types of games until the defense learns that they have to make a stop at any games most critical time. Maybe they have learned their lesson. We will see.

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  • PV commented on September 15th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    So Frank, how about a little detailed commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of the offensive line. Showing signs of progress or not?

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  • Patrick commented on September 15th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    why do ND QB’s have such a tough time keeping the ball in bounds on situations when they have nothing to lose

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    Patrick replied on September 17th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Amen.

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  • Patrick commented on September 15th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Did i mention that Jonas GRAY is the best back on the team?

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  • ted commented on September 15th, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    kelly looked anxious and uneasy at the last press conference. his smarmy ‘band wagon’ comment was out of character as he used to take the high road. the stress of the notredame job is showing and he has only coached 2 games!!!

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    Drew S replied on September 15th, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Orrrr, he was talking in jest.

    Yeah…he was.

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    ted replied on September 16th, 2010 at 2:30 am

    my point was, joke or not, the comment was unusually snarky and condescending from what i have come to expect from kelly. maybe the pressure of the job has not gotten to him yet, but he was clearly agitated by the question…

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  • Cav commented on September 15th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    ND just landed another 4 star DE. With 19 recruits, Scout has ND as the #5 class in the country. ND also has 6 Top 100 and only Texas has more. Does anyone still question Kelly’s ability to recruit nationally?

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    spiceyirish replied on September 15th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Should I be a pessimist and ask when he is going to decommit from ND? Or is this new era over that?

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    FXM replied on September 16th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    They seem to bolt when you do things like lose to Navy and everybody is calling for the coach’s head. Now if Crist goes down, we will be in that boat. Not a great situation CW left us in, I guess he figured if he was here he had Jimmy another year.

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  • Chris commented on September 15th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Cav – Have an original thought. Commenting after watching Inside Irish Football only proves my point. Nobody is seriously questioning BK especially at this point in the season and in his tenure. Bottom line is he had 3 mulligans in the game against MI. This was a game that should have been won regardless of what happened to Crist or how much time he had to get his backups ready to play. Very questionable calls by BK. I understand his thinking not knowing if Crist will be back but his back up QB did get them down the field w/ a pass to Riddick and quite simply YOU TAKE THE POINTS before halftime.

    Stating that the bloggers on this blog know more than BK is an insult to all who share their thoughts here. We are fans and as fans are able to cite what we see on the field. There is no disrespect only emotion and passion for a team we have waited a long time to see succeed. We all saw as we watched the game the points you bring out but we have all seen that before. Part of the reason BK was brought in was his ability to get the most out of players, some of which weren’t supposed to produce when they were supposed to according to their “inexperience”. BK is a motivator and we have all seen overall improvement. In all however we are sick of seeing other programs with lessor talent seemingly move ahead while the Irish with supposedly better talent languishing at the hands of a one man Michigan team. The zeal you see and counter with by running cover has built up over the past 16 years of mediocre football. Do the bloggers on this site vent that frustration? Absolutely and rightfully so. Are we true ND fans for doing so because we truly love our beloved Irish and want some redemption not only for the team – the university and us fans? You bet cha! GO IRISH!

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  • Chris commented on September 15th, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Who is questioning BK’s ability to recruit? I missed that….

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    Drew S replied on September 16th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    A lot of people were when he got hired.

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  • LPZ commented on September 16th, 2010 at 3:42 am

    I haven’t bothered to read the other comments on your ridiculously opinionated article. There’s seriously too much bullshit to speak on all of it but the fact that you recognize how different the offense was w/out Crist but then, almost in the same sentence, talk about Floyd’s ineffectiveness ‘until the end’… did u watch the game? Floyd (who gets the most attention of all ND receivers)started being a factor as soon as the 2ndhalf started. More specifically WHEN HE GOT HIS STARTING QB BACK! So ND isn’t the same team w/out Crist but, apparently, Floyd is supposed to throw the ball to himself before he beats a double team and then makes 11 catches? Your an idiot and u pin spent ur high school days as the team manager.

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    Frank Vitovitch replied on September 16th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Floyd can’t throw the ball to himself it’s the coaches job to gameplan around getting him the ball as often as possible. I even said in the same bullet that it hasn’t felt like he has been focused on in the game plan. It wasn’t a knock on Floyd in the lest.

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  • Patrick commented on September 16th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Wow u guys are doing a lot of whinning over 2 games with new qbs….

    C

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    teo replied on September 16th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    The problem isn’t the quarterback. I mean, sure Rees and Montana were terrible and Crist lacked the touch at the key moments but the defense lost this football game. There were three minutes left in a home game with us winning by three points and we could not stop Michigan.

    That’s what is so troubling. We’ve had an underperforming defense for quite awhile. Hopefully we adjust and move on.

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    Drew S replied on September 16th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    You don’t think the offense turning the ball over so much had just as much to do with the loss?

    Really? I mean…really?

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    Patrick replied on September 17th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    It played a part. But not as big of a part as you’d think.

    If it was a monumental setback, ND wouldn’t have had a chance to win at the end.

    What was monumental was being down by 4 points and not 1 (not taking field goal at end of 2nd Quarter) and two scholarship QB’s throwing the ball to the usher in section 43 – twice. On. Crucial. Plays.

  • Patrick commented on September 17th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    We can complain all we want about the defense, or backup QB’s or not saving a second or two on the kickoff return. Yes, those things do matter. But what matters more?

    Being down by 4 points at the end of the game and not 1. Who do I blame? BK for not taking the field goal at the end of the 2nd Quarter.

    BK takes that field goal, its 28-27 with Notre Dame in field goal range with a few seconds left. This isn’t rocket science. TAKE THE POINTS. When you do, there’s a chance to win. When you don’t – well, we know what happens.

    This was a coaching loss. Specifically, a head coach making the wrong decision loss.

    Secondly, someone needs to tell Crist and Montana this little football secret – your receivers can’t catch the ball when it’s thrown into the stands. Seriously – what is going on here? There are two All-American receivers, both tall, both athletic, both with great hands. And the beauty? Neither one of them had a chance to catch it. Not because it was thrown into coverage. Not because it was tipped at the line of scrimmage. But because the QB threw it into the stands. Not on one play, but two crucial plays.

    Hopefully BK had all the QB’s practice this week throwing the ball into the field of play.

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    onehipdad replied on September 18th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    He just did it again! Denied Ruffer the chance to win the game in regulation. CW all over again: Poor clock management, wasted TO’s, and “we’ll take our chances in OT”. Not only do we lose, we look stupid doing it.

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  • Irish68 commented on September 17th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I am way past getting tired of hearing Bk getting bashed for not taking the points. Even if we get that FG, no one can say the game would have played out exactly the same in the second half. Lets not change history then think all other things remain the same. GO IRISH!

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    Patrick replied on September 18th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    You don’t like hearing how a 20 year veteran of head coaching left 3 points on the field, that would have allowed a potential game winning FG at the end of regulation?

    Let’s not keep our heads in the clouds too much.

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  • JDH commented on September 18th, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Good analysis Frank. Regarding M. Floyd, I would add that his concentration seems to be lacking. The unforced fumble against Purdue and the dropped passes against UM should pretty much NEVER happen to a guy with his skill. Seems to be in his head. He’s got to shake that off and start playing like the superstar he is, even when he doesn’t figure prominently into the offensive scheme…

    GO IRISH

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  • FXM commented on September 18th, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I think this game is so huge, we gotta pull out some W’s in this early stretch, I was reading over on the Scout site about how extraordinary this Tuitt is and how coveted he is by the SEC and they will be knocking up to till signing day. We need some success to avoid these seeds of doubt.

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  • jack commented on September 18th, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Defense is horrible. This team will never win unless the defense steps up.

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  • NDFan commented on September 19th, 2010 at 12:10 am

    2nd straight game where this “amazing coach” cost us the game. how does he let a fake field goal beat ND?

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  • ND VA FAN commented on September 25th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    We love ND football and have for 25 yrs….. but come on how many times will we have the personnel and not win…. as far as the commentators not impressed…… manti teo —love you and the hits in the stanford game awesome… but we will need an offense…… catch a ball perfectly thrown or not…. crist make a decision take off your skirt and be a man…. iron clad football does include your sack being involved…. will still love you ND just frustration setting in

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