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Initial Impressions: Notre Dame 33, Miami 17

Wow.  What a way to end the season for Notre Dame.  After a surprising three game winning streak to end the season, Notre Dame capped off its last season resurgence with a 33-17 victory over Miami in the Sun Bowl.

Notre Dame dominated the game from start to finish with Miami never seriously challenging.  The win gives Notre Dame a 8-5 record – something no one saw coming after Tommy Rees pass was intercepted in the end zone to end the Tulsa game on Halloween night.

Here are some initial thoughts on the game.


  • If this was Michael Floyd’s last game in a Notre Dame uniform, he went out on a high note with a game high 106 yards on 6 catches with 2 touchdowns.  He nearly had another two touchdowns but dropped one and was just overthrown on another.  Floyd was absent for most of the second half after apparently getting nicked up.
  • Tommy Rees was solid in his first bowl game.  He missed some throws and left some plays on the field, but he avoided making the kind of mistakes he made against USC and led the Irish to its second bowl win in the last 17 years.   He ended up with 195 on 16 of 30 passing with the 2 touchdowns to Floyd.   Some of Rees weaknesses were shown in the second half, but we have all off-season to discuss the quarterback race for 2011.
  • Both Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes ran hard.  As a team, Notre Dame topped 200 yards rushing with Wood and Hughes leading the way.  Wood had 85 yards on just 11 carries including a nifty 34 yard touchdown in the second quarter while Hughes added 84 yards on 27 carries.
  • Wood will need to spend some time in the weight room this off-season to help him run between the tackles, but he looks like he has a very bright future.
  • Tyler Eifert is another player with a bright future and he was 2nd on the team in receptions with 4 catches for 31 yards.
  • Overall, the offensive line did a great job giving Rees a pocket to throw from.  Rees was hardly ever under duress when he dropped back.  Run blocking was a little more inconsistent – especially in the second half – but the line came to play in the first half while Notre Dame was building its lead.
  • Theo Riddick was incorporated more into the game plan, but still wasn’t targeted often in the passing game.  Riddick took a lot of snaps in the wildcat and ended up with 31 yards on the ground on 8 carries.
  • John Goodman and TJ Jones both came up with key third down catches in the 4th quarter to help Notre Dame control the clock.
  • This offense is still a shell of what it can be, but they were effective on Friday against a talented defense.


  • Wow, what a game from Harrison Smith.  Notre Dame’s most improved player on defense this year capped off his rebound year with three first half interceptions – tying a Sun Bowl record.  Smith has a fifth year of eligibility left and could be in line for a stellar season in 2011 if he comes back.
  • The Irish defense was stellar in the first half, but the lack of a pass rush let Miami get back in the game in the second half once Jacory Harris was benched.
  • The Notre Dame defense just wasn’t the same without Manti Te’o after he left the game with an injury.  He is clearly the cog that makes the Irish defense go and without him, Miami moved the ball.
  • Gary Gray continued to show why he is the best corner on the team with another strong performance.  Like Harrison Smith, he has another year of eligibility left and should be one of the leaders of the team next year.
  • Ian Wiliams had a nice return from injury and turned in a great finale for his Irish career.  Williams got a strong push up the middle and was a key reason for Miami’s inability to run the ball in the first half.
  • Robert Blanton led the team with 9 tackles and had an interception of his own.  He should be able to step into Darrin Walls’ starting spot next year without the Irish missing a beat.
  • Notre Dame registered just one tackle for loss, but it was a big play.  Darius Flemming stuffed Miami on 4th and 1 when the game was still somewhat in doubt.

Special Teams

  • Austin Collinsworth opened the game with a nice kick return that included a few broken tackles.  Collinsworth hustle play set the tone early and was a sign of things to come.
  • Unfortunately David Ruffer’s field goal streak was snapped when he missed a 36 yarder in the third quarter.  Ruffer did make 4 other field goals though from 19, 34, 40, and 50 yards.
  • Notre Dame needs to rework the punt return team for 2011, because it was a non-factor all season including today.  John Goodman did a solid job fielding punts, but Notre Dame was unable to change field position with punt returns at all this year.
  • Ben Turk capped of his season by nailing 3 of his 4 punts inside the 20 – a nice way to end what has been at times an inconsistent season.

Happy New Year to all of our readers!


  1. miami will always be scum—-
    that is their heritage–
    they can’t escape it=–
    not like the 80’s and 90’s

    it’s not name calling
    it was ( and is to a certain degree) facts

    the era of the U sure plays reruns on ESPN–

    it wasn’t that long ago that they were swinging helmets on the field against a lesser florida team–
    which would be a crime on the streets
    and the broadcaster ( a miami scum alum) said “If I didn’t have this job and If I had a helmet I would be up there with them.)

    athletes at their worst
    thinking they are above reproach–

    not name calling

    they are still pond scum–
    and to a degree –greater or lesser–
    they will always be that—
    until they REALLY apologize

    ever heard any humility from Jimmy Johnson on this subject?
    didn’t think so—

    …….still scum–

    until they are real men with words of apology adn realize the cancer they’ve caused in college fb…..

    they’ve earned it
    they can burn it

  2. GREAT !

  3. JDH,

    You wouldn’t know that by listening to the Miami sports talk shows. It sure sounds like a lot of Canes fans are willing to return to the bad, old days of U. of Miami being associated with convicts if that means winning titles. That’s really sad, JDH.

    But Miami has to be one of the worst sports towns in the USA. The fans are front-runners and media whores. If it’s an event, Miamians will be there. If their teams are winning (Heat), they’ll show up and be vocal. If not (Dolphins), then there are a lot of empty seats. (You should’ve seen how many Steelers fans were there in Miami in Oct. for the game against the Fins. There were about as many Stillers fans as Dolphins fans, JDH.) Other than the Dolphins, and even that relationship is beginning to sour, there’s no loyalty in Miami for sports teams, college or pro.

    I trust the powers that be in Coral Gables don’t sell their souls for the sake of some scumbag fans in Miami. But who knows, JDH.

    • I believe what you say as I have no knowledge and no reason to refute it. 🙂

      Let’s just say that Miami is an, ahem, interesting place! Aside from the great weather and smoking-hot women, well, no thanks.

  4. JDH,

    Correct. Miami is no longer the den of vipers it once was. Donna Shalala (Miami president) and Larry Coker and Randy Shannon made sure their kids stayed in school, took real classes, and stayed out of trouble (by and large). In fact, Miami today is beginning to know what it feels like to be ND. As their academic standards have gone up, their on field performance has suffered.

    • That’s what I’ve come to understand SFR. From what I hear it’s a good school. I can’t imagine they EVER want that image again that they obtained in the 80s and 90s…

  5. Power Run The Ball

    My only problem with the injury and off field issue comments is that ND did all the losing prior to injuries and off field issues…. It took the Injuries and Off field issue to humble him and make him coach football they way it ought to be coach….

    Like I stated above Coach kelly most improved and really did a complete 180 as a coach with Reese as QB because his Philosophy Changed…

  6. Brian Kelly, in the last month of the season, did as good a job coaching as anyone in CFB. Having to deal with a slew of injuries, including those to Floyd and Rudolph, two preseason AA’s, the losses to both Navy, and worse, Tulsa, and the tragedy of an on field death of a student team assistant, this team was close to falling completely apart. Instead BK got his guys to play as hard as they had all year, with some amazing performances by the D, guiding a true freshmen to play adequate QB, and going on an maintaining momentum to beat a decent team in a less than spectacular bowl. No doubt, Kelly deserves kudos for doing a remarkable job. And it is also a testament to his S&C program and Coach Longo ,who runs it, that the team was physically superior to Utah, SC and Miami, despite pundits yapping about the lack of ND athleticism vis a vis those three teams. It’s gonna be fun to see our players after 4, 5 years working with Longo.

    • Amen Ripper!
      Amen and Amen indeed,
      well said!
      All the intangibles,
      all the off field things
      could have well shred the season into oblivion and “wait and see” for next year –again.
      I thought that’s where we honestly would be, given the
      horrific death of one of our own. Football is so irrelevant when things are put into perspective.
      However, life lessons and searching and going down deep in the soul inspired this team not just to win but the life lesson of not giving up and at the same time remembering the loss and death. This is tough for young men–heck it’s tough for all of us to keep on when things are awful and sadness and tragedy strikes.
      Somewhere Kelly and company got into the psyche of this unit and taught lessons far more important than pigskin and 100 yards. THAT is the real testimony to this team far more than improvement and stats and all. I wish all would see that –or not post at all. I wish ALL would see that this team improved for sure but GREW up and learned about life and how to perservere while being compassionate. It is that indelible quality which took this team on the field AND OFF to success. God Bless the memory of our fallen ND student, God help his family
      and may we all look to the lessons here and give positive posts about this entire team, University and the Notre Dame family as that -and nothing else is due given the ground which has been gained.

  7. All the FAN did was give an honest opinion. We can not get caught up in beating a coachless team in a bowl game. It was a nice win, only because a loss would have been crippling. We still didn’t play a full game, we were outscored in the second half. We did improve this season, how could we not? You better improve if you lose to Navy and Tulsa back to back weeks

    • So did I and I’m not caught up in anything. It was a nice win and a fun game to watch. As a former D1 college athlete, I can tell you that you build on little victories. You build on each day of practice, each small improvement. That’s what these players are doing. So when I hear alot of “Oh well Miami sucks”, “We are still not a good team” etc. etc. I just roll my eyes.

      Because those statements are not helpful and are probably made by those who have never been there. It’s one thing to be frustrated or pissed off. God knows I was mid-season (not to mention for the last 10+ years) and I said some things that I shouldn’t have.

      But we MUST give credit where it is due, while simultaneously keeping it in perspective and working on the problems. That’s just sports.

      • JDH,

        I’m sure we all regret some things we’ve said here and there. It’s true that ND football was mired in mediocrity at mid-season. Who can deny that?! However, who today, besides “A Fan,” would argue that ND football is mediocre? Not me. I think BK has done a great job considering the injuries, off field issues, system changes, etc. Just look at how far we’ve come in 4 games! Now, we shouldn’t go overboard either. This team is far from elite. But it’s not far from being a top 25 to top 20 team. The goal next season should be to finish in the top 10 to 15 teams and continue to recruit (and develop) the kind of talent (along with the BK-type player here and there) to compete for a NC in the next couple of seasons.

        Hate to bring this up and end on a critical observation: But if BK opts for the sure FG at the end of the Tulsa game we’re talking about ND ending on a 5 game streak and finishing the season 9-4 and probably in the top 25. Plus who knows if we lose as many recruits. (Note that most of the decommits happened after Tulsa.)

        As for “A Fan,” I insist that it’s our old friend “Anus Eagle” reincarnated.

      • The height of my frustration came after the Navy game and Tulsa games, like so many fans. I couldn’t wrap my brain around those games. But I was proven wrong, as I’ve admitted many times here, in my predictions for the end of the season.

        Regarding the Sun Bowl, I agree with you SFR. IMO, it should not be over-analyzed. We beat a decent team by executing well- good for the IRISH! But whether or not “we are a top 25 team” right now- who the hell cares? It’s about building on daily victories and accomplishments.

        The only thing that matters is winning games the ND way. A decent ranking will take care of itself next year if the team continues to improve.

      • We beat the scum of coral gables, coachless or not.
        Any time somebody beat Notre Dame -Davie era, Willingham, Faust era, Weiss last years, it is automatically ” a good win for the program. A marquee victory -good for the program, scheduling and recruiting.” Now that we win four in a row I hear so called fans, saying “well it’s not so great and blah blah blah.”
        Given where ND was and how we finished it is GREAT.
        Is the work done? NO.
        But I dare say if “A Fan” and
        “chuck” were track coaches , they would trip their own runners before the starting gun sounded. Honestly people.
        Ranked or not, Notre Dame improved and things will get better. DON’T SUCK THE OXYGEN OUT OF THE ROOM-look at the good while being objective–if you are true ND FANS. If not, there are other sites, I’m sure rich rodriguez and pete the cheat carroll will have you over for coffee.
        GO IRISH!

      • I’m not really sure the “scum of coral gables” label applies anymore. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have no knowledge of UM’s program being dirty or in material trouble since the 90s. The era of “THE U” is over. I could care less about U of M, but I don’t see how the namecalling applies anymore. They did have some problems in the early 2000s, but nothing compared to the 80s and 90s.

  8. Oh and btw, who gives 2 shits whether or not “we are a top 25 team” at this point? That is completely irrelevant. Continue to improve each day, each week, each month etc. Whether ND is listed at 28, 25, 20 etc. matters not at all. All that matters is the substantial progress that has been made these past few months.

    Win games and ranking will take care of itself.

  9. Power Run The Ball

    i believe he can manufacture offense as long a Mike FLoyd Returns… But I like Defense too.

  10. I sure would like to see some promising news on the recruiting trail. I really like Kelly was quoted as saying during the game on Friday. ” we need to recruit defense , I can manufacture offense”.

    Keep those d recruits coming in Kelly!

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