Duranko’s Digest: What We Saw Against Michigan

danny spond

The Irish moved into the week off with a 4-0 record after dispatching Michigan on a memorable Saturday night in South Bend. In the last two weeks Notre Dame has beaten a winning New Year’s Day Bowl team (MSU won over Georgia in the Outback Bowl) and a winning BCS Bowl team (Michigan won over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl).

Early on, adam’s apples gulped, on the field, in the stands, and at home.  Ev Golson, saving his “first game jitters” for his fourth game, both made mistakes and looked nervous doing it.

With less than a minute left in the first stanza, the Irish had run four offensive plays, the most offensive of which was Golson’s interception on the game’s first Irish play.  Yet, the score was 0-0. The defense, especially the front seven, would not allow Michigan to score.  The first goal line stand was a particularly elegant exercise in controlled violence.  The defense would turn Michigan over 6 times, and front four pressure compelled most of the interceptions.  THE DEFENSE ABIDES; just as “The Dude abides.”

In another stellar effort, that unit dominated Michigan, aggressive enough to stuff the run, cautious and disciplined enough to prevent Denard Robinson from breaking anything longer than a 20 yard run. Just as last year, Diaco chose to force Borges to beat us with Robinson’s arm.  This time, with a stronger pass rush, the young Irish secondary held up, even in the fourth quarter.

On offense, the Irish only ran 50 plays.  And Birnham Wood has come to Dunsinane.  As with Purdue, Tommy Rees came in.  You know, Tommy Rees, the calming, steady influence on the Irish offense, who lets everyone exhale and leads us to victory.  Who knew??

Rees led the Irish to the game’s first two scores.  Yes, the Irish have never trailed this season.  Then, late in the fourth quarter, with the Irish ahead, and the clock slowly drooping like Dali’s famous clock, Rees provided a gem.  Somewhere, Tom Clements, Robin Weber, and Ara Raoul himself smiled. Rees and Eifert had a last minute hook-up that paid homage to a New Year’s Eve in rickety old Tulane Stadium almost forty years ago.  The sticks moved.  The game ended. Laissez le 4-0 bon temps roullez.  Au Revoir, bleu!  Au revoir, Re’Nard!

Newcomers of the Match

Matthias Farley: His first appearance here was after the Navy game, and he did not disappoint in his first real start.
Daniels: Exciting, his performance was.  More exciting, his visible, but yet untapped potential, is.  Hey Phillip, your kid can play!
Russell: aggressive, has ball skills, fast. Got a confidence building interception. Getting better weekly.

The Irish charge into next week full of confidence and validation, eager to move up a couple of notches in skill and competence before the event in Soldier Field against Miami.  4-0 team.  Unbeaten in September for the first time since 2002.  Has never trailed this season.  4-0. Act like you’ve been here before.

How good are the Irish?

First the team plays with some intelligence and discipline, not beating itself.  A year ago, after four games the Irish had turned the ball over 15 times, 7 interceptions and 8 lost fumbles.  This year the total is 4, 3 ints, 1 lost fumble.   That’s a 73% reduction in turnovers, a remarkable result. Cue Elias, this might be a record.

There has been significant reduction in penalties and penalty yardage also.  Last year after four games the irish had been flagged for 31 penalties for 286 yards.  This year, after four games the result is 23 penalties for 172 yards, reductions of 26% and 40% for the quants among you.

The second major change is defense. Last year after four games we had yielded 83 points and now it is 36.  9 a game. We are FOURTH in scoring defense, 16TH in total defense, 28TH in rushing defense, 3RD in turnovers caused. 15th in pass efficiency defense. And remember, the four teams we have played usually put up nice offensive numbers.

The Irish offense has a lot of different ways to attack.  There is the base formation, there is the two or three tight end array (a little like Stanford), and there is the two running back package which was absent yesterday.  While this is all still in installation, it gives the Irish multiple ways to attack and react. Power, guile, or a little of each.  Sun Tzu would approve.  When Wood, Atkinson and Riddick are on the field at the same time there are a lot of ways to go and some niggling matchup problems for the defense. The QB situation suffered a downtick yesterday.  And, right now, the offense simply can not carry the team and outscore opponents in a shootout.  Not today.  But, there is no game today.

The offense has survived encounters with Dantonio and Mattison. Those two, along with Mike Stoops and Spaz, are the best defensive minds we will face.  Behoove me no Kiffin/Orgeron, please!

Let’s rate the Irish Units:

BCS Bowl Level

Front Seven: whether they get enough votes to make it or not, Tuitt and Te’o are playing at a first team All-America level. There are tough tests ahead, but the guys they play with are pretty good and there’s enough depth to rest everyone. The most remarkable credential of the front 7 is that they have carried the secondary and yielded a defense allowing only 9 points per game. “Coaching players up,” is often only lip service.  But Shembo, Spond, Fox and Calabrese are vastly different from the players they were in 2010.

TES: good enough one at a time, good enough in the two TE sets. Eifert causes match up and placement problems even in a BCS bowl game.

New Year’s Day Bowl Level

RBS: Wood, Riddick and Atkinson are all good enough to start. Consider this: Riddick is the slowest.  All three run, catch and block, a skill Atkinson is learning. Their use in multiple RB sets makes them even more valuable.  Could move up before Halloween.

OL: four solid starters and one guy who is well, you know…Let’s see how they play against Stanford before considering a higher grade. But they protected the quarterbacks in the two games against the Michigan teams.

Bowl Level

WRs: Michael Floyd is not going to walk through that door but there are vets like Jones, Toma and Goodman, and explosiveness with Daniels, Brown and Neal.  Again, young players and frosh often play better in the second half of their first season, and that arrives soon. Today, they remain at bowl level.

QB: let’s examine this two ways. Golson the narrative, the film.  This version, barring a successful challenge from Kiel this spring, is less than 10% complete.  He’s started four games, and could play 52 over his career if he can hold the job. He’s a work in progress, not a project. Decent arm strength creative, nimble enough, exciting with huge potential.

But here we rate performance and not potential, so we move to:

Golson, the snapshot-young player who struggles with some play calling and timing mechanics.  Good legs, live arm, beyond his time in grade ability to be flushed, scramble, reset and complete the pass.  Respects the ball and has not turned it over inordinately, except against Michigan.  Doesn’t grasp enough of the O to allow full audible package, requiring Kelly to limit options.  Appropriately graded for now, let’s observe his play in October. And let’s see if Saturday was a mulligan.

Secondary: Perspective: Here’s one story lead you won’t see this season.  “Led by a second half blend of a nickel package of Slaughter, Collinsworth, Wood, and the precocious frosh Darby and Shepard, Notre Dame shut down_____ passing attack and cruised to victory.”

Yikes.  A year ago did you think you’d be talking about Zeke Motta anchoring and leading our secondary? Yikes!  But you throw Shumate, Russell, Farley and Jackson out there with Motta, there’s some raw material. Say what you will, but after four games, they are a unit in a defense which holds foes to 9ppg.  This is not Olympic gymnastics, it’s not how good you look, we award points only for points.  Coming up round the bend are Morris, Nunes, Landry Jones, Rettig, Tanner Price, Tino Sunseri and Barkley. The toughest tests are ahead. There’s enough degree of difficulty there to make a grade increase possible.  By contagion or osmosis, the front seven is making the secondary better.

Stay Home: nothing to see here.  The lone previous occupant, the secondary, has moved uptown! We don’t think they are coming back!

Now, there is one thing either incomplete or disingenuous with our little rating system.  Team game.  And “How good is Notre Dame” can only be answered on a team basis. More about this in future digests.

This Irish team is so different from ’10 and ’11 that its hard to get a fix on the gestalt until they play the meat of the schedule. But after that evening in Norman we’ll know a lot more.

This team now is at least a bowl team, and smells like a New Year’s Day Bowl team.  But let’s talk in another month.

Ranking the Irish and the opponents.

SC: right now the whole is less than the sum of the four and five star parts. Uh, Mr. Kiffin are you up to this task? One of football’s most surprising developments this Fall is the Pac 12 South and the revival that Mora, Rodriguez and Graham have brought to UCLA, Arizona and ASU.

Stanford: the first team that can match up to the Irish in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Will they be unbeaten when they come to South Bend???

Oklahoma: there was nothing fluky about Kansas State’s win in Norman. They better change some things before they play Texas and Oklahoma State.

Notre Dame: if we beat Stanford, we pass Stanford.  IF.

Michigan: 2-2 notwithstanding, have more offensive weapons than Michigan State.

Michigan State: Rock Steady.  WYSIWYG.  And it’s pretty good

Miami: at a tipping point.  Florida (addition by subtraction at OC) and FSU may have righted their ships and its never good to be the third program in the Sunshine State.

Purdue: will be fun to watch in the Big We Have 12 Teams but only count TEN because we’re straddling tradition and modernity, and poorly at that.

BC: Spaz still channeling his inner Ruben Blades.  Rettig is no gimme. BC has retired the lifetime trophy as the team Notre Dame’s knucklehead fans (not all of you, of course) always underestimate and then rue the day.

Wake: just hanging on.  Grobe has saved the program from football Dukism.

Pitt: rookie head coach in a funny spot.  It’s a Steelers town, Urban wants to poach Western PA and they soon move to the ACC.  What do YOU think, Corey Clements?

Navy: now reaches the more manageable portion of the schedule, so Niumatalolo’s offense should start producing.

What will we see in Soldier Field?

(1) Miami has better passing weapons than our first four opponents. Remember it was Morris who quarterbacked the Canes against us in El Paso.  Can we hold up against what will be a series of better passing attacks in three of the next four games?

(2) The weekend off is usually the time after which freshmen, from all schools, usually emerge if they will be first year factors.  Which of our true frosh will step up?

(3) Consider Miami’s home field conundrum.  Instead of Little Havana, they now play in antiseptic Joe Robbie/Sun Life/Pro Player/bum of the month club stadium.  It’s always lifeless. And it’s a huge program disadvantage.  Will they respond differently-and better- before a raucous crowd on Lake Shore Drive?

(4) Golden turned down other offers to wait for Miami. His tenure at Temple, making Chicken salad out of chicken feathers, is not unlike what Harbaugh did at San Diego.  He doesn’t want to fail, and is looking for a signature win.  Will he have to wait til the Noles?

(4) How will the Irish adjust to Cane quickness, a step up from our first four foes?

(5) Will Golson show significant improvement in grasp and control as he begins the 8 game home stretch?

Adapted from Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah:

And there ain’t no road just like it
Anywhere I’ve found
Runnin’ south on Lake Shore Drive
Headin’ into town
Just slipping by on LSD
Saturday night trouble bound.

After two emotional Saturdays and the Spartans and the Wolverines, a Saturday off is just what is needed.  Enjoy!

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  1. I am encouraged that Kelly thinks he has something to the extent that he is saying it, but with his own caution that they have a lot of work to do and improvement to make.

    The defense is great and will match up against Miami and Stanford well. I only bring both because everyone else is lumping those games. No prob.
    The defense will need to adjust to a few things as they get scouted themselves. My only criticism is a still slight conservatism in late game play calling. Diaco had a great game plan against Michigan and then came dangerously close to opening it up again with that stupid prevent defense. When you are shutting a team down, keep a four man rush and play nickel or dime with a three deep in zone / man on man coverage.

    The offense needs a lot of work. Phenomenal talent. Everywhere. But they need to put it together for a full game. I have no problem with Rees coming in, but Golson needs to understand his role and rise to it.
    My biggest concern is that the running game is failing because of schemes and a lack of patience. Look at what Stanford did to USC. They stayed patient with the run until in the 4th quarter, USC’s defense had been tenderized and had A1 steak sauce drizzled on it. That’s game time strategy at it’s finest. If ND keeps a better run mix even if early on it’s not successful, they’ll open things up and still have an effective passing game.

    The next two games certainly will be worth watching. Bring em on, Here Come the Irish!!!

  2. Shaz,

    A loss to Miami is devastating! Why? 1) It’s Miami (i.e., the Cons). 2) It’s in Chicago (practically a home game). 3) To an un-ranked opponent who only pulled away at home from 1-AA Bathune-Cookman in the 3rd quarter. 4)It takes the steam from our sails before we even get to Stanford. Lose to Miami and all the talk will go righ back and right away to ND being over-rated and over-hyped. The haters will have a field day!

    I’d rather beat Miami big and lose a “Bush-push” type game to Stanford than lose to Miami and then beat Stanford. Why? Because all anyone will talk about is the Miami loss and not the Stanford win.

    Regardless, like I said, win the next 2 and things will get very exciting.


    1. SFR,

      We are on the same bus brother!

      No question.

      The point I was trying to make was, there are some here who do nothing but complain.

      A little,well constructed criticism, is good.

      But for some it:

      Doesn’t matter if we are 4-0.
      Doesn’t matter if the team is ranked in the top 10.
      Doesn’t matter that the coaches have done and outstanding job guiding, teaching, and managing the team through the first month, all they can say is Kelly is nuts.
      Of if he loses a game he is finnished.
      Or Swarbrick sold us out, or Cierre wood screwed the whole team when he got suspended.

      All they want to talk about is beating Stanford which is still 3 friggin weeks away.

      All they want to do is put the Stanford cart before the Trojan horse.

      That’s fine, unless we should stumble agianst Miami first.

      Now you want to talk about complaining?

      If that happens, we will never hear the end of it from the same pinheads!

      You know what I’m talking about.

      Back before the beginning of the 2012 season I said I took the 1988 National Championship year for granted and if we ever got back to winning one, I would enjoy it and appreciate it.

      It’s not a bad way to look at things.

  3. Just to be clear, if we should lose to Miami but beat Stanford at home, we are in the big leagues agian, we are back, it confirms our legitimacy and everyone will finally be happy?

  4. I think everyone is hitting the right point – the key to the rest of the year is the O-Line. The whole offense comes from them – if they do the job all else will fall into place. It has always been decided in the trenches and that has not changed. The defense looks great and should only get better – the secondary is still a question – not yet faced a real passing threat – but has really improved. If the line picks it up looking at ten or more wins – Miami may show a lot

  5. thanks men, miami is tuff, but if we can beat stanford at home, “notre dame legacy: “on any given day you can win no matter what the odds.” then we are in the big leaGUES, CHARLIE WEISS was doing great until the officials stole the usc game, it was all downhill after that, if we beat stanford we are back. and it confirms our legitimacy. i still am looking for the offense. diaco did deliver. god bless him.

    1. 2 weeks ago you stated that the MSU game was Kelly’s last chance. Now it hangs on Stanford. If they beat Stanford it will be the Oklahoma game. If they beat Oklahoma it will be USC. Please just give BK and Diaco some credit every now and again. You have been very critical of both over the years. Enjoy the wins, they are tough to come by.

    2. bj,

      Don’t sleep on Miami. The Canes are still talented.

      A close loss to Stanford wouldn’t be as devastating as losing to Miami.

      Win the next 2 and things could get very interesting very quickly!

  6. ndrus,

    The line was supposed to be full of talented, veteran players. It was supposed to be a strength of this team. Instead, it’s perhaps its greatest weakness. Besides BK’s strange play calls at times, this is the most frustrating part of the O. The new O line coach should be pus on notice that his job is on the line if this garbage continues.

    1. Also, I know this has been kicked around alot, but where was Cierre Wood in the 2nd half? Did it have something to do with Rees going in? Did it have something to do with Michigan’s schemes? Riddick did a great job. But why is BK not alternating Wood and Riddick when he’s our #1 back and could be considered an elite back?

  7. I couldn’t agree more with SteelFan, the Offensive Line is soft. Everyone is questioning the offense right now – is it the QB play, the running backs, where is Eiffert? No! It’s the line. If the line does its job, the running game elevates, no matter which of the talented backs is in. If the line does its job, the QB play is elevated, thus the passing game improves. It really begins and ends with the line.

  8. Scav-This ND team is good, very good, make no mistake there. Alabama? Outstanding but men none the less. There is a rather newer saying out of Ireland that goes like this, in case we run into the Tide. ‘I have to be lucky only once. You will have to be lucky everyday.’ That is the mental approach to use when facing a tough opponent. ‘And I am going to be lucky today, very lucky…’

    Go Irish! Hooah!

    1. I think this offense is going to come along just fine. EG is a redshirted frosh with alot of heart and talent that is developing. I expect big wins over Miami and BYU. With a well-executed game and win at Oklahoma, which is more than possible, all the speculative noise goes away.

      And then we will start reading “Irish Are For Real” all over the web and blogosphere.

      We take care of business and the rest will take care of itself!

      1. he is talking about Cierre Wood. He is there best option at RB. Preseason Heismann candidate only getting about 8 touches per game. Wakeup Kelly

  9. Never in my life did I ever expect to read a post game football analysis with references to the Scottish Play, the 1973 Sugar Bowl play, Dali, Un peu de français, Star Wars, Sun Tzu, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah and the Big Lebowski. And, all rolled into the analysis appropriately and seamlessly. Nice job.

  10. I see where scav mentioned the bye week.

    Lets take a moment and remember last year and the bye week.

    We had a big rival home game scheduled with USC following the bye.
    USC flooded the media with possiable key injuries, who may or may not play,
    their troubles on defence, ect…

    Kelly elected to give all his players the week off in order to heal, get their legs back, and have some emotional rest.

    Come game day, in perhaps the biggest game of the year, ND came out completly flat. Uninspired, and committed a slew of penilties, mistakes, and turn-overs, and played one of their worst games of the year.

    I understand college athletes could always use some extra rest.
    But it has to be balanced with keeping your team sharp mentally and emotionally, while working on key areas that need improvement, and perhaps, even adding a few new wrinkles to your game.

    I am hopeful that the coaches have learned from last year, and having a neutral site game that may actually be more helpful than playing at home for this game.

    1. Shaz
      Kelly said in his teleconference Sunday that they would practice up to I think thursday. Have weekend off then start Miami prep on Sunday or Monday. Manti may get more time off for obvious reasons but sounds like the rest of team will practice most of this week.

      1. JTRAIN,

        Used to love it when Holtz had an extra week to prepare.

        First he would clean up anything that wasn’t working, then touch on the fundamentals, then add something new.

        When it all came together on game day it was a thing of beauty.

        Not sure the guy ever lost a game with an extra week to prepare.

  11. Mr. Duranko,

    Your intractable behavior remains extremely prejudice by intentionally omitting BYU off our ND schedule: “Ranking the Irish and the opponents.”

    However, after your last self-indulgent demonizing diatribe of BYU why am I not surprised. I really don’t like a manipulative guest author article that resets our football schedule to appease themselves. Again, this is not the forum for that.

    So you definately made a statement with this presentation, and unfortunately it is obvious you could careless about ND values. I find you and your continued divisive stand on BYU unacceptable.

    Reporting on all our football opponents fairly from a football perspective should be a simple and respectful task. In your case it is certainly questionable.

    Here come the Irish!

    1. Yeah, JC, I noticed that too. It’s not like it’s that hard to type BYU without adding stuff about polygamy and or pedophilia.

      BYU….. See it can be done.

      BYU deserves respect for its values (albiet not its theology) and for its part in the heritage of college football.

  12. With the bye week here, I feel this is a great time to vent. I’m already sick of hearing that ND isn’t that good because they haven’t played anybody yet. Now before I vent, I’m happy ND is 4-0, but I do not think they have arrived yet, they are just heading in the right direction.

    At the beginning of the season, some said that ND had the toughest schedule in the nation and most experts said they would start the season at 2-2. Michigan State was too physical and Denard could not be stopped by the ND defense. Well, we kicked Michigan State’s fanny (AGAIN) and Denard proved he wasn’t Superman after all. So now, the logic is ND really hasn’t played anyone good yet.

    If that is the logic used by the critics, then Alabama is not very good either. They played the same bad Michigan team, Western Michigan, a horrible Arkansas team, and Florida Atlantic. Now, I will be the first to tell you that I do believe Alabama is the best team in the country and they would beat ND. I’m just using them as an example because of the “Haven’t played anyone” argument.

    ND can only play the teams on their schedule and they beat everyone they played. So, while I’m not ready to put ND in the upper tier of college football, let’s quit saying they haven’t played anyone. How many other teams have played 4 consecutive BCS Bowl eligible teams so far this year?

      1. I totally understand the your sentiments scav. But I’m also sort of in the “Who Cares?” category on this one. ND has been so mediocre for so long that “sports media” (however you want to define that one) is somewhat rightly skeptical. Alabama has been an elite team for a while now with hardware. We’re always going to have our haters, our delusional yet lovable homers (like Lou Holtz) and everyone in between.

        My only point here is this- Keep winning and all this takes care of itself.

        GO IRISH!

  13. Shaz,

    Like I said, we’ll learn a lot about the O line in particular and the O in general after Miami. These aren’t the Canes of old with Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, Ed Reed, and the like. This D gave up almost 250 yards rushing and close to 400 yards to total offense to Bathune-Cookman. That Bathune-Cookman. BTW: That was a home game for Miami (attended by about 1,000 fans!).

    If we struggle on O against the U in Chicago (practically a home game for ND), I don’t want to hear excuses. It’s not like the Bethune-Cookman game was an exception to the rule. It is the rule for the Miami D and has been for a few seasons now (look up their D stats of late, esp. against the run).

  14. Shaz,

    “I agree 100% that our O-Line hasn’t lived up to exspectations and needs to improve more.”

    That’s all I’m saying. No excuses, reasoning, justifications, disagreements, etc.

    1. SFR,

      I owe you some stats

      ND rushing over the last 3 games:

      vs Purdue 25 rushes 50 yards
      vs MSU 34 Carries 122 yards
      vs Mich 34 Carries 94 yards

      No doubt those numbers need to improve.

      Your point is well taken.

  15. Good article still alot of tough tests on the schedule which is still the toughest in the country. Good time for a bye week going to play a tough 3-1 as of now miami team then home 2 a team who has just bitched the IRISH the last two years guess that Kansas State beat down of the canes isnt that surprising anymore afetr they went into Norman and did the sooners who by the way we still have to go play. Keep grinding boys we will know alot about this team even more over the next 5 weeks great start boys keep grinding.

  16. We’ll learn a lot about our O line after Miami. That D is soft. Even Bethune-Cookman (an old D-1AA) school rushed for over 200 yards on the Canes. If we can’t run on them, then we know what we’ve got and it won’t be much!

  17. Another first-class analysis.

    We’ve got the Teo benediction and TD Jesus too.

    He is lending so much spark to the D.

    Keep going, Big Guy! Ya done good, as we say in the South.

  18. BIG D,

    Nothing about special teams?

    Soph. Kyle Brindza has stepped in and done an excellent job.

    After a late 4th quarter drive by the Irish on the road at MSU, Brindza finished it off with a field goal that iced the game.
    Against michigan, who had just kicked a late field goal of their own to close the gap, he finished off another late game drive with another clutch kick.

    To be a really good team you have to find points wherever you can.
    One such place is in the kicking game and on special teams.

    A bye week is a great time to work on such things and fine those plays and possiable points!

    Besides, I think Miami is susceptible to big plays on special teams.

  19. The question you should have asked was:How will the ‘Canes react to the speed of the Irish defense. It’s fast. Real fast. That kind of tremendous size and strength is a monster to deal with. Get the offense to gel and every future opponent will know they’ve been painted with a very large target on their backs. And the Celtic Lion is hungry…

  20. @Duranko,

    The OL is soft! It’s not anywhere near “New Year’s Day Bowl Level.” With the exception of Navy and its undersized D, these guys have been pushed back, sideways, and around by Purdue, MSU, and Mich. Albeit they saved their best for the last quarter against the Spartans. But other than that they’ve been pretty much manhandled.

    J. Harris started for Miami against ND in the 2011 Sun Bowl. Morris came in relief and did some things against ND’s backups after the game had been decided. But I agree that ND should think of this as a bowl game against a bowl-caliber rival.

    1. I think the only team to really push our O-Line thus far has been Purdue with their two very good defensive tackles.

      ND gave up 5 sacks to purdue.

      The other 3 teams combined for a total of only 3 sacks.

      Navy- 2
      MSU – 1
      Mich- 0

      It should also be noted that when Golson is in at QB, these defences have been crowding the line with 6,7,& 8 in the box in order to stop the run.

      That will make most any O-Line look bad.

      Kelly has tried to counter this by going unbalanced or overloading one side with extra tightends.

      But as our 3rd down conversion rate indicates, we should still be doing better.

      1. Shaz,

        Do us a favor and get some stats on the run game after Navy.

        In the end, stats re only part of the equation. I’m going more by the eye-ball test. By that standard for me at least, the ND O line has underwhelmed.

        Let’s stop with the excuses and get back to a point when we don’t have to make them regardless of what team ND faces.

        As for excuses, you should be hearing lame Steelers’ fans trying to justify losing to the Raiders and what used to be a D in Pittsburgh!

      2. SFR,

        It certainly could be said that one man’s excuse making is another mans reasoning.

        I think there is a difference between logical reasoning and excuse making don’t you?

        For example, the defensive tackles for Purdue were better, are better, and played better than the guys we had trying to block them.

        I don’t think that necessarily makes our linemen soft. Just that they came up agianst someone who was better than them, and played better on that given day.
        It happens. It’s part of the game.

        In that same game however, our linemen did put together a game winning drive when they needed it most and found a way to win.

        My eye-ball test says that while the game by our O-Line wasn’t very pretty it is also was not the overall effort of a soft O-Line.

        I agree 100% that our O-Line hasn’t lived up to exspectations and needs to improve more.

        But I don’t exspect them to be the Pittsburg Steelers.

        I exspect them to be a college team that is coming off a 8-5 season and who is trying to get better.

        So far they have done that.

        At the end of the day, the only stat that really matters is is wins and losses.

        I think it was Lou Holtz who once sais when you are losing your not as bad as everyone says, and when your winning your not as good as everyone says.

        I don’t think that was excuse making. I think it was logical reasoning.

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