5 Things I Liked: Stanford ’12

notre dame goal line
Stanford Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor (33) attempts to dive over the goal line as Notre Dame Fighting Irish nose guard Louis Nix (9) and linebacker Manti Te’o (5) defend in overtime at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 20-13. Photo: Matt Cashore / US PRESSWIRE)

Another week.  Another win.  Another list of a lot of things I liked seeing from our Fighting Irish.  There were a lot of hiccups along the way on Saturday, but at the end of the day, Notre Dame beat another top 25 team – a team that had beaten them the last three years – to stay undefeated.

In no particular order, here’s this week’s 5 Things I Liked.

An epic goal line stand

Stanford fans will disagree about this one, but I don’t care.  The goal line stand by the Irish defense was a thing of beauty – especially the 3rd down attempt when there was no doubt whatsoever about whether or not Stepfan Taylor got into the endzone because Manti Te’o made the play of his career with a huge hit to push the Stanford back short of the goal line.

I’ve seen the replay many, many times now, I still say that there wasn’t enough video evidence in either direction to be able to reverse the call.  I don’t care of Mike Pereira says (side note: stick to the NFL game Periera).  What I do know is that in years past, we wouldn’t have been having this discussion because Stanford’s offensive line would have gotten more than enough push to tie the game well before the failed 4th down attempt.

I have been trying like hell not to get too carried away with this team because for as great as this run has been, I think there are still some glaring holes on this team, but I do think there is a good chance that in a few years when we look back at where the Brian Kelly Era is at Notre Dame, we’ll point to Saturday’s goal line stand as a turning point.

The play of the young secondary

I should probably just say the entire secondary because Zeke Motta played the game of his career on Saturday, but the young defensive backs especially have turned out to be much better than we thought.  They are benefiting from the play of a great defensive line in front of them, but even with that added boost, Bennett Jackson, Kei’Varae Russell, and Matthias Farley are playing very good football for players with resumes as short on experience as their’s were to start the season.

Jackson now has three interceptions on the season, Russell has improved dramatically in the tackling department since the beginning of the season, and Farley has all of the looks of a big play free safety.  Farley in particular has me excited for the future because the kid is so athletic that if he can put it all together, he could be a great safety in this defense.

The resilience of Tommy Rees

I have been a little tough on Tommy Rees in the past – and really, what Notre Dame blogger hasn’t been? But, I am more than happy to give the kid credit for having the resilience of a champion.  Saturday was the third time he’s been asked to come off the bench to save the day for the Irish and for the third time, he has come through in the clutch.

Rees was 4 for 4 for 43 yards and a touchdown – the eventual game winner – while capping off the game tying drive at the end of regulation and Notre Dame’s lone overtime possession.  Rees is headed back to the bench again with Golson likely to be cleared by Tuesday by the Notre Dame medical staff just as he has the last two times he’s come off the bench to rally the Irish offense – a situation he’s handled with class and maturity.

I still think Golson is the future at quarterback for the Irish, but in the interim, if Tommy Rees can keep filling in when needed as Golson gets through his growing pains and Notre Dame keeps winning games, I don’t think anyone will complain much.

Another game without allowing an offensive touchdown

Think back to the 2008 and 2009 seasons when the Irish defense squandered leads and had trouble stopping even average defenses and tell me you honestly thought that four years later we would be watching a defense that kept Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, and Stanford out of the endzone for 16 straight quarters.  If you said yes, you, my friend, are a liar.

Notre Dame’s defense is earning all of the hype and publicity it is getting this season by playing tough, hard nosed football.  This defense has been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks without needing to run (obvious) blitzes 90% of the time as they did a few years back with much, much less success.  That pressure has allowed the Notre Dame linebackers to keep opposing tight ends in check and the young secondary to learn on the job without experiencing a baptism by fire.

$15 all you can drink specials during the game

The game itself was a roller coaster ride that for me was made a little more bumpy thanks to a $15 all you can drink special I stumbled across for the game.  That special though, made the post game celebration just a tad more fun.

If I can find similar specials in future weekends and the Irish keep winning, I’ll be a very, very happy blogger… that is if my heart can handle that kind of drama.

In all seriousness though, there was a lot to like in this game even with a sluggish offensive performance.  Most of all, the fact that the Irish are 6-0 and ranked #5 in the first BCS standings with a great chance to reach double digits in wins for the first time since 2006 and just the third time since ’93.

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  1. In re passing from the end zone…

    Lou did it all the time to great effect

    Great call but we were not blocking consistently


  2. So, let Everett rest his turf toe and concussion next game with BYU, and let Tommy and Hendrix get significant reps for the upcoming opponents.


  4. As usual Frank a very honest and “objective” breakdown of the UND performance. Re EG and his running. To me it seems to free him up when he has that as an option and “contrary” to Hank the Tank’s comments I think he is only now becoming more attuned to when to shed the pocket and run as receiving options are all covered. He once again missed possible TD pass opportunities to Daniels when he scrambled for a long run and to Toma on a crossing route when he went to I think it was Jones in a corner of the end zone. If he had A. Seen and B. connected this year on all the occassions that Irish receivers were open he would have another 6-8 touchdowns.That said it is what it is he is a freshman QB trying to sort out ALL the nuances of Div One college football vs ranked opposition not the cupcakes so many other top 5 teams are playing and in front of sellout crowds screaming for blood and glory. If this kid can just stay out there for the rest of the season and in “crunch” time at the end of games next year he could be a better passing version of Braxton Miller/D. Robinson then lets see how many pts we can put up. Keep in mind that as I understand it both Tyler Eifert and C Wood could both COME BACK for another year if they so choose. How good would that make us going into 2013 with virtually the entire offensive fire power returning minus a couple of lineman?? Now let’s keep knocking over the teams we should and see if we can “steal” one of either the Oklahoma or USC games for an UNBELIEVABLE season no one saw coming in August.

    when OSU didn’t cross the line and lost 16-13. The Haters will have another excuse. Mark May and his back handed compliments are lacking wit and insight. Lou Holtz was right; the defense held four times and that in and of itself speaks of this ND team and the claim to Victory. GO IRISH!
    ( Thank God for nerve pills, high blood pressure meds-after games like this-one needs them)

  6. Shaz: A few years ( or more) when Ohio State was playing such powers like San Jose St. and Akron and Kent, a lot of the Big Ten was even. Questions came around about their schedule and Herbstreit said “It’s nobody’s fault. These teams are down this year but a win is a win. It’s how you win-and these buckeyes find ways to win.” Fast forward double standard and more in that you are spot on with the schedule factor.

    1. eyes62

      At least Ohio St played those teams at the start of the season then finished their schedule with Big Ten play.

      Bama slips western carolina in there right at the end. (11/17/2012)

      Why doesn’t anyone say anything about that?

  7. What the so called “Big Boys” eat.

    Cupcakes anyone?

    Alabama: Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina

    Florida: Bowling Green, Louisana LaFayette, Jacksonville ST.

    Oregon: Arkansas St.,Tennessee Tech, Fresno St.

    Kansas St: Missouri St, North Texas.

    Note… I think it’s safe to say that the top 4 teams in the BCS “new” what they were getting when they scheduled these cupcakes.

    ND thought they “new” what they were getting when we made our schedule.
    All good quality teams.

    Who deserves more respect?
    Those that knew for sure what they were getting, or those who didn’t?

  8. As I’ve said all year, keep winning and everything takes care of itself. One could easily make the case that Bama and Oregon haven’t faced really tough competition yet either. And some schedule power-ranking polls have ND’s schedule ahead of, or very close to Oregon and Bama. We’ll see…

  9. Espn was one of the sites that said we had one of if not the toughest schedule and now that we have won every game they don’t want to give us the credit we deserve. Keep grinding Irish. Let the haters keep hating all they want.

    GO IRISH!!!!

  10. If we run the table, we will be in the National Championship. There’s no doubt about it. Lets just keep taking care of business.

  11. Wheres the love? Watching the ESPN BCS show Kirk Herbstreit said even if ND wins out they dont get in the championship. Jesse Palmer went on to say ND’s schedule isnt that tough pointing out ND may not have a single game to hang their hat on when the season is over since many of their “quality wins” came over opponents who are now no longer ranked or may have 3-4 losses by the end of the season. Am i nuts to think we belong in the conversation or have a tough schedule?

  12. 5 things I didn’t like,

    1) Play calls near the goal line, both ends.
    When ND was on their own 5 yard line, EG went into the endzone to throw the ball. A very risky move. It led to a Stanford TD.
    2) When ND was in the redzone the coaches turned conservative and ran up the middle. They had their priorities mixed up. Th3ey should have tried to score within the redzone and played it conservative on the other end.
    3) Dismissed the run game until the 4th quarter. And Woods was used very little after that.
    4) EG waits to long to release the ball. Apparently, he does not read the DF quick enough and does not understand the receivers route or where he is going to end up.
    5) EG runs too much and carries the ball like a loaf of bread. By allowing the QB to run like that, the QB abandons his assignment because he knows he can run. There are times when the QB must run to keep the play alive, but there are too many times when he abandons his assignment in favor of the run. He will fumble, as he has and get hurt as he has.

  13. This is how I look at the game. Over the last 3 three years, NO TEAM in America has been more physical than Stanford. Don’t confuse “physical” with being the “best.” Simply put, Stanford pushes teams around. They did it to USC this year and I’m sure will continue to do so.

    There is no more physical team ND will face this year than Stanford. That’s a fact. Yes, they will play more talented teams (Oklahoma, USC and maybe the bowl game). But ND was more physical than Stanford. That, in itself, tells me this team can beat anybody on their schedule. It tells me they can beat anyone in the country.

    Could they beat Alabama repeatedly? No. But once? Maybe =)

  14. I feel and everybody else can agree or disagree that Golson was a different player in the second half. They started running the ball and he seemed more comfortable in the pocket. If and when he learns to hold on to the ball on the designed runs he will be a dangerous 2 way threat.
    As far as Rees goes. He does deserve some credit but lets also heap a whole helping on the plate of Theo Riddick and TJ Jones for their great catches. The pass to Riddick was a fantastic catch.

    1. Scotty, lets not forget that the TD pass Golson threw to Eifert was a Fantastic catch with the defender draped all over him. Quit hating on Rees. We would not be undefeated without him.

      1. I am not “Hating” on anybody. I never said that. I year ago nobody wanted Rees at QB and now he is the next Joe Montana? I am just stating a fact and yes you are correct about the Golson pass to Eifert.

  15. my #1 worry all off-season was the secondary. then lo wood was lost…..then slaughter and i thought,how in the hell are we going to stop anybody from scoring. we’ll be lucky to come up with 7 wins……then this coaching staff picked out some players and plugged them into a different position and…..well i’m still left speechless at the outcome. the intelligence of the coaches and the talent,passion of these kids in the secondary…..i have never seen the likes in my 53 years. this team is so much fun to watch. in the last 3 years they have not only learned how to win , but also how not to lose. 4-5 years ago this team would be 3-3 or maybe worse. when the offense gets all the wheels going , this team will be unstoppable. if this team finishes the year with 2 losses or less,kelly has got to be coach of the year.

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