Luck of the Irish? Hardly.

george atkinskon byu 2012
Oct. 20, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III (4) stretches the ball across the goal line for a touchdown as BYU Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen (9) defends in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

If there was an instrument that measured heart and effort, we are almost positive that the 2012 version of the Notre Dame football team would bury the needle. Week in and week out when Irish fans expect the worst, this team has stood tall and delivered. A last second field goal against Purdue, a great 4th quarter defensive effort against Michigan, an OT goal-line stance against Stanford, and most recently a 4th quarter touchdown against a strong defensive BYU team. Although the Irish squad has shown flashes of brilliance, it definitely has not been the norm so far. This year’s squad is the equivalent of the blue collar worker who packs his lunch every day, and understands the value of a dollar.

While the new generation of college football fan may like seeing Geno Smith putting up 600 yards in the air for West Virginia, Oregon scoring 43 points before half, or Texas Tech and TCU combining for 109 points, there is still a contingency of fans that like hard fought, knock-down drag-out football. Some may still refer to it as three yards and a cloud of dust, but fans of this style just call it football. Fans of the Irish this year have become accustom to this style of smash-mouth football, and appreciate the effort and mental toughness it requires to be successful at it. Notre Dame has proven that under the right circumstances, they can put up points with the best of them – see Miami and Navy. More impressively though, they have proven over and over again that when push comes to shove, they are the ones who are doing the shoving. This isn’t a Saturday type of mentality, this type of football toughness is learned throughout the off-season, months of practice, and in coaching and film sessions.

When Brian Kelly refers to recruiting only “The right kind of guy” this is what he is referring to. A young man who is willing to put it all on the line when the time comes and be successful at it. Over the last two years Irish fans have seen flashes of this mentality, but never when it counted. Now in year three of the Kelly tenure, it is starting to become very apparent that maybe Kelly and staff knew what they were talking about. You can see the influence of Kelly and Co. recruiting efforts paying off in the field. Young men like Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Everett Golson, and George Atkinson paying dividends on the field.   They have brought an attitude that has not been seen in South Bend since the Holtz era ended 1996. If the staff continues to build strong recruiting classes year after year like they have shown so far, it will provide Irish fans something to cheer for consistently and put Notre Dame football back in the middle of national relevancy again. Believe us when we say this is no easy task for a team to do consistently that is not in the SEC these days.

While the body of work is impressive so far, there is still a lot of work left to be done for the Irish. They have very tough road games in Norman and at USC, and it will take great efforts from the Irish on both sides of the ball for four quarters to win those games. Even if the Irish stumble in one or two of their remaining games on the schedule, it will not detract from their accomplishments on the field so far.  Some may call into question the validity of the so-called daunting Irish schedule, other non-believers will easily pass it off as favortism or getting all the breaks. Still others will refer to it as the “Luck of the Irish”, but if you ask Coach Kelly he will tell you luck has nothing to do it with it, and he would be right.

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  1. “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Teo, Eifert, Nix and Wood. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Oklahoma football team was swept over the precipice in Norman yesterday afternoon as 82,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.”

  2. I have been reviewing this game and going back and forth in my mind about what will happen. I have come to one conclusion, I have no idea. The key I think in this game is that the defense keep it close in the first half. OU will come out with guns a blazing and the defense needs to keep it close. OU is going to score points, they are just to good of an offense not to score points, but if the defense can keep them under 20 in the first half and ND score some points it will be close. I think we as fans put to much emphasis on games. This game reminds me of the 2002 FSU game in which ND blew out FSU. I thought finally ND has arrived, boy was I wrong, so Storespook is right one game at a time and review the season after it is completed.

  3. Next game up, that’s the focus. You can’t write a chapter in a book until everything is complete. ND’s chapter for this year isn’t completed-yet. We have OU next up. As fans/followers (whatever you want to refer to yourself) of ND football, it’s the next step to look at. This season will be judged, assessed, looked at, defined, when the playing is done. Counting chickens before they hatch is misusing up a lot of personal time & energy. I want to see success. I want to see ND be considered one of those 5-6 “elite” teams that seem to dominate the CF rankings. I believe at some point, and maybe sooner rather than later, we will be. Either we will continue to move towards that or we end up moving away from it. ND can only play who is on the schedule. I suggest we spend more time trying to define what we are versus what “our opponents” are or are not, we can’t control that anyway. As to those who are looking ahead at the current schedule and looking at some of those teams being described inferior, just remember 1993 and a team called Boston College. They were being called “inferior” and in the end, it cost ND another NC. My point here is, one game at a time. I do agree with a lot of what people are writing, but, I just advocate, focus on OU today. We will be what our record is, in the end.

    Go ND and pound that boomer sooner in the ground.

  4. 10-2 would be pretty impressive considering ND has no passing game and a slightly above average O-line (despite Golic’s 5 false starts per game). I think it’s only a matter of time though before the QB gets clicking, even if it’s not until next year.

  5. scav,

    I agree with you. Problem is no one else outside the ND fan base will. We’ve seen this movie before. ND seems to be back. People will make a case for the team having better athletes, more depth, greater physical and mental fortitude (I heard all these when comparing the Weis teams to those of Willingham), etc. Only to lose by blowouts in big-time games, like the previous regimes over the past 20 years.

    We need good outings, albeit not necessarily wins, against BOTH OU AND USC. Lose badly in both games, scav, and that puts a caveat on the season. It won’t ruin it, but it certainly brings up some old ghosts of seasons past. (Of course, find a way to also lose to Pitt, BC, or Wake, and the season goes from good to bust like that!)

    It’s as easy as this, friends. Just win, Irish! That way the only excuses being made are by the ND haters, who will have to fashion a way to minimize the Irish victories.


    1. I’m with you on this. Get blown out and all kinds of doubt creep back in. Hang with them and lose a close one and what we have seen so far is validated. Win and this thing explodes to a new level.

      I prefer the 3rd option

  6. A lot has been said that if ND gets blown out this Saturday, then everything to this point was fool’s gold and this team is no different then the first 2 years under Weis. I think there are several reasons why this team is different from those teams.

    1. Athletes-This team has some play makers on BOTH sides of the ball. Brady and the boys were good on offense, but that defense left a lot to be desired. I think this team has the talent to compete with anyone in the country.

    2. Depth-“Next Man In” is certainly something this team has down pat. It is not the end of the world if a starter get hurt like it was with Weis.

    3. Physical Stamina-The work of Paul Longo does not get the credit it deserves because this team has proven it’s the strongest team on the field in the 4th quarter. Look how many games where we just ran the ball down the other teams throat in the 2nd half this year.

    4. Mental Toughness-This is probably the biggest difference between this team and teams in the past few years. They find a way to win instead of playing not to lose. They believe they can win and again, they can break the other teams spirit in the 2nd half.

    Now, all this may be thrown out the window with a poor performance this weekend. But I understand that this is truly the benchmark to where we stand as a program. Under Weis, this game would probably be a blowout, but this year, not only can they compete, I believe they can win.

    Again, this game is not the whole season, it is a benchmark in a season of great progress. However, it is games like this that can make a great season magical.

    Go Irish

    1. I agree. But also, here’s why I think there is a difference between this team and the teams under Weis. Namely, there is no more Charlie Weis. Chucky ran the program like an NFL franchise with no understanding of how to motivate young men. (good recruiter, bad coach) Kelly was mortified when he showed up in SB, only to find players who knew little of ND’s history and traditions. Many didn’t truly understand who/what they were representing and how hallowed the halls really were/are. That these current players represented not just the university, team, students etc, but all the young men from the past who put on the jersey. Players under Weis were permitted to go outside of the program for medical care, not required to eat together etc. Kelly has put a stop to all of it. They live and die as a TEAM now.

      Losing to Oklahoma will not change any of that nor will it undo what is being built.

  7. JTRAIN,

    Yes, haters going to hate, but let’s not give them the excuse to do so by “shitting the bed” (to quote Jack).

    I agree with you, if I had to pick beating either OU or USC, I’d pick USC. But let’s hope we don’t have to pick and beat both the Sooners and Trojans!

    Depending on who beats whom in the SEC, I can see that USC-ND game perhaps being a battle of top 3 teams. Imagine the hype for that one! I’ll be shitting the bed of that comes about!!!


  8. Having said all this, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. As many have said here and BK has stressed, all we need to focus on is OU this Sat.


    1. SFR

      There’s an expression that comes to mind here..”haters gonna hate” that unfortunately is just the way it is. What I have noticed is this team has almost seemed to have embraced it. Using it as fuel. Remember how much trash people were talking before the season? Especially about the secondary.. Now look, the defense actually ranks higher against the pass than the run. I like the attitude of this team. They have heart. Something that has been missing for a long, long time.

      You are right though about the record. At this point 10-2 is the minimum for this team. Gotta make it happen. Personally I would love to beat OU but USC is the big one for me. They felt compelled to run their mouths after the game last year how ND is and never will be like USC. I think it’s about time we show those pricks what ND is really about. I want to see goldie locks picking mud out of his facemask all night long. Ok I have to stop there. I could go all day about those scumbags. Really do not like those guys.

      If we do beat OK, Kelly is going to have his work cut out for him. The media will start touting that USC matchup before the teams even get off the field Saturday night. Hopefully he will be able to keep the guys focused.

      GO IRISH

  9. BTW: To finish 11-2, all ND would have to do was win its three games against vastly inferior foes (Pitt, BC, Wake), two of which will be played in S. Bend, and win the bowl game. ND could be favored in a New Years’ Day bowl or be a very slight underdog against a non-SEC bowl opponent. Either way, I don’t see ND having to upset anyone to get to 11-2. Like I said, after this start, anything less than 10-2 on the season will be a disappointment, regardless of what our preseason hopes were, esp, if we beat either OU or USC. To finish the regular season 9-3 would mean losing to both OU and USC AND to one of Pitt, BC, or Wake Forest. Not good!

    The apologists will no doubt point out that many even here at the start of the season predicted ND would be 9-3 or even 8-4. But that’s not the point. If ND football goes 9-3 now that means it would have lost to either Pitt, BC, or Wake ( 2 of 3 being home games!). So I don’t want to hear any excuses about what a great season ND had if it finishes 9-3 and loses to Pitt or Wake Forest at home. (I don’t even want to contemplate losing to BC!)

  10. Jack, Well put, sir. I think we should all wait to declare ND football back until they at least win a BCS bowl. I also agree we need to be more competitive in big games like this one against OU and the one upcoming against USC. “Shit the bed” (awesome expression!) against one or both and ND football will be the laughing stock of the nation. I know some here claim not to care what others think or say about ND but I do. I hate giving the haters their due. I’d love nothing more than for ND to go out and win, better yet, dominate, OU and SC. Even then the mission isn’t accomplished if we lose the BCS bowl game. For the haters ND will not be back until it wins a NC or goes undefeated. As for me, I’d be satisfied (for now) by being competitive against both OU and USC and winning our bowl game to finish the season 11-2. I think that would exceed anyone’s preseason expectations.

  11. JC,

    I disagree with the new Irish have arrived. Back in my youngers years of the late 80’s and early 90’s I knew one thing, no team was going to blow ND out because of a lousy defense. I admit this defense is good, but for me to say they are back I need more games and to see it through one year. If this defense goes out on Saturday and shit the bed, ND is in the same position it was under Weis. I need to see a stellar defensive performance from this unit against Oklahoma and USC this year before I start believing. I need to see them step up and keep the offense in the game like Holtz’s teams would. I am sorry but years of horrible defenses and lousy coachs have made me a scheptic.

  12. Although I am not blindly in love with Kelly as some here. I will give him full credit for his new announcement and commitment to being a player’s coach this year.

    Without a doubt, BK has transformed as advertised for the better. BK is definately NOW on a path condusive to building great team chemistry! Will it last? Only the positive test of time will tell.

    Further, I would also have to give credit to scav for his unique description: “The new Irish have Arrived!” “Bring back the Glory” is long gone by today’s standards. However, moving forward “The new Irish have Arrived.” And improving game by game!

    A new horizon is definately in view today!

    Here come the (new) Irish!

    1. “Irish Chocolate” Nix committed after CW was canned, but, yes, the fatman recruited him.

      Someone earlier said Nix was leaving after this season. Is that true? I hope not!

      BTW: Speaking of Weis, he just demoted Crist to 2nd string QB at Kansas. What a bust Crist is!

      1. I will always be fond of Nix, even if he didn’t turn out to be such a beast. He committed when we had no coach and said “I am choosing a school not a coach.” That was awesome when things were so down.

      2. While Kelly didn’t recruit Nix, he didn’t let the Florida Native slip away either.

        Not an easy thing to do with a defensive lineman from the South!

        Hard to blame any coach for Dane Crist’s poor performance.

        When you think of Charlie Weis you think of Tom Bradey, Bradey Quinn, and a few others.
        The guy knew how to develoup Pro style QB’S.

        If Charlie Weis couldn’t turn Dane Crist’s game around, I doubt there are any who could.

        I do give Kelly credit for giving Crist a open and fair shot. A classy and gutsy move. The kid just didn’t have what it takes. It happends.

        In hindsight, Kelly took months of flack for yanking Crist, but if he had stuck with him and continued to beat that dead horse, we would be nowhere near having the success that we are experiencing so far this year.

        If that had happened, those same flack-smackers would be telling us how Kelly never does what’s best for the team!

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