5 Things I Liked: Oklahoma ’12

everett golson oklahoma
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) scrambles with the ball in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Gabe Lynn (9) at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Matthew Emmons / US PRESSWIRE)

I thought about renaming the title of this weekly column to 5 Things I Loved instead of Liked, because I absolutely loved what I saw last night out of the Fighting Irish as they stormed in Norman, Oklahoma and left with their perfect season still intact and national championship dreams still very much a reality thanks to a 30-13 victory over #8 Oklahoma.

The maturation of Everett Golson

There have been times that it has been a little tough to watch Everett Golson this year because he’s made the kind of mistakes a redshirt freshman is going to make – the kind of mistakes you just have to live with from a young quarterback.  Well, last night wasn’t one of those nights.  Last night we saw Everett Golson take a huge step forward in his development and maturation as a college quarterback.

The last time Golson stepped on the field he turned the ball over three times against a tough Stanford defense.  Last night Golson didn’t turn the ball over once despite running for a career high 64 yards.  Even better, Golson didn’t get sacked once by a fast Oklahoma defense.  He made smart decisions, got rid the ball when he needed to, and made plays when they were there to be made.

Golson still has a ways to go before reaching his vast potential, but it is very hard to be anything but excited about where this offense could go based the development we have seen from the sophomore just over the last few games.  With three very winable games in which the Irish will likely be double digit favorites on the schedule the next three weeks, look for Golson to continue to improve.

Chris Brown making plays downfield

I have been waiting all season to see #2 on offense get open downfield and get hit in stride by a Notre Dame quarterback and last night we finally saw it.  Brown had gotten behind both the Purdue and Michigan State defenses early in the season, but Golson missed him both times.  Even last night Golson just missed Brown on a deep play early.  To be fair, Brown probably should have hauled in the first bomb hurled his way because the ball hit is hands, but it was just a bit in front of him.

All that said, seeing Brown get behind the Oklahoma defense and speed downfield with Golson placing the ball on the money for a season long 50 yard pass was a thing of beauty.  Golson and Brown are going to be connecting a lot over the next three years and hopefully will continue to build some chemistry this year so that by season’s end Notre Dame has a legit downfield threat that opposing defenses have to fear.  I fully expect to see a lot more of Brown over the next three weeks and hopefully some more of Davonte Neal as well.

Notre Dame’s defense frustrating an elite offense

This was supposed to be the week where the rubber met the road for the Irish defense.   The Irish defense was stout all season, but they were finally going to get gashed by the Oklahoma offense, right?  Well, the Irish are now eight games into the season and we and the Notre Dame defense has yet to see an offense score  more than 17 points on it.  They did give up the first rushing touchdown of the season, but other than that the Irish defense kept the Sooners in check.

Landry Jones, a future NFL quarterback, dinked and dunk down the field at times Saturday night, but his receivers never got loose downfield or behind the Irish defense and he was unable to lead his troops to more than that lone touchdown in the 4th quarter.  Without the big play, Oklahoma’s offense was frsutrated most of the night and couldn’t string together enough plays in a row to put up many points.

With the latest dominating performance from the Irish defense, six different Notre Dame opponents have now scored 40 or more points the week prior to playing Notre Dame only to score less than 20 against the Irish (thanks to ESPN for that stat).

  • Michigan: 63 points vs. UMass the week before Notre Dame, 6 points against the Irish
  • Stanford: 54 points vs. Arizona, 13 points against Notre Dame
  • Oklahoma: 52 points vs. Kansas, 13 points against Notre Dame
  • Purdue: 48 points vs. Eastern Kentucky, 17 against Notre Dame
  • Miami: 44 points vs. North Carolina State, 3 against Notre Dame
  • Michigan State: 41 vs. Central Michigan, 3 against Notre Dame

Sum up all of those games and in these six games the opposition averaged 50.3 points a game and proceeded to average just 9.1 against the Irish.  That ladies and gentlemen is some tenacious defense.

Notre Dame responding to Blake Bell’s touchdown

After leading most of the game, Notre Dame surrendered its first rushing touchdown of the season to Blake Bell in the 4th quarter.  On the road, against a top 10 team, Everett Golson trotted onto the field and marched the Notre Dame offense down the field to take the go the lead for good after Bell’s score tied the game.  It was the kind of drive that we may just point back to in a few years as the moment the first defining moment in the career of Everett Golson.

Notre Dame came out firing on the drive with Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin holding nothing back and putting all of their confidence behind their young quarterback.  Golson rewarded their confidence by connecting with Chris Brown on that 50 yard bomb and then finished off the drive a few plays later with a rushing touchdown that put the Irish on top for good.

In the past, Notre Dame teams would have folded in the same situation.  We saw it all too many times and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me was almost expecting to be let down after Oklahoma scored.  This team is different though, folks.  This team fights and claws and scratches and doesn’t give up.  This team believes it is going to win every time they step on the field and they are playing with the type of confidence needed to do.

Manti Te’o’s Heisman Moment

It has been 15 years since a defensive player has won the Heisman trophy.  Manti Te’o has been making his case for consideration all season long, and last night may have just been his Heisman moment.  After Notre Dame responded to Bell’s game tying touchdown by retaking the lead, the Irish defense stepped on the field and sealed the deal when Te’o recorded his 5th interception of the season to give the offense the ball back in Oklahoma territory.  The play itself was very, very close.  Honestly, I thought the ball hit the ground before he had possession when I saw it live, but after rewatching the game this morning and listening to Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit agree with the call I think they got it right.

Regardless, the play stood and I think at this point, the Te’o family should make plans to be in New York City the weekend of December 8 because Manti Te’o is going to be a finalist for the award.  Last night’s performance – an 11 tackle, 1 sack, 1 int performance – along with Notre Dame’s perfect record have Te’o in the thick of the race.  Throw in Te’o’s stop of Stepfan Taylor on 3rd and goal when it looked like Taylor was going to reach the endzone and the Hawaiian Hitman is putting together a pretty nice highlight reel.

Just as a reminder, Te’o didn’t have a single carer interception before this season.  He has 5 this season.  Remember when people said Te’o by passed millions of dollars to come back for his senior season?  Looks like he gained himself millions instead because his draft stock continues to skyrocket.

Other things I liked

Sorry folks, but there was way more than 5 things I liked from last night’s game so here are a few others.

  • Kyle Brindza’s rebound.  Kyle Brindza had a rough game last week against BYU.  Then the sophomore missed a chip shot 35 yard field to start the second half that could have been costly.  Brindza showed a ton of poise though by nailing a 44 and 46 yarder in the 4th as Notre Dame pulled away.  The 44 yarder just snuck inside the uprights, but the 46 yarder split them beautifully.  Great job of putting the miss behind him and nailing two huge kicks.
  • Kei’Varae Russell’s tackling.  It is really hard to believe that Russell was recruited as an offensive player by pretty much every school because the kid can flat out cover and is an even better tackler.  Its not uncommon for young corners, especially ones that convert from offense, to struggle with tackling early in their careers, but Russell has been very good in that department.
  • Brian Kelly’s play calling.  Brian Kelly didn’t call the game last night like he did the BYU game.  Against BYU Kelly called the game like he was just trying to prevent negative plays and get away with a win.  Last night he rolled the dice more and put a lot of faith in Golson.  Kelly called the game like he was trying to dictate what he wanted to do to the Oklahoma offense and by the end of the game it worked like a charm.
  • The disappointment in Brent Musberger’s voice after every positive Notre Dame play.  Could Musberger been anymore disappointed when Chris Brown hauled in that 50 yarder?  And could he have been any happier when he thought Oklahoma was going to score its second rushing touchdown of the game even after the game was decided?

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  1. Archangel-I totally agree with your thoughts on the game. We also had some observations that you might like:

    *You can take all the so called experts and dress them up appropriately as clowns. We will call it the Emmet Kelly Society for Posers” From Curbstreet, The Onoenta Oaf May, Mushburger, and on to Lee Torso, banish and shun the whole lot. Hypocrytical misfits. I for one, and a majority in this unit, will never watch another ‘Flame Day’ on ESPN again. We have figured out the biased and bigoted motivations of these people. They can not stand the lofty ideals and mores of Notre Dame. You know, things like honesty, integrity, angd honor, and commitment. These are the same left leaning shams who claim to support the military and then sneer at us behind the scenes. We know. We have seen. Make no mistake about these jackals. They are worse than cowards; they are moral shirkers.

    *Coach, no make that Mr Stoop’s, his vulgar profane laced tirade should be subject to a good beat down from the OU administration. I remember when Coach Kelly became animated last year and was steam rolled by the jackal announcers and the ND Admin. In any event that display was a small but effective trigger that brought his own team into conflict with each other. When they saw his lack of control and panic setting, in the house began to fall. That to us is the single most crippling act a leader can display. As soon as we saw that players were yelling at each we knew it was over for the Sooners. Players folded; mind and spirit broken. The fight was over and the Irish punished them very harshly. They had surrender in their eyes and actions. A shameful display. Last week I stated that the ‘Sooners ‘Achilles Heel’ would be that defense of theirs. Carpet bomb them with the run and they will break. It was and that makes me smarter than Lee Torso.

    *The crowd. Loud and rowdy is one thing, but crude and rude showed why those kind of people are often the butt of ‘Okie Jokes.’

    *I must say that the Irish showed great class and discipline in the win. Very proud of them. They made a bunch of us here very excited and brought great happiness and a needed distraction to the unit. The jabbering went on non stop for many hours. I think I relived Manti’s sack of Landry a dozen times myself! Thank you Manti and God has and will bless you.

    And as always, Go Irish! Hooah! Stay safe.

    1. Your handles for the many in your above comment were hilarious and “right on!”
      My favorites were Lee Torso, and Mushburger. Haters like May will just have to suffer thru many years of ND being back!

      May you and your unit, wherever you may land, be safe and out of harm’s way.

      God bless you all, and stay safe, too!

      1. Archangel-Thank you. Your comments were appreciated and brought a few smiles to us!

        Stay safe. Go Irish! Hooah.

        END EAM. OUT.

    2. Lee Corso is just a senile old never-was that is just there for comic relief. He panders to every crowd’s home team and tries desperately to be Beano Cook. Truth be told, Corso isn’t fit to hold Beano’s microphone (may he rest in peace). Musberger’s just an idiot, why he’s calling the main games on ABC I’ll never know. He was doing the noon “One average team vs. some nobody team” ESPN 2 games. That’s where he needs to go back to…soon!!!

    3. I heard from multiple sources that the OK crowd/fans were very classy and respectful. That they reciprocated their treatment at ND in 1999. No?

      1. JDH-We wondered what happened to the OU fans in 1999? Were they abused? Did the Irish fan base treat them poorly? If so, I guess I could see the attitude, but would try to be above the fray.

        Go Irish! Hooah!

  2. Kudos to all Notre Dame Football Team, I’ve been a fan since forever now 61 ,I have witnessed a lot of ups and downs, I love this team and what it has accomplished so far.My sincere respect an appreciation goes to coach Kelly,he projects the bearing and composure of a true gentleman ,a true leader ,that has had a positive impact on his players.On various after game interviews the compromise to team work of all the team members is evident.To all of you keep disciplined ,keep focused, keep humble,keep your faith in God and the talent he has granted to each and one of you and make the best of them for all the good reasons primarily to praise him.Remember that in sports as in life there are no small oponnents, they deserve respect and to be dignified with the quality and intensity of play as stronger opponents not to humiliate them but rather to show respect for their abilities .Never forget the fable of the turtle and the hare.
    GO NOTRE DAME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. great job men, dont take anybody lightly until alabama, we lost several nat championships under lou from bad officiating, they always screwed the rocket’s blockers claiming clipping, or from upsets ala boston college. stay strong

  4. Excellent analysis and insight, as usual, Frank.

    Five comments that are uncalled for, but I’ll let them rip anyway.

    1. Pity the Stoops’ brothers’ dogs. They will be kicked and hollered at all week, much like the refs were all night by the how low can they “Stoop” brothers. Their new school song ought to be “Cry Me A River!”
    2. Musk”burger” is a no-nothing ND hating ” hot dog.”
    3. #4 from Oklahoma was a bit “juiced” (urine test time?), and as out-of-control as his coaches.
    4. The “Boomer Sooner” buggy has a flat.
    5. OK players did a great impression of Grampa McCoy from the Real McCoys as they regularly limped off the field.

  5. Great game all around. Wow. I mean, WOW. I didn’t expect that. I thought ND could win, but in my head, I thought at the same time that’s going to be tough. I am a 100% believer in this team now. This team can play anybody. The key difference—they believe they can beat anybody. They fear no one. It’s been so long since ND has had that kind of attitude, I actually can’t remember feeling like that. Oh, I hoped time and again they could be NC contenders, but I always knew year after year that was unlikely. Well this year, I believe they could be NC contenders and have a good shot at winning out.

    Funny to hear Musburger say ND is relevant again at the end of the game. For years, ESPN has been down on ND and all of a sudden they are on the bandwagon.

    Looking forward to Franks 5 things he didn’t like. Their wasn’t much not to like, but I think there is always room for improvement and I’d like to see that analysis.

  6. My favorite part… Musburger: “Wow, this Oklahoma offense is just throwing the ball wherever they want. Landry Jones might throw for 300 yards in no time!” Herbie: “If you’re Notre Dame, you’ve got to be happy that Oklahoma has only gotten 3 points after those first two drives.” *Musburger continues to boast ad nauseam about OU’s offense, while ND gets the ball. Cierre Wood takes it to the house on a 60+ yard run, untouched* Musburger: *shocked* “… ” Me: “Man, he got shut up just like the rest of the Norman Faithful! Thank you, Blessed Mother!

  7. I cant believe I’m actually typing this, but Dan Fox has been playing really well lately, and especially last night when he caused that Teo INT.
    Cam McDaniel looked good returning kicks, and even Ishaq finally had a few solo tackles.
    That 62 yard run by Wood was amazing. Three ND players took out two Sooners EACH, allowing Wood to cruise to the end zone. I really couldn’t believe my eyes.
    And it goes without saying, but I just absolutely LOVED how the Irish got that TD right back with the bomb to Chris Brown. It wasn’t a matter of “squeaking out a victory” like we normally do. That was a matter of shoving the game down the opponents’ throats … on THEIR turf. Golson looked like a QB I’ve never seen before.

  8. One game at a time, one game at a time. Pitt is next. I agree with your analysis Frank on what you highlighted.

  9. What, National Championship dreams? How dare you have such high expectations Frank for ND! Shame on you! I was told early on, “not going to happen with an inexperienced redshirt freshman!” This is only a rebuilding year with this schedule. Imagine that with this emotional crowd! Bull killers now with “I told you so” morning sickness! Hahahahaha! Been there done that since the day’s of Ara!

    Well, this game must have been a Lou moment, we were not suppose to win in 1988 either. Lou’s team arrived early and guess what, this team has arrived early also. The new team chemistry/mojo is now working as apposed to the last two years of QB chaos. Not to mention, EG pitched a flawless game as humanly possible for his level of experience. Yep, the WOW facter we knew he had!

    Matter-of-factly, I thought the real shocker was BK’s confidence in EG with all the designed running plays for him coupled with the no fear passing plays. Still running into walls on that one. Now that BK and EG are on the same page finally, things will improve dramatically on offense. Will this be a 1988 season? Only the positive test of time will tell!

    Here come the Irish!

  10. I noticed too that Musberger was all exciting as Oklahoma was dinking & dunking in their first scripted hurry up plays. You’d think he had some skin in the game!

  11. Great game by Notre Dame! There’s really nothing much to complain about here. Golson showed lots of wisdom for a redshirt freshman last night, making all the right plays that were already mentioned. Aside from one third down play where his eyes (or his height) missed a wide open receiver, one throwaway pass that stayed inbounds, and one skipped pass, Golson was Golden. His passing on deep out routes shows his impressive arm, and once he gains the ability to make more than one read on passing plays he’ll be solid — as long as he can beat out Gunner Kiel and Malik Zaire next spring.

    Since praising Te’o is trendy these days, I’m going to distribute my praise equally to Louis Nix. Making comparisons, while Te’o is Ray Lewis, Nix is Haloti Ngata. Nix was double-teamed on almost every play (one resulting in that huge sack by Te’o), and with the Irish mostly having only three defenders at the line of scrimmage, they still shut down OU’s equally potent running game. Nix is still a little raw as a nose tackle, but an NFL team running a 3-4 looking for a two-gap tackle will give Nix a long look in 2014 or 2015.

    1. Also, I’m sure if anyone on here already mentioned this, but after looking at some still images of last night’s game, I noticed that Golson doesn’t hold or throw the football with his fingers on the laces. While it obviously hasn’t affected his throwing power, this appears to factor in his shaky ball security.

      1. Well for years golson hasnt used the laces because thats how he likes to throw it. So its hard to say it affects his

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