5 Things I Didn’t Like: Pitt ’12

Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert (80) attempts to make a catch over Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back K’Waun Williams (2) during the first half at Notre Dame Stadium. (Photo: Mike DiNovo / US PRESSWIRE)

In wrapping up the Pitt game, here is a quicker than usual look at the 5 things I didn’t like seeing out of the Irish this past weekend.

Mike Mayock’s giddyness in the 4th quarter and OT

Almost everything that was gained in production value of the NBC broadcast with Dan Hicks doing the play by play was lost due to Mike Mayock’s uncharacteristic giddiness over Notre Dame’s struggles throughout the game.  I have loved the addition of Mayock as Pat Haden’s replacement once Haden left to be the AD for USC, but on Saturday his constant “this is fun” remarks throughout the second half and overtime was more than a little annoying.

I try not to play the “the announcers hate us” angle outside of anything related to Brent Musberger, but after reading various blogs, forums, and monitoring Twitter, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.  Mayock is a great analyst and provides a lot of insight that I don’t think Haden ever did, but he was far from

Notre Dame’s red-zone offense

Two long first quarter drives that ate up over 16 minutes of clock and lasted 32 plays netted Notre Dame just six points when the offense stalled inside the red-zone.  Another two trips into the endzone ended with turnovers – one Everett Golson interception in the fourth quarter and one Cierre Wood fumble in the second overtime.  Despite those four trips into the red-zone ending with just 6 points going up on the scoreboard for the Irish, Notre Dame was able to come out on top, but that was only possible because they were playing a very average Pitt team that made it’s fair share of mistakes as well.

Notre Dame’s red-zone offense has almost been as bad as its red-zone offense has been been good this year and last weekend’s performance highlighted those struggles. Part of the problem has been a lack of a go-to option in the passing game with opposing defenses really keying on Tyler Eifert once the Irish get near the goalline, but even when Eifert has found himself open – as he was on Golson’s interception – he hasn’t seen the ball.  This offense is getting closer and closer to be where it needs to be, but until the Irish improve in the red-zone, defense is going to have to carry this team.

Brian Kelly continuing the quarterback carousel

It’s about time that Everett Golson stays under center unless he is hurt for Notre Dame.  After leading the Irish back from a 14 point 4th quarter deficit against PItt, Golson has earned that much.  Golson has done enough to prove that he has the potential to take this offense where it needs to go.  Whether or not he is able to put it all together and actually lead the offense to that place remains to be seen, but Brian Kelly needs to roll the dice with Golson and see what happens the rest of the way.

Up to this point, Kelly has played the two quarterback system about as well as he could have and it’s very hard to argue with the results considering Notre Dame is 9-0 for the first time since 1993 but it’s time to let Golson run the show and let him continue to learn on the job.  Golson has improved quite a bit already this year and Saturday’s 4th quarter comeback was a big step forward for the sophomore.

Sloppy tackling and Ray Graham gashing the Irish defense

Since a really poor tackling effort against Purdue, the Irish defense has been more than just solid in terms of tackling at each level of the defense, but Saturday we saw the defense revert to that Purdue game form with one of their worst tackling efforts of the season.  Now, the Irish defense has been playing at such a high level all season that at some point they were bound to have an off performance so hopefully this was it because this unit has shown that it is capable of playing much better than what we saw Saturday.

Notre Dame held some very talented running backs and rushing attacks well below their yearly averages so far this year, but on Saturday Pitt’s Ray Graham racked up 172 yards on 24 carries while running for just the second rushing touchdown allowed by the irish defense this year.  Graham averaged 7.2 yards per carry and made several defenders miss on a pair of long runs that accounted for a large percentage of those yards.

Two #2’s on the field at the same time

By now it has been discussed ad nauseum – Notre Dame had two #2’s on the field for Pitt’s ill-fated 33 yard field foal attempt in the second overtime when wide receiver Chris Brown came on the field for his leaping ability at the same time that cornerback Bennett Jackson was already on the field.  Both wear #2 and both were on the field for the kick.

Did having two #2’s on the field cause Kevin Harper to miss?  No, but there is no reason for this ever to be an issue.  The Notre Dame coaching staff has to be aware of who they are sending on the field because it would be absolutely ridiculous had such a gaffe cost Notre Dame a perfect season.


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  1. I agree Mike Mayock was “giddy” but it wasn’t anti-ND. It was a very close, exiting, come from behind, 3 OT game. I don’t see why enjoying such an event is so difficult to understand. And who gives a FLIP about two #2’s! Its over! It’ll never happen again! Now for the real issues: tackling – they’ll be ready for USC. red zone offense – they need to run Golson until it gets stopped. For now, I see it working. Running Riddick three times up the gut = not working. And thirdly, the kicking game is just horrendous. I don’t know if they can fix Brindza, but they need to find someone reliable for next year. Missing extra points is just beyond belief, especially at a moment like that. He seems to miss every 3rd FG… usually the most important ones

  2. Another thing I didn’t like was listening to Mike Mayock say that it’s clear that Theo Riddick’s knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line even as we watched a replay clearly showing that his right knee was several inches above the turf at the time. Maybe his left knee was down, but you couldn’t see it on any replay shown on NBC. I think it should have been reversed and ND awarded the touchdown. What am I missing on that play? I also really disliked Mayock’s anti-Notre Dame attitude throughout the game. Later in the evening ESPN Radio broadcast the Oregon – Southern Cal game and they utilized the USC Football broadcast. I don’t mind the NBC not being Notre Dame “homers” but I don’t want them rooting against the Irish and yukking it up as Notre Dame falls behind.

  3. From the way they played the first3 quarters it was apparent ND took a couple #2s on the field. Just glad we didn’t put a third #2 on the field in OT.

  4. This stuff needs to end with players having the same number. You have one #2 and that is it. If Bennett Jackson has it tough Chris Brown, pick another number. Enough is Enough act like adults.

  5. Can anyone tell me WHY ND feels the need to give the same number to multiple players? Stop that and it never becomes an issue.

  6. The good news is special teams are fixable realtive to say offense which is more of a off season issue & time consuming. N.D. can repair this issue if in fact there is one.

  7. Isn’t it scary to think that Notre Dame could’ve lost because of having two #2s on the field? That would’ve been a bitter pill to shallow for every ND fan if ND would’ve lost because of that.

    1. spiceyirish,

      ND, with the exception of the occasional bowl game, ND does not put players’ names on their jersey’s.

      Wonder if that had anything to do with this error getting overlooked?

      1. The refs must’ve not been looking for it or not thought of that scenario ever occurring. I mean really when does a team put two players on the field with the same number. Almost never. It is pretty much seeing two different cars on the same road that share the same license plate number. Would the cops notice that? Obviously it is a penalty and ND is very lucky to not get penalized.

  8. Amen Frank,

    You are 100% correct, EG has earned the right to STAY under center for the remainder of the season! Howbeit, I highly doubt that will happen. We have had the quarterback carousel since our new coaching messiah has arrived and I don’t expect it to change. Next year will be an all out war on who starts? Five QB derby here we come!! Sounds exciting and the season is not even over with.

    In essense, I guess we just have to live with routine employment of such a phenomenally successful hybrid multidisciplinary QB approach. 13-0 euphoric QB panacea only 4 games away!

    Here come the Irish!

    1. If Everett Golson isn’t the starting quarterback for the next three years, something’s really wrong. He was the main reason for us winning the game Saturday, as well as beating Oklahoma. The guy finds ways to get the job done. Only Zaire would be the one I would feel could challenge Golson for the starting job but I just dont see it happening. He has all the tools and is progressing each week. He may be a potential Heisman in the future. Love EG!!!

      1. I’m betting we have Gunner Kiel at QB next year and a shift towards a more pro-style offense. Kiel can put the ball anywhere he wants and will remind people of Andrew Luck. And he’s a better runner than people think.

      2. BruceB,

        Kudos, I’ll bet money your right. Why? The same BK chemistry and connection exists with GK as with TR. And Kiel has a size advantage besides good running skills.

  9. While I also felt like junk-punching Mayock several times throughout the game, I’m with Bruno – special teams were absolutely the Pitts (pun intended).

  10. Uh, special teams, special teams, special teams. Don’t worry about Mayock. Like ND, he was not on his game last Saturday. Everyone has a bad day now and then.

  11. This is subjective, and quite happy with all your points except for managing Quarterbacks. I feel this is the coaches’ province, and we don’t know all the angles to the question. My trust is with Coach Kelly on this.

    1. Chuckie,

      I agree with your view about trusting the coach to manage his quarterbacks.

      I also like the way you made the word “quarterbacks” plural.

      Many think that pulling a QB is bad for his confedence.

      But leaving a young, emotional QB in after he makes certain mistakes that clearly bother him, is sometimes just asking for more trouble.
      Often times a young, inexperienced QB will try to over compensate for his mistake and just compound the issue.
      Now his confedence can really take a beating. Long term.
      Especially at a place like ND where the QB is under so much scrutiny.
      Kelly managed Everett Golson to only one turnover.
      He also managed Tommy Rees to only one turn over.
      Call it musical chairs if you will.
      But now both QB’s should be able to prepare for BC without too much negitive fan fare and media ill-will and distractions.

      1. Its not that fact the EG was pulled that is the problem. The problem is that EG was not playing poorly at the time. I believe he was something like 9-14 at the time with no turnovers.

        EG’s turnover was after he got pulled so the idea that Kelly held him to one TO is void. He was taken out initially because his helmet was pulled off and was forced out of the game for a play by rule.

        Pitt was the team that created the blueprint for stopping a Rees led offense last year. Bringing him in was a recipe for disaster. I found myself rooting for a mistake to get EG back in the game.

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