6 Reasons Notre Dame Can Make Another Run in ’13

Notre Dame’s improbable ride to the national championship game ended abruptly on Monday night in Miami.  Alabama left no doubt as to who was the better team and sent Notre Dame back home to South Bend with a lot of questions to answer this off-season.  Despite a rather disappointing ending to a season far exceeded even the most optimistic expectations for 2012, there is plenty of reason for hope as the Irish begin the long road back to getting back to the title game next season.

Notre Dame brings a lot of talent back next year and there are plenty of reasons to think that the Irish can make another run and end next season looking for some redemption in Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl and site of 2014 National Championship game and it all starts under center.

1. Everett Golson

Think back to how far Everett Golson has come in just one year as a starting quarterback on the college level.   Against Michigan Golson looked lost and overwhelmed prompting Brian Kelly to pull him in favor of Tommy Rees.  Last night that wasn’t the case.  Golson wasn’t at his absolute best but he didn’t look lost either and actually turned in a solid performance completing 21 of 36 for 270 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  Golson just missed on a number of other throws early on as well that would have made the game much more interesting – throws that he will most likely make next year after a full off-season of being THE guy at quarterback for Notre Dame.

Golson has a bright, bright future ahead of him and is poised to make some huge strides in the off-season once he has a chance to digest everything that happened this year and work with Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin on taking his game to the next level.  Kelly slowly loosened the reigns on Golson as the season progressed, but the training wheels are still on in some respects.  Those wheels should come flying off next year as Golson takes charge of the team.  As a first year starter with some strong leaders in place already, Golson couldn’t really make this his team.  Notre Dame will be looking for leaders next year and Golson will have the opportunity to seize that role.  If he is able to do that, we will see an offense that starts to resemble the high scoring units Kelly put on the field at his previous stops.

The Notre Dame offense in 2012 was adequate – it was just good enough for Notre Dame to pull off some too close for comfort victories.  That should not be the case in 2013 with Golson leading the way.  For the first time in the Kelly Era, we will head into a season with a clear #1 quarterback for spring and fall ball allowing Golson to get more snaps and Kelly and Martin to feed Golson more and more of the offense.  In 2012 we saw a young quarterback grow up in front of us.  In 2013, we are going to see that same quarterback elevate his game and turn the offense into a much more efficient and explosive unit.

2. Zack Martin and Louis Nix Returning

Louis Nix - 2013 BCS Championship
Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Louis Nix III (9) fights off a block by Alabama Crimson Tide offensive linesman Anthony Steen (61) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. (Photo – Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

Notre Dame’s run to last night’s BCS Championship was made possible by the returns of both Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert for their senior seasons this year and the returns of both Zack Martin and Louis Nix for next year could do the same for the 2013 Fighting Irish.  If there is one thing that we all learned last night it was that championship football temas are built in the trenches.  Alabama controlled both lines of scrimmage and had a clear edge with both of their lines.  Notre Dame has done a great job in rebuilding both lines, but clearly there is a lot of work left to be done.

Louis Nix took a big step forward this year and became the disruptive force we all imagined he would be when he signed on to play at Notre Dame and with another off-season he has the ability to be one of the elite defensive linemen in the country.  Nix received some All American mention this year and should be on almost everyone’s pre-season All-American lists heading into 2013 as well.  His return will also help soften the blow of losing Te’o because his ability to occupy blockers makes the lives of Notre Dame’s inside backers a whole lot easier.

Martin, meanwhile, will anchor the Notre Dame offensive line for a fourth straight year and be called upon to be one of the offensive leaders again next season as a returning captain.  Notre Dame’s offensive line made some strides this year, but last night proved that there is still a lot of work for Harry Hiestand with his unit.  He and the Irish will have to replace two starters – Mike Golic Jr and Braxston Cave already.  If Martin had left for the NFL, his job would have been a heck of a lot harder.  Martin is an elite left tackle and if Notre Dame had 5 Zack Martin’s across the line of scrimmage, last night’s result wouldn’t have been as grim for the Irish.

3. An elite incoming freshman class

Jaylon Smith
U.S. Army All-American Bowl West Team LB Jaylon Smith (9) from Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, IN during the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas. (Photo – John Albright / Icon SMI)

Alabama is an elite team because they reload every year with elite talent. Notre Dame is getting to that point, but isn’t quite there.  The Irish are bringing in the top recruiting class in the country (based on current rankings) and have loaded up along the lines once again.  Notre Dame has five offensive linemen – Steve Elmer, John Montelus, Colin McGovern, Hunter Bivin, and Mike McGlinchey – in this year’s class.

Those linemen will fuel future BCS drives, but as far as next year is concerned, true freshmen offensive linemen are rarely capable of playing immediately because they need time in the weight room to get physically prepared.   One offensive lineman who could possibly push for time though is Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year Award winner Steve Elmer.  Elmer will enroll early which will give him the benefit of a full off-season conditioning program and spring practice under his belt.  If he could push for time at right tackle, Christian Lombard could slide inside to guard, and then have Nick Martin potentially replace Braxston Cave.  It is never a good thing to bank on freshmen playing along either line though so hopefully some of the other linemen step up in spring and a couple emerge.

Notre Dame does have some other instant impact freshmen coming in though.  Guys like Jaylon Smith at linebacker, Max Redfield at safety, and Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant at running back could step right in and compete from day one.

Smith was an animal in the Army All American Bowl and Folston showed his versatility by playing corner in the Under Armor game even though running the football is his trade.  Another name to look out for is Alex Anzalone.  Anzalone looked big, strong, and fast at linebacker in the Under Armor game as well.  He may not be ready to step in an start like Manti Te’o did as a frosh in 2009, but having young guys like him on the roster will push the veterans.

4. The Notre Dame wide receivers

davaris daniels 2013
Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (10) carries the ball past Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Geno Smith (24) and C.J. Mosley (32) during the second half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. (Photo – Matt Cashore / USA TODAY Sports)

Replacing Michael Floyd was going to be a really tough task this year.  You don’t just replace the greatest wide receiver in school history and you certainly don’t replace that kind of production while also easing in a new starting quarterback.  As the season progressed though, Golson started to build a rapport with TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels.  That rapport was one of the few bright sports in last night’s humbling loss with Jones hauling in 7 passes for 90 yards and Daniels adding 6 for 115.

Daniels has the makings of being a top notch #1 wide receiver on the college level but just isn’t quite there yet.  That is to be expected of a true sophomore who didn’t play as a freshman a year ago.  Daniels shoulder injury against Boston College also robbed the second year player of some valuable experience just as his season was starting to take off.  Look for the Golson to Daniels connection to hook up much more than 31 times in 2013.  In fact, don’t be surprised if that number more than doubles next season.

As for Jones, he is right there with Daniels in terms of looking like he is ready to take his game to that next level in 2013.  Jones had a slow start to the season as well, but started to develop really nicely as he built some chemistry with Golson.  He hauled in 12 more passes in 2012 than he did in 2011 and his yards per catch averaged jumped from 9.6 to 13.0 at the same time.  Jones should only improve on those numbers again next season.

Outside of Jones and Daniels, Notre Dame has a group of young wide receivers who have all shown promise and the ability to let Notre Dame field some difficult to defend multiple receiver sets moving forward.  Chris Brown has shown he can get open downfield, but needs to bulk up a bit and develop more consistency.  Once he does, he is a dangerous weapon for Golson.

Davonte Neal saw the field early, but the Irish coaching staff never found a good role for him in this year’s offense.  Neal has elite speed and athleticism and will have to find a role in next year’s offense for this unit to improve.

5. A favorable schedule

michigan scouting
Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16), safety Jordan Kovacs (32) and wide receiver Roy Roundtree (21) lead out the team before the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Michigan Stadium. (Photo – Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

It is impossible to accurately project a schedule nine months before the start of the season – just look at this year when Notre Dame’s “brutal schedule” turned out to be much easier than anyone could have imagined – but the 2013 schedule does look like it sets up favorably for Notre Dame at this point.

The toughest road games will be Michigan and Stanford – two teams that Notre Dame beat this past season.  An early season trip to Ann Arbor is never easy, but Notre Dame finally got past the Wolverines after three years of heartbreak this past year and won’t have to face Denard Robinson anymore.  Still, Notre Dame hasn’t won in Ann Arbor since 2005.

Stanford meanwhile will be a very tough task.  The Cardinal will be seeking revenge when the Irish come to town next Thanksgiving weekend and that game could be a BCS eliminator game for either team as both should be in the hunt.

Home games against Oklahoma and USC will be challenges as well although the Irish took care of a Sooners team that was equally as unimpressive in their bowl game as the Irish this past season on the road.  USC is a wildcard.  If Kiffin gets that team to play up to their talent level they are a very dangerous team.  Will he be able to rebound them after the debacle of a season they had or will he lose them?  The game comes early in the season while the Trojans will still be in the hunt so that will be be a factor as well.

Right now, however, there isn’t a game on the schedule that you can look at and say the Irish don’t have a chance and in reality, Stanford is the only game that the Irish would not be favored in right now.

6. The Notre Dame defense

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)

Notre Dame’s defense took a big hit on Monday night after Alabama carved up the Irish defense like a Thanksgiving turkey, but let’s not forget that this year’s defense overcame a lot just to get to the title game.  Notre Dame started a pair of first time corners who were recruited to play offense, lost a 5th year senior starting safety in week 3, and had little, if any depth at corner.  Despite all of that, the Irish defense was one of the best in the country in the regular season before Alabama exposed a lot of the weaknesses Bob Diaco was able to mask over the first 12 games.

In 2013, Notre Dame loses the heart and soul of the defense with Manti Te’o out of eligibility, but outside of Te’o, there isn’t a starter that Notre Dame is losing that appears to be irreplaceable right now.

Kapron Lewis-Moore was a four year starter at defensive end, but with Sheldon Day gaining valuable experience this year he will be the favorite to start in his place.  He will also be pushed by sophomore to be Jarron Jones and Kona Schwenke has always played well when called upon.  Despite the loss of KLM, Notre Dame should have greater depth up front so that Diaco and co can substitute more freely.

In the secondary, Notre Dame loses Zeke Motta, but could get Jamoris Slaughter back and will benefit from the experience Matthias Farley, Bennett Jackson and Keivarae Russell gained this year.  Incoming freshman Max Redfield will also push for a starting spot next from day one.  Sophomore to be Elijah Shumate showed plenty of promise as well this year as a nickel back and will only improve because of that experience.

Losing Te’o will be like losing Floyd this past year, but with so many other parts of a great defense returning, the defense as a whole should not miss a beat and if the Irish offense is able to take the step forward that it should, the defense will not be placed in as many tough situations as they were this year.

A lot has to go right for a team to get back to the championship game, but the makings are here for another run in 2013.  Can the Irish close the gap with the Alabama’s of the world if they do find themselves back in the title game though?  That’s another story that he we have the entire off-season to discuss.

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  1. A lot of the ND success will depend on Golson. If he doesn’t work out, they have plenty of possible subs, including Zaire, the freshman and you can’t forget about Kiel. It won’t be easy but if Golson plays to his potential 2013 should be almost as successful as 2012. The schedule has a few questions marks in it, namely Stanford, USC, Oklahoma, and Michigan but with the exception of Stanford they should be able to handle it. 12-0 regular season, probably not, but 11-1 or at worst 10-2 is certainly in their reach. Go Irish!

  2. Philly is seriously looking elsewhere. Kelly will stay. They will retain the assistants and they will be back. Look for another overrated Michigan team next year. ND blows them out. Oklahoma will look for revenge but will come unglued in the 4th quarter. USC will not be so great next year. The Stanford game will determine if ND gets a second shot. Kelly learns and both he and diaco are ready.

    Winning them all again prior to the bowls won’t be easy but Kelly is ready to see the process through. The only acceptable conclusion for Brian Kelly is a national championship.

  3. I think we all need to take a deep breath and calm down. A pre-season unranked ND team made it all the way to the national championship game. As much talent as this team had, there were many teams with more talent than us. Frankly, this team over-achieved this season, and that’s a testament to BK, his asst coaches, his players and the program. They were able to get the very most out of this team on a weekly basis Did Kelly get out-coached on Monday? Absolutely. He got out coached by Nick Saban. Did i agree with his play-calling? No. But BK has shown an ability to adapt and learn from his mistakes, since the day he arrived at ND. This is a characteristic you cannot undervalue ( Charlie Weis anyone?). BK lost the first national championship game he coached in at Grand Valley State. However, the next year, he was right back there and won it all.

    BK is putting the piece in place. I can’t guarantee he will win an nc, but he clearly has the program headed in the right direction.

  4. alabama was the better team. the only place notre dame might have had an advantage going into the game was the defense front. once alabama’s line showed it could handle notre dame’s front the game was over.

    notre dame did tackle very poorly, the defense backs looked like they were afraid to tackle the alabama backs. if they tackled better they probably would’ve only given up just 35 points. notre dame isn’t quite at the sec level yet, but nobody else seems to be either.

    if was a bad end to a great season
    , but. a few years ago they were lucky to have a winning season. remember going into this season they weren’t even supposed to be a five hundred team. i enjoyed seeing doug flutie, robert smith and mark may with egg on their face consistenly after picking notre dame to lose week after week.

    i hope the team can keep improving and continue to have winning seasons.

  5. Add the Leprechaun Outfit worn by Mark May to all of that!
    My 7 year old dislikes Mr. May because “he doesn’t care about other people’s feelings with anybody and any team” IF a seven year old can pick up on that –maybe Mr. May should read this. That commentary by my second grader and seeing the green on Mr. May is on our DVR!


    1. Destroying Miami 41-3.
    2. Beating Michigan 13-6 and getting first down just enough with a pass to run out the clock leaving the Maize and Blue powerless!! Oh yeah!
    3. Beating Mich. St by the same score of 20-3 like we did in 88!
    4. The Stanford goal line stand!
    5. SEVERAL goal line stands!
    6. The huge 52? Yard fg against SC in Pasadena! Take that Troy!
    7. Senior Day!
    8. Teo’s hardware
    9. Kelly’s Coach of the Year ( given where we’ve been –he DESERVED THIS)
    10.Beating Oklahoma!! WOW!
    11.A season of great memories with the hope ( and knowing ) we can be competitive and being real that there is room for improvement. We CAN DO THIS NOTRE DAME!!!!!
    12. Seeing more ND t-shirts in the mall since the Lou Holtz Era!
    13. Playing for NC
    14. Pride in ND -always, now and forever. NOTRE DAME OUR MOTHER!

  7. Other area we can improve in is in the nutrition and conditioning of our players. I was listening to XM and they had the Bama radio guy on talking about how a strength and conditioning coach was making a stink about how Coach Saban wanted his guys to have something like 175 calories in them before the hit the showers after practice. But yes we need to get bigger and stronger and Coach Kelly will get us there.

  8. I believe Kelly is the right guy. The program is headed in the right direction. However, if you think he is without criticism for the performance Monday night, than you are just as bad as the people calling for his head. The team was not prepared and some of the decisions made were confusing. The talent gap between Alabama and Notre Dame was not 28 points. Notre Dame got out coached. ND has great recruiting classes and great athletes coming in, but if they aren’t used correctly, it really doesn’t matter.

    If Kelly can critique this performance objectively, Notre Dame will be tough to stop. However, if excuses are made, no one gets better from that. About the only person who consistently gives Saban fits is Les Miles, but even LSU got beat 21-0 last year in the NC game.

    Use this as a learning/growing experience and ND can compete yearly for National Championships with Kelly, Diaco, and Co.

  9. Wow, Kelly helps get the team to the NC game and some fans are griping he may not be the right coach. Wow. Were they embarrassed, yes, but my God, I’m not ready to fire Kelly because they lost. ND was not going to win that game this year. That should be obvious. Alabama is a football factory that breeds big football players. You can’t coach size, you can only recruit size (which Kelly is actively doing–see some of the offensive line and defensive recruits).

    Where are you going to get a better coach than BK? Stoops, BK’s team beat Stoop’s this year. Saban is not going anywhere (plus I don’t like the extra’s that come along with that–such as overrecruiting, grey shirting, etc).

    Did BK make questionable calls last night? Sure. But that is something that can be fixed. He is recruiting the right guys, looking at the right football model for success, and he knows defense wins championships.

    BK has already showed he can make adjustments. He did with his demeanor on the field this year, something not easy to do since it requires a change in attitude.

    But let’s be devil’s advocate. ND decides they can do better. They fire BK after losing the NC game. Now you lose about half your recruiting class and some players decide to transfer. The media roasts you alive (how can you fire a coach after getting to an NC game after years of being irrelevant?). Top coaches in the country see this and decide there’s no way they want to work at ND if they’re fired so easily and they stay at their elite school. Now ND has to go after some middle level school coach or division II coach who has nothing to lose. Now it’s the Davie/Willingham/Weis era all over again.

    Think about that and how ridiculous that sounds. BK is the right coach. He is recruiting the right kids. ESPN, even after the NC debacle, is talking about how ND is relevant again and poised for yearly success (ESPN, not exactly an advocate for ND). And he has shown he can adapt. He will look at this year and see what has worked and what hasn’t. There will be adjustments made this offseason. ND will be in the BCS/NC hunt for years to come (even a BCS bowl brings gobs of money to ND, which will further help the team and bring in even better recruits).

    ND is finally on the right set of tracks.

    1. How will Brian look in Philadelphia Green? To interview for a NFL team the day after a drubbing and new enrollees coming in doesn’t say a lot about BK being “the right” guy. As I have said in posts elsewhere, BK may be a proper coach but whether he is the “right” one has not been conclusively answered.

  10. I believe it’s more than possible to reach that “bar” without sacrificing standards. The needs to evaluate time management for the players. Take it for sour grapes if you want but I can supply examples if you like, but while the ND kids are in class SEC kids are in the gym. Yes there are exceptions like Barrett Jones but overall that is the case. The coaches need to find a way to get more time for strength training. Alabama wasn’t that much bigger to the man but they were a heck of a lot stronger. Eddie Lacy for example, his legs looked like tree trunks. Not one of our backs looks like that. Please do not give the whole “he’s a different athlete” garbage. Richardson and Ingram before him looked the same way. It didn’t matter who was doing the tackling for Alabama, they brought ND ball carriers to the ground with relative ease. While ND tacklers simply bounced off or the Alabama ball carrier (regardless of who) simply stepped out of the tackle. ND needs to get physically stronger if they are going to compete with UF, LSU, and Alabama. I mention those 3 exclusively and not SEC as a whole because those the teams ND needs to strive for physically and they are the class of the SEC. I believe ND can compete with and beat the rest, though A&M appears to be close to the other 3.

    This was a learning experience (brutal one) for all parties involved. The coaches got to see up close what it looks like and now need a gameplan to get there. Kelly proven this year that he can make a necessary change in regards to how he handles the team. He will do it again. Too bad it always seems like he has to learn the hard way! I have faith in him that he will. The players saw that while they outmuscled most the teams they played there is always someone bigger and badder than you out there. Expect to hear the words time management a lot next year because it’s going to be crucial going forward. How they balance school, workouts, practice, and film study is going to be paramount.

    This was an amazing season and nothing can take that away. Not even the trolls. If you’re team didn’t play in THE game shut your yapper. Congrats to Alabama players, coaches, and fans. You kicked our butt soundly and you earned it. Don’t think this the last you see of us though! This team is going to be here for awhile. As for the trolls, this is the last thing I am going to say to you: I know it burns your ass that ND is back. You can’t stand it. I got news for you, to quote Brian Kelly “get used to it”. Respond if you like but I assure you I won’t read it. I have spent enough time beating your brains in on here and you have nothing of substance to say other than repeat the same tired BS. I come to discuss ND football with people who can make intelligent and valid points. You have been unable to do so all season so I believe all hope is lost. I encourage everyone else to do the same and ignore the idiots and stick to more productive conversation.

    Already lookin forward to next season!!

    1. Well said JTRAIN. I like your assessment of how the Alabama RBs simply stepped out of the tackles. Shocking to watch how easy they made it look. This team will be much better next year. Kelly has the team heading in the right direction. Go Irish

      1. Alabama returns 8 starters on offense and 8 on defense. Our QB, AJ McCarron will have a better group of receivers to throw to than he did Mon. nite. Also, Eddie Lacy may leave for the NFL. However, Ala has several talented backs ready to step up. In summation, I like our chances in a rematch.

    2. While I agree with your comments about the online bama/sec fans, I have nothing but great things to say about those at the game. Being from Southeast Texas I am not your quite polite no matter what fan, but was there with bells on. Face painted, wearing ND colors and hollering ND #1 and Go IRISH to everyone. When they said ‘roll tide’ I ask them if they meant low tide or did that mean #2? Great reply and ND will be back and again con grats to the fans at the game they seem to have all the class that their online trolls lack.!

  11. ND should be in the mix for a BCS bowl game next year but are 2 years away from getting back to the championship game. Look at Alabama recruiting classes from the last 4 years, consistently top 3, ND was 23, 9, and 9, before breaking into the top 3 this year. I think we are headed in the right direction but need to get more depth of talent before we can compete with the big boys…. GO IRISH!!!!

  12. If Kelly is going to run a hybrid spread offense, then he needs to use Hendrix as his qb. Golson is made for a pure spread offense, not the hybrid spread offense that Kelly runs.

  13. The loss of Teo in terms of leadership will be tough to replace. Hopefully someone steps up. Overall the linebackers need to improve and perhaps as a unit they can. The secondary has the pieces in place if the coaches trust them and quit calling for soft coverage.

    The offense will. Improve simply because the coaches have done well at player development.

    From a player perspective the guys graduating did an incredible job this year. But player development is such that the “next man in” concept is in play.

    My only concern is game prep. The Irish simply were not prepared to play Monday night. The loss looked worse than it might have been had the team been ready to play. The coaches also did not seem to understand how to attack Alabama. Getting held constantly in the 1st quarter doesn’t help nor do other bad calls but they never recovered from that. No one seemed take the defense aside and get them in since or remind them about tackling technique. Diaco backed off his cornerbacks instead of taking a chance and trying aggressive coverage. Offensively there were no real adjustments

    I feel like Kelly is so much of a control freak that he tends to react poorly when the game plan gets blown up. A coach and his staff need to be prepared for chaos and need to calmly adjust. I feel like Kelly gets pissed when his plan isn’t working and then thinks only of one or two things to try. I also think he gets impatient when the first thing doesn’t work. The. Coaches need to change that tendency.

    With a weak big ten and other lackluster conferences, Notre dame needs to know that the yard stick is the team they just played. How do the Irish take the next step, especially without compromising academics?

    1. The next step is very easy to take – and I think this recruiting class addresses it. Two feature backs and more SPEED. I’m as passionate as anyone about ND football, and I do not feel the sky is falling.

      Take a step back, remove the emotion, and look at the landscape of college football. Besides Alabama, who has a better program, with a brighter future? Honestly, answer that. LSU has talent, but mentally is a mixed bag. They could be 13-0 and 11-2. A&M will be a contender, but I put much of that on Manziel, as opposed to an entire system. Ohio State will be a competitor, simply because of Urban Meyer. USC? Stanford? Oregon?

      I wouldn’t rate ND, its talent or coaching any less than those schools. ND will be in the mix moving forward. But as I’ve said, if they want to WIN the national title, they need to assume they’ll play a team like Alabama (great running game, speed and strength on ND, stellar QB play) in the years moving forward.

      They are close, but this next recruiting class will tell how quickly they get there.

      1. Patrick:

        BRAVO. Well said. You should write for the Tribune! Bravo!
        I noticed for the first time this season the bama def. was as fast as our QB–and that was tough. Furthermore, LSU is a mental mixed bag. Les Miles does not do their school a great justice when he speaks at the mic at post game shows. ( I know some may think I’m “judging” -but whatever–he swears and is agitated and he is anything but a southern gentlemen at the mic–and I feel badly for the purple and gold when I see that-what a powder keg)

        ND-needs one more game next year. To my knowledge ( I could be wrong) we have 11 games scheduled.–we need a 12th and I would LOVE to see a classic kick off with somebody like Oregon. Think of that!!! Why not??
        We ARE close Patrick, and the recruits and BK will adjust and we will be there.
        Advising us all to take a step back is wise. We lost but we were THERE! We could have been 10-2 -Stanford, Thanks Pitt for the missed FG and Thanks Def. for shutting down BYU when they brought their A game in the first half. What a season!
        Thanks Patrick. You are wise with insight!!!

  14. kelly just doesnt understand offense, no creative thinking, no surprises, etc. no outside the box. he is just a football ceo, cant motivate. give me lou any day. ara beat alabama, kelly always leaves me cold, how can the fighting irish be unmotivated????? this was a huge national embarassment.

    1. Where do great college football coaches come from?

      Do they fall from the sky or spring up from holes in the ground?

      Do they just step off a bus and say “Here I am” ?

      Lets look at Nick Saban.

      Assistant coaching jobs:
      Kent St, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio St, Navy & Mich. St. (NFL) Houston Oliers, & Cleveland Browns.
      Head Coaching Jobs: Toledo, MSU, LSU,& Alabama. (NFL) Miami Dolphins.

      Brian Kelly Started coaching as an assistant coach with Grand Valley State, before taking over as their Head Coach.
      He was also a head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinati, and now at Notre Dame.

      Considering his limited experience compared to that of Nick Saban, I consider BK a rather remarkable coach.

      He hasn’t had a losing season.
      He currently has ND ranked #1 in recruiting this year.
      He took an Unranked ND team, to number #1 in the country during the regular season with a 12-0 record.
      He has taken his team to Ireland, to Boston, to Chicago, to Norman Oklahoma, to Los Angeles, and Miami, and done pretty well.

      There are a lot worst teams and coaches to lose to in a national Championship game than Alabama and Nick Saban.

      Alabama played with class and dignaty. There was no gloating, no trash talking, no baiting, or disrespect. No cheap shots, and no acting like a bunch asses on the sidelines by the Tide.

      Kelly and his assistants are quick studies.
      They will learn and grow from this experience and be better for it.
      And that’s a good thing for ND.

      It’s also worth remembering that when ND offers a scholarship to a high school player it’s priorities are acedemics first. It is a full four year commitment by the University to that student with the goal of graduation at it’s core.
      Some schools will give a scholarship to a player for one year, after which they will “pull” it to give to a better incoming athlete.
      Many of these same schools will use Junior College Transfers to fill holes left by recruiting short comings.

      ND stands behind the players they sign and the hand that they are dealt.

      Realizing how well Kelly has handled that situation makes the job he has done this year even more remarkable.

      To assume that Brian Kelly doesn’t understand, doesn’t care, isn’t a hard worker, or isn’t the right guy for the job, just goes to show how truely ignorant and down right pin-headed some so called fans really are.

      Now that’s embarressing!

      1. I agree. Bj, I won’t call you an idiot as that would be rude but your comments are consistently idiotic.

      2. SHAZ:

        I agree. This ENTIRE season was a journey the true blue and gold ( and green) will never forget. I would say this to all of my fellow Irish fans: The sky is NOT falling, we have come so far and Kelly will build and recruit. We almost had it all but we were in the NC! Who would have THOUGHT that we would be there in the first place? A good bowl on New Years Day or a BCS bowl at best but to play for all the marbles? We got there, we lost to a huge, strong team
        ( who should be kissing the feet of Kansas State and the Ducks of Oregon and Georgia’s 5 yards out with clock expired )Bama won, better plan, points, points, points and offense and they read us like a cat does a mouse. Good for them. It is only the second time in History ( I think I’m right on that) that Bama has beaten Notre Dame. WE GOT THERE-AND WE WILL BE BACK.
        Kelly is building, has had to overcome the culture of Weiss, Willingham and Davie – a huge 13 year gap in mediocre coaching. Look at where we have been and where we are now. Teo is still inspirational, the Blue and Gold Nation is proud -or at least should be-and Notre Dame is back on track. He stands behind players, has a vision, works hard and takes responsibility for things when they don’t go right. OFfense and special teams will get it done. Hey if you can’t beat them-join them. Watch Bama and Texas A and M -and emulate that with a superb running game. We will be alright. WE ARE ND! ( BTW, I’m predicting the Aggies for all of it next year–just because) Go Irish!

  15. It just all depends on if the pieces get used correctly next year. I believe Alabama was a better team, but I also believe Kelly got outcoached.

    Where was Robby Toma? Why was Eifert being used on the outside instead of the middle of the field? He creates mismatches against linebackers and safeties. Why so many low percentage pass plays? Where were the designed runs? Golson couldn’t have gotten 8-10 carries for 50 yards? I just don’t understand the gameplan.

    1. I dont think that Golson is the man. He has a gun but lacks touch. He can only throw bullets. He cant hit that conrner of the end zone pass as he cant arc the ball. I hope Kiel beats him out in the spring

      1. The kid played a decent game but he showed me nothing special. In his defense, he got no help from his running game. And had little time to set up.

      2. I agree. Kiel is bigger, stronger, more accurate and, according to rumors, faster. I think the spring game will be an eye-opener.

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