Duranko’s Digest: What did we see in West Lafayette?

Cam McDaniel - Notre Dame RB
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Cam McDaniel (33) runs into the end zone for a touchdown as Purdue Boilermakers defensive end Greg Latta (91) defends in the third quarter at Ross-Ade Stadium. Notre Dame won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish began the game with a 24 minute nap. At the nine minute mark of the 2d quarter, “mighty” Purdue had a 10-0 lead and had out-gained the Irish 144 yards to 58 yards.

In the final 36 minutes the Irish outgained the Boilers 342-150 and outscored Purdue 31-10. While we cannot gainsay the start of the game, it is conceivable that the Irish may be closer to righting the ship.

The defense. bouncing back from the previous week’s trauma, was facing the least mobile (yet not altogether immobile) quarterback we’ve faced. Purdue did not have a skilled player who could attack the defense, and the defense kept the yardage down, yielding just 294 total yards, 71% of the revolting 411 per game total the first two weeks.

On defense, there were several important developments

(1) Rochell played more than he did against Michigan, but not by much. He is quick and as he gains weight can be a force in the future.

(2) the blitz packages are still a work in progress, but progress is arriving. The success of blitzes is measured in true quarterback hurries, not merely sacks. And Henry was forced to throw the ball away a lot.

(3) Jarrett Grace may have “arrived” Saturday night. He is fierce, aggressive and quicker than the starters.

(4) the man to man coverages are part of the defense. We’re no longer zone only. CB and safety depth is coming, and SOON!

Despite the scar tissue from the two interceptions against last week’s opponent, the offense is surprisingly disciplined. We have fumbled once and lost one fumble. That is two interceptions and one fumble in the first three games. That’s three too many, but be realistic. One per game is championship level. Also, just one sack allowed per game, with a non-elusive quarterback. The penalties have been few. Most have been on the defensive side. Sure, we’ve used a couple of timeouts, but they are not penalties. This offense, now, unlike 2011, no longer beats itself with turnovers, and that is now a HABIT. This offense, whether you see it or not, is not far away.

When the running back rotation gets settled, and there is better timing on the short routes to the running backs, this offense will get explosive. Watch and learn, lads.

The Br’er Rabbit offense.

So, Mr. Defensive Coordinator, you want to crowd the box, blitz the run and make Tommy rees beat you by throwing?

Oh no, Mr. DC, do anything you want but don’t throw us in THAT Briar Patch!

And the next thing you know, there are long arching passes to Davaris Daniels, Chris Brown, T.J. Jones and the fast-arriving Corey Robinson.  Everything’s connected, and the crowd in the box is creating space for our gazelles. And yeah, Rees can hit them.

Newcomers of the match

Cole Luke-has excellent coverage skills. Adequate tackler. He has a bright future.

Amir Carlisle-good thing Daddy went to Purdue. Stronger than his height and weight. Remember, he’s still knocking the rust off from the long layoff.

Player Development Studs

Nick Martin-looks as if we are set for center through 2015. Makes few mistakes

Chris Brown-last fall it looked like he was two years away, but he cut that in half. He may not yet know how good he can be..

Rehab hero

Austin Collinsworth – has recovered from injury. Nicky Baratti, are you watching this?

Blood makes the grass grow award

Cam McDaniel-wipe it off and put me back in!

Rating the Units.

We have four categories:

  • BCS Bowl Caliber
  • New Year’s Day Bowl Caliber
  • Bowl Cailber
  • Stay Home! (We may be close to retiring this caliber, at least for 2013)

And we are rating these categories based on 2013 performance, NOT credentials, resume and potential

BCS Bowl Caliber

Wide Receiver – DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones performed well on the big stage against Bama,and each has ELEVATED HIS GAME in 2013. Chris Brown is now a very good third option, and may be ahead of where Daniels was last September. The kids, Robinson, Prosise, Onwualu and Fuller may be pushing loyal soldier and protector of Skylar Diggins, Daniel Smith down to third string.

New Year’s Day Bowl Caliber

Defensive Line – sorry, we rate based on 2013 performance, not mock drafts or past achievement. Granted, it is early, and we would expect a grade bump, for this DL will be better against teams that run power and have an immobile quarterback (Pitt, USC) than against mobile quarterbacks. Further, because of Vanderdoes non-arrival, Hounshell’s Spring injury and Springmann’s Fall injury, the depth is not what it was a year ago. Our second string DL in September of 2012 was Day, Springmann and Schwenke. Rochell and Jarron Jones must step up. Six playable defensive line men is the BARE MINIMUM for BCS teams. Bama played 12 in yesterday’s game. We are stout against the power running game. Whither the push and pass rush from the DL? And containing the running quarterbacks? QBS have averaged over 50 yards per game in the first three games. That just will not do.

Offensive Line – This unit is much better than in 2012 and Martin and Stanley are getting better weekly. They are also showing the Heistand effect. The reduced running yardage is a product of play selection and checkoffs to passes. They run block with power up the middle. When they have Niklas next to them, they open huge holes. Though we haven’t played a tough defensive front yet, we will face three in the next four games-MSU, Oklahoma and USC. USC’s defense is demonstrating the benefits of Kiffinless coaching. The OL protects the elusiveness-challenged passer and don’t get penalties. One sack per game. We now have a little depth, but by next August we will have true depth.

Linebackers – much experience in Shembo, Fox and Calabrese and the Golden Child in Jaylon Smith. Calabrese and Fox are not NFL prospects, but they make few mistakes. Shembo has to contain before he cuts loose. Grace and Councell are able reserves, and Ishaq Williams may finally be on the verge of breaking through. Could get a grade bump by October. Grace and Williams hold the key

Tight Ends-Troy Niklas may be Notre Dame’s most difficult match-up whether blocking or receiving. Koyack and Welch must force themselves onto the field to be able to use the two and three TE sets. Koyackj’s pass-catching ability may be the next piec in the developing offensive mosaic.

Bowl Caliber

Cornerbacks – Jackson and Russell are still struggling with playing man-to-man without penalties. We will see very good receivers against OU, Arizona State and USC, though OU may not have a quarterback to find and hit them. Rest assured that Taylor Kelly of ASU will. Cole Luke will be brought along, and if Devin Butler can pass Lo Wood we may have some building depth. This could be a two level grade bump by year end if the starters return to 2012 form. Jury’s out. But we’ll know by Halloween.

Running Backs – Atkinson can run the ball, but if he cannot catch the ball, he will not play. Carlisle is very good, and getting better. But Bryant and Folston have the ability to really improve this group. Again, fans don’t like to hear it, but a lot of great tailbacks have been brought along slowly. Coaches must have patience; fans seldom do.

Quarterback – What you see is what you get. Rees 2.013 is levels above Tommy 2.010 and Tommy 2.011, but he has limits. Caterwaul all you want, he has no fumbles and two interceptions in three games. He has worked hard and been coached up. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” And that is how the coaching staff approaches all the players, including #11. The Linebacker (the Bar) illuminati have detailed charts on Rees’ limitations; Kelly and Martin illuminate and elevate what he can do.

Safety – Collinsworth and Farley are not as big or athletic as the best safety pairs in the country. Shumate is taking time to adjust to the position, and had reduced snaps against Purdue. Hardy is now getting snaps, and Redfield will get better with time. With depth development, this unit could be movin’ on up soon.

NOTE TO FANS: No man steps in the same river twice, and we as fans need to get comfortable with different units rising and falling each year. We don’t know the future, but our Safety and Running Backs and Tight Ends and Wide Receivers could easily be BCS bowl Caliber in 2014.

We will next update these rankings after OU. Note: Don’t look for a Sooner score next Saturday. They are idle. Keep that in mind. They will come to South Bend ready.

These next three Saturdays will tell us a lot. When midnight strikes on October 5th we’ll have a much better idea where this team, and this program, stands.


(1) A coach, Mark D’Antonio, who has won 51 games in his first 6 years, has beaten an SEC team in a bowl game (Georgia in 2012 Outback Bowl) and is 3-3 against Notre Dame. having won in South Bend in 2007.

(2) One of the nation’s finest rushing defenses, giving up only 98.6 yards per game in 2012 and a total of 274.4 yards per game. While their early schedule has included only USF from a BCS conference, the 2013 Spartan rush defense has allowed only 50 yards rushing per game. The Spartans front seven will provide the best test so far in 2013 of the Irish offensive line and rushing attack.

(3) Shilique “The Freak” Calhoun, who has scored three touchdowns for the Spartans. Think that’s a low number? Well, Shilique is a Soph Defensive End! Yes, Shilique was rated three stars by Rivals.

(3) On the other side of the ball, the Spartans attempt to establish the run first, and pass afterwards, using their physical offensive line. New starter Connor Cook is mobile. Can Notre Dame’s defense keep him below the 50 yard mark?

(4) The last two years, Notre Dame has won, 31-13 and 20-3. The Spartans, pretty much, play the same type and level of football every year (more so than our other opponents, except Stanford) and this year’s final score will provide a good yardstick to where we are.

(5) The first of three successive opponents who can stress test one or more areas of Irish squad. It is unlikely that either MSU or OU or ASU will finish the season in the Top 10, but each is stronger than two of our first three opponents, Temple and Purdue.

(6) Will the blitz packages and man-to-man coverages show improvement? Man to Man better, as we play three pretty good receiver sets in our next three opponents: OU, ASU, USC.

(7) Will the burgeoning depth at WR and RB start to blossom in time for the October/November run.  Of Bryant, Folston, Robinson, Prosise, Onwualu or Fuller, will one or more take the great leap forward?

We started a new “winning streak” last Saturday. It’s one in a row, but is preferable to a loss. Onward and upward.

Go Irish


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  1. It’s week 4 and this team still hasn’t had it’s coming out party. They better this week or it’s back to 8-5 seasons. Frankly the lack of early season prep reflects poorly on the coaching staff. Why is Davaris Daniels only coming around now? Why are the running backs not consistent? McDaniel, Carlisle, and Atkinson all look like they have what it takes. Why does the coaching staff abandon the run game or not come up with something better. Is Hendrix needed in the backfield?

    Folks have taken shots at the D-Line. I say they are playing up to par. Perhaps needing a half step. Last year a solid group of linebackers kept offenses honest against the D-line. Now if the D-Line is double teamed, the linbackers are out of position and not hitting the gaps. Where are the CBs and safeties. By late last year, they were creaming people. They look like they’ve eaten too much turkey and can’t quite get to the play.

    This team better wake up and pay attention. 2012 was no fluke but it will look like one if the coaches and players don’t start feeling the urgency to play at the level they are capable of.

  2. The main problem is not our record, it is we are not showing the improvement
    game to game that is necessary. If that doesnt change we are in deep trouble
    the next 4 games. Mabe the home field will wake them up.

    1. Jerry, this team has improved IMMENSELY after the first two games in 2011 and 2012.

      The next three Saturdays will tell us if the team is getting better or listing sideways. For whatever conjecture is worth, my guess is that the offense is closer to knitting than the defense is.

      Each of our next three opponents stress tests a different area of the irish team.

      We’ll have a lot of data when the clock strikes midnight in Arlington TX on October 5th.

  3. I have a question for this board. I can remember Montana playing at ND but was to young to really evaluate him. I know that Montana had issues as a starter in the beginning for ND, but was money his senior year. I think Tommy reminds me of Montana because he is limited in his arm strength and needs to out think everyone. Montana was also a better runner than Tommy. I’m not saying Tommy is a Hall of Fame QB, just saying at ND he resembled Montana. Who do you think Tommy resembles from ND’s past?

    1. Jack, though both played basketball, Montana was more nimble than Rees, and he is more decisive. Montana had the big comeback wins in his redshirt frosh year in ’75 and then could not cut it in ’75 as a starter, was injured in ’76 and was third string at the start of ’77 behind Lisch and Forystek.

      Montana, though, had “it” more so than any quarterback Notre Dame has had. Kevin McDougal almost had “it” in ’93. But I’m still struggling with who Rees reminds me of. anybody? Bueller?

      1. How ’bout Bart Starr, slow afoot, but effective off play-action passes, with great leadership capabilities ? Unfortunately, this is the 21st century, and contemporary QBs must 1) be accomplished at throwing on the run, 2) avoid OL breakdowns and be mobile enough to remedy either a busted play or missed block, and 3) throw deep when defenses put 8-9 men in the box. I appreciate TR’s guts, poise, and ability to read and react to D’s. His improvement on deep patterns (see #3 above, evidenced by his 82 yd. bomb to DD last week)) has shown dramatic growth. But hTRs physical limitations have him fall short on #1 and #2 (above), which is why I expect select set packages to be used by QBs AH or MZ in the coming weeks, especially near either goal lines, to expand and pressure the future plans opponents’ D’s must do to keep points off the board for our side. TR continues to get the lion share of snaps, but AH and MZ’s strengths must be utilized against more elite D’s in the coming weeks. Get more offensive by maximizing the strengths all our QBs can contribute to complicate and cause uncertainty when our offense takes the field. One main QB, with two complementary threats, creating a three-headed monster able to strike in ways TR can’t do alone.

      2. This is awesome. Some would have you think that TR is like a 3rd grader out there with two left feet. But now he is being compared to Joe Montana and Bart Starr. What a country.

  4. I am concerned myself. I was expecting a nice relaxing blowout. Purdue should not have been hanging with ND into the 4th quarter. It seems the secondary played better last year, though they were getting help from the linebackers.

    I do think ND is missing EG at quarterback. Rees is giving all he’s got, and he isn’t making critical mistakes. But EG was elusive. He had the ability to get run out of the pocket, re-set and make an accurate pass. That’s huge. When Rees gets chased out of the pocket, he has to throw it away. It’s not his fault really. He’s more a pro-style quarterback and just doesn’t fit well with Kelly’s preferred system.

    1. Rees is just as good of a passer as Golson when it comes to throwing out of the pocket because he is very accurate. However, the difference is Golson can pick up yards with his feet obviously, but not only that, Golson can roll out of the pocket on the run and throw an absolute strike to a receiver whereas Rees simply cannot do that. That’s what is lacking from our QB but that’s it. Rees has played very well so far, but I think our offense is even better with Golson at QB.

    2. Damian,

      If you look at the stats Golson threw a lot more balls away last year than Reese. Golson could make the defense defend him where Tommy can not, but Tommy reads defense better. I think if ND can find a back and run the ball consistently there offense will put up better numbers.

      1. Rees is doing very well considering the situation. There are just 2 areas EG had an advantage. One is his feet as you noted (but I can’t overemphasize his ability to reset and pass when scrambling). But secondly, and probably more importantly, Kelly’s preferred offense is a Spread, and Rees is just not suited to that. He is a pro-style quarterback. Now Kelly will make do, but a spread quarterback would allow Kelly to open up his playbook more (much like what we saw towards the end of last season with EG).

      2. Damian, I concur that Golson’s
        biggest area of difference-making is his ability to”reset and pass when scrambling,” as you phrased it.

        I would thrown in one more level of separation. I think Kelly would have felt comfortable running “tempo” with Golson in there.

        Nevertheless Golson is not here. The others are.

  5. Good post, duranko. I’ll reserve my judgment on the OL and ‘D’ until after the next 4 games, albeit
    impressive for a few series, often followed or preceded by horrific or inept lapses.
    Our WRs, especially Jones and Daniels, continue to impress.

    Cam has emerged as the go-to-guy when you need to move the chains.
    More to come next week if we are to win.

    Huge pick by Captain Jackson, attributed in part to relentless ‘D’ pressure, outstanding bomb from TR to Daniels, and two sensational NFL caliber receptions by TJ and Davarius at and beyond the goal lines.
TR threw those close enough to where they could go get it and did they ever, with DBs right on them.Those four plays might have been the difference between victory and our worst upset defeat in three years! 

    Purdue’s 3rd down conversion success was the most frustrating, with many covering seven yards or more, and one on 4th and 9! 
Again, we made another average QB (not Gardner, but Reilly, and now Henry) look like a Davie O’Brien finalist.

    Forget about our ILB’s covering TEs over the middle, or RBs out of the backfield.
    We ought to see clearly by now and recognize that dog of a pass ‘D’ scheme don’t hunt on obvious 3rd down passing situations. 
If Purdue and Temple TEs and RBs out of the backfield can’t be covered, and with our ILBs they haven’t been, I fear looking ahead to our future opponents dink and dunk percentages!

    More Ishaq and four men ‘D’ fronts, with 6 DB’s and Frosh phenom #9, or( Councell, occasionally) on obvious passing situations, PLEASE.

    1. Amen on the 6 DBs!!!! We’re just not good enough at linebacker to cover. I don’t even think it has to be on obvious passing downs. Keep the speed out there.


    Thanks for the response. I’m glad we see eye to eye on this. The SEC = Special Ed. Conference.

    And I think we also agree on wanting to see the best ND product on the field sooner rather than later. We’ve waited long enough as is for greatness to return to S. Bend. “Duranko” is great, a true ND man. But sometimes he is a bit overly optimistic. But I think we can all be optimistic with caution and a dose of realism. Enough excuses and wait til next year talk. Let’s build on last season. I think we have a nice home winning streak going. Let’s build some more on it. I think if we can go undefeated at home, win at least 9-10 games, and win a New Year’s bowl that would be a good season at this point. The key is to continue to bring in the best recruits possible AND continue to coach them up. Do those two things long enough and the results have to come. That’s what I call guarded optimism.

    Go Irish!

  7. This team is quite OBVIOUSLY looking for, begging for, leaders. I saw Tommy Rees take that role on Saturday night, not just by his 2nd half performance, but by seeing him on the sidelines holding court with his offense- analysing and motivating. Of course, missing throws and having the whole team asleep for the first half is a recipe for future disaster. Superior athletic talent is what won the day- all due respect to Purdue, their heart and their gameplan.

    What concerns me the most by far is a defense that lacks fundamentals and fire. Farley got knocked down by an undersized player by standing still and keeping his hands by his hips. Nobody HITS this year- polar opposite of 2012. That is mental and stems from a lack of confidence, a lack of swaggar.

    This coming Saturday should provide a bigger puzzle piece to this confusing season thus far. By Kelly’s own admission, he is still trying to “wrap his brain around” this team. GO IRISH

    1. JDH,

      Missing throws?

      Don’t you mean dropped passes in the first half?

      2 by the Niklas, one by Carlisle, and one by Daniels.

      Daniels certainly made up for his in the second half… Niklas and Carlisle, not so much.

      Tommy finished 20-33 for 309 yards with 2 TD’s and 0 INT’s.
      Add the four drops that hit the reveivers right square in the hands and he goes 34-33.

      What is that, like an 80% completion rate?

      Doesn’t sound like he missed much of anything.

      1. Shazam,
        In retrospect I should have been more clear. Indeed there were several dropped passes and I didn’t mention those. If I sounded overly-critical of Rees, that wasn’t my intention. I thought his overall performance (and leadership as noted above) were outstanding.

        But we’ve all seen, in pretty much every game, Tommy missing, sailing, throwing well-behind the receiver etc. Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not implying our QB is supposed to be a robot. I’m referring specifically to those 10 yard-type throws that should be almost automatic.

        But let me be clear: As long as Tommy isn’t turning the ball over, he is not our problem and his stats prove that.

        A tepid, heartless linebacking and secondary are BIG problems.

      2. Someone pointed out 2 pick sixes dropped by Purdue defenders. I like Rees but two things really bother me.

        1. He looks brilliant at times………and then throws what looks like a gift to a defender, or funbles in a crucial situation. Does he need a sports psychologist, or is he shaving points? Is there a dark side to that baby faced kid?

        2. For the love of Pete, move your feet Tommy! Can’t someone get him to learn to move plant and throw? If he gets flushed at all, he totally panicks. I get the not wanting to get hurt. Tommy cannot take a hit. Simple body make up. He’s not nearly as muscular as say, Brady Quinn, and he can’t scramble like Quinn or Clausen. But feel the presence and if you have room and time, plant your feet before throwing.

  8. The part that upsets me is having to even talk about this in Year 4. This is first year stuff. Aren’t we past the “playing without emotion” and “taking horrible angles to the point of attack”? I mean come on! What do they do in the summer?

    Yes, talent graduates and new players start. But should there be a monumental drop off between years? If so, tell me when Bama, LSU, Oregon and Stanford do it. Oh yeah, they don’t.

    When Golson was suspended, I knew the NC was out of the picture. I hoped for 11-1, maybe 10-2. The way this team plays, it’s an 8-4 team all day. Maybe even 7-5. Should it be? Heck no. It has enough talent to be a Top 10 team. But mentally and emotionally, this team reminds of Kelly’s first year, middle of the season (past the catastrophe of South Florida and Tulsa).

  9. We need to play more zone than man. Our defensive backs suck, lets just be honest. Every pass that is thrown deep, or every pass thrown period, I’m either waiting for a wide open receiver or an interference flag. I understand we need to mix up bringing pressures with our linebackers but in my opinion we need to be more zone based. I know that Tuitt and Nix are pulling double teams almost every snap, so that leaves us with Day to get pressure on the QB. Hopefully his ankle is ok. I’m so disappointed with the play of our secondary considering they all have had ample PT. And Farley getting blasted by that little 170 lb RB…are you kidding me?? Bring the lumber!!! You’re a safety!! God I miss Glen Earl and Deke Cooper…

    1. Chris, your point is intriguing. I feel that last year’s defense whistled past several graveyards, particularly depth at both CB and S and the lack of nickels and dimes. We were “fortunate” to have two linebackers like Spond and Fox
      who had outstanding coverage skills for collegiate linebackers.

      Kelly and Diaco knew last season, and it was proven in the Bama game, that to have a
      truly championship defense, you had to be able to play man to man and you have to be able to blitz. I think we lack great athleticism at safety, but the answers for that are on campus, Redfield,
      Shumate and Baratti.

      Now, Chris, you may have the better part of the argument
      that zone is the best solution
      today, Sept. 16th, but if we want to be a force in November and in a big bowl game, we have to play man to man and blitz. Sometimes you have to do something your not good at until you get good at it. I respect if your opinion differs.

      1. I completely agree that you have to be able to do play man and blitz if you want to be a championship team. We just need our guys to step up and prove they can do it. So far, it’s been really bad. We can continue to try it, but more times than not we are getting burned and it’s usually on third down.

      2. Chris, I am hoping that next year’s secondary will be Russell and Luke at corner.
        with Shumate and Baratti or Redfield at Safety.

        We face a GREAT passing team in Arizona State, and either we play better defense in the secondary, zone or man, or the offense will have to bail out the defense.

        Appreciate the dialogue, chris, it’s about football and football choices, not about emotion. Too rare here. Keep it up!

  10. I think it’s now time to Let Cam Run. His complexion may give some the false notion that he is not ‘athletic’ but a hard nosed, tough, Rudy type player. In fact, in limited action, Cam is getting 4.3 yards per carry. Not amazing but better than average. In the NFL this would put him in the top 15 rushers. While that can be a little misleading he DOES have talent and received numerous honors in one of the most competitive prep leagues in the USA…Texas. He also EARNED a scholarship as a RB to ND. Ever heard of Mark Weismann or Zach Zwinak? Well they might look a little like Cam and were similarly not given much of a chance until injuries opened the door for them. They are the #2 and #10 rushers in the big ten for Iowa and PSU respectively. I’m not saying Cam is the next Lee Becton, Autry Denson, or Ryan Grant, all I’m saying is that at this point I feel he has earned a start at RB and should be given a decent amount of carries this game considering AC and GA III have gotten their chances and not solidified the #1 slot. If I had a son he would look like Cam McDaniel. Run Cam Run!

    1. I agree completely. Cam and Amir have definitely stepped up. I think Amir brings you that elusiveness, a very similar skill set of Theo Riddick, while Cam brings you tough running and will fight for every single inch on every single run. I love this kid!

    2. Chi-town, I didnt agree with you last year on this subject as Cam was stuck behind two very solid RBs in Wood and Riddick and BKs pet GA3. All I heard this spring and summer was how good GA3 looks after putting on 20lbs of muscle and tipping the scales at 217. Well he doesnt look any bigger to me and he certainly doesnt run between the tackles with any authority. I think we all thought GA3 was going to be a superstar after his freshman year but that hasnt happened and doesnt look like it is any time soon. Problem is BK is in love with this guy so he will continue to get his carries. I now agree with you that Cam should be the guy to get the tough yards. Hell I would even have Cam returning kickoffs. Cam just runs harder and doesnt shy away from contact.

  11. Patrick and Mike,

    While “Duranko’s Digest” is a true highlight of our UHND experience, I agree that often the picture presented in it is far too rosy. Optimism is one thing. We should all be optimistic that this team will steadily improve and with a bit more talent on both sides of the ball eventually catch up to the powers in the SEC plus Oregon and a few others. However, the idea that we should never be critical of BK or the team, since to do so would be tantamount to some act of disloyalty, is unfair and unproductive. This team has plenty of issues right now, and coaching is one of them. I still trust in BK and believe he can get us to the promise land. But I’ll remain loyally critical when it’s needed.

    1. SFR, I went to the Oregon vs Tennessee game Saturday and saw up close how good Oregon is. Then watched the ND game in a bar right afterwards and saw how far behind we are. It was very difficult to watch the ND game after watching Oregon dismantle Tenn. ND has a long way to go.

      1. @TH Brown:

        Are you quite serious? ND had no defensive answers whatsoever for Michigan and struggled mightily against Purdue. Oregon’s offense would categorically destroy us. I think our offense would do fine against Oregon’s defense, but c’mon.

      2. Like I said above, I don’t think THB’s eyes are the problem. I think the issue resides deeper within the head.

      3. Toul you been hittin the pipe again. ND looked slow against Purdue. The Ducks would hang 50 on our defense right now. And thats after 3 qtrs.

    2. I think we’re saying the same thing. My point is that we really have discount what we saw against Purdue . A strong 4th quarter and come-from-behind win means very little against a team they should have beaten by 20.

  12. I think we need to temper the blind optimism a bit. Despite all the positives, we haven’t really learned anything because these things were done against Purdue. This is the 3rd game in a row (4 counting last year’s Nat’l Champ Game) where they’ve underperformed. We will learn plenty in the next 4 games.

    In those games, the defense has to produce more results when they apply pressure. Almost getting to the QB doesn’t count. They need to produce more turnovers, more sacks and more hurries that do not lead to the QB making big plays anyway. The defense needs to apply more pressure without having to blitz. They have to tackle better (particularly the secondary) and have to have better angles to the ball carrier.

    TR needs to be able to get the ball downfield because those better teams will sit on all those short routes. He needs to not turn the ball over. He needs to go through his progressions and make the right decision when his pre-snap read isn’t a viable option. No sacks and no “chuck and ducks”.

    BK has to have his team better prepared at the start of the game. He has to have them get the lead and then keep the lead. He needs to sort out the RB situation by Friday night. No excuses.

    If ND can do these things in the next 4 games and go 3-1, then we’ll know this is a good team. 2-2 or less and we can conclude this team is no better than the 2010 or 2011 team and maybe 2012 was a fluke. This is a talented team. However, through the 1st quarter of their season, this team has not played up to their talent level. These adjustments need to take shape now, not at some point further along the season.

      1. You mean the Purdue team that got smoked by Cinci and barely beat Indiana St. (which was playing without Larry Bird!) at home? You mean that juggernaut Purdue team?

        I don’t think your eyes are the problem THB.

      2. Hi, college football called. Isn’t this what makes it fun? Anything can happen… It was a road game after a tough loss to michigan..

      3. Never stopped you before. Go ahead and make some inanely stupid and sarcastic remark. Or perhaps show us you’ve turned over a new leaf and actually articulate a reasonable thought for a change.

      4. Great Knights of Columbus, that hurt Ron.

        I was actually just disappointed that the Steel Curtain beat me to that put down of the most optimistic man in the world. I particularly liked the Larry Bird reference.

  13. This article is way too “sunshine and rainbows.” Let’s be honest. The 2013 defense is NOWHERE near what it was in 2012. Not even close. Tackling, coverage, pressure with the front four is severely down. That was a problem in the first three games, and will continue to be so until they man up.

    Atkinson needs to not start. He’s a speedster, use him accordingly. I watched him kill enough drives against Michigan with pass drops than I care to remember.

    Emotion. This team plays without it. Slow starts, stalled drives, etc., sure they were fine against Temple. Michigan kicked their a$$ because of it. And Purdue did the same for a half. Think MSU isn’t going to punch them in the mouth right away? Think OU, ASU and Stanford aren’t going to do the same?

    They need to elevate their emotions and play harder, faster, and quicker. Otherwise, Godaddy.com Bowl here we come!

    1. Well, Patrick, I am mystified
      as to the allegation of “sunshine and rainbows.” The rankings of the units, when we take a snapshot of the current team segments, are MUCH MUCH lower than the were a year ago, and you can look it up.

      I disagree about Atkinson being the starter. He wasn’t against Purdue. As I’ve said in the last two digests, if he does not catch the ball, he will not play, let alone start.

      It would not shock me, even though NO ONE knows the future.
      if the top three at tailback when we play USC are (alphabetically) Bryant, Carlisle and Folston.

      If there’s one thing that has happened to good Notre Dame team with gooc coaches throughout the decades, is that they have improved throughout the season. I stand by my prognostication that this offense will be humming by mid-October.

      1. “Sunshine & Rainbows”? Sounds mighty west-coast to me. If we want to be BCS CHAMP-CALIBUR, I suggest going SEC. ACC (where we officially are) is close. (geographically) But “almost” doesn’t cut it. (see last year’s team) Let’s see… “Big & Unapologetic” works for me. OUR Irish might want to try it.

      2. Kevin Hurley,

        No only does ND joining the SEC make no geographic sense, it also makes little historical sense either. What’s more the SEC is as corrupt as they come. There’s a reason why they win like they do and it’s only a matter of time before the world finds out how the administrations of those schools, the SEC commissioners, and the NCAA turned a blind eye on the corruption. I’d rather have ND join the Ivy League than the SEC, where football players can literally get away with murder and are illiterates, drug peddlers, and whore mongers.

      3. SteelFanBob – I agree completely with you! Joining the SEC would be like joining the play-group of the criminals next door! I think our ACC affiliation is brilliant! “If 3e want to be BCS CHAMP-CALIBER” was a mistake I wrote above. What I meant was that ND is ALREDY BCS-CALIBER. BK has us at among that caliber. (oops – spell check just caught my mis-spell of CALIBER – edit above entry, too) My point in posting was actually to have some fun with the terminology. “Sunshine & Rainbows”? Not ND-CALIBER. “Big & Unapologetic” was actually my point. I appreciate your criticism and actually agree with it! G’day.

      4. Reead this, too. I’m remembering to check the box telling me you responded! (I forgot above, so please read this)

  14. Maybe I am just a cynic but this game analysis is way too positive. We are in big trouble against anybody good. Purdue got housed by Cincinnati and barely beat Indiana State. We have 2 fundamental flaws: 1) Tommy Rees. I don’t care how he handles the game or checks us into the right play. You cannot win with an immobile QB in college football unless he has an accurate cannon. The difference in the Michigan game was Gardner’s ability to scramble on 3rd down. Purdue gave a blue print for shutting down ND. And Rees threw at least 4 balls that probably should have been intercepted.
    2) LB’s and secondary in coverage. Not sure what happened but we cannot guard anyone. I am not sure if I watched the same game as Duranko but our LB’s look big and slow. And Jaylon looks lost at times (but is a future BEAST!).
    I would also disagree with the TE assessment. Niklaus had a couple drops but cannot totally blame him because Rees is so inconsistent on location. Part of the problem with our backs dropping passes is the fact that Rees throws to bad spots a lot. Regularly is a bit high or behind the receiver.
    That’s my 2 cents. Count me as hoping for the best but waiting for the bottom to fall out. After watching ASU I have no idea how we cover their guys. Go Irish.

  15. A general look on offense:

    1. The ND offense is clearly beginning to gel at the best possible time & key players are beginning too emerge.
    2. Tommy Rees has remained in large part accurate, cool & effective.
    3.The backs are improving and more importantly getting game experience.
    4.Pass reception is inconsistent with far too many drops which is impeding ND’s early game chemistry.
    5. ND is scoring enough points in each game thus far to be undefeated.

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