Duranko’s Digest: What did we see against Oklahoma

Notre Dame - Oklahoma
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Blake Bell (10) runs with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Oklahoma defeats Notre Dame 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In the year’s worst performance, the chickens came home to roost as five critical Irish errors enabled a 35-21 Oklahoma victory. Since the bowl game against FSU, the Notre Dame program and team had honored the first rule of winning college football games: DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF. While the Irish had not been perfect, they had been a smart football team and forced the opponent to make the first and most costly mistake. Not yesterday. And, while football games have random occurences and odd bounces of balls, occasionally the game is ruthlessly efficient, exacting a big price proportionate to the fatality of the error. Like yesterday.

Oddly, each of the three captains was complicit in one of the errors.

(1) Corey Nelson’s interception return for the 7-0 OU lead. The Blind Side. A popular movie, but yesterday a reality. Zach Martin leaned inside, leaving the outside (speed) rusher unimpeded, and he blindsided Rees, the ball fluttering to Corey Nelson who ran past the startled Irish.

(2) Rees throws an interception on the slant pattern. The target was TJ Jones, the ball, technically, was on the target but a less than pristine throw and a less than pristine grab by the normally reliable Jones deflected the ball

into the air for one of the wating, always swift Oklahoma defenders who returned it to the Notre Dame 32. After the short drive, OU was up 14-0 with less than 3 minutes gone

(3) Rees’ interception to Julian Wilson. This was entirely on Rees, but, after the Irish had clawed back, was most devastating in terms of time, momentum and field position. Julian Wilson interrupted the Irish drive on a ball that Rees, simply, should not have thrown, and what might have been the tying Irish drive ended on the OU 12.

(4) Captain Bennett Jackson pirouettes in end zone while Bester floats freely to catch a slow arching pass from Bell.  Shortly after the Wilson interception the defense surrendered its only “pure” touchdown drive of the day, allowing OU, despite Bell’s limitations, to march downfield. Channeling his inner Clifford Jefferson, Captain Jackson was inexplicably turned around in the end zone allowing an easy pitch and catch for the 21-7 OU halftime lead.

(5) Grace and the safeties allowing a dink pass to Sterling Shepard to go 54 yards for a 35-21 OU lead. Again, the Irish had FOUGHT and were at a 27-21 deficit when Shepard ran in front of Grace, caught a mini-pass, went around Grace and then split the safeties who could not close. This was two chickens coming to roost. Grace hits hard, is aggressive and stops the run better than Fox. Collinoworth and Farley are more experienced, but slower and with less closing speed than Shumate and Redfield.

Bell and Shepard were able to take advantage of an aggressive substitution at linebacker and leverage that with a conservative substitution at safety to turn a first down into a touchdown.

This Notre Dame team is not the 2012 team. But it shares one thing with that team. Notre Dame does not have the quickness, athleticism and explosiveness to overcome a deficit in errors and mistakes. If they cut down the mistakes, they can win any game played before Thanksgiving weekend. If they make more mistakes than the opponent then they are in peril.

Now, to a few Gorillas. 800 pounds each, and they are in the room.


Our quarterback can not run with the ball, and that deficiency is multiplied when the other QB is mobile. So far this year, the opposing QBs have rushed for 244 yards, the Irish QBs for -17 yards. It’s not changing, Everett Golson is not walking through that door.


The defensive line is not deep, and the absence of Sheldon Day was much more noticeable yesterday. Schwenke, Rochell and Jones are “merely” adequate, and while Rochell will be better next year, we need Day to heal.


Remember, last year how much fun it was to talk about how the Irish had not trailed in a game for all those weeks?  That allowed the defense to stay basic and conservative and the coaching staff to coddle Golson, and eke out narrow early wins over Purdue, Michigan, Stanford and BYU.

Consider this data from 2013:

First quarter, 9:25 gone, Michigan 10-Notre Dame 0

Second quarter, 4:56 gone, Purdue 10-Notre Dame 0

First quarter 2:45 gone, Oklahoma 14-Notre Dame 0

This team will play hard when they are behind, but cannot easily come from behind. The coaches, will, however, fix this.

Find of the game

George Atkinson-who has, if you watch your eyes rather than your emotions, been running much harder in 2013 than in 2012. He needs to catch the ball better, but he is an asset.

Inconvenient truth of the game:

Ever wonder why Kelly and Martin kept going to the sidelines in the first four games rather than slants, crossing patterns, and such in the middle? Could it be that Rees was less likely to make a bad decision when surveying and choosing the middle?

We will once again rate the Units


Wide receivers – Davaris Daniels and TJ Jones are stars (at Wide Receiver, TJ, not so much as a punt returner), Chris Brown is growing before our eyes, and Corey Robinson is on some kind of upward trajectory. Daniel Smith, CJ Prosise and Will Fuller have contributed, and James Onwualu is on the verge.  This kind of sneaked up on some of us, but it looks like we’ll have the wide receiver corps who can pressure secondaries for now and for years to come.

New Year’s Day Bowl Caliber

Defensive Line – Tuitt has returned to 2012 form, but we need to see a little more out of the substitutes before the expected grade bump. Know this: if we show up in Palo Alto with nobody to relieve the three starters, it may be like that fateful day, October 4, 1997, when Willingham’s Stanford team rushed for 330 yards against Davie’s Irish. Yep it happened: Willingham’s Stanford pound Davie’s Irish for 330 on the ground. Can Rochell improve in the off week and in October?

Running Backs – Not an All-American in the bunch. But not a dud in the bunch either. If you think Atkinson is not improved and running tougher, then start watching with your eyes rather than your emotions. McDaniel is channeling Jonas Gray, Carlisle is, for now, a poor man’s Theo Riddick, Folston is getting more comfortable, and Bryant will soon be heard from. This group needs to improve pass catching and their timing with Rees (he is not blameless here) to move up.

Intriguing to watch this group for the next 7 games.

Offensive Line – A much better unit than 2012 as the coaches are now comfortable running power over the right side as well as the left. Have allowed only four sacks in five games in a pass heavy offense, and they adjust well to blitzes. The Academies, Pitt and BYU provide an opportunity to develop some depth.

Linebackers – Vulnerable to the pass and could be more physical, but Grace may have arrived, despite the Shepard play, which is a correctable error. Great depth at OLB. If they survive against the underneath patterns of ASU, they will be bumped up. A word about Jaylon Smith. Sometimes he contributes the most when you do not notice him. His coverage skills are NFL-caliber TODAY!

You can’t always follow the ball and see Jaylon. But he simply removes a receiver from being a target.

Cornerbacks – KeiVarae Russell seemed to “arrive” during the Michigan State game. Earth Wind and Fire: “Do you remember the 21st night of September , Love (or KeiVarae) was changing the mind of pretenders.” He is confident and aggressive and that is much of the battle to play man-to-man. Probably our best cornerback. With the burgeoning depth, (Butler seems confident and athletic out there.) this unit may move up after the SC game. Hopefully, they’ll never repeat that Three Stooges head-knocker on that intermediate pass to Gallon that beame a long touchdown. For now, we’ll call Bennett Jackson’s coverage disaster against Bester an aberration, but with an asterisk.

Bowl level

Rees – limited but can still win games, except when called on to air it out when the Irish trail by 14. There is a reason the September 2012 decision went Golson’s way. Best area for immediate improvement is improved timing and touch with the running backs coming out of the backfield. We will need that against Stanford (we’ll need a lot of things against Stanford) and a bowl opponent.

Tight Ends – Dropped a notch because of lack of depth. Troy Niklas may be America’s most dangerous tight end, but Koyack can not seem to relax and settle in. Koyack may just be trying TOO hard. Where’s Welch? It looked like a three headed monster in Spring, but without the ability to deploy enough TES for the 2 tight end sets, this hurts. Particularly in the Shamrock Series game against ASU, when the two TE set might have been the base set.

Safety – the veterans are not imposing athletically, the great athletes are not yet experienced. But this area has some nice pieces to work with and Elliott and Cooks are not chumps. Remember there are still two open dates before we play Stanford. This, along with running back, is an area where we could see improved performance and productivity each and every week. Remember this, everybody’s back next year, and Baratti should be healthy.

What will we see in Arlington?

(1) Todd “Kiffin-Killer” Graham, who is 1-1 against Brian Kelly, having coached Tulsa to a victory in Notre Dame Stadium, and who kept Pitt close in Ketchup Stadium until Jonas Gray had the big run. He has stabilized and elevated the Sun Devil program. Of his 25 recruits for 2013, 12 were from California, 4 from Texas.

(2) Good hit, no field-the Sun Devils. Have allowed 38 points per game in their last three.

(3) Taylor Kelly, BY FAR the best quarterback we will have seen so far, and he might be better than Stanford’s Hogan. He runs on set plays, scrambles and can reset when he scrambles. The Devils like to run tempo, and release and hit their receivers quickly.

(4) Marion Grice is a good back, but probably a notch below the backs we faced against OU.

(5) The Sun Devil front seven can be muscled we should be able to move the ball on them.

(6) For the first time this year, a scheduling break. Arizona State is coming off three big games, Wisconsin, Stanford, and USC. They are probably at least as much on fumes as we are.

(7) The chance for a completely useless collegiate football record. We can become the only team to ever win four games in a row in the Shamrock Series. Baby steps, lads, baby steps!

(8) Some light at the end of the tunnel. This Notre Dame team could use an off week, and this coaching staff has some interesting things to work on.

(9) An opportunity for the offense to bail out the defense. It hasn’t happened since 2011 Remember, ANY win will do on Saturday.

Go Irish!

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  1. One scenario I’ve been thinking about in all of this is, what IF Tommy did get injured seriously? What I mean by that is that he’d be out for several games or more. DISCLAIMER: No I am not hoping this happens. It’s a hypothetical.

    Kelly said he’d only play Zaire if there was a “medical situation”. How would that impact the game plan? I would think at that point, because of defenses anticipating a lack of passing capability, they would stack the box.

    At that point, do you throw a 4-man RB combo at opposing teams? Or is the rythm of the O-line already too upset by having Rees gone? It’s a conundrum with Tommy- can’t live with him; can’t live without him! 🙂

    1. JDH,

      I don’t think we will know much until after the ASU game. You don’t see anyone making any bold preditions for ASU…eh! Hahaha!

      If we lose to ASU the drums will beat loud enough over a 3-3 record for Hope and Change! Hahaha! You got to love these Hope and Change BS guys! The debate really changes at that point. BCS bowl out and jock-strap bowl in! Otherwise if it is business as usual, 2011 continues uneventful.


      1. It’s really tough for me to predict this game. Really tough. If I was putting money on it (I’m not), I’d go with ASU.

        The blueprint for beating Rees and our offense is not hard to see.

      2. Amen JDH,

        Spot on! However, our inhouse KellyCare boys will spin it into the second coming of Jesus! I can’t wait to see those thunderously perfect stats! Win or lose!

        Further, Murphy’s Law: If you don’t have enough stats just create somemore stats! Interestingly enough, you can have the best stats in world and still be playing in the jock-strap bowl! Texas A&M found out that possibility against Bama. The W/L column generally rules, except for when politics are interjected in to the rankings. Lou knows this best!


      3. I hear ya JC. I really am trying hard to hold on to my faith in Kelly. His resume speaks for itself but we all know coaching at ND, with the tremendous pressures and tough schedules is a different ball of wax. I have to believe, but like I’ve said, next year to me is really THE litmus test. Last year was amazing with alot of luck thrown in. Next year we should be STACKED with talent and any bugs from this year should be gonzo. Time will tell. GO IRISH

      4. This article (link on the main page of this site) is pretty right on, IMHO. It does a good job of presenting the conundrum that we’re in. It shows the pros and cons of trying to run the ball more vs. sticking with the “Kelly plan” of using quick, short passing. But it smartly makes the case that, if you’re going to run an offense like the current one, you really must have a QB who can run.


      5. Thank you JDH!

        Maybe some of our self-ordained experts here, should take the time to read Bill Connelly’s article for a refreshing 2nd opinion!


      6. Understand I’m not saying that this article makes the case that Rees should be benched from here on out. As I’ve said several times, I just thought he should have sat for the 2nd half of the OU game. And that Hendrix (and Zaire possibly) should see more of the field. It’s a week to week thing.

        But I think the article lays out why ND is “up the creek without a paddle” in 2013. Hope it’s wrong but…

      7. No worries JDH,

        It was Kelly who said: “If your throwing interceptions you won’t be playing!”

        I like being reminded I grew up with Ara and Lou! Especially, back when your word meant something!
        In Kelly’s case I’ll let someone else be the judge.


  2. Shaz and JDH:

    Like Ron Burgundy’s said (who’d ever thought Ron would be the voice of reason among us?!), let’s just drop this topic. It’s old news. We have a lot bigger problems right now.

    This is perhaps the most important game of the BK era short of the NC game. He’s in year 4, meaning all or most of the team’s starters are his recruits. He’s had 4 years to install his schemes on D and O. BK’s had 4 years to recruit to his tastes. Now it’s time to have all of that come together before this team implodes. Now or never.

    I hate to put it in those stark terms, but that’s what this feels like to me.

    I just don’t know where ND turns after this IF (NOTE THE CAPS) BK fails.

    C’mon JDH and Shaz, let’s get together and move forward instead of backwards. I apologize for even bringing the topic up, however tangentially.


    1. I agree but I ceased to argue your topic long ago. I was trying to show that having a meaningful debate/argument etc with Shaz is impossible because of his constant switching of arguments, putting words in others’ mouths, using straw man arguments/logical fallacies, etc. I tried to show that with examples to be constructive. It didn’t work.

      But I more than agree it’s time to move on.

      1. It’s interesting because last year was obviously brilliant, with some huge luck thrown in to get ND to the title game. And then we found out how far we had yet to travel. I do think this year is going to get ugly because of everything we’ve discussed ad nauseum. Tommy will probably have some huge games and some horrid games. I think he’s a crapshoot on any given day. With this schedule, I just don’t see this team winning out because of the myriad of issues. But next year, assuming Golson is back, there is realy promise. What with Folston, Bryant etc.? If BK can’t win with that personnel, it’s on him.

      2. JDH,

        Sometimes it’s just better to move on than beat a dead horse. But with all due respects to Shaz, who is one of regulars and champions against trolls,he does tend to put words and ideas into the mouths of others. But I do appreciate you trying to stick up for me. I know you always have my back, JDH.

      3. JDH,

        I most certainly can go along with any meaningful debate, but I am fairly confident at this time that each of our definitions of “meaningful debate” may vary greatly.

        This happened to be one of the reasons for lack of engagement with your hypothetical scenario in the first place, as well intended as it may have been.

        You offer your opinion on many subjects here, and most are with good reason and enlightenment.

        But as you have chosen to employ the hypothetical example route, using the high profile topic of guns in America as your example, then I think it is completely reasonable, and fair, to request that you provide us(or me)with your view, or
        additional opinion, that might reflect your own posisition, on your own hypothetical firearms example.

        Perhaps your response will provide the impetus towards a truer and more meaningful debate process between all of us.

      4. No I’m sorry I won’t because it’s obvious you don’t understand any of the following concepts: literal, hypothetical, subjective objective, words and phrases in common usage, critical thinking etc.

        It’s hilarious that you actually thought, even after I explained to you the first time you weren’t getting it, that I was actually stating opinions rather than using examples of strawman arguments….in order to show you what you tend to do.

        PLEASE, I’m begging you. PLEASE stop digging your own intellectual grave.

        You seem like a nice guy- you really do. And I don’t want to keep bickering on a website. I’m just amazed and incredulous that an adult cannot intuitively understand the difference between:

        a)Hypothetical Argument/opinion


        b)A belief or opinion actually held

        Seriously. Honestly. Nevermind.

        It doesn’t matter anymore.

      5. Why can’t you just give us one your famous opinions on guns in the US like you do on everything else?

        It’s your own example.

        Here, I’ll make it real easy for you.

        Are you a number#1?

        Person 1: “I am for gun control especially in light of tragic school shootings.”

        Are you a number#2?

        Person 2: “I am against gun control because I think the 2nd Amendment protects our any/all legal citizens the right to bear arms

        Or are you something else ?

        You say I’m both, ok, fine, but what about you, what are you? Really, what are you man?
        It’s a simple question.

        You seem like a nice guy too, and I can “clearly understand” why you would want to stop the bickering… now… which as of yeasrterday was meaningfull debate but got changed to just opinions again today instead of straw man arguements of yesterday, which weren’t arguements because you stated I that they are really only examples that were meant to show me what I tend to do…


        There may be a grave being dug, but don’t you bet the farm just yet that it is mine.

      6. No thanks- I could explain it 100 times and you still wouldn’t get it. What my, JDH’s, opinions actually are in regards to firearms law are so besides any point, I don’t even know where to start.

        Seriously, move on.

      7. “That’s gay”

        I didn’t ask you to explain it. Don’t you read?
        You are putting words in people mouth.

        All you had to do was pick 1, or 2 or a state a reason for something else on your own freakin hypothetical example… and you’re too much of a chicken shit to do it.

        OK… NOW THAT I GET!

        I guess it isn’t so goddamn hilarious any more… at least not for you.

        All your blabber, all your bluster and your know it all attitude, and now all of a sudden you don’t even know where to freakin start!

        How about you just start over?

        Now I gotta go, I got that ting, I gotta meet Tuddy!

  3. Shaz, with due respects, do you read what people actually post or just make up your mind ahead of time and put words into their mouths on the spot? I’ve never said that the sole reason, or even the main reason, ND lost to Bama was BK meeting with the Eagles. Do believe it was a factor having your coach thinking about taking another job so close to the NC game? Yes, I do. But that’s not an excuse. That’s an explanation. There’s a difference between an excuse and an explanation. Perhaps your expert legal training will help with that nuance.

    Pissing contest aside, Shaz, I think you make a very key point which is at the heart of all this. And that’s about the corrupting force of money in the game. You are speaking with the voice of a prophet by calling that evil out. Now, ND is a pert of the industry. The haters will say ND is probably the main culprit in all this. However, the truth is that ND, while making money, isn’t selling its soul to win and make more of it. Leave that to Ohio St., the SEC, etc.

    I appreciate you trying to keep me honest, Shaz, I really do. Just please try to take my words at face value and in context.

  4. Though disheartening, this season should be no suprise. I don’t know why everyone seems to be upset. ND was .001 percent better last year than any other team they played during the season. That math based upon Teo’s great year, and a wild card under Golson that even BK didn’t know the value of at the time. All of Kelly’s offenses have run a RA or PAP with a mobile quarterback.

    But to go even further, without golson, all you have to do is look at the recruiting classes that are playing now, and it’s odd that most of the players that were highly recruited with good rankings are not either upperclassmen yet, or arn’t starting/playing. Kelly can’t develop his players into the system he wants to run, because he doesn’t have a QB to run it.

    Oddly enough, this coaching staff can’t manage a duel threat QB while wishing it could employ the same on offense.

  5. I sure wish I had Kelly’s (coach) address.
    ASU’s qb should be “mirrored” by a sure quick & fast nickle back in order to limit his rushing yards. Not necessarily to rush the qb but keep him in check running the ball.

  6. duranko noted, “(the OL) allowed only four sacks in five games in a pass heavy offense, and they adjust well to blitzes.” Add to that TR’s complete lack of mobility and this stat is even more remarkable !

    Shaz wrote “It appears that Andrew Hendrix, coming in at QB in 3rd or 4th and short can provide an answer to our short yardage struggles. . . and later reminded the need to “open up the play action”, I’ll add, especially for AH, or we become even more predictable with Hendrix in than TR! I would like to see AH in first and second downs as well more often. But until he shows he’s allowed to pass, we are more predictabie and little more than a smaller “Belldozer” with 11 defenders closing on him and the running game when AH is in.

    C-Dog added ” This team is more like 2011 than 2012. Tentative ” He also wrote, “Last year’s team had a swagger we had not seen in decades. Every man knew he could count on the man next to him to sell out completely and do his job. This year there is a malaise and a mentality of playing not to lose.” I see that, too.
    I think it’s not a matter of too little speed as it is to little certainty. And much of that is to the credit of new wrinkles both Michigan and Oklahoma added to their schemes/executions (Thank the heavens in my midst that Purdue and MSU were so unimaginative). Bottom line, execution, which BK preaches, is necessary, but opponents’ unprepared for new formations/schemes, something we didn’t even do against Alabama, gives the innovative foe a tremendous advantage. My long winding point: don’t just execute and replicate, execute and innovate . . . we appear to be too predictable on both sides of the ball!

    And, finally, at JDC, who wrote, ” And, Kelly has decided that, under his tenure, the tradition of the players singing the Alma Mater will not take place after losses.” Easy solution: don’t accept losing at home.

    Go Irish.

    1. Ok, I agree with much of what you wrote. But, C-Dog didn’t add “Last year’s team had a swagger……”. That was me.

      In regards to your “Easy Solution” to the Alma Mater controversy, “don’t accept losing at home.” Well that just doesn’t pass the logic test. You think Notre Dame, or any other sports team on the planet earth, is never going to lose at home? The point is that a tradition of honoring the student athletes, students, school etc. should take place REGARDLESS of winning or losing, as the outcome of a game has nothing to do with the act itself.

      Thought Experiment: I don’t like going to the doctor. Easy solution: I will never get sick.

      1. I should add by the way, it’s not literally the “singing of the Alma Mater” that I think MUST continue. It used to be that the players would gather in front of the student section and raise their helmets to the student body- an AWESOME tradition (don’t know when it ended). And it was done win or lose.

        One/both of these should continue for reasons already stated.

      2. I like the raising of the helmets’ tradition, too. As fas as never losing at home, I get it. We will. I’m just shooting for even less than we do. As for the singing, it always felt more like a funeral psalm when the players sang it immediately AFTER a home loss. So raise the helmets up, and move on in a loss, and seldom ever have to deal with this difference in the future!
        Go Irish!

  7. I JUST DONT THINK THIS GUY CAN BRING US A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. LOU HAD 16 YRS OF EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE GOT TO ND. KELLY HAD 7. I LOOK AT THE ASSISTant coaches and some are with big time experience, wisconsin, tennessee, but more are not. i think last year was a miracle and am grateful for it; but this is still the kevin white issue, not being able to land a truly national calibre coach. these guys better go on retreat and figure out how to beat this team in shape, they are out of shape, sloppy, uninspired and there is no outside the box, think different, attitude, everyoneknows what we are goingf to dop before we do it. it has to start with the offensive line and the backs, without that we have nothing. you cant run without the holes. totally frustrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. BJ,

      It’s not Kelly. He is doing a great job all around except on punt return, in my opinion. This year we have no leadership at QB. To be a leader, you have to lead by example. Rees doesn’t do this. He just isn’t good enough. And on defense, we lost our leader in Teo and nobody else has stepped up. If you think this is on Kelly, you’re crazy. Just wait til Golson comes back next year and our defense matures one more year. We are going to be a better team next year.

  8. Harry Heistand

    Position: Offensive Line Coach
    Years with Notre Dame: 2012-present
    Previous Coaching Position: Tennessee, Offensive Line Coach

  9. Someone mentioned that Brian Kelly stated we are more deep this year than any team he has had here. Well that may be true, but we are deep with “a little better than average” players. We are so incredibly slow on defense it’s incredible. I’m beginning to feel until they create a semi-pro league for those athletes that don’t care about being students, ND might not win another title ever again. Could you imagine our slow defense against an Oregon right now or an LSU, Clemson, Bama, even Ohio State? We would get slaughtered as these teams would move the ball at will. I think we might find that out this weekend when we play ASU. I have a bad feeling they are going to score at will against us. Mix in the fact their QB can run too, haha! We are screwed for sure!
    And btw, it’s pretty hard to establish a running game when we are playing from behind every game. It’s no longer a game of field position for us because our defense just can’t cut it. We are going to be in offensive shootouts with every team we play and our offense is lacking one MAJOR thing…a QB.

    1. ChrisJ,

      We don’t have to imagine it since we saw it in the NC game. If you can’t beat them, and you don’t join them, then there’s little else ND can do to be competitive. The NCAA isn’t going to change, so ND should adapt. I’m not alone on here calling for a look at how ND can make itself more competitive while at the same time not selling out. Something has to be done. ND is fast becoming a non-factor in the NC discussion, last year notwithstanding. We need to win consistently, not just once every decade.

      Go Irish!

    2. I don’t think ND is any slower or faster than anyone else. ND’s roster is filled with kids the majority of schools wanted, including Alabama.

      What we have is a couple things. 1) players thinking before acting 2) players restricted from being athletes (why is Tuitt not allowed to do anything but bull rush) 3) players out of position (Jaylon would be a redshirt ILB at any SEC school ) The offense has plenty of speed.

      Poor coaching is revealing itself this year like no other. Kelly could point to QB issues an Weis his first two years. Last year is proving to be a fluke that included several “miracle” wins. This team is now no better than Weis’ last team, despite having arguably more talent.

      1. wcif,
        You think an SEC school wanted Calabrese, Fox, Councell, Farley, etc?? These are all starters on our defense by the way. I guarantee none of these guys run better than a 4.8. I’m not sure what you are watching but we are definitely slow, and I’m talking more on defense than offense. I think Atkinson proved our speed at RB last weekend and Chris Brown flies at WR.

      2. Calabrese had an offer from Florida and Councell was offered by Auburn and South Carolina.

        Fox was offered by Stanford which according to everybody on here is the second coming of the SEC.

      3. chrisj, you are entitled to your own opinion, but NOT your own FACTS.

        While you can quibble about Councell’s abilities, you are wrong about his speed. Check your hole card.

  10. BK needs to do whatever he has to, apologize to his players for past and present indiscretions, for example, going to Philadelphia before the NC, and get what few leaders are on this team on the same page with him. This season and his tenure at ND are in the balance right now. If he pulls this team together, I can see a 9-3 season and mid-level bowl win in late Dec. or Jan. 1. If he fails to do his job, however, the season will unravel and ND will be home for the Holidays, sans bowl game. That’s terrible for team and player development, since a bowl game allows for extra practices before the offseason, and it cripples recruiting. Both these things have very practical long-term consequences. Hopefully BK is at least as smart as we are!

      1. Before the NC game when you’ve verbally (and legally) committed your professional life to ND? Absolutely. Horrible taste and timing.

        Now I know that it’s been talked about that Kelly’s interview may have been (at least in part) a professional move/ploy to get more money for his assistants from ND. I don’t know if there is truth to that or not. I HOPE that was the case…

      2. Hmmm,

        We seem to have lost the meaning of legalities, facts, rights, and basic freedoms still allowed in this country.

        “Horible taste” is of personal opinion only.

        Business is business… and there’s no business like the college football business.

        No business I know.

        Kelly never “interviewed” for a job.
        He only spoke with them (The Eagles) out of courtesy and to try to understand their level of intrest.

        As far as the timing goes, it was unfortunet, but there is seldom any intrest in football coaches in July is there?

        Besides, the way I heard it, Brian Kelly was on a short vacation when he conversed with the Eagles.

        Now do Irish fans have a reason to be upset or concerned? Absolutly.

        But like it or not, the man still has rights in this country.

        For me to exersize mine, but condem him for exersizing his, seems rather hyocritical to me.

        Besides, I’m sure a man as successful as Brian kelly had been he can talk and coach at the same time if need be.

        To consider it any other way was appears to be boardering on excuse making, and we don’t want that.

      3. Quote 1: “We seem to have lost the meaning of legalities, facts, rights, and basic freedoms still allowed in this country.”

        We have? I don’t remember saying even remotely implying Kelly didn’t have the RIGHT to go talk/interview/cavort/have a tea party with the Eagles. I didn’t say it was unconstitutional. Just that yes, in my opinion (amongst many other ND fans apparently), it was bad timing and in poor taste.

        Quote 2:“Horible taste” is of personal opinion only.

        Correct. Never implied it was an empirical or scientific fact. And I was attributing said opinion only to myself, thereby it being “personal”.

        Quote 2:”Now do Irish fans have a reason to be upset or concerned? Absolutly.”


        Quote 3:”To consider it any other way was appears to be boardering on excuse making, and we don’t want that.”

        So which is it? Can we be upset/concerned or are we making excuses? You’re contradicting yourself.

        Quote 4: “But like it or not, the man still has rights in this country.

        For me to exersize mine, but condem him for exersizing his, seems rather hyocritical to me.”

        Really? Who is condemning someone for exercising their rights? We have the RIGHT to do all sorts of things- legal, moral, natural etc. But that does not mean we should always exercise said rights.

        Again, putting political philosophy aside, I simply felt it was in bad taste.

      4. JDH,

        Before we go any further,

        Could you explain, or give your opinion on “Before the NC game when you’ve verbally (and legally) committed your professional life to ND? Absolutely”

        I really don’t want to misinterpret you any further.

      5. Sure Shazam,
        What I mean is that Kelly, numerous times in pressers etc., had told ND nation (and everybody listening, that he signed on to be the HC at Notre Dame and THAT is the only job he was concerned with. And in his opinion this was THE most coveted job. I’m paraphrasing of course but I think I’ve captured the spirit of his discourse.

        I understand it’s a “business” but that doesn’t mean someone in “business” shouldn’t carefully consider the consequences of their actions. Especially when dealing with young student-athletes.

        So again, I just didn’t like the timing. That’s just my opinion.

      6. JDH,

        Would you have been surprised if Kelly had said anything less?

        Did you believe everything Charlie Weis said when he was hired?

        Have you ever checked out a job posting, or listened to a new offer?

        Ever used a job search while still employed?

        Do you keep an updated resume handy?

        If your answer is no then I commend you for being happily employed in your dream job.
        Your a rare and lucky person.

        But I alway keep one eye open because, you know, shit happends and I have people depending on me.

        And I say I can’t blame a guy for that.

      7. Just wow. Nevermind. It’s getting old that I have to keep typing “I just thought the timing of his interview was bad and in poor taste.”

        You certainly have an interesting way of discussion/debate. Answer questions with questions. Ignore and obfuscate at all costs.

      8. How about this..

        Yes, I comepletly agree, the timing was bad.
        But just the timing.

        And shouldn’t a real question better than a hypothetical one?

        Ooops, I did it again.


      9. Make all the excuses you want for BK, Shaz, and hide behind whatever legalese seems appropriate to your situational ethics. I believe in an old concept, perhaps much too old and venerable for your tastes. It’s called loyalty. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. What BK did, whatever legalese you want to invoke to defend him, Shaz, was an act of disloyalty. By even listening to the Eagles before the NC game he disrespected his players, his staff, the university, the alumni, and all true sons and daughters of ND.

        Now, was this the only reason ND played so poorly in the NC game? No. But it was a factor nonetheless. When a team is as outmatched as ND was against Bama, the last thing it needed was a coach whose loyalties seemed divided.

        Bad form on BK’s part. No temporalizing by Shaz or anyone else on here will disabuse me of that opinion.

        Go Irish!

      10. C’mon man…

        You drew the first really lame excuse here!

        “We lost the National Championship because Kelly talked to the Eagles”


        That’s something we exspect to hear from bj, not you.

        There is virtuall no loyalty left in our society let alone the billion dollar enterprise called college football.

        ND let Willingham go 3 years into a 4 year contract.
        We cut Weis loose too, but he was loyal to himself first, and ND is still paying for that one,
        USC cans Kiffin just 4 games into the season, same with UCONN.

        Coaches come and go through a revolving door anymore.

        Its a business and if you don’t get that maybe you should take your applesauce through a straw instead of a spoon.

        Far be it for me to try to change yor opinion.

        I asked one simple question.

      11. “We lost the National Championship because Kelly talked to the Eagles”

        Except that’s not what SFR said. Those are YOUR words.

        Shaz, do you know what a “straw man argument” is? You make them all the time. I’ll give you a hypothetical example:

        Person 1: “I am for gun control especially in light of tragic school shootings.”

        Person 2: “I am against gun control because I think the 2nd Amendment protects our any/all legal citizens the right to bear arms.”

        Person 1: “Then you must be ok and are guilty of helping to make school shootings happen.”

        It’s a logical fallacy and dishonest.

        What I mean, it seems in some of your posts you put words in people’s mouths so to speak and rapidly change your argument(s).

      12. Well, if wasn’t wrong for Kelly to talk to the Eagles, then why is he suppose to appologise for doing so?

        And you know what your doing right now?

        You’re using the tradgity of others just to make a point.

        And that’s not like you.

      13. What in the hell are you talking about? Are you seriously that dense? I’m using the tragedy (the correct spelling) of others to make a point?????


        Here you go, I’ll come up with one that doesn’t involve “tragedy”:

        Person 1: “I am pro-union because they stand up for the rights of workers.”

        Person 2: “I am not pro-union because I think they have too much power and erode the profits of the business entity.”

        Person 1: “Then you don’t care about workers and are only interested in corporate profits.”

        There ya go, a though experiment without “tragedy”. Can you take that thought experiment for what it is or am I making you butt-hurt for talking about unions?

        “Well, if wasn’t wrong for Kelly to talk to the Eagles, then why is he suppose to appologise for doing so?”

        I never said he should apologize! I said it was bad timing and he shouldn’t have done it in the first place.

        Reading comprehension is really important.

      14. I used to work for a union!

        It’s not as black and white as you make it out to be with your box of crayola’s.

        There’s the who’s, the what’s, the where’s, the when’s, and why’s.

        Of course you never said he should apologize…
        it wasn’t your question.
        You just gave your opinion on what someone else’s answer would be.

        How you answer for everyone else and get it right is amazing

        But then you must be the only one around with crystle balls.

      15. Pray for me Jesus. Pray for me Buddha. Pray for me Tom Cruise. (Before you take that literally Shaz, it’s from a Will Ferrell movie. I don’t actually worship 2 different deities and Tom Cruise.)

        This is simply the most fantastic display of ignorance I have ever seen. I’m not sure what else to say.

        SFR, JC: Can you explain to Shaz what I’m doing here? His

        Shaz, do you actually think that I was advocating a position/opinion with those hypothetical straw man arguments? If so, then I would have to be advocating both/opposite points of view, no.

        Really- nevermind. The lights are on but nobody’s home.

        This has become a clown show.

        You are literally incapable of understanding the word “hypothetical”. You are literally incapable of understanding a + b = c.

        Here you go buddy. An independent source on what a straw man argument is:


        Now I’ve no doubt that when you read the HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLES that Wikipedia has provided, you will be really ticked off that Wikipedia is making light of a serious issue like alcohol consumption.

        Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, the defense rests.

      16. Oh, I’m fully capable of understanding your A + B = C

        I just choose not to!

        Sorry, it just didn’t appeal to me in this particular forum.

        Maybe next time.

      17. “Oh, I’m fully capable of understanding your A + B = C
        thing-a-mabob. I just choose not to!”


    1. Rob I agree to a certain extent. Yes, certainly injudicious timing with the Eagles interview before the NC game. No real surprise though, just like we were a pawn for Urban Meyer’s raise. However, the exploratory impeccable timing did indeed cost BK his 1st National Championship! The team and BK were both obviously distracted and not fully focused on the NC game!

      Just a counter point Shaz…don’t panic!

      1. For what it’s worth the interview was the day after the NC game. Between the Teo issue and talent gap don’t think it would’ve mattered anyhow.

        Bellichick could’ve coached them that game and the score would be the same.

        In any event, anybody who has ever left a job has done so by interviewing while with their former employer. Don’t know that it maks you disloyal.

        I think we have beat this issue to death. Lets talk about a new topic like the starting QB. Thoughts?????

      2. Ron I respect your opinion on this and I don’t know if it had any impact on the game. Probably not. But whether he was physically in Philly before or after he had obviously been talking with them while preparing for the NC game. I certainly am not implying in any way that we would have won the game if not for the Eagles situation. Just thought the timing was in poor taste- that’s all.

        And yes I agree it’s a dead issue but wanted to clarify my point of view.

      3. Well Ron,

        As I view it, lets put it this way, I bet it was on BK’s mind during NC game. Hard to imagine anything different. It may or may not had an effect on the outcome of the game. Still poor timing! Fresh pain creates more unwanted pain! Money is the root….Nah I won’t say it. Hey, it did take awhile to get a new contract? Seems the drama played out, but at what expense? Only time will tell.

      4. re starting QB: Tommy Rees

        I do hope Hendrix is used more, and is allowed to play-action pass when he’s in. Otherwise, with AH in, we are even more predictable than with TR. Regardless who is at QB, we need to establish the run – especially against Az.St. to keep their offense off the field

      5. Never interviewed?? pst-pst-wink-wink! Hahaha! Nah…they weren’t looking for a head football coach now were they? Yeah, BK was a total harmless neophyte regarding the NFL..Suuuure, and Shaz I’ve got ocean front property to sell you in Nevada!

        Besides, you’re making a mountain out of nothing concerning rights…his adventure cruise payed big dividens now didn’t it? Smart head football coaches would have waited until after the NC game was the point.
        Just maybe, a better outcome or did he know something we didn’t?

        But, Yes, you damn well betcha it was his right shoot himself in the foot to create an outstanding exclusive controversy! BK knew exactly what he was doing! Surely he was incognito when this all took place? Hahaha!Was it the result BK was looking for? Only BK can answer that!

  11. This team is more like 2011 than 2012. Tentative. Not trusting each other or between the coaches and players. No real identity.

    Rees will make a great coach or coordinator. Not a head coach but a good offensive mind. Rees cannot even move his feet. The only thing Rees can do is take a shot gun snap, look and throw. Make him adjust his footing at all and it’s over. Too bad, I like the kid, ( unless we find out that he is working with Vegas ).

    The coaching staff has not answer to that issue. No other mobile QM is ready. The coaches have not properly shifted to a better running game. In fact the running game from a schematic stand point is just horrible. The line movement is not syncronized with the back field on the outside runs. The are no true designed counters, only variations on a slants and short sweeps. Not enough up the middle. And so with flashes of brilliance, the running game is not an effective weapon, even though the talent and desire is there. Kelly hates to run the ball.

    Defensively, the linbackers and safeties just aren’t reading and reacting quickly enough. Better linebacking would make the D-Line look much better.
    But even the D-Line isn’t getter through as well as last year.

    The defensive backs seem to be held in check. I would hope the coaching staff starts calling plays like they have nothing to lose. For the CBs, that means tight man coverage, or setting up to play the ball. No more cushions unless they can time a nasty hit. I don’t see the coaches going for this however.

    Finally, it appears that this squad is slightly slower and not as strong as last year. Footwork is not as sharp. they are not 1/2 step slow.

    With those factors, unless the team can change the course, ( perhaps with a heavy schedule during fall break ), then I see losses to Stanford, ASU, and tough games against BYU, and Pitt. This is a 9-4 or 8-5 team.

    1. C-Dog,

      You wrote, “This team is more like 2011 than 2012. Tentative. Not trusting each other or between the coaches and players. No real identity.”

      This is exactly what I was referring to when I wrote about “systemic problems”. The issues seem to run deep- no leadership, trust issues, a total lack of confidence.

      Last year’s team had a swagger we had not seen in decades. Every man knew he could count on the man next to him to sell out completely and do his job. This year there is a malaise and a mentality of playing not to lose.

    2. The inability to develop a strategy to prevent obvious assaults on Rees at this stage in the season in South Bend? That’s bad.

  12. (2) “Rees throws an interception on the slant pattern. The target was TJ Jones, the ball, technically, was on the target but a less than pristine throw and a less than pristine grab by the normally reliable Jones deflected the ball

    into the air for one of the wating, always swift Oklahoma defenders who returned it to the Notre Dame 32. After the short drive, OU was up 14-0 with less than 3 minutes gone”

    Which is why former ND head coaches sought to establish the ground game initially, thus the line of scrimmage, thus assure the win, all thing being relatively balance in the ebb n flow of a game 85% of the time.

  13. I happened to catch bits and pieces of a few Alabama games this year.
    (I like to see what number 1 is supposed to look like)
    While the tide remain ranked #1, they haven’t looked much like their old self in doing it. Yet.

    At the end of one their wins this year a sideline reported asked Nick Saban what his team had to do to get better?

    Sabans’ exact quote: “Our offensive line needs to dominate”

    When you apply that statement to ND, you realize Saban is right.

    When ND runs the ball successfully and with authority they normally win.
    Fortunetly,I believe the ND O-Line has the size and talent to be dominent.
    I think we have the runningbacks to successfully run behind a line like that.
    It appears that Andrew Hendrix, coming in at QB in 3rd or 4th and short can provide an answer to our short yardage struggles.

    Run the ball, pick up first downs, wear down defenses, open up the play action, take some pressure the QB, get more favorable defences for our QB and revievers, control the clock, control the tempo, keep the other team’s offense off the field, give your own defense plenty of rest.

    35 carries for 188
    19 carries for 96
    35 carries for 95
    29 carries for 88

    Those are the rushing totals for our first 4 games.
    We’re a long way from dominent.

    28 carries for 221 last Saturday was a step in the right direction.
    If we are going to beat Arizona St,(or anybody else) we will need a whole lot more of that.

    I love a offensive line that is on the attack and gets after people!
    And I think that’s what this team has been missing.
    Do that, and everything else falls into place.

  14. While I didn’t mention this in the first 48 hours after the humiliation, err loss to Oklahoma, I now think it merits some attention. Did anyone see Kelly’s ASSitude and rudeness he showed to Alex Flanagan after the game? She asked a perfectly legitimate question about the game. His answer started, “Well if you watched the game Alex…”. And, Kelly has decided that, under his tenure, the tradition of the players singing the Alma Mater will not take place after losses. They need to quickly get into the locker room to be, in his words, “under my guidance”. Based on his spectacular lack of leadership he’s lately been demonstrating, maybe his “guidance” should be unheeded.


    1. To be fair, that “tradition” was only re-instated by Chuck Weis. It hadn’t been done prior to that for some 20-30 years.

      1. I understand but I think said “tradition” is one worth keeping. It’s one of those things that sets ND apart- student-athletes showing their appreciation and their being one with the entire student body. And I think the larger issue is Kelly’s reasoning for stopping it, which I think is absurd and sends the wrong message.

        The touching of the “Play Like A Champion” sign was reignited under Lou Holtz and is now indelible.

  15. Let’s admit one thing right up front…….the Irish are not a good football team, at least not good enough to beat any of the big boys! There main problem is at QB, where a decent backup QB is the starter. We knew he couldn’t run a lick and now we are finding that his throwing is below average. A recipe for sure disaster. 3-2 could easily become 3-5 if something doesn’t change. Don’t think Arizona is a pushover. Their defense is suspect but they can put points on the board. ND by 10 if Rees can complete a few good passes otherwise ND will be 3-4 by Saturday midnight. Go Irish!

  16. Duranko, you note “this team will play hard when they are behind, but cannot easily come from behind. The coaches, will, however, fix this.” I’m curious what you are seeing that gives you this confidence?

    Last year’s record was, as you point out, based on keeping the ball safe. Outside of that step backwards this year, this team looks eerily similar to that team. So, what we have is no progress, despite Kelly saying this is the deepest team he’s had, and, the case can be made that the team has fallen back considerably.

    My confidence in Kelly is waning not because of the losses, but because of the consistently poor play in both the wins and the losses. There is no fire; there is no spark. The same mistakes continue to be made. The O and D continue to be beaten in the same way. Basically, every break needs to go ND’s way to seal a win. The team is starting to feel a lot like 2008 and 2009, sans a coach with Super Bowl rings on his fingers.

    1. The coaching staff is very good at attacking a weakness.

      Para ejemplo, last Fall they quickly moved KeiVarae Russell and Matthias Farley to the defensive backfield after Shepard had left, and Collinsworth, Wood and Slaughter had gotten injured. They did not wring their hands, they ATTACKED the problem directly, including accelerating the minutes and use of Elijah Shumate.

      They handle problems and this one was unforeseen, tho not unforeseeable. With the off week upcoming they will get after it.

      I could not disagree more with your last sentence, westcoast athough, in fairness, you qualified it by “if feels like 2008 and 2009.


      In 2008 and 2009 the team lost AT HOMEk, within 12 months, to Syracuse Navy and UConn. In the last two years, (calendar) our losses have been to Stanford, FSU, Bama, Michigan and OU.

      We were overwhelemd by BAma, outpointed by FSU.

      We have beaten the other three teams in the same period.

      What Kelly did do last year
      is return us to our status of getting wigged out over each loss, which is the Notre Dame way. They hurt.

      But this is not Weis.

      No, not at all.

      Riddle me this, and trustme, west coast, this is not a trap.

      What do you think our record
      would be in 2013 with Golson at the helm? I have an opinion, West Coast, but I will await yours, and if you wish to, we will exchange opinions and agree to disagree agreeably. NO ad hominem, no hair pulling!!~

    2. Amen westcoastirishfan,

      The zest is nowhere in site to date. duranko needs to stop selling KellyCare if you catch my drift…he sounds like a desperate shoe salesman.

      I made that leap of faith with the super bowl ring guy, never again! My loyalty rests with the University, the Team and NOT the coaching staff. Especially, when they are NOT earning their keep. Yes indeed, this is looking dangerously close like another emotionless CW train wreck all over again. I hope I am wrong.


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