Duranko’s Digest: What did we see against Stanford?


Oct 4, 2014; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2014; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The FIGHTING IRISH validated their nickname in a tense 17-14 win over Stanford. Everett “Two Minute Drill” Golson floated a sweet 23 yard pass to the steadfast Ben Koyack to give the Irish a 17-14 lead with 1:01 left in the fourth stanza. The game ended appropriately when an Irish blitz pressured Kevin Hogan to get rid of the ball wildly, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty triggering a clock runoff which, at last, expired time.

Stanford was, to use the (former Stanford Head Coach) Dennis Greenism, who we thought they were. They are a two time defending Pac-12 champion and are the ONLY school to appear in BCS bowls the last four years. It was a heroic win for the 5-0 Irish. It was neither pretty nor esthetically pleasing. If you seek that, then watch ballet or gaze at Monet. This win was about blood and guts, the primal struggle for survival first, then conquest. FIGHTING IRISH!

The game began with the Irish establishing their defensive prowess, creating so much consternation in the Stanford offense, that the Cardinal were goaded into three motion penalties in the first quarter. Kelly showed his faith in the Notre Dame defense by going for it on fourth down at the Stanford 38 on Notre Dame’s first offensive possession of the game. This announced to Stanford that they were going to have to deal with, and overcome, the Irish defense if they wanted to win.

But Golson continued his turnover fest, which began against Syracuse, with two turnovers in the game’s first 17 minutes. Golson’s first turnover was a fumble at the Irish 10, the second an interception at the Stanford 2 on a marvelously athletically play by Jordan Richards when the Irish had 3rd and 5 at the Cardinal six. The first turnover handed Stanford an easy touchdown when Hogan took it in from the 10 when Schmidt overshot his mark and Shumate could not close fast enough. The second turnover, the interception, robbed the Irish of a chance to go up anywhere from 10-7 to 14-7.


Five years ago, on September 25, 2010, Stanford came into Notre Dame Stadium, bullied the Irish, never trailed, outgained the Irish on the ground by a daunting 166-44, sacked the Irish thrice but allowed none in a 37-14 win, a margin approximately commensurate with the difference in performance. But Kelly, Longo and the rest went to work. Yesterday, the Irish outgained Stanford in rushing yards by 127-49, in total offense by 370-205. generated 4 sackes to Stanford’s two and committed just 1 penalty for 10 yards against Stanford’s 9 for 66. Simply, the script has been flipped. Did Golson have a 33 yard run and Prosise a 26 yarder? Absolutely. Guess what, we’re counting those rushing yards. But the longest Stanford run was only 11 yards, by Remound Wright, followed by Hogan’s 10 yard TD scamper.

The Irish defense may have been the best unit on the field.  Going in, there were three priorities:

(1) Don’t let the Stanford OL establish control and wear you down
(2) Don’t let Ty Montgomery beat you
(3) Be selective but effective in rattling Kevin Hogan and hit him hard as many times as possible.

Eight times it was three and out for Stanford. EIGHT times in 15 possessions. The Fighting Irish defense, simply, pitched a trifecta.


The line is much improved from the Michigan and Purdue effort. Some will demur, but as Ron White often says “You can’t fix Stupid!” Once John Harbaugh lent Vic Fangio to brother Jim at Stanford, the Cardinal defense became sophisticated, tricky and very NFL-like, as in Baltimore Ravens-like. The Irish OL was up to the task, allowing the runners to surpass Stanford’s rushing yards average and triple their passing yardage allowed number, which was 74 yards per game entering the contest.


In rain, we “discount” chunk plays to 15 or more yards. Notre Dame’s offense generated 11 chunk plays, 3 runs, 8 passes.


This is a willful, resilient Notre Dame football team. We all get caught up in numbers, stars, hyperdeflated 40 times and SPARQ scores, but the will to win, mental toughness, is the sine qua non. We could go 85 deep in talking about how tough these FIGHTING IRISH were yesterday, but we will mention just a few examples:

(1) Everett Golson. After handing Stanford its first touchdown, and handing them a turnover in the Red Zone, Golson stayed the course, and calmly marched the Irish 65 yards in 9 plays, preserving all three time outs for the pass to Koyack at 1:01. Golson had the famous three first half two minute drill TDS in the first three wins, and might have had one against Syracuse but for the bumfuzzled clocking fumble. He is one tough kid, belying the bland, wide-eyed stare. Look at his feats, not his eyes.
(2) Hunter Smith-Wow! Two fumbled holds, nothing to fall back on, yet was true on the third, holding for Brindza’s 45 yarder to give the Irish a 10-7 lead.
(3) Matt Hegarty-overcame some rough early moments, and some skirmishes lost to David Parry to stay the course, and provide the key block on Golson’s 33 yard run. Matt got better as the game progressed.
(4) Ben Councell-passed over by Onwualu and Turner in the new scheme emphasizing quickness, Ben was out there with his bulk and will, not getting any tackles, but clogging up the Stanford running game. Great example by Ben, and his coaches, of waiting for your appropriate moment.
(5) Corey Robinson- shutout the first three quarters, then made four catches in the crucial fourth quarter. Just a sophomore.
(6) Brian Kelly, just as in that strange second half against USC last October, is resolute and willful. His leadership and toughness can not be overestimated.


That the Irish can beat a quality, pedigreed team, at least at home.
That mental toughness is an Irish asset
That this defense is not a liability, but a HUGE ASSET.
That, as with Devin Gardner against Michigan, with Terrell Hunt against Syracuse and with Ty Montgomery Saturday they will follow the Van Gorder rule: identify the opponent’s best player, and hit him hard, early and often. For the most part, at some time, the opponents’ offensive star will limp off the field, even if they eventually return. Jameis Winston: IGNORE THIS AT YOUR PERIL.
That the Irish have enough offense to overcome having left 13 points on the field, Golson’s interception at the Stanford 2 and the two botched field goal attempts. It is highly unlikely that the Irish will confront a defense this good again in the regular season.


We do not yet have any empirical evidence that the Irish will play well on the road. We will have some clue when clock strikes midnight in Leon County, Florida on October 18th.

Consider this: this is the time of the year when most teams suffer key injuries, ineligibility, arrests, crises. But we do not yet know what happens when, as if from above, from one five players return to a roster, some of whom were presumptive starters. What might an infusion of talent like that do for a pretty decent 5-0 football team?


NOTE: iT’S An ACC, Southern thing. North Carolina is “Carolina” and South Carolina is simply “South Carolina”.

(1) a good hit, no field team in the Tar Heels. They have scored 110 points in the last three games. However they have allowed 154 points, including 70 to the mighty Pirates of East Carolina. That’s 51.33 ponts per game allowed. Stanford they are not. Fedora better find a way to find some defense if he wants to survive in the ACC.
(2) a team that was, to plagiarize Nelson Algren, “on the make” as the season began. The traditional ACC powers are FSU, Miami, Clemson and Va Tech. North Carolina was in the next pack, about eight teams, but trying to separate themselves and join the top four. Carolina is somewhere between the 5th and 12th best program in the ACC. If they settle on a double digit number then Mr. Fedora may be pink slipped.
(3) The dreaded Sandwich game. You have to ask yourself, are you really thinking about Carolina, or are you still basking in the afterglow of the win over Stanford? Human behavior is not that tricky. If you’re doing it, then the team is doing it a little bit too. Saturday could be as ugly, as insipid, as unsatisfying and as yucky, as the Purdue game was. Human nature strikes again, and there is an allegedly important game in Tallahassee on the 18th.
(4) A mirror player for Joe Schmidt: Jeff Schoettmer, a former walkon. Schoettmer, is 6’1 235, now on scholarship for Carolina, and the Heels leading tackler.
(5) a great punt returner in Ryan Switzer, who returned four for scores in 2013.
(6) The last home game in October, Leaves will fall and adorn the campus, but we don’t return till Nov. 15th.
(7) Elijah Hood, good luck to him. 18 year olds still have freedom of choice, even to reject Notre Dame. For those who believe and are committed to personal freedom, then celebrate his.

5-0. Third time since 1993. You made us proud, Irish. Thank you!

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    1. Ah this Edward fella has me perplexed. Is he a) the new village idiot b) an alias for bj c) the result of sad warrior taking some shrapnel to head deep inside enemy territory.

      My investigative skills have yet to produce a satisfactory answer. I have however, like most, enjoyed watching watching you and JDH (incidentally, my new favorite poster) take verbal spars at him.

      I’m left with only one thought when it comes to Edward:
      I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

      1. Ron,
        I think there’s a distinct possibility that Edward is the one who destroyed Lois Lerner’s hard drives.

    1. ***Please refrain from trying to horseshit us by using words like legitimate.

      At the half way point in the 2014 college football season, Jaylon Smith, as gifted a athlete as he is, isn’t even on the list.

      As of the latest Heisman poll (dated 10/7/2014) here are your top nine candidates for future reference:

      Todd Gurley
      Dak Prescott
      Marcus Mariota
      Melvin Gordon
      Aman Cooper
      Everett Golson
      Nick Marshal
      Ameer Abdullah
      Bo Wallace.

      Thanks…. and we’ll leave the light on for you!.

  1. Cam McDaniel is a really great running back. You know you will get 100% effort. He knows the offense and picks up blocking assignments. When he gets open space or a hole he hits it. We have been dared to pass it most games as they are loading the box with Blitz packages to force EG into bad choices which in turn makes it hard to run (unless we hit a few more draws). I would love to see Us run more Draws/Screens to get that Blitzing to sit back more. That would open the run game a ton and thus the passing game of play action. Greg Bryant has looked strong at time but lately has been trying to hit a home run on every play, instead of taking the 5-6 yards. I like TFol a ton and like Cam he needs some help from the team.

    I do notice EG rarely dump passes it to a RB as an outlet pass. There has been many times they are the only one open with a ton of open space.

    1. Marcus Allen Hof said great running backs think touchdown home run every time they touch the ball. Stopping and studder stepping before getting hit is not big time running back. Watched replay of a few different games and there a lot of hard running backs playing MAjOR College football. Get on the recruiting trail. I hope I am greatly mistaken.

      1. I’m sorry… but I have never heard Marcus Allen use the term “Touchdown homerun”

        I think you’re greatly mistaken.

        Perhaps your thinkng of Marcus Barry Bonds?

  2. BK was right to use McDaniel so much. He could pick up the blitz the best
    and secure the ball in that weather

  3. we have to admit the facts we have no running back maybe cj can help but we will have to wait until next year and hopefully stud freshman will surface cam is mac division folsten to slow greg is gun-shy.

      1. 1. “We” don’t have to admit anything.
        2. You write like you’re in the middle of having a seizure.
        3. The statements I think you’ve made (hard to tell without grade school-level punctuation and capitalization) lead me to believe that you are mentally retarded.

    1. Edward, we are a Catholic institution a word, which, loosely translated, means “all are welcome.” While I disagree with your conclusions about our running backs, don’t let anybody discourage you from posting.

      1. my only concern is a national championship. no run game no national championship. recruits know there will be playing time available next year.

    2. I don’t know about your analysis Edward. I saw a better line push on Saturday, but the center was getting his rear end handed to him. I don’t care if your Barry Sanders, no line push, not sustaining block = stopped behind the line.

      My evaluations of the backs:

      Cam grew up playing in the Dallas Metroplex, the toughest high school football in the country. He is not fast, not flashy, but gets up in the hole and usually gets you 3-4 yards

      Folston: He is young and needs time to mature. He needs to get an attitude and some confidence. He needs to realize that he is a good back, and trust his ability

      Bryant: Very talented, needs to contact Jonas Gray. Jonas was a tap dance major at ND until he talked to Jerome Bettis and Bettis told him your 225 run like it. Bryant needs to hit the hole not try and find the homerun every time. He tap dances to much and needs to plant the foot and go North and South.

      There is a nice recruit out of PA that is on the way to bolster the depth.

      The oline needs to continue to gel and Golson needs to run more to hold the back side end.

      By the way keep posting we all disagree from time to time, but this site is awesome! Go Irish!

      1. I think Greg just needs to be a back and follow his blocks and take what’s available at the time. He seems to try very hard in making a big run everytime he appears to touch the ball. He is gifted and if he is patient, I think he’ll have better outcomes. Tarean is a good back and I agree, just get more confidence. Cam, damn grittiest player out there. He is consistent and takes what he is given by the defense. I don’t think our issue is the backs but what the OL does to push off and open holes.

  4. well, jeff, I agree that Smith should not be a runner, though using him as a decoy on one jet sweep would be intriguing.

    But I understand, jeff. The child makes us crazy. He has played 18 games
    at Notre Dame, and through 18 games only Ross Browner is in the conversation with him. (To be fair, Niehaus was magnificent as a freshman before his non-contact knee injury. While Niehaus went on to be an All-American, he was never quite the same after the injury.)

    It’s okay if he makes you want to do wild things, jeff. It is okay!!

    1. I think the O line will come along without resorting to the thought of “who can go out there by himself and single handed run into the center of the line and gain yardage without assistance.” Although Jalen possibly could, let’s see what Hiestand can do.

  5. I know this probably sounds crazy to some on this site but what do you think about Jalen Smith getting 4 or 5 touches a game from the RB position?

    1. Why on earth would you play him on both sides of the ball, substantially increasing his risk of injury, when he is one of the best linebackers in the game? He is irreplaceable defensively. We have a bevy of capable RBs, but the OL is obviously a work in progress.

      1. JDH, Im just dreamin a little. I understand the importance of Smith on the defensive side of the ball. I was thinking more first and goal from the 3 yard line with ND in the I formation. QB Golson, FB T. Luatua, RB J. Smith

      2. Woody might get pissed at me for ad hominem attack but this is complete lunacy and you should have your head examined.

  6. Shaz, there is tremendous value in the diversity in the receiving corps. Players can disappear and then return, as Robinson did and as Koyack did. The players seem to be getting comfortable with this, and there is not a ball hog in the bunch. Opponents with one lock down corner are toast against us.

    And Golson is quite remarkable about his “democratic” approach. He just hits whoever is open. Further, once we get out of the rain, and against less pressure than Stanford, I expect the RBS to become an even more important part of the passing attack.

    Ordnance. Lots of it.

  7. Once again ND had 8 players with at least 1 catch.

    Up until his game winning catch, Koyack had only one reception on the day.

    It hard to fathom that a ND tight end can become the forgotten man.
    But with no one on the Stanford-D picking him up on that critical 4th & 11 play, that’s exactly what he was.

    It also goes to show the value of having 8 or 9 quality receivers, 3 capable running backs, and a gifted duel treat QB.

    That’s an awful lot for an opposing defense to have to prepare for.
    Fail to account for even one player, and ND is proving they have the ability to find it, and take advantage.

  8. Toulmin, I agree that ND 2014 would beat Stanford 2010. The best of this Irish team is yet to come. The defense is growing before out eyes.

  9. It was a great effort on Saturday and a gutsy win, but you can’t count the revamped offensive line as one of the bright spots. Hegerty was continuously beat by the nose guard that forced Golson out of the pocket and into pressure or bad throws. On the biggest 3rd down of the year, Elmer was manhandled and pushed into Golson on a planned QB draw. McDaniel 15-41, Bryant 6-14, and Folston 3-14. That’s your running backs going behind that revamped line. The guards and the center still need to be much better for the Irish to have a true running game and be a threat. I loved the win and loved the effort, but not everything was rosy.

  10. “Five years ago, on September 25, 2010, Stanford came into Notre Dame Stadium, bullied the Irish, never trailed, outgained the Irish on the ground by a daunting 166-44, sacked the Irish thrice but allowed none in a 37-14 win, a margin approximately commensurate with the difference in performance. But Kelly, Longo and the rest went to work.”

    That was a better STANFORD in 2010 with Jim Harbaugh as HC. ND 2014 would beat Stanford 2010 in my opinion.

  11. “Stanford was, to use the (former Stanford Head Coach) Dennis Greenism, who we thought they were. They are a two time defending Pac-12 champion and are the ONLY school to appear in BCS bowls the last four years. It was a heroic win for the 5-0 Irish. It was neither pretty nor esthetically pleasing. If you seek that, then watch ballet or gaze at Monet.”

    For a budding CFB POWER you seem a little touchie.

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