Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against North Carolina?

Greg Bryant - Notre Dame v. UNC
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Greg Bryant (1) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in action during a game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN.

Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish overcame potentially fatal offensive turnovers and the first signs of vulnerability from the hitherto impregnable defense to survive North Carolina 50 -43. Though the tilt was a textbook demonstration of the perils of a sandwich game, the Irish moved to

GOLSON’S TURNOVERS

Ev continues to confound us. As a sophomore, albeit RUNNING LESS FREQUENTLY, he demonstrated excellent ball security. His TD/int ratio of 12/6 was lofty for a redshirt frosh.  But on Saturday he threw his second pick six in three games which endowed the Tar Heels with a 14-0 First Quarter lead. His maddening lack of ball security when in the pocket or running allowed Carolina short fields of 37 and 23 yards for 14 easy points.

DEFENSIVE VULNERABILITY?

Perhaps of greater concern were four vulnerabilities of the defense:

(1) The chronic inability to corral Marquise Williams and keep him from making runs for first downs. He did it six times. SIX TIMES!!

(2) Missed tackles. This is the sub-optimization most explicable by the sandwich game syndrome. The Irish have tackled very well for the first five games; they did not on Saturday.

(3) Inability to pressure the passer even when blitzing. This was the first time this surfaced all year.

(4) The consequences of lack of depth on the front seven. Carolina accumulated 230 yards on their last four drives of the game. In their first 56 plays the Tar Heels accumulated 280 yards, or 5 yards per play. In those last four drives, they only needed 28 plays to accumulate 230 yards. That’s 8.2 yards per play. The Irish defense looked fatigued and slower under the cumulative burden of the 84 offensive plays Carolina ran. Alas, even #9 looked like a mere mortal. The Irish defense, simply, can not afford any substitution pattern which leaves them tired in the fourth quarter. That is non-negotiable.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!!

The Irish offense is explosive and becoming more explosive. This offense generated a dozen chunk plays against the vexing defense of Stanford, and will continue to aggregate chunk plays. The offensive line, but for the anomalous three holding calls, two by Stanley, one by Elmer (none of three of which was ‘necessary’) is showing improvement each week since the Purdue game. Perhaps it is glacial, but it is improving. They OL had its best game in getting to the second level on running plays. On Saturday, two recent additions to the offensive repertoire received heightened levels of utilization. This involved the effective use of the jet sweep (the fake of which is not chopped liver, and is a linebacker/safety distractor) and:

PASSING GAME TO THE RUNNING BACKS

In 2013, the Irish completed 25 passes to running backs for a whopping 150 yards and no TDS. Since unveiling this ordnance against Purdue, the Irish, with six regular season games to go, have connected with the Running Backs for 21 completions for 219 yards (a tidy 10 yards per reception) and a TD. This will become more significant as the season progresses.

DID TAREAN FOLSTON ‘ARRIVE” ON SATURDAY?

Folston is shifty, strong, clever and leans forward when running. It was not the yardage Saturday, but the efficiency of his runs that was noteworthy. And he is highly capable as a receiver. Remember this: Folston’s “arrival” is not mutually exclusive with Bryant’s “imminent” arrival.

WHAT DID WE LEARN ON SATURDAY?

That until proven otherwise, Golson has ball security and turnover problems. It is, after 9 turnovers in 3 games, a habit. While not fatal against a defenseless Carolina, it will be against better opponents if not corrected. Fix it, with extreme prejudice.

The Irish defense may have a problem with an offense that runs a lot of plays and has a lot of speedy skill players. With the concentration in the heavy legged Big Ten, Upstate New York portion of the schedule, that vulnerability had been neither tested nor exposed. Chronic or correctable? FSU’s quarterback is not as nimble as Marquise Williams, but he is a far, far better passer.

This was the most points given up by Notre Dame since Charlie Weis’s finale against Stanford giving up 45 to the Cardinal in Palo Alto. His other impressive landmarks were allowing 46 at home to Navy in 2007. NAVY! In the civilian arena of incompetence, his Irish gave up 47 to Michigan in ’06. Best of all, after that 45 point yield to Stanford he proceeded to shamelessly loot the Notre Dame Treasury. “Some people rob you wih a six gun, some people with a fountain pen,” from “Pretty Boy Floyd,” by Woody Guthrie How sharper it is than a serpent’s tooth to have a thankless alleged fellow alum!

NOTRE DAME’S “ROAD” ADVANTAGE

In the hype-filled atmosphere of South bend, it is sometimes salutary that the team escapes the adulation and the back-slapping. Is good to get away from the dewy-eyed, breathless fellow students (and, here I am just talking about the Male students!) and bond as team. This is particularly apropos this season as they get away from the entanglement with the suspended five players and the ensuing drama, unauthorized practice of law, misapplication of the constitution, forelock-tugging and hand-wringing. Once they get on the bus to take the plane to Tallahassee it is just players, coaches and support staff. They may bring books (is “textbook” an anachronism?), but it’s all football, and they see only each other, remembering the importance of being Notre Dame football players.

Being road warriors is part of Notre Dame’s DNA all the way back to Rockne’s Ramblers. Later, the Irish played Army in New York for 16 years in a row. Frank Leahy’s teams played only four home games a year. They we have Ara’s bowl triumphs in Dallas, New Orleans and Miami,
Dan Devine’s stirring victory over the Bear in Birmingham in 1980. We are a national program, and it is our legacy to travel well. And We’re 1-0 at Doak Campbell.

WHAT WILL WE SEE AGAINST FLORIDA STATE?

(1) The defending National Champion earned by beating an SEC team. But they’re different this year. In 2013, after 6 games, the ‘Noles were beating opponents by an average margin of 53-12. This year it’s an impressive, but not breathtaking 39-21.

(2) The returning Heisman Trophy Winner. The Irish have done this before, Doc Blanchard in ’46, Glenn Davis in ’47, Roger Staubach, in ’64, Matt Leinart in ’05.

(3) A veteran offensive line, 5 returning seniors, coached by Rick Trickett a legendary line coach. This line has not played up to 2013 standards yet, garnering only 142 yards per game on the ground versus a startling 203 per game in the championship run in ’13, but a visiting Fighting Irish team may be just the motivation they need.

(4) the Pageantry of College Football. The Seminole War chant, the tomahawk chop, Chief Osceola, astride Renegade, throwing the Flaming spear into the midfield logo. It is good stuff.

(5) Old Friend Ronald Darby playing all-america, NFL draft level cornerback for the ‘Noles.

(6) The second most-talented roster in the country, trailing only Alabama’s, if you trust the recruiting rankings.

(7) Jameis Winston getting hit. One of Brian Van Gorder’s core principles is that the best offensive player for Notre Dame’s opponent must be hit and hit hard, early and often. Devin Gardner, Terrell Hunt and Ty Montgomery all llimpedoff the field at some point only to return. Jameis Winston will feel contact.

(8) A Doak Campbell Stadium where the irish are 1-0 against the ‘Noles, who have defeated the Irish in South Bend, Orlando and Miami.

(9) An FSU defense that was just too quick for the Irish offense after the 2011 season in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando. Kelly’s offense has come a long way since then, but can the Irish athleticism on offense now elude the lightning quick ‘Noles?

(9) A Notre Dame moment-When coaches recruit players to play at Notre Dame, and when those recruits say yes, part of the bargain is to play in games like this: The #1 team on the road, Jameis Winston throwing Heisman glory at the Irish D, in a hostile environment. A win would put the Irish in a pole position for one of the four slots, subject to conditions subsequent. Heck, man this is why we are Notre Dame!! Buckle your chin straps, lads, You KNOW the Irish will!!

Go Irish!!

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52 Comments

  1. I don’t see the point in predicting the score of this game. If you’re right, are you going to quit your day job and try to sell this skill? If you’re wrong, well, that’s when happens when you can’t see the future.

    Two undefeated top five teams are playing. Enjoy that fact. Because not long ago, ND was losing to the likes of Navy and Syracuse.

    If they lose, so what? Are you going to stop watching them? Will your follow-up post on UHND.com be received with such acclaim Brian Kelly catches wind, adjusts his guidance of the program and ND wins 4 of the next 5 titles? Will ESPN charter a private jet to offer you a six figure contract to appear on Game Day?

    Nope.

    We will all go back to our normal lives, sulk a day or two and get back into it for the next game. And then . . . jump on UHND to read about the magical formula that keeps us alive for the playoff. Or, how the season could shake out and ND play in a major bowl against a weaker opponent.

    Then after that game, we can argue recruiting and what ND is/isn’t doing right. And we’ve all been recruiting for a major program for the last 30 years and how we know better.

    Face it – you know as much about this game, the state of the team, outcome and future as the CDC does about Ebola. Which is it say, minimal. Get over yourselves and enjoy the freakin’ game.

    1. Patrick is being kind of bossy.

      Regarding Ebola, we can all rest easy. Sad Warrior is right now deployed to Africa and is punching that virus right in the face! HOOAH!

    2. Easy there Pat. It might be you that needs to chill. We have great minds on here. Have you not seen bj’s YouTube collection? The speed at which Toulmin runs? Duranko’s dictionary? Sad Warriors platoon? D-Trains boomerang? My hair??

      This site is full of magicians and wizards just dying to tell you how things are and the way they used to be. We have guys on here versed in haiku, and some singer songwriters.

      So I say to you Pat, mr. Know it all, that we believe this site to be the last bastion of free will, an Ebola free zone, a place where friends come to spout trivial non sense, where we laugh, cry and ridicule one another to the point off insanity. Don’t you sometimes just want to go where everybody knows your name and their always glad you came.

      In the immortal words of Sad Warriors drill instructor, “it looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your mommas ass and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress”

      1. Well put, Ron Burgundy, well put.

        This is a place for ND fans of all types and stripes to opine. None of us claim to be experts. Well, I guess, some of us do. But this site is a place to vent, cry, laugh, insult, apologize for the insult, etc.

        You are more than welcome, Pat. But one UHND pope is one UHND pope too many. Unless you want to declare yourself as anti-pope to pope St. Durankus I, that is.

        GO IRISH!

  2. The only thing I know is we will give them our best shot. Might be a year
    away from beating a team like this but thats why they play.

  3. This is ND’s game to win or lose, It will come down to EG, and coach BVG. Can Golson play like a champion, and NOT turn over the ball?? Can BVG’s defense control the line, and contain FSU’s offense? If so, we win, and if not we lose. We did it against Stanford, maybe we can do it against FSU.

  4. Check this out:

    Multiple Las Vegas sports books halted betting on the Notre Dame-Florida State game Tuesday as uncertainty surrounding the status of Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston escalated.

  5. It is a shame that Golson is in this turnover funk. I can’t imagine correcting it that abruptly. I think we could stay with them into the fourth quarter otherwise. But if he drops it 3 x we are in a lot of trouble.

  6. what jeff said about Welch and Hendrix.

    Nice to see them both doing well, and for Chuck Martin, no less.

    I hope somehow, someway, Davaris Daniels and Ishaq Williams find their way to personal peace and success.

    1. I don’t blame him either. I also don’t blame ND for trying to rush this through, potentially going undefeated, winning a title and having to vacate it due to these issues.

      If they cheated, academically, that’s the real issue. Either do what Golson did and come back, or move on. Nobody to blame but themselves.

  7. As if I could possibly be more obvious, the game will come down to turnovers and defense. ND’s defense is one of the best in the nation IMO. Yes, they struggled with some blown assignments, missed tackles and penalties against UNC. Happens. A week earlier they were ridiculously good against a much better team, not to mention game in and game out. People talk about how bad Michigan is and so the shutout doesn’t really “count” that much. Nonsense. The statistical rarity of Michigan being shut out speaks for itself. It is exceedingly difficult in D1 football to shut a team out, not that unlike a no-hitter.

    Besides Golson STILL needing to learn how to hold/protect a football, there are other variables. Apparently the coaches have wanted him to step into the pocket more. He did that last week and it did not work out very well. He holds the ball too long as it collapses around him. Based on some of his hurried throws over the middle while getting close pressure or sacked, he could have EASILY had 5 turnovers and a loss. I can think of 2 very close calls off the top of my head. And as a right-handed QB, he cannot continue to do a clockwise 360 degree turn. Often, you turn directly into an oncoming sack.

    All that being said, I believe EG is every bit the athlete that Winston is. And I think that his games of 3+ turnovers are over.

  8. Please don’t forget about 2012 when Everett Golson’s biggest game of his college career came on an away game against Oklahoma. What happened then…Golson stepped up and played a terrific game. I think we will see great things from Golson this weekend and he will get his name right back into the Heisman talks. The kid is a winner!

    Go Irish!

    1. Don’t you worry Chris, much like the Alamo we shall never forget. If we do, the terrorists win and Sad Warrior must head back inside the wire away from hot chow, warm showers and UHND.com.

  9. Winston has two investigations going: one for school misconduct in the rape case and another involving an autograph authentication company.

    1. Ah I see what you did there bj, very clever. But wouldn’t Creminoles work better?

      In all seriousness though they probably have just as many Catholics on their team as ND.

  10. In the immortal words of Lou Holtz, “men, you are going to play well, I have no doubt about it.” If they stay grounded and eliminate some silly mistakes, they will be in it to the end. FSU has shown a propensity to sleep through the first half and come strong in the second. I truly believe we will be fine…depending on the decisions of EG and how the defense plays. Keep in mind, hurry up offenses were designed to eliminate liberal substitution and diagnosis of offensive strategy. That definitely cut everyone off guard.

    Whether we win or lose, we will play them well.

  11. Too much doubt among the quote: “Irish Faithful” this week.
    ND defeated what I consider to be a gifted Michigan team 31-0.
    Everyday is unique in life celebrate this contest they are far and few between.
    WIN

    1. That was the same Michigan team that lost to Rutgers! Michigan is just bad. I want to believe ND will win, but the UNC game certainly helped me temper my expectations. UNC’s QB was a poor man’s Jameis. Let’s see how we do against the actual Jameis, and a team that has a significantly better D than UNC. I think ND *can* win this game, if they play close to flawlessly on both sides of the ball, and Everett remembers how he played the first 4 weeks, and protects the ball. I’d go as far as saying whichever team wins the turnover battle will win the game.

  12. WHAT WILL WE SEE AGAINST FLORIDA STATE?

    ” It is wise to study the ways of ones’ adversary. Don’t you think? ”

    The New York Times had a very interesting fact finding article on the Florida State Football program last week.

    It gives an in depth look at their culture, philosophy, priorities, and the effect on their student athletes and the community of Tallahassee.

    I strongly suggest every ND fan give it read.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/florida-state-football-casts-shadow-over-tallahassee-justice.html?_r=0

    HEADLINE:
    “At Florida State, Football Clouds Justice”
    By MIKE McINTIRE and WALT BOGDANICH OCT. 10, 2014

  13. Good point Jeff. Miami of Ohio probably one of the 5 worst teams in Div One. Hendrix avg being sacked about half a dozen times a game and yet is on track to throw for over 4000yds and maybe 35+ touchdowns. Not bad for a kid who could not get on the field for 4 yrs because Kelly said he could not learn the playbook. Hard to believe for a kid who was Pre-med student. Looks like the kid can play “if only he had been given an opportunity” but Kelly had his “love child” TR at the helm. Good luck to both kids.

    1. It’s Notre Dame, where do you really think the top priority lies…. studying 4 years of medicine, or studying a college football playbook?

      Has anyone ever heard Hendrix complain, then or now, about his playing time at ND?

      The kid got a 4 year scholarship to attend ND, study medicine, be a part of the football team, be a part of a undefeated regular season, travel to several bowl games, see some limited action on the field, recieve top level coaching, and graduate and earn a degree.

      Sounds like one hell of an opportunity to me.

      1. Thanks for the wisdom of stating the “obvious” Shaz. The point both Jeff and I were making and it seems you missed ENTIRELY is that it is nice to see the kid getting an opportunity to show he has football ability. The opportunity to do that at ND was never provided to him by Coach Kelly who instead “hid” behind the lame excuse that the kid could not get on the field because he was not smart enough to grasp the ND playbook. Now with a different Head Coach (and the former Offensive Coach at ND who seems to think the kid CAN grasp his playbook)he can get on the field. Would be nice to see what kind of stats he could put up with an offensive line that could give him protection and a receiving group like those currently at ND to catch passes and provide time to throw. I am sure he is thankful of his degree but am also sure he would have liked to have a decent chance to show his ability while there an opportunity that I always thought was not given to him. Pretty sure many ND fans felt the same at the time just a personal opinion be expressed.

      2. I read it again in its entirety and I still think you are stuck in the land down under. So you surmise that BK willingly sat down the second coming of Joe Montana because he has some sort off man crush on Rees. Seems logical.

      3. Welcome to the YOU MISSED THE POINT fan club Ron. Following on from Duranko’s comment “it is nice to see them both doing well” that is all I am saying, but would have been nice to see Hendrix doing it for ND if given an opportunity. Perhaps you should quit trying to come up with your smart ass comments all too often and just try to come up with something more relevant. The old quip “he who thinks himself a wit, is only half right”, seems to be most applicable where you and your comments are concerned. I am sure many other contrubutors on this site would echo my thoughts. They are probably equally tired of your attempts at “mindless” humour. No doubt you will produce some predictably useless retort to this entry. Cheers Mate

      4. I will steer clear of the mutual repartee but only add that Hendrix is showing enough guts and talent to at least question why Tommy was the only option for Kelly when Golson was suspended. Glad he is getting a chance to shine, always liked him as a person and how he handled the bench (his not complaining speaks volumes to his character, but does not prove, contra Shazam, that he felt he had been given a fair shot). I hope he gets a shot to play in the NFL if that is his desire; he seems like a character guy through and through.

      5. He had the opportunity. Remember the bowl game against FSU. He threw a pass that literally hit the linebacker in the gut 5 yards in front of him. He was the type of athlete who would make a great athletic play for every three bad football plays. And if you look at his stats he is under 50% completion percentage which in the offense they run should be minimally 60%.

      6. The point being made was that his studies, which, without doubt, are quite challenging and intensely time consuming, took precedence over football, and infringed on his rate of development.

        I know, that’s kind of a crazy, off the wall idea…

        especially at a place like Notre Dame.

      7. Ray- it is difficult to convince the crocodile hunter with facts. Clearly, the head coach at ND did not want to play the far superior QB because as he puts it TR was his love child.

        Much like Fosters is Australian for beer, D-Train is Australian for dumbass.

      8. Wasn’t going to bother responding to you RB but figured why not? Dumbass not used here in Oz Ron but we do have “assholes” like you down here same as in the states. If you would like to come down sometime I would be happy to introduce you to the “crocodiles” you so often seem to be preoccupied with in your responses to me.They would probably spit you back out as even they wouldn’t swallow the crap you dish out on this site. Will be in Chitown next September and happy to catch up with you for a chat if you so desire mate. I think I may have suggested that to you once before but don’t remember you wanting to follow up on that invitation. If you want to call people dumbasses would be good to do it to their face. I am happy to meet you mate and call you an asshole to yours. Just let me know where you want catch up in Sept next and I will certainly be there mate. May even bring Crocodile Dundee with me. Oh and for your info mate Fosters no longer sold in Austalia so like so often looks like your wrong again. Cheers

      9. Good to hear there are assholes down under, otherwise you would have no idea where to put your wee wee.
        Let’s make it a date, 7:03 pm at Rush and Division. I’ll be the guy wearing a suit so fine I make Sinatra look like a hobo. My voice makes wolverines purr so you’ll know it’s me. Sounds like you’ll have the internet muscles in tow so I’ll provide the scotch.

        Incidentally I’m still waiting on that T Shirt and coffee mug. Is it true that the toilet spins the other direction when you flush it down there? If there’s no Fosters what do you and your mates drink after wrestling the crocs or boxing the roos?

        I’m dying to know these and answers to other questions about the kiwis.

      10. Kiwis are in New Zealand Ron. I am a bourbon man so only use Scotch to clean my toilet which as you point out does spin in the opposite direction to USA. Class acts down here drink Crown Lager as their beer of choice but I stick with Coors which I can get here easier then when I lived in Chicago in the 70’s. I had a friend from Oklahoma whose father would bring us a couple of cases when visiting as in those days it was not sold East of the Mississippi RIver. We actually had Two Roos on the news last week “boxing” in a suburban street while another dozen or so watched along with the negighbours. I attended Univ. of Illinois Circle and grew up on the South side so never spent much time on Rush St. Most of the hippie/tie dye types hung out down there. I was a cop in the Circle precinct near Harrison/Maxwell St. area know that area very well, happy to see you there mate. I’ll bring your T-shirt and Mug.

  14. Happy to see former Notre Dame players making the most of there last year of eligibility even though its at another school. QB Andrew Hendrix and TE Alex Welch are playing well for the U of Miami (Ohio) although the team is struggling at 1-6.

    Hendrix is 142/290 2131 yds 17tds and 122 rushing yards with 1td

    Welch 17 receptions for 218 and 1td

  15. I’m nervous for this one. Predicting FSU 45 ND 24. Hope I am wrong. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I’m not going to just be positive when it’s not what I believe.

    Let’s go Irish. Prove me wrong

    1. I’m at FSU 34 ND 20. It looks like Golson is regressing and he has, I hate to say it, those Dayne Crist eyes at times. I’d feel a lot better about ND’s chances if the run game was better. As it is, I think the entire game rests on the shoulders of Golson, and I don’t think he’s up to it. Like you, I hope I’m wrong.

      1. No way he has Crist eyes. He has always come through at the right time and I believe he will again. Go Irish.

      2. I hate to say this but I think it will be a blow out. Just looking at the past games Golson has been amped up early in the game and committed turnovers. He will do the same in this game and ND will be down by two touchdowns early. This will translate into making ND one dimensional and Golson will get lit up, because ND’s defense had trouble protecting him against a horrible UNC defense. The final score will be 42-21. ND will try and come back but the early turnovers will be to much. I think Golson is good for 2 turnovers and possibly 4. If this is the case ND gets smoked and he has not showed me any different in the past three games.

    2. No reason to believe that score would be valid, they haven’t shown anything to indicate that thus so far, be optimistic, not a DD.

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