Duranko’s Digest: Notre Dame’s Disaster in the Desert

Everett Golson - Notre QB Fumble vs. ASU
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) loses the ball as he is pressured by Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Lloyd Carrington (8) in the first quarter at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

On a weekend when the sports media bubbled over with Veteran’s Day references, Notre Dame’s offense, in whole and in part, was simply overrun  by Arizona State’s blitz package.  It involved as much shock,  awe, cost and casualty, discounting for the fact that football remains a delightful,  but essentially,  extracurricular,  activity, as North Viet Nam’s Tet Offensive did in ’68 in the real life and death struggle of combat.  Todd Graham, simply, was the better man, playing the role of General Vo Nguyen Giap to Kelly’s befuddled Westmoreland.

With 3:46 remaining in the first quarter, the Sun Devils kicked a field goal to tie the Irish at 3-3.  In the next 4:26 of game action, which seemed like an eternity in the watching, Arizona State scored 21 points from three Irish turnovers, combining two drives totaling 36 yards with a Pick 6 to move to a roaring, daunting 24-3 lead. The Sun Devils smelled blood in the water, and the Irish never regained the lead.

The ASU blitz ripped the heart and rhythm out of the Notre Dame offense:

(1)         Eliminated the running attack

(2)         Lessened the passes to the running backs, a maturing weapon for the Irish

(3)         Sacks-a shameful SEVEN

(4)         Ten tackles for loss

(5)         Turnovers-FIVE of them

(6)         Red zone inefficiency.

If the bad snap on the field goal was not enough, the final explosive cherry on top of Graham’s percussive Molotov Cocktail was when the elegant one, Corey Robinson, he who  enjoys the legacy of his Dad’s hands, bobbled a ball that Sundevilishly bounced into the hands of Lloyd Carrington for a 48-31 ASU lead with under four minutes left.

Yeah, the Irish fought back.  They did not quit. But this “thing of ours” is not about spunk and honor in defeat. It mandates and feeds on victory.

WHERE DOES THE OFFENSE GO FROM HERE?

Consider two meetings.

The first is Brian Kelly with himself, perhaps looking in the mirror while shaving. The most dangerous lies are the lies we tell to ourselves.  And Kelly must ask himself “How did I, Brian Kelly, not see this coming, how did I let it happen?”  And please answer honestly!

The second is with the offensive staff, and maybe even Golson.  Denbrock must answer with Kelly as to how the whole offense was overrun.  Alford must answer how Folston,  18 months into his Notre Dame career is so completely incompetent at blitz pickup.  Hiestand must be asked what went wrong with 7 sacks, ten lost yardage plays and how we fix it, and Matt LaFleur must answer questions about Golson.  “What are we as a staff doing now that we must STOP doing?”  “What are we as an offensive staff now doing that we must improve or correct?”  “What are we as an offensive staff NOT doing that we must START doing?”

And Golson must be asked, calmly, paternally, rehabilitatively, what we can do to help him and what he will do to help us.  “Fix the problems, not the blame.”

22 plays.  That is the total aggregate of turnovers committed, sacks allowed and plays for loss allowed.

That just won’t do.

WHAT’S AT STAKE NOW?

Certainly not a playoff birth.  But suddenly, the rest of the season now becomes as important for 2015 and beyond as it does for successfully concluding 2014.  This is a tricky time, as the playoff bubble has burst.  The coaches and players have to decide RIGHT NOW how they’re going to respond against Northwestern, Louisville and USC and in a bowl game.  That response, that level of dedication,  focus and accountability, or its  absence, will materialy impact 2015.  With four games left, the coaches and team can commit to have the best four game stretch since 2012.  Anything less…….

WHAT WILL WE SEE AGAINST NORTHWESTERN?

(1)         A second tier program in a decaying conference. The Wildcats are 3-6 and several notches below Fitzgerald’s best squads.

(2)         50 years later, a fond memory of Ara Raoul Parseghian.   Bum Phillips  used to say that the mark of a great coach was “he can take your’n and beat his’n and take his’n and beat your’n”.   Ara was the head coach for 13 Northwestern-Notre Dame games.  Ara was 13-0, ND 9-4 and Northwestern 4-9 in those same 13 games.  Somewhere, Bum Phillips smiled.

(3)         Northwestern scores 18 points per game, yields 23 points per game.  They gain 324 yards per game, yield 373 per game.  Their best  win was  against Wisconsin, their worst loss against Northern Illinois.

(4)         Last chance for the Irish to play a lot of reserves, as two solid teams complete the regular season for the Irish: Louisville and USC.

For those who want the Irish to fight back and respond to the embarrassment in Tempe, it makes sense, and moral and emotional symmetry,  to get all in and root hard for the squad.

GO IRISH!

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59 Comments

  1. Your comparison to the Tet Offensive is not accurate. Tet was the Viet Cong’s version of Germany’s Battle of the Bulge. A last-ditch effort that failed miserably. After that, the Viet Cong ceased to exist as a field able fighting unit. Only the press made it out to be (and still does) worse than it was.

    I wasn’t there in ’68, but was there after, 73-75. The morale was bolstered by our ability to fight off the attacks and come away with a military victory. BTW Gen Giap disapproved of the plan, and was out of country during the attacks. He came back after their defeat.

    Regarding this analogy, ND should have BEATEN ASU. Yes, they caught us flat-footed, but our comeback should have been successful.

    Other than that, good piece!

  2. Tired of reading all this. It is simple: Golson has a “deer in the headlights” issue going on in the first quarter. Two turnovers against NC, timeouts needing to be called. What more do you need to make the call to sit him out for the first quarter, and let him get a view of the game from the sidelines? Even Charlie told Clausen that you could learn from seeing the speed of the game for the sidelines. Let him sit for a few minutes, then put him in.

  3. I hate to say this but I’ve been reading a lot I boards and yes the Irish looked like shit, but now we see what they are made of. ASU got stomped by UCLA and see how their playing now. One thing the old man used to say to me after every game “Your never as good as you are on your best day or as bad as your are on your worst.” Now we see I BK is worth the money or not. I don’t think this is a playoff team, but I also don’t think it’s a shit team either. I interested to see what team shows up on Saturday.

  4. What bothers me most is the total offensive breakdown in the face of the blitz. We know that icebergs apparently have 1/8 of their mass visible above the water line. 5 turnovers are one thing, but a total of 17 plays that resulted in sacks or lost yardage is the more massive part of the iceberg.

    At the risk of sounding like Billy Beane or Bill James, I am curious as to the mean/median ratio of turnovers when a team allows more than 15 combined sacks and lost yardage plays. I’d be surprised if our turnovers were far out of line with the typical ratio in that range.

    Fortunately, Louisville arrives in two weeks, and even without QB Gardner they will thrown a full arsenal of blitzes at the offense. We need that.

    Right now I don’t know if this team is the one that played in Tallahassee on October 18th or the one that played in the Disaster in the Desert.

  5. I don’t know what game you watched but Bama ran the ball down the ND D’s throat from the opening drive.

    That team just didn’t seem prepared or focused. No excuses. But I wonder how much BK’s flirting with an NFL job and/or Manti’s soon-to-break fake internet girlfriend story affected the psyche of this team.

    Regardless, compare or don’t compare. Bottom line is that ND now and for the last 20 plus years has done absolutely nothing on the field of any great merit. How many years between bowl wins? What great bowl wins in the last 20 years or so?

    Nonetheless, welcome to this site and please continue to contribute.

    GO IRISH!

  6. While I’m new to the UHND site, I’ve been reading for years….And the rediculous Alabama game comparisons have to end. For hell’s sake, we went into that game playing freshmen recievers at DB. We lacked depth in general, but were really banged up on top of that. Still, we stopped the run. OHHH! the all vaunted AlabamaSECwe’llplaythebiggestbaddestdumbestregardless running offensive wasn’t worth shit until Saban opened up McCarron, who passed at will between 15 and 20 yards. Irish LB’s dropped into coverage; and the running,and carnage, began.

    Nonetheless, 7 on 7. The Irish held their own. The new team bears zero resemblance, beyond demanding basic morality and intelligence.

  7. Let the panic begin…but really unnecessarily.

    Everything about the Irish team is solid or great, with a singular exception. And, yes, I’m about to heap upon Golson. He’s not a teenager, and the playoffs are out of reach. So…

    The problem wasn’t scheming or foresight. As I wrote about in Duranko’s last stream, ND’s worst opponent is the mental ability of its quarterback, and this game was its final exposure. Everybody knew the pressure was coming. Graham spoke openly about his intention to “confuse” Golson. And he did. Golson was simply incapable of picking up the obvious blitzes…and I mean Obvious. Nothing was hidden about them. Corners and Safeties were crowding the line in mid cadence. Linebackers were presenting a 7 man front; and Golson was utterly ignorant. Nothing in the way of adjustments were made. The middle of the feild was empty and open, but couldn’t be relied upon to hold the LB’s back, because Golson was passing only inches above the D linemen’s heads, hoping to overcome pressure with arm strength instead of quick thinking and touch.

    The problem, as evidenced by the first half, was that before the game started, when Cam McDaniel finished tying Golson’s shoes, and reminded him to take his Ginko Biloba, he had to take a leak, and Golson went back to trying to figure out how many licks it actually takes to get to the middle of a lollipop. This was made obvious by McDaniels return to the backfield for nearly the duration of the second half, and the success of blitz pickup, and the middle passing game sticking the LB’s of ASU. Cam McDaniel was calling the adjustments, and making the reads…even so far as stopping Golson in set cadence, and adjusting for the still obvious blitz. (I’ve honestly never seen anything like that. Cam became an oldschool single wing blocking back.)

    So, now we all know. It’s not just McDaniels toughness and consistency as a runner that has him in there all the time. It’s because he’s the one that knows, or can think clearly enough to remember the offense well enough to make it run. This also explains the reason for Golson’s 4th quarter success. As the offense speeds up, play calling becomes simplified; defensive schemes become limited; and the game becomes instinctual.

    Unfortunately though, while instincts and athleticism will get you so far…you can’t fix dumb. And as we’ve seen this year, DC’s are figuring it out. Some may refer to it as “mental errors”, or more pointedly, but as politically correctly as “can’t get out of his own way”, but it’s all the same in the end. The team is sound, and primed for a strong finish and a great run next year; which is what most were expecting anyway. Malik Zaire seem not only talented, but impressively bright. Let’s all hope to win out the season, and Zaire to make the turn to starter as soon as possible.

    1. Well I will welcome you to the site. Now I do agree that Golson at times looks for the quick bubble screen and not to the middle of the field because I don’t think he can see it, being his center is 6’5″. Also you analysis on the inability of Golson to make the right line calls is also correct. Now your Malik Zaire comment, the back up QB is always the most popular person in town. I would like to see BK do one thing that I think would be great, bring Tommy back as a grad assistant. Everett and Tommy worked well together and it would help in film study and gameday.

      Your final comment on comparing ND to Alabama. People on this site, including myself don’t want to hear about depth issues and injuries. Saban is a great coach and when it’s all said and done will be talked about as one of the best ever. He went to Alabama because he could not thrive in an environment well he would have an overbearing administration checking his every move. But if you are going to hold ND as a standard bearer in college football than comparing them to a Dynasty like Alabama is not wrong and can continue, because that is where you want your program on the field.

      Finally it is BK’s job to teach and prepare Everett and tell him if it’s not there dump it or protect it. If ND doesn’t turn the ball over and give ASU great field position they are not down by three TD’s and it’s Everet’s job to protect the football. It’s Kelly’s job to prepare and train him. Kelly insn’t doing a good job

      1. “deliscious slab of gash” ?
        Haven’t heard that one before.

        Confucius say:
        “Marriage like bank account…
        You put in…
        You take out…
        You lose interest”

        Anyway, she’s probably very happy with Mr. Wang

      2. Oh I like this beatha breath guy! Alot.

        I think your comment about EG’s “intelligence” is timely, and in no way do I mean that up as an insult to EG. It’s an honest question, as he seems to be regressing in the area of ball protection. I think it’s a bit myopic to blame 100% of the TOs in the ASU game 100% on Golson, but he had some extremely ugly, mind blowingly stupid moments. At times he looked like a freshman backup who was forced into the game after the senior starter went down.

        And them, as par is for the course, he went back to being the Dr. Jeckyl side of the equation in the 2nd half.

        Kelly’s exasperation and admitted lack of answers in this area say alot.

        That being said, I think EG will progress beyond this curse. Gotta believe.

  8. St. Michael,

    The only stat I care about after two decades of winning absolutely nothing important (no NCs, not even a major bowl win) is the final score.

    Final Score:

    ASU 55 – ND 31.

  9. Offense is good but I wish they could use more of a pro style offense, control clock with running and some passing. I can’t believe that with the size they have on the O.L. they can’t control the line of scrimmage. I hate the video game football that is being played in football today. First to fifty seems to win today and sometimes that’s not enough.

    1. SYC,

      Eagles run the same offense and led the league in rushing last year. They slow the tempo down when they are ahead. It’s not a matter of running a pro style offense it’s how you work the clock.

  10. Tom,

    From your mouth to God’s ears.

    However, we’ve been victimized as fans before by these apparent return to glory false starts.

    Also, I hate to say this, but your post above is the typical if this, then that, could’ve, would’ve, should’ve that has also become all too common among ND faithful.

    Have you noticed that teams that win titles never seem to need to resort to this line of argument.

  11. I agree they are top 15-20 team as of right now. However, my point is not where they should be ranked this year… rather where they are as a program. ND competed for a playoff berth. Had a chance to win the FSU game and ASU game. Had they pulled one of those off, there is a good chance they would have made the playoffs. From my perspective, ND will continue to compete every year and more often than not be ranked in the top 10.

  12. Bottom line is we are who we are, not elite, just average. Polls aside can you really expect us to win when we suspend 5 players for cheating and the rest of the University’s sit back and chuckle. The hire ups at the UND don’t really care if we win or lose they get their pay day every week at a sum of 1 million per episode and that does even include merchandise sales, we are the ones that continue to watch a mediocre event every Saturday. For me it is what it is. ND died for me when Lou left.

  13. The only problem with your analogy to the Tet Offensive is that the U.S. won that battle. True, it was shocking and had a psychological effect on American voters. But our army resourcefully and stoutly won that battle. If Arizona State was North Vietnam, Notre Dame was not the U.S. because Notre Dame lost yesterday. It did not respond and carry the day. It responded but lost the day.

    Really, there is another problem. Sure, superficially your inaccurate reference to our country’s history is only an analogy. Yet you seem to relish what you see as a North Vietnamese victory over the U.S. I know that sort of thing reflects the popular group-think way of seeing the U.S. these days (i.e., that the U.S. has a comeuppance coming). But many of us are not interested in your political views. In my view, you would do better to keep your politics out of your football writing.

    1. Well put. I should have read on before my post later, here. Sad that this disinformation has been planted forever in public’s mind.

      In another era, one which celebrated being USA, the Battle of the Bulge was accurately reported as a great victory after being caught in same predicament…

    2. And side note, which I point out below, Gen Giap disapproved of the plan. He went to Hungary for “medical” reasons during the campaign.

  14. The turnovers were awful and ultimately cost ND a chance at winning the game. However, the defensive game plan backfired. ND played short handed in the box in a effort to slow down ASU’s passing attack. Which is fine if your D-line can whip their O-line. Not the case on saturday.. resulting in ASU being able to take what they wanted offensively. As bad as it was at times on saturday, being able to rebound from a 34-3 deficit on the road against a top 10 team, shows how far this program has come under Kelly. The defense was bad, the offense was bad and turnover prone, yet it was a 34-31 game with 6 minutes to go. Bad loss? yes. Disappointing? yes. But it does not change my perception that this is a top ten program moving in the right direction that will compete for playoffs and championships every year.

    1. You’re delusional if you think they are a top 10 team, top 15-20 yes. But you are looking at Rose colored glasses if you think they’re top 10.

    2. Tom, I’d question your understanding of the game. If you take into account the 28 points that the Irish offense accounted for, the D did fine. They were down some key players, so played a bit more static that BVG usually does, and it looked more like his predecessor as a result. But, the numbers show a great effort in slowing an otherwise explosive offense.

      The offense as well, looked as good as it possibly could with a Gump at quarterback. In a sense, I hate the football is so subject to the talent of a single player…but strangely, when McDaniel started making th adjustments in the second half, I was actually kind of excited for the idea as an offensive scheme.

      …and the difference between a team; and a program, is that a team is what you field in a given season; a program is the teams you’ll produce over a generation. ND looks primed to be a top ten program. This years team looks to fall just outside. Next years won’t.

      1. Question my understanding for the game?

        In my opinion, the Defense did not play a good game. As I stated above the turnovers cost ND the game. What am I not understanding about the game between ASU. Is my take on the game so far off that you question my knowledge of football.

        I’ve played and coached the game for 29 years. I understand that does not make me an expert nor does it mean I am right in my statements. But to question ones credibility, whom you know nothing about, shows a level of ignorance on your part.

      2. Apologies Tom, that first sentence comes off quite a bit more dickish that I was intending, which was just a wee dab o’ dick…maybe four inches, and skinny. Enough that you know it’s there, but not so much that it makes you cough.

      3. Ok, then I will agree a top 10 program. However, I don’t want a top ten program, I want a top 4 team every 3-6 years, and I’d rather have that then a top 10 program consistently. This no national championship BS is getting old.

  15. I was also at the game Saturday and was shocked but not surprised at Kelly’s refusal to adjust in the 1st half of the game to the blitzes off the edge from corners, safety’s, and linebackers. His play calling is as just as culpable as EG’s judgment when it comes to the turnover train. Kelly is so predictable in his play calling, opposing defenses flood the zones with defenders. If you review the game on Saturday, all three of EG’s picks were either tipped or bobbled. There wasn’t a single ball thrown inside the hashes in the 1st half. Every ASU blitz was from the edge. The D-Lineman would take three steps and get their hands up while the blitzers applied the pressure. EG had no one running routes in the middle of the field as an outlet. All we had to do was send a tight end over the middle about 10-15 yards down the field (behind the backers)about 5 times and they would have had to call of the blitz or the tight ends would have had record days. The first ball thrown to the empty middle of the field was in the 2nd half to Amir. EG then picked them apart the rest of the half (almost 300 yards in the half) over the middle until the Robinson bobble pick six, which again was to the perimeter. (I know we were trying to use the sideline to stop the clock)The more you throw to the middle the greater the opportunity for a pick 6. If we’re supposed to be TE U why aren’t we featuring the talent we have at the position to slow down the blitz and break the Kelly tendencies? This has been going on the whole season and Kelly’s tendencies are easy to see which is a large part of EG’s turnover train. We will see the same kind of blitz packages when we play UL and USC. I hope Kelly isn’t to pig headed to learn from his mistakes.

  16. Plain and simple, this looked like a team that played like the moment was too big for them to handle. The last time I saw this was in the game against Alabama.

    What was particularly disappointing was Everett Golson. In the game against Alabama, I thought he was the best player on the field for the Irish and he rose to the occasion of the big moment. He has done this regularly in the big games. Regardless of the comeback, this was his worst game this game. In fairness, all kids are going to have off-days seemingly at the most inopportune times and this was his.

    Let’s see how they come off the mat.

  17. There is a definite lack of accountability by this coaching staff. Against Syracuse it was close to halfway through the fourth quarter when Golson turned the ball over for the fourth time was it, hard to keep track, it was a pick six, and he comes back in the next series. His ass should have gone straight to the GD bench! The game was still won and the message needed to be sent, YOU CAN NOT BE SLOPPY WITH THE FOOTBALL, practice what you preach BK. I am not saying he shouldn’t have started Golson the following week, but we see what happens when Golson is not held accountable for his mistakes. Case 2: Hunter Smith, you have one MOTHER EFFING job catch the FOOTBALL and put it to the ground, he should have been booted off the team after the Stanford game not celebrated for doing his job on the third try, this is a team with world class athletes I am positive there is someone with a pair of balls that can stand in there and get a snap down.

  18. I just read you article comparing the ASU game to Vietnam. Even with your disclaimers, as a Vietnam vet I find the comparison very insulting. It basically shows you do not have a glimmer of an idea of what soldier face in war.

  19. Duranko,

    To quote my post in October which you blasted me, after the Syracuse came I stated if they continue to turn the ball over a good team will beat them.

    Now they stand 7-2 with three games to go. If they lose to Northwestern that is a shame because that team should be beat. They could easily lose to their last two opponents. Louisville’s defense loves to blitz and as we have seen ND’s offensive line, which you touted as being amazing can’t make a line call to save their life. The great Everett Golson, (AKA Captain Turnover), loves to give the ball to the other team when consistently pressured. This seems to be a theme with Brian Kelly team’s, a game a year where they turn the ball over more than 3 times a game. This game reminded me of the USF games which was a 6 turnover fest. My question is why do we always hear that the right call wasn’t made or the QB doesn’t understand the offense. At some point it falls on the coaching staff to prepare their players and obviously this team wasn’t prepared.

    Now I am not predicting Duranko, but if they don’t fix the turnover problem it will be a horrible month of November. It’s a trend in the offense that has been there since Syracuse and hasn’t been solved. Maybe Kelly needs to pull back on the reins and hold Everett accountable for his mistakes. The defensive side is a lot of inexperience, but Jaylon Smith needs to step up. If the defense stepped up in key situations last game ND might have had a shot of winning the game even when they shot themselves in the foot. This defense is not there yet and hasn’t shown anything since Stanford and as we know that offense is horrible.

    1. Comparitively, the D did great against ASU. 28 of the 55 were turnover points.

      The offensive mistakes will be minimized by McDaniel making the adjustments in the backfield; just as he did in the second half against ASU…at the expense of the more explosive runningback, Folston, carrying the ball.

      Defensively, the big issue is getting the pressure that BVG wants and needs to aid the DB’s, while still stifling the run. This is why Schmidt was so valuable. Mr. I’m White & 10 lbs too Light, has never been so missed. He not only called the adjustments, but he filled the crucial daylight gap, nearly every play. They could be so lucky as to have more of him.

  20. Looks like we all saw the same thing – the same problems that have been there for the last few years and not solved – the O-Line is a mess – it all starts there – get the line coach to get it together – also how many times did they take a knee on the kick in the end zone on one of the worst coverage teams in the country? It took too long to make adjustments. The killer was letting AZU just march downfield after cutting the lead to 3 – a good team would have stopped them and then moved ahead – Fix the line and get Golston to get it together. ND could lose two more games – I will bet that Louisville and USC are going to follow AZ lead and bring the house – Kelly and the staff need to get ready for that

    Coaching weak on both sides of the ball Saturday

  21. I was at the Game Saturday. shocked by how badly we lost the battle on both sides of los/ Defense looked better than it was because ASU played
    conservative O. until margin got to 3 pts. (34-31)/ very little D. pressure on ASU QB.

    Offense couldn’t p/u blitz, couldn’t run block.

    Golson bears some responsibility for t/os. However, both D. and O. line
    were terrible/ Golson not having time to pass and no run game to back off
    the blitzs.

    Unfortunately, Kelly hasn’t shown much flexibility to make needed changes during his tenure here. Being overmatched by a good, but certainly not
    great ASU team and embarrassed is not acceptable after 5 years at the helm.
    Kelly needs to take responsibility, not Golson.

    1. ND out gained ASU in total yardage. 446 to 412.

      The Irish also had more first downs.
      And more yards per offensive play.

      They also had more turnovers.

      Which probaly accounts for ASU scoring more points.

      But I must admit, I wasn’t at the game.

      1. That just goes to show how easy ND made it for ASU by giving them short fields time and time again. Throw in a couple pick sixes for good measure, and not much offense is required… Oh except when for ASU woke up from their nap and decided to whoop some more azz in the final six minutes of the game. They were just toying with the Irish, which ccb eluded to.
        Anyway, speaking of these type stats, Mich out gained ND this year even while getting blanked 31-0

      2. @ ccb- that’s what I saw, too, though from afar . . .
        To be fair, George and SFR,
        The score was 41-31 late in the game, despite their 5 play march down the field expanded their 3 point lead, long after that devastating 4:26 chaos and second quarter fiasco, and a 31 point deficit, which was followed by ND scoring 28 unanswered points, which EG had a lot to do with. Then, a wide open bobbled pass- shit happens, even to the most reliable of receivers- halted a key and promising drive and resulted into yet another look what I got tipped to me pick six> 48-31, their third deflection interception of the day.
        Going for it on fourth down late and deep in our own territory and another sack led to their 4 play 8 yard drive and the final 24 point difference. A blowout of a score, but definitely not like the BCS Alabama game. Excuses ?
        “Just the facts, M’am,” as Joe Friday on Dragnet used to say. As Shaz said, the stats do suggest we belonged- the turnovers, and not all on Golson, the LOS dominance throughout , and better schemes on both sides of the ball by Az.St. were the differences. Put away all your sharp objects, fans, and let’s see whether this young team grows and develops here on out. Can BK and staff ” Fix problems, not blame” is the challenge coaches and the team will answer .We’ll see soon. But no comparison between this game and the Alabama game re: whether or not we have become a team that can compete against elite teams.

      3. Michigan totalled 289 yards.

        ND…. 446.

        To put up almost 450 total yards, it appears rather obvious that the ND offense did “something” right.

        At least to me.

  22. Another good post, duranko.
    Hoping Riggs is back. Quite a drop-off in pass coverage without him. Maybe #12 at CB will be a future rising star, but I don’t see him as ready for prime time vs. Louisville and $C. I hope I’m wrong.
    re: Northwestern, though, I’d have to disagree and say losing to Iowa 41-7 two weeks ago, NW’s last road game, is even a worse loss than NIU. Regardless, for NW to lose by 34 to a steadily declining Iowa team, NW’s most recent road game, speaks volumes about the Wildcats’ current demise. But I suspect we’ll be NW’s bowl game- heard that before? NW has had some very good D’ efforts, especially vs. the run, and rely on a short passing game, which they’ll likely use to offset BVG’s pressure D, but they have averaged scoring less than 13 ppg these last four weeks, all losses. But some teams don’t bounce back well after such a devastating loss like in Tempe. I agree with you it’s on the coaches as well as the players to right this ship to prevent it from sinking any deeper. Tune in. “Fix problems, not blame” is indeed this week’s appropriate message to BK and his staff, including the DL, OL, and RBs, not just Golson. Not sustaining blocks better, or controlling the LOS, it will be too close for comfort vs. NW, not just the other three games that follow.

  23. Not sure if the game against Navy took a toll on NDs defense like all the talking heads were saying but it is good to know that next year we get to face the triple option twice in the likes of Georgia tech and Navy. And the Navy game is the week before we face USC which will most likely be our toughest game next year as the schedule appears to be a little weak.

    1. What was Holtz’s record after playing Navy? By Lou’s time I’m sure Navy was already using the option. The Middies also played hard against ND back then.

      To run scared from Navy is a sign of how far ND football has fallen.

  24. GREAT ARTICLE, DURANKO. KELLY AND HIS STAFF HAD A WEEK TO PREPARE A GAME PLAN THAT NEUTRALIZED THE BLITZ. HE BLAMES GOLSON FOR ALL THE TURN OVERS, BUT ACCEPTS NONE HIMSELF. ONE WAY WOULD HAVE BEEN TO KEEP 2 TIGHT ENDS IN, MAX PROTECT, AND USE LESS RECEIVERS. HE ALSO WAITED TOO LONG TO USE SCREENS AND QUICK SLANTS OVER THE MIDDLE. IT WAS NO SECRET A.S.U. WOULD BLITZ ON EVERY PLAY. EVEN WITH ALL THE TURN OVERS, ONE MORE STOP BY THE DEFENSE WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE IRISH A CHANCE TO WIN THE GAME. LASTLY, GRAHAM SHOWED NO CLASS BY CALLING A NAKED BOOTLEG WITH SECONDS LEFT IN THE GAME . CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THEM AGAIN IN SOUTH BEND. AS YOU STATED KELLY AND HIS STAFF NEED TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR ONCE IN A WHILE.

      1. I love the Irish and I truly enjoy reading other’s comments regarding how the team is doing and their opinions of each game and other thoughts but, frankly, I’m extremely tired of Mr. Burgundy’s cowardly and sarcastic responses that he feels necessary to ‘sit back in the weeds and then insert’. Ron…it’s okay to disagree but who made you the junior high bully of this site?! Chill.

  25. Some fair questions that need an answer, I would agree Duranko. At this juncture, I expected more as a fan from this team. Disappointment is not the right descriptive word either to label my thoughts after yesterday’s game. I just hope they don’t allow Northwestern to look like a superteam (AKA Navy game).

    Go Irish

  26. I am 58 and just about ready to find other things to do on Saturdays rather than watch Notre Dame. Its interesting. When Kelly was hired everybody worried about his defenses and recruiting. It was pretty much a given that his offenses and special teams would excel at a very high level. Well here it is year 5 and special teams and the offense continue to be inconsistent. Solution- hire a big time special teams coach and either start Zaire or hire a great o- coordinator.

    1. Really happy you are 58 Peter. Glad you keep telling us this. Is it your birthday soon?

      Have fun doing something else on Saturday while you are 58.

  27. Kelly still treats punt and KO return teams as an afterthought. Something to setup and show off his offensive genius. Even Charlie Weis had outstanding return teams. Charlie Weis for Christ’s sake.

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