Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against USC?

Malik Zaire - Notre Dame QB vs. USC
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire (8) against the Southern California Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Notre Dame 49-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ugliness, embarrassment, second disaster of the year.  USC, resisting the temptation to run up the score, buried the Irish 49-14, sending the Irish to its first four game losing streak since 2009, and its biggest loss since 2008.

Steve Sarkisian was able to bequeath the very accurate Cody Kessler, able to function calmly without a pass rush to annoy him, with matchups pitting USC’s speedy receivers against less swift Notre Dame defenders.  The most dramatic mismatch was in USC’s second touchdown drive, when Sarkisian dialed up the wheel route he learned by watching Norm Chow use it with Reggie Bush back in the days of Carroll at Heritage Hall.  World class sprinter and full-time cornerback Adoree Jackson lined up in the backfield a couple steps wide of Kessler (just as Chow would do with Bush).  Greer Martini stared at Jackson, his assignment.  Ball snapped.  Jackson wheels out and heads for end zone, Martini trailing, Kessler easily delivers to the open Jackson and it’s 14-0. It was a turkey shoot.

After making USC work for 10 plays to get 33 yards in their first drive before punting, the Notre Dame defense allowed the following in the next five drives:

  • 30 plays
  • 308 yards (10.1 per play)
  • 35 points

Meanwhile, Everett  Golson was completing his death spiral. Everett completed 7 of 18 passes for 75 yards with one interception for an 8.4 QBR.

Malik Zaire

Inserted after Golson was mercifully, not mercilessly, ushered to the bench,  Zaire showed that he has some ability, particularly as a runner.  But he did nothing that will scare Deshone Kizer or Brandon Wimbush into transferring.  While neither Golson nor Zaire was particularly rescued by Notre Dame’s wide receivers,  Zaire reminded us why Golson is rated the more accurate passer.

Greg Bryant

His first extended action of the year was a lone bright spot. He brings a burst to his runs that may lead to long gainers in the future.  He may become a partner, rather than a mere backup, for Tarean Folston in 2015.

Everett Golson at the Crossroads

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  Yogi Berra.  As the clock waned in Tallahassee on October 18th then Heisman Candidate Golson threw a perfect spiral to Corey Robinson in the ‘Nole that looked like a game winner to bring the Irish to 7-0. Zebras brayed otherwise.

Since then, Golson has come undone. As we have never seen before. Golson, though the sensitive pianist, worked hard during his time away from Notre Dame, and has worked hard since. He wants to succeed.  And Kelly and LaFleur want him to succeed.   Willing hearts and minds SHOULD be able to fix this.  But the time is now.  This road back must begin being traveled  before the bowl game.


Now that the 35 year flirtation with Michigan is over, our rival is as ever, in Cardinal and Gold.  USC is playing with a depleted roster, and a long list of injuries.  But Sarkisian has shown us what he promised Haden in the interview process regarding his offensive strategy.  A huge, massive offensive line.  Damien Mama at 6’5, 370,  Viane Tailamavao at 6’3”, 330 are frosh, Zach Banner at 6’9, 350, a soph.  Wait until they hit the weight room.  USC, in the future will pound on your DL in the running game until they:

(a)  Wear out your DL, tiring out your pass rush
(b) Force you to put a safety in the box
(c) Increase the power of play action

After that they will send their sprinters (Smith, Farmer, Jackson) out to search and destroy your slowest defenders, and have an accurate quarterback, Cody Kessler today, Ricky Town tomorrow, complete passes to them.

In future years, perhaps as early as 2016, this will be the most daunting in season matchup for the Irish.


It is inescapable that Brian Van Gorder’s defense has allowed 43.4 points per game in the last five. But in 2015, he will lose only Justin Utopu and Austin Collinsworth who started against SC, will have his players in their second year of understanding the system and will benefit from

(a) A significant group of redshirts
(b) A solid class of defensive recruits
(c) Possible return of Williams and Russell

It will be a different defense in 2015.

The current tasks that are most important, in this order, are to begin restoring the confidence of Everett Golson and to practice well, play well and win the Bowl Game.

Go Irish!

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  1. Your thoughts on USC’s near future potential is probably right on and makes thoughts on BK even more irritating. I agree, I see Sarkesian having a west coast powerhouse in the next 3 years. It won’t take him 5 years or 6 years to potentially “get there,” unlike what we are seeing for BK & the Irish football program. I hate ShitCal but they are going to be rivaling where that chump Carroll had them in their 2000’s heyday and probably being legal too. One needed a magnifying glass to see any bright spots in this rival game for ND. I am not clamoring for BK’s removal because there is no one out there that is high powered that has expressed any interest in ND. BK has a track record of climbing up the competition ladder and being successful. I don’t believe magically that has disappeared. I do think he has some serious self analyzing of his coaching and looking at making some changes in his staff and his own play calling during the off-season. Great coaches make adjustments to put their team in the best position to win. I think there are some factors occurring where BK may not fully be doing what needs to be done for that to happen. I know injuries had a significant factor but the losses to Northwestern and Louisville were inexcusable and frankly, the FSU game was winnable. If that happened, the talk on this blog would be much different at 10-2 or 9-3 than the 7-5 garbage that has occurred.

  2. “Dewey defeat Truman” That was 11/3/48, in the days of Leahy, when one of the self-styled pillars of the Chicago School of Journalism labeled itself for its credibility. Read Chicago journalism at your peril.

    Chicago journalism. Do they still offer discounts for the gullible?

  3. Seasonal. Can remember as far back as 66′ season. Enjoyed watching Sunday mornings taped replay of games with Lindsey Nelson announcing. Coupled with Sunday newspaper articles. Radio broadcast some years also. So I guess over 45 years. No don’t change yearly. It’s been hell of a ride though and always look forward to fall. The only truly low spots is when you read of the passing of the players each year that brought such excitement and inspiration. Oh and one of my few “buck it list” is ND & USC in South Bend. Already lost out NCAA moving the Hall of Fame.

  4. Duranko, we have all read and noted that MZ accuracy was not that of EG. Coupled with his practice production which has been noted too. Yet we all have read that he is one of those people that are a “game day” player. Understanding EG is still #1. I would like to see that be a short leash if no production. Possibly MZ would raise the performance of all the players. I for one do not want to see Kelly leave. He has built a program with high potential. Both Bk and EG have tremendous upsides. Certain areas need to be abandoned, tweaked or emphasized more. Just hope the staff is objective and adaptable. Thanks.

    1. Serious question, do you change your name every year to reflect the number of years you have been faithful? Is it a calendar or fiscal year?

  5. The best fit for the Gators in my opinion would have been Charlie Strong but pretty hard to compete with the Texas job.

    1. Have you met Toulmin on here? He claims to be the fastest white boy in all of Louisiana so I’d like to refer to him as speedy but you since you requested to be called speedy not sure what to do.

      1. You know I’m pretty new here on the blog. Grew up in IN been a ND football fan for a long time.
        I’m going to give you a little advice RB and you can take or leave it.
        Back when I was stationed at MacDill I dabbled in some political blogs. There was a local TV reporter there, you remind me a lot of him. He made lots of comments mostly sarcastic not ever really much substance but always sniping at others. He decided to engage with those tactics with me. Now he didn’t really know who he was being sarcastic with for almost six months. He fancied himself a military expert because that was an area he reported on.
        Anyway he kept up his sniping tactics trying to engage me with his BS.
        Then the stars aligned and he as a reporter was invited to a social function at the base.
        We even arranged for him to sit at our table.
        Halfway through dinner I introduced myself with a firm handshake and told him who I was online. He went white like a ghost and well the rest of the evening he was quiet as a mouse. My GF, who was not a shy woman asked him why he was so quiet and polite considering how he acted in the forums on the blogs. He came up with some convoluted answer about journalistic etiquette and then my XO told him the real reason was because it was easy to be that way on a keyboard but a whole different ballgame when sitting next to someone who could easily snap your neck.
        I can say after that the reporter either quit commenting on blogs or changed his style. But he was embarrassed in front of his other press colleagues and soon left the area for a smaller market instead of a larger one.
        I only tell you this because one day you may actually run into someone on here who you have been the same way with and I have a pretty good idea you wouldn’t be nearly as sarcastic in person unless it was a little old lady or child.
        Just trying to save you from future embarrassment.

      2. You wouldn’t happen to have a cliff notes version of this would you?
        By any chance do you know Sad Warrior? Special ops, always behind enemy lines, looking for hot chow, etc. you two would probably get along well.
        Now go and flex those internet muscles for someone who cares.

      3. Come on Ron. I’ve come to find a lot of humor in your sarcastic comments. And, you tend to supply evidence to support your thoughts when challenged.

        But that was a prick comment man.

        Stay classy Ron Burgandy….and pour smooth scotchy scotch.

      4. I actually did run into Ron Burgundy at a fun raiser once.

        He is even funnier in person!

        It was a stone groove my man!

        And I wouldn’t put too much stock in the whole “neck snapping” thing Cause Ron Burgundy is a karate man!

        And a karate man bruises on the inside!

        They don’t show their weakness.

      5. By the beard of Zeus! How does burgundy know my name? Bahahaha

        I’m in a glass case of emotion about this. Lmao

      6. By the way, Speedy is fine with me. Kind of anti climatic considering some of the other nicknames I’ve had.

  6. McElwain is a good fit for the Gators, he has SEC experience, was OC on two Bama teams that won the NC. He’ll have a lot better talent at UF than he had at CSU. He’s more familiar with recruiting in the Southeast. Florida suffered greatly from the same problem as ND. QBs that turned the ball over too much.

  7. About Riley, he was modestly successful in recruiting California,though not so much as Dennis Erickson (T.J Houshmandzadeh and Ocho Cinco). When Nebraska had their best teams they usually had kids from California and Texas. Lawrence Phillips, I.M. Hipp.

    The McElwain hire is more confounding. I have had some truck with a bunch of pretty intense Florida alums. And they would be loath to admit that they were trying to benefit from the “Nick Saban School of coaching.”

    The hires of Spurrier from Duke and Meyer from Utah were much bolder, more audacious hires than this McElwain.

    Rising coaching stars? The bj lists, libera me domine, would include Justin Fuente(Memphis) and Jeff Brohm (Western Kentucky)

    With Florida in the news, Charley “I leave a trail like a slug” Weis can now proudly point to three programs, ND, Florida and Kansa he helped take to historical ineptness.

    Before you try to exclude Kansas just examine the Glenn Mason and Mangino eras.

  8. I hope they go to the Belk Bowl to play Georgia. Since Georgia is a future opponent on our schedule I think it would be helpful to see them in game situations prior to a regular season game.

      1. Or possibly in the play-offs if you want to be optimistic. Since the SEC is the best Football conference and ND says they always want to play the best..Well there you go that’s incentive enough.

  9. To everyone who wants to fire BK, look no further than the hair raising hires at UF and Nebraska. Equally prestigious jobs. These are the candidates out there. Would you rather have McElwain, Riley or BK? Once you eliminate Saban, Meyer or Stoops (which ain’t happening) this is what you got. Careful what you wish for.

  10. Rich, it is a different era. The money has NOTHING to do with it.

    The most important aspect is to use the multiple weeks of practice to continue to develop the players, and begin building the foundation for 2015. A key aspect of the bowl practices has been extra showcase time for the frosh who redshirte, and give them a chance to show their wares. With all the injuries, plenty of those guys will get significant practice reps even though they will continue to wear their red shirts.

    It’s not about ego, prestige or money.

    It’s about continuing the player development. And this year, the most important task is to begin to rehabilitate the confidence of Everett Golson.

    Notre Dame would be stupid and reckless to decline a bowl.
    You don’t have to watch, I will.

    1. I agree, ND would be foolish to decline a bowl. Most of this team is back next year. Take the bowl for the extra practices, if nothing else.

      And hey, if they win it sets them up well for next year.

  11. To JDH, Damian and 45 year guy:

    I garbled the statement. All three of you are correct that the short trial and the adverse circumstances are not sufficient to “evaluate” Zaire as a potential starting quarterback. But there is a body of work of folks from the pay sites the weight of which is that in a long series of practice evaluations, that Malik is somewhere south of Golson in accuracy.

    At every level of football the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town, and some already want to put the fork in Golson. Zaire’s best shot will be in Spring when he wlll compete with Kizer for the backup job, and that will give the winner pole position for the battle royal,which at least Wimbush will join, e for the starting job in 2016.

    But Zaire, at some point, wlll need to demonstrate that he is accurate enough of a passer to start for Notre Dame. He will surely get that chance.

    Further, in a bit of info from the archives, Heisman trophy winner Johnny Lattner was notoriously weak in practice (though it may have been the riveting oversight of Leahy) but blossomed on Saturdays.

    Thanks for your comments.

    1. Many of the passes Malik threw were right on target..I’ve yet to see anything that tells me Golson is more accurate.

      I know one thing, the kid definitely knows how to play QB in a read option scheme and he has excellent ball carrying skills. He lacks the finesse throws EG has but he’ll get that with more playing time.
      He has the disadvantage that he’s not a cheater so didn’t have a season to go practice with a QB guru..
      As I’ve said before if I were in Malik’s shoes I’d watch how things go and if BK continues to coddle and cover for EG like he has this season, I’d transfer sit out a year and play for a SEC or ACC team many of which tried to recruit him initially.

      1. Just to recap, you’ve seen him throw 20 passes and this allows you to make this conclusion?
        Additionally, you just called a kid a cheater ( feel better) because I’m sure you’ve never done a dishonest thing in your life.
        Finally, please explain the logic of transferring. He wouldn’t get to play any sooner by transferring then he would by sitting behind EG next year.

      2. He was kicked out of school for cheating..That makes him a cheater. And no, I’ve never cheated on an exam or a test, got a few speeding tickets though. So feel free to call me a speeder. No I don’t feel better and I don’t feel bad either. You may want to sugar coat it but I prefer to call it as it is. Got it Sport?
        As for logics

        So he sits out a year. He could go to class, spend the year off with a QB guru and then play for his new team.
        He could sit on the bench next year and watch Golson turn the ball over and keep playing because BK is too stubborn to admit that the guy he picked isn’t getting the job done. If he sits out for another team he retains that year of eligibility rather than wasting a year on the bench.
        I doubt he’ll transfer he seems committed to ND but I never thought Gunner would transfer either.
        Here’s some more logic for you Kiel transferred, he’s now a starter at UC. Had he stayed he’d have rode the bench and watched his years of eligibility drift away
        Malik was recruited by OS, Bama, LSU, Nebraska, Arizona and two other SEC schools. If he decided he wanted to move he’d have plenty of offers.

      3. Now see if this was you writing this, you come up with some sarcastic answer like you give everyone else..let me see if I can do a RB impersonation.

        And you know this because you watched all the films and were on the sidelines talking to the head coach who told you that Gunner was his starter?

        You have no idea if he’d have started or not.
        The point is moot anyway, Gunner says he is happier at UC. Funny thing he mentioned UC is more like a family with less cliques..makes me thing just playing time wasn’t the only reason he wanted out of ND

      4. Says the kid who committed to Indiana, who then committed to LSU who then went to ND who then wound up at Cincy.

      5. “This recruitment process was a roller-coaster ride at times, but I know I have made the right decision for my family and me,” Kiel said in the school’s release. “There were three critical elements I was looking for in my future school: the quality of education I would receive, the distance from home and the comfort level I would have with the players and coaches in the football program. Notre Dame was the perfect fit for me because it hit all three areas.

        “Coach Kelly was great throughout my recruitment, as many times our conversations had nothing do with football. That really showed me he had my best intentions in mind. He was persistent yet also patient while recruiting me and I look forward to playing for him the next four years. I couldn’t be happier to be a member of the Fighting Irish football team. I’m excited about the future of the program.”

      6. Hmm this is the perfect segue to another RB impersonation.

        What? You just called the kid indecisive. (feel better) like you’ve never changed your mind in your life.

        You never saw the kid throw even 20 passes and you say he’d have been the starter?

      7. Now now Miguel, don’t put words in my mouth. Never said it. Take time to read carefully speedy.

      8. “Says the kid who committed to Indiana, who then committed to LSU who then went to ND who then wound up at Cincy.”

        Oh you didn’t use the word indecisive, but you surely implied that with the above comment.

      9. I’m sure this conversation is boring the natives. However, the fact is EG cheated and got kicked out of school. You made a character assumption by calling him a cheater. Also, the fact is that GK has had difficulty deciding where to play college football. I have not and did not make a character assumption by calling him indecisive like you implied.

        Good talk Russ and watch out for the speed traps out there. Buckle up, it’s the law.

      10. I’d say Mike T is spot on. Malik is the smarter, more capable quarterback for Kelly’s offensive system. Yeah, he rushed some passes that sailed as a result, but that’s what’s expected. Otherwise, he looked great. He’ll start next season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him start the bowl game.

        Concerning Burgundy, he trolls everyone new, especially those with intelligent input. You get used to his meritless insinuations and humorless pop regurgitation. Every once in a rare while he says something observant. My conspiracy theory is that he’s actually Duranko, venting in a latent subconscious purge ritual.

    2. Duranko,

      I agree with you that Golson is a better passer more accurate with his throws. Where I disagree is the fact that he has 14 interceptions and 9 fumbles. In what I have seen briefly of Ziare in a game situation is he reads the defense in the zone read better than Everett and is a real danger to run. He also is built better and can take a hit better than Everett. I think with the defense in the state it is in currently it would be best to have a ball control offense with a solid run game, which Zaire gives you. Also, part of Everett’s problem is he is hot and cold, no consistency. I would like to see Kelly go back to his Cincy days when he had no problem pulling a cold QB. That being said I am glad ND has two QB’s of the same ability just different skill sets.

      I have been very harsh on Kelly and this team over the past month. As I sit back I think it isn’t a matter of lack of talent, it’s a matter of young team with no real leader yet. Part of the reason that 2012 team was what it was is because of the solid senior leadership from #5, #89, #17 and #6 on offense. Those players stepped up and were leaders. It’s time for someone on both sides of the ball to become the leader of this football team. It’s not the coach’s responsibility to find the leader, it’s now the players and the team.

    3. I agree Zaire has to prove himself. If EG continues to struggle with turnovers, I think BK will need to look elsewhere for his starter QB. Now whether that’s Zaire, Winbush or Kizer is anyone’s guess. Zaire certainly has some plusses on his side, but he is raw and needs some experience. But that’s the case with any new player.

      But BK’s future is probably going to ride on next year. 7-5 is just not going to cut it next year (considering all the experience coming back) so I think if EG continues not taking care of the ball, BK will go elsewhere, if for no other reason than self preservation.

  12. There was a time when ND turned down or just didn’t go to bowl games. I understand they make money & get exposure and experience, but they are not a team that should be going to a bowl game unless they can get back a few of their injuried defensive players. Besides what bowl will be calling? Unless it’s against a mediocre opponent the Irish just might as well stay home. Last year’s Pinstripe Bowl was a joke. Playing a team like Rutgers is a lose, lose proposition. But ND will get some sort of bid and go play some other 7-5 team and unless there’s improvement will get their doors blown off! Not good for recruiting and certainly not good for the current players. What a mess! Go Irish!

  13. Everyone is frustrated and should – Kelly is not going anywhere unless he decides to – probably not happening – the staff needs a shakeup – the O Line has been an issue for years – that HAS TO BE FIXED – you can not win with a weak non-physical O Line – Special teams even more of a mess – the kicker OK – the rest really sucks –

    On Defense 1. Stop the run or at least control it; 2. Get pressure on the passer; cut down on the big plays ) third and long too easy to convert;

    Kelly has to look at all these and adjust – one of the reasons for Florida State’s success this year is the ability to make in game adjustments – The Irish really weak here. Some self evaluation and changes needed here

    1. One of the best parts of the day is listening to you guys talk about in game adjustments or lack thereof. Do you guys have some sort of app that let’s you listen in on the coaches headsets or puts you in the locker room at halftime?

      I’m guessing FSUs success is more due to NFL talent all over the field than any adjustment.

      1. Have you watched the games? Whatever the coaches and players is doing is NOT working. So yes, we can complain about how they are playing. How they improve is certainly up to debate, but how they have done is clearly not working. You don’t need to be in someone’s “headset” to see that.

      2. no one one has an “app” but it should be clear when teams comes and things are turned around that changes or adjustments were made – Lou Holtz was very good at tweaking things during a game and guess what he WON – it looks like Jimbo at FSU is doing the same thing- it may be just making a suggestion – I do not think we have seen that yet from Kelly – and YES it helps to have the personnel that can pull it off

  14. let ron run, we are all frustrated, its ok

    but here is something kelly should look at from my latest read

    page 257,when pride still mattered: lombardi, by david maraniss

    “[Bart] Starr, said the coach should change his habit of yelling at players in public,…”your asking me to be the leader of this team and i’m challenged by that and i want to be the best leader i can. but i cant be if you chewing my butt out in front of the team you want me to lead”…Lombardi listened quietly. “i hear you,” he said….Lombardi never criticized him in front of the team again…”From then on we had a relationship that was unbelievable.”

    1. Unless you suddenly become the AD or the president of the school it doesn’t really matter what your idea of nd football is.

      1. But it apparently matters what your ideas are as we are subjected to reading them after many other posts. Do us all a favor and stop lying in the weeds taking pot shots at others’comments. Did someone somewhere assign you to be this website’s bully? Relax dude!

      2. I have to admit Robert I’m having difficulty finding these rules. Could you point me in the right direction.
        Much appreciated.

      3. Great news Bobby I found the rules. Here they are for your reference:
        1st RULE: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB.
        2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB.

        3rd RULE: If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over.

        4th RULE: Only two guys to a fight.

        5th RULE: One fight at a time.

        6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes.

        7th RULE: Fights will go on as long as they have to.

        8th RULE: If this is your first night at FIGHT CLUB, you HAVE to fight.

  15. sorry, too much java, oregon coach is Mark Helfrich 11-1
    riley is at oregon state

    if you are a domer you know that we can make anything happen

    money, the chance to be part of the legacy, devine left the packers to come to nd, lomardi left the packers for the redskins, kelly wanted to leave nd for the eagles, who knows!

    make something good happen, it aint happening now

  16. BJ,

    Are you serious or just ridiculing Christmas?

    Urban Meyer has turned ND down twice. What makes you think the third time is the charm?

    Why would Nick Saban leave Bama for ND?

    Same for Spurrier, who happens to loathe ND!

    Harbaugh and Chip Kelly are not leaving the NFL for ND!

    That leaves Riley and Peterson. Have they ever expressed any interest in leaving their college gigs for ND. I think both will only leave their current posts for an NFL job.

    This line of argument is pointless. BK’s not going anywhere this offseason. I don’t think a lot of NFL teams want him right now. And I’m sure the ND administration isn’t going to fire him.

    So what’s the point of a “Christmas wish list” of possible new ND coaches.

    1. I agree, not a single one of those coaches is coming to ND, all for various reasons. And I sure wouldn’t turn to Meyer again (fool me once shame on you and all that).

      There’s enough “extenuating” circumstances to save BK for another year, losing players to suspension, injury and so forth. And the competition for new coaches with Nebraska, Florida and probably Michigan. They would be crazy to fire BK this year.

      I’ve believed all year next year will be the final judgment on what kind of coach BK will be. I really do hope they succeed. I hope we look back on this time 10 years from now and laugh about how we all doubted BK after winning big bowl games and dare I say an NC or 2 (or 3). I’m not where I was when the Weis regime was winding down.

      I dread to think what will become of ND football if BK fails. Where would ND go then?

      1. @ Damian,
        Your optimism is appreciated- I’d take one NC and a couple of final fours before they bag me up for the urn. Lasting 10 years these days as a head coach at ND especially is unlikely for one and all. Not many have. As I’ve posted earlier, BK is here for maybe two or at most a few more years. Will the highly acclaimed outstanding mostly unused Frosh and Soph OL recruits emerge, and improve the OL- maybe as soon as Texas in the opener next year? Will ND adjust its preparation and game planning when/if recruiting adds even more elite depth? Will ND run more with two potentially outstanding QBs and RBs (with more on their way) ? Will they remain a pocket-passing team, considering the mobility of EG and/or MZ? Will this season’s playing time by the young D’ translate into not just depth but better reads and execution of BVG’s schemes? Will next year’s success make more vets want to return and finish what they started? I’ll be watching, and I’m betting the rest of us will, too. And the coach we’ll be watching is going to be Brian Kelly – so, as he said early after arriving- “Get used to it!”

  17. I am afraid that a good coach might hesitate coming to ND because of how
    they handled the 5 kids they suspended.

    1. The severity of the commentary amazes me. This is not fantasy football. It is reality. Did anybody besides me, anticipate at the beginning of the season, with the 5 suspended players, that obstacles were stacking up against a great season.
      Although I went to an honor military school and understand the severity of the accusations, the PTB seemed not in a hurry whatsoever to find a solution, or come to a decision, in dealing with 5 young men who came to primarily play football. Unlike almost any other university in the US. I am glad to root for an Institution that considers Honor and Integrity, as important as football or moreso. Student athletes are a rarity today, and Notre Dame leads the nation in graduations from it’s football team.
      The 5 players did not get a fair and swift trial, and unfortunately their is no habeas corpus in effect for these players, affecting the whole team. Secondly, the entire defense almost to a man, had the starters decimated with injuries, playing a tough schedule. Not an East Yokum Tech on the schedule. Van Gorder’s schemes were awesome with an experienced defense, although challenging, because of it’s aggressive nature. Sometimes season’s get rained out. That’s football. Personally, I did play college football, and the task this year with inexperience across the defense, against this schedule, was destined to fail. Next year should be much different. Kelly has erased 20 years of flopping around mediocrity like a walrus. The gap has widened between Notre Dame and other football factories in the nation academically. In the NC season, Notre Dame graduated 99% of it’s players, and Alabama 27%. Why do you think that is? Reality is hard to swallow sometimes, but it has to be faced. Nick Saban would not have done much better if any, under the circumstances. Nor would his ego have allowed him to even take the job and try. Not without a few more million than he is making where he is, and that for a short time. The Irish with added PT and experience will be much better next year. But the unique academic standards will always be there, and will always cause unique obstacles for the Irish.

  18. christmas shopping list

    Mike Riley Oregon
    Urban Meyer Ohio state
    Chris Peterson Washington
    Nick Saban Alabama
    Steve Spurrier-South Carolina
    John Harbaugh Ravens
    Chip Kelly Eagles

    1. There’s nothing to shop for because there is no opening. Florida is getting ready to hire Jim McElwain from CSU. Would that get anybody excited?

      You are simply not going to find anybody more qualified than BK to coach this team. Anybody they get would be a flier they hope would work. Were the last 6 games a disaster, yes. They played for the title 2 years ago. If they somehow manage to win the bowl game, unlikely as that is, they will be averaging 9 wins a season under BK. Again, not great but we’d all have taken it 5 years ago.

  19. Kelly must have low self esteem. We all bugged him
    For years to find a world class oc, a world class dc, a world class special teams coach, we got an assistant from the jets and a
    Redskin an coach, neither of those two worked out. He is just too bull headed and short sighted.

  20. Looking forward to Notre Dame bowl game. Let’s see how the team rebounds from that USC disaster. Another look at Zaire in action and how Golson and rest of team performs after a month of practice hopefully has positive outlook for next season. There could be some major changes in off season regarding the coaching staff. Assuming BK and BVG are coming back , the changes , if there , would be in the assistant coaching ranks. Alabama coach Saban has an OC as do most top rated teams. TCU has two CO-OC. Off season could see some ND assistants replaced , maybe not. Not sure what bowl game ND goes to but some bowl predictions have Notre Dame versus Texas A&M in Belk Bowl. That would be a good game.

    1. Always a credible news source. However, if you could read past a headline it refers to the USC game which as you know was as competitive as a curling match.

  21. Zaire cant be judged because BK didnt give him playing time all year when
    there was several games for various reasons he should have been put in
    even if it was for a series or two.

  22. No excuses. Time for Kelly and his staff to take a hard look at themselves.. Who is holding Kelly and his staff accountable for a bad defense, poor special teams, poor o- line play, and a lack of physical toughness.? It would not hurt Swarbrick to look in the mirror either.

  23. I didn’t get to see the whole game but what I saw for the first time out of Golson was apathy. He didn’t seem to care. Maybe he’s lost his competitive ‘fire-in-the-belly.’

    1. One would hope that Everett Golson learned something from his time with Tommy Rees.

      We all know TR wasn’t fast, wasn’t a runner, didn’t have the strongest arm, and didn’t always make the best decisions, but his mental toughness and his resiliency were both pretty impressive.

      He too was asked to carry his team.
      He too had to put up with Kelly’s mood swings, while having less skill players to work with.
      He has started many games and got benched for many more.
      He was called on in times of crisis, and desperation, and was then sat back down after the injury or crisis had passed.

      He took the majority of the blame in bad times and received little credit in the good ones.

      Yet he always kept a positive attitude, always kept himself ready to play, and always put his team and teammates first.

      He actually accomplished quite a bit with little more than mental toughness and the right attitude.

  24. Agree that Zaire couldn’t be judged with such little game time opportunity this year. EG has turnover problems. Many times were attributed to staying in the pocket to long. So it seemed to me. Maybe being pressured from staff to get through his progressions. Not all those turnovers should be on him. The receivers had a handful. The O-line I thought was poor this year. EG may run or throw more balls away after this experience. I saw many times he waited in the pocket to long to even scramble. Only one blocking back to boot. I’m still going to pull for this kid. All the while hoping Zaire doesn’t transfer. Never a dull moment being an ND fan.

  25. Golson has shown over two whole seasons that he has the intelligence, leadership and stamina to be the starter for ND. Sure, Zaire sounds better in interviews, has some charisma, is a better runner and was much more highly rated coming out of high school. And for two years Golson has lost focus a number of times during each season.

    But people make too big a deal out of Golson’s twelve fumbles (eight lost) and fourteen interceptions this year and his numerous fumbles (six lost) in his first year. He has the football intelligence and toughness that we need.

    We have all seen how Golson has improved the things he was weak at — identifying defenses, recognizing blitzes, changing plays to match the defense, carrying the football securely, passing with his fingers on the laces, sustaining his level of play from week to week. Wait a minute…oh, never mind that. Give the kid the bowl game and another year. If he doesn’t improve by the end of next season, we can always make a change then.

    1. Turning the ball over is a fundamental problem. I can’t believe the coaches have not worked with EG on that, I believe they have.

      Turnovers are a huge deal. You are basically gifting the other team free points. That is completely unacceptable.

      And to be honest, BK doesn’t have another year for mediocrity. If he has another 7-5 year the real powers at ND (not us fans but alumni and the like) will start calling for BK’s head. And once you lose them, it’s over. So BK can’t afford to “give the kid another year”. His last chance to shine will be the bowl game.

    2. another year? I never thought I would say that I miss Tommy turnover……time to move on…..let malik start in 15!

    3. Hahaha…Brilliant. My mind was spinning with skull raping metaphors until your final sarcastic reprieve.

      Golson’s a useful, if unreliable, backup QB. That’s his cieling.

    4. People make too big a deal about fumbles and interceptions?
      Fumbles and interceptions don’t matter? In what football world do you live in?
      He has more turnovers than whole teams do..Geesh

    5. OldSchool, if EG has intelligence, leadership or. Stamina, the only one he’s displayed in last 2yrs is the stamina. Intelligent Leaders dont cheat. He has a “hero” complex, always wanting to put team on his back and carry them to a Championship. That works when youre confident (Games 1-6) but when we played stronger teams that gameplan is exposed. He worked w George Whitefield for 10mos and forgot the lessons in 7 games. Leaders step up, he stepped backward!

  26. Look the slide began with the NC and Navy games with defense giving up massive yards and points. And that was before most of the injuries. So ging into the Arizonagame Kelly and VanGorder went with the same defensive scheme with very young and inexperienced key players. So where is the creativity? Why not give theses kids a little help with a five man front and either 5/2/4 or 5/6 alignment to both stop the run and put more pressure on the QB. The same for USC. On offense Kelly should have started Zaire and gone with a read option game plan which USC has not handled well. One additional benefit might have been holding the ball longer thus keeping the ball from the USC offense. I don’t see much preparation from Kelly and his defensive coordinator. At least the above suggestions is trying something rather tha going in pat and getting embarrassed. I saw this same lack of preparation in the 2012 Championship game.Yes, Alabama had better players so how can you go in with no special schemes and giving Saban exactly what they saw on film. So no adjustments and they got killed. Is that arrogance or laziness? Give Holtz a month to prepare and any opposing coach would have to deal with completely different alignments on both sides of the ball.

    1. That’s it! You’ve solved the riddle Deebster. Can’t believe you are not on staff. Please get these amazing ideas over to Bk immediately.

  27. That USC offensive blue print…humm…I guess our offensive genius doesn’t see the benefit of power football.

  28. What I see the most is a team with no confidence, a team with a fragile psyche. That is coming from EG which is surprising because he used to have a lot of it and he relied on it to step up his game at key moments. That’s gone now and I don’t know if it’ll ever return. Winning is the only cure for that.

    1. Like I said in a previous article, a Heisman candidate that Kelly ruined because of his need to always get up in the QB’s face every time they come off the field, no matter how big or small the mistake.

  29. It all starts in the trenches . The o-line is the biggest problem. That and for what reason I don’t know Kelly,s reluctance to make changes. Offensive lines can control games and limit the other teams opportunities and take time of the clock. Kelly.s offensive plan is not based on being physical up front.

  30. “While neither Golson nor Zaire was particularly rescued by Notre Dame’s wide receivers, Zaire reminded us why Golson is rated the more accurate passer.”

    Is this a serious statment? Zaire played for 3 quarters the entire year. 99% of that time was spent playing during the USC genociding of ND. Comparing him and his performance, in any way, shape or form, to EG is less than meaningless.

  31. The 22 turnovers is so inflated. How many interceptions were Robinson letting it bounce off his chest or through his hands? Or the line not cut blocking the guy and Golson having to throw into a D-Lineman? Or Fuller or Brown running the wrong route? Golson owns the fumbles and a number of interceptions, but lets paint a clearer picture.

  32. The defense can be fixed. The talent is there. In the last 5 games, the defense started to many series inside their own red zone due to turnovers. I will say BVG has to do a better job of making in game adjustments. Keep recruiting speed in the defensive backfield, including the linebackers.

    EG’s time as the starting QB at Notre Dame should be done. No starting QB for a college team with championship ambitions should turn the ball over that many times. He never should’ve been in the games after Arizona State. Kelly should be ashamed for not getting Zaire more reps during the year.

    Kelly needs to shoulder a lot of the blame as well. His play calling and formations were extremely predictable. He has the talent on the team to be better than 7-5. I am extremely disappointed in his performance this year.

    1. So William we are to assume that you’ve broken down game film on ND and as they line up you know the play being called. Awesome!

  33. why do all these players find the need to mark up their arms with so many tattoos? Where is their self respect and dignity? I just don’t get it.

      1. Hey Ron: my parents won’t let me out of the basement, even though I am 44 years old.

    1. You’re equating “respect and dignity” with someone having no tatoos? Personally, I don’t care for tatoos, that statement is just mind-numbingly stupid.

      1. Since when does a tattoo represent “respect or dignity”. Self mutilation is more like it. Or maybe, “narcissism”.

      2. @Feddie-

        So your first statement seems to be proving my point. Or you have reading comprehension troubles. Using your awesome logic, I’ll type the opposite: Since when does a tatoo represent a lack of respect or a lack of dignity?

        Again, generally I don’t like tatoos and have never had one. But making uber-retarded statements to the effect that people who have tatoos have no respect nor dignity shows a person’s total lack of emotional intelligence.

        Teo’s arms were covered in tatoos. Those tatoos represented his Hawaiian heritage. Is he suffering a lack of respect and dignity? Tatoos are extremely common in the military. You go ahead and tell that Marine that his “Teufel Heunden/Devial Dog” tatoo on his arm shows his penchant for self-mutilation and narcissism.

        Making sweeping black and white statements paints you into a corner in which you cannot easily come out.

  34. Everett’s confidence may be down but he is still potentially are best quarterback whereas Zaire runs the option read a little more comfortably. Right now I think we are weakest at center and right tackle and that has hurt the read option especially near the goal line. I think Everett is the only quarterback with the potential to take us to a championship season. Any thoughts of Zaire starting over him should be dismissed. However I do think Zaire should be sprinkled in during at least some games for a changeup because he seems to be able to make the running game effective with his ball handling and create possible play action pass situations. The second string quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team especially when the offense is struggling a bit. If this defense can improve and have only a minor injury here or there, like any team probably will, it can be more than solid. With age comes a more mature body that will hold up.

    1. The simple fact is EG has a turnover problem. Teams that commit more turnovers than their opponent generally lose. They may defy the odds for a short time but it’s just one of the things about football.
      EG doesn’t seem to take this seriously perhaps believing in the rest of his abilities to always make up for the turnovers.
      There can be no doubt he has a great arm but that is a small part of being a successful quarterback in CFB.
      If EG fails to fix his turnover problem he’ll find himself like Tommy Reese.
      As long as he is turning the ball over at the rate he has this season, he not only doesn’t give the Irish their best chance to win but is a main contributor to the losses. Sure the defense this year was terrible at times but even teams with great defenses suffer losses when the offense turns the ball over inside the opponent’s red zone or turns the ball over numerous times that keeps the defense on the field soon tiring them out.
      I personally think Zaire is a better quarterback not because of his arm but because of the other skills required of a QB.

  35. I agree with most of the points. I’m not pushing the panic button on BVG, though he does need and I would expect him to do some self analysis on ways to improve the defense. But the defense was explosive coming out the gate this season, and yes, the defense did suffer more significant losses this year. Most of us thought it would be the offense bailing out the defense this year. I do think the defense improves next year.

    However, on EG, his ship may have sailed. He’ll get another shot in the bowl game, no doubt. But I believe that will be his last real legitimate shot. He will get a few weeks to work on the fundamentals, which he appears to have lost (at least as far as ball control goes). But if he goes and has a turnover fest in the bowl game, I do believe that will be it for EG. With Zaire, Kizer and Winbush at his back, I don’t think he’ll get another crack at starter next year under those circumstances.

    Ashame too, because I believed in EG. I actually thought he may have been a little rusty the first game or two before exploding (whereas the opposite seems to have occurred). And he was one of the few bright spots in the NC game against Alabama.

    Next year will really be a judgment day of sorts for BK. With the experience and depth, a 10-2 season with a NY Day bowl should be very much attainable. Next year I think will tell us once and for all if BK is the man to bring this team back to relevance.

    As a BK supporter, my faith has been shaken this year. Not yet broken but doubts have started to creep up. 7-5 was not the record I would have expected this year. Worse than last year when we had Rees at QB.

    1. Really good thoughts, Damian, IMO. I agree with this comment in it’s entirety and only wish i had said it that well.

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