Brian Kelly Wraps up Notre Dame’s Loss to Clemson

Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly met with the media on Sunday less than 24 hours after his team suffered it’s first loss of the 2015 season on the road at the hands of the Clemson Tigers.  Kelly talked about the lost opportunities his squad had on Saturday night and updated the Irish injury front.  Here are some quick notes on what Kelly had to say.

  • [Edit} Queston Nelson sprained an ankle and was in a boot today.  Kelly would not make a declaration on what his status was for this weekend because it was too soon to know.
  • According to Kelly, Notre Dame left over 125 yards on the field with all of the dropped passes that plagued the Irish on Saturday night.  Kelly specifically referenced Will Fullers crucial third down drop and later referenced Corey Robinson’s brutal drop at the 1 yard line at the end of the first half.
  • Kelly spoke glowingly about what he learned about Deshone Kizer after the sophomore nearly led the Irish back from a huge 4th quarter deficit before coming up just a yard short of forcing overtime.
  • In terms of development, Kelly said he wants to see KIzwer start taking advantage of some of the easier throws the defense is giving him instead of looking for the homerun ball too often.
  • Kelly said he wasn’t disappointed in his team but was disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity they had to beat a good team on the road in a hostile environment.
  • Saturday was Max Redfield’s best game of his collegiate career according to Brian Kelly.  He referenced Redfield needing to work through some struggles with his early season injury but was very complimentary of the much maligned junior safety.
  • Kelly said that the look the Clemson defense gave them on the last two point conversion attempt that in essence ended the game was what they were hoping to see, but they did a poor job of blocking the 3 technique which blew up the play.
  • Kelly defended his decision to go for two points following CJ Prosise’s long touchdown catch and run stating that their chart calls for them to go for two in that situation and stating that his senior advisor in such situations concurred on the call.  Kelly said that he doesn’t chase points until the 4th quarter but they used their chart in the situation.

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  1. David, in his Oct 6 @ 4:01 entry, and storespook on Oct 7th, very closely mirror my opinion of Kelly…….”good but not great”. His most glaring weaknesses are game management / in game decision making / in game recognition and adjustments. He deserves credit for improvements in recruiting, player development, depth, staff improvements, and administrative adjustments (coach Elliot’s position).

    i sincerely hope his evolution continues so he can become great, and a national championship level coach. Relinquish play calling BK, and let your overall organizational skills elevate. I still doubt he can, or will, however. We all love our Irish, and want them at the top consistently, so lets hope I’m wrong about BK.

  2. They’ll never win a NC because the talent isn’t there. The talent is there to be top 15, maybe top 10, but it’s not even close to being in the upper echelon. BK screwed the team over by going for two, but that wasn’t the nail in the coffin by any stretch. There were a ton of missed tackles all night long, including on special teams, as well as at least 5 BLATANT drops. The players just aren’t good enough. Look what happened to the OL. That’s reality. But don’t worry, I’m sure that unit will rebound against Navy, and we’ll all forget about what happens against good teams.

  3. ND can win out the rest of the games and it will still not go to the playoffs this season. An undefeated ND is going to be the only way they get in without having a conference championship to contend with until the current system expands. As to Brian Kelly, he certainly is better than his 3 predecessors. BK is great… being a good coach. If the day comes when he becomes good….at being a great coach, that will be indicative of a NC under his belt. I said back in 2013 after that fricking debacle NC game that BK will not win a NC while at ND. I haven’t changed my thought on that yet. I think he can and will win games that make the W-L record look good but his team’s have yet to win consistently those games that are defined as a “big time” or winning convincingly in games against teams ND should win. There is no doubt he has increased talent and depth. I wish he would like a good CEO quit micromanaging and let Sanford run the offense. Part of the criticism of continued game day issues (such as play clock management and the intended players getting out to the field as examples) might be lessened if Kelly was overseeing more of the game versus being preoccupied in focusing on play calling. Sanford was a GREAT hire. Let him utilize his expertise. BK’s unwillingness to delegate this is example that keeps him being good and not elevating to being great, in my opinion. I want BK to succeed because I don’t know who out there would be available to replace him. One coach out there who has done well with what resources he has available and academic processes to contend with ( like ND) is Northwestern’s coach Pat Fitzgerald. I am not suggesting ND pursue him but it makes me wonder how he would do with better talent to coach. Some guy named Ara came from Northwestern in ND’s past. Hopefully, ND is preparing for Navy because THEY WILL BE READY for ND. I would like to see ND just come out with a big chip and sink the Midshipmen quickly with bottleneck defense and getting back to much more efficiency on offense. Next game up, sink Navy!


  4. jeff, the “luck” issue is a funny one.

    There are very few national championship teams, or, for that matter, finalists that don’t have at least one or more outings that revolve around what some would call “luck.”

    Folks want the national champion to romp in every game, but it seldom occurs.

    Had Ohio State, last year, lost the OT tilt to a weak Penn State team, they would not have even been in the four team playoff. The Super Bowl champ had a similar brush with fate.

    I prefer the old football truisms about luck:

    “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

    “Luck is the residue of design”

    “Luck is infatuated with effort.”

    I think the overarching reality is that the people on the losing end are irate that their team didn’t win and ascribe the defeat to “luck” Or “They’re not that good.”

    I do not have the time to do this right now, but I’d venture that if you look at the national championship participants over the last decade that was at least one “lucky” win.

    But I bet this too. Great teams are “luckier” than not so great teams.

  5. Jack:

    Brian Kelly is the best coach at ND since Lou…I agree with that. He has stabilized things, he has brought in some significant institutional changes, he’s recruited fairly well, and though I’m not a fan of political double- or non-speak, he performs his role with the media very well —- never embarrassing ND, and apparently being professional and generous of his time in providing clips and soundbites for their broadcasts.

    But IMO, Kelly’s FAR better as a program administrator than as a gameday coach.
    Gameday was where Lou was exceptional, maybe one of the very best ever. I wrote enough on that earlier…

    Kelly’s on-field antics and decisions at ND have been troubling to me. At first, I thought (hoped!) he was simply a taskmaster perfectionist, and was simply shocked at the work he still needed to do to get them playing the way he expected.
    But its now 6 years. And yet again Saturday night, Kelly again had that “What’s wrong with you?” look on his puss too often, and his arm frantically windmilling to beat the play clock. Sorry, but I just don’t see this as the in-game priorities and activities of a National Championship calibre head coach.

    Kelly is obviously an improvement over a sad list of recent coaches, but he won’t achieve what ND fans crave.

  6. jack,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. And thanks for that pleasant and elegant post.

    Of course, what you say isn’t very pleasant for those of us old enough to recall when ND competed for the national title seemingly every year. But the time they have changed.

    I think the time will come when ND will have to decide if it’s worth playing on so uneven a surface as is the NCAA FBS college football sub-division. Surely, financially, ND will continue to make money off football for a very long time to come. But as Pope Francis has so well-stated, money should not be worshiped.

    Perhaps the courts will force ND’s hand if they decide that it’s OK to treat student-athletes like semi-pros. I think the ND administration has already publicly stated that it will not abide by such a ruling. In which case, there’s talk of other schools joining ND and leaving the NCAA behind and forming their own league. Depending on who follows ND out of the NCAA, there is still the possibility of maintaining high-level college football in the new league. The difference being that in this new hypothetical league there will be a much more even playing field, where student-athletes will be first and foremost students.

    Be well my friend!

    Go Irish!

  7. Jack,

    I do agree with your point that comparing BK to previous legendary coaches probably is not the fairest standard to go by. CFB has changed considerably in the last 20 years alone so that should be taken into consideration. And I hope most would agree BK is better than Davies/Willingham/Weis.

    I’m not convinced, yet, that ND’s best days are behind it yet. I still hold out hope they can be a great–even elite team doing things the right way. They do continue to get the recruits and battle with the best teams for players, so there’s reason to hope. I do believe BK is our last, best hope of achieving greatness, which is why I really do want to see him succeed at ND.

    The coaching staff and Swarbick have worked hard at bringing ND into the 21st century, while respecting the history that makes ND what it is and working hard to make sure academics is still priority number 1.

  8. SFR,

    I like your post about attacking people. It seems to happen a lot on this site from certain people. Attacking them about predictions they make and comments they make if they differ from certain people. I stopped for a while due to that very thing.

    Here is my take on this situation. Brian Kelly is the best coach at ND since Lou. To compare BK to any other coach at ND is not fair. Ara didn’t have the social media aspect and espn and every other idiot second guessing him. He would have probably would have left faster if he had that problem. Lou also didn’t have it and also didn’t have to play in a BCS game or now a national playoff. He also didn’t play 12 games a year plus bowl game and there wasn’t 800 camps and other things kids were playing in. Lou was a great coach, Ara is the greatest coach at ND, Knute made ND and Frank was a work horse. Also every kid can play on TV and back during Lou’s era ND was one of the only schools that was televised every week.

    BK has recruited depth that ND hasn’t seen since Lou. The one thing people forget is that you can only have 85 scholarship players, which if you remember Rudy was a new rule under Ara. ND doesn’t accept Junior college transfers and if they lose players to injury, academics and transfers it has an affect that is catastrophic to the program. Not to mention the 5 star who turns out to be a 2 star. Do I think BK is one of the top 5 coaches in America, No, but I don’t think that a top 5 coach will come to ND. At schools like Alabama, Florida, OSU, USC and FSU the most important position is the football coach. At ND it is Father Jenkins and the academic advisors as it should be. College football has changed and ND has not and that is why we will need to look at it like this,

    ND will be relevant once every 4 years, they will have a magical season once a decade or even maybe once every 2 decades, but to think with everything you are putting on these kids as student athletes that they can compete with a kid that is not required to show up to class and never leaves a time zone to play a game is crazy. Now with that being said if 8.8 wins a year with the current conditions is all you can hope for, unless ND sells their soul to the college football devil and allows athletes and players in that don’t qualify, take JC transfers and loosens the rules to compete with teams that already are doing it to keep their numbers up. I just don’t see it.

  9. Not only did they go 12-0 during the regular season in 2012 due to a Good defense but also due to a Great amount of Luck. That luck seems to have disappeared.

  10. The 2012 team did have a great defense all around. Kudos to a lot of the defense, Manti Teo certainly at the head of that list (along with a lot of players who had to play positions they weren’t recruited for–esp. in the secondary). I’ll never forget that goal line stand against USC where USC basically had unlimited tries to punch it in and the defense would have none of it. It’s unfortunate that same defense seemed invisible against Alabama. Alabama had a great team and I can think of only one team that might have had a chance (that being Oregon–mainly because their offense was so unpredictable that year). But our defense should have had a better showing.

    But I don’t think anyone here that I know of has anointed BK “legendary.” I am a BK supporter at this point and I really hope he ends up at that level. Part of that is because I really believe he is our last chance to be elite. The Nick Saban’s of the world just are not going to come to ND. I agree with SFR that if this doesn’t work out, I really don’t know where ND will turn to next.

    But the only way BK becomes legendary is by winning an NC and being a consistently great team. They need to contend on a yearly basis. At least that would be the standard I would look for. They still have a shot at having a great year if they can win 10 games and win a NY Day Six Bowl. But even that wouldn’t be enough for him to be legendary. Only an NC can do that.

    An interesting footnote: BK actually started his career as a coach on the defensive side of the ball.

  11. Lou Holtz loves ND. So he supports its coach.

    Brian Kelly, offensive/QB guru, went 12-0 in 2012 because of an incredible Defense. Specifically, he owes Manti Te’o a great deal of thanks for the job security and contract extension he got from that team’s performance.

    And when 8.8 wins a season elevates you to “ND legend” status, all hope is lost.

  12. David,

    I wasn’t making a direct comparison to Weis, only saying Weis used to give the platitudes about always being his responsibility and it didn’t mean anything because the results never changed. Some people have complained about BK not accepting full responsibility. I’d rather the coaching staff and team make the changes to win out and am less worried about who’s fault the loss is.

    I had also noted about BK taking the risk on the 2 pt conversion and how Holtz, Parseghian and Rockne never shied away from taking risks. They expected the players to execute. However, BK is not in their league at this point (though I sincerely hope as a ND fan that he ends up being in that camp because that would mean we’ve won an NC). But ND fans seem so use to being mediocre we get nervous about risks now. That doesn’t mean he should be reckless, but the early 2 pt conversion made sense and I never felt that was reckless under the game circumstances at the moment. It was a worthwhile risk at THAT time IMO. The play call was a good one and the players failed to execute (specifically the receiver). He needs to make that catch. BK was putting faith in his players to make the play.

  13. Thanks, Shaz. Generally, I agree. My over-arching point, however, is that rather than belittling others, especially some of our newbies, we should encourage them to up their game, so to speak. Thus, Shaz, we regulars should model what we expect from others on this site. Look at your latest response to david, that’s high-level debate fodder. So much better than simply resorting to personal attacks. Believe me, Shaz, I’m just as guilty of not always living up to my own advice. So I’m in no way playing the holier than thou card here.

    Perhaps we should save our fury for the trolls, like buckeye, who truly deserve no quarter from us loyal sons of ND.

    Be well, Shaz!


  14. SFR,

    You have your opinions yes, but you also take time and make an effort to validate your opinions by way of research, experience, and wisdom.

    Someone who makes shit up just to vent “earns” no quarter from me.

  15. david,

    I wasn’t patronizing you. I was trying to make a much broader point about hospitality and space for reasoned debate on this site, regardless to who is involved. I see that Shaz has responded with some well-made points in response to you.

  16. Personal opinion aside…

    Lou Holtz averaged 9.1 wins per season for 11 seasons.
    Brian Kelly has averaged 8.8 wins for 5 seasons.

    Lou’s winning percentage was .765
    Brian Kelly’s winning percentage is .698

    Lou finished his third regular season undefeated (11-0) 88’
    Kelly finished his third regular season undefeated (12-0) 12’

    Brian Kelly and Lou Holtz are the only ND head coaches to ever win 12 games.

    Comparing Brian Kelly to Lou Holtz is completely reasonable for those who are
    Able to reason.

    Lou Holtz is Brian Kelly’s biggest supporter.
    (I did cherry pick that last one)

  17. Shaz,

    With all due respects, as one of our regulars here, I’d encourage you to show some more hospitality to our newbies, like david. Let them grow into their own skins a bit, so to speak. In the end, what you accuse him of, basically not being an expert on stats, risk analysis, etc. applies to all of us equally. Why does disagreeing with someone entail being disagreeable?! I like to think that you and I have not always seen eye-to-eye, yet maintained a civilized discourse over many years now.

    I think that all david is asking for is a bit more reasoned debate. So, for instance, Shaz, rather than starting off right away with “Blah, blah, blah….,” perhaps you could’ve provided some stats of your own to show how david was wrong about his take on odds, risk analysis, etc.

    I trust you’ll take this in the spirit of brotherly love and respect for you, Shaz.

    Go Irish!

  18. Damian: A Weis comparison sets the bar pretty darn low. Kelly’s far better than that.

    But on the other hand, I notice there’s a new thread on the message board right now….the main thrust of the OP is to paint Brian Kelly as a “Lou Holtz-esque coach” …wrt 2 pt. decisions.

    Yup. Wow. Talk about ignoring all context and cherry-picking facts.

    Lou Holtz was a legendary gameday coach, making quick, creative, decisive calls on the fly when required. And he always took responsibility for those calls. All of them. He lived his message to his players, and helped make them better men for it.

    He always had his team ready. He always looked like he knew exactly what he was doing, no matter the situation. His players loved his intensity, they respected his knowledge, they listened to his words, they did not want to ever feel his wrath, and they never wanted to let him down.

    He paced the sidelines like a rabid wolf, as engaged and energetic as coaches half his age.

    And he was loyal to ND to the bitter end. And beyond.

    Coach Brian Kelly is none of that. And people should stop and think about what an insult that any such comparisons are to Lou’s name and career.

  19. There was a lot of poor execution in this game, coaches, offense, defense and special teams, though I will say Kizer did an overall good job and I feel much more comfortable with him at QB.

    Sure, BK has to take ultimate blame for the miscues (my support for the early 2 pt conversion attempt notwithstanding). But I remember week after week of Weis accepting responsibility for mistakes made under his watch and then frustratingly nothing changing. You know, I really don’t care who “accepts blame” for the loss. I care more about making sure they look at the mistakes, learn from them, correct them and move on. Hopefully the team only looks at this as a trip up and not let the season unravel like last year.

    BK has basically an all star cast of coaches working for him. They can turn things around, and BK has shown a willingness to change things that aren’t working. This year is not lost. With Kizer stepping up as a legitimate starting QB they can still very much win 10 games this year (10-2 would be a successful year IMHO). If they can win out, there is an outside shot at a playoff game–though again I do believe that will be a long shot. But if Clemson wins out, that 2 point loss looks less damning, and the way many of the conference teams keep cannibalizing each other, it’s not impossible.

  20. Blaaa, blaaa, Blaaa…

    What do you know about statistics, odds, risk, analysis, and game situation decisions?


    Everything you say and post is nothing more than unsubstantiated, emotional, self-promoting opinions.

  21. There is a pretty good debate going in many places about Kelly’s choice of the 2 pt. call(s). I am biased, but from what I’ve seen and read, the pro-side is dominated by weak arguments.

    “If it had worked, he’s look like a genius.” (outright dismissal of statistical odds, risk analysis and game situation)
    “It was all those TOs that cost us the game” (dismissal of the play’s relevance)
    “Robinson should have caught that ball.” (denying basic facts)
    “The chart says he was right to go for it” (Kelly was simply ‘following the rules’)
    “You only disagree with it because you hate Kelly” (personal attack, deflection)

    I’ve even read how Matt Fortuna is not worth reading because “he went to Penn State”.

    If ND graduates people with the level of critical thinking capability illustrated here, ND has bigger problems than disappointing football.

  22. Forget the two point conversion. You aren’t putting yourself in a position to win with four turnovers in a game against a top notch opponet on the road. The Irish still have a shot they need to re-focus and win out.

  23. In reading all the posts, I think it sums it all up that we all agree the first 2-pt conversion was risky and could have gone either way (I would have kicked the 1 pt) and that the 2nd attempt at the end was a piss poor call given the prior 59:53 of football 🙂

  24. david,

    Evangelicals are often right to call out Catholics for loving the Blessed Mother more than Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Catholics are correct to challenge Evangelicals for not respecting/venerating the Mother of Our Lord.

    I can’t help myself and insert a bit of theology.

  25. Ryan,

    On the contrary, I brought up Jesus to hopefully avert a bar fight. Sadly, too many on here prefer the bar fight to Jesus. I myself have too often forgotten to turn the other cheek. At least, upon reflection, I have apologized for my lack of Christian charity. Others just prefer to continue to fight and not apologize so that they can stroke their egos.

    But you point is well-taken and we should all calm down and show each other a bit of kindness.

  26. So the TOs ‘cost us the game’. Running that play at the end was simply for the benefit of having ABC run one more commercial then?

    But I give credit where its due….by the end, you say the TOs ‘really hurt us’. Correct.

  27. The two point call did not cost us the game, the turnovers did. Very simple. The catch that Robinson missed at the end of the first half was an easier catch than the one he missed on the two point conversion, which was a high pass that Kizer could have shot putted him, he was so open. It was a difficult night to catch the ball in a come from behind situation with the weather getting worse. However the turnovers really hurt us and still could have been avoided.

  28. Great post Michael! It pretty much summed up what I was thinking. Everyone else, stop being so damn chippy. We all love Our Lady. There are pissed off people, and rightly so. Rob, don’t bring Jesus into a bar fight. Everyone just calm down…

  29. The key fault in the game of Kelly was his failure to acknowledge that Clemson was run blitzing from the start of the game and daring DK to beat them with his arm. If you review the game you will see they had 8 in the box from the start. The 1,000 year rain probably did a lot to support this strategy. I don’t care how good your OL is these numbers make running the ball nearly impossible. He needed to get the tight end involved immediately with some 8-12 routes over the middle until they had to back off of their game plan. This was very similar to the game plan that ASU used last year where they also rolled the DB’s up on the WO’s. We started to experience some success in the 4th quarter when he finally decided to go to some of those crossing routes. It seems like he’s worried that passes over the middle are going to get picked but you have to trust your QB and TE’s to make plays. We will see the same D-scheme in two weeks against USC so we better learn or the result will be the same.

  30. david,

    Believe me, I know of what you speak.

    You must be relatively new to this site. I say that because if you weren’t, you’d know of how I’ve been pilloried by our “experts” and self-proclaimed only true-blue ND fans on here for simply being reasonable (critical thinking is always reasonable in the strictest Kantian sense of the term) about Irish football.

    Some on here think that they are infallible and if you disagree with them, then, ipso facto, you must be the one who is wrong. Of course, these folks have been proven wrong over and over again, but, unlike you, david, lack the Christian humility to admit there own errors and instead revel in personal attacks. They attempt to mask their lack of critical reason by insult or inane banter. See, david, someone called Jesus Christ once said “first remove the log from your own eye before worrying about the mote in your brother’s.” But what does Jesus know anyways?! Certainly not as much as our inerrant “experts” and self-styled “apostles”!

    You hang in there, daivd. This site is open to all. Even trolls on here often get better treatment from our infallible self-appointed “popes” than do true sons of ND.


  31. George: Did Kelly actually say that, about the riskiness of kicking a field goal in wet conditions? (I didn’t hear that before now)

    Because if he did, that would indeed illustrate damningly inconsistent thinking at best.

  32. SteelFan Rob: You seem mentally capable of an actual discussion, so good on you!

    There is strong public criticism of Kelly’s decision by many, non-anonymous people who have a lot of football knowledge and credibility. It isn’t just crazy, agenda-driven internet nutjobs like me.

    Criticism is not a felony.
    Being a fan does not relegate one to rabid, blind devotion.
    Coaches are not infallible……and certainly not just because they’re YOUR coach.

    Kelly made some costly errors, and he has handled the immediate aftermath very badly.

    Overall, that was a terribly disappointing bit of entertainment…..which is, FYI, all it really is.

  33. I’m less troubled than some about the two point decision early (which, at the time, I thought was risky- a huge gamble seeing the difference between a 12 and 11 point deficit if you fail – shades of NW last year!). As for the turnovers, credit Clemson for their gang tackling and ball-hawking, forcing most of those turnovers. NDs inability to force turnovers has gone under the radar because we haven’t been victimized by them- until last Saturday night. Again, I heard BK choose to call out and throw some of his players under the bus, as he consistently seems to do after every loss. He’s won a lot of games- his rep isn’t on the line! Why can’t he say the standard coach-speak- ‘it was a team loss with poor execution by some players AND some questionable decisions/strategies by coaches. And there were! Clemson stacked against the run all night long, but ND insisted for too long on running anyway, especially on first down. Even Herbstreit saw it and called the poor game plan out early in the second quarter. Fortunately, Dabo went to a ‘prevent-from winnin’ D scheme in the 4th, which almost did prevent Clemson from winning. BK calling out certain veterans after the game reminded me of his assault on Weis’ recruits after that loss to SC in 2011. Control your mouth when your emotions run high-
    good advice to posters as well as coaches. Better to stifle what you say, and blame less, until the anger of disappointment diminishes. Didn’t BK just show Jay Hayes to do the same? Model what you expect from your players, coach.

    Like the old 90s Chicago Bulls, sometimes teams show more of their character in a loss than they do in victory. A truly great comeback that fell short! Outstanding effort by Redfield, and Jaylon was again spectacular. The D’ rallied after their first 11 plays yielded two TDs, and the 4th quarter O’ surge was outstanding.Now, hopefully, ND will channel that frustrating loss onto Navy and SC.

  34. duranko, you seem to be soiling yourself. If I have no credibility —- on an anonymous internet messageboard….seriously. —- why get so upset ? Heck, I’m pretty sure your name isn’t even duranko, but who cares? Physician heal thyself.

    I already said I was DEAD WRONG on the GTR prediction…..but you took the ‘wake up the echoes’ shtick too literally I guess. And in admitting that, I’d say I have more credibility right now than Brian Kelly, who makes slightly more than I do when it comes to football coaching. For now, at least.

    But it seems more adult to judge the merit of my post, or lack thereof. If what I posted on the Clemson game is wrong, or biased, or BS, call me out on i.t A rational adult would. Don’t concoct ulterior motives and agendas, Stick to the3 facts.

  35. Like gentlemen, let’s agree to disagree on the advisability of the early 2-point conversion. No doubt that those of us here who disagree with the call wouldn’t be complaining had it succeeded. (For the record, however, I still think it was too early to chase the points and left the D, which was hardly dominant on Saturday night, no room for error at the end of the game.)

    Let’s look instead at the play called. I thought it was an excellent play dialed up by BK. A better throw from D. Kizer and/or better catch from C. Robinson and it’s a sure score. In fact, I would’ve gone back to the same play, from a different look, on the second 2-point attempt. The run play called on the latter conversion, given ND’s marked lack of success running the ball all game long, was just not playing the odds. What got the Irish back in the game and in a position to tie it up was the passing game. Kizer should have had a better-designed run-pass option than the one called. That play pretty much looked like a run from the get-go.

    Another thing. Did any one else notice an ND WR (I think it was W. Fuller) asking for D. Kizer to pitch the ball back to him? Under the circumstances, there was nothing to lose doing that. So what if the pitch back gets picked off and goes back for 2 for Clemson?! The game was pretty much over with anyways. Part of in-game awareness is knowing that in a do-or-die play one has to keep the play alive no matter what. The ND WR realized that and was making himself available to D. Kizer to keep the play alive. That’s focus and football savvy on that WR’s part! Who knows, with all the Tigers’ players totally committed to that side of the field, a fast WR might be able to cross the field and go in for the 2 points.

    The chances of ND winning a National title are now slim to none. A one-loss ND team might have snuck in to the playoffs. I just don’t see this team going undefeated the rest of the season. I sure hope I’m wrong, though. If someone wants to make a case for this team going unbeaten the rest of the way, please do so.

  36. Overall I like BK and feel lucky to have him, but I don’t care for some of these rationales regarding the 2 pt conversion attempt here. For example, if BK was such a “risk taker,” cut from the same cloth as Holtz, Parseghian and Rockne, then he would have been thinking back to back TOUCHDOWN drives to WIN the game… not drives consisting of one TD and one FG in order to merely TIE the game. Furthermore, ND does not have a reliable FG kicker. To say kicking an extra point was too risky due to wet conditions, so let’s play for a FG down the stretch makes no sense either.

  37. Several times now Kelley has committed the cardinal sin in 2 point conversions. Any HS kid can tell you that you reserve that for when it is absolutely necessary. Throw away that *ucking chart and use your coaching brain. Let’s not forget the game lost going for the TD when a field goal puts it away. Is there a chart for that as well. I am calling bullshit on this decision.

    Passing the ball got ND back into the game. Passing the ball got them the potential tying TD. The running game was stifled (116 yds) all night and yet Kelley chose to run the ball ot last 2 pt attempt. I did not like the first 2 pt call at the time and sure has hell didn’t like it with 7 seconds to go.

  38. I agree with Shaz here on the 2 pt conversion. And if I remember correctly, Kizer put the ball right where it needed to be and the receiver missed it. This was a catchable ball. We’re all talking 20-20 hindsight, and in most cases I agree, go for the Extra point. But in this case, going for 2 at that point in the game, not knowing what was to come, it made perfect sense to me. It seemed to make sense to the announcers too.

    We as fans have become so accustomed to playing it safe. Holtz, Parseghian and Rockne did not play it safe. They went for the win. Now, I’m not suggesting BK go crazy, a la Charlie Weis, and go for 4th and 10 when a FG would win a game, but he took what a gamble that I felt made perfect sense AT THE TIME. Overall, I never got the sense that BK was reckless with taking risks, in fact, at times, I wish he’d push the envelope a little more. In this particular game, in fact, I do agree with some criticism of BK that he was too committed to the run when it was clearly not working early on. I believe they allowed themselves to be too hampered by the poor weather.

  39. david, now that you want to paint yourself as some sort of corporate guru you may wish to give us a book report on “In an uncertain world,” former Goldman Sachs operative and Treasure Secretary Robert Rubin’s tome on probabilistic forecasting.

    Had you been a GENUINE corporate decision maker, rather than someone who plays one on the internet you would have knows that most corporate decisions are based on probabilites and not certainty.

    Great companies react quickly to change in circumstances and consequences of suboptimal decisions. Whence Buffett “Deliver bad news immediately>”
    When “Fix the problem not the blame.”

    You are as inept in your corporate analogies as you are in your forecasting of football.

    Go rub your Paul Johnson doll.

  40. “I was dead, dead wrong about GT. I was absolutely certain they would be much better than that.”

    Are you referring to their game against ND, or their Game against Duke, or their game against North Carolina?

  41. I would be more inclined to defend BK on this one had he not pulled the same move last year vs Northwestern, which again, resulted in a loss.

  42. no david, you were not merely wrong, you were hysterical emotional and DEAD WRONG

    You have labeled yourself as the 2015 board newcome dunce.

    If you HATE KELLY, just admit it.

    You have no credibililty.

    YOU SHOT YOURSELF prior to Georgia Tech.


  43. Shaz, you have obviously have never held a job where the consequences matter. Go buy that lotto ticket…..what the hell, right?

  44. Yup. I was dead, dead wrong about GT. I was absolutely certain they would be much better than that. Many did.

    So. Back to Clemson……

  45. No lottery needed to make you look foolish.

    We get it, you would rather play it safe.

    I like a coach who isn’t afraid to go all in at a critical point in a critical game with a possible National Championship season on the line.

    No guts, no glory.

    Or in your case… no brain, no pain.

  46. Burgundy, we need you here

    Are you the “david” (sic) who was so cocksure that Georgia Tech and Paul Johson were going to take Notre Dame apart?

    If so, you have forfeited any presumption of objectivity regarding coaching or its internal parts.

    david, you will get PUMMELLED with your pre=Georgia Tech lunacy. You said it, you bought it.

    You’re free to hate Kelly, viscerally, illogically or whatever. Just remember the audience here and don’t try to hide behind the veneer of logic.

  47. Here’s a nugget to ponder:

    If Kelly thought that the game’s outcome might come down a point at the very end…the evidence seems clear he did, no?….. then where is the “consistency of thought” in him completely throwing away a Timeout to run that original failed 2 pt. play?
    At that moment, he should have let the play go, take the penalty, kicked the longer extra point, chewed out whoever he wanted to chew out, and moved on.

    Even if you don’t think the decision to go for 2 at that time was an outright error, this certainly was.

    And a Timeout at the end to talk over that last play might have been a pleasant thing.

  48. Kelly also went for two pt conversion in the Tulsa game a few years back, he tried to go up 13 in that game instead of kicking PAT and going up 12, well they missed the two pt conv. and that left ND up 11 and we all remember that Tulsa came back to tie and beat us. They needed to go for one the other night plain and simple.

  49. Shazmarock:

    People who win huge lotteries make everyone else look foolish. Is that your point?

    Head coaches are paid to make in-game decisions that optimize the team’s chances of winning. Those who don’t or can’t eventually lose the faith and confidence of their players.

    Making things worse is when a coach doesn’t acknowledge or admit a mistake … or worse, throwing players under the bus to save his own skin. Things can go bad fast.

  50. Head Coaches go for 2 for any number of reasons.

    For example… You’re a top 10, unbeaten team, trailing 21-9 in the second half, on the road, verses another unbeaten, and in conditions so poor that no kick can be considered automatic.

    Going for 2 in that situation is not a bad decision for that head coach.

    If his team gets it, it has the effect of building momentum late in the game, of instilling confidence in his players, and it applies pressure to the opponent.

    It also keeps alive “options” and “choices”.

    For example…If the first 2 pt. attempt had been converted, now having the option of going for two again in the final seconds would not have been for the tie and overtime… but for the WIN.

    It’s often these type of situations, coaching decisions, confidence and execution, that propel a team to a National Championship.

  51. Kizer was indeed a poised, confident and patient QB. In that environment, with those wretched conditions, with so little prep time, he was pretty amazing. It was his play that kept me half-interested enough in the game to keep watching after the first half.

  52. Kisar showed great guts and poise in this circumstance. Remember he really was the # 3 QB and is
    doing great.

  53. Damian: Timing.
    2-pt conversions are only worth the incremental gamble (which, in a driving rainstorm was a little higher risk than even typical) when it is much clearer that the value of the extra point is worth the extra downside risk (of zero points).
    There was FAR too much football left to play for anyone to arrive at that conclusion then….as evidenced by the eventual value of that foregone point.

  54. I think BK must have made a quick call to Pittsburgh and sought out the advice of Mike “Dumblin, Stumblin, Bumblin” Tomlin on chasing points. Wow, that was just pathetic! Make no mistake about it, friends, in spite of all the putrid turnovers, drops, penalties, blown TOs, Clemson domination in the trenches, weather, hostile environment, etc., that decision was the difference between a defeat in regulation time and a chance to win in OT. Kick the the XP unless you need to go for 2 at the very end of the game. Had BK followed his chart all ND needed was an XP at the end of the game to tie it.

    What I saw was Fuller get exposed as an over-rated WR. Also, R. Stanley and the OL got exposed as well. Speaking of over-rated, what about S. Day? Where was he for most of the game? And what has happened to K. Russell? That year off has really hurt him it seems. No big plays at all and is seemingly getting beat regularly by not exactly all-world WRs.

    Of all the TOs, however, the real killer was the C. Brown one at the goal line. If ND gets the TD there or shortly thereafter, they then have time at the end of the game to get the ball back even if the team failed the 2-point try. At that point I had a bad feeling that this game was simply not to be.

    BK and staff simply have to do a better job at making sure their players are ready to play 60 minutes in big games, especially on the road. You simply can’t spot a good team 14 points on the road within the first seven minutes of a key game and expect to win, especially under those conditions.

    Having said this, the Irish showed a lot of heart and talent. If B. Wimbush can get a bit more playing time this year, ND will be loaded at the QB spot for years to come with game-ready talent at the most important position on the field!

    Now I eagerly await duranko’s ad hominem attacks.

    Go Irish!

  55. Sorry, screwed up my own math. With the 2 pt conversion made they needed 10 more points, a combination of a TD-Extra Pt-FG. They were going to have to go for 2 at some point, BK decided to get it out of the way.

  56. Greg: Kelly does make millions, and that is certainly something worth protecting in of itself.

    But Kelly has blatant (unrealistic IMO) designs on more and better in his coaching career, and THAT is what he is most protective of.

  57. I agreed with the early 2 pt conversion attempt. The announcers were doing some of the math and at that point noted ND would need 12 points to tie it up. That’s a TD-2pt conversion-FG at least to tie at that point, assuming the defense did its job. The difficulties the offense was having (along with the fact that the defense was playing better by that point), BK was trying to get the score tied at 21. We had the TD in the bag so they needed 2 points if they wanted to tie it up later with a FG. They would have been 4 points short otherwise, requiring a 2nd TD.

    We all have hindsight, but I too was doing the math, considering the time left in the game, the struggling offense–it all made sense to me at the time (and I am by not means a great game strategizer).

    Not saying BK and co. called a perfect game, but that was a call I agreed with at the time.

  58. Kelly and his senior advisor need to re-check that 2-pt chart because it made no sense to go for two down 21-9. Whether you’re down 10 or 11, you still only need a TD and a FG. Save the 2-pt attempt for later in the game when you absolutely need it (turned out they didn’t). Corey Robinson probably wasn’t ready for the 2-pt play because he can do math and figured there was no need for it. The team played sloppy and made a lot of mistakes, but it should have been going to OT. Kelly makes millions to give the team the best chance to win and he blew it… and can’t admit that he was wrong.

  59. In the post-game PC, Kelly spins right off the bat with “If you’d tell me we were gonna turn the ball over 4 times, I’d tell you we’re gonna lose.” Well, the 4 TOs obviously didn’t help, but it was most certainly not the clear & sole reason ND lost.
    Down 2 with a chance to tie was the game-determining scenario….that’s not a situation that the glib “four turnovers” stat implies. If the four turnovers were responsible for ending NDs chance to win the game, it would not have come down to the last play.
    The spin is deceit. But it is useful to remember that they ‘don’t coach TOs’, the players are responsible for those, so….

    in response to some question, Kelly said he was “disappointed IN them” (the players). Exactly 20 seconds later, during the same answer, he seemed to have a moment of professionalism and walked that back to say he was “disappointed FOR them”. Politicians know their words precisely, and Kelly is a politician. He’s done a post-game PCs after a loss before. So I call BS.

    He named at four players by name for their individual mistakes….but claiming at the end that “they’re our guys”. Well, yes they are. They aren’t anyone else’s guys. Drivel.

    And not once did he admit there were any coaching/gameplan/preparation errors, miscues or deficiencies. None.

    Whatever ‘aura’ he formerly enjoyed from the entire media is under attack today because of the 2-pt. brainfarts. And well deserved.

    As we all know, he’s “been doing this for 25 years”. That was not very obvious this week.
    Chasing points before you could have any solid idea what the likely end-game scenario will be —- ie., when it comes down to maybe 4 to 6 minutes left; a pair, maybe three O possessions — is nothing more than desperation. At that point of THIS game the way it was going, I can understand why he might have felt that way, but I didn’t expect him to become so panicked as to abandon all sense and act on it. That was ‘small timey’.

    I encourage anyone to go to replay of the game, the very beginning. Just look at the dazed look on Kelly’s face at the 1:44 mark as he is about to lead the team on the filed. It is the look of a very, very confused sheep headed for the slaughter. 2012 Ala-baaaaaaaa-ma.

  60. If only Chris played WR for the Irish. He did after all play in high school. It’s just that simple…..

  61. Few thoughts…

    1. Can’t blame this loss on Kelly in my opinion. I wasn’t too crazy about the call at the end but it would have actually worked if our o-line executed. Kelly put his trust in the big guys up front and they let the team down, very much like the entire game. You can’t coach drops and fumbles. All you can do is put the kids in the right positions to make plays and I feel like Kelly did that for the most part.

    2. I thought with the rain coming down that it would actually benefit us more as I thought we had a dominant o-line. However, our backs weren’t even reaching the linebacker level ALL night because Clemson’s front 4 were pushing the o-line back so bad and making most of the tackles.

    3. Defense played awesome…the very first play was bad but I think that was because of the scouting report that Watson wasn’t going to run much with the knee. That’s why Jaylon covered the receiver out wide leaving the middle open and Watson surprised them by taking off on that QB draw on the first play. A really bad punt and then a horrible fumble on a kick return put our defense in a bad position and this was the only way Clemson scored. Our d really shut them down the entire night so I think they are for real.

    4. Very disappointed in our receivers’ drops and the fumbles. This is a game they have grown up playing and know what it takes to catch and secure balls in the rain. I played receiver in high school and when it was wet, the gloves came off and at every contact point there were two hands around the football…it was that simple. But I didn’t see this from our guys at all and balls continued to go right through their hands. These drops and fumbles literally cost ND the game in my opinion as most of them were very crucial situations. And WTF happened to Corey Robinson? It’s no wonder he hasn’t been seeing the field much. He has gone from one of the most sure-handed receivers on our team to now you hold your breath when the ball goes his way.

    5. I was very impressed by Kizer’s play. It looks like he may actually have what it takes for us to still have a shot at being a championship team when I would have never guessed that after watching him this spring. Talk about a kid that has no fear to stand in the pocket til the very last second. It is going to be interesting to see what happens next year because we have 3 solid quarterbacks.

  62. I actually agreed at the time with the early 2 pt conversion attempt. Without the benefit of hindsight, it seemed the right call at the time, considering what they needed. I can’t complain about that. I think the rain probably had some effect on some of the dropped passes, though that’s not an excuse for losing the game (considering Clemson had to play in the same conditions).

  63. This is a great CFB team! The greatest I’ve seen in my 60 years> ND in my assessment of things is the best team in the nation! (probably the greatest CFB team of the last decade)

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