Notre Dame Football: What We’ve Learned at the Midpoint

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

A bye week serves a useful purpose for college football teams, particularly when it occurs during the halfway point of the season.  In addition to a week of rest and recovery for players, the extra time off allows for a period of self-evaluation of what is and isn’t working for a program.  For Notre Dame, the question is whether one week is long enough to address the ever-expanding list of concerns.

This was supposed to be a year where the stars aligned for Notre Dame.  Talent was never a question.  In August Pro Football Focus awarded Notre Dame the distinction of having the No. 1 offensive line in the country, and many NFL Draft experts agreed, projecting Mike McGlinchey and Queton Nelson as first-round draft selections.  Even the biggest preseason question mark for Notre Dame was never truly considered a weakness.  The fact Notre Dame hadn’t settled on a starting quarterback between Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer heading into fall camp didn’t stop outlets such as Bovada from naming both as Heisman candidates.  The talent was there, but what led many members of the media to vote Notre Dame into the preseason top ten was the manageable schedule.

Notre Dame’s schedule is what ultimately prompted me to predict an 11-1 season for the Irish in 2016.  Nearly every opponent either had a new head coach, a new starting quarterback or an extreme amount of talent loss (and in some instances teams had several of these issues).  I was concerned about Notre Dame’s defense – particularly defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who I was never sold on – but felt the offense was strong enough to carry the team against weaker than usual opponents.  But here we are, seven weeks into the season, and Notre Dame sits with a 2-5 record.

What happened to Notre Dame Football?

Those looking for a straightforward, black-and-white answer will be disappointed.  Nearly every position group has played a role in the death spiral Notre Dame currently finds itself in.  VanGorder led an Irish defensive unit that led the nation in the number of 60+ yard plays surrendered from scrimmage and was the last group in the country to register a sack.  Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s hyped offensive line has been a disappointment and allowed N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas to be one-man wrecking crews.  To date the offensive line is tied with Florida Atlantic for 99th place in sacks allowed, and the 4.7 yards per play earned against Stanford would rank Notre Dame 108th nationally.

Yet, both units have played well enough for Notre Dame to win.  Interim defensive coordinator Greg Hudson inherited what many believed to be an unfixable situation and has managed to squeeze production out of it.  Between N.C. State and Stanford Notre Dame’s defense only allowed an unthinkable 11 points.  And despite the struggles of the offensive line Notre Dame outgained the Stanford Cardinal and matched their yards per carry (4.4).  The greatest problem facing Notre Dame currently is that the program looks directionless, and nowhere is that more visible than at quarterback.

Head coach Brian Kelly pulled starting quarterback DeShone Kizer at the beginning of the fourth quarter after Kizer, under pressure from a Stanford blitz, threw an interception on fourth down.  The immediate consequence of that decision led to Notre Dame losing to Stanford but the long-term consequences are yet unknown.  Zaire, with no time to warm-up, was put in a difficult position and was inaccurate with his throws.  Yet Kelly waited too long to put Kizer back in the game, providing him only one final drive to try and bring Notre Dame back to tie the game.

The one area of strength Notre Dame had in a season of uncertainty was at quarterback, and that strength is now in doubt.  Kelly informed the media after the game that there is no controversy and that Kizer is the undisputed starter, but what may appear matter-of-fact to Kelly isn’t necessarily so for Kizer.  After failing to convert a must-have 4th down on the final play of the game a downtrodden Kizer fell to the ground and stayed there until a teammate came and picked him up many moments later.  Kelly may view Kizer’s brief demotion during the game as just an in-game tinkering of strategy, but the damage to Kizer’s confidence as well as his trust in Kelly may have been the biggest losses from Saturday night.

Bye weeks may be times for self-evaluation, but for Irish fans, it’s just reliving an unexpected nightmare.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for The Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance on MSNBC as a sports contributor.  He talks football 24 hours a day, much to the chagrin of his wife and those around him.  Scott can be reached at scottjanssenhp@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

 

98 comments

  1. SubwayAlum 3 years ago

    BK’s legacy…will be most remembered for his final season of 3-9 or possibly 2-10.

    Not too far fetched to expect loses to Mia, Navy, VaT and USC. That’s 9. After watching Army this past weekend…I might throw that one into the mix. Thing is, if he loses to Mia, Navy and Army…he’ll never get a chance to lose to VaT and USC. Regardless, if he coaches (ugh) the entire season then 3-9 should be enough to say bye-bye to that pompous ass. If necessary, make it a package deal…include Swarbrick.

    Although once he’s fired, I’ll miss counting the number of words he speaks between interjections of… “you-know”. Throw in those little head wiggles and bottom lip twitches and…well all together he’s just, ‘you know’, Brian (twitch) ‘you know’ Kelly.

    My choice…Jon Gruden. Once upon a time he actually wanted to coach ND, he has credibility with prospective pro QB’s (has a history of coaching them pre-draft), additional credibility with having been a pro coach (recruits like that), and finally listening to his game-time color broadcasts…he’s calling the plays just before they develop in front of you.

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  2. bruce johnson 3 years ago

    Jack is clueless
    De Meyer nd commit just flipped to Michigan

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    1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      Jeter

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      1. George 3 years ago

        He’s probably not a fan of two and three win seasons. His objective of winning was not in line with the University’s.

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  3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

    A good lawyer looks at the evidence

    Jerry Faust 30-26 .535
    Brian Kelly 57-28 .671
    Lou Holtz 100-30 . 765
    Ara Parseghian 95-17 .836
    Dan Devine 53-16. .764
    Nick Saban 112-18 .862
    UrbanMeyer 56-5 .892
    Les Miles 111-34 . 770

    Do the math, look at the evidence Jack it makes the case for a change but not any change
    This guy can’t shake down the THUNDER

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      If only your parole officer had looked at the evidence we all could have been spared.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        After watching the administration’s indifference
        over the last twenty years I think i need psychiatric counseling to convince me that it will never get any better and give it up; but all old Domers who have seen the glory are a bit crazy and just can’t give it up. its the Rudy syndrome

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      2. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

        First cogent comment in years.

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      3. Bob Crum 3 years ago

        Dude,

        Sometimes your comments piss me off! Most times though, you crack me up!

        Go Irish!!!

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    2. Shazamrock 3 years ago

      Evidence?

      -Jack Swarbirck:
      Graduated magna cum laude in economics from Notre Dame in 1976 and earned a law degree from Stanford in 1980.
      Very successful, on the fast track for further success until he comes back to ND as AD, replaces the grass with turf, and is eternally Cursed by Bruce Johnson.
      The Football Team is immediately besieged by injuries.

      -Brian Kelly:
      The winningest active head football coach with over 200 career wins (228-85-2).
      Leads ND to the National Championship game in only his second season.
      Doubted in a post by BJ just prior to kick-off in the National Championship Game, ND falls just short vs Alabama and is eternally cursed by bj thereafter.
      ND fails to make the playoffs every year since.

      -Bob Diaco & Brian VanGorder:
      Two up and coming defensive coordinators.
      Diaco directs a “ bend but don’t break” defense that leads ND to its first ever 12-0 Regular season but is cursed by Bree Johnson for not employing a “completed sell out” approach in the National Championship Game. Calls for a new Defensive Coordinator.
      Brian Vangorder brings in a blitz happy defense and is promptly cursed by Brock Johnson for not playing a bend but don’t break defense.

      -ND Leprechaun # 79:
      ND Leprechaun #79 is eternally cursed by Brue Johannson when Mark May is allowed to don the sacred Leprechaun outfit on ESPN.
      ND never receives another favorable call or replay booth decision.

      -Urban Meyer.
      Meyer has his 2016 Ohio State Buckeye’s undefeated and has the inside track to the National Championship when Bucky Johnson begins his obsessive chant for Meyer to come to ND.
      The very next game Meyer’s Buckeye’s blow a 14 point, 4th quarter lead, to unranked Penn St. ending their chances for a National Championship.

      -The 2015/2016 Chicago Cubs.
      Bruce “Artie” Johnson, a 70 year, lifelong, die hard Cubs fan, who, after the 2015 Chicago Cubs lose in the playoffs, pulls his interest in the club and vows to never watch another Cubs game.
      The following 2016 season, the Cubs dominate major league baseball, winning a franchise record 103 games, the national league pennant, and a trip
      to the World Series for the first time in 71 years!

      Does all this evidence point to just some Rotten luck? Dark Karma? Bad Juju? The evil eye? The stink finger? The Kavorka?
      Or could it be something else, something darker, more sinister?

      Like the CURSE of the BJ’no ?

      Do the math.

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      1. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

        Shazamrock,
        I’m glad that a few of you are standing up for Mr. Swarbrick (spelling?). He’s done a great job over a lot of sports, and Coach Kelly was a good hire, no matter what happens in the near future.

        Bruce G Curme
        La Crosse, Indiana

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      2. George 3 years ago

        I had a much different interpretation of Shaz’s post. Although I think he’s onto something with his “cursed” line of thinking.

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      3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        You like em because he is better tha faust I don’t like him because he isn’t as good as Devine Ara or Lou
        We just have different standards. But we both love the place

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      4. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        Kelly 228-85 that’s a .63 winning percentage overall correct?

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      5. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

        73% ?

        Bruce GC

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      6. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        .73 is correct in mac and big time but I submit the Mac numbers are equivalent to jerry faust’s s record

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  4. ChrisJ 3 years ago

    Pete thinks good special teams play will solve everything. While I agree that field position helps, does anyone have a statistic of how much special teams play really helps a team haha? My guess is 98% of points scored is by the offense or a field goal which I guess is special teams. But wait, didn’t we recruit the best field goal kicker in the nation in yoon? So I guess your argument really doesn’t have any substance to it at all haha!

    I’m obviously trying to be funny and make a point that all you folks that keep talking about special teams needing to be better, that is NOT the problem of this ND team or any other for that matter. It’s a “nice to have” more than anything. When newsome bombs one downfield or sanders takes a return to the house every so often, it’s just a plus. The focus should be fixing the issues on offense and defense in my opinion.

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 years ago

      Chris,
      Special Teams, when not simply given lip service, is a bewildering array of assignments, like the swinging gate assignment for example. Special Teams is punt return, fair catches, and punt blocks. It is going for two – or preventing a two point play. It is faking field goals and punts. It is onside kicks, and your hands team to stop their onside kick. Add that to your list, and a few more “special situations” and you see that it can be the margin of victory (Alabama vs. Clemson, for example).

      The question has always been this: How much practice time do we think it’s worth? There are already TWO games we lost because of Special Teams breakdowns (IMO). That is not to say that the other two units had nothing to do with those losses! But in any close game, Special Teams can be the difference.

      Bruce GC 77′ 82′

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  5. bruce johnson 3 years ago
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  6. bruce johnson 3 years ago

    Do the math Kelly is 57-27 at nd
    Urban Meyer 50-4 in last four years at osu
    It’s simple go get urban Meyer
    Do whatever it takes!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      Your math is wrong.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        57-28 Kelly
        50-5 Meyer 4 yrs

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  7. pete 3 years ago

    I admit I was over the top with Alabama and Ohio State scoring half their points on special teams. What I meant is that their special teams are consistently good and mostly always impact games in a positive way. Notre Dame has really good special teams talent but it seams it is always 1 step forward 2 steps backwards. Also, yes recruiting is crucial and the lifeblood of any program but the great coaches know how to prepare their teams make great game day adjustments, put their players in great positions, maximize the players talents. Kelly and his staff haven’t shown me they can do any of the above. Also, the teams that have beat Notre Dameare not very good. Texas – 3 losses, North Carolin State- 3 losses getting beat 51-13 today. Michigan State 4 looses in a row. Stanford mediocre and duke – please.

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    1. George 3 years ago

      “Are not very good” is being kind

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    2. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

      Pete,
      Some of our special teams are really good; obviously we have practiced our PAT block, for instance. In other areas, I doubt we even have a “special team” for the situation (i.e. stopping a two point conversion attempt, punt block, fake field goal, and others).

      Practice time is limited by the NCAA – I get that…BUT YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR (in practice time).

      Bruce GC
      La Crosse, IN

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  8. George 3 years ago

    BK claims this year’s team is their youngest since 1972. And here all this time I thought the team sucked for a variety of other different reasons. Oh well, mystery solved I guess.

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  9. pete calco 3 years ago

    what good are great recruiters if they can’t coach. Notre Dame has recruited some great special teams talent over the last several years and they have not been elite or impact games in a positive manner. Look at Alabama and Ohio State, half the points they score every week is through special teams. Also, Heistand has brought in some great lineman and Notre Dame still can’t dominate in the run game. Is it his fault. I don’t know maybe its the play calling, scheme, philosophy Kelly uses. All I know is Michigan was terrible 2 years ago giving up sacks, not being able to run on anybody. Harbaugh and his coaching staff come in with a pro style I formation offense and now look how good they run the ball.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      I did look at Bama and tOSU but they do not score half their points on special teams every week.

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    2. Michael the Archangel 3 years ago

      ‘what good are recruiters if they can’t coach?’
      Coaching- BVGs plan- didn’t pan out. As the Hawk would say,
      ‘ He gone! ‘ Under Elston and Hudson- not too shabby- both in the hurricane and back at home.
      Hey, pete, I feel your pain. 2-5 isn’t what even the ‘debbie downers’ expected.
      They could be 5-2 or better easily but for a few plays made and a few more stops.
      That ND didn’t is the result.
      Firing everybody else might not be the Trump card to play.
      But back to ‘what good are recruiters . . .”
      When BK leaves next year, ND will need the best Frosh they are currently recruiting to win more.
      Recruiting is more based on what your school can offer, but also the ND Staff’s relationship with the recruit. We’ve all heard OL or RB recruits talk about Hiestand, or Denson or Sanford, or Booker and Lyght as a key reason for signing on.
      2-5 is what ND fans got now.
      The future of ND FB is all we got now, and recruiting remains critical.
      And yes, ‘play calling and scheme and philosophy’ leading to strategy and confidence make a difference, and the VanG Plan has left the building. Having no plan b, I’ll watch and see.

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      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 years ago

        MA,
        Like USAF Irish said “Hudson was a Plan B”

        It has worked for the “D” – but how well remains to be seen. Can they step it up another notch against Miami? I think they can, but they need to show up and show us.

        Bruce GC
        La Crosse, IN

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  10. pete calco 3 years ago

    Well it looks like Kelly is coming back in 2017. Not sure he will do this but he needs to shake up his coaching staff. First, a new d coordinator, let him pick his assistants. Next, new special teams coach. Finally , fire Booker, reassighn denbrock to tight ends receivers coach, give complete control of offense to Sanford, fire lingo, Notre dame needs a new strength coach, fire harry, bring in top flight oline coach. If he doesn’t make all these changes look for next to also be mediocre.

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    1. Michael the Archangel 3 years ago

      Not in agreement that BK needs to overhaul his assistants.
      Of the five losses so far, ND was in the position to win all five. It appears confidence (and perhaps game planning & strategy) are the issues. PLus, ND either starts slow, or sputters in the third quarter.
      Booker and Hiestand are excellent recruiters- such an overhaul would send the signal to recruits that BK has no confidence in the coaches these recruits have built a relationship with. At this stage of his tenure, BK firing, reassigning, and displacing a chunk of his staff would cause greater uncertainty in the recruits’ minds than is already there. Either you accept BK and his staff or you replace BK and his staff(although IMO Denson and Sanford would be asked to stay regardless of who replaces BK when he leaves).
      As for a new DC, I have no issue with what Hudson and Elston have done with the D’ since BVG left so far.Obvious stat: Miami QB has substantial different completion success with pressure vs. no pressure (32% vs. 67% completion rate) being put on him. Excuse the obvious: but since the ’85 Bears, pressuring the QB leading to D’ success is obvious- see Super Bowl champs Denver LY vs. NC etc. etc. etc.) If you lose, at least lose being aggressive and not passive in your D’ approach.

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  11. Michael the Archangel 3 years ago

    If you’re cheering for ND to keep losing to get rid of BK,
    Faghettaboutit.
    “Shocking” news update re: ND head coaching choice for 2017

    http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/uh-oh-brian-kelly-gets-the-dreaded-vote-of-confidence-from-notre-dame-ad/

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    1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      Swarbrick refuses to accept responsibility for hiring a Mac level coach at nd and for letting Kelly keep the largest defensive loser in its history, Brian van gorder. This guy is the problem. Another Kevin White. Fire him. Hire Lou as a consultant to find us a sd with real football experience and the best coach in America. Screw you Jack

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      1. Shazamrock 3 years ago

        ( Incantation #143)

        “Knucklehead, Knucklehead full of spite…
        Be gone your curse from our site.
        As thunder roars and north winds blow…
        Return us now our good mojo “

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  12. Rich M 3 years ago

    The problem at ND is obvious. Three reasons they are 2-5, 1. ND’s players are just not as good as the five teams that have beaten them. They have been beaten in every phase of the game! So that would be a problem in the recruiting department.
    2. Honestly, Kelly has underachieved here at ND. That’s right “underachieved”! Too many mediocre seasons and just when you expect a 10-2, 11-1 they throw in a 9-3, 8-3! That doesn’t cut it at ND. Don’t tell me about the academics. It’s time for them to look elsewhere. I doubt that they can steal him away from VT, but Bud Foster is where I’d start my search. He has a track record of excellence on the defensive side of the ball. I doubt they will be able to convince him to come over but the lure of big money and coaching at the storied Notre Dame just might at least make him think twice about it! 3. Last but not least, and yes I know everyone has an opinion but I’ve got to tell you the play calling has been horrible. Someone please tell Kizer to throw the ball away rather then take a ten yard sack! Come on guys, that’s lack of coaching. ND’s season does not get any easier. USC, Navy, VT, to name a few have a real chance of beating the Irish. That would, if you’re counting give us at least 8 losses. Enough said. Go Irish!!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      Thanks for breaking things down for us in a simple easy to follow essay.
      For your next installments can you tackle these issues:
      Global warming
      How to throw a knuckleball
      NAFTA
      And the whereabouts of Sad Warrior.

      Stay classy.

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  13. Terry McManus 3 years ago

    BK is in Kizer’s head and is destroying Kizer’s self-confidence. I have said a number of times that BK is a control freak and won’t – or can’t – do the best thing for Kizer, which is just turn him loose and when Kizer messes up don’t let the whole damn country watch him bawling Kizer out on TV.

    The kid is smart, he probably already knows what he did wrong, so pat him on the butt and move on.

    To my eyes Kelly has lost control of the team – they seem to have tuned him out.

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    1. Brad Sinclair 3 years ago

      You are right on with your comment re: control. The Stanford game showed me that this team is simply not prepared to do much of anything. It seems like they have forgotten basic fundamentals, e.g., tackling, blocking. I watched a DB get totally fooled by a RB in the Stanford game. It looked like he was planning to tackle the runner once he got to a certain place rather than simply running him down. In any case I am reminded of a line by John Oliver. ‘Look way, way up, up above the blue in the sky. That’s rock bottom.’

      I hope we are at rock bottom and can start climbing again.

      Go Irish!!!

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  14. Brad 3 years ago

    Notre Dame isn’t getting Dantonio, Shaw, Petersen, Saban, Meyer, Haarbaugh. Those guys aren’t coming.

    Notre Dame will wait one year too long to fire Kelly and miss out on Herman, Fleck, etc and get stuck with some retread

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      Bummer

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    2. Damian 3 years ago

      I doubt ND would get Herman anyway. All signs point to him going to LSU. He also may very well stay at Houston (though the Big 12 not expanding may have dampened that a bit). Houston is building a program and he may decide he has a good thing going there. But otherwise I think he’ll land at LSU.

      But there is always some up and coming coach out there. But you’re exactly right, Saban, Meyer forget it. I mean, they would look like idiots if they went after Meyer again after he already left them at the altar once. If ND was indeed his “dream” job, he blew his chance.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        Stupid pride you go beg him and give him a raise

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      2. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        Call me when you graduate from nd

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      3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        You guys make me laugh.
        You can’t see what is right before your eyes. Go ahead and love this Mac level coach. It’s s sacred place
        and I attended it when it was so. If I defend it its my right. I love it so.

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      4. Damian 3 years ago

        Don’t even bother arguing with BJ. He has himself convinced Saban and Meyer are waiting by a phone for that call from ND.

        Start going after coaches you have no chance with, esp. in this day and age with 24 hour news, and all ND will start to do is really look like a loser. “Look, another coach turned them down”. Do that enough times you get a reputation and then you’re lucky to get a high school coach and you end up with a coach like Faust (who, unlike BK, is actually a decent guy otherwise).

        ND needs a new coach and needs to be realistic. BJ seems to forget many of our past elite coaches were not elite when hired. They BECAME elite. Look no further than BJ’s idol, Urban Meyer. He once was an up and comer from Utah. Hardly a destination. I would argue BK was an outlier case. Hire 9 out of 10 coaches with his background and you score a home run and have an elite coach.

        But BJ is one of those guys who you can’t argue with. He starts with his usual name-calling whenever anyone dares disagree with him.

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    3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      You think like a loser

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      1. Damian 3 years ago

        No, a loser is someone who asks someone out on a date who already adamantly told you no. That is what Urban Meyer did. Not only did he say no, but he/Florida had to give money back to Utah for him to say no to ND. A loser is someone who goes back on bended knee to that person so they can kick you in the teeth.

        But keep living in your dreamland.

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      2. SteelFanRob 3 years ago

        So your whole plan, bj, depends on begging?!

        Who’s the loser?!

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      3. SteelFanRob 3 years ago

        bj,

        Only a ND grad can objectively talk about ND football?! If that’s what you think, then you have no respect for ND’s heritage. The Subway alums are as much, if not more, a part of the fabric and lore of ND football as the university’s grads.

        If you in fact graduated from ND, and of course we can’t prove or disprove your assertion, then you would show more respect for the Subway alums on this board.

        Moreover, you wouldn’t insist on the university stooping and degrading itself like a cheap b _ _ ch pursuing coaches that have shown no interest in the job or have in fact already spurned the Irish before.

        Perhaps you graduated from ND. Who knows. But your logic and mode of argumentation by way of ad hominem attacks and endless repetition indicates you certainly didn’t graduate summa cum laude or magna cum laude, that fore sure!

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      4. Shazamrock 3 years ago

        Give him a break.

        You realize…

        He attended ND in the mid to late 60’s when it was still an all-male school, the stadium held 59k, they played a 10 game schedule, there were 31 Universities who played football as Independents, and long haired hippie protesting was the in thing to do. (among other things)

        That was 50 years ago.
        (Which means if he attended ND while he was in his early 20’s like most, then the old coot is pushing 70)

        If you go some years back, he actually used to have some interesting stories about the glory years.

        Not so much lately.

        Maybe it’s better to just humor paw-paw?

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  15. Shazamrock 3 years ago

    Heading into last year Harry Heistand knew who his starters on the line would be, what side they would line up on, and what position each would play.

    He was able to use fall camp to build a cohesive unit and the results were impressive.

    But all too often he enters the season(like this one) tinkering and toying with the line.
    He moves guys in and out, from one side to the other, guard to center, back to guard, and this goes on… one, two, three games or more into the season.

    Is it any wonder there is confusion, slow starts, missed assignments, mistakes, penalties, and a lack of leadership?

    Some may remember the days of old when a ND O-Line was recruited together, put together, kept together, and practiced together to form a highly efficient, dominant unit.

    Guys were recruited for a position and kept there, where they could get comfortable, hone their skills, be part of a unit, and together gain confidence and leadership.

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    1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      He has proved to be a disaster

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    2. cousinnap 3 years ago

      This is one point I really agree – the OL is possibly the biggest disaster and has been the last few years — when was the last time you were confident about picking up a third or fourth and short or getting a power TD inside the five and having a first and goal inside the five — all that falls on the OL YOU MUST GET THE OL FIXED. The gut there now simply has not gotten that done. BK needs to taker a look at himself and really shake up his staff – the whole staff. I can see not winning a game the rest of the year – at the most two – let’s be thankful for our armed services.

      Stop blaming the players – get out of Kizer’s head – right now he is in limbo – probably feels he has to do it all and is really pressing

      Coaching staff changes need to be made – no one is coming through

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  16. Tom Barnes 3 years ago

    After losing to Tulsa his first year Kelly told us to get use to it.
    He was right. I guess we are used to it by now. Success is double
    digit wins, beating your main rival (USC), and winning a major bowl game. Kelly has failed to do this. In fact, it has been 23 years since
    this happened in 1993. As for 2012 that was an “outlier.” Easily could have had losses to Pittsburgh and Stanford and the debacle against Alabama shows that ND was overrated. Kelly is not the right coach
    but who is? Joining the ACC in football might help but it is no panacea.

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    1. rg 3 years ago

      Need to join a conference.
      Notre Dame will never be Alabama.
      I truly believe when they got rid of Lou Holtz, we will never be the same. Look at his record.

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  17. pete 3 years ago

    I was listening to mike frank on isd power hour and he made some good points about Kelly. He said and I have always thought this and that is the problem with all the quarterbacks regressing under Kelly is because Kelly puts the entire offense on the play of his quarterback. They have to be really good every week or Notre Dame loses. Frank said when he attends practices in the spring 80 percent of Notre Dames offense they are working on the passing game. This imo is why Notre Dame doesn’t run the ball consistently effective.I maintain NotreDame should change their offense to a pro style offense running more out of the I formation but still keeping as part of the offense spread concepts. This is what Harbaugh and Danatonio run.

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    1. menotti8 3 years ago

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Running a shotgun formation inside the 10 all the time is a big reason why our red zone offense sucks in my opinion. If you don’t take snaps under center, you won’t run the ball well around the goal line because your RB can’t get a running start prior to taking the handoff. If you can’t do that, you won’t punch it in as much as you should against a goaline D that’s most likely banking on the run anyway. Plus, with pro-style O you get the added benefit of play action passes, which are something we don’t use hardly at all for some reason. It may not be fancy, but pro-style O gets the job done. I wish that ND would institute a coaching philosophy consisting of hard-nosed running offense and smash mouth, physical defense. That’s just wishful thinking though.

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      1. Brad Sinclair 3 years ago

        I hear you loud and clear on the running game. I don’t seem to be seeing a handoff to a ‘running’ running back. In other words the RB is handed the ball 3-5 yards deep in the back field in a standing position. By that time the defence has already adjusted and there is little room for him to get any momentum. What happened to running over your opponent? Instead we dipsy-doodle our way laterally and get caught – no surprise. The vaunted number 1 offensive line is getting pushed around in its own house! What happened to Irish pride? What about playing like a champion today? This team has really lost its mojo.

        Sigh… Go Irish?

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    2. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      Get rid of Kelly he is incapable of change

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    3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      Agreed

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  18. Chuckie 3 years ago

    Brian Kelly is in over his head. Notre Dame is too much for him.

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    1. menotti8 3 years ago

      Honestly, I think we’d be ok with Kelly staying IF he would make Sanford the O coordinator and truly let him run the O and call the plays. That won’t happen, though, as evidenced by the trends of Kelly’s tenure thus far. He’d also need to hit a homer with his next hire for the D coordinator job too, obviously. The latter is possible, the former is wishful thinking at best.

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    2. sebastian 3 years ago

      amen to that!!

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  19. HURLS 3 years ago

    What “we” should have learned by the mid-point is that Kelly made a bad choice with VanGorder (emphasize the “der”) and was too loyal to a person/choice he made. BK might admit that. But what “we” should have learned (really, “you all” but I don’t wanna sound like a smarty-pants) about Kelly is that HE IS POLITICAL. 1) He, like I, is from Boston. Being political in our communication is what you learn. Although he, I’m sure, has modified his communication some since arriving in SoBend, 2) He’s no dummy. He knows how to phrase a lie so it sounds like less-than-a-lie. And 3) Being 2-4 is bad. Losing all-4-losses by one score is unlucky. “Bad luck” is never EVER a valid excuse. But we must not forget the importance of good luck.

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    1. Chuckie 3 years ago

      So, what are you trying to say?

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  20. Mick 3 years ago

    Tom Herman or Art Briles. Go for broke. I don’t give a rat’s you know what about what Briles may or may not have done. Or if you want to be conservative see if Cutcliffe wants to take a step up. Chip Kelly would be intriguing as well. No more MAC coaches. No more reaches. Open up the check book and lets go. I think BK did a pretty good job up until this year but it is clear he has lost the program.

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    1. Brandon Wicks 3 years ago

      I like Art Briles, what actually happened to him at Baylor? I know this, what he did at Baylor was impressive, pair him with a great DC and he could be an elite coach at an Elite school.
      ND really should let go of BK, I actually really supported him and liked what he brought to the table. But it is apparent, this year and last that the team is often not prepared, and he refuses to make adjustments when game plan is not working. He has been out coached and he does seem to have lost control of his players this year.

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      1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

        There’s this thing called google, check it out.

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  21. chumley 3 years ago

    My take on pulling Kizer was not a lack of confidence in him, per se. I thought he was pulled because he continually creates his own sacks.

    He is a big guy and trusts he can take a hit and still throw the ball. However, too many times he lets that trust lead to him holding the ball for 5 seconds and the pocket suddenly collapse and he desperate either throws it into play and hopes for the best or he is sacked. If I were Kelly, I too would be a little pissed.

    I like Kizer’s fight, but he just refuses to give up on a play when he should or he waits too long and just throws it up for grabs as he is being tackled, like he did on that fourth down play. Yardage-wise, the interception was no worse than a sack. It was the fact that Kizer’s decision basically would lead to a ten yard loss either way which was irritating.

    If no one is open, the quarterback can wait … but not for 5 seconds. He has to throw it with some intention, not fling it up for grabs as he is being tackled.

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  22. MRP 3 years ago

    I never thought I would ever say this, but it may be time for Notre Dame to join a conference. This National Championship or bust does not appear to work as it use to. It’s bean nearly 30 years since the last nation championship, it may be time to join. If ND cannot win a championship, at least they could still be in for a conference title (Although not this season). Those conference titles can help a build a program. In regards to coaching changes, wait until the season is over. I’m not impressed at all with the team this year. It is blatantly obvious that this is a coaching issue. Talent is there, no question. With the success last year, seems like they went on auto pilot and became overconfident that everything will work itself out.

    For all those calling for Les Miles, he had top 5 recruiting classes every year and couldn’t develop them into consistent contenders. If, and that’s a big if after the contract extension, Brian Kelly is not back next year, here is my short wish list:

    1) I would love to see Chris Peterson come over from Washington.
    2) Tom Harmen Houston
    3) Bret Beilema Arkansas
    4) Attempt to bring Chip Kelly back to college football.

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    1. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

      Add O’Brien to the list (Boston College, Penn State, the pros).

      Bruce GC

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      1. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

        Sorry, BC then NC State. The only problem is he’s 68 YO.
        Bruce GC

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    2. Mick 3 years ago

      No conference now. No conference ever. National championships are not the only measure. Think of all the great places we have played in the last 5 years. Playing a national schedule is more desirable than a conference. In the title game in 2012, one play away last year from the playoff. This year is an aberration I hope.

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    3. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

      MRP,
      The trouble with joining a conference is that we have to give up our TV rights, something Father Joyce refused to give up in the late 50’s when every other school spinelessly signed theirs over to the NCAA. And once you lose them – you never really get them back.

      It’s something to consider very carefully – it could impact the university forever.

      Bruce GC 77′ 82′

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  23. Mike "King" Kelly 3 years ago

    Frankie, How about starting top 25 basketballers of all time. A few of my favorites, Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantley, Tommy Hawkins, Rich Branning, John Shumate, Austin Carr , Kelly Tripuka, and the BEST of them all Dwight Clay.

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    1. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

      The best of them all was Austin Carr.

      Bruce GC

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  24. pete 3 years ago

    Sorry about my spelling Sebastian . I meant Wittingham. A lot of people sports reporters , family and friends believe it does not matter who Notre Dame brings in to coach. They say because of the higher academic standards Notre Dame will never compete for national championships or be at an Ohio State, Alabama, elite level. Not sure I agree or disagree with that. I don’t want to believe it because if its true I would stop watching Notre Dame and college football. I personally would like to see Danatonio come to Notre Dame. Guy is a terrific coach.

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    1. menotti8 3 years ago

      If we make a coaching change, Dantonio is the only guy mentioned on this thread so far that I’d want to take the job. Les Miles is a good coach, but he’d never work out at ND. I definitely don’t want Chip
      Kelly and his garbage defenses/metrosexual offenses coming to ND (don’t we already have that with our own Kelly?), Peterson isn’t going anywhere now, and I’m not sold on Herman yet because he’s just another potential Kelly on the horizon (i.e. a winner while coaching at a small school, but totally unproven at the big-boy level). Dantonio has proven he can be successful at the Power 5 level with recruits that he consistently develops into winners who don’t usually have 5 star rankings coming in. I am not confident it’ll happen, though.

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  25. Bruce G. Curme 3 years ago

    Editor,
    People keep saying 11 points in the last two games (given up by the defense). But two of those points were a “special teams” fiasco – when the anti-two point conversion team lined up in a silly GAP 11 – whatever that is. Either they couldn’t hear us yelling that there was no contain, or they just ignored the good people in section 24.
    The defense has given up NINE points in the last two games – 1.1 points per quarter.

    Thank you,
    BG Curme

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  26. bruce johnson 3 years ago

    Meyer
    Miles
    Gruden
    Saban
    No Children

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    1. Jack 3 years ago

      Bruce,

      Let me respond.

      Meyer: Never coming to ND unless you allow criminals into the University
      Miles: He couldn’t develop and offense at LSU, what makes you think he can do it at ND
      Gruden: Only winning year was at Tampa Bay and he had Dungy’s players. I am not impressed with Gruden and why would you leave an easy gig at ESPN>
      Saban: He will retire after his stint at Alabama. He will retire as one of the greatest college football coaches ever. Why would he want to leave a cush job for this nightmare.

      What you fail to realize is ND model is a failed model. You have a fan base that is unrealistic, a administration that doesn’t care as long as the money keeps rolling in and academic standards that are unreal. If I was a coach and had my choice between LSU or ND, I’d take LSU. Better state to recruit, easier to get your players into school and keep them in school and if you win your conference you play for the NC.

      If they fire Kelly right now you are either getting another hot MAC coach, try to get the Houston coach or an NFL retread. ND needs to get back to honoring contracts and stop signing people for long term contracts that don’t win.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        The argument is simple they pick idiots to coach
        Faust a high school coach
        Kelly because he won in the minor leagues
        Go get someone that is one of the top 5 in the country
        Not some guy from western Michigan
        Pay them and get it done too many here have given up

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      2. Jack 3 years ago

        The guys you named don’t want to come, so give me another name.

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      3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        All I hear from you is we can’t get it done. The talk of a loser. When I was in private practice I went after the biggest clients on Wall Street
        I got them because I persevered. Go watch the movie Rudy. What a gd bunch of quitters

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      4. bruce johnson 3 years ago
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    2. menotti8 3 years ago

      None of those are going to happen — too unrealistic. How long has Gruden been out of coaching? He’s not coming to ND or anywhere else cuz he’s completely happy hanging out in that cozy analyst booth he’s currently in. Meyer has had his chances to come to ND and has consistently demonstrated that he’s not interested. Saban isn’t leaving Bama. There’s no reason to think otherwise with what he’s built at Bama. Miles is not a good fit at ND. I’d like to have him as a coach, but I don’t think he could recruit well if faced with the academic standards that ND has.

      Here’s my list. Hammer it if you will:

      Dantonio
      Promote Sanford to HC
      David Shaw

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        All those picks are a disaster waiting to happen. Go get Meyer, have Lou talk to him. Pay him. He is 50-4 in his 4 years at ohio state. He is young. You guys think like losers.

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      2. menotti8 3 years ago

        BJ,

        In a perfect world, we could go buy any coach we want. Meyer would be a great coach to have. However, you’d have to be smoking some psychodelic hashish to actually believe it’s going to happen. Nothing that he has done during his coaching tenure leads even the most ideological dreamer to think that it will come to fruition. You keep calling people losers, but maybe you need to get your head out of the clouds and objectively think for a minute. To quote one of my favorite movies, “I’d like to be pimps from Oakland or Cowboys from Arizona, but it’s not Halloween. Grow up Peter Pan, Count Chalkula.”

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      3. bruce johnson 3 years ago
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  27. Jimbo 3 years ago

    You actually picked ND 11-1? Wow. Who gave you the kool aid? I had ND 9-4/8-4 because that is basically all the will achieve under this coach. No way were they ever a top 10 team.

    Stanford was another blown opportunity. Kizer did not play well and I can’t blame Kelly for going to Zaire. Heck they still had a chance to tie the game at the end but as usual ND can not make the big play.

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    1. sebastian 3 years ago

      hey i took the under on total wins for notre dame in vegas! i made out quite well! brian kelly needs to go…if swarbrick doesn’t let him go then he needs to leave also..but everyone take a VERY LONG look at the 2017 schedule. you are looking at 3 and 3 at the bye week. PREDICTION: kelly stays (damnit), keeps hudson as DC. makes NO changes, and says it isn’t coaching…and yes i believe he is that arrogant!

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  28. pete calco 3 years ago

    There is no other way to say this. Notre dame, bad season is all on Kelly and this coaching staff. The talent is there to be a 10 win team if not better, but the coaching is terrible. I’m no expert on football but watching it for 60 years I know a well coached team when I see one and Notre dame is not one of them. Kelly needs to go and a good coach needs to be brought in immediately at the end of the season. As far as who I would go after my top choice would be danatonio. If not him I would look at miles or Nottingham from Utah. Herman would be nice doubt he would come, ok fleck would be interesting but not sure he has enough experience for Notre dame I please no gruden, Tom Clements, Mike Sanford. Coaches with no head coaching experience have never won at Notre dame.

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    1. sebastian 3 years ago

      love ya pete, but Nottingham is from the robin hood book. i don’t think kyle whittingham from utah is going to come to a catholic university since he is a big time mormon. i agree with no clements or sanford. open the vault and go get herman from houston. or here is one for ya..dino babers from syracuse. anyone who has watched this team knows he inherited a cluster and that team never quit against v. tech. also, if you had watched the post game locker room celebration, that team LOVES to play for him..can’t say the same about the nd players and brian kelly…

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    2. menotti8 3 years ago

      Maybe Im wrong, but I don’t recall Knute Rockne having coaching experience prior to his ass kicking spree. Granted, that was ages ago, but still an example that it has happened. We need to keep Sanford — he’s an up and coming coach that in my opinion will be an elite HC one day. He’s gotten to know what ND is all about and the pressure that goes with it, so it wouldn’t be the same as bringing in another low-tier winning coach who isn’t familiar with the atmosphere. Realistically, Samford’s probably the best bet that we have if Kelly gets fired, so why not give him a shot? What really would we have to lose besides having him on staff? I fail to see why that’s a bad idea considering his potential and his talent. We’d be stupid not to.

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  29. Damian 3 years ago

    BK handled the QB’s badly, to say the least. The only thing I agreed with him on was when he gave Zaire another chance after the safety. That was clearly not on Zaire and pulling Zaire after that would have been sending Zaire the message that was his fault. I don’t even really blame Zaire for his 2 series. It’s obvious despite BK’s assurances that both QB’s are prepared to lead the team that they have not prepared Zaire for doing just that.

    Ironically the only thing working right now is the defense. I can’t blame the defense for the last 2 losses. Given where they started the year they made huge strides within the last 3 games under Hudson. Time will tell if this is real improvement, but I can’t really complain about the defense at the moment. They are doing what they need to put ND in a position to win games.

    Right now, I blame BK. When a team is directionless like this team is, that is a head coaching issue. With one or two exceptions, I’m not ready to throw the assistants under the bus. There may very well need to be some changes in some areas, I’m not disputing that, but it’s the HC’s responsibility to lead and to keep the team focused. He’s not doing that and I can’t fault the assistants for BK’s lack of leadership.

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    1. menotti8 3 years ago

      Exactly. Why the hell hasn’t Zaire been given a package to run on an every game basis? We could easily make it work with him as s change of pace QB running a zone read/speed option package. He’s totally lost out there cuz he’s not getting meaningful reps and because he’s paralyzed by the fear of blowing any opportunity that he gets like he’s on a short leash. Something’s wrong with Kizer’s head too. He’s been streaky in the past, but he’s been throwing a lot worse lately snd the expressions on his face afterward seem to say that he’s lost confidence in himself. He doesn’t seem like the same ol Kizer compared to even the start of the season. Kelly has royally screwed the pooch on this QB situation, which I previously thought was not possible considering their talent. Unbelievable…

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