Ugly Stats from an Ugly Game Notre Dame – NC State Game

Photo: Rob Kinnan // USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Rob Kinnan // USA TODAY Sports

Once Brian Kelly’s squad dries out from the monsoon-like conditions they faced in Raleigh, they can determine exactly why it took the Notre Dame offense over 50 minutes to figure out how to get going. That could have made the difference in this Notre Dame North Carolina State matchup that was decided by a blocked punt early in the fourth quarter.

The Push to Pass

With heavy rain a problem for both teams from the outset, Notre Dame seemed stubbornly wedded to proving that they could pass. Their first drive consisted of two passes that managed to gain a total of three yards and ended up with nine receptions on a seemingly inexplicable 26 attempts. It didn’t help that on three separate occasions, a snap that DeShone Kizer was either unable to handle or wasn’t prepared for helped kill momentum. One of those came during the final drive.

Running in Place

Even with 60 yards gained during their final drive, Notre Dame still failed to put any points on the board. That yardage constituted more than half of their entire offensive output in this Notre Dame North Carolina State 2016 clash. Even worse, the 44 rushing yards were three-quarters of the entire running game. In contrast, the Wolfpack still managed to nearly triple the Irish rushing totals with a total of 159 yards.

Slim Pickings

The Notre Dame running game was effectively reduced to either Josh Adams and Kizer, who had 29 of the 38 rushing attempts. Malik Zaire, who’s the runner among the signal callers, was reduced to a cameo during that final drive, losing a yard. That single carry matched Dexter Williams’ use during that portion of the Notre Dame North Carolina State contest, with Williams finishing with 15 yards on six carries.

Third Down Doom

Third down production was again a disaster, with the Notre Dame offense converting once on 15 attempts. One factor in those failures was that eight times, the Irish had to try and collect double-digit yardage. Not surprisingly, they failed every time, including on third-and-goal from the Wolfpack 19 that resulted in Kizer’s lone interception.

Not Keeping Drives Alive

Before that final Notre Dame drive, the inability to keep the offense on the field was connected to the fact that the average span of the 12 previous drives was just 1:40. While the Irish defense took advantage of the miserable conditions in this Notre Dame North Carolina State 2016 game by not allowing a touchdown, it’s readily apparent that keeping them off the field affords the team the best chance at winning.

Next Up

While the Irish return to South Bend next Saturday, their opponent will be the Stanford Cardinal, which remains a Top 25 team. Reaching that stratosphere is likely becoming wishful thinking for Notre Dame, which means that simply staying bowl-worthy has become the mantra for the remainder of the regular season.

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43 Comments

  1. I’m reminded of a quote by Lou Holtz, when he coached at William and Mary. After a tough loss, he lamented “to many Mary’s and not enough William’s on this team”. ‘Nuff said.

  2. by the by, do I need my eyes checked, but I think I saw one of our blockers get His hands thrown in the air by the NCSt. pass rusher, and it looked like We blocked our own punt?

  3. Last, but not least, I blame it all on D.Kizer. He doesn’t play to win, He plays to not HURT His Top 10 draft position. Put in Zaire at least He is a “real college fotball player ” This house needs to be cleaned.

  4. I am golfing!
    SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum is blaming Brian Kelly for Notre Dame’s fall from grace this season.
    Finebaum said he’s tired of Kelly’s relentless finger-pointing and lashed out at the Irish’s head coach during Sunday’s appearance on ESPN.
    “Let’s think about what Brian Kelly has done in the last couple weeks,” Finebaum said. “He blamed everyone on his team a couple weeks ago and said he would be re-evaluating (every position), then he blamed his defensive coordinator and fired him. He’s blamed his quarterback who has had a really nice year. And (Saturday) he called out his center saying he had been snapping atrociously in middle of a hurricane.
    “I’m beginning to wonder who’s next for Brian Kelly to blame? Donald Trump? I’ve always respected Notre Dame and I think it’s one of the great institutions for higher learning in this country, but why would anyone want play for Brian Kelly? He’s a miserable human being and blames everyone but himself.”
    Notre Dame, ranked inside the Top 10 to begin the season, dropped to 2-4 on Saturday after managing just three points in a loss at rain-soaked N.C. State. Tough games against Stanford, Miami, Navy, Virginia Tech and USC remain.
    “I frankly think this season is going down the drain and they could lose as many as eight or nine games,” Finebaum said. “He’ll keep his job, but you wonder whether he’ll want to keep his job. I think Brian Kelly is resembling the Titanic quite frankly in South Bend.”

    1. At first Finebaum’s comments sound awesome, but then it can really be misleading because he did not include any of Kelly’s comments after the game in the locker room and during any of his other press conferences. Just check those out, and you will get a more balanced opinion.

      Also check out the Kizer, and McGlinchey’s opinion on Coach Kelly blaming players. Onwalu was a little different, but for the most part, players don’t interpret Kelly’s sound bites the same way the media does.

  5. SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum is blaming Brian Kelly for Notre Dame’s fall from grace this season.
    Finebaum said he’s tired of Kelly’s relentless finger-pointing and lashed out at the Irish’s head coach during Sunday’s appearance on ESPN.
    “Let’s think about what Brian Kelly has done in the last couple weeks,” Finebaum said. “He blamed everyone on his team a couple weeks ago and said he would be re-evaluating (every position), then he blamed his defensive coordinator and fired him. He’s blamed his quarterback who has had a really nice year. And (Saturday) he called out his center saying he had been snapping atrociously in middle of a hurricane.
    “I’m beginning to wonder who’s next for Brian Kelly to blame? Donald Trump? I’ve always respected Notre Dame and I think it’s one of the great institutions for higher learning in this country, but why would anyone want play for Brian Kelly? He’s a miserable human being and blames everyone but himself.”
    Notre Dame, ranked inside the Top 10 to begin the season, dropped to 2-4 on Saturday after managing just three points in a loss at rain-soaked N.C. State. Tough games against Stanford, Miami, Navy, Virginia Tech and USC remain.
    “I frankly think this season is going down the drain and they could lose as many as eight or nine games,” Finebaum said. “He’ll keep his job, but you wonder whether he’ll want to keep his job. I think Brian Kelly is resembling the Titanic quite frankly in South Bend.”

  6. That game should have never been played under those conditions. That was not a football game, it was more a game of slip and slide. Who has the ability to cancel or reschedule games to the following day if conditions improve? The TV networks? It was just fortunate that there weren’t any players that received serious injury playing in those deplorable conditions (at least that I’m aware of.)
    I agree that Brian Kelly can place the blame for the loss squarely on his shoulders for continuing to call for passing plays when it was obvious that wasn’t working and the only offense that we had was Josh Adam’s runs. Also pulling Zaire after one play in this and the Duke games is a great confidence builder. Good luck next year when Kizer goes to the pros and Zaire decides to go elsewhere for his remaining year of eligibility.

    1. My idea regarding the starting quarterback was that it should have been Zaire, but apparently controlling the game with a running game is not Kelly’s idea of offense. It also seems to me that an offensive line would have greater toughness with run blocking rather than pass blocking. Possibly many of the players see this too. And if this is the case, then what has been created is a disjointed team.

  7. Notre Dame is sorely lacking in basic fundamentals!
    When did they stop teaching the players How to Tackle????
    The team always comes out “flat ” why?
    Coach Kelly has got to go and soon!!!!

  8. “The loss of so many coaches has hurt recruiting and having quality backups. Lost coaches to Ohio State when Urban took over. Then Martin and Diaco left for head jobs. Next Cooks went to Oklahoma, and then the popular recruiter Tony Alford. It all adds up to losing quality recruits who go with the coaches who have established relationships with the players over the years, calling them, sharing their high school lives with them.”

  9. When are the coaches going to teach the defense how to tackle. I am tired of watching defensive players throwing their bodies at people expecting to knock them down rather than using proper technique.

  10. ND has a 240Lb starting QB, a run-oriented back-up qb, three RBs that are very talented and an O-line deemed to be one of the best in the country, yet they can do NOTHING on the ground regardless of weather conditions. This team should be churning out 50 carries and 250 yds week in and week out, still leaving plenty of passing opportunities, probably 25-30. Especially, when the D is sooo weak, it would be good to keep them off the field. This is becoming just like Weis’s last few teams of all pass and no D. Results unfortunately are also similar.

  11. The lack of in game adjustments is really bad and has been all year. This is where he should be placing the blame every game is his lack of making the necessary adjustments to put his team in a position to win. I thought passing was actually ok since NC State was lining up with a ton in the box and blitzing often. What best counters a blitz like that which would be a real easy pass to catch, even in a downpour? A FREAKIN SCREEN!!!!!!! And I’m not talking about a stupid wide receiver screen…I’m talking about a traditional dropback, let the running back sneak out and your lineman get downfield to kill someone kinda screen. Kelly could have used this on multiple occasions to counter their defensive approach and given the right timing may have resulted in a score just on one play.

    Also, you have a great running QB in Zaire sitting there waiting. The NC State coach didn’t hesitate to bring in his big running QB in the second half and their offense moved the ball more efficiently. Why didn’t Kelly try this as well? And even if it wasn’t Zaire, then let Kizer do it. Too many times he would call a 5 wide formation and I kept saying to the TV “sweet here comes a QB draw” and never did it happen.

    I don’t think it is time to can Kelly yet but it’s time to start holding him accountable for these stupid decisions. The one that is the most mind boggling to me and hasn’t been talked about much is this whole “Rugby style” thing that he implemented for Newsome. Why would you need to change anything about the way that kid punts or the coverages for it? He is one of the best punters in the country and he does it kicking it straight up, not this stupid rugby style crap that we see today. So because of the new implementation of this, we have a punt blocked and returned for a TD because a third blocker wasn’t in that particular formation. Stupid…

  12. And so the end is near……….for Mr. Kelly! Go to the bank with those words! The only way they beat Stanford is score 50+ points and even that might not be enough. Do you think for one minute that the Irish D has any chance in the world of stopping or even slowing down McCaffery? No way! So assuming he will get his and about 3,4,or 5 TDs. The Irish need to score frequently. hey this debacle of a season is due to more than just VanGorder and Kelly, although they are certainly a large part of the program. Personally I think that the so-called 3,4 & 5 star recruits are just not up to the challenge. Translation, they are just not that good. Being labeled 3, 4 or 5 stars is just that a label, it has little or no bearing on how you will eventually play when you get to college and it seem obvious that NDs recruits are not as good as let’s say NC State or even Duke for that matter. That’s the reality of this nightmare, it takes more than just the coaches to screw up a season. Go Irish!

  13. Poor. totally mystifying game planning, to say the least. No adjustments in game to change the outcome. Poor decision making strategy wise. Same song, same outcome.

  14. Now that the easier half of the schedule is out of the way, bring on the second half!

    Making Stanford a night game is a joke. The school just doesn’t get it.

    1. “The loss of so many coaches has hurt recruiting and having quality backups. Lost coaches to Ohio State when Urban took over. Then Martin and Diaco left for head jobs. Next Cooks went to Oklahoma, and then the popular recruiter Tony Alford. It all adds up to losing quality recruits who go with the coaches who have established relationships with the players over the years, calling them, sharing their high school lives with them.”
      all
      Downhill

  15. It’s appears that the university has sabotaged its own legacy, clearly monk was an overzealous self righteous fool and the same can be said of the admissions guy.
    Maybe with thirteen games you need a few softies but when the played ten the only softie was northwestern

  16. I want to know why BK was going for it on 4th and 12 (I think it was 12) when they were in FG range? Seriously. Take the chance. That was a Charlie Weis move if I ever saw one (granted those 3 points wouldn’t have ultimately won the game but still).

    Also, fans have been saying for weeks about why BK isn’t passing more when the run has been ineffective. This was not the game to try to pass.

    Give up the play calling man. It’s not working. What a game, this time it wasn’t the defense that was the problem.

  17. Well there are always the articles about some great Leahy team. Or a listing of all time great players from 1918 to 1993. That’ll keep em buying stuff from Notre Dame and ad time on blog sites.

    I hope the 1/2 billion stadium has 24/7/365 repeats of Ronald Reagan in Knute Rockne All American to remind us. Maybe they should turn the stadium into a nostalgic theme park and do football reenactments from the 1920s thru 1953. Probably worth more than what it costs to support the current program.

    What a joke!

  18. What has happened to the vaunted ND offensive line that was ranked number one in the nation? I grant that the ground was wet and slippery etc but they got pushed around by a smaller team. The rain doesn’t excuse the false starts. What happened to running between the tackles and shoving the other team around? Sorry guys, you should be embarrassed.

    The team has lost its mojo. With Stanford coming to town next week they better find it quick.

    Go Irish!!!!

    1. They quit on their fraud of a coach, who displays no hesitation on throwing anyone he sees under the bus to protect his own precious skin.

    2. What happened to running between the tackles and pushing people around? The same thing that happened to our fullback.

      Get a fullback, Notre Dame.

      Bruce GC

      Pete Calco,
      You might get your wish…I don’t know, though. That the administration does not care how the football team looks – that I do know is wrong!

      Bruce GC

  19. I think Notre dame needs to dump Kelly at seasons end. He is being outcoached and losing to teams that are clearly less talented. Just watch what Clemson does to cms this week. There are some very good coaches out there better than Kelly. Personally I would like to see Notre dame make a run at danatonio. He is a really good coach who does far more than Kelly with less talent.

    1. Pete,
      He won’t come, to difficult admission standards to recruit what he would want unless admin modifies those standards.

      1. Those standards are no higher than when Holtz was there. Why do people keep saying that? Can someone please provide some factual evidence that Notre Dame has toughened its standards since Holtz’s time?
        Have America’s high schools gone down that much in 25 years?
        I just don’t buy it.

        One blog, fan side or some such, said the cornerbacks in particular couldn’t meet ND’s standards. Why does Stanford get both good students and top athletes? Richard Sherman may be a jerk but he’s smart and a top cornerback.

        I just don’t buy the argument.

      2. The admission standards are the problem but not in the way that most people think. ND has had well above average recruiting classes going back to the Weiss era so the players, for the most part, are there.

        So if the tough standards are not keeping the talent from coming to ND then I think the perception from the outside that recruiting would be tougher, whether that is true or not, is keeping true topnotch coaching from coming to ND.

        Weiss was a fraud and Kelly is not much better but they have some of the same traits. Both have big, undeserved egos, both were considered to be offensive geniuses and they both have the propensity for ill-advised fourth down gambles.

        The next coach doesn’t have to be an Urban Meyer/Nick Saban big name hire. What is more important is the style vs. the substance. Someone above mentioned a bigger more talented OL being pushed around by a smaller and inferior DL on Saturday, that is key.

        I will let you guys hash out what can be done to improve the defense but one thing I do know is that the offense is just as big of a problem because it seems like it’s main goal is to make the coach look smart. I have looked at the stats after some games and thought the rushing numbers looked decent but there is a big difference between running the ball when you WANT to and being able to run it when you HAVE to – to pick up first downs on third and 3 or less or to wind down the clock to protect a lead. Being able to do that also helps your defense.

        From what I have seen ND hasn’t been able to do that for a number of years and it’s not the players, ND is sending big tough OL to the NFL, it’s coaching and I am not necessarily even saying coaching ability but mindset.

        Recent ND head coaches certainly know how to get a big payday but they don’t know the type of football that wins big games or even enough games right now so while I will concede that admission standards play a small role, very small or else it becomes a crutch, I think it affects the coaching search more than recruiting.

      3. C-Dog,

        I beg to differ with your comment on Holtz guys. Zorich, Rice and others would not be able to meet the standards that ND players are required to meet today. That being said, I remember being on this site right before BK was hired. Everyone was saying ND needs to go get Kelly now! They were all hyped for the spread offense and running like Oregon at mock speed. Kelly would be the savior is all I heard. Now six years later everyone wants a fullback and why is he in the shot gun etc.

        News Flash, this is Brian Kelly, spread offense. The spread will go the way of the run and shoot. Hell, all it is the run and shoot with an option QB added to it. If you look at most of your successful coaches they are running multiple looks, that includes putting the QB under center. They have their bread and butter, but most are running a multiple offensive set. Kelly, will never do this.

        The restricted recruiting standards kill ND in the trenches and will athletes. The Oline recruiting classes are great, but the d-line is average at best in recent recruiting years. They also changed their philosophy from a 3-4 base to a 4-3 base. He committed the same mistake CW made and that is why this defense is a mess. Get a new coordinator, do some self reflecting and admit Kelly you are the reason this program looks like shit, period.

      4. C-Dog and Jack,
        1. I don’t remember Zorich being one of the TWO prop 9’s, though TR was one of them.
        2. The game has changed. Kids transfer out of all programs now, even Alabama’s, and do it often. Add to this the new graduate transfer rules and you can lose 10-15 guys in any given four year period. Most schools replace them with “transfer-in” student/athletes – but not ND!
        IF WE EVER WANT TO STOP THAT BLEEDING, we need to loosen up our transfer rules a little bit. We need to take a few “transfer-in” guys. If the faculty senate or the administration thinks that will somehow reflect badly on the school in academia, they are being ridiculous. Put some fabric softener on your stuffed shirts.
        3. I’m proud to keep saying GET A FULLBACK on scholarship!
        You never know when you might need one!

        Bruce GC

  20. This 2016 season for ND is reminding me of past eras (Faust, Davie, Willingham and Weis). I continue to think that the Irish will get it going, but it just has not happened. What seemed like a manageable schedule now seems rather daunting.

  21. Kelly is a fraud, his knwoiedlge of football minimal, his “gameplan” an abomination. He owes the 2012 defense, led by the season Manti Teo had — a large cheque for securing him a contract extension at ND (when he instead should have been roundly crucified for interviewing to leave).

    You poor, blind Kelly disciples….you deserve every ounce of the pain you’re in today. More.

    1. I must agree, Kelly is a horrible coach! I can’t understand why the game plan was not altered when it was very obvious that throwing in that weather was impossible! It just appears that making adjustments is not something that Kelly is willing to do.

      Again, it was not hard to figure out that the game would be low scoring and it was tied at 3 for some time. Coaches are suppose to make things easier for the players but it appeared that the coach continued to force the offense to throw passes which were difficult to complete from every stand point. The snaps were high, the passes were being dropped and the down that he trotted Malik out on the field to pick up 2 yards? That made no sense at all. I guess he could have incorporated the “wild cat” if he wanted to get Malik involved in the offense. I am not sure maybe he did not realize he needed to run the ball as much as possible.
      There have been many times this season when I think Notre Dame was not placed in the best position to win the football game. It started with the first game, when he did not name a starting quarterback. It was obvious who the starter needed to be. Kelly should have had that settled prior to the Texas game.
      Show Kelly the door. I doubt that it will happen this year!

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