It would be hard for things to get much lower for the Notre Dame program right about now, following last Saturday’s one point loss to Navy, although losing to Army this week would definitely represent the bottoming out of the Irish market. And the question that has befuddled fans for a little over a month now has been what in the world is going on with the offense? It’s been the tale of two seasons, pre and post VanGorder. Prior to VanGorder’s firing, the Notre Dame offense was a formidable force, scoring 40 points a game and tallying 500 yards of offense. Since the firing they’ve tallied 371 yards per contest and 24 points a game. And all of this was done with what most everyone considers to be a first down talent at quarterback. I wrote about the two way miss a few weeks ago in this column, but it really has devolved into a one way miss. The defense has been good enough to win games the last five weeks and the offense hasn’t delivered in its role as the strength of the team. Unfortunately, there is no reason to think the offense will suddenly become a consistent scoring machine, and much of that is due to Kizer himself, who at times looks fantastic and at other times can’t hit a simple comeback route to extend a drive. The 2016 Notre Dame team is officially a depreciating asset.
Some guys just have a knack for the game of football and no one really knows why. Maybe it’s because they sit in their room all day watching football. Maybe they just have good coaching growing up. It’s those guys who tend to be the ones who hit the ground running as freshman because they always seem to be good at the little things. Julian Love is one of those guys.
Playing the option is tough, especially against a team like Navy who does it better than anyone. It’s especially tough for a freshmen because you hardly ever see it in high school and the scout team look you get in practice just won’t give you an idea of how good these guys are at cutting, misdirection and sheer execution. Yet, Love played the option last week like a guy who’s played against it his whole life. He finished with 8 tackles before having to leave the game early due to a concussion and his lack of presence definitely hurt the defense on Navy’s game sealing drive. He’s been solid ever since he began to full time minutes at corner in week 4 against Duke and will look to continue his ascent this week against Army, barring a return from his head injury suffered late against Navy.
Three Offensive Coordinators
Starting last season with the hiring of Mike Sanford, Notre Dame had three guys who were involved with the offensive play calling. Sanford gave suggestions, Mike Denbrock called in the plays, and Brian Kelly had the opportunity to override anyone at anytime. It worked out well last season, not so much so far this year. I don’t want to put the blame on any one person because who knows that the dynamics are exactly, though the responsibility always ultimately lies with the head coach.
Brian Kelly has always been considered by fans as a throwing coach who coaches soft teams. I’ve generally been a little skittish about calling his teams soft, and they’ve run the ball better during Kelly’s tenure than any coach since the Lou Holtz days. However, Kelly’s proclivity to throw the ball with Kizer has been especially troublesome this season, when he has far too often abandoned the running the ball, even when it is going well, in favor of throws from Kizer. On three separate occasions Notre Dame ran the ball for 5-7 yards on first downs, then passed the ball on the two subsequent downs. This led to touchdown, field goal, punt. The problem with passing on 3rd and 3 or 4 is if the pass is incomplete the ball hasn’t moved. It discourages a 4th down attempt. This is there mindset, and it is passive instead of aggressive. It’s scheme versus will and execution. It’s the type of mindset that brings a field goal down 4 in a game where you’ve only touched the ball 6 times. I don’t know who is affecting who on the offensive staff, but the three of them haven’t gotten it figured out.
It’s not just the special teams with Booker, and to be clear that unit has been really bad, but it’s also the play of the tight ends that has been concerning and sub par. Granted, he might be looking a lot better on this front if Alize Jones had been eligible this season. Losing a five star player at the position you are in charge of isn’t good for anyone, but last season’s results weren’t any better. I don’t like calling for the jobs of position coaches because too much of their success and failure is tied to variables outside of their control. Would the tight ends play better if they were a bigger part of the offense? Maybe they would. Maybe they’d be a bigger part of the offense if they played better. I’m not quite sure on that.
The problem though is he is in charge of special teams, and it’s been a dumpster fire this year. There have been conflicting reports on whether or not he is responsible for 12 men on the field penalty that extended the Navy drive after they were forced to punt, but the litany of mistakes we’ve seen this season doesn’t bode well for his future with the Fighting Irish program.
Through the first four weeks Sanders had 17 offensive touches for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Through the last five weeks he’s had five touches for 22 yards and no touchdowns. He also lost his job as the starting punt returner because he made the mistake against Miami. How does a player of his caliber just get phased out of the offense like this? He was a big play machine in the first month and now he’s essentially the starting kick returner? A specialist? How does that work? Even George Atkinson, who could only run fast, was making weekly contributions in 2012. Sanders can barely get a touch. Turn the young man loose.
What To Watch For
Jarron Jones didn’t play all that much against Navy–only 12 snaps–following his monster game against Miami. Kelly said following the game that his style of play wasn’t really suited for an option team. He later implied Tuesday that Jones wasn’t so fired up to play against a Navy team that has never been shy about utilizing cut blocks. Army is also an option team that utilizes cut blocking in their running game. How much of a role will Jones play this week, and how effective will a less than motivated player be playing up the middle?
I’m tired of the ND fans are delusional story.. Why? Because their fans want to win? Then the story goes on to say how ND is lucky to have BK. He’s been mediocre at best. 2012 was a fluke, several teams lost in the weeks leading up to BCS selection. 2015, Team 127 was absolutely his best team and he let BVG ruin it with his arrogance. A team that had 5 opening day NFL roster making players come from the defense… Not counting Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin… A team that if Joe Schmidt had shared just a little time with Nyles that would have made the playoff. Why people think ND can’t find another coach to come in and be mediocre is beyond me. There are tons of coaches who would come to ND and take 4-5 million per year. BK recruits ok everywhere except where it really matters, defensive line. He hasn’t won a big game in 4 years, close losses don’t count. Then the article goes on about ND players in the league. Harrison Smith, highest paid safety and Pro Bowler. Stephon Tuitt, starting defensive tackle for the Steelers, Tyler Eifert Pro Bowler, Theo Riddick just signed a nice contract, Golden Tate, Mike Floyd.. Ian Williams was about to sign a big contract before he hurt his ankle. ND is well represented in the league. ND probably reps better in the league than they do as a college team.
how about Tom Clements as the new coach. He knew how to beat ‘Bama! He doesn’t need 8 figures.
He was considered a very gutty player back in his CFL days.
I heard he was gutsy.
Gutty might be due to swigging too much Mike “Dublin” man-juice, Burgy. Might want to watch your waistline, there, friend.
It’s a good Saturday when Roberto doesn’t have to post this:
November 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm
Yup, bunch of gutless pansies playing for a gutless coach.
It would be an even better Saturday not hearing your inane banter at all!
One day perhaps we’ll hear something remotely intelligent.
Right now I’m too busy bashing your butt buddy b _ _ ch Mike “Dumblin”. The only football coach more gutless than BK.
Perhaps one good thing to come out of the regime change in DC is the end of unqualified affirmative action hires like Mike “Dumblin” in Pittsburgh. I know you and Mike “Stoogelin” have a special bond, Burgy. Perhaps both of you can attend a “BlackLivesMatter” rally or something. The again, your relationship with “Dumblin” may be a bit more on the private side and involve smoking something else beside a cigar and chugging down something other than you favorite beverage with him!
And, yeah, this team and coach are still gutless pansies. Beating Army doesn’t change that assessment too much!
Keep on posting your BS, though, Burgy, some of the smaller minds on here still appreciate your lame attempts at wit and humor.
This article says Notre dame is so bad we are lucky to have a mediocre coach. The facts I agree with my conclusion is we are bad because of him.
Army everybody did their job today offense defense special teams only the uniform manager screwed up
It’s exactly what Bob Davie told Urban.
Article says 4-5 losses if ND was in the Big 10 or SEC. Unfortunately I take that as a compliment considering ND will lose 8 this year, mostly against complete hacks.
Who would believe Davie an assistant coach over his head
Look at the results
Holy Toledo! Just 2 more wins and the dream matchup vs. The Rockets!
“It would be hard for things to get much lower for the Notre Dame program right about now,”
I do not agree that ND is down. The offense, for example, is littered with NFL caliber talent the likes of which I’ve never before witnessed at Notre Dame in all my 61 years.
The Other Side of the Coin:
The unfortunate expulsion of the Notre Dame defensive players prior to the seasons opening, including Redfield a fifth year senior, hurt ND. The schedule being favorable in 2016 for a run to the playoffs.
I find it hard to believe that Jarron indicated to Kelly that he wanted to sit out against Navy. My guess is that BK made up a story in order to help justify yet ANOTHER mistake this year. I heard at least one reporter grilling BK on the topic, then the next day all of a sudden JJ had no desire to play. I’m beyond disgusted.
No that is typical of Jones. If you knew him you would agree.
“The defense has been good enough to win games the last five weeks.” Really? They could not stop the undersized Midshipmen at any point during that painful game. They suck.
Is this pointless Shamrock Series a day game because ND sucks this year? These games have always been night games in the past. Either way, I expect the Irish to be hyped up today for the only winnable game left on their schedule. This is NDs bowl game, and they might actually have a shot at squeaking out a victory. If not, BK needs to be exiled for eternity. Maybe the fancy uniforms will help draw attention to this supremely irrelevant game.
3 people that have never been in your kitchen.
Do you think he has any idea that in the last 4 years since his Super bowl win in 2012, that Harbaugh has gone 8-8, 10-6, 5-11, and this year sits at 5-4 for a current win/loss total of 28-29?
I guess it’s back to Urban Meyer, Les Miles, & Al Borges.
Donald Trump cares. Haven’t you been listening? He already told us.
No, not really!